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Ketosis isn't a diet – all weight loss requires ketosis

Ketosis isn't a diet – all weight loss requires ketosis



Losing weight, and the difficulty of doing it successfully, is an emotionally fraught subject. As such, arguments about the “right” or “wrong” way to do it get heated, and heated arguments create misunderstandings (sometimes wilfull!) as people cling to positions, determined to ‘win’ a debate.

One of the most heated debates in nutrition has been around the “keto” diet — associated with lower intake of carbs and sugars, and higher intake of fats or proteins — and the related concept, and biological mechanism, of ketosis.

Limbo takes no prescriptive view on any specific diet or regimen. We don’t endorse the keto diet, nor do we endorse paleo, Atkins, South Beach or anything else, because the Limbo system is driven purely by biodata: what was the effect of a specific food on a specific individual member.

However, while Limbo is not a ‘keto’ program, per se, the biological mechanism of ketosis is critically important to the human weight loss process, making all diets ‘keto’. Here we’ll clarify this important, often misunderstood, concept.

Ketosis is the natural process of weight loss

In general, all weight loss happens by ketosis. When the body does not have direct access to energy — such as from carbohydrates in your food — it reaches for its backup plan, and utilises fat and muscle tissue instead.

The ‘currency’ of your body’s energy system is blood glucose (BG), which travels around the circulatory system and is pulled into cells as needed based on demand. The body regulates BG tightly, aiming to maintain a level within the range of 4 to 6.5 mmol/L, a narrow band that equates to about one teaspoon of glucose circulating in your blood at any given moment.

When the level rises above that zone after a meal the pancreas releases insulin, signalling to cells “please take the glucose out of the blood” to avoid sustained high levels of BG, which damage the body. If you haven’t eaten for a while your BG level falls. Your body will then signal that “it’s time to eat” and it may also begin to “manufacture” glucose in the liver to raise the level in the blood. An essential step in this process is ketosis.

The key fact: ketosis not just a process “associated” with weight loss; it is an intrinsic mechanism at the heart of weight loss. Aside from outlier events like liposuction, all weight loss happens via ketosis, and there is no ‘other’ way to lose weight.



You’re in ketosis every day

Ketosis has been portrayed as an almost mythical state, taking people to another level both physically and consciously. But it is actually just the normal order of things for your body, a completely natural state of being. In fact, we are all in ketosis every morning.

Approximately 4 hours after eating, your food has been digested, absorbed and assimilated and is no longer directly contributing to your BG. So if you eat dinner at 7pm and go to bed at 11pm, you are already in a post-absorptive state, or ‘running on empty’, as your head hits the pillow.

We think of sleep as resting, all we have to do is breathe, but our bodies don’t see it that way. This is when essential work gets done — vital repairs and recovery from the days’ activities, on top of the normal demands for circulation, a stable body temperature and other core systems.

Without a direct source of energy from food your body is very efficient at getting what it needs to continue this essential work. It turns to ketosis, as a step in the process of gluconeogenesis — derived from the Greek for “making new glucose” — and converts some of the energy stored in your fat and muscle into glucose, fuelling your body and maintaining a stable BG level.

By the morning you weigh slightly less than when you went to bed. And the strength to get out of bed and break your overnight fast? All thanks to the power of ketosis and gluconeogenesis.




You say keto, I say ‘ketosis’

But fasting is not the only way to trigger ketosis in the body. Dieting brands can often feel quasi-religious in their approach, promoting a ‘gospel’ that Thou Shalt Eat This or Thou Shalt Not Eat That. Limbo is agnostic and is driven by your body’s data. Eat the foods you like, but be aware of and educated about the consequences of your choices, and own them.

Want to eat carbohydrates and sugars? Go ahead, but be aware this provides an instant source of energy, shuts down the process of ketosis, leaves you with the impact of an accompanying sugar-crash and puts you further from your weight loss goals. The more you can balance your food, rest and activity choices to maximise the time spent in ketosis — not just at night but through the day as well — the more successfully you’ll see weight come down.

Limbo will guide you, show you your data, and nudge you in the right direction, but ultimately the decision is yours.

Remember: all weight loss is ketosis, and the more time spent in ketosis means better results