What exactly is Ketosis? The metabolic state of ketosis simply means that the quantity of ketone bodies in the blood have reached higher-than-normal levels. When the body is in a ketogenic state, this means that lipid energy metabolism is intact. The body will start breaking down your own body fat to fuel the body’s normal, everyday functions.
What are the benefits of establishing this metabolic state of ketosis?
The main benefit of ketosis is that it increases the body’s ability to utilize fats for fuel, which gets very lazy on a high-carbohydrate diet. When on high-carbohydrate diets, the body can usually expect an energy source to keep entering the body. But in the state of ketosis, the body has to become efficient at mobilizing fats as energy.
Ketosis has a protein-sparing effect, assuming that you are consuming adequate quantities of protein and calories—0.7 grams per pound of body weight per day—in the first place.1 Once in ketosis, the body actually prefers ketones to glucose. Since the body has copious quantities of fat, this means there is no need to oxidize protein to generate glucose through gluconeogenesis.
Another benefit has to do with the low levels of insulin in the body, which causes greater lipolysis and free-glycerol release compared to a normal diet when insulin is around 80-120. Insulin has a lipolysis-blocking effect, which can inhibit the use of fatty acids as energy. Also, when insulin is brought to low levels, beneficial hormones are released in the body, such as growth hormone and other powerful growth factors.
Another small but very important benefit of the ketogenic diet is that when in the state of ketosis, ketones, along with a high protein intake, seem to suppress appetite. A high-carbohydrate diet, on the other hand, increases hunger levels. Because you have to consume a lot of fat on a ketogenic diet, which hold 9 calories per gram, you are not getting much food volume. It’s not mandatory to be hungry on a reduced-calorie diet.
DOES BEING IN THE METABOLIC STATE OF KETOSIS PRESENT DANGERS?
I feel the benefits of the ketogenic diet outweigh the pitfalls, but as with any diet, speak with your doctor first. Some of the points of arguments are:
During the first few weeks of the ketogenic diet, the body has to go through the “metabolic shift,”. While going through this, the body will experience a small degree of fatigue, brain fog, and even dehydration due to the increased water loss associated with ketoic-induced diuresis and water loss from depletion of glycogen stores.
Once the body gets used to manufacturing ketones as the main energy substrate, the body actually has more energy than it previously had, and you won’t have to be fighting through all those low-blood-sugar crashes your high-carb meals previously gave you. Additionally, hydration should be an area of high priority, especially before, during, and after exercise.
Blood-lipid profile is also a concern on the ketogenic diet due to the staggering amounts of saturated fats in the diet, although the diet can be centered around healthier unsaturated fats—which isn’t as fun as eating an egg and cheese omelet, fried in butter, with bacon on the side!
Blood-lipid-profile issues are experiencing much debate; some people following the ketogenic diet will experience a drop in cholesterol levels, but for some people, cholesterol levels will increase.
Because carbohydrates are restricted to less than 50 grams a day, the issue of micronutrient deficiencies can occur. Thiamin, folate, calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium are typically inadequate in low-carb diets. The best thing to do to avoid this is to make sure you take a high-quality multivitamin to ensure you get 100 percent of the daily value. Also supplementing with a fiber supplement is a good idea to make sure your plumbing doesn’t get clogged.
Ketoacidosis occurs when the level of ketones in the blood gets out of control, which poses a severe health risk for diabetics. When massive quantities of ketones are produced, the pH level of the blood drops, creating a high-acidic environment. Nondiabetics need not fear, as the regulated and controlled production of ketone bodies allows the blood pH to remain within normal limits.