Ketosis is a state where the majority of the supply of energy to the body comes from ketone bodies in the blood. It’s a metabolic process which is triggered when we do not have enough glucose to use for energy. Instead, stored fats are used which causes an increase in ketones within the body.
Normally, we get our energy from glucose. We can convert carbohydrates such as pasta, bread and sugar into glucose to use for energy. Glucose is very important because it is used to provide energy and help fuel your body.
When our body has limited glucose stores it will look for an alternative energy source, fat. Instead of glucose, the body breaks down stored fat.
This is why weight loss experts have shown an interest in ketosis. It’s a state where the body burns fat, so weight loss is probable.
The Ketogenic diet
Most people probably won’t experience ketosis if they are eating a normal, healthy diet. Your body will naturally control how much carbohydrates and fat it burns. However, it’s when people start to dramatically reduce the amount of carbs they are eating that Ketosis can occur.
When Ketosis is achieved you will have a higher amount of ketones in your blood.
The aim of the Ketogenic diet is to try and trigger this process which will then lead to rapid weight loss. The Ketogenic diet is essentially a very low carb diet.
The main aim is to try and convince the body to rely on burning fat instead of carbohydrates to get energy. It enables the body to burn a higher amount of fat than usual and enhances your bodies ability to burn fat for fuel.
The Ketogenic diet mainly involves cutting out all carbohydrates such as pasta, bread and potatoes.
A diet is considered to be Ketogenic if you are consuming less than 50 or 60 grams of carbs a day. However, it’s not that simple. In order to achieve Ketosis you also need to consume enough fat and reduce your protein intake.
Most of the calories you get from this diet are from your fat intake. People on the Ketogenic diet can eat between 60 to 80% fat, however, the amount of fat you need to eat will depend on how much exercise you are doing.
People that back the Ketosis diet claim that as well as helping you to lose weight, it can help suppress your appetite and the food you eat on the diet helps to make you feel fuller for longer. Eating too much protein can throw you out of ketosis because some people’s bodies can get better at converting protein into glucose.
There are a lot of diets at the moment that focus on eating little or no carbohydrates. Another very well known diet that involves cutting out carbohydrates is the Atkins diet. In Fact, the Ketogenic diet has been called the new Atkins diet.
Before starting any extreme diet you should speak to a health expert. Our bodies need a wide range of nutrients from all the different food groups.
It’s not a good idea to completely cut out one food group. It’s quite difficult to totally cut out carbohydrates because they are a source of energy. If you completely cut them out straight away you might start to feel weak, dizzy and faint. The best way to lose weight is to eat a healthy, balanced diet.
Some of these popular diets might help you to drop a few pounds in a short time, but it’s keeping the weight off that’s the real challenge. Do you really want to follow a diet that doesn’t allow you to eat any carbohydrates for a long period of time?
It’s also important to note that there’s no point going on a diet if you don’t exercise. People on an extremely low carbohydrate diet may find it difficult to do enough exercise because they might not have enough energy. If you do a lot of exercise then it’s dangerous to completely cut out carbs.
Another issue with this diet is that, like most diets, it may work for some people but not others. Everyone is different and requires different variations of the major food groups.
For some people, cutting out carbs will help with weight loss, whereas others may need to look at other areas of their diet instead. It’s a good idea to go and see a nutritionist or personal trainer in order to determine what you should be eating in order to achieve your weight goals.
The Ketogenic diet can be dangerous if taken to the extreme. You can become dehydrated, lack energy and high levels of ketones can mess up the balance in your blood. As with any extreme diet, there are risks involved and potential side effects.
Talk to your doctor before starting a new diet to check whether it’s safe to do so. This diet can be very dangerous for some people, for example diabetics and pregnant women. On the other hand, some doctors will recommend a Ketogenic diet to patients with health conditions.
Some studies claim that it can help with children who suffer from epilepsy. However, Professor Thomas Seyfried from Boston College who has researched the diet warns ‘This diet is not to be taken lightly and there are healthcare professionals who work specifically in administering it’.
Diets that only allow minute amounts of carbohydrates can also cause deficiencies in key nutrients such as folate, iron, potassium, thiamin and magnesium. Supplements can be taken to counteract this, but they are not as beneficial as the real thing.
It’s definitely possible that the Ketogenic diet can lead to short term weight loss. After a month or so you may start to see changes in your weight. However, there have been some studies that have shown that doing this diet for longer periods, such as a year, doesn’t really have any significant benefit.