What is Ketosis?

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The term “ketosis” has caused a great deal of confusion among people in recent times since it has gained in popularity as a technique for losing weight. Many people are under the impression that the state of ketosis in the body is a dangerous one and that it should be avoided. However, this is not at all the case. Ketosis is actually a process of the body which means that it is using fat instead of consumed food.


Ketone bodies, also known simply as ketones, are created during the metabolism of fat. These molecules are generated either through the processing of fat being consumed as in the form of food, or when fat already stored on the body is burned. As fat is used as energy for the body, ketones are formed at the same time as ATP (the energy molecules).


Carbohydrates are a macronutrient that can be converted into energy extremely quickly. Therefore, when you eat carbs, you use them exclusively for the energy your body needs – and if you eat more than you need, that excess is quickly stored as fat. However, if you cut back on carbs as you do in low-carb diets, the body is forced to use its stored fat for energy (since proteins and fats take longer to metabolize, if energy is needed, the body must use its stored energy - fats). As fats are burned, ketones are generated. Ketones can be used by some kinds of cells – especially those in the brain – as a form of energy. Acetone, though, is a form of ketone that won’t be converted into energy by the body and is instead simply excreted as waste through the urine.


When the body is continuously excreting those ketones through the urine, it means that the body has entered the ketosis state. Many – though not all – low-carb diets (such as the Atkins Diet, for example) recommend that special ketone detection dip sticks be used to monitor the occurrence and concentration of ketones in the urine.


Many people feel concerned that when the body is burning high amounts of its own stored fats then it must not be receiving enough sugars to be healthy. However, studies have not shown any indication that this is true for people following low-carbohydrate diets. There is typically a week-long adjustment period for the body to get used to the new balance of the diet, but health is maintained throughout. These diets replace carbs with proteins, which are still broken down into some glucose, meaning that just because carbohydrates have been reduced, it doesn’t mean that glucose has been eliminated. In fact, because of the slower metabolism of proteins, it allows the body to receive the glucose it needs without the spikes and crashes of sugars.