How to Get Into Ketosis

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The term “ketosis” can be confusing, if you are following a ketogenic diet, being in a state of ketosis is one of your goals, however if you are an insulin dependent diabetic, ketosis can be a very dangerous state. Here’s a simple overview of ketosis.

What Is Ketosis?

Ketosis means that your body has gone from the state of using carbohydrates as its source of fuel to a state where your body burns fat as fuel. When you eliminate carbohydrates in your diet or burn any available carbohydrates your body will reach a point where there aren’t enough carbohydrates (sugars) in your bloodstream to replenish the glycogen stores in your liver. Your liver makes and stores glycogen from carbohydrates as a quick food (energy) source for your body.

When there are no carbohydrates, your body needs an alternate food source. At that point, your body will use fat (fatty acids) as fuel. Your liver breaks down fats into ketone bodies, more commonly referred to as ketones. As your liver releases ketone bodies into your bloodstream for your body to burn as energy, you have reached the state known as ketosis.

The Physiology of Ketosis

Carbohydrates are sugars and starches that your body burns (oxidizes) to support your metabolism, the entirety of your bodily functions. If you consume excess carbs, your body converts those calories into fat using insulin. Carbohydrates that aren’t converted into glycogen (fuel) aren’t really stored as carbs; they are stored as body fat.

If you eat too few carbs or burn all the carbohydrates in your bloodstream and then don’t replenish them, your body will be forced to find other fuel sources including dietary fat and then stored body fat.

Dieting and Ketosis

Low carbohydrate diets seek to reduce or eliminate bread, pasta, sugar, soda, pastry and similar processed flour or sugar-based foods that are high in carbs. The popular Atkins diet and the South Beach diet rely on forcing your body into a state of ketosis to promote the process of rapid fat burning and fat-loss during ketosis. Dieters who follow a ketogenic diet or a similar low-carbohydrate diet such as the Paleo diet also promote ketosis. 

Is Ketosis Dangerous?

Ketosis is simply the presence of ketones in your bloodstream, it is not harmful. However, high levels of ketones, prolonged ketosis or a lack of glucose (sugar) in the blood in an insulin dependent diabetic can be very dangerous. High levels of ketones combined with dangerously low levels of glucose is known as ketoacidosis, resulting in blood that is too acidic. In a healthy person, insulin prevents ketoacidosis, but in those with Type I diabetes, their bodies don’t produce insulin, and a lack of glucose in their blood can lead to ketoacidosis and serious complications.  Click here for keto resources.

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