When you start the Ketogenic Diet, there are many questions for you to answer. The people you know and love want to know why you’ve chosen to pursue this peculiar sounding diet. You not only want to answer these questions, but to vindicate your decision to be Ketogenic. But out of all of the questions you’ll receive, “what is ketosis?” is likely the most important answer you’ll give.
We want to help you answer this question effectively, and succinctly, so we’ve provided three steps to describing “what is ketosis” with the hope that you’ll:
A. Answer the question well
B. Help people understand the value of this amazing lifestyle!
If you’re going to go about answering this question, you probably want a succinct, informative way of doing so. We have provided three different ways you could help someone understand the Ketogenic state, and why it’s a superior physical state to be in!
1. Explain that it’s a “metabolic state”
Ketosis is a metabolic state, where your body’s energy is derived from ketone bodies in your blood. When your glucose stores are low, your body pivots to ketones for energy, which are released into your bloodstream and metabolized for energy. Ketones are produced when fat cells release fatty acids into your bloodstream. This is your body’s reaction to being deprived of glucose, and seeking a new form of energy; it’s also why being Ketogenic is often characterized as burning fat.
Once in this metabolic state, you tend to experience less highs and lows that are normally associated with high carb/high sugar diets.
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The human body is meant to be in Ketosis – it’s the general state that our ancestors lived in when their lives depended on their mental and physical performance as they moved often, hunting and gathering. But with the rise of modern society, and agriculture, the production and consumption of carbs increased, causing many cultures to become carb dependent. But with recent developments in dietary research, we have rediscovered the benefits of utilizing ketones for energy, and keeping carbohydrate intake at a minimum.
In the opposite state of glycolysis, the body doesn’t use fat for energy, but instead stores it in the fat cells.
The way you can explain it to your aunt, brother, or father in law:
Ketosis is a state where your body uses ketones (from fat) for energy instead of glucose (from carbs).
2. Explain what ketone bodies are
Ketone bodies are initially produced by your liver, and come in the three following forms: acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and acetone.
Check out these Exogenous Ketone Resources!
Acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate are the two most prevalent ketones; and once transported from the liver to the cells for energy, are converted into acetyl-CoA: the final means of usable energy. Beta-hydroxybutyrate comes after acetoacetate makes it to your liver and experiences synthesis. In essence, the ketone body process could be thought of as a 1, 2, 3 process (1. Acetoacetate 2. Beta-hydroxybutyrate 3. Acetone)
Acetone however, is thought of as more of a byproduct, being normally discharged in the urine, found in the blood, and smelled on the breath.
3. Explain how Ketosis is different
Ketosis is the opposite of glycolysis, which is where your body’s energy is derived from glucose. This is the system your body uses when you’re consuming carbohydrates. Ketosis cannot happen when there is a surplus of carbohydrates, because your body will use them for glycolysis before it uses stored fats for ketosis.
But there’s more to the difference than what you’re burning: you should also add why you’re burning it. Ketosis has been proven to have many benefits for fat loss, physical/cognitive performance, and the fighting of some of the most heinous diseases in human history. Many researchers believe this is because of the metabolic nature of many of the diseases, such as Cancer and Epilepsy.
By turning your body into a fat burning entity, you begin to cut into the fat stores that our modern day diets tend to just stock up. Starchy carbs and refined sugars are causing our bodies to store up life-altering amounts of fat, due to the wildly spiked insulin levels that they leave our bodies in. By placing your body into Ketosis, you are putting an end to this vicious cycle of fat storage and insulin spiking, while also burning that stored fat for energy.
The moment will soon be upon you again: you’ll grab some meat, veggies, and maybe even some butter while passing on all of the sugars and starches at the table. You’ll get weird looks, but the results will be undeniable as you shed the pounds and optimize your mind and body.
And inevitably the question will be asked: “what is ketosis?”
With this brief guide, we hope that you can answer the question effectively, without overwhelming someone who’s never given their dietary habits a second thought. And maybe – just maybe – it will help someone you know get out of an unhealthy lifestyle, and into a thriving Ketogenic state.
About the Author Nate Arnold
I started this website because it was hard to find trustworthy, evidence-based information about the ketogenic diet. Information that was published and peer reviewed by respected scientific journals. After years of research, I'm sure you'll achieve great results in a healthy way following my advice. I do my best to translate scientific research jargon into plain English. Remember, it's always a good idea to consult a doctor before starting a new diet!