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What the Heck is Keytosis?

Updated on November 10, 2009

Your Metabolism is the Key

One of the functions your liver performs is to converts fat into fatty acids and ketones to be used by the body for energy. Ketosis is the ideal state that we all want to reach to lose weight. Ketones are molecules produced by the liver during fat metabolism and are a normal source of fuel and energy for the body. Diets that restrict caloric intake do cause you to lose weight, but a portion of that weight loss is from fat and the remaining portion is from lean muscle tissue. The loss of lean muscle tissue causes your metabolism to slow, making weight loss more difficult and regaining weight easier.

When your body is in the state of ketosis, it is using fat as its' primary source of energy. If you are consuming adequate lean protein, your body will use your muscle tissue for fuel. One your liver has converted fat from your fat stores into ketones, those cannot be converted back to fat and stored, so the body must excrete the molecules in your sweat and urine.

Low Carbs - Not the Answer

Many people are of the mindset that they are not losing weight because their ketones have dropped to a lower level. This means that "Ketostiks" (test strips which indicate the ketosis process) no longer show a purple color on the test strip. Weight loss continues with or without the ketones being present. The excess ketones eliminated in the urine disappear on a low-carb diet after the body becomes accustomed to using dietary fats for energy instead of glucose. This usually takes place within a few weeks on the diet. People who normally eat high-carb meals have been fueling their bodies from the glucose and fructose obtained from carbohydrates. Their cells have had very little experience burning fatty acids for energy. The body uses the glucose first in order to prevent high levels of glucose in the blood.

Low carb diets rob the body of glucose fuel, so the body reacts by dropping the production of insulin and increasing production of the hormone glucagon. The glucagon draws stored fat reserves in the form of triglycerides for use by the cells as the new energy source. The body's cells are slow to react to this new fuel source, and it may cause you to feel weak or sluggish.

A More Efficient Fat Burner

The liver begins to break down the extra fatty acids which are not being used by your body's cells. However, the liver does not have the enzyme necessary for complete break down of the fatty acids. This causes ketone molecules to be released into the blood. A strange taste in the mouth and mild breath odor is evidence of the presence of these ketones. Other body cells can then use the ketones for energy. The brain can also use ketones contrary to the myth that the brain must be powered by glucose alone. Some areas of the brain still require glucose and this is something that the body makes from amino acids or fats. The body then begins to use the fatty acids for energy more efficiently after a few weeks and the ketone level drops to normal. This does not mean you are not losing weight. It means that your body is becoming a more efficient fat burner.

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