Defining Ketosis and its Potential Benefits

Ketosis

Let’s define ketosis.

The keto diet is an eating pattern that restructures daily macro ratios to 70% fats, 5% carbs, and 25% proteins. This deprives the body of glucose needed to burn for fuel. Usually, this forces the liver to break down body fat into fatty acids resulting in the formation of ketone bodies for energy. Ketone bodies, namely beta-hydroxybutyrate, can be used as a substitute for glucose as an energy source. This metabolic state of the body is known as ketosis.

How Nutritional Ketosis Works

ketosis

The body’s preferred form of energy comes from burning carbs. If you cut out carbs for a sufficient period of time, your body will eventually run out of stored glucose. Once this reservoir of glucose runs out, the body will be forced to find another source of energy (your fat stores).

This is when the body starts fat breakdown for energy, and also uses the fat that is being consumed, to use as energy. The breakdown of triglycerides (the molecules making up fat) releases some glucose for energy.

This also releases ketones as a byproduct. This is why people often test their urine samples to see if their body is in a state of ketosis. Check out this guide on how to use keto strips to measure ketosis.

It usually takes anywhere from 2 to 4 days to enter into a state of ketosis if a person eats less than 50 grams of carbs per day. However, it may take longer to activate in some people due to various factors such as metabolism, physical activity, and the ratio of macronutrients.

Is It Good for Your Body to be in Ketosis? – The Health Benefits

define ketosis

For most people, switching to a keto diet will result in rapid weight loss – provided they stick to proper guidelines for meal planning. It is worth noting that any weight loss during the first few days on the keto diet will be a result of water loss. This is why you should wait at least a month or more to achieve greater consistency.

We recommend giving the keto diet a go for three months and then seeing what life is like for you.

Benefits of Being in Ketosis

define ketosis

There are several benefits of being in ketosis – backed up by a range of studies and anecdotal evidence. Most benefits of the keto diet require more research to validate them.

You Feel Satiated

Most diets are difficult to follow because they keep the body in a perpetual state of hunger. But the keto diet makes it easier to achieve satiety because of the emphasis on high fat foods that can keep those hunger pangs at bay. This means it’s easier to adhere to the keto diet, and you are less likely to eat ‘cheat’ meals due to the increased state of hunger. 

If you are eating the right mix of fats from high quality sources, as well as a moderate amount of protein that helps you keep full, you’ll have no difficulty following the keto diet. 

Balances Blood Glucose Levels

Since you are avoiding refined sugar, you are also reducing the risk of spiking your blood sugar levels; and also helps you avoid the feeling of fatigue from sugar crashes. Moreover, the low levels of carbs allows the body to maintain glucose levels at a low but healthy level. This also reduces the need for insulin.

One study on the ketogenic diet found that they can be particularly helpful in regulating the levels of HbA1c. This refers to the level of glucose in hemoglobin over a period of three months.

Reduces the Need for Medication

olive oil

Since the keto diet can reduce blood sugar levels, it could allow some people with type II diabetes to reduce their need for medication.

With that said, experts have warned about the risk of developing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) for those combining an insulin regimen with the keto diet. Hypoglycemia refers to a condition where blood sugar levels fall below 70mg/dL. This is why it is strongly suggested to discuss any dietary changes with a medical professional if you are on medication.

A low dietary carbohydrate intake can be dangerous for individuals who are taking medications for diabetes.

May Help Manage Epilepsy

Ketosis epilepsy

Fun fact: The keto diet was designed in the 1920s to treat epilepsy in patients who didn’t respond well to conventional treatments.

The keto diet is primarily used to reduce seizures in children. Studies show that the keto diet can significantly minimize the rate of seizures in individuals and may even cause a remission. With that said, the keto diet may not be easy to follow in the long run for people who don’t respond well to drug treatments.

Protects the Brain

The keto diet has been known to provide neuroprotective benefits, particularly in individuals who have undergone traumatic brain injury. It can also be used to improve cognitive function in patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. More large scale randomized trials will need to be conducted in the future to confirm any benefits for brain function. 

Can be Used to Manage Cancer

A growing body of evidence has shown that a low-carbohydrate diet, especially the ketogenic diet, with moderate amounts of protein, can be used with standard chemotherapy to improve a patient’s tumor response. This is because ketone bodies induce more oxidative stress in cancer cells compared to normal cells, causing them to die.

Helps You Sleep Better

By cutting out additives in your food sources and switching to a very-low-carbohydrate diet, your body gets more tired at night. Studies also show that the keto diet can increase adenosine activity that can reduce pain and inflammation – which can go a long way in improving your sleep patterns. You might find that you are getting tired quickly – if that happens to you, go to sleep!

Cuts out the Junk Food

No more binging on the couch with a bag of crisps. The junk food goes out the window when you are on keto, and this also means that you are improving your health indicators, and spending your hard earned money on healthier food. It’s also better for your wallet, as junk food can get quite pricey. Spend the savings on healthier sources of fat such as avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, oily fish, and seeds.

Weight Loss Comes Easy

Switching over to a keto diet will result in easy weight loss. This is because, besides burning more fats, you are cutting a lot of foods that are processed.

Moreover, an interesting benefit of the keto diet is that the more fats you eat, the more satiated you feel, and the more you’ll want to adhere to your meal plans, and the easier it is to achieve your weight loss goals. If you are constantly hating your diet regimen, and craving foods you can’t have, you are more likely to abandon the keto diet.

Are Ketones Toxic? – Ketoacidosis is Rare

benefits of ketosis

The body cannot tolerate excessively high levels of ketones and will try to purge them through frequent urination several times per day (hence urine tests). Small amounts of blood ketone levels indicate that the body is breaking down fat. However, high levels can lower the body’s acidity, leading to a life-threatening condition called ketoacidosis.

If left untreated, ketoacidosis can poison the body. People with type I diabetes are at a greater risk of developing ketoacidosis. These people should monitor their ketone levels regularly.

Ketoacidosis often occurs due to illnesses that lead to hormonal imbalances in the body that can work against insulin. It can also occur due to problems with insulin therapy, either through not receiving enough insulin or through missed treatments.

Other causes of ketoacidosis include:

  • Physical trauma
  • Stress
  • Surgery
  • Emotional trauma
  • Drug misuse

What are the Negatives of the Keto Diet?

understanding ketosis

There are a few side effects of the keto diet that are mostly mild and well tolerated among individuals. Some of these include:

Keto Flu

Ketosis can induce flu like symptoms such as fever and headache among individuals. This is known as ‘keto flu’ because symptoms resemble flu like symptoms. Keto flu is perfectly normal and is to be expected because the body is still getting accustomed to using fats instead of carbohydrates as the primary source of fuel.

Keto Breath

Ketosis can cause bad breath that people describe as fruity and slightly sweet. It is mostly caused by acetone, a ketone that is a byproduct of burning fat. The bad breath is temporary and should dissipate within days or a few weeks of starting the keto diet. Until then, you can do a few things to improve your breath such as increasing your water intake and eating less protein.

Practicing good oral hygiene – such as flossing and brushing your teeth twice a day – can also reduce keto breath. You can also mask the odor by chewing sugar-free gum and mints. Note that some chewing gum and mint will contain a  small amount of carbohydrates. Taking too many pieces of chewing gum could kick your body out of ketosis!

Leg Cramps

It is common for most people starting the keto diet to feel leg cramps. These cramps can be painful and primarily affect the calf muscle, although they have been known to affect other parts of the leg as well. Most episodes of leg cramps will subside after a few minutes. The exact cause of leg cramps isn’t clear, but experts believe that it is a result of multiple factors such as pregnancy, poor blood flow, and the use of medication that can increase risks.

The keto diet also leads to more dehydration because people tend to pass urine more often thanks to factors such as increased sodium excretion and reduced insulin levels. This in turn, can lead to leg cramps.

Common fixes include the addition of an electrolyte supplement – such as multivitamins containing magnesium and potassium. This should take care of any nutrient deficiencies you might have. You should also stay properly hydrated by drinking lots of water. Pale yellow urine is a sign that you are properly hydrated.

Heart Issues

Most medical professionals do not advise their patients who are at risk of coronary heart disease to start a keto diet because the consumption of high fat foods can lead to cardiovascular complications.

Bottom Line: Is It Good for Your Body to be in Ketosis?

ketosis defined

The ideal ratio of fats to proteins to carbs seems to vary between individuals. It is important when implementing the keto diet to pay attention to how you feel and talk to your doctors about tracking your health indicators, in order to make sure the keto diet is right for your body.

For the most part, ketosis is completely safe for the vast majority of people – but there can be exceptions to this rule.

A popular misconception of the keto diet is that it leads to rapid weight loss within the first few days and you can eat as many ‘keto friendly’ foods as you want. Unfortunately, this is not true and you should still adhere to a calorie deficit in the long run. There is no way around the CICO (calorie in, calorie out) rule. Reduction in calorie intake is crucial for weight loss. 

Check out this calculator to calculate your caloric intake for the day. 

The keto diet requires time for your body to fully adjust to, this often means going through unwanted side effects such as bad breath and muscle cramps. The first few days of the keto diet can be difficult for some people, but sticking to it in the long run will yield beneficial results.

As with any lifestyle change, it is best to consult with your doctor for medical advice before diving into the keto diet, especially if you have medical conditions such as diabetes. And as always, pay attention to how your body responds and make suitable adjustments accordingly.

Founder, Certified Ketogenic Diet and Ketosis Health Coach.

Access Our Full Keto Guide

Subscribe today and get full access to our exclusive Keto guide that will transform your health and weight loss dramatically for FREE.

FREE: Access Our Full Keto Guide for Beginners.

Table of Contents

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

More To Explore...

keto net carbs or total carbs

Keto Net Carbs or Total Carbs

Keto net carbs or total carbs? If you really want to stir up trouble in the world of keto, just raise the topic of total