The word "ketosis" is a common term in fitness environments - for some fitness enthusiasts ketogenic diets are a magic formula for burning fat, for others it is a way of life, and for others ketosis is a sure recipe for failure.
What is ketosis?
In the simplest terms, ketosis is a state of metabolism in which the body relies primarily on fat as a source of energy.
If you eat as an average person, your metabolism will burn mostly carbohydrates (glucose) for energy. When you are in a state of ketosis, things are different - the body relies mainly on ketones instead of glucose.
Ketone bodies are water-soluble molecules produced in the liver from fatty acids. They cover part of the needs of the brain and other major organs for glucose (so as not to break down too much muscle protein).
If you are following a diet that restricts carbohydrates (which forces the body to look for an alternative source of glucose), your metabolism will shift to ketones. This condition is known as ketosis.
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What are the potential benefits of ketosis?
Bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts use ketosis for one main purpose: to burn subcutaneous fat. When the body uses fat as a major source of energy, it is much more likely to target body fat, in addition to the fat taken through food.
As a bonus, ketosis suppresses appetite and keeps blood sugar stable - without sharp peaks and falls. As a result, if you have not eaten for several hours, you do not feel exhausted and dizzy. In addition, the ketogenic diet is extremely rich in healthy fats and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and antioxidants), while being poor in toxins, which also makes detoxification of the body easier.
Ketosis is also used in the treatment of a number of diseases. Studies show that in obese individuals with insulin resistance, the ketogenic diet helps to improve insulin sensitivity and restore normal metabolism.
In people with ketosis, there are improvements in blood pressure, blood sugar levels and good cholesterol. In summary, because of its proven benefits, the ketogenic diet seems appropriate for people with health problems such as obesity or epilepsy. In such conditions, ketosis is relatively safe and effective - it is certainly better than taking medication for the rest of your life.
But if you are a physically healthy person, think carefully before you go into ketosis, as this metabolic state also carries its risks.
Risks and disadvantages of ketosis
We cannot deny the benefits of ketosis, but it also has certain risks.
From a metabolic point of view, ketosis is the "first cousin" of hunger.
Therefore, it is not suitable for pregnant and lactating women, as well as those attempting pregnancy. To conceive, you must eat a balanced diet. The same goes for nutrition during pregnancy - ketosis can be dangerous for both the mother and the fetus.
Ketosis does not work well with high intensity interval training (HIIT). They need glucose for energy. The body can only produce glucose, but the speed of the process is relatively slow. If you rely on a ketogenic diet during a high-intensity workout, you will quickly burn muscle glycogen and probably not be able to complete the whole fitness program. Instead of bothering your body and metabolism, include some carbohydrates in your body diet.
Other risks of ketosis are bone loss, constipation (due to the reduced intake of fiber), thyroid problems and vitamin C deficiency. If you have kidney problems, a ketogenic diet can lead to complications. I also do not recommend this diet for children and adolescents as there may be a slowdown in growth.
As you can see, ketosis has its advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to consider both sides of the coin when considering betting on it.
How to get into ketosis?
However, if you decide that a ketogenic diet is right for you, the good news is that it is not particularly difficult to follow. You just need to get the majority of your calories from healthy fats (about 70-75%) by limiting protein (no more than 20-25%) and eliminating whole starch carbohydrates. Usually, for most people, this means limiting carbohydrates to less than 50 grams per day - the equivalent of 500 grams of carrots.
- Foods allowed: Fresh meat (beef, lamb, sheep, pork, chicken), fish and seafood, eggs, cow butter, cream, cottage cheese and whole-cheese, coconut oil, fat, avocado, nuts (not more than 30-40 d), olive oil, green leafy vegetables, zucchini, celery, asparagus, cucumbers.
- Caution foods: white and red cabbage, cauliflower broccoli, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, tomato, onion, garlic, mushrooms, pumpkin, leeks, peppers, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries.
- Prohibited foods: All cereals and legumes, potatoes and other starchy vegetables, all processed foods, artificial sweeteners, various types of refined vegetable oil, fresh and yogurt, tropical fruits.
It is important to control your protein intake. When you supply more protein (20-25% of your calories per day), the excess becomes glucose from the liver and the body will not start producing ketones. The idea is to give your body no alternative but to use ketones for fuel.
Is Ketosis Suitable For You? The answer to this question, of course, is "depends." If we look at the scientific data, it seems that the human body is not adapted to work continuously in ketosis. Rather, we are extremely flexible and can survive on both glucose and ketone bodies as a source of energy.
Therefore, in pregnancy, in high-intensity workouts, in a particular physical condition or illness, or simply if you feel better about a balanced diet, it is not good to go into ketosis.
And if you feel better burning fat as a major source of energy, have a neurological disease or are extremely obese, there is no reason to be afraid of ketosis. Yes, this condition is unnatural to the body, but it does not make it dangerous.
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