Ketosis is a word that you’ve probably seen around if you’re looking for information and ideas on how to lose weight effectively. So let’s give it a good and solid definition here and discuss it in some depth. After that, we’ll add to the discussion by looking into the practice of intermittent fasting ketosis.
Ketosis is a normal metabolic process that your body completes every day when it does not have enough glucose for energy. If it does not have enough carbs to burn for cells to create energy, it will start burning fat for energy instead. This process, called ketosis, creates ketones and can serve as a weight loss solution for some people.
If you’re eating a diet that is healthy and well-balanced, your body won’t normally make ketones. But if you switch to cutting way back on your carbohydrate and calorie intake, your body will switch to ketosis for energy and your ketone levels will likely increase.
Not all low-carbohydrate diets are ketogenic diets. And before you consider any diet or consider prolonged fasting, always check with a doctor or dietitian.
Ketosis and Low-Carb Diets
This is a popular weight-loss strategy for many people. If you’re not diabetic or pregnant, ketosis will usually begin after three to four days of eating less than 50 grams of carbs each day or by fasting. For reference, 50 grams of carbohydrates is what you’d find in about four slices of bread.
Two of the more popular low-carb eating plans are the Atkins and the Paleo diet, which stress keeping protein in your body for fuel. If used in the right way, ketosis may help you maintain muscles, make you feel less hungry, and can also help improve levels of HDL cholesterol better than a diet moderate in carbohydrates.
Some research suggests that ketogenic diets could help reduce a patient’s risk of developing heart disease. Research also suggests that keto diets assist in the management of other conditions, such as epilepsy, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndromes.
Researchers have also begun studying the effects of the diet on cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, ALS, Alzheimer’s, acne, and polycystic ovary syndrome.
More research is needed to understand the benefits and risks of ketogenic diets.
If ketosis is used in extremes, it may cause serious health problems. Ketoacidosis can occur when ketones build up in the blood and become acidic. In serious cases, it can cause a coma or death. Symptoms include abdominal pain, excessive thirst, nausea and vomiting, dry or flushed skin, fruity breath, shortness of breath, confusion, and difficulty concentrating.
About Intermittent Fasting and Ketosis
As we’ve seen, ketosis can usually be jump-started by adopting a diet that restricts the consumption of carbohydrates. However, as mentioned above, fasting also helps initiate the keto process.
Intermittent fasting typically involves two methods. The first method is to restrict calories on particular days a week while consuming a regular amount of calories on other days. The second method revolves around eating during the day but only during certain times and not eating at all the rest of the time. Some people choose to fast for 16 hours; others for 12 hours a day.
Does It Work?
Does fasting work? It’s easy to see how intermittent fasting might lead to weight loss and body fat loss. After all, in both scenarios, one is likely to be consuming fewer calories than are required to maintain a current body weight.
Fasting may lead to decreased levels of blood sugar along with lowered cholesterol levels and blood pressure. In addition, according to the Mayo Clinic, “advocates (of intermittent fasting) believe that intentionally depriving your cells of calories may slow the progression of certain age-related diseases.”
However, as the Mayo cautions, “there’s simply not enough research (yet) to support or debunk this trend, and shortening your eating window may make it difficult to get the vitamins and minerals you need. Athletes especially may find it difficult to fuel and refuel appropriately for an active lifestyle.”
Regarding the process of ketosis itself, the Mayo is guardedly optimistic about its ability to restore individual health and wellbeing while contributing to weight loss for some people and in some situations.
However, they write, “while the research is exciting, there’s very little evidence to show that this type of eating is effective — or safe — over the long term for anything other than epilepsy. Plus, very low carbohydrate diets tend to have higher rates of side effects, including constipation, headaches, bad breath and more. Also, meeting the diet’s requirements means cutting out many healthy foods, making it difficult to meet your micronutrient needs.”
WeightWise Weight-Loss Surgery and Solutions
Before changing your eating habits drastically, it’s important to talk to your doctor. It’s particularly important to consult your physician if you have health conditions such as diabetes. Diets should always be discussed and monitored by a medical professional.
WeightWise offers a complete approach to helping patients lose weight. We offer gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, and other weight loss surgery procedures.
Our team includes exercise physiologists and dietitians who will help and support you in your journey to weight loss and health.
Note: We updated this piece on 12/6/21.