Ketosis - what is it really, how does it actually work?
Amidst the keto craze, it's vital to grasp the science behind this metabolic marvel. Ketosis, a state where the body shifts from burning carbohydrates (glucose) to utilizing fat (ketones) for energy, is at the heart of the ketogenic diet.
When we limit carbs and embrace healthy fats, our body, deprived of its usual glucose fuel, taps into fat stores, producing ketones. These small molecules become the body's efficient energy source, but achieving consistent ketosis demands careful macronutrient balance—high fats, moderate proteins, and minimal carbs.
Ketosis is often seen merely as a weight loss tool, but it boasts a much broader potential. It's a metabolic therapeutic, a natural approach often overlooked in disease reversal. I've witnessed its transformative power, not just in humans but even our canine companions.
In our practice, Candid Apple: Nutrition & Functional Medicine, we delve deeper, using ketosis strategically for patients battling chronic diseases, including cancer, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular health, and metabolic syndrome. It's even been a beacon of hope for epileptic children, reducing seizure frequencies.
Let’s dive into the interworkings.
When eating a diet balanced with carbohydrates, fat and protein, our body’s preferred fuel source is glucose which comes from the breakdown of carbohydrates.
However, when your body doesn't have enough carbohydrates to burn for energy, it burns fat instead making a byproduct called ketones for its fuel source. This fuel source is actually more efficient and often underutilized.
But don’t get me wrong, it’s not for everyone.
Ketones are small molecules that are produced in the liver and our bodies naturally make them.
There are three different types of ketone bodies that can be tested in the body to measure if you are actually in ketosis:
Our bodies occasionally utilize ketones for energy, but achieving a consistent state of ketosis is hindered by our daily carbohydrate intake. Before relying on fatty acids, the body taps into stored carbohydrates, known as glycogen, in the liver and muscles.
Glycogen must store with water and weighs around 3-5 lbs! On a ketogenic diet, when carbohydrate intake is significantly reduced, the body depletes glycogen stores and the associated water weight. This rapid shedding of glycogen and water weight results in noticeable and immediate changes on the scale for those transitioning into ketosis.
The body then turns to breaking down fatty acids for energy, and a ketosis state will continue if the proper macronutrient ratios (moderate protein, low carbohydrates, and high healthy fats) are maintained. This enables the body to shift to ketones as its primary fuel source.
To follow a keto diet, you must eat mostly fats (and we here at Candid Apple advocate for only the healthy fats which we will discuss in another blog), moderate protein, and minimal carbohydrates.
The typical ratios for ketosis are:
These ratios become significantly stricter (80% fat, 18% protein, 2% carbs) for individuals dealing with cancer or chronic diseases. The ketogenic diet serves as a powerful metabolic therapeutic approach, often underestimated in addressing the reversal of these illnesses. At Candid Apple: Nutrition & Functional Medicine, we emphasize the overlooked potential of metabolic therapeutics, utilizing ketosis alongside targeted supplement protocols. This comprehensive strategy proves to be an effective complementary or alternative approach in managing a wide array of chronic diseases, including various cancers.
The benefits of the ketogenic diet are well-documented, extending beyond weight loss to profoundly impact health and performance. It exhibits positive effects on severe conditions and ketosis can enhance HDL cholesterol levels, often referred to as the “good” cholesterol.
However, caution is crucial. While promising, long-term effects are under scrutiny, urging a cyclical approach to ketosis. Understanding the nuances of this metabolic shift empowers us, opening doors to innovative strategies in the realm of functional medicine.
Want to learn more? Let us help you demystify ketosis together and unveil its full potential in holistic health. Contact us to schedule an appointment.