What Are Ketones And How Does Your Body Use Them?
People have been searching for the best way to get in shape, get healthy, and lose weight for decades. There have been hundreds, if not thousands of different types of diets and weight loss fads that have come and gone, but most people are still searching for something that works for them.
Everyone wants a magic bullet - the diet or exercise plan that works with little effort and commitment. We all want to look like Arnold but we don't want to work like Arnold. We know that diet doesn't exist, but there must be something better than all the fads that have come and gone.
Maybe there is. Ketosis is a natural process of the body and is the basis of the keto diet. Let's break it down and see if the keto diet is what we've been looking for for so long.
What Are Ketones and Why Do They Matter?
So what in the world is a ketone and how will it help you lose weight? A ketone is produced when your body starts burning off its own fat. When your body runs out of glucose to burn for energy, it starts burning its own fat and protein and creates ketones as an alternate fuel source.
Your body then uses the ketones to generate energy in the absence of glucose. Ketones are a much more stable and steady source of energy than glucose is, which we get from carbohydrates.
This process is called ketosis. Ketosis can become dangerous when too many ketones build up in your body. High levels of ketones can lead to dehydration and they can change the overall chemical balance of your blood. When ketosis goes too far, ketoacidosis sets in. Ketoacidosis occurs when enough ketones build up in your body that they become acidic. In a worse case scenario, this can cause coma or even death.
However, it's fairly simple to keep your ketones in check, and even easier to test your ketone levels to be sure you don't build up too many. We'll talk about this a little later on.
What Is The Keto Diet and How Does It Work?
So how do you use ketosis to lose weight? How can you manipulate your ketones to burn fat and lose weight?
The keto (or ketogenic) diet is a low carb diet, also known as an LCHF (low carb high fat) diet, or simply, a low carb diet. It's similar to diets like the Atkins diet that restrict carbohydrates from your diet and encourage more fats and proteins.
When you restrict your carbs, your body quickly burns through the stored glucose you’ve enters a metabolic state. That's where the magic happens.
Once you’ve burned through all of the glucose, which can take anywhere from 3 days to a week, the body starts producing the ketones from stored fat.
If you can maintain this diet by restricting your carbs, it can be a great tool for weight loss.
But not only that, there are studies out now that have shown that the keto diet may reduce the risk factors for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and even Alzheimer's disease. These studies are relatively new, and more research still needs to be done. But if there's a chance you can shed some pounds AND reduce your risk of some awful diseases, that’s a win-win.
Ketone Testing and Treatment
As mentioned earlier, it's fairly easy to test to see if your body is producing too many ketones, or if they're producing any at all. All that you'll need is a simple urine test that can be purchased at your local pharmacy. You can purchase them without a prescription, so there won't be any additional hoops to jump through.
You can begin testing to see if you've entered ketosis just a few days after you've started your diet. It can take between 3 days to a week to enter ketosis, so this is also a good time frame to start your tests. If your ketone concentration is high enough, your test will change colors, which means you've successfully entered ketosis and begun your diet.
Positive ketones aren't a problem if your blood glucose levels are kept within range and you're trying to lose weight on the keto diet.
If you find yourself in a position where you do have too many ketones built up, you'll need to drink plenty of water. The water will help flush out the excess ketones and bring your levels back to normal.
You're going to want to test yourself every three to four hours until your levels are under control. It would also be a good idea to contact your doctor just to be sure everything is okay, and to be sure the keto diet is right for you.
Because of the success of the keto diet and the effects of ketones, raspberry ketones have become a pretty popular ingredient in fat-loss supplements. But, even though the word "ketone" is in their name, they have no relation at all to ketones.
So what are they if they have nothing to do with ketones? Raspberry ketone is a natural substance that gives red raspberries their powerful smell. You can also find it in blackberries, cranberries, and kiwis in smaller amounts.
So if Raspberry Ketones don’t have anything to do with ketosis, how can they help you lose weight? There are a few specific things they can do, including helping to suppress the appetite and boost your metabolism.
As with any supplement, double check with your doctor to make sure they won’t interfere with any medications you’re taking.
Exogenous Ketones and Ketone Supplements
So now that we've figured out what ketones and ketosis are, what are exogenous ketones? An exogenous ketone is just a fancy way of saying ketone supplement. It simply means that it’s a ketone that is made outside of your body and consumed like every other supplement on the market.
There will be times when maintaining your keto diet isn't realistic. No one is perfect, and there are certain times of the year (like Thanksgiving) where it's almost impossible to stick to any diet.
The purpose of exogenous ketones is to provide the body with extra ketones to use when you aren't currently in ketosis. They can be a huge help for beginners while they transition into a state of ketosis.
The supplements are pretty easy to find, and there is a pretty good selection of exogenous ketones at most health stores.
Ketone supplements were introduced in 2014, so there hasn't been a lot of time for extensive exogenous research. However, studies have shown that the exogenous ketones may also provide a multitude of other benefits not limited to weight loss including cancer prevention, cognitive improvement, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Like everything in life, with the good comes the bad. Thankfully, in this case, the bad isn't all that bad, and the side effects that come along with the exogenous ketones aren't that serious or long-lasting. Some common side effects are flu symptoms, dizziness and drowsiness, low blood sugar, brain fog, muscular cramps, and heart palpitations. These side effects pass rather quickly, and you may not experience any of them. The effects of the supplements will differ from person to person, but it's always a good idea to cover all of our bases to be sure we know what we're getting into.
Even though it might not be the elusive magic bullet diet everyone is looking for, ketones and the keto diet may be what you need to finally shed some pounds.
Cut the carbs from your body, add some fats, and let your ketones do the heavy lifting. Mix in some exogenous ketone supplements to complement your diet along with some exercise, and you might see yourself on the cover of GQ (maybe).
Just remember not to go overboard and get too many ketones in your body and test regularly to be sure your levels are where they need to be.
Congrats on taking your health into your own hands!
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