Sometimes the quantity of ketone bodies in our blood system may skyrocket beyond what is considered as normal. At this state, you are termed to be in the metabolic state of ketosis. To be in the ketogenic state simply means that your lipid energy metabolism has not undergone any alterations. At this point, your body turns to your body fat to break it down for the energy required to keep the normal functions up and running. A ketogenic diet refers to any meal that orients your body to burn fat for energy production. It comes with both pros and cons.
Pros of Ketogenic Diet
- Burning Fats: If you consume ketogenic diet, it improves* your body’s ability to exploit stored fat for energy production. You body’s ability to convert fat into fuel decreases* if you consume a meal that is rich in carbohydrates. However, in the state of ketosis, your body has no option other than turning to fats for fuel.
- Aids Excretion Of Ketones: When in a state of ketosis, your body is no longer in need of ketones and, therefore, has to be excreted via urine as a waste product. This implies that your urine will constitute body fat. The best thing about this is that your body no longer requires storing energy substrates for future use.
- Protein Sparing Effect: Let’s assume that you ingest an adequate amount of protein and calories in your diet. When your body is in the ketosis state, it would go for ketones rather than glucose. Because your body contain high amount of fat, there won’t be any need for protein oxidation to produce glucose through a process known as gluconeogenesis. This means protein will be used in other functions in your body.
- Lowers Insulin Levels: A decrease* in insulin levels in your system promotes* lipolysis and release of free glycerol. This is in contrast to when you ingest a normal diet when the insulin levels rise to the peak. High levels of insulin block lipolysis are inhibiting the use of fats for energy production. Additionally, low insulin levels favor the release of hormones such as the growth hormone.
- Decreases* Appetite: In the state of ketosis, you are less likely to feel hungry. You be able to survive on a low calorie diet and won’t feel hungry like when you consume meals rich in carbohydrates.
Is There Any Evidence?
Insulin, blood glucose levels, and glucagon are the key players when it comes to controlling the state of ketosis. Pancreas secretes insulin in the presence of carbohydrates. Its purpose is to regulate blood glucose level by pushing the blood glucose into the cells. Reduction* in insulin levels would mean an increase* in blood glucose, which is unhealthy for the body.
On the other hand, glucagon is insulin’s antagonistic hormone that is also secreted by the pancreas following a decrease* in insulin levels. This occurs when you skip meals or eat fewer carbohydrates for a long duration. The pancreas releases glucagon to break down stored glycogen in the life into more usable form. When this continues, glycogen becomes depleted. There comes in the metabolic state of ketosis where the pancreas now turns to fat for energy production.
Cons of Ketogenic Diet
Although the benefits of ketogenic diet outweigh the disadvantages, some health experts argue that it comes with a few pitfalls which include:
- Triggers Fatigue And Brain Fog: Once you resort to a ketogenic diet, there is a likely that you will experience fatigue and brain fog for the first few weeks during the metabolic shift. However, your body will have more energy once it gets used to manufacturing ketones as the main source of energy. You will no longer have to experience blood sugar fluctuations.
- Altered Blood Lipid Profile: This is a major concern in people in ketogenic diet because of the fluctuations in the amounts of fat in the diet. However, the diet can be focused on eating healthy fats instead of relying eggs, butter or bacon. Statistics indicate that alteration in blood lipid profile lowers cholesterol levels in some people whereas it peaks in others.
- Triggers Micronutrient Deficiencies: Due to restriction of carbohydrates in ketogenic diet, micronutrient deficiencies can result. To prevent this from happening, you should focus to taking high quality multivitamin/mineral supplements twice every day. In addition, use fiber supplement to ensure that your digestive system stays healthy throughout.
- Triggers Ketoacidosis: If the level of ketones in your blood skyrockets, ketoacidosis may occur because ketones are acidic in nature. This means your blood pH could become lower which can spell death. However, this should not be a major concern if you are not diabetic. Your blood sugar levels are always under control, and your body will only allow many ketones to be produced at one time. However, if you are diabetic, your blood sugar can go as high as 300-2000mg/dl from the normal level of 80-120. When this happens, there is low insulin to glucagon ratio which can trigger ketoacidosis.
The Ketogenic diet can be a great way to lose* weight for some people but not everyone. Although it has many benefits that outweigh the pitfalls, it is important to take care when you are switching to such a diet. It is thus advisable to consult with your health care provider before making the big move. Be ready to face some challenges after you turn to ketogenic diet. Be ready to enjoy many health benefits if you stick to this carbohydrate restricting diet.
- Bravata DM, Sanders L, Huang J, et al. Efficacy and safety of low carbohydrate diets: a systematic review. JAMA 2003
- The Ketogenic Diet: A Complete Guide, Lyle McDonald
- Freeman J, Veggiotti P, Lanzi G, Tagliabue A, Perucca E.The ketogenic diet: from molecular mechanisms to clinical effects.
- Klein S, Wolfe RR. Carbohydrate restriction regulates the adaptive response to fasting.
- Crowe TC. Safety of low-carbohydrate diets. Obes Rev 2005