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Ketogenic: What Is Keto?

Ketosis is a metabolic process that occurs when the body does not have enough glucose for energy. Stored fats are broken down for energy, resulting in a build-up of acids called ketones within the body

Some people encourage ketosis by following a diet called the ketogenic or low-carb diet. The aim of the diet is to try and burn off unwanted fat by forcing the body to rely on burning fat for energy, rather than carbohydrates.

Ketosis is also commonly observed in patients with diabetes, as the process can occur if the body does not have enough insulin or is not using insulin correctly. Problems associated with extreme levels of ketosis are more likely to develop in patients with type 1 diabetes compared with type 2 diabetes patients.

Contents of this article:

  1. What is ketosis?
  2. The ketogenic diet
  3. Ketosis and diabetes
  4. What is ketoacidosis?
  5. Ketosis treatment and prevention

Fast facts on ketosis

Here are some key points about ketosis. More detail and supporting information is in the main article.

  • Ketosis occurs when the body does not have sufficient access to its main fuel source, glucose.
  • Ketosis describes a condition where fat stores are broken down to release energy, which also releases ketones, a type of acid.
  • As ketone levels rise, the acidity of the blood also rises, leading to ketoacidosis, a serious condition that can prove fatal.
  • People with type 1 diabetes are more likely to develop ketoacidosis, for which emergency medical treatment is required to avoid or treat diabetic coma.
  • Some people follow a ketogenic (low-carb) diet to try to lose weight by forcing the body to burn fat stores.
  • Ketone levels can be monitored by testing urine using specialized strips available from pharmacies.
  • People with diabetes are advised to test ketone levels every 4-6 hours when sick (as this can increase the risk of ketoacidosis), and every 4-6 hours if blood glucose is over 240 mg/dL.
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