Ketosis and Weight Loss – The Relationship

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Ketosis and Weight Loss – The Relationship

What is ketosis?

The human body, like a motor car engine, needs energy from fuel to function. While the human body needs sugar (or glucose), gasoline is the fuel for motor car engines. Carbohydrates are the primary food group that is broken down to form glucose, which is then converted into the energy the body needs. In diets that emphasize a small amount of carbohydrates, the so-called “low carb” diet, the body does not have enough carbohydrates to break down into glucose for energy, so the body has to use fat stores to generate energy.

When the body is in a state of ketosis, ketones (sometimes called ketone bodies) are released into the bloodstream. Ketones are toxic, acidic chemicals (acetone, acetoacetate, and beta-hydroxybutane). This release of ketones into the blood occurs when the liver is converting fat into fatty acids that will be used as energy by the body.

Using body fat during ketosis leads to weight loss. This is why low carb diets are so effective in losing weight in a relatively short period of time.

Finding Ketosis

Excess ketones (acetone) produced by the body are removed through the lungs through respiration and urine. Breath will smell fruity (sometimes mistaken for alcohol) and urine will be dark. The presence of ketones in the urine can be detected by a special urine test strip sold in some pharmacies. In addition to weighing in on a scale, this is one way to test whether your low-carb diet is effective.

Potential risks of ketosis

If the body remains in a state of ketosis for a long period of time, it can put severe stress on the liver and kidneys. A prolonged state of ketosis is also thought to have detrimental effects on muscle tissue.

A condition called ketoacidosis, which is a severe form of ketosis, causes blood acidity to drop to dangerous levels. This condition is commonly associated with type 1 diabetes and should not be confused with ketosis.


The ketosis process is highly effective and efficient in reducing body weight when the body’s carbohydrate intake is reduced. This reduction in carbohydrates forces the body to use fat stores to produce the energy it needs to function. This is why low carb diets are so effective for weight loss and have become so popular in the last thirty years.

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