Many low-carb diet programs recommend that you check your levels of ketones in your urine to ensure that you burn fat. The best way to make your body utilize fat instead of sugar is by lowering your carbohydrate intake. Consuming less than 50 g of carbs a day promotes ketosis, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. If you are in ketosis, it means that your body is burning fat and producing ketones. Ketones do not burn fat, but indicate that your body is in fat-burning mode.
You can use ketone strips to dip in your urine and determine if ketones are present in your urine. For most people eating a standard American diet, their carb intake is too high to promote ketosis and ketones cannot be detected in their urine. However, if you eat a low amount of carbs, your body will produce ketones and some of these ketones will spill out in your urine, which explains why you can verify if your are ketosis by checking your urine ketones. If your urine ketone test is positive, you know that your body is burning fat.
Ketosis Vs. Ketoacidosis
Many people confuse ketosis and ketoacidosis. Although both conditions are characterized by higher levels of ketones than what is usually seen in people consuming a high-carb diet and indicate that your body is burning fat, only the latter is dangerous. Ketoacidosis only occurs in diabetics treated with insulin. With ketoacidosis, their ketone levels are 5 to 10 times greater than what is seen in ketosis and people need to go to the hospital for treatment. In ketosis, which is a perfectly normal and healthy state for the human body, ketone levels are slightly elevated, but not to a dangerous level.
By-Product of Fat Oxidation
When your carbohydrate intake is low enough, your body starts utilizing fat as its primary source of energy. Ketones do not burn fat, but rather are a by-product of the oxidation of fat. Ketones can be used, instead of sugar, to fuel almost all of your cells, including the cells in your brain, muscles and heart. In fact, your body can run 25 percent more efficiently when using ketones instead of using glucose -- the sugar derived from carbohydrates.
A very low-carb ketogenic diet can help you burn fat and lose weight while calming your appetite and cravings, according to Stephen D. Phinney, M.D., author of "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living." However, such diets need to be done properly and under the supervision of your doctor, especially if you have diabetes, high blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure or take medications. Consult your doctor to have blood work done before and after starting on your ketogenic diet to see how it affects your health. If you take medications, you may need less medications when following your ketogenic diet and your doctor will help you adjust the dose as required.
- Protein Power; Metabolism and Ketosis; May 2007
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Chapter 2 - The Role of Carbohydrates in Maintenance of Health
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nutrient Data Laboratory
- "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable"; Stephen D. Phinney and Jeff S. Volek; 2011
- "The New York Times"; What If It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?; Gary Taubles; July 7, 2002
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.