using low carb diets for weight loss

Weight loss diets have particular effects on the dieter in order to lose weight. These effects vary in degrees from one diet plan to the other. Often, many of them have side effects that some users cannot tolerate.

Ketogenic diets promote the consumption of “high-fat” or “high-protein” foods. They however do this while significantly reducing the amount of consumed carbohydrates. This has the effect of causing an abnormal increase in the production of ketone bodies.

There are very popular Ketogenic diets, the Atkins Diet being the most popular. Ketogenic diets believe that carbohydrates are the major cause of weight gain. Thus, they restrict the amount of carbohydrates consumed in their diets.

How Ketogenic Diets Work

Ketogenic diets apply this underlying principle. Ketogenic diets achieve two very important weight loss effects which are:

  • Reducing insulin production due to the resultant low blood sugar levels
  • Forcing the body to start breaking down its stored fat for energy

The combined effect of these two factors is the goals of ketogenic diets. These effects make ketogenic diets very effective in causing rapid weight loss.

The body digests carbohydrates to yield glucose. This is the preferred energy source for body cells. The body can break down muscles and fat cells to provide energy but it prefers glucose. Low-glycemic index carbohydrate-containing foods are the quickest sources.

However, ketogenic diets can lead to several hours of acute glucose deprivation. These diets force the body to exhaust its glucose supply. Finally, the body has no other option but to resort to burning its stored body fat as its primary source of energy.

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At this stage, the body increases the rate of the normal process of lipolysis (fat burning). This is so that it can meet up with its energy demands. This force the body to go into the advanced phase of lipolysis called ketosis.

What Are Ketones?

Ketones are the by-products of the breakdown of “fat” into “fatty acids” by the liver. Ketosis is a state where the rate of creation of ketones is faster than the ability of tissues to oxidize them.

Thus, ketones are acidic compounds. They result from the incomplete breakdown of fats into “fatty acids” and “ketones.” And this happens whenever there is an insufficient carbohydrate intake.

Under normal conditions, the body oxidizes ketone bodies to water and carbon dioxide. But ketosis causes an increased amount of ketone bodies in the bloodstream. This also occurs in the urine as the body tries to excrete the excess amount from the bloodstream.

The increased buildup of ketones in the state of ketosis raises the body’s acidity levels. This forces the body to attempt normalizing itself. Thus it uses up more water reserves from body cells to flush out the accumulated ketones.

Ketosis and Ketoacidosis

Sadly, there have been a lot of distortions about increased buildup of ketones in the body. So it is important to note that ketones can build up quickly in the body through two possible conditions.

Besides ketosis, ketoacidosis is another condition. This condition can also cause an increased accumulation of ketones in the bloodstream. Ketoacidosis also called Diabetic Ketoacidosis – DKA is a serious health condition. It occurs in persons with Type 1 Diabetes. It is a state of accumulated ketone bodies in the bloodstream resulting from:

  • An inability to produce sufficient insulin
  • A counteracting increase in counter-regulatory hormones

Insulin deficiency in a diabetic person leads to hyperglycemia. This is a case of abnormal rise in blood sugar level. In normal cases of blood sugar increase, the kidney removes the excess and excretes it in the urine.

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In hyperglycemia, there may be as much as four times the normal amount of sugar in the bloodstream.

Hyperglycemia by itself is not lethal but the side effects can be life threatening. It generally leads to glycosuria (glucose in the urine), increased urination, and dehydration.

However, the secretion of glucose in the urine is not necessarily a sign of diabetes. It may also appear in normal individuals immediately following a large meal.

Effects of Ketoacidosis

This continued glucose excretion coupled with dehydration starves the body of energy. The body may continue this process trying to control and reduce the increased blood sugar level. This however causes a worse condition – Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemia State (HHS). This condition has a mortality rate of about 15 percent.

The glucose depletion may equally make the body to begin breaking down stored body fat. This causes the release of ketones into the bloodstream and urine. As a result, there is additional increase in the total amount of ketones in the bloodstream. This is Diabetic Ketoacidosis – DKA.

So what is the difference between the conditions of ketosis and ketoacidosis? In both conditions, there is an elevated amount of accumulated ketones.

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However, it is the increase in blood sugar levels that causes ketoacidosis. This condition poses a serious health risk in Type 1 diabetic patients. It is the most frequent cause of mortality in persons with Type 1 Diabetes.

As a note of caution, dieters using a ketogenic diet must ensure that they drink a lot of water. This is due to the increased acidity level of the body. Drinking more water helps to flush out the accumulated ketones. It also helps to keep the body well hydrated.

Finally, ketosis results from low blood sugar levels. However, ketoacidosis is as a result of increased blood sugar level. Nonetheless, both conditions result in increased ketone accumulation in the bloodstream and urine. Then again, their causes are poles apart. Only Type 1 diabetics need seriously worry about ketoacidosis.