If you are planning to go on a Keto Diet, you may want to know what is Ketosis and how does it help human body. Below I will try to explain the process of getting into Ketosis and all the various benefits that your body experiences once it enters Ketosis.
The article would be little technical in nature because it is important to understand the science behind Ketosis. If you have any specific questions, you can always ask in the comment section below and I would be happy to answer to the best of my ability.
What is Ketosis?
Glucose is the main energy source of the body. Glucose is obtained by the body from the sugars and carbohydrates we consume. The excess glucose is stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen. Under conditions when the body does not have enough glucose to meet its energy requirements, it derives its energy from the fat stores in the body. The liver converts the fat stored in the body into fatty acids and glycerol. Fatty acids are then broken down into ketone bodies by the process called ketogenesis.
Ketone bodies are the water soluble molecules acetoacetate, hydroxyl butyrate, and acetone. The ketone bodies specifically “acetoacetate” and “hydroxyl butyrate” circulate in the blood and provide energy to the body. The metabolic state wherein the body converts the fat stores in the body into ketone bodies as an alternate source of energy is called ketosis. This is why on a ketogenic diet through the process of Ketosis, your body uses fat as the fuel source and burns it allowing you to rapidly lose weight as well as inches. Ketosis serves as a survival mechanism of the body during conditions of prolonged fasting, starvation, and intense exercise and in diseases such as untreated type I diabetes.
What happens when you have too many ketones in your body?
Ketone bodies are acidic and the body has certain physiological processes that maintain the acid-base balance by compensating for the acidity in the body due to ketone bodies. However, during prolonged ketosis when the amount of ketone bodies is high, the body’s acid-base balance is disturbed. This is because the physiological processes that maintain acid-base balance are no longer able to cope with the increased acidity due to increase in ketone bodies. This condition is called ketoacidosis. While ketosis is a normal metabolic state, ketoacidosis is a dangerous condition that requires medical help. Diabetic ketoacidosis due to type I diabetes and alcoholic ketoacidosis due to alcohol intoxication are commonly occurring conditions.
Ketosis has various benefits. It can be used as a fat burning mechanism for weight loss and for improving symptoms of various disease conditions. The way to enter Ketosis is through following Ketogenic diet.
How to enter a state of Ketosis?
The ketogenic diet is designed to provide a deficit of carbohydrates to your body and force your body to a state of ketosis so that it burns down a lot of fat. Ketogenic diet consists of foods with low carbohydrate and high fat content along with protein containing foods to ensure that the body’s protein requirements are met. One must keep in mind that sugar is also a no-no on a ketogenic diet. The following are the common ketogenic diets used to induce ketosis:
Standard ketogenic diet This diet is made of 75% fat containing foods, 20% protein containing foods and 5% carbohydrate containing foods. It is a high fat, low carbohydrate and moderate protein diet.
Cyclical ketogenic diet While following this diet you are on ketogenic diet for 5 days followed by a high carbohydrate diet for 2 days. You follow this cycle of ketogenic diet followed by carbohydrate diet during your entire dieting period.
Targeted ketogenic diet While following this diet you are allowed to consume carbohydrate rich foods when you work out.
High protein ketogenic diet This diet contains more protein when compared to the commonly followed ketogenic diet. This diet contains 60% fat rich foods, 35% protein rich foods, and 5% carbohydrate rich foods.
Standard and high protein ketogenic diets are the most commonly followed ketogenic diets. Most people are in a state of ketosis within 2 weeks of starting the diet. Certain factors such as your genetic makeup, medical conditions you may be suffering from, your body’s energy requirements and your body’s composition determine how long your body takes to enter into ketosis. The rate of onset of ketosis is also determined by how strictly you restrict your carbohydrate intake.
Ketogenic diet in weight loss
When your body is in a state of ketosis the fat stores of your body are burnt. The obvious benefit of following a ketogenic diet that induces ketosis is weight loss. Ketogenic diets will help you lose fat and build muscle mass. From research studies, it has been concluded that among people who followed low fat diet and ketogenic diet of same calorie value, people who followed the ketogenic diet showed more weight loss compared to people on low fat diet.
In another study, it was shown that people who followed ketogenic diet showed more weight loss than people who followed low calorie and low fat diet. It was also seen that the triglyceride levels and HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) levels also improved in people on the ketogenic diet.
Ketogenic diets help in weight loss by reducing your appetite and food cravings. Leptin is the hormone released from fat cells and is responsible for your feeling of satiety. When on a ketogenic diet your body releases more leptin and you acquire a feeling of satiety faster and retain it longer after your meals. Ketogenic diet also reduces your cravings for sugar containing foods.
Ketogenic diets have been shown to decrease lipogenesis (fat synthesis). It also increases burning of fat in your body even when you are at rest and while performing your routine daily activities encouraging weight loss. Ketogenic diets have been found to be very effective in burning your abdominal fat which is usually very difficult to burn with conventional weight loss plans.
Benefits of entering into Nutritional Ketosis
Ketogenic diet or Ketosis can also be used for treating medical conditions
Ketogenic diets were initially introduced during the early 20th century to treat the symptoms of epilepsy. Ketogenic diets are commonly used to improve symptoms of epilepsy in children. The mechanism by which the ketogenic diet helps treat epilepsy is still not completely understood.
Diabetes and Insulin Resistance
Ketogenic diets have been found to lower blood sugar levels and can be used for treating diabetes. It can also be used to prevent diabetes in the prediabetic population.
Insulin resistance occurs in type 2 diabetes. It has been found that ketogenic diets improve insulin sensitivity and symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
In a research study, obese individuals suffering from type 2 diabetes were made to follow the ketogenic diet. In these individuals, it was found that insulin sensitivity increased by 75%. Apart from this, they also showed a decrease in triglyceride levels, cholesterol levels, and hemoglobin A1C levels.
Ketogenic diets lower your risk of developing heart disease by increasing your HDL cholesterol levels, decreasing your LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels, lowering your triglyceride levels, lowering your blood sugar levels and improving your blood pressure.
Ketogenic diets have also been found to improve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and slow the disease progression.
Ketogenic diets improve the symptoms of acne. This can be due to the low carbohydrate content of ketogenic diet, which also reduces sugar cravings.
Metabolic syndrome is characterized by high blood pressure, increased abdominal fat, low HDL cholesterol levels, increased LDL cholesterol levels and high blood sugar. It leads to diabetes and heart disease. Ketogenic diet has a positive effect in improving all the symptoms of metabolic syndrome lowering your risks of developing diabetes and heart disease.
I hope now you know what is Ketosis all about, how you can enter a state of Ketosis and some of the benefits of being in a ketosis state. Please let me know if you have any specific question on ketosis and I would be happy to get back to you.