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Is There A Dark Side Of Ketosis?

I can’t remember what appetizer she pointed to, but the woman sitting to the left of me said this so casually, and several folks at the table knew exactly what she meant, confirming what I’d long suspected: Ketogenic diets have officially gone mainstream – or recognizable at a party mainstream at least – in 2017. Let’s back up and demystify ketosis, which simply means you’re utilizing ketone bodies – more commonly called ketones – rather than glucose as your body’s primary fuel. Just like your car uses gasoline, your body needs fuel. That usually means glucose. But let’s say you’re on a very-low carbohydrate, higher-fat diet. Your body doesn’t get a lot of glucose, which primarily comes from carbohydrate and to a lesser degree protein. That means your liver’s backup glucose (glycogen) also becomes in short supply. Unlike your car, your body doesn’t just shut down. Thankfully, you have an alternative fuel source called ketones. Ketones are organic compounds your liver always makes. You’re cranking out ketones right now as you read this. During starvation or (more likely) when you restrict carbohydrate and increase fat intake, your body uses ketones as i Continue reading >>

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  1. sadstyle

    Yesterday a paramedic was doing routine tests on me, which included a blood sugar level test. Mine was 3.1mmol/l. I had to take 2 tubes of the oral glucose gel to get it back within the normal range (above 4). They asked me if I had had something to eat that day and I did. I had a keto dinner (creamy cheesy spinach, tuna, and some broccoli and green beans sautéed in butter) 4-5 hours before the test.
    Is this normal when following keto? I don't think I have ever had a problem with a low blood sugar. Should I be worried? Or could it be something unrelated to keto and more to do with a medication I'm taking?
    Thanks guys.

  2. sadstyle

    I was freezing and shivering. And the paramedic said my hands were very cold and clammy. I didn't have headache or dizziness, but some palpitations were present that came and go several times during the hour. I was surprised when they said I had low blood sugar because I didn't think I was. I don't know if those symptoms may be attributed to it.
    Also, a bit of a science question. I thought that body maintains blood sugar through glycogen (if carbs is significantly reduced) or through glycerol from the triglycerides. So even if you don't get enough carbs/sugar from food, your body gets it from fat/glycogen? So your blood sugar should still remain within the narrow range?

  3. ivosaurus

    No. Being in ketosis will in fact give you a far lower constant blood sugar, and is a normal part of being in this state.
    This is because ketosis is a complete shift in gear for your body's metabolism. You stop using glucose as an energy source (mostly), so it simply doesn't need to be present in the blood any more.
    Glycogen is mainly used as a temporary store of glucose when you are on a "normal" carb-based diet. It's stored in your liver and muscles and will deplete over a day or two after you start a keto diet, and thereafter your body's metabolism will completely move to a ketone/fat-based one.
    Your body will convert protein, either from outside sources or your own muscle to get its minimum needed glucose if you are eating a truly tiny / non-existent amount of carbs. The recommended 20-30 grams daily is easily enough for your body's needs during ketosis, though.
    All that said, you should definitely try and find out what gave you such serious symptoms; maybe it was deficiency in other minerals (or maybe it was truly blood sugar in some way) but if the paramedics weren't informed you were practising a keto diet that might have lead them to a wrong conclusion (not necessarily, but might have).

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