Ketosis describes the state where your body has switched from burning glucose to burning ketones. Contrary to popular belief, glucose is not the body’s only fuel source. When glucose is not available, our bodies recombine proteins and fats to create ketones, an alternative energy source. And when we are burning ketones, we are in a state called ketosis. As we shall see, ketosis can be very healing for our bodies.
1: Fat burning.
We used to believe that the fat you eat is the fat you wear. But actually, the truth is far more complicated. If we eat piles of fats on top of a high carbohydrate diet we will naturally gain body fat. But if we eat under 120 grams of carbohydrate a day, higher fat intake is healthier. And if we eat under 45 grams of carbohydrate a day, our body switches into “fat burning mode”. All the genes associated with burning fat activate, and our body prioritizes fat burning. This means when we run out of fuel, our body doesn’t ask for more food, like with carbs, but quietly swaps onto burning our own body fat.
2: Increased satiety.
An added benefit of burning our own fat, as noted above, is that we don’t feel hungry as often. When we are eating a high carbohydrate diet we are trapped, chasing insulin highs and lows. We eat carbs, our blood sugar spikes, then our insulin spikes, our blood sugar crashes, and we feel hungry again. This causes overeating. By eating fewer carbs and burning our own body fat, we increase satiety and eat less.
3: Improved hormones.
The most obvious hormones rebalanced by ketosis are satiety hormones. When we eat fewer carbs our insulin levels go low and stay low. But as our stomachs are full for less time, we also produce less ghrelin, a hormone that increases hunger. And as we are burning our fat cells, the amount of leptin they release increases, decreasing hunger further. But something even better happens to our hormones when we eat more fat. Many people in the West suffer low hormones all round. This is because we do not eat enough cholesterol to make a healthy amount of our hormones. This leads to breast tissue in men, no periods or heavy, painful periods in women, infertility, and obesity, among other things. By eating more cholesterol, we improve our hormone balances.
4: Better skin, hair, eyes, etc.
As our hormones improve, our outward appearance naturally improves too. Our skin becomes more toned and radiant, and wrinkles plump out. Our hair grows stronger and shinier. And our eyes are brighter and more youthful. But when we decrease our carbohydrate intake something else happens that is magical. When we are eating too many carbs, our bodies store a lot of them in our muscles in the form of glucose. They also store processed glucose as fat tissue under our skin. For every gram of glucose we store, we must store three grams of water. So our fat tissue expands, and our muscles get watery and soft. This creates an unpleasant, doughy appearance. By decreasing the amount of carbs we eat, we burn some of that glucose and reduce our fluid retention, looking tighter and slimmer.
5: More explosive energy.
When we are burning glucose, we need to keep it topped up. This is because, as mentioned earlier, as we burn glucose we start craving more carbs. If we’re doing endurance sport this is particularly obvious, but it also happens every day. When we fire into a stressful, energy-burning situation, our body uses up most of its free energy. If that energy is glucose, we feel very hungry all of a sudden. This hunger causes lack of focus, and lasts until either we eat carbs, or start producing ketones. If we are already burning ketones, then we don’t need to switch over. This allows us to cope better with sudden bursts of mental and physical activity throughout the day.
6: Better nutrient absorption.
Finally, many nutrients are absorbed better with healthy fats in our systems. Some vitamins, like vitamin E, cannot be transported without fat. And some nutrients, like calcium, can take so long to absorb fully that if we slow our digestion with fibers and fats, we will get more out of them.