What are ketones and how are they produced?
If you follow a ketogenic way of eating then you know that with the keto diet, your body no longer uses glucose for energy.
Instead, you have become a fat burning machine that uses the fat you consume and the fat on your body to power you through your days.
But, the question then is, how exactly does my body burn fat for energy?
Well my lovely reader, its all about ketones!
I think we should start at why and how your body produces ketones.
It’s is common knowledge that our main source of energy on a standard American diet is carbohydrates.
We have been conditioned to think we need to eat carbs to give our body the energy it needs, while this is true, more then one thing can be true at the same time.
Carbs are not the only macronutrient that can gives us energy.
When needed, protein can go through the process known as Gluconeogenesis and power us through the day.
Fat can also gives us energy, which is the best source for energy for our brain and body.
The body simply uses carbohydrates as it’s first choice because it is the easiest and quickest of the macronutrients to turn into energy.
So, when you start a ketogenic diet and stop consuming carbs your body goes through a process.
Once your body goes through all of its glucose (carbs) and glycogen (stored glucose) it begins to look for an alternative form of energy.
This alternative form of energy is fat, just as the body brakes down carbohydrates into glucose, the body begins to brake down fat in a process called beta-oxidation.
Durning beta-oxidation, the broken down fatty acids are sent to the liver. The process of the liver making ketones from broken down fatty acids is called Ketogenesis. Once ketones are made, they are then sent into the bloodstream to be used as energy.
There are 3 forms of ketones.
The first ketone to be made by the liver is Acetoacetate. If you have ever used the keto urine sticks, then you were checking the level of Acetoacetate. If you continued to use these urine sticks after a few weeks of being In ketosis, you may have noticed that they no longer registered you as being in ketosis. This is not a sign that you are no longer in ketosis, but a sign you have moved to the next step in ketone production.
After a few weeks of following a keto diet, Acetoacetate is then converted into the second type of ketone. Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is the second form of ketones and is the main energy source when in a ketosis state. BHB is the preferred energy source for the brain. BHB is released in the blood stream, it is also the ketone being checked when you measure your ketones with a blood ketone meter.
The final ketone is Acetone, which is a bi-product of Acetoacetate being converted into BHB. This ketone is looked as waste and is excreted from the body through your breath. This ketone is the cause of what is known as Keto breath.
Well there we have it people! I hope I was able to fully explain what ketones are and how our body uses them when in a state of ketosis.