Is Ketosis Necessary For Weight Loss?

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Is Constant Ketosis Necessary – Or Even Desirable?

162 Comments Good morning, folks. With next week’s The Keto Reset Diet release, I’ve got keto on the mind today—unsurprisingly. I’ve had a lot of questions lately on duration. As I’ve mentioned before, a good six weeks of ketosis puts in place all the metabolic machinery for lasting adaptation (those extra mitochondria don’t evaporate if/when you return to traditional Primal eating). But what about the other end of the issue? How long is too long? I don’t do this often, but today I’m reposting an article from a couple of years ago on this very topic. I’ve added a few thoughts based on my recent experience. See what you think, and be sure to share any lingering questions on the question of keto timing and process. I’ll be happy to answer them in upcoming posts and Dear Mark columns. Every day I get links to interesting papers. It’s hard not to when thousands of new studies are published every day and thousands of readers deliver the best ones to my inbox. And while I enjoy thumbing through the links simply for curiosity’s sake, they can also seed new ideas that lead to research rabbit holes and full-fledged posts. It’s probably the favorite part of my day: Continue reading >>

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  1. bookstorecowboy

    I have read a lot of posts and web sites about ketosis and about "weight loss," and I've read some books, as well. Based on what I've read, it seems that it would be impossible to "burn fat" (in the sense of burning body fat) without entering ketosis. If I have this right, the body burns energy supplies in these stages:
    1) alcohol (e.g. most of what is in beer)
    2) blood sugars (e.g. table sugar, most of the stuff grains break down into, fruit sugars, etc.)
    3) glycogen (stored in muscles)
    4) fat (fats that are eaten come first, followed by body fat)
    5) protein (comes last, after depletion of all other easily available stores of energy)
    It would seem logical, if this is right, that as long as your body has stores of alcohol, blood sugars, and glycogen, no body fat will be burned.
    So, to go on, if I have this right, then regardless of the kind of diet you are on, the only way to lose "weight" (in the sense of losing fat, which is the only kind of weight loss 99% of us are interested in) is to enter ketosis.
    Finally, if this is right, then any diet that promises "weight loss" (be it Ornish, the Paleo Diet, Atkins, or whatever) is promising that you will enter ketosis. If not, you will not actually "lose weight" in any sense you could desire. And it follows from this that any diet that works to any degree has no business warning people off ketosis, since it is going to occur.
    It also follows from this, in general although perhaps not in every situation, that the fewer carbs you eat, the more body fat you will burn (as long as you are in a calorie deficit).
    Is this right or wrong? Or right in some ways, but wrong in others?
    Thank you, list members...
    By the way, I bring this up in part because I have read quite a few critiques of Atkins, Paleo, and all "low carb diets," and every single one of them seems to screech about the supposed dangers of ketosis. I remember reading this back in the 1980s: "the one thing you don't want to do is enter ketosis, because then your body will be in starvation mode and will start hoarding ever single calorie," blah, blah, blah.

  2. ciep

    I don't know that I can provide a clear and/or complete answer to that question -- so I'll leave it to others. I would like to point out though that your body usually burns a mixture of fuels. So when both glucose and circulating fats are available (as they usually are) your body doesn't use the glucose exclusively (only moving on to the fats when no further glucose is available). Instead, it uses both simultaneously.
    I hope that helps. Basically, I guess I'm trying to say that you are always "burning fat". The key to weightloss is getting your body into a state where you're burning more of it than you're storing (on average). Reducing carbohydrates tends to help many people achieve this (and certainly an excess of carbs can make it difficult or even impossible), but I don't think ketosis necessarily required (depending on one's metabolism). In the past, I've successfully "cut up" with carbs in the 350g/day range.

  3. PokeyBug

    My ex-husband certainly lost fat without being in ketosis. He lost about 30 pounds on a low fat diet and exercise just before we met. He was miserable and hungry the entire time, but he thought CW was the only way to go. I somehow doubt he was in ketosis eating pasta every other night.

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