Keto and Stress are two things that don’t match very well together. In fact, being stressed out is probably ruining your ketogenic diet and stalling all your attempts of getting into ketosis. This article explains to you why this is so and what you can do to prevent it.
Keto and Stress
During the initial adaptation phase, we want to keep our stress levels as low as possible because it will stop us from adjusting to this massive change our body is going through.
Cortisol is the main stress hormone in the body that gets produced by the adrenal glands. It triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response, which stimulates the sympathetic nervous system. This releases adrenaline and glycogen into the blood stream so that our muscles would have more energy to run away from danger or face it.
- Keto and Stress
Periodic bouts of stress are actually beneficial and even needed. They invigorate the body, burn calories, speed up the metabolism and make us handle future stressful situations better.
The problem is that in our modern world, we’re exposed to too many stressors too frequently. Without ever having the opportunity to rest and recover, most people have constantly elevated levels of cortisol that wreaks havoc to their mitochondria and health.
How Does Stress Affect Ketosis?
When cortisol is elevated, glucose is released into the bloodstream. What follows are higher levels of insulin as well. As blood glucose goes up, ketones go down and vice versa. Raising insulin will stop fat burning and keto-adaptation for the coming few hours, potentially even days.
Constantly high levels of cortisol and insulin are catabolic to the body, meaning, they break down tissue for the production of energy. That’s why it’s a good idea to pay especially more attention to how you’re working out during your first few weeks of keto. You don’t want to put yourself through glycolytic workouts while not replenishing them with some fast absorbing glucose because the body will take that fuel from your valuable muscles and organs.
How to Reduce Stress on Keto
It starts with taking a slower pace in life overall. In addition to dialing down on high-intensity training, you should also reduce the other type of work you do, whether that be your business, vocation or any responsibilities.
Don’t become completely inactive and passive. Do still keep taking action and doing what you do. Just don’t set too high milestones or put unnecessary pressure on yourself.
Remember that the body perceives all stressors physiologically as the same. Every time you scream at someone else, get anxious in public, start to boil in anger when stuck in traffic, you’re stimulating the sympathetic nervous system to some degree. Even worrying and thinking about stress causes more stress. It’s a vicious feedback loop that’s hard to escape from.
To get out of constant ‘fight or flight’, you have to hit the breaks completely. Doing parasympathetic dominant activities will switch you over to the ‘rest and digest mode’, which heals and rejuvenates the body. Things like:
- Slowly walking in nature letting your mind wonder.
- Doing light Yoga and stretching.
- Having a deep tissue massage or using a foam roller.
- Taking ice baths or hot saunas. Preferably both.
- Meditating for 20 minutes a day.
- Playing around and spending time with your family.
Stress and Ketogenic Diet
All in all, we should maintain this zen-like attitude towards the whole experience and simply let things everything run their course. Rather than being frustrated or lethargic we have to accept it as it is. We can’t control what happens to us but only our response to it.
It ought to be something we enjoy and can later reflect back upon as an opportunity to learn more about our own body.
Don’t stress out on your ketone levels either. There isn’t a specific point where we will become fat adapted but eventually, we’ll simply get accustomed to this new alteration of our own biology.
Doing the ketogenic diet can be difficult but it’s highly rewarding afterward.
I’ve been doing keto since 2015 and have seen massive benefits from it in all areas of my life. If you’re interested in learning how to do the ketogenic diet the easy way, then check out my free e-book SIMPLE KETO.