In normal circumstances, the body’s cells use glucose as their primary form of energy. Glucose is typically derived from dietary carbohydrates, including:
- sugar – such as fruits and milk or yogurt
- starchy foods – such as bread and pasta
The body breaks these down into simple sugars. Glucose can either be used to fuel the body or be stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen.
If there is not enough glucose available to meet energy demands, the body will adopt an alternative strategy in order to meet those needs. Specifically, the body begins to break down fat stores to provide glucose from triglycerides.
Ketones are a by-product of this process.
Ketones are acids that build up in the blood and are eliminated in urine. In small amounts, they serve to indicate that the body is breaking down fat, but high levels of ketones can poison the body, leading to a process called ketoacidosis.
Ketosis describes the metabolic state whereby the body converts fat stores into energy, releasing ketones in the process.
A ketogenic diet is a very low carbohydrate, moderate protein, and high fat based nutrition plan. A ketogenic diet trains the individual’s metabolism to run off of fatty acids or ketone bodies. This is called fat adapted or keto adapted when the body has adapted to run off of fatty acids/ketones at rest.
This nutrition plan has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation. It also improves cellular healing and mitochondrial biogenesis which supports stronger and healthier cells. All of this leads to reduced risk of chronic disease as well as improved muscle development and fat metabolism.