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Keto Basics Series #1: What Are Ketones & How Do We Make Them?

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What are ketones?

Keto bodies or ketones are byproducts of burning fat for energy, also known as fat metabolism. There are 3 types of ketones produced: Acetoacetate (AcAc), Beta-hydroxybutyric acid (BHB), and Acetone.

How do we make ketones?

Significant fat metabolism occurs once all the body’s 2,000 calories worth of carbohydrate stores have been used. Did you know your body only has access to 2,000 calories of glucose at any given time?  Why is that? BECAUSE SUGAR IS TOXIC and the body must process it into  something non-toxic (glycogen and fat) ASAP.

The body converts carbs to glycogen – about 100 grams in the liver and 400-500 grams in muscles. There is a mere 4-5 grams (about a teaspoon) of glucose in the bloodstream, for a total of about 2,000 calories. This
energy is spent in about 90 minutes of pretty intense exercise. If someone is not FAT-ADAPTED (a blog on fat adaptation soon!), they BONK at about the 90-minute mark. BONK means the glycogen stores have been
spent and there is no more FAST BURNING energy to use. The bonked becomes confused and performance tanks. This is why athletes (USED TO) carb load and eat shots of carbs throughout long workouts or races to
prevent this.

The body carries about 30,000-60,000 calories in fat for a normal sized person. Fat is an abundant, SLOWER-BURNING fuel, so a FAT-ADAPTED person never bonks during exercise. Do you have to eat keto to be a fat burner? Not at all. But you do have to empty your glycogen stores frequently enough and long enough for the body to optimize its fat burning ability. It is believed that humans were built to do this to withstand changes in the availability of foods during the year: Lots of fruits and grains available during the summer; more fats and meats (or just lack in general) during the winter, for example.

Benefits of having ketones available to the body

I could do dozens of posts on the benefits of being in ketosis. I’m sure I will do more than a few. However, for the alcohol and/ or sugar addict, the biggest benefit is CRAVING ELIMINATION. It is not the mere abstinence from sugar that eliminates the cravings. It is a complex and glorious multifaceted healing of the brain and the endocrine systems that result in a NORMALIZATION of appetite and mood. The body and the brain LOVE TO BURN KETONES!

A well formulated ketogenic diet results in better sleep and improved energy levels, too.

It is well known that the ketogenic diet helps control epilepsy, treats and manages diabetes, improves migraines (IT HAS HELPED ME A LOT WITH MIGRAINES) and improves mental focus. There is less research on its benefits for substance addictions like alcoholism, but there is more and more research coming out daily on the toxicity of sugar and processed foods.

In Summary

You will read a lot about glucose being the “primary” source of fuel for the brain. It IS the first source of fuel for all the body because the body is designed to process and eliminate the most toxic substances first! When you take an alcoholic drink, all non-essential functions of the body cease in order to process and eliminate it. THE SAME THING HAPPENS WITH SUGAR. Sugar may be the primary or FIRST fuel for the brain, but ketones are the PREFERRED fuel.

DID YOU KNOW???

You do NOT need to eat carbohydrates AT ALL to survive? NONE AT ALL. The body is capable of making glycogen from protein because protein cannot be stored. Fear not that you are harming your body by cutting the sugar and carbs. There is an adaptation process which we will discuss soon.

If you want to dive deep right now, here are 2 books on keto that I highly recommend: Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore and Keto Adapted by Maria Emmerich.


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