The more we learn about Atkins diet ketosis, the more it seems Dr. Atkins was years ahead of his time when he developed the diet in the early 1970s. It turns out that the body is a wonderful self-regulating system that responds naturally to a low-carb diet to reduce its stored fat.
Carbohydrates are simple sugars like glucoseand they are also long chains of glucose also known as starches. Glucose metabolism (anaerobic) is very rapid, much faster than the body’s fat metabolism. Once this glucose supply is burned off, or is unavailable due to a low-carb diet, the body turns to fat as the back-up fuel.
When you consume a diet high in carbohydrates, glucose is at a constant peak level and your body shuts down most of the production of ketone bodies but not all. The liver produces ketones all the time, but when ketone bodies must be used as the predominant energy source, this state is called ketosis.
Glucose is also manufactured in the liver and a supply is stored by the liver for other organs. Your brain, red blood cells, and parts of the kidney need the blood sugar, and your muscles use glucose when a burst of energy is required, such as sprinting, weightlifting, etc. Your heart and kidneys prefer the ketone bodies to glucose, while the brain prefers glucose but can also use ketones.
The body’s need for glucose is why the Atkins diet ketosis restricts but does not completely eliminate carb consumption.
How do you know if you are in ketosis? When Atkins ketone levels are at a stage to put you in ketosis, you will likely exhibit symptoms which may include headaches, thirst, bad breath, fatigue, dizziness, and stomachaches. The symptoms are common and last a few days or a week during the Induction Phase of the Atkins Diet. Ketosis is the body’s way of changing over from using glucose (carbs) for fuel to using fat.
You can also test to see if you have reached this stage by using Atkins diet ketosis strips. This test strip will turn purple if it detects excess ketones in your body which are discarded in the urine. However, some dieters don’t seem to register a ketosis level using the strips despite the restricted carbs diet. This could be an indication your body has a good balance and is not producing excess ketones, or that the urine is diluted from drinking large amounts of water.
Ketosis occurs if you limit your carbs to fewer than 50 grams per day. In the induction phase, you keep your carb intake under 20 grams a day which definitely puts you in ketosis. During the later phases of the Atkins diet, ketosis can be in a partial state, even if you consume up to 100 grams of carbs per day.
If you have heard that the ketosis is dangerous, the stories were likely referring to a form of ketosis known as ketoacidosis, which can happen to diabetics who lack insulin in their bodies to regulate blood glucose. The Atkins diet ketosis is not harmful and occurs for only a short amount of time, about two weeks during the Induction Phase. As you further your research on starting the Atkins diet, you will see that it is a safe, natural, and effective way to lose weight that will leave you feeling energetic and satisfied, and never hungry.