10. Chronic stress and lack of sleep are raising your cortisol and blood sugar levels too high.
Chronic lack of sleep, leading to circadian rhythm imbalances and/or chronic levels of significant stress, can drive up cortisol levels in a way that can make getting into a state of ketosis essentially impossible.
– Nora Gedgaudas
Why are we so stressed all the time? Most of us don’t fully realize the intense negative impact that chronic stress has on virtually every part of our health. Furthermore, stress takes a toll on our bodies when it prevents us from getting the restful sleep we so desperately need. This double whammy of stress and sleep deprivation is a ruthless cycle that can wreak havoc on your ability to be in ketosis.
If you want to completely kill your ability to ever produce a therapeutic level of ketones, then keep on worrying and stressing out about everything so that you only sleep for a few hours each night. Over time, that will undercut any nutritional lifestyle change you have implemented, no matter how strict you have been. For the rest of us, let’s take a closer look at why being stressed out all the time is not such a good idea when you want to be in ketosis.
Stress increases levels of cortisol, a hormone that in turn raises your hunger and blood sugar levels as the body goes into self-preservation mode. This is one reason you can have problems losing weight no matter how strictly you adhere to a low-carb, moderate-protein, high-fat diet. Go out in your backyard and play, take a yoga class, do some fun activity with your kids—anything you can do to reduce stress in your life. Once you take proactive steps to lower stress, you’ll find that your body is able to rest better at night. Take a chill pill, people!
Remember, stressed is just “desserts” spelled backwards—and it can have the same negative effect on your efforts to get into ketosis as the sugar contained in most desserts. Give your ketones a fighting chance and do something about what’s worrying you sooner rather than later.
These are just ten of the many reasons you may not be seeing adequate ketone levels on your ketogenic diet. Other intangible factors could be involved, such as a lack of support from your friends, family, and doctor; mental barriers, such as a lack of confidence in your ability to follow the diet or the belief that you need carbs in your diet for brain health, for example; the failure to plan your meals well; and more. But don’t worry about being perfect. Your goal is to continually pursue what it takes to get into ketosis. Be kind to yourself as you work through this process. You’ll get there with persistence.
It’s worth noting that substances like ketone salts, ketone esters, and various MCT oil products can be used to increase the level of ketones in the blood. However, there is still debate amongst the experts about whether increasing ketones through these means is as effective therapeutically as producing ketones through macronutrient manipulation alone. This question has yet to be answered by research. Until those studies happen, the best thing you can do is remain committed to your low-carb, moderate-protein, high-fat diet and, if you like, use these products as aids to help you reach your goal of higher ketone levels.
As you can see, there are so many elements involved in the process of making ketones. But not everyone is a fan of very low-carb, high-fat, ketogenic diets. In the next chapter, we’ll take on the ten biggest criticisms about this way of eating and explain why they are probably much ado about nothing.
I think the obvious temptations that are all around us are the biggest problem with maintaining adequate ketones. One slip with too much carbohydrate will interfere with ketosis, and it can take several days to get back into it. Old habits die hard.
– Dr. Mary Newport
Key Keto Clarity Concepts
- When you’re just not producing ketones, there is a reason.
- Assuming that eating low-carb is ketogenic is a very common error.
- You can’t know for sure you are in ketosis unless you are testing for it often.
- Urine ketone testing alone is unreliable and can be discouraging.
- Be patient; it takes as much as four to six weeks for full keto-adaptation to happen.
- Tinker around to determine your carb tolerance and protein threshold.
- Neglecting to eat enough dietary fat will result in poor ketone production.
- Medications can tax the liver and slow the creation of ketones.
- Consuming too few or too many calories can make ketosis difficult to attain.
- If you are having to eat frequently throughout the day, it’s hard to make ketones.
- Chronic stress and lack of sleep will undo the benefits of your low-carb, high-fat diet.
- There are many intangible factors that could hamstring your pursuit of ketosis.
- If you’re discouraged by your lack of ketones, use ketone-boosting products to help.