The main goal of the ketogenic diet is nutritional ketosis. But what is nutritional ketosis? Nutritional ketosis is ketosis induced by eating fewer than 50g of net carbs. It is a natural metabolic state in which the body has adapted to burning fat rather than sugar as its primary fuel.
Medical experts and dietitians sometimes confuse nutritional ketosis with ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition characterized by abnormally high blood ketone levels. While both ketosis and ketoacidosis involve ketones, they are completely different things – one is a pathological condition, while the other is a physiological adaptation.
Dr. Stephen Phinney coined the term “nutritional ketosis” back in 1983 due to the prevailing confusion and fear surrounding ketones, ketosis, and diabetes-induced ketosis. Thankfully, this helped lift the stigma attached to ketosis.
According to Phinney, nutritional ketosis is a natural metabolic state in which fats and ketones become your body's main fuel . It happens when carbohydrate consumption is so low that it forces the body to burn fat and make ketones. This change in fuel utilization provides health benefits like weight loss, blood glucose support, and lower inflammation, to name a few.
Furthermore, nutritional ketosis is an evolutionary adaptation that enabled humans to survive long periods without food. It allows the body to tap into its fat reserves whenever necessary. In healthy people, insulin helps control the number of ketones being produced, keeping them within safe ranges.
In people with type 1 diabetes, however, inadequate insulin production makes it difficult for the body to control ketone levels . This puts them at risk of ketoacidosis – abnormally high blood ketones that make the blood acidic (because ketones are acids). It seldom occurs in people with normal insulin levels, however.
Want to learn more about ketosis? Check out this article! It covers more details about ketosis and its relation to the ketogenic diet.