Ketones are the metabolic product of fat burning which arise in the body when carbohydrate intake is strictly limited. The body can run on glucose or on ketones. When there isn’t any sugar to process, the body produces ketones in response to a low insulin environment.
The lowered insulin allows the body to access fat deposits as fatty acids flow into the liver. Fat is then burned, and extra fat deposits are used up. (In a typical high carb diet, the glucose is used first, whereas whatever fat that is consumed gets stored on the body).
To put it simply, ketones are the alternative fuel source your body uses if there isn’t any glucose there for it to run on. A common misconception out there is that the body NEEDS glucose. Not so. This is perhaps justification for the way most people eat, which is very heavy on breads, noodles, pastries, candies, soda and the like. It’s not healthy, nor is it efficient. It also causes the body to send hunger signals as the blood sugar lowers.
What we all need more of is nutrition, and we can get more of this by eating healthy fats like coconut oil and eating leafy greens in the context of the ketogenic diet.
So, the presence of ketones means there is a lack of glucose and insulin. (This is because the body doesn’t need the insulin to transport the glucose to use as fuel). This is good for normal cells, as their optimal energy source can now be used. It is bad for cancer cells, since they need glucose for fermentation, which is the only way they can get energy. This is an excellent way to possibly slow the growth of cancer, or to prevent it in the first place!
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To get the body to this optimal fat-burning state, we need to reduce carbs to a very low amount. This means cutting out all breads, pastas, sugary products, fruit (with the exception of the occasional berry in very limited quantity).
Meat and protein consumption needs to be limited as well, since consuming an over-abundance in protein will cause the protein products to be broken down into glucose for processing. This takes us out of the ketogenic state.
Before starting the diet, you will want to clear out all of the high-carb foods you have on hand. Give the foods away, donate or give them to co-workers and friends. (This is healthier than having one last starchy meal before beginning). Buy a scale and other measuring tools so you can keep constant tabs on what you are consuming. This is important to maintaining the ketones in the body. Another great thing to consider is purchasing some keto-stix, which measure the presence of ketones in urine.
There are also more expensive, yet more effective tools on the market for measuring the actual amount of ketones in the blood, but these require the drawing of blood. You can do this in the comfort of your home, but it’s also good to keep in touch with your doctor if you are unsure at any point.
The advantage to checking the ketones in your blood is you get to see just how many ketones there really are. When you look at the presence of ketones in the urine, you don’t see how many you are absorbing through the kidneys. As time goes by, and you have been on the diet for a while, the body will increasingly become more effective at absorbing ketones and using them for energy.
A blood test will reflect this better than a urine test. Still, the keto-stix are an easy way to see if you’re in a ketogenic state or not.