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All About Ketosis

What is Ketosis?

“Keto” comes from the word “ketones”. These ketones are the molecules that the body produces when it is on a Ketogenic Diet. These molecules serve as fuel when there is shortage in the supply of glucose in the body. Why is there a shortage of glucose? Because you are not taking in sweets or too much carbohydrates. We know that carbs serve as fuel so without it, our body produces an alternative fuel.

These ketones are being produced from fat which fuels our body as well as out brain. Our body then is in “Ketosis” during this period. The body will run on this alternative fuel making you lose weight really fast.

When you hear someone say that he is on a Ketogenic diet, perhaps you know that it is a low-carb type of diet. However, in order to be convinced to actually follow this, you need to know what it really is about, how your body reacts to this type of diet, and what is the possible outcome of such a practice. You may have also heard or read that the Keto diet actually makes you consume fat, yet they say this diet turns your body into a fat burning machine. Let us answer those questions here.

The Ketogenic Diet is indeed a low-carb diet that helps your body burn fat, faster than your body normally does. It can lead to weight loss, better health, and greater performance. However, the Keto Diet should not be used only for weight loss. It should be followed so you can lead a healthier lifestyle.

Literally, ketosis is the process the body uses to live off stored body fat.

Fats are long strings of fuel. Like giant logs, they are too big to be burned directly, so they have to be broken down to smaller bits. The breaking down can happen in a cell that is planning to use the fat as fuel. When the splitting and burning happen in the same cell, it is called beta oxidation.

Some cells are too busy doing other things to go around splitting all their own firewood. Brain cells (neurons) for example, have no time to sharpen the axe, stack the logs, etc. It’s too bad, because brain cells are really active and need LOTS of fuel.

Luckily, the log splitting (fat breakdown) can be done remotely (in the liver) and the firewood (ketones) can be shipped (through the blood) to the furnaces (neurons) in a pre-packaged state (ketones). This is called ketosis. Basically, ketones are water soluble bits of fat carried in the bloodstream ready for use by any cell in the body.

While our ancestors lived off ketones all winter every year, if you have never stopped eating carbs for more than 3 days, your body has never used ketones as fuel. Your body will not be 100% efficient at it the first time. The liver and neurons will have to produce more of certain enzymes to get really good at living off the fat. That can take some time.

Usually, if your carb supply is below 25g per day, and if you are walking every day (like our ancestors had to), at around day 3, the liver is in full swing turning fat into ketones and shipping them off through the blood for use by the brain. The brain has also been making changes and at around the same time, and 3 days after stopping the carb deluge, it is ready to use the new fuel.

Your doctor at KetogenicDietDoctors.com knows what to look for to make sure all of this is going perfectly.
It is interesting to note that, in professional athletes who use the ketogenic diet, and who are are continually monitored by a medical team, human bodies get better and better at ketosis over about a 6 month period. Once your body is good at ketosis, it can switch into fat-burning mode more quickly and more completely whenever it needs to. The science shows that once your body has gotten used to it, it can burn fat more efficiently even when you are not in ketosis!

There are 3 major calorie types (macronutrients)

Carbs are made of sugar.

  • Simple carbs are called “sugars.”
  • Complex carbs are called “starch” or “carbohydrate.”
  • Fiber is made of sugar strung together in a way you can’t break them down. They just pass through.
    The labels on food include fiber in the carb tally, but really, that’s just confusing and unnecessary. Whenever I list the number of carb grams, I have already deleted the fiber, leaving the “Net Carbs” which are the ones that actually affect you most.

Carbs, like fat, are mostly used as fuel by the body. It is strange to note that when we eat carbs, our bodies say to themselves “Carbs! It must be summer! Let’s get busy eating all the carbs we can find, and store them as fat for the winter. If there is one berry, there must be more around here somewhere.”

This is why eating carbs increases your appetite, and why “You can’t eat just one” when it comes to sweets, chips, bread, or other carb-heavy foods.

This also explains why people find it easier to increase body fat eating carbs than they do by eating actual fat! Eating the fat has an appetite suppressing effect (“Satiety”) whereas carbs have an appetite stimulating effect.

Animals who have survived the winter and spring don’t have much fat left in their bodies by the time summer comes around. When we eat fat, it’s almost as though our bodies say “I’m eating fat. It must be winter. There is probably not much food around, so I better not get too hungry.”

Fat or oil, as we discussed, is a very concentrated store of energy. There is more energy packed into every gram of fat than any other fuel. It burns clean. This makes them the best fuel for long term use. There are some special fats like omega 3s, etc, but we can get into that later. For now, think of fat as stored energy.

Proteins are made of chains of smaller units called amino acids. Amino acids are mostly needed as structural building blocks for everything in your body, but they can also be broken down for fuel in case of emergencies. When they are broken down, they burn dirty. The “Amino” part is actually converted in the body into ammonia. Yes, the same thing they use as an industrial cleaner and in the manufacture of explosives. After the amino part is removed, some amino acids turn into sugar before being burned, and some go down the fat pathway and never turn into sugar.

We need a supply of protein to do things like keep our muscles intact, repair our bodies, and keep the immune system working. This is especially true if you are engaged in hard physical work, athletics or trying to build muscle mass. However, because some of the protein will turn into sugar, (and the fact that it burns dirty) we need to keep the protein intake down to the right level.


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