Ketogenesis is a process that is biochemical in nature. During this process, the body manufactures a group of substances known as ketone bodies. These substances are made by breaking down ketogenic amino acids and fatty acids. Ketogenesis provides the organs, especially the brain, with the energy needed under specific circumstances, like when you are fasting.
If there is insufficient ketogenesis, you will develop the condition known as hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. An excessive production of ketone bodies may cause ketoacidosis, which is a life-threatening condition due to extremely high levels of blood sugar and ketones.
Know More About Ketones
Ketone bodies, or simply, ketones are byproducts of the process of breaking down fat to convert it into the body's needed energy when carbohydrate intake is insufficient.
When you consume food which contains carbohydrates or protein, your body will process it to make glucose or sugar. Glucose is the main source of energy for the body to allow it to perform daily activities. However, if there is a reduction in the production of glucose, the body will try to look for alternative sources to use as fuel, and typically, it will use fat.
This process happens when you are fasting or when you eat a low-carb diet, such as a ketogenic diet. When the body cannot produce glucose, it will resort to burning fat, therefore creating ketones, which will then be used as fuel for the body. This process is called ketosis.
There are people who intentionally decrease their carb intake to force their bodies to manufacture ketones.
There are some who use ketogenesis to improve cholesterol level, lower their blood pressure, help in managing epileptic seizures, or for weight loss.
Researchers say that it seems that the body and the brain prefer the use of ketones to produce energy. There are studies proving that the body runs more efficiently with ketones rather than with glucose.
How Does it Work?
As the liver begins the process of breaking down fat, the body will release fatty acid molecules and glycerol. This is when ketogenesis starts working. It will break down the fatty acid to produce acetoacetate, a ketone body. The acetoacetate will then be further broken down into two other types of ketone bodies, which are:
1. Beta-hydroxybutyrate or BHB; the body and brain prefer BHB to be used as fuel.
2. Acetone; the body will eliminate this as waste and unfortunately, a common side affect is that it causes smelly breath. Yuck!
When you consume a healthy amount of proteins and fats, ketogenesis will continue to use ketosis to manufacture ketone bodies to be used as fuel, therefore preserving your muscle tissues. If there is an insufficient supply of fats and proteins, your body will begin to break down your muscle tissues to create the glucose it needs.
Ketosis will only work if you have sufficient amounts of fat and protein in your daily diet. If you wish to maintain an effective ketogenic diet, you need to force your body into this metabolic state by decreasing your intake of carbohydrates, not by limiting calories.
Basically, a ketogenic diet is eating more healthy fats, a sufficient amount of proteins, and less carbohydrates.