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Why Does The Body Produce Ketones?

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Ketosis: What Is Ketosis?

Ketosis is a normal metabolic process. When the body does not have enough glucose for energy, it burns stored fats instead; this results in a build-up of acids called ketones within the body. Some people encourage ketosis by following a diet called the ketogenic or low-carb diet. The aim of the diet is to try and burn unwanted fat by forcing the body to rely on fat for energy, rather than carbohydrates. Ketosis is also commonly observed in patients with diabetes, as the process can occur if the body does not have enough insulin or is not using insulin correctly. Problems associated with extreme levels of ketosis are more likely to develop in patients with type 1 diabetes compared with type 2 diabetes patients. Ketosis occurs when the body does not have sufficient access to its primary fuel source, glucose. Ketosis describes a condition where fat stores are broken down to produce energy, which also produces ketones, a type of acid. As ketone levels rise, the acidity of the blood also increases, leading to ketoacidosis, a serious condition that can prove fatal. People with type 1 diabetes are more likely to develop ketoacidosis, for which emergency medical treatment is required to av Continue reading >>

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Popular Questions

  1. Doug Freyburger

    Others have mentioned the chemical details that lead to limits. That's only one side of the story. The other side is redundancy in energy production. Ketones can be used in anaerobic energy production. It's not as efficient but it is faster. There are times when fast beats efficient so redundancy gets selected for.

  2. Anand R

    Acetyl CoA can’t be circulated for two reasons: it’s a high energy compound and it’s labile. So it’s not a stable form for circulation to tissues. Also acetyl coA cannot cross cell membrane.
    Ketone bodies are an alternate fuel source. More importantly, they are water soluble analogs of fatty acids. This is important since, during starvation there is fat breakdown and excess fatty acids circulate in blood. However, fatty acids cannot be used by brain as fuel since, they cannot cross the blood brain barrier. Liver by producing ketone bodies helps brain cells during starvation.

    Also, these ketone bodies, as such, can be used by other tissues as well. There by other tissues refrain from using glucose. Hence, ketone bodies have a glucose-sparing effect. This glucose will be available for tissues like brain and red cells for use.

  3. Barry Gehm

    It’s because oxaloacetate is needed to metabolize acetyl-CoA (first step in the Krebs cycle is the reaction of acetyl-CoA with oxaloacetate) and is also needed (and used up) in gluconeogenesis (the production of glucose from amino acids and other small molecules, but NOT from acetyl groups or fatty acids). The liver is primarily responsible for gluconeogenesis, and if it uses up oxaloacetate on that, acetyl-CoA builds up and ties up all the coenzyme A in acetylated form. In order to alleviate this, the liver converts the acetyl-CoA into ketone bodies, and releases them into the blood. These, as the book says, are taken up by other tissues (such as brain and muscle) and converted back into acetyl-CoA. A key point is that these cells can use the acetyl-CoA because they are not depleted in oxaloacetate because they do not carry out gluconeogenesis.

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