What is Ketosis?

posted by KetoSoul April 13, 2017

Most people have heard they should eat a low-carb diet for weight loss and/or better health, but the word “ketosis” might have some tilting their heads in confusion wondering what’s so special about this funny term. Don’t worry; we’ve got all the details you need to understand the process of ketosis in the body — and more importantly, how you can implement it in your own life!

We will start by describing what Ketosis is with the super brainy WikiPedia version for all you scientific types that love to dive deep into advanced explanations for things…Enjoy!

Ketosis is a nutritional process characterised by serum concentrations of ketone bodies over 0.5 mM, with low and stable levels of insulin and blood glucose.[1][2] It is almost always generalized with hyperketonemia, that is, an elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood throughout the body. Ketone bodies are formed by ketogenesis when liver glycogen stores are depleted (or from metabolising medium-chain triglycerides[3]). The main ketone bodies used for energy are acetoacetate and β-hydroxybutyrate,[4] and the levels of ketone bodies are regulated mainly by insulin and glucagon.[5] Most cells in the body can use both glucose and ketone bodies for fuel, and during ketosis, free fatty acids and glucose synthesis (gluconeogenesis) fuel the remainder. – Link to WikiPedia Article

Okay so before you can fully understand ketosis, we need to cover some simple facts about the body and where it gets its energy.  This is paramount in discovering the entire outcome of positive benefits of keto, ketones, the ketogenic diet and anything to do with low-carb and high healthy fat eating.

The primary source of energy in the body, which fuels almost every function of the body, from brain cognition to athletic performance, is glucose. You usually get glucose from your diet by eating carbohydrates like sugar, bread, grains, beans and legumes, fruit, starchy vegetables (image below)

Foods that give your body glucose - Keto Soul

These carbs either turn immediately into glucose in the body or are stored as glycogen in the body to be used as glucose later. However, sometimes the body will have a low supply of glucose, also known as blood sugar, from starving the body of these carbs. This could be because a person is eating a low-carb diet, engaging in the ketogenic diet or drinking exogenous ketones to keep themselves in ketosis.

THE PROCESS

When there is no longer enough glucose for the body to use, it turns to an alternative source of energy: your fat storage. When this happens, elements known as ketones are formed as a byproduct of the process of your liver processing the fat storage material. There are three main types of ketone bodies that form in your body during this process: Acetate, Acetoacetate, & Beta-Hydroxybutryate (BHB) – For more detailed information on the types of ketones please check out our other page “What are Ketones

**When your body is burning fat instead of glucose, it’s called, “being in ketosis“. This is the process, or “state” that you WANT to be in to gain all the benefits from using fat as a fuel source. We have included a nifty video for better understanding.

(Take a look at this animated short that explains what Ketosis is – provided by the Natural Ketosis Company UK. If you would like to find out more information on the Natural Ketosis Company please click here to view their website)

Here are a couple other links to check out regarding Ketosis:

The Diet Doctor – What is Ketosis?
Authority Nutrition – 10 Signs your in Ketosis

How to know when you’re in Ketosis

To go into Ketosis naturally you need to be eating a ketogenic diet that usually involves between 20-50 grams of carbs each day, a number that can vary per person. To do this means eliminate high-carb foods from your day like: candy, sugar-laden soft drinks, processed grains, any other sources of refined sugar.

You can also go into ketosis using a supplement called exogenous ketones. This is a relatively new way of charging your body and getting into this state faster, but works just the same. You can find out more information about this here. You will still have to maintain a really healthy diet, with little carbs – but drinking exogenous ketones allows you to stay in ketosis easier than being on the ketogenic diet.

For maximum results it is suggested to use BOTH methods, but nevertheless you will have to avoid such foods that will bring you back into a state of using your glucose for energy like: fruits ,legumes, whole grains, potatoes and other starchy vegetables, some of which include anti-oxidents and vitamins that are super healthy for your body.

If you are monitoring your ketone levels frequently (click here to learn more) and you follow the ketogenic diet along with drinking your ketones via suppliment, then your body will become what is called “keto-adapted”, which means you will be more than likely in a state of ketosis all the time.

How to test your ketone levels - Keto Soul

Misconceptions about Ketosis

It’s important to note that ketosis has been unfairly lumped into the same category as starving, which makes those who are uninformed assume it’s unhealthy and bad for the body. But there’s a big difference:

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    During starvation, the body pulls from muscle stores to fuel the body, thus reducing lean muscle mass. Earlier very-low-carb diets, like the original Atkins diet, have been criticized for their extremely low carb intake — less than 20 grams a day — for this reason
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    During starvation, the body pulls from muscle stores to fuel the body, thus reducing lean muscle mass. Earlier very-low-carb diets, like the original Atkins diet, have been criticized for their extremely low carb intake — less than 20 grams a day — for this reason

This way, someone in ketosis can still receive the necessary nutrition and fiber from lots of vegetables while staying within a low carbohydrate intake level.

Basically, ketosis allows your body to continue functioning properly, both physically and mentally, even when there is an absence of carbohydrates or not enough calories being ingested. This is a brilliant function of the body that allowed our ancestors, who didn’t have the great access to food we do today, to thrive for prolonged periods of time without glucose. Now, we’re still able to use that advantage for increase fat burning and improving health.

Health Benefits of Ketosis

Besides promoting a healthy weight, ketosis can also be beneficial for mental and physical performance.

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    Ketosis for Brain Health & Energy: Although glucose is the most commonly used form of energy in the body, a large part of our brains prefer ketones as fuel for mental performance on a low-carb ketogenic diet. Plus, the body can also use protein to provide glucose to the brain (through gluconeogenesis) during ketosis.

    Ketosis has also been used to help control seizures in children with epilepsy by preventing neurotoxicity from an overabundance of carbs. It’s also been shown to have benefits for people with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases and type I and II diabetes.

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    Ketosis for Athletic Performance: During long periods of exercise, the body uses both what you’ve recently eaten and stored glycogen to power you through. But when those glycogen stores have been used up and you still need fuel, the body must turn to protein or fat for more energy. This is not a very efficient process — unless the body has adapted to being in a ketogenic state.

    Athletes and those who have long workouts may see improved output from ketosis because it allows fat to be burned more quickly when the body needs more energy.

What are the benefits of ketosis? Keto Soul

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