I get asked this question many times per week. “What is ketosis, and is it dangerous?”
First, let me give you the basic understanding of ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic process that occurs when the body does not have enough glucose for energy. Stored fats are broken down, resulting in a build-up of acids called ketones within the body.
If someone is trying to lose weight, but maintain muscle, following a ketogenic diet is a good way to accomplish this goal. A ketogenic diet is quite simply ANY diet that forces the body into the process of ketosis. It is also known as a low carbohydrate diet, or a KETS diet.
In order to force the body into ketosis carbohydrates have to be restricted greatly, and depending on factors such as protein intake, an intake of 50 grams or less carbohydrates a day will usually induce ketosis. This varies from person to person, but the general rule is to avoid fruits and starches. Other variations of a ketogenic diet also restrict the intake of high fat foods, as well.
It usually takes 3-4 days for the body to get into a state of ketosis. Once this is reached, there are some obvious changes in the body, such as reduced appetite, more energy, and sleeping patterns can become better, as well as less cravings. All natural. Without shots, pills or hormones.
Good sources of carbohydrates are those that are in leafy green vegetables, because of their low glycemic indexes, which have the least effect on insulin release. That is the key; controlling the excess release of insulin from the pancreas. The hormone insulin is released from the pancreas in the presence of carbohydrates, good and bad. If the body is not regulating this hormone efficiently, the outcome can result in weight gain, or fat storage.
Our bodies are used to turning carbohydrates into glucose to send all over the body as energy. When we enter ketosis by sufficiently limiting our carbohydrate intake, our liver starts breaking down fat cells into fatty acids and ketones, to be used as energy.
The process of ketosis is different than ketoacidosis. Diabetic ketoacidosis develops when your body is unable to produce enough insulin. Insulin normally plays a key role in helping sugar (glucose) — a major source of energy for your muscles and other tissues — enter your cells. Without enough insulin, your body begins to break down fat as an alternate fuel. This process produces a buildup of toxic acids in the bloodstream called ketones, eventually leading to diabetic ketoacidosis if untreated. This condition usually happens with Type 1 Diabetics or possibly insulin dependent Type 2 diabetics. In a ‘normal’ healthy body, there are mechanisms in place that the body knows to keep you out of ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is dangerous, and as always, you should consult a health care professional before starting any type of drastic diet.
One of the most important lessons I have learned during my weight loss and wellness journey is keeping the body in a good pH balance is the key to optimal health and fat loss. So, while on a super low carb diet, using the low glycemic vegetables and adequate protein (not high protein) will help the body maintain a good pH balance while you are achieving your weight loss goals. In addition, drinking a good amount of water, taking good supplementation, including quality fish oil is also important on your journey.
In conclusion, ketosis just means your body is burning your fat for fuel. The result is fat loss, inch loss, lower cholesterol, sugar regulation and many other health benefits.