A condition known as ketosis sets in when the body switches to burning fats for energy production. Typically the providers of our energy needs are the carbohydrates but during ketosis the shift is made toward fats due to a lower level of carbs present. Many low carb diets are structured in a way as to allow more fat metabolism to kick in. When the body starts using up fat stores for energy requirements the result is quick weight loss.
What is Ketosis? Ketons?
During the process of ketosis, byproducts known as ketones are produced. When there is a dearth of glucose in the bloodstream, whether intentional or otherwise, the body draws on fat stores for fuel increasing the number of ketones in the blood. For the better part ketones are an alternative source of energy as muscles and other body tissues use it for proper functioning in times of glucose shortage.
In this ketogenic state the individual tends to feel not as hungry and will probably eat less than usual. In a state of feeling full, there is less likelihood to binge on unwanted calories and the extra weight can start to come off. The body has now switched from being a carb burning machine to a fat burning one which is a dream come true for many dieters who suffer form carrying around all that extra weight around their middle, the buttocks and thighs. It works equally well for obese persons who want to jumpstart their weight loss regimen. With the fat stores becoming a primary energy source the weight starts to drop off faster.
To achieve ketosis for weight loss purposes the body must be on a high fat/protein and low carb diet. Many modern diets including Atkins work along these lines. These diets monitor ketone levels to stay within a safe range where the dieter can achieve his target weight without endangering his health. A high protein low carb/fat diet is an effective tool for weight loss.
Risks involving ketosis:
However as is the case with any regulatory behavior, sustaining a high protein low carb diet for prolonged periods comes with certain risks.
- If ketone levels are not monitored properly, there may be a strain on the kidneys. When kidneys do not perform optimally, the risk of developing kidney stones is heightened. As more calcium is secreted through the urine there is a greater risk of osteoporosis.
- An inundate consumption of high protein sources with a fat content such as red meat and whole dairy products can be associated with increasing cholesterol levels. It is better to stay with lean protein options and consume dairy with reduced fat. Both proteins and fats are also needed for building and repairing tissues and cells. If necessitated, the body can derive its energy needs from these two components.
- When ketone production goes haywire, another condition known as ketoacidosis may set in. This is a state of medical emergency when ketone levels reach toxic proportions and cannot be regulated due to an absence of insulin. Patients of diabetes type 1 who do not have enough insulin to break down glucose rely on fat stores to do the same. As such ketones, the by product of fat metabolism can rise drastically.
As regarding the verdict of a ketogenic diet the opinion remains divided. Paleo ketosis? While some label it as a precedent to many health hazards (which would primarily be ketoacidosis as opposed to ketosis), it supports the Paleo principles that during most of the time that humans have existed they have lived in a ketogenic state eating powerful proteins and favorable fats while limiting their carb intake to healthful choices like fruits and vegetables. With none of the processed carbs to rely on as energy sources, scores of generations have survived making the best of their protein and fat sources available.
Even in a carefully supervised state of ketosis there is an initial adjustment period of 2-4 weeks to adapt to the metabolic shift proving that the body doesn’t need to be operated on carb energy alone but can derive the same from other sources. That just goes to show that the human body is capable of enduring a certain level of ketosis without a complete burn out.