What is ketosis – and is it good for your body?

There are certain buzzwords in the fitness world that just baffle us.

We may nod along and pretend we know what they mean in order to save face in front of the protein shake gang, but we are secretly Googling the moment we have a free second.

High on this list of confusing fitness terms is ketosis. 22,340 Brits search for the meaning and benefits of ketosis every month.

If the word itself sounds a bit scarily scientific – that’s because it is. But, if you’re serious about fitness, diet and improving your overall health, it might be useful to know exactly what it means, and if it could be good for you.

What is ketosis?

Ketosis is essentially a state where the body is using fat as its main fuel. This happens when the body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates to use as fuel, and can be intentionally triggered by following a very low carb, ‘ketogenic’ diet.

‘With the popularity of the keto diet, there is some confusion about what ketosis is,’ says MyVitalMetrics founder, Owen Hutchins.

‘At its most basic, ketosis is the result of burning fat for fuel when the body doesn’t have any carbs in the system.

‘Specifically, when the body burns fat as fuel, as part of that process it creates chemicals called ketone bodies. These ketone bodies are then normally burned in another energy production process which takes some glycogen (stored sugar) and uses it together with the ketones to create more energy.

‘However, if there is no glycogen available this process cannot be completed, so the ketone bodies remain in the blood and urine. This is ketosis.’

Is ketosis good for your body?

There is contrasting evidence about whether ketosis and the keto diet are actually healthy and good for your body. And the one hand, it can help you to maintain a healthy weight, but experts say it is not without its risks.

Doctors say that being in a state of ketosis can help you lose weight, which can be beneficial for preventing all kinds of health problems.

Beyond weight loss, other benefits could include lowering your risk of heart disease, and could be helpful in preventing seizures in epilepsy patients.

However, a recent study branded the diet ‘dangerous’ and said it was found to weaken the bones of athletes and increase their risk of injury.

Other experts have even warned that a long-term keto diet can damage the heart muscle. And many have suggested that keto is only safe and effective over a short period of time.

Is the keto diet safe?

‘Renowned for its ability to source calories from protein and fats, as opposed to carbohydrates and sugars, in a bid to elevate weight loss and boost energy, the state of ketosis has been credited for aiding a range of health problems,’ nutritionist and founder of Nosh Detox, Geeta Sidhu-Robb, tells Metro.co.uk.

‘However it is not without its criticism, such as the safe longevity of the method. But what must be said is that the ketogenic diet is most definitely safe and is a viable dieting technique.

‘Before starting a keto diet its important to do your research – of your own body. It’s very important to examine your relationship with fats as a traditional ketogenic diet will have lots of them.

‘Have a meal plan in place and opt for the best quality products, even if this means a spike in the prices – bearing in mind the keto diet should not be a long term plan.’

Geeta says that there’s also another concern with consuming high volumes of meat on this diet.

‘While the upside of this plan is that people end up eating healthier fats, less sugar and see their insulin levels mellow, it can often mean that people become reliant on saturated animal fats in meat,’ Geeta tells us.

‘This is why vegan variations of the keto diet are much healthier options as you still reap the weight and health rewards of a keto diet but avoid the harmful fats in meat, which are hard to avoid when you consider the fact that carbohydrates are almost completely disregarded.

‘Vegan ketosis will see plant-based healthy nutrients maintained.

‘The ketogenic diet will see its best rewards when implemented between one and two weeks at a time. It certainly shouldn’t be a long duration diet method.’

Remember, always talk to your doctor before making any major changes to your diet. Particularly if you have an underlying health condition.

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