What The Heck Is Ketosis Anyway?
When you hear someone talking about the Atkins diet, one of the notable effects of the diet is when your body reaches a state of “ketosis”. Ketosis is what helps your body use your fat stores for energy, and is a very exciting thing when you realize you’re in ketosis. The only setback is, not everyone understands ketosis and what it involves, so we’ll try to explain how it fits into the big picture.
You see, a large portion of diets out there rely on reducing calories. That’s all fine and dandy, and you’ll lose weight, but you have to keep in mind that you’re going to lose weight not only from fat, but also from lean muscle tissue. This, in turn, will reduce your metabolism, which could, in the long term (assuming you don’t exercise a lot) make it harder to lose weight and make it real easy to gain it back. We don’t want that, right?
A low carb diet (which is mostly known as Atkins) revolves around reducing carbohydrates. When you drastically slow down the consumption of carbs, your body will most likely go into a state of ketosis, because since your body doesn’t have carbs to burn (which is the first source it turns to for energy), it has no choice but to burn fat stores to maintain your energy level. The ketones that are created from the fat is what is being burned as energy, and they will quickly be turned into the primary source of energy. Your good old friend Mr. liver will convert your fat stores into ketones, and any extra ketones will be excreted in your urine.
These “ketones” we speak of are actually a very healthy and highly efficient source of energy, and after a few days, your body will be thanking you for making the switch. Since you’re reducing the amount of sugar and glucose while on a low carb diet, your blood sugar levels out, which is a great feeling. No more ups and downs, after a small “adjustment period”, you’ll have a very steady supply of energy.
One of the quickest ways to find out if you’re in a ketosis state is to head over to your local pharmacy (Walgreens, CVS, etc…) and pick up a package of Ketone Test Strips. They typically come in packs of 50, and cost around $15. Once you get used to testing your urine (you just slip it into your stream real quick, and its color coded), you can find out how your body reacts to certain foods. If you cheat one day and have too many carbohydrates, test yourself later that night, and you’ll notice the ketone count is lower. It’s kind of fun, actually and very encouraging when you continually test positive for ketones. It means you’re doing it right!
I have to add though, that in some circumstances, even if you’re following a low carb diet to the letter and aren’t seeing positive tests for ketones while using a testing strip, don’t worry. There are quite a few people that even if ketones are in fact being produced, your strips won’t show it, or it may show a small amount. This seems to be somewhat common in women more than men. It’s just the way we’re designed, and as long as you’re losing weight and inches off your waistline, there is nothing to worry about!
Make sure you stay hydrated while on a low carb diet, and always check with your physician if you have even the slightest of concern or question. Once you’re cleared by the doctor, low carb diets are an outstanding way to lose all those extra pounds!