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.
Any glucose that is not immediately used as fuel will be sent to the liver and muscles to be stored as glycogenas, a fuel reserve, and any unused glycogen in the muscles, such as through exercise or energy expenditure, 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…
Lipolysis And Ketosis
Under normal dietary conditions, ketones play no role in fueling the body and energy production, but during a Ketogenic low carb diet, ketones become the central player, fueling the body and at the same time flipping on the fat burning switch.
When the intake of carbs is limited, and their sources controlled, meaning that starches and sugars are eliminated, the body goes into a state called lipolysis, a most efficient biochemical pathway to weight loss and a scientifically proven alternative to using glucose for energy.
- Lipolysis is the only practical alternative to giving the body an alternative for glucose fuel, the process that often leads to obesity
Lipolysis occurs when the body begins to burn fat stores for energy instead of carbohydrates that are obtained from the diet.
The by-products of this fat burning process are ketones and so ketosis is the secondary process of lipolysis.
By lowering intake of carbohydrates and also the sources of those carbohydrates, which the body will use for energy first when available, it is forced to use its fat stores instead, literally melting it off the body in a state referred to as ketosis.
- Ketones, the byproduct of ketosis, fuel the body
Sugars, grains, starches, and starchy vegetables fuel your body when you eat them, a state called glucosis (a term coined by the late Dr. Atkins, a pioneer in low carb weight loss). ‘
It is only when you lower carb intake and limit it to non-starchy vegetables, and small amounts of certain dairy foods that you are not eating enough carbs to create glucose, creating a state of ketosis where the body begins to burn its fat stores for energy.
- The only exception to the body not needing glucose for fuel is ketones
Lipolysis and its secondary process, ketosis provides adequate fuel for cells, the brain and other organs just as glucose from carbs does BUT, unlike when the body uses glucose from carbs for energy, ketosis does not store fat, and actually allows the body to burn stored fat for fuel.
Ketosis Versus Ketoacidosis
Ketosis and ketoacidosis are often confused and they are two completely different things.
- Ketosis is a natural fat burning process in the body, while ketoacidosis is a medical condition that occurs only in uncontrolled diabetes.
- Ketoacidosis is dangerous, but ketosis on a ketogenic diet is perfectly normal, healthy, and necessary for weight loss.
Fuel Utilization By The Brain
According to Psychology Today, while the brain typically runs on glucose, it has no problems getting its fuel from ketones when they are available.
While some parts of the brain can only use glucose for energy, the body takes care of this too. When glucose is lacking, it can turn protein into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis.
Lipolysis and its secondary process, ketosis, uses fat as its primary source of energy.
Ketone production occurs when insulin in the bloodstream is low.
The lower the insulin level, the higher the ketone production and vice versa.
This process can only occur while following a low carb diet and the sources of those carbs are not insulin trigger foods, such as starches or sugars.