If you are looking to lose weight or just be more health conscious, chances are you have researched various dieting methods. In your searches, you may have stumbled across the word ‘ketosis’. Those trying to encourage ketosis often follow a low-carb or ‘ketogenic’ diet. But what really is ketosis? There can be a lot of confusing information out there, but don’t worry: we’re here to clear things up.
For starters, ketosis is one of your body’s natural metabolic processes. When we eat gluten-rich foods, our bodies burn those carbs rather than burning fat. You may have heard of athletes eating large amounts of pasta the day before a big game. By doing this, that glucose is burned as energy rather than body fat. When there is not enough glucose for our body to burn for energy production, however, stored fat is burned instead and produces a buildup of acids. These acids are known as ‘ketones’.
That doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Isn’t the effort of any diet to burn fat? This is a tricky question to answer where ketosis is involved. Because burning stored fat rather than glucose produces a buildup of acid, the acidity of your blood can rise as well. If left unchecked, that acidity could lead to a serious and potentially fatal health condition known as ketoacidosis. Additionally, if you have diabetes, your body may already be experiencing ketosis on a regular basis as low or incorrect insulin production can affect how our bodies burn glucose.
These facts may seem scary, but studies show that ketogenic diets can lead to weight loss of up to twelve pounds over a four week time period. It can also improve the levels of HDL-cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol. Studies have also shown that those suffering from cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, or diabetes have seen overall weight and health improvement thanks to ketogenic diets. However, these positive results only really appear when ketogenic diets are followed on a short-term scale. Long-term adherence to a ketogenic diet can be harmful as it does lead to a potential buildup of acid and possible ketoacidosis.
If you are still unsure if ketosis is safe, ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I looking to lose weight quickly?
- Am I looking for a short-term diet plan which can lead to regular healthy eating habits?
- Am I suffering from cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, or diabetes?
If you answered yes to one or more of those questions, the chances are that following a ketogenic diet could be beneficial for you. As long as ketogenic diets are followed on a smaller scale to lead way into healthy eating habits or to jumpstart weight loss, the risk of ketoacidosis is less than those who would follow the diet long-term. Additionally, ketosis is a natural process that occurs on occasion when you haven’t had as many carbs in your diet. The bottom line: moderation is key. As long as you aren’t overdoing it, ketosis isn’t likely to cause significant damage to your health and can actually help with weight loss!