A couple weeks ago I covered some of the basics of the ketogenic diet for the night shift, you can find that post here, in I discussed some of the benefits of going keto and a small template to get people started. This week I wanted to go more in depth into everything that is keto. The ketogenic diet for night shift requires quite a bit of discipline because it forces you to reevaluate the foods you are eating, and cut out quite a bit that you may have grown to love. But then there is bacon.
What is Ketogenic Diet
In order to follow the ketogenic diet for the night shift, you must follow a certain template of eating. When you consume fewer carbohydrates than required for basic functioning your body must turn to alternate sources of energy. This is usually less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. Or as some call it incidental carbohydrates.
Typically when carbohydrates enter your system they serve as fast-acting fuel for your cells. Once in your body, they are broken down into simple sugars, including glucose, lactose, and fructose. Each of these serves a different function within your body. Typically everyone is familiar with glucose which is sent directly into the bloodstream to aid in activity and to repair and replenish the cells.
In the absence of carbohydrates, the body is resilient and is forced to produce other forms of energy, protein, and fat. When the body breaks down fats, it creates ketones. When ketones accumulate in the blood at high levels, the body reaches a state known as ketosis. The human body was designed to function well in the presence of ketones. Ketones are used in many of the same metabolic pathways where carbs exist. Therefore they are used almost interchangeably. As well Ketones are the preferred foul for the brain.
A key take away for many is that once you reach a state of ketosis you body begins to use fat and protein as an energy source, that includes the fat on your body. Many individuals are now seeking out this diet plan as an efficient way to lose weight. In order to understand if you are in a state of ketosis on the ketogenic diet for the night shift you must test for the presence of ketones in your body, as well as the obvious only consume a very small portion of carbohydrates, which we will cover in a bit
Testing for Ketones
While possible to go into a state of ketosis while on the ketogenic diet for the night shift without testing much of what I try to push is to monitor, test, and reevaluate. This goes far beyond just testing for ketosis. It applies to all things health and fitness related. You can’t track what you don’t measure. That said there are a few different ways that you can test for the level of ketones in your blood to know you are in a state of ketosis.
The most convenient and least expensive method is to use an over the counter urine test that is available at most pharmacies in your area. The two I most recommend and many of the online forum sites recommend is:
If purchasing strips always be sure to check out the positive and negative reviews they will usually give you a good indication of the quality of the strips. However, Ketone strips are not always the most reliable method to check for the presence of ketones. Ketones in your urine are being passed as water, so they don’t always provide an accurate measurement of the presence of ketones. And, as your body adapts to a ketogenic diet, your tissues adapt to using ketones as fuel, becoming more efficient at making and using the right amount of ketones. Which will limit their presence in your urine.
Testing can also be done with a ketone monitor. Monitors are more accurate but are also more expensive. A decent quality monitor up from will already cost you more than the urine strips and they also will get you on the back end with the cost of testing strips. A ketone monitor works the same way as a glucometer, requiring a finger prick and test strips. A number of ketones in your blood depend on the level of ketosis your body is currently experiencing. This is a far more accurate method of tracking then using the urine sticks.
The best quality one I was able to find can be found here:
The final method is a breath analyzer. The Ketonix breath analyzer doesn’t use any blood glucose test or test strip, it works by analyzing acetone on your breath that your body produces when you’re in a state of ketosis.The Ketonix is slightly less accurate as blood ketone and glucose meters are per test. But you will find over a period of a day it can give you a better idea.
Eating on the Ketogenic Diet for the Night Shift
In order to seek changes to your diet, you should adhere to the following ratio.
1 gram combined carbohydrate and protein: 4 grams Fat
To calculate your daily macronutrient requirements, start by calculating how much protein you need, which is based on your body weight. To maintain muscle mass, you need .36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. For many people who typically already understand a bit about dieting this may seem a little low. But to understand why you need to understand gluconeogenesis.
“Gluconeogenesis (abbreviated GNG) is a metabolic pathway that results in the generation of glucose from non-carbohydrate carbon substrates such as lactate, glycerol, and glucogenic amino acids. It is one of the two main mechanisms humans and many other animals use to keep blood glucose levels from dropping too low (hypoglycemia).”
What this basically means is that if the amount of protein in too high while trying to reach ketosis then it will convert protein sources into glucose. The ideal scenario is to have just enough protein to maintain muscle, but no more. Use your ketone test monitor to follow how your body reacts to varying amounts of protein in your diet. Determine your ideal protein intake to maintain the desired levels of ketosis. Adjust as needed.
If you want to use a really good calculator to determine your exact macronutrient breakdown then you can follow this link to a great resource on many things ketogenic.
- Fats & Oils. Try to get your fat from natural sources like meat and nuts. Supplement with saturated and monounsaturated fats like coconut oil, grass-fed butter, cold pressed olive oil, ghee.
- Protein. Try to stick with organic, pasture-raised and grass-fed meat.
- Vegetables. Stick with above ground vegetables, leaning toward leafy/green items. Get to know where your local farmers market is
- Dairy. Most dairy is fine, but make sure to buy full-fat. Harder cheeses typically have fewer carbs. Avoid consuming milk.
- Nuts and Seeds. In moderation, use fattier nuts like macadamias and almonds.
- Beverages. Keep it simple and consume mostly water or a nice cup of bone broth.
Don’t Forget your Coffee
Night Owl Readers can save 10% on Foursigmatic coffees by using promo code nightowl.
While I have gone in depth in my article on caffeine and the night shift before, you can read it here, there is something truly great about being able to have a healthy upgraded version of coffee and not feel guilty about it. One of my favorite podcasts to listen to with tons of good information is done by Dave Asprey, who runs the bulletproof coffee store. Dave hit the nail on the head when I got pulled in, first establish yourself as an expert, provide useful information, and then maybe suggest a product. Got a bit off track but I have to say I love his podcast. For those that need extra info to stay awake while working the night shift.
So what is bullet proof coffee? From Dave’s website.
” It’s a high-performance drink that has a massive impact on your energy and cognitive function. Bulletproof Coffee has helped everyone from driven CEOs to professional athletes to busy parents increase their energy so they can do more of what fulfills them.”
First, you take that nasty Folgers and you update your coffee. Whether you choose to use the bulletproof coffee itself or four sigmatic. I regularly use both. Add 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons of MCT or XCT oil to your coffee of choice, then Add 1-2 tablespoons of grass-fed, unsalted butter or grass-fed ghee. Mix it all in a blender for 20-30 seconds until it looks like a foamy latte. This coffee from my experience provides a much stabler energy release without the crash of standard coffee, and certainly better than energy drinks. Back when I first started working the night shift I never had coffee creamer so I used to dump hot chocolate into my Folgers coffee, honestly this drink kind of reminds me of that, other than being so much healthier for you.
You can look into it here:
Eating Smarter on the Ketogenic Diet for the Night Shift
While eating a ketogenic diet may sound wonderful with the access to being able to eat butter, bacon, fat filled red meat and more, it is important that you understand the quality of what you are putting into your body. The food source is still important and it is why I have always advocated using your local farmers’ market for food choices. Quality matters. For example, bacon is wonderful, most people like it, except my spouse oddly, however, the source of where you get your bacon is important. Nitrate free bacon is always good, farmer’s market bacon is always best. Talk to your local vendor ask them what they feed their animals, how they grow their vegetables. Don’t just consume food for the sake of meeting a number. Inform yourself.
Make sure you are getting enough quality fats, not just any fats but healthy fats.
Sample Template for Eating the Ketogenic Diet for Night Shift
Cheesy Frittata Muffins 8 Large Eggs
- 1/2 Cup Half n’ Half
- 4 Oz. Bacon (pre-cooked and chopped)
- 1/2 Cup Cheddar Cheese
- 1 Tbsp. ghee
- 2 tsp. Dried Parsley
- 1/2 tsp. Pepper
- 1/4 tsp. Salt
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Mix eggs and half n’ half in a bowl until almost scrambled, leaving
streaks of egg white
3. Fold in the bacon, cheese, and spices. Add any other additional ingredients
4. Grease a muffin tin with butter. This recipe makes about 8 frittata muffins.
5. Pour the mixture, filling each cup about 3/4 way.
6. Stick them in the oven for 15-18 minutes, or until puffy and golden on
7. Remove from the oven and let cool
Simple Lunch Salad
- 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 Cups Spinach
- 1/3 Cup Pasture Raised Chicken Breast
You can add seasonings of your choice to salads – just be wary of onion
and garlic powder. Most other spices have a negligible amount of carbs
when seasoning in small amounts.
Ribeye with Asparagus
6 Spears Asparagus
Preheat oven to 400F. Put your cast iron skillet in the oven while it’s cold so that the cast iron heats with the oven.
Prep your steak by rubbing with a light coating of duck fat or oil. Then, apply a healthy coating of salt and pepper on all sides including the edges.
Once the oven is preheated, remove the cast iron skillet and place on the stovetop over medium heat. Add duck fat, or oil, and put your steak into the pan and let sear. Do this for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
Flip the steak and put into the oven immediately for 4-6 minutes (depending on doneness – 4 minutes for medium-rare). Prepare for a bit of smoke to happen as the pan is very hot – but once it goes back into the oven, it should cool down slightly and stop smoking.
Measure out 2 tbsp. butter and 1/2 Tsp. chopped thyme.
Take the steak out of the oven and place on the stovetop over low heat. Add the butter to the pan and baste the steak with the butter. Push the handle of the cast iron downward (you may need something to protect your hand) and scoop the butter up with a spoon, ladling it over the steak. Do this for 2-4 minutes depending on doneness you want.
Place in foil or cover, and let rest for 5 minutes.
Track your Nutrition
When following a ketogenic diet for the night shift it is important that you are still keeping an eye on your micronutrients. At the very least your macronutrients. You will want to use some sort of tracker to ensure you are still meeting near your daily requirements.
Two Decent trackers are
- MyFitnessPal I personally have used this tracker for about a year. The app allows members to log food from anywhere and has a food database of 3,282,000 different kinds of foods to choose from (customized recipes can be added to the database), and all changes made via phone are also made on the website. But unfortunately, it still is heavily based on the calorie. It will show you macro breakdown but this isn’t the front and center feature. And the macronutrient breakdown is lacking.
- MyPlate by Livestrong Basically the same as MyFitnessPal but with a slightly nicer Interface and still with the reliance on the calorie.
My personal choice to Track Your Nutrition.
What this app lacks up for in fancy features the other apps have live forums, or social integration, this app more than makes up for in macronutrient tracking.
Specific advice for the Ketogenic Diet for the Night Shift
Be sure you are getting enough Vitamin D as well when on the ketogenic diet for the night shift. This will always be an issue especially as you go into the fall and the season’s change. The product I use as I followed the zone template before going on keto was this:
Don’t just hop into the keto diet, your body has become adapted to eating carbohydrates, and if you have been chugging energy drinks it is probably a bit out of whack. Ease your carbohydrate countdown. Headaches and fatigue can come from the sudden drop in carbs. When our bodies are used to using carbs for energy, it takes a little bit of time to readjust to using fat. This is the process of becoming keto adapted! It usually takes a person anywhere from 2-5 days to enter ketosis. When carbs are limited to under 50g the body starts to break down fatty acids in ketones, which the brain then uses for fuel. This doesn’t mean you’re keto adapted though.
Nausea can also be caused by the lack of fat converting enzymes. When someone jumps into a low-carb diet too quickly (going from almost no fat a day to eating all the fat they can get their hands on) their body can’t digest all that fat right away. This leaves a large portion of fat undigested and built up and makes some people understandably nauseated.
One of the main causes of keto flu is lack of electrolytes.Electrolytes are minerals in your body that carry an electric charge. Electrolytes affect the amount of water in your body, the acidity of your blood (pH), your muscle function, and other important processes. An electrolyte deficiency can be caused by a few things, most prevalent of which is your water intake and foods you may not be eating enough of. Many people on keto can become deficient in magnesium, potassium, sodium, calcium, phosphorus or chloride, to name a few. Make sure to replenish your electrolytes, whether by a supplement or simply introducing foods that are high in electrolytes into your diet. Let’s look at a few next.
The best way to deal with them is to drink bone broth either by making your own which you can read how to do here. Or purchase a high-quality pre-made broth.
For those of you who enjoy bone broth but would rather not always cook your own (I’m one), here are some great companies that I personally use.
- Kettle & Fire Chicken Bone Broth
- Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Collagen Powder
- Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein
- Bulletproof Collagen Protein
Exercise on the Keto Diet
When you’re in ketosis, the workout intensity matters as well:
- During low-intensity aerobic exercise, the body uses fat as its primary energy source.
- During high-intensity aerobic exercise, carbohydrates are normally the main energy source.
When you’re in ketosis, you’re using fat as your primary energy source. This can make high-intensity exercise, namely anaerobic exercises, more difficult at the beginning of the diet. But there’s a solution:
If you do exercise that is more intense, such as working out more than three days a week and at high intensity, like sprinting or weight lifting, you’ll need to adjust your keto diet to fit your carb needs for your amount of exercise. Simply sticking to the standard ketogenic diet likely won’t be enough in this case.
A good rule of thumb is to eat 15-30 grams of fast-acting carbs, such as fruit, within 30 minutes before your workout and within 30 minutes after. This will ensure you provide your muscles with the proper amount of glycogen to perform during the training and also recover. It allows the carbs to be used exactly for this purpose and prevent any risk of leaving ketosis.
TYPES OF KETOGENIC DIETS
The difference between each ketogenic diet type depends on carbohydrate intake.
Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): 20-50 grams of net carbs per day
Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): 20-50 grams or less of net carbs taken 30 minutes to 1 hour before exercise, best for athletes with high-intensity activities
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD): Eating low-carb keto for several days, then eating higher-carb for a couple of days
Other than this change, you can continue with the standard keto diet ratios during the rest of the day, and a normal keto diet should be fine for low or moderate aerobic, flexibility, and stability exercises.
Like many other eating methodologies, or diets, everyone is unique and they respond to food differently. Simply following a standard template will never work for everyone. While the ketogenic diet for the night shift is certainly one tool is important that you keep your self-informed. Reading this blog helps as I spend countless hours researching, but you are capable of doing the same thing. Understand your body, test, and retest how it reacts to certain foods. I am currently running an experiment on myself to test the effects of keto on energy, brain function, and weight. I am using the Bayer Ketostix Reagent Strips in order to test for the presence of ketones in my body. Quite a bit of research has led me to understand that maintaining ketosis on the night shift is harder than it is for daytime people. But not impossible. If you have been on the ketogenic diet for the night shift and have seen benefits I would love to hear from you drop us a line on our contact page or any of my social media platforms. And stay tuned for the results of my 30-day journey into the ketogenic diet for the night shift.
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