What is ketosis?
Ketosis is a proven way to lose weight and gain several health benefits, as a growing number of studies show. Ketosis is a metabolic state where your body's ketone levels increase. Ketosis occurs when your body uses its fat stored as ketones for energy instead of glucose.
In this guide, we're going to talk about the possible long-term results of ketosis. What are its positive and negative effects? Here's what you need to know.
How long should you stay in ketosis?
Most people plan to stay in ketosis on their ketogenic diet only for a certain period of time. But, is ketosis sustainable in the long term?
You can stay in ketosis as long as your blood ketone level stays within an optimal range (0.5-3.0mM). To reach this acceptable range, you need to drastically reduce your carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams per day.
In general, most people are unable to stay in ketosis for the long term, mainly because they have difficulty in maintain a keto and low-carb diet.
You can test your ketone levels with a ketose strip.
Long-term health benefits of sustained ketosis
1. Greatly reduced body weight
Obesity is a global problem. It is associated with several health problems such as certain types of cancer, high blood pressure and strokes. While people try different methods to lose weight, the effects are seldom lasting.
2. Improved glycemic control (HbA1c)
HbA1c represents glycated hemoglobin and represents your average blood sugar level over a 3 month period. Good blood sugar control is especially important for people with diabetes. However, people without diabetes should also check their HbA1c to see if they are at risk.
Reducing your carbohydrate intake to 30-50 grams per day results in a significant reduction in your HbA1c values over a 6 month period. Nutritional ketosis lowers your HbA1c and makes you more sensitive to insulin.
3. Protection of the brain
You probably already know that ketones serve as an alternative fuel for your brain to keep it from running out of energy when glucose intake is low. This is important with cerebral glucose hypometabolism, a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.
It's also worth noting that ketones serve as a major fuel and primary substrate for the synthesis of brain lipids in developing infants.
The effect of nutritional ketosis on brain metabolism is believed to be responsible for protecting the brain. Ketone bodies act as anti-seizure agents. They block certain synaptic crises.
The risks of sustained ketosis over the long term
1. Micronutrient deficiencies
At the onset of ketosis, you will feel the need to urinate more often, which is diuresis. Diuresis occurs because the kidneys filter out ketone bodies in the form of anions (negatively charged particles), increasing the supply of distal sodium (a positively charged particle) to the lumen. In this way, the sodium level in your body decreases.
Also, removing most foods high in carbohydrates from your diet (and therefore starting a low carbohydrate diet), such as bread, vegetables and fruit, can lead to micronutrient deficiencies.
These foods contain a substantial amount of vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C, E, B as well as the electrolytes potassium, magnesium, zinc and calcium.
2. Processed "keto" foods increase the risk of health problems
One of the hallmarks of a well-defined ketogenic diet is the consumption of mostly whole, unprocessed foods. Health issues arise when you follow a low-carb, high-fat diet and eat highly processed foods that are labeled "ketogenic."
Even if they are, these foods can contain extra calories, hidden sugars, hydrogenated oils, flavoring agents, and emulsifiers. When extra calories build up, additional weight gain occurs, which puts a person at risk for serious health problems.
Processed meats like hot dogs, salami, and all types of ham contain nitrite and nitrate which are also found to be carcinogenic compounds. This means that these compounds can cause cancer.
You can also eat low-carb granola, no added sugars, ideal for breakfast!
Nutritional ketosis offers a host of health benefits that last as long as a person maintains optimal ketone levels. Be sure to get medical attention as part of your ketogenic and low carb diet.