When I first started the low carb and keto lifestyle, there were a whole lot of people coming out of the woodwork to offer "advice" on the dangers of this way of eating. From what I started to learn, most often they were telling me about the effects of ketoacidosis which are very real and scary... so today I want to take the time to review ketosis vs ketoacidosis so you can understand exactly what the differences are too.
Ketosis vs. Ketoacidosis
PLEASE NOTE: the nutritional information for this article is provided by Cara Halber, a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. Nothing in this article should be considered medial advice and if you have concerns, please consult your physician.
If you’ve been trying to figure out whether the low carb or keto diet is right for you, then you may have run across discussions about ketosis vs ketoacidosis.
Typically, when people are talking about how the low carb or keto lifestyle can be dangerous, they are referring to ketoacidosis and the serious effects it can have on the body.
And, if you're anything like me, you've started to ask yourself: "Could there be some truth to what people are saying? Can low carb be harmful to me?"
From my discussion with Cara, I've learned that it takes two very specific events to occur simultaneously in the body for to have concern that ketoacidosis is affecting the body.
Ketoacidosis: Who is at risk?
Typically, ketoacidosis is very rare and only happens if you have uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Now, uncontrolled blood sugar levels usually occur in people who are diabetic.
So if you are not diabetic, there's usually very little reason to worry. And if you are diabetic, you should know that a low carb diet has the potential to be extraordinarily beneficial.
But you do need to be aware that ketoacidosis is real. If your blood tests show that your sugar levels are consistently above 15 mmol/l, something's not going right. As a comparison, normal levels are between 4-6 mmol/l.
If you're just starting your low carb or keto journey, you may want to learn more about ketosis vs ketoacidosis as many people get them confused, so let's jump in a little deeper.
Ketosis vs Ketoacidosis Explained
You may have heard about ketosis being dangerous. And what about ketoacidosis? The names may be similar, but each one is a completely different state in the body.
Ketoacidosis is a condition that occurs when the blood’s pH becomes too acidic for the body to handle. A normal pH level is between 7.35 and 7.45. And even 0.01 outside this range can cause serious problems.
Ketoacidosis occurs when the pH falls below this range. The symptoms are vomiting, dehydration - and if it's left untreated coma and even death.
Ketoacidosis also happens when there is a ketone blood level greater than 5 mmol/l. 0.6-3.0mmol/l is the range for nutritional ketosis, which is your aim with an LCHF diet.
While it is possible to reach a ketone level of 5mmol/l, it is typically not an issue unless your blood sugars are high at the same time.
KETOSIS is a normal state where your body's main fuel source becomes fat. Our bodies need energy for all the complex processes happening inside. The most common source of energy is sugar.
But our bodies can also run on fat. And not only does fat provide a higher quality energy for our body, but we're also experiencing a linear energy level throughout the day. So when your body is in ketosis, you're a fat burning machine, instead of sugar.
Now can you see the differences between Ketosis and Ketoacidosis? The names are similar but they are very different states in the body.
If you found this article about the differences between ketosis and ketoacidosis helpful, please take a minute to review the following articles which also might help on your low carb or keto journey:
Does Low Carb work for weight loss? I share my thoughts about this very sensitive topic.
I found it very important to understand that food choices matter, particularly with a low carb lifestyle. Read about why in Digestion 101: Do we become what we eat?
If you're reading this blog, then you're most likely already living low carb, keto or some form of this lifestyle. If you're just getting started, check out my 7 Tips: How to Start a LOW CARB diet.
Here's my last share for this article. It's a FREE 7 DAY LOW CARB DIET MEAL PLAN. It has recipes not on the blog, tips and a BONUS Grocery List to make every meal. Check it out.
Nutritional information for this article was provided by Cara Halber, a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. Find out more about Cara by visiting her website.