The body typically gets its fuel from dietary carbohydrates, which includes foods like rice, bread, pasta, and other grains, along with fruit, sugars, and vegetables.
When carbohydrates, specifically starches and sugars, enter the body they are broken down into glucose, and used by the body for energy. The hormone insulin then steps in to remove glucose from the bloodstream and the body either uses it for energy or stores any that is unused.
Excess Carbs Turn To Fat
Any glucose that is not immediately used as fuel will be sent to the liver and muscles to be stored as glycogen, as a fuel reserve for exercise or energy expenditure. Any unused glycogen in the muscles turns to stored body fat.
For people with a carb sensitivity or those with insulin resistance it’s a grim outlook that can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
High carb diet = high glucose in the blood = high insulin = high amounts of body fat
Lipolysis And Ketosis
An alternative source of fuel for the body is its own body fat. This process is triggered when the intake of carbs is limited, and their sources controlled. The body enters a state called lipolysis, the most efficient biochemical pathway to weight loss, and a scientifically proven alternative to the body using or needing glucose for energy.
Lipolysis occurs as the body begins to burn the body’s own fat stores for energy instead of dietary carbohydrates. The by-products of this fat burning process are ketones, and so ketosis is the secondary process of lipolysis.
When you eliminate carbs, the body is forced to use its fat stores instead, which literally turns it into a fat burning machine. Ketones are the byproducts of the resulting ketosis, and provide fuel for the body.
The only true exception to the body not needing glucose for fuel is ketones. Ketosis not only provides adequate energy for the cells within the body, it also fuels the brain and other organs just as glucose from carbs does BUT, unlike what may occur during the use of glucose, ketosis does not store fat, and actually allows the body to burn stored fat for fuel.
This is the reason that low carb diets are so popular and have allowed thousands of people to lose weight and keep it off.
Low Carb Diets
There are cases where doctors will purposely induce ketosis to medically intervene for various conditions, like epilepsy and diabetes. This involves a patient being placed on a low carb diet, such as the Ketogenic diet, to increase their fat and protein intake to provide fuel for energy, while reducing their carb intake.
WebMD explains that ketosis kicks in when carb consumption is limited to less than 50 grams per day. The ketogenic diet and the Atkins diet are two of the most popular strict carb intake plans.
One of the greatest benefits of low carb diets, and using fat for fuel, is that this type of eating greatly regulates the appetite, so there is no starvation or out of control hunger, and erratic cravings become a thing of the past. One of the reasons for this is that carbohydrates trigger blood sugar spikes that can wreak havoc on hunger and cravings.
A study by the Academic Department of Surgery, Consultation, and Training Center at the Faculty of Medicine located at Kuwait University put it to the test. They took 83 obese patients (39 men, 44 women) and over 24 weeks studied the results of a low carb diet.
The subjects were given carbohydrates in the form of green vegetables, and salad. In the end, the subject’s glucose levels, cholesterol levels, weight, and BMI numbers all fell.
Low Carb Wins Over Low Fat
The ketogenic diet has been around for decades, and while the medical community has long believed that a diet high in fats would cause weight gain and increase the risk of heart disease, many studies and randomized trials have shown low carb diets to actually be more effective in not only the amount of weight lost, but in reducing markers and risk factors for heart disease.
Several experts now advise that the public should be more mindful of their carb intake versus their fat intake, since obesity rates in US adults have increased during the same time that fat intake was decreased and carb intake increased.
The Keto Flu
Some people may experience the keto flu when they begin a low carb diet. While not everyone will fall prey to it, you should be aware of the symptoms: sleepiness and fatigue, brain fog, nausea, headaches and upset stomach.
It doesn’t last long and to be honest, most changes in diet result in similar side effects, so it is to be expected.
The best way to ease your symptoms is by increasing salt intake with 2 cups of broth daily, or by using soy sauce on your food to re- balance the electrolyte levels in the body. The symptoms will likely disappear within a few days and you will be on your way to ketosis success.