Ketosis is a state in which your body breaks down fat molecules into ketones to provide energy. This article takes a look at what ketosis is and how long to get into ketosis.
If you haven’t heard of ketosis, you might not need to be concerned about it. According to Google, the use of the word, ketosis, actually has only really become popular since the 1950s–and the usage of the word has considerably decreased since then. However, it is notable to know that ketosis deals with a metabolic medical condition.
While in most cases you shouldn’t need to worry about this term, many people dealing with diabetes and significant weight loss should be concerned with ketosis and ketones. In fact, ketones could become a very dangerous change to the lives of those with these conditions. Not sure what ketosis is? Here is everything that you may need to know.
What is Ketosis?
As aforementioned, ketosis is a word that relates to diabetes or extreme weight loss. While it’s not a worrisome medical condition for many, it can be incredibly dangerous to certain demographics if not treated appropriately.
In most cases, ketosis is a normal metabolic process. But, let’s go even further. What exactly is the meaning of a metabolic process. According to Dr. Ananyana Mandal, MD at News Medical , “metabolism is a term used to describe all chemical reactions involved in maintaining the living state of the cells and organism.”
Basically, there are two different types of metabolisms: catabolism and anabolism. In catabolism, the metabolism breaks down molecules to obtain energy. In anabolism, the metabolism is the combination of all of the compounds needed by your body’s cells.
The body’s metabolism is closely interconnected with nutrition and the availability of nutrients that your body carries. It uses these nutrients to breakdown energy and create new proteins like DNA. The major elements of these proteins come from carbohydrates, protein, and lipids.
If your body is receiving the appropriate nutritional elements, it should use those (carbohydrates, etc. ) to create new energy and keep your body functioning properly. while there are specific amino acids and minerals that can be taken to improve this functioning, the majority of people have an appropriate metabolism that will function on its own–if fed rather healthily.
While there are metabolisms that work faster than others and vice versa, some people have metabolisms that cannot absorb enough of the nutrients that it needs to create energy. This is where ketosis comes in.
According to Web MD , “when [your body] doesn’t have enough carbohydrates from food for your cells to burn for energy, it burns fat instead. During this process, it makes ketones.” These ketones can make all of the difference in a person’s metabolism.
If you are eating a balanced diet and do not struggle with risk factors that cause ketosis, your body will use the nutrients it has in it’s metabolism to create energy. In this case, ketones aren’t normally made or used.
However, if you your body has issues with keeping appropriate levels of the nutrients needed in the metabolism, it will create ketones from the fat burning process and use those for energy. When you cut calories or carbs, ketosis could occur. Many medical officials call this the body’s “crisis response” where it eats away muscle and other important parts of the bodily content in order to survive.
While it may not quite seem like this could happen to you, anyone trying a new diet should consciously be aware of ketosis and any changes in the body. According to Live strong , While it okay to enter mild ketosis after a workout, if you body uses up glycogen and too many carbohydrates, it will affect how hard your metabolism, liver, brain, and nervous system needs to work.
If you’re unaware of your body’s metabolic behaviors or have started a new diet recently, there is always concern that your body could be using ketones from fatty acids instead of nutrients. While mild ketosis is a point of concern, symptoms of moderate to severe ketosis should be watched an analyzed by a medical professional.
If your adrenaline is racing in worry that you may be a victim of ketosis, there’s no need for concern quite yet. During ketosis, the body exhibits very distinct symptoms that should be easily recognizable. There are also many risk factors that can cause ketosis to happen.
The first and most notable thing to have in mind is that ketosis can cause ketoacidosis, a very dangerous condition. People with this condition have both high ketone levels and high glucose levels. What does this mean?
In short, ketoacidosis causes the blood to become entirely too acidic. When this happens, according to Health Line , your kidneys and lungs can no longer keep their pH in balance–this is a condition that always should be checked when dealing with ketosis.
However, there are some very easily recognizable symptoms that can relate to ketosis itself. Usually, there will be symptoms related to the stomach. In this instance, symptoms could be nausea, and/ or vomiting, and extreme stomach cramping or pain.
Symptoms can also present themselves through fatigue, weakness, and confusion. When the body cannot get enough nutrients, it will start to feel weak because it doesn’t have the energy it needs to move forward. This symptom may be particularly popular if your body has just been put through a rigorous workout.
Excessive thirst and frequent urination are also important symptoms of ketosis. If your body has high levels of ketone build up, it can cause dehydration. As aforementioned, the chemical balances in your blood may also change. This change will use up more bodily fluid because the kidneys need to work twice as hard to function.
Rapid breathing and/ or shortness of breath can also be related to ketosis or the production of too many ketones. If this symptom is occurring, a medical professional needs to be contacted directly. By the time that this symptom occurs, the body is in extreme need of nutrients.
A rather strange symptom that can also occur is change in the smell or taste of your breath. Ketosis could cause a fruity smell or smells that resemble acetone (nail polish remover).
There are also many risk factors that may help you to determine whether you are in ketosis or not.
Ketosis can happen after exercising excessively, during pregnancy, or in relation to uncontrolled diabetes.
In both pregnancy and excessive exercise, the body will look for more electrolytes and nutrients to replenish what has been used. During these time periods, the body is much more susceptible to nutrient loss.
Ketosis can also cause problems with those who are diabetic (particularly type 1 diabetes). Specifically, the body has difficulty creating insulin because the ketone levels are too high.
For those who are diabetic, it’s important to note that ketone levels are higher because of lack of insulin and not eating enough. If experiencing symptoms in the morning, a ketone spike could have occurred throughout the night.
However, symptoms of high levels of ketones are easily managed. If you feel that any of these symptoms are prevalent within your own body, the first necessary step is to hydrate with water and eat.
After hydration, be sure to contact a medical professional. If symptoms include trouble breathing, a medical professional should be contacted right away. If visiting the hospital, staff will provide treatment through insulin therapy and replacement of fluids and electrolytes.
It should be noted that if you have diabetes and are suffering the symptoms of ketosis, contact your doctor immediately. A problem in production of insulin could cause extreme and dangerous adverse effects.
Ketosis and Weight Loss
If you work out regularly and spend hours on the elliptical, treadmill, and spinning machines, then ketosis may not be such a bad thing. In fact, many people looking to lose weight want to go through ketosis– it’s a way for active people to burn body fat.
If researching ketosis weight loss, you may read things like “I go into ketosis every afternoon” or “Going into ketosis helped me lose twenty pounds!” But, is it dangerous?
In short, According to Food Renegade, it doesn’t have to be bad. At Food Renegade, monitoring ketosis isn’t a diet– it’s a complete change in lifestyle.
Many people have difficulty changing lifestyle perspective when it comes to dietary needs. It’s hard to avoid the carbohydrates that come from bagels, cookies and homemade breads. It’s difficult to even avoid natural carbohydrates that can be found in some foods such as fruit.
If you tend to gain a little bit of weight each year, then your body is regularly storing fat. In this case, the best way to really burn that fat is to analyze how your body metabolizes.
According to Food Renegade, the answer to this problem is “the body fat setpoint,” or “the mass of body fat that your body attempts to defend against changes in either direction.”
The body fat setpoint is your body’s attempt at homeostasis. Homeostasis is when all properties in your bodily system actively regulate themselves to remain nearly constant.
Homeostasis and your body fat setpoint mean that if you exercise more, you will eat more. It also means that your metabolism will slow down if you restrict calories because it feels the need to compensate.
So where does ketosis come in?
If homeostasis is becoming a problem with your body, especially in those with obesity, ketosis can allow your body to ‘reset the system’ (so to speak), or learn how to burn stored body fat.
How Do You Enter Ketosis?
One way to enter ketosis is to eat a nutrient rich diet while still eating plenty of calories. Many fear that changing the diet will cause ketoacidosis. However, in reality, the production of ketones in themselves will not cause acidity in the blood.
Mark’s Daily Apple says that the process will unfold the way it needs to if given the proper nutrition: ” Finally, ketogenic diets, which are generally lumped together by critics, have gotten a lot of bad press.
While experts have generally recognized their effectiveness for weight loss, very low carb diets that result in ketosis (like the Atkins) have been criticized on health grounds.
The problem with these criticisms? They’re based on diets that allow for 20 grams or less of carbohydrates a day. While I believe we are not meant to run primarily on carbohydrate energy, I do believe we depend on the nutrients offered by low carb vegetables and even some low glycemic fruits.
A diet of 20 carbohydrate grams simply can’t allow for the plentiful intake of nutrient-rich vegetables. When your carb intake is low enough, say 50-80 grams a day, ketosis kicks in when it needs to. Over time, this process becomes efficient as the body “unfolds” in its genetic expression.
Yet this carb intake is high enough that you can freely include copious amounts of nutrient- (including potassium) rich vegetables to offer the body sufficient nutrition, fiber, and alkalizing minerals.”
How Long Does It Take To Get Into Ketosis?
Now that we know how the ketosis diet is composed, it’s important to know how long it takes to get into Ketosis.
When it comes to trying to lose weight, people are impatient; everyone wants to see results right away.
A ketosis diet, or ketogenic diet, forces your body to burn fat for energy instead of carbs. This process is about as complicated as it sounds. In other words, this means it might take a while.
However, if ketosis is achieved, it is possible to lose as much as much as twelve pounds in a month. The production of ketones will cause body fat to diminish.
According to Live Strong, “your body’s preferred sense of fuel is glucose, which is derived of carbohydrates.”
When you fast, your body will start a hormonal process that will stimulate the releasing of fat from fat cells. It then travels to your liver and is made into ketones. These ketones then fuel energy production. During this process, the fat fuels the energy.
A ketogenic diet is higher in fat and protein than carbohydrates so that your body can mimic fasting. During this mimicry period, your body will assume that it’s not getting any nutrients and begin creating ketones.
The production of ketones from a ketogenic diet can happen in as little as one to two days. However, the time to enter ketosis can vary depending on metabolic type, body type, previous diet, and the amount of fat the body in question stores.
Those who stay on the ketogenic diet religiously often lose weight as promised. It is also often lost very quickly.
In a 2008 study published by “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” men on the ketogenic diet lost an average of twelve pounds per month. These same subjects ate fewer calories and did not feel hungry or dissatisfied.
While it’s important to note that that short study was, indeed, a short period of time, weight loss can happen very quickly when ketosis is achieved.
However, do not let the attractiveness of losing weight quickly fool you– If done incorrectly, a ketogenic diet can be very dangerous to the person in question.
If weight is lost too quickly, there is concern that the body will lose muscle mass and burn muscle instead of the fat and water it is supposed to burn through the ketogenic diet.
Most medical professionals recommend that if a ketogenic diet is to be pursued, the individual should not be burning more than one to two pounds per week in fear of loss of muscle mass.
Yet, this weight-loss method can also cause other issues. For example, losing water (and muscle) while playing with a ketone balance may cause energy and motivational levels to decrease significantly. In many studies, this problem has caused those pursuing the diet to regain all weight lost.
While a ketogenic diet is a great way to jump start weight loss, especially with the help of a medical professional, it may not be the best option for long term weight loss– Unless epilepsy is the motivation.
In some cases, a ketogenic diet has been proven to help those with epilepsy and a medical history of seizures. It is theorized that the change in fuel for the brain helps to prevent more seizures from occurring.
While Ketosis can be achieve in as little as one to two days and weight can be lost within less than a month, it’s important to note what can happen to energy levels if the weight is regained.
Signs That You Are In Ketosis
There are many weight loss diets and health conditions that can cause ketosis to occur: Pregnancy, exercise, diabetes, ketogenic diets, the Atkins diet… the list goes on and on.
During some of these diets, ketosis can occur in just one to two days. In health conditions, ketosis may even display symptoms that it is occurring. But, how can you really know if ketosis is occurring? It’s time to look at signs that you are in ketosis.
One of the most accurate ways to determine whether you are in ketosis or not is by visiting your local medical professional for a measurement test.
While a test is the most definitive way to find out whether you are in the stages of ketosis or not, you can also check symptoms that are occurring. For example, if you feel more thirsty or dehydrated than normal, you could be beginning ketosis.
Similarly, this thirst or dehydration would lead to increase of urine. If you’re looking to measure ketones, urine is a great place to start. Before you start a ketone diet, keep an eye on how many times you urinate per day. If you feel that that amount has increased, you could be in ketosis.
Through more informal ways, you can also guess that you are in the process of ketosis by checking your breath. Ketones can often be breathed out of the lungs due to the process in which they are made.
During this exhalation, the excreted breath may take on a fruity odor. Breath may also take on an odor resembling ammonia. Neither of these symptoms are necessarily harmful unless you experience shortness of breath. It may be helpful to ask a close friend, significant other, or family member to help you with this step.
If you are going through ketosis, you may also notice a change in appetite. Because your diet has most likely changed, you’ll be focusing on eating less carbohydrates and more nutrients. This means you will be less hungry.
Your body will work to burn nutrients and fat instead of it’s normal metabolic process. This means that you will likely be less hungry because your body is using everything that you are putting into it.
Another sign that you are in the state of ketosis is feeling less energetic. Often times, those who are in ketosis feel less motivated because their energy levels are lower due to the burning of fat. If you’re feeling like staying in instead of your usual yoga class, you might be starting to go through ketosis.
While there are some informal ways to tell that you are going through ketosis such as smelling your breath and noticing a change in appetite, the best ways to know that you are in ketosis is to take an actual test.
There are many informal ways to guess that you are in ketosis. Usually, after starting a ketogenic diet, these signs become prevalent within less than a week. Many people find that they have symptoms such as loss of energy.
In many instances, ketosis can also be a dangerous thing because it can be the factor of a medical condition. If you feel that your diet hasn’t changed and you may be experiencing symptoms, it’s important to know how to measure those symptoms.
Similarly, if you are on a ketogenic diet, you’ll want to have an exact measurement of how many ketones you are producing and using. This measurement will allow you to better understand your weight loss and monitor it to avoid illness.
One of the first things that you can do is go to your preferred medical professional and ask for a prescribed blood test. This measurement is a medical analysis. It will give you an exact idea of how many ketones you are making or are not producing.
This blood test also detects and monitors how the ketones are working in the blood and whether it causing blood acidity or not. While it is mainly used for those with concern for ketoacidosis, where blood can be acidic and cause major health problems, it can also measure ketosis.
You may have also noticed that you are more dehydrated and you might be drinking more. This is usually a sign that ketosis has begun. However, there is a more defined way of using this sign to measure ketone levels within your body.
As you become more thirsty because of the different diet or higher ketone levels, you’ll likely also notice an increase in urine. You can use this to your advantage! Collect the urine and visit your local pharmacy or department store. Why?
You can buy ketone urine strips from pharmacies or stores like Walgreens for about ten to twenty dollars per package.
By using these urine strips to measure ketones, you can find whether you are producing ketones or not and about how many ketones you are making.
While urine tests are not as definitive as a test prescribed by your doctor, they will get the job done and let you know whether you are in the right stage or not.
Another more expensive way to measure ketones is through a blood ketone meter. Ketones are measured by millimolars. The optimal ketone zone is about ten to thirty, according to KetoDiet Blog.
Through a blood ketone meter, you’ll spend about $150 per month determining whether you’re making the appropriate amount of ketones or not. The meter, itself, will normally cost around forty dollars and the strips for the meter will cost about five dollars each. You will want to test yourself daily to measure.
If you are on a restricted ketone diet, a meter may be a great way to measure how many ketones you are producing. However, if your level of ketones is dependent on a medical condition, it may be worth it to go to a doctor for a prescription for a blood test. Yet, it seems that the cheapest option may just be peeing in a cup and testing that way.
Ketosis Side Effects
Many people find that they want to go on a ketogenic diet to relieve a bit of excess weight. Sometimes, this weight is normal metabolic weight that is gained every year. Especially in those that are obese, a ketogenic diet can work to use fat as energy rather than more carbohydrates.
In other cases, a ketogenic lifestyle is not a choice. For those with medical conditions like diabetes, there are no other options but to pursue the production of ketones. This can also be the case in conditions like pregnancy, where women may need to measure ketones for their developing children.
While ketones and a ketogenic diet can be found to be both dangerous and helpful, it is certainly important to note what type of side effects can be cause from ketosis– especially over long periods of time.
As aforementioned, ketosis can cause a lack of motivation or energy. While ketogenic diets are great for jumpstarting a weight loss program, many will regain the weight back because of a lack of motivation to exercise. Dehydration may also cause this.
Regardless of the direct cause, lack of energy is related to ketosis and may be a considerable factor for those measuring ketones to lose weight.
If left on a ketogenic diet for too long, the body’s blood circumstances may also change. Composition of blood will change to raised lipid and cholesterol rates.
News Medical found that 60% of patients had raised lipid rates and 30% high cholesterol rates throughout blood.
The change in blood composition can be an important consideration in a ketogenic diet or starting ketosis; this is especially true in children. It should be noted that blood composition that is too acidic can even lead to the dangerous condition of ketoacidosis.
There are also some long-term effects of ketosis. For example, many adults and children suffered from kidney stones after long periods of ketogenic eating, according to News Medical.
Children in ketosis may also suffer stunted growth levels. This is due to less hormones and insulin being produced.
Additionally, long term side effects include more susceptibility to the breaking of bones or brittleness in bones.
In adults, complications mostly consist of constipation and increased levels of triglycerides. Women may also experience amenorrhea or complications with regular menstrual cycles.
While there are many short and long term side effects to the state of ketosis, the benefits seem to be considerable.
It’s worth mentioning that ketosis can be a helpful factor in those who need to lose weight quickly due to health conditions. A ketogenic diet can also help people with epilepsy who need a different fuel to their brain cells.
Ketosis has many side effects that are both positive and negative. The important factor of ketosis is to measure whether or not it is right for you. This is a great conversation to have with a trusted medical professional or nutritionist.
More about ketosis and ketogenic diets:
- The Ultimate Ketogenic Diet Food List (What to Eat on The Keto Diet)
- 7-Day Ketogenic Diet Meal Plan And Menu
- How to Avoid Common Ketogenic Diet Mistakes
What’s your experience with ketosis? Let me know in the comments section below!