Perhaps you have heard of the Ketogenic diet. This is a type of diet that has been popularized by Dr. Atkins. It basically entails a diet that is high in fat (70%), moderate in protein (approximately 20%) and low in carbohydrates (20-50 grams of carbohydrates daily). When one eats this type of diet, the body metabolizes the fats to produce what is called ketones and hence the name of the diet. If you ask most health professionals about ketones, they will tell you that ketones can cause a condition called ketoacidosis which can drop your blood pH and result in death. Because of this, most health professional will ask you to avoid eating a ketogenic diet. However, this ketoacidosis condition mainly occurs in conditions when people can not endogenously produce insulin as in type 1 diabetics. Have you ever notice that type 1 diabetics have a thinner body composition compared to Type II diabetics? This is because the type 1 diabetic have to resort to burning their fat stores to provide their bodies for energy whereas in Type II diabetics, their fat stores are not accessible for energy metabolism. In type I diabetics who do not watch their carb intake, their body will produce an excessive amounts of ketones in the 25 milli molar range which is deadly. While there has not been a study yet, it is possible that Type 1 diabetics who adopt a Ketogenic diet will produce ketones in a lower milli molar range that is therapeutic. On other had, the ketogenic diet has been useful for those battling seizures, type II diabetes and obesity. But again, most health care professionals will tell you otherwise. And you need to remind them of something they forget in biochemistry class, namely that when glucose is not available to the body, the body can burn fats to produce ketones bodies which can fuel the whole body including the brain and why did I mention the brain? Because we have been led to believe that our brain predominantly is fueled by glucose. If one looks at various indigenous cultures such as the Inuit Indians or the Masai who ate a high fat, low carb diet, their bodies were predominantly fueled by ketones in a healthy manner.
So ketones can be healthy and a term coined by Dr. Stephen Phinney for this type of healthy ketosis is called Nutritional ketosis. The video below is of Dr. Phinney explaining this in layman’s terms.