New to low carb, keto? Perhaps you are wondering is ketosis even safe. It’s a fair question to ask, especially if you are new to the keto diet.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion about the safety of being in a state of ketosis.
The number one reason for this misinformation is due to the assumption that ketosis carries the same dangers of being in a state of ketoacidosis. But there is a vast difference between the two.
Is a dangerous metabolic state that occurs when individuals with type 1 diabetes and occasionally type 2 diabetics are not managing their diabetes properly.
It’s caused by a lack of insulin in the body. When insulin isn’t being produced by the body, it causes blood sugar levels to rise to very high levels and stored fat streams from fat cells.
The excessive amount of fat that is metabolized produces abnormal amounts of ketones. When this occurs there is a combination of high blood sugar and high ketone levels.
This state is also known as DKA, when large amounts of ketone bodies in the blood cause it to become acidic. If left untreated it could even be deadly. Ketoacidosis causes ketone levels that are greater than 20 mmol/L
Is a completely natural state that occurs when an individual adheres to a ketogenic diet and reduces their carbohydrates or abstains from food by fasting for an extended time.
It’s when their body begins to produce ketones for energy instead of glucose, because glucose is in short supply.
In a state of nutritional ketosis your blood sugar levels are normal to low and your ketone levels are between 0.5-3 mmol/L.
Ketosis is a controlled, insulin regulated process that allows for small ketones to be produced when fat is metabolized.
Is Ketosis Even Safe?
You may be wondering is ketosis even safe or a good state to be in. This of course depends on your current state of health.
Which is why we encourage individuals to get a check-up before starting a low carb, keto diet. Not only is it important to get your doctor’s approval but in many cases medications will need to be adjusted as your health improves.
Randy and I were able to get off medications but we did so with our doctor’s approval and guidance.
Most diabetics are familiar with the term ketosis but usually only hear the negative side to it. This is because when a diabetic’s sugar levels are too high the body produces an enormous amount of ketones.
The pancreas is the organ responsible for creating the hormone insulin. Insulin is what helps the body to manage blood sugar and fat storage.
Unfortunately, when insulin is not being produced because the pancreas is too taxed, the body can no longer use glucose to fuel the cells. It also cannot store fat in the fat cells.
When this happens an individual is classified as having Type 1 diabetes and the diagnosis is usually accompanied by unexplained weight loss.
In fact, it’s this sudden weight loss that usually gets them to visit a doctor and get diagnosed.
People with Type 1 diabetes have pancreatic damage and explains why they are unable to produce insulin.
Type 1 diabetics need to be injected insulin because their pancreas can no longer produce this hormone. They can develop ketoacidosis if they are not getting the right levels of insulin.
However, ketosis is a perfectly normal metabolic process. It’s when your body switches to burning fat for fuel by breaking down fatty acids and produce ketones.
This only happens in the absence of glucose, when our carbohydrate levels are quite low.
When our bodies burn fat for fuel we produce three bi-products of fat breakdown, β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), acetoacetate (ACA) and acetone. These bi-products are called ketones.
In a state of ketosis our liver breaks down fat, and then releases ketones into the blood to be used by the brain and organs for energy.
While on a low carb, keto diet you are basically inducing this process by cutting back intentionally on carbs. In addition, your ketone levels do not rise to dangerous levels.
Why is this?
Because ketones are water-soluble, meaning whatever excess amounts of ketones may be in your system will be eliminated through the urine naturally.
What’s more ketone levels for adults who have a functioning pancreas and whose insulin production is normal very rarely have ketone levels that go beyond 8-10 mmol/L.
What Can Cause Ketoacidosis?
One of the main reasons people ask is ketosis is even safe, is because of the more commonly heard term ketoacidosis.
You can’t blame people for wondering if ketosis is safe, because it does sound familiar to ketoacidosis. In fact, even medical professionals who are not well versed in this topic get the terms confused.
The number one cause of ketoacidosis is poorly managed Type 1 and 2 diabetes. AND it is more commonly seen in Type 1 diabetics that are either not getting enough insulin or using too high of an insulin dose.
Ketoacidosis or (DKA) usually shows up initially when someone first becomes diabetic, because they have yet to introduce a blood sugar management protocol.
For this reason, a person with a high risk of develop diabetes should be under a doctor’s care.
In addition to poorly managed diabetes, a person can experience ketoacidosis for the following reasons:
- A thyroid that is overactive
- Urinary tract infections
- Heart attack
- Medications that cause improper use of insulin
- Drug abuse
Main Ketoacidosis Symptoms
- Extreme thirst
- Nausea and/or abdominal pain
- Excessive urination
- Hyperglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme fatigue
- Brain fog
Individuals with diabetes or who are at a higher risk of developing the disease should visit their doctor immediately if they have any symptoms of ketoacidosis.
Note that in the case of a well-formulated keto diet individuals only produce ketone levels between 0.5-3 mmol. This range of ketone levels is considered safe for healthy individuals. Understanding this makes the question, is ketosis even safe, a mute one.
But What Exactly Is A Ketogenic Diet?
The most traditional explanation of a ketogenic diet, is a diet that contains less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day or 5 to 10 percent of total daily calories.
It also can have an intake of dietary fat as high as 85 percent. Another way of saying it is, that it’s a diet that has four times more fat than carbs, with protein levels managed so that 90 percent of calories are coming from fat. This is what is considered strict keto.
A ketogenic diet has been referred to by several different names including, low carb, LCHF (low carb high fat), lazy keto, and keto.
When a properly formulated ketogenic diet is maintained it forces your body into a state of metabolic ketosis. It’s not done by extreme calorie restriction but by drastically reducing your carbohydrate intake instead.
In this way a keto diet mimics fasting. Which is why Randy and I believe that combining a keto diet with our Christian faith is a powerful transformative tool.
Being in a state of therapeutic ketosis offers many health benefits that go beyond weight loss. It has many other physical and mental benefits.
Read more about ketosis, its benefits and how to enter into this state quickly.
Use our keto food guide to help you get started.
Type 2 Diabetics Using Keto
Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common forms of diabetes. Accounting for almost 95% of all cases of diagnosed diabetes.
Over 29 million people in the United States alone suffer from diabetes. What’s frightening is that over a third of US adults have pre-diabetes and 90% of them are clueless to the fact.
We are facing a real diabetes crises in this country and yet most people are walking around unaware of it.
In most cases people are diagnosed when their uncontrolled sugar levels land them in the emergency room of a hospital.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Dr. Jason Fung has been a strong proponent of using a keto diet to manage Type 2 diabetes. In his book the Diabetes Code he goes into great detail on how you can prevent Type 2 diabetes, and reverse it naturally.
He is a great advocate of using a keto diet and intermittent fasting as an effective tool in the fight against diabetes.
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Type 1 Diabetics Using A Ketogenic Diet
In the case of a Type 1 diabetics, you need to tread lightly when doing a keto diet, but it can be used as an effective tool to manage it. Once again I remind you to enlist the help of a doctor.
The latest study on Type 1 diabetics using a keto diet are promising. It points to how it’s helped them reduce HbA1c levels, reduce the amount of insulin used, and allowed for weight loss
If you are interested in learning more about the science behind experiencing ketosis I encourage you to visit Ketogeniccom or read The Ketogenic Bible. These two resources have been invaluable for us in understanding ketosis.
Are there any downsides to being in ketosis? When an individual switches from being primarily a glucose (sugar-burner) to a ketone (fat-burner) they can sometimes temporarily experience unpleasant symptoms, such as:
- Brain Fog
- Mood Swings
These symptoms can occur when first embarking on a ketogenic diet or after eating a high carb meal once you have been doing this diet. This is because your body has to burn through the excess glycogen before burning fat for fuel.
Can The Keto Flu Be Avoided?
The good news is that keto flu symptoms are short-term and they can be reduced or even prevented by taking some measures.
- Make sure you are properly hydrated: A good guide is to drink half your weight in ounces of water. Calculation: Your weight X .05= ounces of water per day
- Use exogenous ketones: You can raise your ketones by taking them in the form of a ketone supplement. Doing so helps you get into a state of ketosis faster and thereby reduces keto flu symptoms quicker. In this way it doesn’t rely on your diet alone to be in a state of ketosis.
- Add more salt: A keto diet has a diuretic effect and can therefore excrete more sodium. For this reason adding high level salt in the form of Himalayan pink salt, or Celtic salt is advisable.
- Raise your healthy fat intake: By having enough healthy fats you keep your brain properly nourished. The key is to replace the carbohydrates you eliminated with keto approved fats.
Learn more about being in ketosis and how to enter quickly for optimal results.
Testing Your Ketone Levels
Something to keep in mind when doing a keto diet is the benefit of testing your ketone levels.
This way you can track easily if the foods you are adding are affecting your ketone levels. Doing so will allow you to tweak your diet to make sure you get back on track in the event your ketones drop.
For individuals just starting on a keto diet Real Plans allows you to put things in auto-pilot making it easier to stay compliant.
Real Plans employs a huge recipe database for you to choose from. It also allows you to import your own recipes or recipes from anywhere in the internet.
You can add recipe links from FITTOSERVE GROUP and have all our recipes you have come to love at your fingertips. What’s more it all syncs up to your personal shopping list.
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In closing, being in therapeutic ketosis ranges from 0.6 – 3.0 mmol (millimoles per liter), while ketoacidosis causes a reading that is 3-5 times higher than this. Don’t keep wondering is ketosis even safe, learn the difference between therapeutic levels of ketosis and ketoacidosis.
Our community group combines the Christian faith and the keto diet for optimal results. The community group was birthed out of our personal journey to wellness.
Today, the free support group serves as way to educate people on the benefits of eating a ketogenic diet and gives the community a safe place to grow.
Feel free to contact us for more information. It is our sincere prayer to be able to see you meet your goals.