Ketosis is a normal metabolic process in the body that involves utilizing stored fat for energy instead of glucose. Normally, glucose provides fuel for the system, allowing your body to function normally. If glucose levels are low, the body will metabolize alternate sources of fuel to supply the proper amount of ATP for all bodily function. A diet containing very low carbohydrate levels can induce ketosis for weight loss. Research is still being done to determine the value and effects of ketosis on various health conditions.
The human body uses glucose as a primary fuel source. When the levels are inadequate to meet the body’s demands, it will begin to produce it through various metabolic processes. Glucose usually comes from the diet and mainly carbohydrates. Carbohydrates like fruits and dairy products or starchy foods such as pasta and bread can be broken down into sugars. These carbohydrates can be utilized and “burned” as the primary fuel source providing the dietary intake is sufficient. In the event that there is an excess of glucose in the blood it can be stored in the form of glycogen in the muscles and liver. These stores can be converted to glucose when needed in the future.
When the body’s glucose level is too low, the body goes into numerous processes to make more. If the glucose supply cannot be restored to the necessary level, other fuel sources are utilized to produce ATP molecules. One of these processes, to produce the needed ATP is Ketosis. This process “breaks down” fat stores. These stores are metabolized and the fatty acids are oxidized in the Krebs cycle which is a metabolic process that produces high levels of ATP molecules. This process requires oxygen and is linked to prolonged aerobic exercise that is best for “fat burning”.
Ketosis metabolizes fat stores and ketones are produced which in turn can be used to produce the energy source of the body. If the ketone level rises too high, ketoacidosis can develop which can produce an acidic level that is detrimental to normal bodily functions and possibly cause death.
Some people have attempted to utilize the process of ketosis to “burn” fat stores and lose weight. If someone consumes low levels or no carbohydrates, the body will begin to use the alternative fuel sources to produce the energy molecules of ATP. These diets are referred to as ketogenic or keto diets. These diets are considered to be “high-fat diets” and can be used for short term weight loss. The depletion of carbohydrates and glucose in the blood stream forces the body to transition to another metabolic process to produce the needed energy molecules.
Keto diets might help to control medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease by improving the HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol). This might be related to the weight loss associated Keto diets or the consumption of healthier foods. Most major healthcare groups and organizations that support heart health agree that there is not enough concrete scientific evidence to indicate that Keto diets provide sufficient health benefits to the heart.
Diabetic patients are recommended to adhere to a low carbohydrate diet because they are unable to process and use the glucose in their blood due to the lack of sufficient insulin. If the diabetic patient is careless and does not monitor their ketone levels which rise with the use of a Keto diet they can develop the serious and potentially deadly condition ketoacidosis.
Ketosis is a metabolic process that is utilized in the body to develop energy producing molecules of ATP when the level of the primary fuel source, glucose, is not adequate. Some people are proponents of using ketosis to lose weight by eating a low carbohydrate diet which lowers the glucose levels and enhances the “burning” of fat stores. This has shown promise for short term weight loss but has not been proven to be effective for a prolonged time period.