What is ketosis?

The Ketosis Question

Ketosis seems to be the fright-word for the American Medical Association where the high-protein-low-carbohydrate diet is concerned.

What is ketosis? It is the state your body is in when it is putting out ketones and they are “little carbon fragments that are the byproducts of the incomplete burning of fat.” According to Dr. Robert Atkins, ketosis is what makes his diet work, for it means that your body is burning its fuel as it should.

When I was under this doctor’s care, I simply never questioned what was burning. I could see that my own body fat was disappearing, and I knew that my internist had declared me healthy. So that was about all I chose to know, as I have never been much for the more complicated chemistry of such things. My question has always been simple. “Does it work?”

Since there has been such a to-do in the ranks of the medical profession on the subject of ketosis and its possible dangers both to adults and to the fetuses of yet-unborn children of pregnant mothers on the diet I did a bit of research of my own. And came up with some interesting data.

According to one medical textbeauty blog, ketogenic diets have long been used in the treatment of children with petit mal epilepsy who did not respond properly to drug treatment of that disease. These children were hospitalized and carefully controlled during their diet-treatment. It was found that such a diet was successful in controlling attacks of epilepsy and had a favorable effect on the restlessness, hypermobility, and irritability usually found among children with this disease. Not only that, there was no mental depression such as may occur with drugs! In fact, some children, who had previously been considered dull or mentally retarded became alert, bright and sociable.

That doesn’t sound like the things we’ve heard leveled at the low-carbohydrate diet of late. These children remained on theirs for one to three years.

But then I came up with yet another, even more fascinating bit of medical research on the ketosis question. This one is again from the medical journal Lancet and is a paper by R. H. Johnson and J. S. Walton from the University of Glasgow and H. A. Krebs and D. H. Williamson, Department of Clinical Medicine, Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford.

The title of their paper is “Post-Exercise Ketosis.” And what it proves is that “An abnormal glucose-tolerance curve after strenuous exercise was first observed by Courtice et al. (in 1936). The shape of the curve after exercise is very similar to that after prolonged fasting or in subjects given a low-carbohydrate diet.”
In other words, strenuous exercise can put you in ketosis. So does the American Medical Association suggest that we give up strenuous exercise? Does it not recommend jogging, for example, or stair-climbing as beneficial not only to the body but to the heart as well? And are not pregnant mothers often sent off to exercise classes designed especially for mothers-to-be? Are the doctors who recommend such classes then endangering these pregnant women’s fetuses? I, for one, would love to know the answer.


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