Nutritional ketosis is not Keto-acidosis!

I was in a discussion the other week with someone about fasting and its benefits. His response was something like you’ll be singing another tune when you get bad keto-acidosis. I gave up on this person after this. He was so obviously ignorant of the keto lifestyle and fasting that I was wasting my time: “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”

That said, there may be people out there who get these two things confused because they share “keto”. Let’s clarify things.

Nutritional Ketosis

From Wikipedia “Ketosis is a metabolic state characterized by elevated levels of ketone bodies in the blood or urine. Physiologic ketosis is a normal response to low glucose availability, such as low-carbohydrate diets or fasting, that provides an additional energy source for the brain in the form of ketones. In physiologic ketosis, ketones in the blood are elevated above baseline levels, but the body’s acid-base homeostasis is maintained.”

Simply put, one’s body has used up glucose and is now burning fat. The result is ketones which is another energy source. This is what those of us in the “keto community” are trying to achieve with fasting and a low carb lifestyle. This is certainly why I follow this lifestyle and dip into fasting on a regular basis. There is so much information out there on ketosis. If you want some places to start you can go here or here.

Keto-acidosis

Again from Wikipedia “Ketoacidosis is a metabolic state caused by uncontrolled production of ketone bodies that cause a metabolic acidosis. While ketosis refers to any elevation of blood ketones, ketoacidosis is a specific pathologic condition that results in changes in blood pH and requires medical attention. The most common cause of ketoacidosis is diabetic ketoacidosis but can also be caused by alcohol, medications, toxins, and rarely starvation…The most common cause of ketoacidosis is a deficiency of insulin in type 1 diabetes or late-stage type 2 diabetes. This is called diabetic ketoacidosis and is characterized by hyperglycaemia, dehydration and metabolic acidosis. Other electrolyte disturbances such as hyperkalaemia and hyponatremia may also be present. A lack of insulin in the bloodstream allows unregulated fatty acid release from adipose tissue which increases fatty acid oxidation to acetyl CoA, some of which is diverted to ketogenesis. This raises ketone levels significantly above what is seen in normal physiology.”

It’s worth quoting again from the above “The most common cause of ketoacidosis is a deficiency of insulin in type 1 diabetes or late-stage type 2 diabetes. This is called diabetic ketoacidosis and is characterized by hyperglycaemia, dehydration and metabolic acidosis.” So in most cases keto-acidosis occurs when someone produces little or no insulin and develops dangerous, acute hyperglycaemia. This is not the same thing as nutritional ketosis.

Conclusion

Just because ketosis and keto-acidosis share two syllables does not make them the same. People who tell you the ketogenic diet will give you keto-acidosis are probably fools.

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