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A simple explanation of ketosis is that it's a process that the body goes through when it has to use stored fat as energy. Essentially burning fat cells. You know that you need to eat food because your body uses it for energy. Well, the body processes different types of nutrients from our food. Our meals can be divided into macronutrients: carbs, proteins, and fats. Eating a low carb and high fat diet is a strategy that people use to help ramp up the ketosis process. This is where the term "Keto diet" or "Ketosis diet" comes from.
How does Ketosis work?
So what happens in our body when we eat? Well, when you eat carbohydrates your body will use this instead of fat for fuel. The carbs that you eat are broken down into a sugar we know as glucose. Glucose is needed to create ATP (a energy molecule). This is where your energy comes from day to day.
We don't use all the energy we eat. When we eat more energy than we need the extra glucose is converted into glycogen and stored in your liver and muscles. Now there is only a limited amount of space in your liver and muscles so when they are full glucose begins to get converted into fat and stored in your body.
When you lower your carb intake you have less carbs that are converted into glucose and less glycogen. When you eat a low carb diet your body will begin using up your stored glycogen. When there is no more glycogen, you enter a state of ketosis.
Related: Ketosis and Intermittent Fasting
What are "Ketones"?
Ketones are the name of the molecules that are created when you run out of stored energy supplies and the body starts to break down the fat you eat or have stored in your body. This fat is broken down into fatty acids which are burned off in the liver. The process of burning fat like this is called beta-oxidation. Ketones are used as energy by your muscles and brain.
Did You Know...... Your brain and body prefer to use ketones are fuel and actually run 70% more efficiently than when using glucose for energy?!
This is a process in which the fatty acid molecules are broken down even further and a ketone body called acetoacetate is produced. Acetoacetate is taken and converted into two types of ketone bodies. The first is called Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB). Once your body is accustomed to being in a ketogenic state your muscles will convert it into BHB. BHB is preferred source of energy by the brain and you might find it easier to preform mental tasks and focus.
The second ketone body that it can be converted into is called Acetone. Acetone can be metabolized into glucose and it is mostly excreted by your body in the form of waste. It also causes a distinct smelly breath. Bad breath is one of the signs that you may be in a state of ketosis.
Over time your body will create more and more BHB and less Acetone. As you start using the BHB for fuel you body will try to produce as much of this energy as possible.
...But don't I need glucose?
Yes, your body still does need glucose but you don't need carbs to get it. Gluconeogenesis is metabolic process that the body uses to create glucose from the amino acids that it finds in protein, lactate from the muscles, and the glycerol from fatty acids. As long as you are eating enough protein in your diet the liver can produce the glucose it needs from the amino acids and fatty acids you ingest by eating protein.
Ketogenic Diet Basics
So as we now know, the ketogenic diet is a diet that is high in fat, moderate in protein and low in carbohydrates. On this type of diet 65-70% of your daily calorie intake should be from fats, 20-30% from protein, and 5% from carbs. The 5% of your calorie intake that comes from carbs should be from veggies and not grains.
The main benefit that is reported with the Ketogenic diet is weight loss but other benefits include better neurological function, improved heart health, and insulin resistance.
Basically you will be eating plenty of fat. Examples what to eat include fatty cuts of meat (lamb, pork, beef, oily fish), eggs, whole fat cheese, avocados, macadamia nuts, butter, healthy oils, green leafy veggies. Make sure you also know the difference between healthy, good fat and bad fat. When it comes to food you should avoid, this includes all carbs except those that come from select veggies and nuts. This includes not drinking soda, fruit juice, and sugary drinks.
If you are interested in getting to know more about the Ketogenic diet be sure to read my Ketogenic Diet Guide and if you want to take a leap and start losing weight with the keto diet look into guides for keto beginners.