Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ketones - are they bad?

Well another hot topic in the diabetes and weight loss world.

Ketone:  A waste product in the body when it is burning fat for fuel, instead of carbohydrate.

Are they Dangerous?  Good question.  In the wrong quantity yes. In small quantities I would have to say no.

Let's look at some definitions, then go from there:
 Diabetic Ketoacidosis:  Is a medical emergency, it is when the quantity of ketones in the body become high enough to make the bodies inner environment too acidic on the Ph scale, and results from not having enough insulin on board.  The body essentially goes into shock. So if you have Type 1 diabetes, and you are unable to get your blood glucose down, start to vomit, feel confused, can't quench your thirst, this is a medical emergency, seek medical attention immediately.

Ketogenic diet:  This is where I feel the controversy starts, people automatically link Ketoacidosis with Ketogenic, and therefore they conclude that having a small quantity of ketones in the blood is a life threatening thing.  Which it is not, in my opinion. Actually it is very common when fasting for over 12-15 hours to have a small amount of ketones in the blood or urine. 

The question arises, as usual with science is; what are the long term consequences of being in a semi-ketogenic state while dieting?  Good question; and there are studies, many of them, and I have yet to find a negative one.  I am not a scientist, however, but I like to believe I have common sense.

It has been noted in many popular weight loss books using the ketogenic diet principals, that the heart and brain prefer the energy derived from ketones as opposed to Carbohydrate.  Interesting.  In the book titled Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism, Sareen and colleagues provide evidence of what the body prefers during a 40 day period of starvation.  Basically the brain and the muscles convert to using ketones as an energy source, not out pf preference but necessity.

There is once again, a lot of controversy, or perhaps confusion, about ketones, or more specifically Ketogenic diets.

So are ketones bad? My opinion, not in the right quantity with the appropriate amount of insulin.

What do you think?


Sareen S, et al,  Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism  (2009)Page 263, table 7.2.


Amy said...

First of all, that graphic from is hilarious!!!!!

Second, the first time I ever heard of ketones, or more accurately, ketone testing strips was when I began a small stint with the South Beach Diet. The goal, as I recall, was to force your body into ketoacidosis so it would burn the fat as fuel . . . thus digging deep into excess fat storage. What I personally experienced was nausea and vomiting WAY before I lost any significant fat.

So, I don't think ketones are B-A-D on their own, but mix them in with a child/person who doesn't have a high body fat % and continues to vomit (causing blood sugars to plummet) and you have a complex and dangerous situation.

For your average dieter with a large muffin top (I may or may not be referring to myself) then ketones could be your friend.

Reyna said...

I believe many young type 1'ers do spill ketones over night. I think it depends on the situation. Mod to large ketones in my type 1 kid = BAD. Ketones in my hubby...not so much. LOL.

Again...great topic Trev. Keep 'em coming!

Reyna said...

PS...thank God the "Hubs" doesn't read my blog comments on other blogs - haha

Jonah said...

I think part of the problem with eating ketogenic as a type 1 is that I need to be able to figure out if I am headed towards ketoacidosis, and having ketones from a diet could muddy that picture.
It also is possible to run into problems with ketones in non-diabetic ways; it indicates fat burning and stress on the body.
But yeah, there are times and people that's appropriate for. I remember a parent posting a while back about a kid who was on a ketogenic diet to control his epilepsy. And it was working. And then... he developed diabetes! I don't think the parent stayed online, 'cause I didn't get to find out how it played out for that family.