Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dietary Ketosis and "starvation ketones"- harmful misnomers

When cutting out the carbohydrates in the diet, the body has to go somewhere else for energy. It turns to burning fat.

When fat is burned, it creates compounds called "ketones" that the body uses as power instead of glucose. To a diabetic, ketones are generally a danger word. It is a similar situation to a diet that generates ketones as power instead of breaking down glucose. However, the state of affairs in the body is very, very different.

When there is no insulin to pull sugar into cells, the body burns fat, creating ketones. Someone with type 1 diabetes who doesn't take their insulin and eats many carbs will continue to raise their blood sugar levels without any of it reaching cells for power. The cells burn the fat and create ketones.

However, with a diet that is specifically creating ketones for power, the amount of other sugar being dumped into the blood is little to none. And with our medical knowledge, we can have the necessary insulin to get rid of that tiny bit in the blood. So instead of using carbs as power, we run continuously off of ketones, much the way that our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have.

This kind of ketogenic state is often referred to by diabetics as "starvation ketones" meaning that the body is burning fat because we haven't put any carbohydrates in it. I think this name is harmful- the word "starvation" implies a state we want to reverse immediately. Because we as diabetics are on the lookout for ketones all the time, it might prevent us from even trying a diet that is ketogenic. The level of ketones that are considered "starvation ketones" are not dangerous, and might range from trace amounts all the way up to 2.0 on a ketone-meter.

You might want to ask your doctor what she considers a "starvation ketone range", but certainly don't let that prohibit you from attempting a grain free, low/no carb diet. If the sugars are within acceptable range and there are small ketones and you're eating this kind of diet, odds are you're eating it right. Test often, experiment and pose/ answer your own questions.

No comments:

Post a Comment