Ketosis is a metabolic state that occurs when your body burns fat instead of glucose for energy. There are many possible benefits of a keto diet, including potential weight loss, increased energy and treatment of chronic diseases.
What Is Ketosis?
Ketosis is a process that occurs when your body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates to burn as energy. Instead, it burns fat and makes things called ketones, which it can use as fuel.
When you’re looking for information about diabetes or weight loss, you may see the word ketosis. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? It depends.
Ketosis and the Keto Diet
To get into ketosis, you may need to eat less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day, sometimes as little as 20 grams. The exact amount of carbohydrate intake that can cause ketosis varies from person to person.
To achieve this, you need to remove or greatly reduce most carbohydrate-rich foods from your diet, including:
- sugary soft drinks and sugar-sweetened beverages
- condiments and sauces that contain sugar, like ketchup or barbecue sauce
To put this in perspective, 1 slice (32 grams) of bread contains about 15 grams of carbohydrates, while 1 cup (186 grams) of cooked rice contains about 53 grams of carbohydrates.
People may choose to follow a keto diet to lose weight, better manage their blood sugar levels, or reduce the incidence of seizures associated with epilepsy, among other reasons.
Ketosis Health Benefits
Ketosis can have some benefits besides weight loss. Doctors may put children with epilepsy on a keto diet because it can help prevent seizures. Adults with epilepsy sometimes eat a modified Atkins diet.
Some studies suggest that a ketogenic diet may help reduce the risk of heart disease. Other studies have shown that specific diets very low in carbohydrates help people with diseases such as:
- Metabolic syndrome
- Insulin resistance
- Type 2 diabetes
Researchers are also studying the effects of these diets on conditions including:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Nervous system diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Lou Gehrig’s disease
What are the Side Effects of Ketosis?
The keto diet has many benefits, but it can come with some side effects. One of the signs of ketosis may include the “keto flu,” which includes symptoms such as an upset stomach, headache and fatigue. Other symptoms of ketosis may include:
- Bad breath (“keto” breath).
- Low bone density (osteopenia) and bone fractures.
- High cholesterol (hyperlipidemia).
- Kidney stones.
The Bottom Line
Ketosis is a metabolic state that you can achieve by following a ketogenic diet.
Possible benefits of ketosis include weight loss, improved blood sugar management, and a reduction in seizures in children with epilepsy.
However, following a strict ketogenic diet to induce ketosis can be difficult and lead to unwanted short-term side effects such as headaches, stomach upset, dehydration, and bad breath.
Long-term side effects may include kidney stones, increased LDL (bad) cholesterol, and nutrient deficiencies.
While the ketogenic diet can be enjoyable and beneficial for some people, it may not be suitable for others. Therefore, discuss it with a healthcare professional before trying it.