If you don’t have diabetes, especially Type 1 diabetes, you might not know what ketones are, much less have ever heard of them. However, with the recent renewed interest in low-carb diets, ketones have resurfaced as a topic of interest in many fitness and healthy lifestyle circles. But what are ketones? What do they signify in terms of your health? Are ketones harmful, or are they a sign of improved health?
Ketones are, technically, acids produced when your muscles burn fat for fuel or energy. Three types of ketones are produced by fat metabolism: acetone, aceto-acetic acid, and beta-hydroxybutyric acid.
To understand ketones and how they’re formed, it’s important to understand how your body burns calories for energy. There are three types of calorie-filled fuel available for your muscles to burn—fat, carbohydrates (glucose), and sometimes protein—and each of these fuels creates a byproduct. For glucose, the byproduct is lactic acid; for fat, that product is ketones.
Your muscles generally prefer to burn fat over glucose, because fat contains more calories (9 calories per gram) than glucose (4 calories per gram) and, thus, provides more energy. However, there’s a catch to burning fat for fuel. In order to burn fat efficiently and with as little byproduct as possible, your body needs to burn glucose at the same time. When the body doesn’t have enough glucose available to burn, it’ll metabolize fat instead, producing ketones.
If you’re on a low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diet, ketones are a normal product of your body’s fat metabolizing processes. Because you’re consuming high amounts of fat and protein and very low amounts of carbohydrates on a ketogenic diet, your glucose levels are depleted. When deprived of its usual levels of glucose, your body should turn to fatty tissues for energy, a process called ketosis.
Typically, your muscles use glucose (in addition to fat) for energy. When that glucose isn’t available, there is a risk that your body will break down your muscles to access glucose and glycogen. However, ketosis, also called muscle sparing, is your body’s response to a lack of glucose in your blood that prevents this breakdown of the muscles.
During this process, your body breaks down stores of fatty tissue instead of muscles and produces ketones, which your muscles, including your brain, use for fuel. While for some individuals, such as those with Type 1 diabetes, ketones in the blood or urine are cause for concern, those who are following ketogenic diets want ketones in the body. In fact, in this case, ketones in the blood or urine are a sign that your diet plan is working—your body is burning fat!
The standard ketogenic diet calls for you to consume 75 percent of your calories from fat, 20 percent from protein, and 5 percent from carbohydrates. Most people find that a more moderate approach to this diet, which includes just reducing carb intake and increasing the amount of healthy fats and proteins consumed (think 40 percent fat, 30 percent protein, 30 percent carbs), is just as beneficial to their health and fat loss goals as the standard ketogenic diet.
Because of its extremely low carbohydrate content, medical professionals advise against using a ketogenic diet for more than 2 to 6 months. But your body will reap benefits from this diet long after you reintroduce carbs to your plate!
One of the main benefits of a ketogenic diet is the rapid weight loss many people achieve. Because this diet puts your body into ketosis, you burn fat quickly—not just the fat you’re consuming, but the fat you’ve already got stored in your body.
Ketogenic diets also benefit brain function. In fact, people with epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease are often put on ketogenic diets as part of their treatment and prevention plans. High fat diets and the use of ketones as fuel have been proven to support the nervous system and improve brain functioning.
Finally, many people on ketogenic diets just feel great! Ketosis can improve your daily moods, making you feel less irritable and stressed, and less prone to mood swings. In fact, ketosis often creates a feeling of euphoria in those following a low carb diet, which is why ketogenic diets are often used to treat patients suffering from extreme depression.
If you’ve tried a low carb diet and struggled to see results, or if you’re thinking of trying a low carb diet for the first time, a revolutionary new product could help you achieve ketosis and build a healthier lifestyle.
KETO//OS by Pruvit is a natural drink mix that provides ketones in your body’s bloodstream. This supplement gives you all of “the benefits of ketosis without having to be in nutritional ketosis.” This means that you can achieve the fat burning, mood improving results of a ketogenic diet without necessarily following a strict ketogenic diet. But KETO//OS also supports those already following a ketogenic lifestyle by helping their bodies use ketones more efficiently.