Understanding Ketosis in Weight Loss from Low Carb Diets

Any type of diet which utilizes ketosis for weight loss is, by definition, going to be both dangerous to your health and low carbohydrate in nature.

What Ketosis Is

Ketosis occurs when your body experiences levels of ketone bodies that are elevated above normal levels. This occurs by a process known as ketogenesis. In the human body, ketone bodies are formed when there is no more liver glycogen to be used. These ketone bodies are then used by the body to make energy for the body to use.

If the body is unable to use glycogen in the creation of energy, fat will be used, instead. In this process, called lipolysis, the fat is broken into three fatty acid chains and a single molecule of glycerol. These fatty acids are then used by most of the body as a source of energy, in a process that biologists call beta-oxidation. However, when these fatty acids in the blood reach the brain, they are unable to penetrate the blood-brain membrane. The simple definition of ketosis is when your body no longer burns glucose for energy and begins to use fat, instead.

Using Ketones for Energy in the Brain

In the beta-oxidation process, a chemical called acetyl-CoA is produced. The formation of this chemical is seen as the beginning stages of ketosis. Acetyl-CoA, created during lipolysis, is used by the liver for energy production in the body. This chemical formation process begins after a short period of fasting, or when the body burns through its stores of glycogen because you quit consuming carbohydrates.  This consumption of acetyl-CoA by the liver produces ketone bodies. This is the process which leads to the ketosis state.

The Risks of Ketone-Induced Weight Loss

When too many ketone bodies are produced in the liver, they will slowly decarboxylate into a chemical known as acetone.  This is because ketone bodies are highly acidic. Normally, your body is able to maintain a neutral state of acidity. However, if ketosis is allowed to continue too long, a form of acidosis called ketoacidosis can occur. This condition can cause dehydration, hyperglycemia, ketonuria, as well as increased levels of glucagon.

The increased levels of glucose in the body can end up causing tubular reabsorption failure in the kidneys. This condition causes water leakage into the tubules of the kidneys in a process called osmotic diuresis. This condition is what causes dehydration and makes the acidosis worse. Ketonuria is defined as an elevated level of ketones in your urine. Ketonuria is a precursor for the levels of ketones in the blood to increase to dangerous levels if dietary habits aren’t changed.

How to Minimize the Risks

Most diets that have the dieter seriously restricting carbohydrate intake are short duration, typically fourteen days and less. This is because ketone buildup and the accompanying negative factors take about 14 days to start reaching levels that medical science considers dangerous. So, if you’re planning weight loss using ketones, be sure that you stay on the reduced carbohydrate diet for between 10 and 14 days and no more.

Using ketones for weight loss can help you lose decent amounts of weight relatively quickly, if you’re careful with it. However, as with any diet plan, you should consult your physician before embarking on this kind of diet plan.


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Posts By Sequoia
  • capughe

    Ketone production is part of normal body function. The state of dietary induced ketosis involves higher blood ketone levels, but nowhere near the level seen in ketoacidosis (3.0mmol/L vs. 10.0mmol/L). Ketones only ‘build up’ if you have almost no insulin function (as seen in uncontrolled diabetes) which is why ketoacidosis is commonly associated with hyperglycemia: both ketones and glucose are running rampantly unchecked in the blood stream without insulin managing it.

  • Fraggla

    So what you’re saying is that I’m dead already since my ketones are unable to penetrate the blood-brain membrane, leaving my brain without any energy-source since 5 months?
    I’d like to ask you to stop posting bs about stuff you have no clue about. Guess early homo sapiens died right after birth as they didn’t have any carbs to consume other then berries.
    Same goes for all carnivores out there. I can see how Lions go out farming for their regulated carb intake.

    TL;DR: This article is bad and you should feel bad.

  • mrsblackross

    I must be already dead. I have been maintaining ketosis for 15 months.

    My bloodwork labs, which were done after 10 full months, (including cholesterol, potassium, magnesium, kidney functions, etc) are all better than they have ever been in my life, even before I gained all the weight. I have gone from 205lbs to 146lbs and have NEVER felt better in my life.

    Do some research before posting drivel. Ketoacidosis is nearly impossible to achieve unless you have an existing insulin issue (as in diabetes).

  • Kmac

    I’m sorry, I’m going to have to agree with everyone below. Everyone has a different view on carbs and whether LC or VLC diets are good or bad for your own body is a personal decision.

    That being said, I would hope that future articles on this topic might be a little better researched.

    Ketones do not build up in the body (except in very rare cases of uncontrolled diabetes – who should not be trying to be in ketosis in the first place, and you will KNOW if you are one of these people). Ketones do not build up because 1) our bodies use the for fuel in increasing amounts as the diet progresses and 2) we regularly excrete (through urine and breath) all of the extra ketones that we arn’t using.

    Ketisis and a ketogenic diet has been used for years at a time to help treat medication-resistant epilepsy, though the diets used to treat these poor souls have not been as delicious as the ones available nowadays.

    Also, ketones do penetrate the blood-brain barrier. Fat does not. Fat is broken down into ketones(carbon-fragment fuel) and glycogen(sugar fuel) by the body during ketosis.

    Please do more research before publishing this stuff as fact. 🙁