The ketogenic diet puts your body into a state of ketosis, which ultimately allows you to use fat for energy.
Fat burning is just one of the many benefits of ketosis that improves overall health and makes it an effective tool for weight loss.
Keto has a cult following for a good reason: it makes you feel great. Keto-ers feel more satiated throughout the day and have increased energy levels, both physical and mental, leading to:
- Fewer cravings
- Lower caloric intake
- More self-control
- More physical activity.
These benefits all contribute to weight loss; however, keto is not synonymous with weight loss.
Far from being a magic tool, the ketogenic diet takes accurate and diligent tracking and adjustment to work. You need a balance of the right macros, realistic goal setting and tracking to take you closer to achieving your weight loss goals.
What is Ketosis & How Does It Promote Fat Loss?
The ketogenic diet promotes and maintains ketosis.
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body uses fat rather than glucose from carbohydrates as its primary source of energy.
To achieve ketosis, you stop supplying your body with carbs and sugar. This depletes your stored glucose — also known as glycogen — and your blood sugar and insulin levels decrease. Your body starts to look for an alternate source of fuel (fat), releases it and burns it for energy.
Hence, weight loss on keto.
Because of the decrease of glucose and increase in the metabolism of fat, ketosis has a ton of benefits — its unique ability to induce weight loss is just one of them. Many people use ketosis as a treatment for epilepsy, diabetes and even cancer.
When your body burns fat, it produces ketones. Without ketones, you’re not in ketosis. Therefore, the ketogenic diet’s sole purpose is to aid and promote ketone production.
What are Ketones?
Ketones are the metabolic fuel produced when your body shifts into fat-burning mode.
Glucose and ketones are the only energy sources used by the brain. Think of ketones as the auxiliary power source of your body.
Before the advent of agriculture, when our ancestors were hunter-gatherers, they fasted regularly. When food was scarce, they didn’t have a choice but to wait for an opportune time to hunt for food and cook it.
They had a very low intake of carbs and protein and thus were unintentionally running on ketones. Converting stored fat into energy is hardwired for our survival and a natural part of human existence.
Your body burns fat to use and produce ketones whenever glucose sources are low or depleted, such as:
- during fasting
- after prolonged exercise
- when you eat a ketogenic diet.
Lipase (an enzyme responsible for fat breakdown) releases stored triglycerides (fats). These fatty acids go to your liver and your liver turns them into ketones.
There are three types of ketone bodies:
- Acetoacetate – During the breakdown of long- and medium-chain fatty acids for energy, acetoacetate is produced first.
- Acetone – Spontaneously, acetone is also produced as a by-product of acetoacetate. Both of these ketone bodies, when not used, spill into your urine and breath, making urine and breath testing a promising measurement of whether or not you’re going into ketosis.
- Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) – Not technically a ketone but a molecule. Its essential role in the ketogenic diet makes it count as the important ketone body. BHB is synthesized by your liver from acetoacetate. BHB is important because it can freely float throughout your body in your blood, crossing many tissues where other molecules can’t. It enters the mitochondria and gets turned into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the energy currency of your cells. BHB = ATP = energy!
Now that you know what ketones are and how ketosis works, you probably want to know why you should consider eating a ketogenic diet — the diet that promotes ketosis.
The Benefits of Ketosis
The benefits of ketones come from your body burning fat for fuel and the lowered glucose and insulin in your blood.
The benefits of ketosis include:
- Body fat burning
- Mental clarity and increased cognition
- Improved physical energy
- No feeling of deprivation because you experience less hunger
- Steady blood sugar levels from little to no intake of refined carbs
- Skin improvements in those with acne
- Improved triglyceride and cholesterol levels
- Hormone regulation — women who go on keto report less severe symptoms of PMS
Aside from the therapeutic benefits of ketones, many people fall in love with keto because of the way it makes them feel both mentally and physically.