Yes. That’s right.  The weight loss industry wants you to be afraid of ketosis so you will stay heavy and need to buy more crap to try to get lean!  Oh yeah. And grain producers & food companies want this too, because then you will be a “heavy user”. – YES.  That’s what people who consume high amounts of their food products are called!  This was first revealed in 2004’s Super Size Me (here).

No conspiracy theories here, just unfortunate, economic reality!

low_carb_t_shirt_ketosis_isnt_ketoacidosis_tshirt-re616c6b7d5e049fe862ad0933073c80f_804gs_324The sad thing is that many of my medical & health professional colleagues truly misunderstand KETOSIS and often confuse it with the similar-sounding, but completely different metabolic state  KETOACIDOSIS.  And so goes the story… you read somewhere that ketosis is a necessary part of losing body fat (inaccurately called weight amongst health professionals) and you discuss this with your well-meaning, but completely ignorant medical or health professional and they say…

“STOP!  Don’t go into Ketosis!  That could kill you!”  Your heart skips a beat.  Thank GOD this person was here to save you.  Next you ask them, “What should I do instead?” They proceed to let you know about how many calories you will need to consume to lose 1-2 lbs per week.  You grimace.  Next, they start telling about how you can eat pretty much anything as long as the calorie amounts are right!  Excitedly, this includes “healthy” whole grains, so hey, as long as you can eat your pasta, breads, cereals & occasional treats, and still lose weight, life is very very good!  The part that’s left out is that you won’t eat much fat at all, and so you’ll be super-hungry & you will likely cause constant insulin spikes every time you eat, so that will shut down any fat burning that would have occurred!

They then they proceed to map out an example of a food-wise day in the life of a good client according to the nutrition guidelines that this health professional is following, which are usually from research based in the 1970’s (most recent) and completely ignores research for the last 6 decades.  But, again, it’s not the health professionals’ duty to stay up to date, except for just checking the latest version of the guidelines by the expert authority on that nutrition topic (i.e. weight loss in this case).  Eventhough, these guidelines continue to be based on wrong assumptions and NEVER EVER ask the fundamental unifying theory of biology question… does this approach make any sense when we consider human evolutionary theory?  And that, of course is where they fail (miserably)!  Unfortunately, you continue to follow that health professionals’ advice & go back for follow up appointments (often regularly) with little to no progress being made.  Usually, there is some short term success (as is ALWAYS the case with calorie restriction), but then your body adapts to the calorie restriction and puts a stop to the weight loss.

Of course, the health professional gives many a reason why this is happening including but not limited to, you must be under reporting, you need to exercise more, we need to cut your calories more, which means even less fats… and the list goes on and on.  They use every ounce of energy they have determining how this strategy is NOT working for you, but they ASSUME that it NORMALLY works, which is completely false!

I found this review article from 2004 (here) that does a good job explaining much of the confusion around the metabolic effects of low carb diets including Ketosis and fat loss.


Alright, let’s compare Ketosis and Ketoacidosis.


A metabolic state in which the body is able to use both exogenous (eaten) and indogenous (stored) fats as it’s primary energy for the cells of the body including muscles, organs and YES even the brain.  Ketone bodies are how the body gets fat out of the body’s stores to use as a fuel.  There are 3 main ones, acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate and acetone, the first 2 of which can be primary fuel for most cells in the body (here).


A metabolic state that occurs mainly in people who don’t produce enough insulin to stop ketone production (i.e. Type 1 diabetes).  It is characterized by OUT OF CONTROL Ketone production (again because there is no biochemical feedback loop to stop the process).  The resulting severe accumulation of keto acids significantly decreases the pH of the blood (as acids do) and when this pH falls out of the biological range, many proteins, enzymes, hormones and organs, stop working causing the body to shut down, essentially leading to a state of metabolic acidosis and possibly death.  If you have type I Diabetes and aren’t sure about Diabetic Keto Acidosis (DKA) you can learn more here.

If you want more in depth geekification, more than I have time to provide for this post, be sure to check out Dr. Peter Attia’s blog for an awesome, in depth comparison (here).


stairs-upketosis gradientOkay, wait a minute, I’m not here to scare you into a low fat, high carb diet that will undoubtedly fail you, as it has millions before you!  The most important way to think of Ketosis is that there is a gradient/scale.  Having some ketones is perfectly normal (albeit highly uncommon in today’s world) & indicates that you are primed to burn fat, which means lose weight & specifically body fat, as well as providing a much more sustainable fuel for muscles and the brain!  However, if you are someone who does NOT produce enough insulin anymore because of pancreatic beta-cell failure (i.e. Type 1 diabetes), then it is risky for you to try to actively pursue ketosis. I’m not saying that you can’t do it, and have insulin on hand in case things get out of hand, but it will always be risky because you lack the innate mechanism for controlling the level of ketones in your blood.

If you’re not sure about all this, then by all means, discuss it with your health professional, who knows your specific case & history, of which I am clueless.  Be sure to explain the difference to them (you can even use this post to help you) and your goal for using ketosis, because as I mentioned before, it’s quite common for these states to be blurred or confused by many, if not most health professionals.

I hope you find this post useful!  Please share it with your friends & family or even your health care professional.

Have an awesome weekend!

Take care,

Dan T

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