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What is Ketosis and How Does it Help with Weight Loss?

What exactly is ketosis and does it work?

Ketosis and Weight Loss??

“Ketosis” seems to have become a common buzz word in today’s weight loss or health industry, but what exactly is ketosis and does it work?

Ketosis is a natural part of the metabolic process which occurs when the body doesn’t have adequate carbohydrates from nutrition for your cells to burn for energy, therefore it burns fat instead. As part of this process, it makes ketones and ketoacids. Ketones and ketoacids are substitute fuels for the body that are made when glucose is chiefly absent. They are created in the liver from the breakdown of fats.

When you are eating a balanced diet, your body controls how much fat it burns, and you don’t make ketones. When you restrict calorie or carbohydrate intake, your body will change to ketosis for energy. Ketosis can also occur after intense exercise, during pregnancy and with uncontrolled diabetes.

Ketosis can become dangerous when ketones build up, especially if you are diabetic as ketosis is a sign of not using enough insulin. High levels of ketones in your blood can lead to dehydration and change chemical balances in your blood.

Ketogenic Diets

Getting into ketosis is a contemporary weight loss strategy. There are several nutrition plans used to achieve ketosis including Atkins’ initial set up and the Paleo plan. Both of these emphasize using proteins to fuel the body. Two of the main benefits of these plans are feeling less hungry and maintaining muscle mass.

Healthy individuals can expect ketosis to begin around the 3 or 4 day mark. Achieving this goal entails consuming less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day, which is about 3 slices of bread, a cup of low-fat fruit yogurt, or two small bananas.

Health Benefits of Ketogenic Plans

Current research studies propose ketogenic diets can help with a variety of conditions (1). Much of the research has shown that it can lower your risk of heart disease, while other studies show medically supervised extremely-low-carb plans help people with metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes by significantly lowering blood glucose levels.HDL cholesterol levels significantly increased, whereas LDL cholesterol levels significantly decreased when on these special dietary plans.

Ketosis for Fat Loss

Ketosis happens due to the body changing its fuel source from carbohydrates to fats. The consequence of partial oxidation of fatty acids by the liver is the buildup of ketones in the body.

Ketosis has a substantial impact on hunger suppression. Therefore it is surmised, a ketogenic diet is a good way to regulate caloric intake.

Several recent studies, with appropriate control groups, compared the effect of a low fat diet with a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet (1). They found that that obese women on a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet lost 8.5 kg over six months compared with 4.2 kg lost by those in the low fat diet group.

The Importance of Testing Your Ketones

What happens if ketones build up in your body? Well the answer is short and sweet … Your blood will become acidic, which creates ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis, when left unmonitored, can cause coma or death.

Other side effects include: Thirst or dry mouth, frequent urination, fatigue, dry or flushed skin, nausea or vomiting, trouble breathing/shortness of breath, confusion or fruity-smelling breath. If you experience symptoms, call your doctor immediately.

Prior to starting one of these nutrition plans, it is imperative that you purchase Ketostix, which are test strips, from your local pharmacy. They are used to check your urine for ketones and tell you when you are in ketosis. You can also purchase a blood glucose monitor to test your blood sugar levels.

If you don’t know how and when to test your ketones, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or diabetes instructor.


Present studies show a ketogenic diet worked efficiently for weight reduction in obese patients (1). They also concluded there was a significant decrease in the level of triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and glucose, and a significant increase in the level of HDL cholesterol in the patients. The indications were ketogenic diets are safe for a relatively long period of time, especially when compared with the side effects of medications for weight loss.

Cathie Glennon, BCRPA-SFL, CSNA Sports Nutrition Advisor, Pharm Tech (Level 3)

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