Ketosis is a normal metabolic state in which the body converts fats into energy which releases ketones in the process. When the body does not produce enough glucose for energy use and fat stores are converted into glucose it causes an acid build-up in the blood called ketones. Ketosis can be observed in diabetic patients where the body does not produce enough insulin, or does not utilize insulin correctly.
Ketosis is a condition in which fats are broken down to be used as energy which produces a type of acid known as ketones. When ketone levels rise, acid in the blood increases which can lead to a serious condition called ketoacidosis that can be fatal. Under normal circumstances the body uses glucose as its primary source of energy. Glucose is derived from carbohydrates such as sugars in foods such as milk, yogurt, and fruits, and from starch in foods such as pasta and bread which the body breaks down into simple sugars.
Glucose is used as fuel for energy, or stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen. If not enough glucose is produced to meet energy demands, an alternative strategy will be adopted by the body to meet those needs. This involves breaking down the fat stores to make glucose from triglycerides. A byproduct of this process is ketones in the form of acids that build up in the blood and are normally eliminated in the urine. Small amounts of ketones indicate that the body is effectively breaking down fat, however, high levels poison the blood and lead to ketoacidosis.
Some people use a ketogenic or low-carbohydrate diet to encourage ketosis to help lose weight by forcing the body to burn unwanted fat for energy. The diet is a high-fat diet that derives around 75% of calories from food that contains fat, 20% from proteins and 5% from carbohydrates. A ketogenic diet may lead to short-term weight loss as participants consume fewer calories while on the diet without suffering from hunger pangs.
Health Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet
A ketogenic diet may have health benefits for serious conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome. It may also improve HDL cholesterol levels (high-density lipoproteins) better than other carbohydrate diets.
How Does The Ketogenic Diet Work?
When you eat foods that are high in carbohydrates your body will produce insulin and glucose, which is the easiest for the body to turn into energy, and the body will, therefore, choose it first over any other energy source. Insulin is used to process the glucose in the bloodstream and move it through the body. Since glucose is the primary source of energy, fats are not used and therefore stored in the body. On a typical high carbohydrate diet the body will choose glucose as the main source of energy, but by lowering carbohydrate intake the body will be forced into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is the natural process used by the body to help it survive when food sources are low. During ketosis, ketones are produced as a result of the fats being broken down in the liver.
The goal of a ketogenic diet is to force the body into a state of ketosis by starving the body of carbohydrates. As the body is incredibly adaptive to what is consumed, when it is overloaded with fats and starved of carbohydrates, it will automatically use ketones as its primary source of energy. Optimal ketone levels can offer many benefits such as weight loss, improved mental performance, enhanced physical performance, and many other health benefits.