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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