If you consider yourself an advanced Keto dieter—or want to get more advanced—this article is for you.
What does advanced Keto mean? It means you’re beyond the basics of low-carb dieting. You’re in the optimization phase.
In this phase, you might be playing with your supplement routine, measuring ketone and glucose levels, or experimenting with different fasting protocols. Maybe you’re looking to hit a target body fat percent, gain a mental edge at work, hit a new PB on your bike, or all of the above.
We’ll explore the best ways to implement and track these advanced Keto strategies in the paragraphs that follow. First, though, let’s talk about ketosis.
The ketogenic diet promotes a unique metabolic state called ketosis. In ketosis, your liver burns fat and produces molecules called ketones.
Carb restriction is the key to ketosis. Keeping carbs low keeps the hormone insulin low, which in turn facilitates fat burning.[*]
Usually, your body and brain run primarily on glucose. But in ketosis, the energy burden shifts to fat and ketones. Ketones fuel the brain, while fatty acids fuel muscle and other tissues.
Ketosis has benefits—not just for the person seeking serious weight loss but also for the person seeking optimal energy, performance, and longevity.
Consider three published benefits of Keto beyond weight loss:
- A ketogenic meal that elevated blood ketone levels suggested improved cognition in elderly adults.[*]
- Trained cyclists showed improved time to exhaustion and more fat burning after two weeks of high-fat dieting.[*]
- The ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) blocks an inflammatory complex called the NLRP3 inflammasome.[*] (Inflammation is a hallmark of accelerated aging).
But beyond keeping carbs low on Keto, where should you focus?
Advanced Keto: Where To Focus
Advanced Keto means optimizing your food, supplement, fasting, exercise, hydration, sleep and stress management routines. Here are some thoughts on the first five.
To burn fat and make ketones, you need only restrict carbs. But to optimize the health benefits of Keto (or any diet), you need to mind food quality.
Buying high-quality Keto food isn’t the cheapest route to ketosis, but it’s worth it. For instance, grass-fed and pasture-raised meats are higher in beneficial nutrients like conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and lower in hormones, antibiotics, and other stuff you don’t want in your body.[*]
The same principle holds for plant foods. Since vegetables start losing nutritional value the moment they're picked, seek out fresh, locally sourced options whenever possible. If you don’t have access to local veggies, spring for organic to avoid probable carcinogens like glyphosate.[*]
As a general rule, try to get most of your nutrients from food. Vitamins, minerals, and other compounds tend to be more bioavailable (better absorbed) in food form—a concept called “food synergy”.[*]
That said, a handful of supplements can elevate your Keto game. These include:
- MCT oil or exogenous ketones to enhance ketone levels, cognition, and exercise performance.[*][*]
- Electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium to help support exercise and prevent Keto flu.
- Omega-3 fatty acids to support brain health and control inflammation.[*][*]
- Vitamin D for mood, bones, and much more.[*] (The need for vitamin D supplementation depends on sun exposure, among other factors).
Want more deets? Check out this comprehensive guide to Keto supplements.
Along with the Keto diet, fasting is another path to ketosis. Nothing keeps insulin low like eating nothing.
Combining a Keto diet with an intermittent fasting protocol (OMAD, 16/8, etc.) can accelerate fat loss and boost ketone production. They’re an effective one-two punch.
Fasting is also great for productivity. When you skip a meal (or two) per day, you have more time to get things done.
For further info, check out our ultimate guide to intermittent fasting and Keto.
Exercise is also ketogenic. The term for this is post-exercise ketosis.[*]
Fat burning during exercise is amplified by a low-carb diet. That’s why keto-fueled athletes show higher rates of fat burning.[*]
Good hydration is critical for optimal health, as it plays a crucial role in supporting multiple processes within the body.
Paying attention to your fluid intake is vital on a Ketogenic diet. Ensuring your body is sufficiently hydrated can help to reduce hunger cravings, clear toxins more efficiently, and even encourage weight loss. [*]
How much should you drink per day? There is no one-size-fits-all answer, as you need to factor in your personal health needs, exercise, age, weight, etc. But 2200ml for women and 3000ml for men is considered a general guideline for healthy individuals.[*]
What To Track for Advanced Keto
If you want to optimize your health on Keto, you’ll want to track a variety of metrics. There isn’t time in life to track everything (sigh), but consider monitoring these KPIs :
- Ketone levels. Nutritional ketosis is generally defined as 0.5 mmol to 3.0 mmol BHB, but keep in mind that higher ketones aren’t necessarily better, as levels may fall after Keto-adaptation. You can measure ketones in the blood, breath, or urine—with blood being the gold standard.[*] We recommend (and integrate with!) BIOSENSE® (breath) and Keto-Mojo (blood).
- Glucose levels. A key marker of metabolic health, optimal fasting blood glucose levels (for minimizing diabetes risk), appear to be south of 85 mg/dl.[*] Many blood ketone meters (including Keto-Mojo) also measure blood glucose.
- Bodyweight. Weigh yourself first thing in the morning to standardize this measurement.
- Body composition. If your goal is fat loss, body composition (% fat vs. % lean mass) is a better metric than bodyweight. If you can’t get a DXA scan, standing naked before a mirror will give you most of the info you need.
- Exercise Performance. Is your endurance, strength, power, and output improving on Keto? If not, consider altering your macronutrient ratios.
- Macronutrients. The basic principle of Keto is to keep carbs low and fat high. But to get more advanced, you might try different types of Keto diet: targeted Keto for exercise performance, high-protein Keto for strength, etc. This will require logging your meals and tracking your macros.
- Micronutrients. Keep tabs on the vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids coming in through food and supplements. Pay special attention to electrolytes like sodium and potassium. Keto folks excrete more of these minerals, increasing the risk of deficiencies.[*]
- Sleep. Without your best sleep, you won’t be your best self. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Societies’ consensus is to shoot for seven or more hours per night to promote optimal health.[*]
Record these subjective measures in a journal as you tweak your Keto routine:
- Energy levels
- Ability to focus and concentrate
- Any other metrics that matter to you
What’s more important than how you feel? Not much.
Dialing In Advanced Keto
Now that you know what metrics to record, how should you track them?
The default method is the scattershot method. You use a food logger. A sleep tracker. A ketone tracker. An app for tracking workouts.
If you’re lucky, you get through an entire day without an app erasing your latest data with an unexpected crash.
The scattershot method (sometimes) gets the job done. But it’s not the optimal solution.
The integrated method is better. With the integrated approach, you use an app like Carb Manager to manage your entire Keto world.
Don’t let the name fool you. Carb Manager isn’t just a macro tracker, but also a micro tracker, a ketone logger, an exercise planner, an interactive journal, a goal setter, and a vast storehouse of Keto knowledge all in one place.
Not only does Carb Manager help you optimize your health, but it simplifies your life along the way. And as they say, simplicity is bliss.
Please note that as with any significant diet or lifestyle change, we recommend working alongside a registered health professional, especially if you are currently on any prescribed medications. Fasting is not appropriate for everyone and should be avoided by those with a history of eating disorders, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and anyone under 18.