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Are Ketone Bodies Dangerous?

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What Are The Dangers Of Placing The Body On Constant Ketosis?

As you might know, ketosis is the process of breaking down stored fat for energy when glucose and glycogen are too low. This is a good weight loss process when done occasionally but too much of something is never good. The biochemistry behind it: During ketosis, fatty acid chains are broken down in the liver in to ketone bodies. These ketone bodies are carried through the blood stream in order to reach surrounding tissues in need of energy. Once they reach a cell, they’re converted in to acetyl CoA so that they can go through the citric acid cycle to produce energy in the mitochondria. The problem with too much of it: When someone’s body is under constant ketosis, the concentration of ketone bodies in their blood stream becomes too high. Ketone bodies like acetoacetic acid and R-beta-hydroxybutyric acid are acidic. High concentrations of those in your bloodstream will make your blood acidic, which leads to acidosis. This can lead to a number of symptoms which I invite you to look up, none of them are good and it should be treated as soon as possible. One of those symptoms is a characteristic fruity acetone breath. Constant ketosis happens to people with untreated type 1 diabete Continue reading >>

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  1. user2967

    I just learned that ATP can not be stored in excess and is only made by the body when it is needed. What makes ATP, like glucose and fat is what is stored under the skin or wherever. Now why cant the body just produce ATP and store it for heavy, heavy exercise when it would advantageous for it to be ready rather than it going through the production phase and then used. When I say ATP storage I mean in large amounts.

  2. Mad Scientist

    Let's compare ATP, glucose and fatty acids in terms of energy storage.
    ATP has a molecular weight of 507 Da
    Glucose has a molecular weight of 180 Da, and contains the same amount of energy as 31 ATP molecules
    Fatty acids vary in size, but a gram of fat contains about twice as much energy as a gram of glucose (or glycogen)
    The difference in energy density is huge, you would need enormous amounts of ATP to replace glucose/glycogen as energy storage mechanism, not to speak of fat. You can't put an arbitrary amount of ATP molecules into a cell, you 'll get into problems due to the osmotic pressure lots of molecules inside the cell would cause. Glucose is stored as glycogen in cells due to this effect, which makes one large glycogen molecule out of lots of glucose molecules.
    The energy density difference is even larger if you take into account that ATP and glucose bind water, while fat is stored without surrounding water. The actual difference in energy density of glycogen and fat is around 6 times.
    ATP is also not as stable as fat, it can get hydrolized in water. This would be a problem for long-term storage of energy.
    You'll find some more details in Albert's "Molecular Biology of the Cell"

  3. shigeta

    I think @AlanBoyd and @MadScientist have touched on the answer, fat is better suited by density for storing energy than ATP; ATP is optimal for quick conversion to bioenergy. Look at the question in another way: ATP in bioenergy cycle is dynamic - its an energy flux from food and breath to bioenergy.
    Biological energy is used at essentially the same rate at which we take it in. The vast majority is used as soon as its available. If we were to try to store enough ATP for say an hour the costs would be large.
    This back of the envelope calculation (see section 3.8) shows that 1 day of ATP is 64.5kg for a 2800 kcal a day energy intake. Approximately equal to body weight.
    Of course ATP is stored in excess - just a few seconds worth though, 8 if you believe competitive cyclists. ATP is a pretty small quantum of energy... Even an hour storage would add 12 pounds to an adult body weight. That's a lot. And what advantage would this give us? We might be able to engage in high energy activities (which use ATP faster than we can make it) for longer. But up to now it looks as if improvements in efficiency in generating ATP have been adequate for animals to stay competitive.
    Look at how evolution has dealt with the other component of bioenergy: oxygen. We can't hold our breath for more than a few minutes. 22 minutes is the current human record; impressive but still not that long. Oxygen is in plentiful supply brought in from outside and the adaptive costs to storing oxygen internally would simply not justify building up such a capacity for most of us. It seems even that aquatic mammals only hold their breath for a similar amount of time as we can if we practice. 20 minutes for Orcas. Penguins too. This isn't meant to be a survey of all animals ability to store oxygen, the point being that storage of oxygen has an adaptive cost that is not trivial.

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Why Is My Body Not Using Ketone Bodies All The Time?

There is no scientific evidence that ketones are a better source of energy than glucose for the brain. If that were the case, evolution would have lead to chronic ketosis. Your liver only produces ketones when carbohydrates are in short supply and fat is available. This is a physiologic system designed to deal with fasting or during periods when plant-based foods aren’t available in amounts needed to meet the brain’s needs. Ketones are also elevated in obesity and diabetes. Only certain regions of the brain can use ketones. They can supply up to 70% of the brain’s energy needs. You still need some glucose to fully fuel the brain. High levels of ketones may produce ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition sometimes seen in untreated diabetics. There are some situations where ketones may have a neuroprotective effect following brain damage. Ketones may also be useful for people having epilepsy. There aren’t any studies showing that these benefits extend to brains that haven’t been injured or stressed. You can get a fuller discussion here: Clinical review: Ketones and brain injury and here: The fat-fueled brain: unnatural or advantageous? and here: There don’t seem to be any st Continue reading >>

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  1. Zaki Abbas

    Ketosis

    Intermittent Fasting

    Fasting

    Benefits



    What percent of intermittent fasting benefits are through ketosis?




    1 Answer







    It seems that ketosis benefits are seen only when the fast is prolonged beyond 18-20 hours which many people find difficult to achieve. I think that for most people the feeding window starts very soon into ketosis so on an average not a lot of benefits are reaped. I personally think that if intermittent fasting is practiced one should not be thinking too much into being in ketosis. Additionally measuring ketones accurately is not very easy and cheap based on what I have heard.

    ** not a medical expert. Speaking from my experience of practicing intermittent fasting for a year

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What Are Ketone Strips Used For?

This won't make sense unless you understand low-carb diets. Here's how a low-carb diet is supposed to work. A person eats about 30g of carbs per day for a couple days. That's not a lot of carbs. That's like two slices of bread. The body burns through all those carbs. Now that it can't burn carbs, it starts to burn fat. When you burn fat, you lose weight. When the body burns fat, ketones end up in the urine. Low-carb dieters use ketone test strips to test whether their bodies are burning fat. A positive sign of ketones can often predict future weight loss. If this sounds too good to be true, well it might be. The biggest problem with low-carb diets is that most people can't sustain them for long enough to cause permanent weight loss. Cravings for carbs can be surprisingly strong. Depending on the protein source, high cholesterol can be a problem too. Ketosis sounds bad but the symptoms are pretty mild - bad breath, nausea, fatigue. Nobody dies from ketosis. We all should be thinking about carbs to some extent. There's an awfully high sugar content in the typical modern diet. Diabetes is no fun. Even cavities aren't a picnic. Most people could cut some carbs and be healthier. Continue reading >>

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  1. peuleu

    Hi fellow ketoers of Reddit!
    I've been doing Keto for about a month (practice what you preach, eh?) so I'm still a noobie. I've been pretty strict recording everything and keeping carbs <30g. I've noticed the changes as to where I know I've entered ketosis. I've been on (an active) vacation for a week, doing lazy keto. Think I've stayed under 30g a day in food, but might have gone over a bit with alcohol (red wine), though I don't think I've gone over 50g total. The thing I'm finding difficult to figure out is if I can tell if my body is out of ketosis or not. A lot of people here say stuff like they can eat up to 80-100g on an active day and still be in ketosis. I gather this is different for everyone, especially if you're not Keto adapted yet, but my question is: how do you KNOW you're still in ketosis when you eat that many carbs? What happens to your body and how you feel when you go over?
    TL;DR: how can you tell if your body is out of ketosis? What changes do you experience?
    Thanks!
    Edit: thanks for all the responses! To clarify: I'm not worried at all! Just curious! I'm on a vacation where I hike all day and visit vineyards. I know I'm not gonna be strict Keto at the moment. I will be when I get back. I just noticed some bodily changes, and wanted to know what people experienced when they're out of ketosis. KCKO!

  2. anbeav

    Most don't, they speculate. If they gain any water weight or feel more hungry than usual, they conclude they are not in ketosis when that's not necessarily true. I wouldn't stress it, avoid the ketosis anxiety and focus on how you feel.

  3. peuleu

    Good to know! Thanks!

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