Ketosis is a metabolic state where the body uses fat as a source of energy instead of glucose. It is good for brain health, weight loss, epilepsy, and heart health.

Ketosis is a metabolic state where the body turns to ketone bodies in the fat for energy rather than using glucose from carbs. Following a low-carb diet or high-fat diet leads to ketosis as the body lacks carbs to provide the energy needed by body muscles and cells. The Ketogenic diet has been used to facilitate weight loss as the body utilizes the stored fats (glycogen) and water to provide energy. Additionally, this diet could suppress an individual’s appetite, resulting in a low-calorie intake and weight loss. Apart from weight loss, studies show that ketosis has numerous health benefits, including better brain function and improved epileptic conditions in children. Though ketosis is a complex subject, we will cover its certain aspects that can benefit you in this article.

What is Ketosis?

Ketosis is a process in which the blood has high levels of ketone bodies rather than glucose. This state is achieved when the body is starved of carbs, turning to fats for fuel production. Often the body uses glucose or blood sugar as a primary source of energy, and in the event of low glucose, fat becomes the obvious alternative for energy. A ketosis state is achieved by following a ketogenic diet that propagates a low-carb diet. You can also enter ketosis during starvation or fasting, pregnancy, and infancy.

Eating fewer carbs of between 20-50 grams could jump-start ketosis, though the carb amount varies from one person to the other. Ketosis requires that you eliminate certain food from your diet, including candy, grains, and sugary drinks. One should also cut back on foods that have carbs or sugars, such as fruits, legumes, and potatoes. With a low-carb diet, the body’s insulin levels go down, prompting the release of fatty acids to form the stored fats in the body. The fatty acid is then taken to the liver, where the body oxidizes them to ketone bodies for energy provision. The ketone body is considered a clean energy source as it can pass through the blood-brain barrier, providing the brain with the needed energy when glucose is lacking.

Ketones and the Brain

It was misunderstood in the past that the brain only functions with dietary carbs. While it is true that glucose is a popular source of energy and that some brain cells only use glucose, a large part of your brain can also utilize ketone bodies for energy during starvation. Some studies indicate that after three days of fasting, ketones supply25% of the brain’s energy. If the starvation period increases, ketones will supply approximately 60% of the brain’s energy. Additionally, during the starvation period, the body will convert protein into glucose needed by brain parts not using ketones during ketosis in a process known as gluconeogenesis. It means that taking a high-fat diet combined with gluconeogenesis can comfortably fulfill the brain’s energy needs.

Ketosis and Ketoacidosis

These terms have been confused by many people. Ketoacidosis is a disorder that can prove fatal if not treated, while ketosis is a metabolic state. Ketoacidosis is a condition where one’s blood has extreme levels of ketones and glucose, making the blood acidic. This condition can be dangerous to your general health and is licked with uncontrolled type 1 diabetes. Severe alcohol abuse can result in ketoacidosis since alcohol damages the liver.

Ketosis on Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a disorder that affects the brain with symptoms, such as recurring seizures. The world of medicine has antiseizure medications to control it. Nevertheless, about 30% of individuals using these medications continue to experience convulsions. The ketogenic diet was suggested in the 1920s as a treatment mechanism for children unresponsive to epilepsy drugs. Some studies have shown that this diet is effective in reducing seizures, with others experiencing complete remission.

Ketosis and weight loss

Many people are troubled with their weight and are looking for a sustainable diet that can help them shade some pounds. Studies indicate that the ketogenic diet can be effective in promoting weight loss. For example, one study indicated that the ketogenic diet resulted in more than two times more weight loss than those on a calorie-restricted or low-fat diet.

The ketogenic diet reduces appetite and makes individuals fuller, a phenomenon associated with ketosis. As a result, people on a ketogenic diet do not need to count calories. The diet can prove successful if one sticks to it since you can easily get out of ketosis if you do not follow the diet. Some have found the diet restrictive, whereas other have followed it successfully for a long time.

Other Health Benefits

Some experts, though not all, agree that ketogenic diet could have several therapeutic effects, including:

Heart disease– Some past studies show that limiting carbs during ketosis can promote heart health by reducing triglycerides and LDL cholesterol-risk factors for heart disease. However, a study conducted in 2019 indicated that individuals on a low-carb diet could miss the benefits of heart-friendly foods, such as pulses and whole grains.

Type 2 diabetes– The ketogenic diet can help reduce various risk factors for type 2 diabetes. It can enhance insulin sensitivity and reduce obesity.

Parkinson’s disease– One small study showed that individuals with Parkinson’s disease placed on a ketogenic diet demonstrated improvement in symptoms in 28 days.

The Negative Health effects of ketosis

Though the ketogenic diet is praised for its health benefits, it also has negative side effects. In the short run, new diet initiates could experience fatigue, headache, bad breath, constipation, and high cholesterol levels, which often disappear in a matter of days or weeks after commencing on a diet.

Additionally, the diet can result in the development of kidney stones. Some breastfeeding mothers have experienced ketoacidosis due to the low carbohydrate in the diet. Those under medications, such as drugs that lower blood sugars should consult with their physician before beginning a ketogenic diet since the drugs may not be necessary.

Tips to help you during ketosis

  • Drink plenty of water or any other recommended fluids.
  • Please consult with your doctor before embarking on the diet and adhere to their advice.
  • Track the functionality of your kidney while on a diet.
  • Seek help should experience extreme side effects.

The Bottom Line

Ketosis is a healthful metabolic state in which the body utilizes stored fats and converts them into the ketone body to act as a source of energy in place of glucose. The ketogenic diet that brings about ketosis has several health benefits, including reduced seizures in children with epilepsy, weight loss, and reduced blood sugar levels. A ketogenic diet can also be challenging for some people to follow, including some potential side effects. Remember that this diet is not for everyone, though it can benefit some people.

Nutritionist. Bluffton University, MS

In today's world, people's eating and exercise patterns have changed, and it is often lifestyle that is the cause of many diet-related illnesses. I believe that each of us is unique – what works for one does not help another. What is more, it can even be harmful. I am interested in food psychology, which studies a person's relationship with their body and food, explains our choices and desires for specific products, the difficulty of maintaining optimal body weight, as well as the influence of various internal and external factors on appetite. I'm also an avid vintage car collector, and currently, I'm working on my 1993 W124 Mercedes. You may have stumbled upon articles I have been featured in, for example, in Cosmopolitan, Elle, Grazia, Women's Health, The Guardian, and others.

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