Ask an expert
Question

08 Jan 2003

Atkins & ketosis
Dear DietDoc,

Ketosis is definitely not dangerous as you've stated in previous replies.

Please read the following:

What is ketosis?
Ketosis is really a shortening of the term lipolysis/ketosis. Lipolysis simply means that you're burning your fat stores and using them as the source of fuel they were meant to be. The by-products of burning fat are ketones, so ketosis is a secondary process of lipolysis. When your body releases ketones in your urine, it is chemical proof that you’re consuming your own stored fat. And the more ketones you release, the more fat you have dissolved.

If you are restricting the amount of carbohydrates you eat, your body turns to fat as its alternative source of energy. In effect, lipolysis/ketosis has replaced the alternative of burning glucose for energy. Both are perfectly normal processes.

People (and even some ill-informed doctors) often confuse ketosis, which is a perfectly normal metabolic process, with ketoacidosis, which is a life-threatening condition. The latter is the consequence of insulin-deficient subjects having out-of-control blood sugar levels, a condition that can occur as well in alcoholics and people in a state of extreme starvation. Ketosis and ketoacidosis may sound vaguely alike, but the two conditions are virtually polar opposites and can always be distinguished from each other by the fact that the diabetic has been consuming excessive carbohydrates and has high blood sugar.

It seems you have been confusing this with ketoacidosis.

Atkins does promote the intake of fibre and healthy carbohydrates in the form of vegetables, nuts & seeds, berries, etc. I think you should research this further before making the assumptions you have been. As stated in the New York Times and on Larry King Live, many dieticians & other Doctors are finally realising that Atkins was in fact correct & low fat diets have been a huge money making scheme for many food companies.

Regards,
Shelley
Answer 430 views
Expert
DietDoc
DietDoc

01 Jan 0001

Dear Shelley
Thanks for your input. I have personally read Atkin's book where the author warns readers NOT to use his diet for longer than 2 weeks at a time. I wonder why! I have also read many journal articles which support the view that ingesting an excess of protein is not a good idea for your health. There have actually been reports of people dying while using this diet. A high protein diet is also usually loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol which exacerbates heart disease and certain types of cancer. I also do not regard newspapers and TV host shows as reliable sources of scientific information. According to Krause's 'Food, Nutrition & Diet Therapy, 10th Edition, 2000', the following can be said about "variations of low-carbohydrate diets" where carbohydrates are restricted and protein and fat intakes are unlimited: "Although these diets featured high ketone production, they suppressed appetite to only a minor degree. Even with total fasting, converting fats to ketones lowers the energy value of the diet by only 100 kcal/day." The initial rapid weight loss is caused by diuresis, (i.e. increased excretion of water by the kidneys, so that this change in weight will be reversed when liquids are consumed). Krause also gives the following advice on how to evaluate fad diets: "Does the diet exclude any major food groups? More is not always better. Too much of one food to the exclusion of others is a tip-off that the diet is unbalanced." Krause suggest that slimming diets should not contain more than 15-20% protein or more than 30% fat.

Generating excess ketones (acetoacetic acid, acetone and beta-hydroxybutyric acid) by means of fat oxidation due to carbohydrate restriction, will cause the pH of the body to decrease, thus causing acidosis, which can harm the kidneys and even lead to heart failure. Acidosis can be caused by uncontrolled diabetes, as well as a high fat, low carbohydrate diet, among other factors. Maintaining the pH level within a normal range of 7.35 to 7.45 is crucial for many physiological functions and biochemical reactions. (Krause, 2000).

Keep in mind that many diet supplements based on a high protein intake (shakes, etc) have also made their manufacturers a mint of money.
I must once again reiterate that I cannot support the use of unbalanced diets for slimming purposes.
I trust that we can agree to disagree and that this subject is now closed.
Take care
DietDoc
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes
34% - 9270 votes
No
66% - 17922 votes
Vote