The Ketosis Myth: Is it Really Bad for You?

You have probably heard people say that high protein, low carb diets like the Atkins diet are bad for you because you need carbohydrates to survive, but have you ever wondered if that person really had any idea what they were talking about?  Ketosis, which is the state that your body enters when it burns fatty acids instead of glucose or fructose for energy, is generally associated with Ketoacidosis, which is a potentially deadly although unrelated disease from normal dietary Ketosis.

Ketoacidosis occurs when there is a low level of insulin (usually occurring in people with type 1 and 2 diabetes), which leads to a toxic buildup of glucose, since it can no longer enter the cells to produce energy without insulin to carry it through.  In response, the body begins to look for alternative sources of energy, breaking down body fat and muscle tissue, all the while leaving the blood with elevated levels of glucose as well as ketone bodies. The excess glucose leads to a lower pH of the blood, which not only puts an unnecessary strain on your body, but increases your risk of a litany of other ailments.

However, normal dietary ketosis is not the same as Ketoacidosis.  Eliminating carbs from your diet actually reduces your risk of lung and brain cancer, as well as suicide.  Opponents of high protein, low carb diets claim that carbohydrates are a necessary part of your diet since certain parts of the body can only function on glucose, which is most commonly obtained from carbs.  While there are some parts of your body (for example, some parts of your brain) that can only function on energy burned from glucose, your body does not need carbohydrates since it naturally makes its own glucose from amino acids and fatty acids found in most types of meat.  People in a state of ketosis almost always have healthy blood glucose levels, which are actually more stable than those who are not in a state of ketosis.

Virtually every society that existed before agrarian times subsisted on a high protein, low carb diet, as well as many peoples today (Eskimos, tribes, etc.), so don’t be afraid to take the leap and completely eliminate carbs from your diet.  Not only will it stabilize your blood glucose levels and reduce your risk of brain, lung, and heart diseases, but will lower your stomach fat level as well.

Eirc Hirota is a personal trainer as well as a freelance writer and blogger.

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