What is Ketosis?
The human body, like a motor car engine, needs energy from fuel to function. The motor car engine’s fuel is gasoline while the human body needs sugar (or glucose). Carbohydrate is the primary food group that is broken down to form glucose, which is then converted into the energy the body needs. In diets that emphasize a small amount of carbohydrates, the so called “low carb” diets, the body does not have enough carbohydrates to break down into glucose for energy so the body has to use it storage of fat to create energy.
When the body is in a state of ketosis, ketones (sometimes called ketone bodies) are released into the blood stream. Ketones are toxic, acidic chemicals (acetone, acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutane). This release of ketones into the blood happens when the liver is converting fat into the fatty acids that will be used as energy by the body.
The body’s use of its fat storage during ketosis causes a loss in weight. This is why the low carbohydrate diets are so effective in creating weight loss in a relatively short period of time.
The excess ketones (acetone) created by the body is removed via the lungs by breathing and via the urine. The breath will have a fruity smell (sometimes mistaken for alcohol) and the urine gets darker. The presence of ketones in the urine can be detected with a special urine test strip sold in some pharmacies. Other than weighing on a scale, this is one way that you can check to see if your low carbohydrate diet is being effective.
Potential Dangers of Ketosis
If the body stays in a state of ketosis for a prolonged period of time, serious stress can occur to the liver and kidneys. A prolonged ketosis state is also thought to have a damaging effect on muscle tissues.
A condition called ketoacidosis, which is a severe form of ketosis, causes the acidity of the blood to fall to dangerous levels. This condition is normally associated with type 1 diabetes and should not be confused with ketosis.
The ketosis process is very instrumental and effective in the way the body loses weight when the carbohydrate intake to the body is reduced. This reduction in carbohydrate forces the body to uses its fat storage to create the energy it needs to function. This is why low carbohydrate diets are so effective for losing weight and have become so popular in the last thirty years.