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Pros and Cons of Ketosis

You’ve probably heard about ketosis and chances are you might be a bit confused.  The ketogenic diet is nothing new but in the past, it was said to be really unhealthy.  Unfortunately, the people saying it was unhealthy were comparing it to ketoacidosis which is something very unhealthy and can even lead to death.  Ketoacidosis is something that can happen to individuals with diabetes.  For someone who is putting themselves into nutritional ketosis there is no risk of getting to the point of ketoacidosis.

What Is Ketosis?

There’s a lot more to it but I’m going to keep this super simple and to the point so you actually keep reading this.  If you want the scientific explanation you can find some great info here.

Basically, ketosis is a state where your body is using ketone bodies for energy rather than glycogen. Glycogen is the preferred source of energy for your body but your body can use ketone bodies when glycogen is depleted, like when you’re following a low/no carb diet.

What The Hell Are Ketone Bodies??

When you run out of stored glycogen, fat goes through a process which results in the production of fatty acids.  Some of these fatty acids get turned into ketone bodies.  If you’re glycogen depleted, your body can use these ketone bodies (fatty acids) for energy.

How Do You Get Into Ketosis?

There are two ways to get into ketosis.  One is my manipulating your nutrition by eating very low or no carbs at all.  If you’re going to do this through diet you need to consume 30g or less of carbs per day which is VERY little and VERY hard for a lot of people to sustain.  The rest of your diet will be a mix of healthy proteins and healthy fats.

When you don’t provide your body with enough carbs to convert into glycogen for energy your body will convert your fat stores into energy using a process called neoglucogenisis.  The more energy you need, the more fat you’ll burn so this is not a ‘sit on your butt and eat protein and fat to lose weight’ kind of thing.  Ketosis is a tool to help you burn fat but is not a quick fix by any means.

The other way to get into ketosis is by using exogenous ketones, which is what I do.   I won’t go into what brand I use because this article is meant to inform, not try to sell a product.  If you want more info contact me at info@wholeyfit.ca

Pros of Ketosis

  • Improved fat loss.

This is the one that will get most people’s attention.  Your body will be using fat as energy and if you’re working out consistently you’ll burn even more fat as your body’s energy needs increase.

  • Eliminating the risk of bonking.

This is big for endurance athletes and is why a lot of them follow a ketogenic type diet.  Your body can only store so much glycogen.  If you’re participating in an endurance event and you’re not bang on with your nutrition you run the risk of running out of glycogen and bonking.  Bonking is NOT fun.  Your body can store WAY more fat, than glycogen.  Even lean people can store enough fat to ensure never running out of fuel.

  • Epilepsy management.

Ketosis is not just a way to burn excess fat, it’s also very beneficial for some medical conditions.  Doctors have found that ketosis helps control seizures.  No one is sure exactly how or why but you can read more about it here.

  • Alternative cancer treatment.

Cancer cells require glucose to thrive.  They actually live off of sugar.  Cancer cells are not as flexible as our regular cells so they can’t switch from living off sugar to living off of ketone bodies.   They essentially starve to death in a person who has become ‘fat adapted’.  You can read more about it here.

Cons of Ketosis

  • The diet is super restrictive.

It can be very challenging for someone to stick to a ketogenic diet long term.  It’s very challenging to find ketogenic friendly foods when at social gatherings or at restaurants.  This is why I use exogenous ketones.

  • Being in ketosis long term may damage your metabolism.

Personally I don’t think it’s natural for a typically healthy person to be in ketosis long term.  If you look back at our ancestors they would be in ketosis seasonally when carbs were hard to come by.  Once carbs were available again they’d start consuming them and come out of ketosis.  Also, some people will go a bit too extreme and cut out too much meaning that they won’t be getting all the nutrients they need.  When this happens, the body will slow down it’s metabolism to conserve energy because it senses that it’s being starved.

Will You Try Ketosis?

So, there you have it.  Ketosis can be a great tool to help you lose fat as long as you’re also active and healthy, and it helps with certain medical conditions.  As with anything you need to try it for yourself to see how it works.  And always remember that just because something works does NOT mean it will work better if you take it to the extreme.  Talk to someone who can help you do it safely and use your common sense.