Ketosis is a natural metabolic state.
It means that the body produces ketone substances from fat and uses them as energy instead of using carbohydrates for energy.
You can get into the state of ketosis by following a very low carbohydrate, high fat ketogenic diet.
In addition to rapid weight loss, ketosis can have several health benefits.
The subject of “ketosis” is quite complex, but in this article I’ll explain what it’s all about and what health benefits a ketogenic diet can have.
What is ketosis?
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which fat provides the most fuel to the body.
Ketosis occurs when there is limited access to glucose (blood sugar), which is the preferred source of fuel for many cells in the body.
Ketosis is most commonly associated with ketogenic and very low carbohydrate diets. It also occurs during pregnancy, childhood, fasting and when hungry.
In order to get into a ketosis state, people usually need to eat less than 50 grams of carbohydrates a day and sometimes even just 20 grams a day.
This requires the removal of certain foods from your diet, such as cereals, sweets and sugary soft drinks. You also have to reduce legumes, potatoes and fruits in your diet.
A very low-carbohydrate diet reduces insulin levels in your body and releases fatty acids from body fat stores in large quantities.
Many of these fatty acids are transmitted to the liver, where they are oxidized and converted into ketones (or ketone substances). These molecules can then deliver energy to the body.
Unlike fatty acids, ketones can cross the blood-brain barrier and provide energy to the brain in the absence of glucose.
Ketosis provides your brain with more energy
It is a common misconception that the brain does not function without energy in the form of carbohydrates.
While it is true that glucose is favored by the human brain as an energy source, and that there are some cells in the brain that can only use glucose as fuel.
However, a large part of the brain can also use ketones as energy, such as during starvation or when your diet is low in carbohydrates.
In fact, after just three days of starvation or a low carb diet, the brain gets 25% of its energy from ketones. In long-term starvation, this number rises to around 60%.
In addition, the body can use proteins to produce the small amount of glucose that the brain needs during ketosis. This process is called gluconeogenesis.
Ketosis and gluconeogenesis are perfectly capable of ensuring the energy needs of the brain.
Ketosis is not the same as ketoacidosis
Many people often confuse ketosis and ketoacidosis.
While ketosis is part of normal metabolism, ketoacidosis is a dangerous metabolic condition that can be fatal if left untreated.
In ketoacidosis, the bloodstream is flooded with extremely high levels of glucose (blood sugar) and ketones.
When this happens, the blood becomes acidic, which is seriously harmful.
Ketoacidosis is most commonly associated with uncontrolled type 1 diabetes. It may also occur in people with type 2 diabetes, although it is less common.
In addition, severe alcohol abuse can lead to ketoacidosis.
Effects on epilepsy
Epilepsy is a brain disorder characterized by recurring seizures.
It is a very common neurological disease affecting around 70 million people worldwide.
In the majority of patients, anti-seizure medications can help to control the seizures. However, despite the use of these drugs, around 30% of patients continue to have seizures.
In the early 1920s, the ketogenic diet was introduced as a treatment for epilepsy in people who did not respond to drug treatment.
It has been used mainly in children, with some studies showing considerable benefits. Many epileptic children have had a massive reduction in seizures on a ketogenic diet, and some have even recovered completely.
Effects on weight loss
The ketogenic diet is a popular diet to lose weight, which is well supported by science.
In fact, many studies have found that ketogenic diets – and low carb diets – result in much greater weight loss than low-fat diets.
One study reported 2.2 times more weight loss for people with a ketogenic diet compared to those on a low-fat, low-calorie diet.
In addition, individuals tend to feel less hungry with a ketogenic diet due to ketosis. For this reason, it is usually not necessary to count calories in a ketogenic diet.
Other health benefits of ketosis
Ketosis and ketogenic diets may also have other therapeutic effects.
They are now being studied as a treatment for a variety of diseases:
- Heart disease: Reducing carbohydrates to achieve ketosis can improve the risk factors for heart disease, such as triglycerides, total cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol in the blood.
- Type 2 diabetes: The diet can improve insulin sensitivity by as much as 75%, and some diabetics are able to reduce or even stop diabetes medication.
- Metabolic Syndrome: Ketogenic diets can improve all the major symptoms of the metabolic syndrome, including high triglycerides, excessive belly fat and increased blood pressure.
- Alzheimer’s disease: A ketogenic diet can have benefits for patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Cancer: Some studies suggest that ketogenic diets can help with cancer therapy, possibly by helping to cut off cancer cells and thus “starve out” them.
- Parkinson’s disease: A small study found that the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease were improved after 28 days with a ketogenic diet.
- Acne: There is some evidence that a non-carbohydrate diet can reduce the severity and progression of acne.
Does ketosis have any negative health effects?
There are some potential side effects that can be experienced with ketosis and ketogenic diets.
These include headache, fatigue, constipation, high cholesterol and bad breath.
However, most symptoms are transient and should disappear within a few days or weeks.
And although extremely rare, there were a few cases of breastfeeding women developing ketoacidosis, probably triggered by a low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet.
People who take blood glucose lowering medications should consult a doctor before starting a ketogenic diet because the diet may reduce the need for medication.
Sometimes ketogenic diets are low in fiber. For this reason, it is a good idea to make sure you eat a lot of high fiber and low carbohydrate vegetables.
In summary, ketosis is generally safe for healthy people.
Nevertheless, not everyone will like it. Some people can feel great and full of energy in ketosis while others feel miserable.
Ketosis is a natural metabolic state that can be achieved through a ketogenic diet.
He has a variety of health benefits, including weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and reduced seizures in epileptic children.
However, following a strict diet can be very difficult to induce ketosis. In addition, some people experience negative side effects or just do not feel well.
Ketosis is not for everyone, but it can have a massive benefit for certain people who want to improve and lose weight.
If the ketogens diet seems too severe, I recommend a low carb diet that has almost the same benefits on weight loss and overall well-being.