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The Ketosis (Keto) Diet

A “Diet” is the sum of the food you consume. We often name our diets according to the goals they seek to achieve, whether it’s weight loss, fitness, or improvement of health problems like diabetes. Oftentimes, diets may be marketed in such a way that they come across as fads.

In recent years, a common type of weight-loss diet is the low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet. There are three basic macronutrients we consume – sugars (or carbohydrates), proteins, and fat. These types of diets adjust the ratio of macronutrients to rely more on protein relative to sugar and fat. In some, but not all, cases, these types of diets may put your body into a state called ketosis.

In simplest terms, ketosis is using the breakdown products of fats – called ketone bodies – for energy. Your body only does this when it doesn’t have carbohydrates available for energy. It also takes more time for the body to mobilize fats for energy, so in cases where carbohydrates are depleted proteins can be broken down for use as energy (which may lead to loss of lean muscle mass over time).

For a diet to put your body into ketosis, you would have to decrease your daily intake of carbohydrates to 50 grams or less per day, for 3 to 5 days. You will then start using your own fat stores as a primary source of energy – leading not just to weight loss, but fat loss specifically. Some diets will make up the difference in macronutrients primarily with protein, and others with a more even distribution of protein and fats. How much fat you consume on a ketosis diet is a source of controversy.

Losing mostly fat on a diet sounds great, of course! However, in the coming weeks I will discuss the risks and benefits of a ketosis diet, and how different diets will look depending on the ratio of protein and fats that you consume.

Published on May 21, 2019 by Dr. Shawn Tsuda, FACS

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