What’s a ketone and what do they do? I’ve mentioned the ketogenic diet before, but didn’t really go into detail about what is producing the greatest benefits of that lifestyle: ketones.
Production of ketones is caused by fat metabolism. During an extended fast or if carbohydrate intake is restricted, blood sugar and insulin levels drop. With insulin low energy is needed, so fatty acids flow from fat cells into the bloodstream and are metabolized in a process called beta-oxidation. Beta-oxidation creates the molecule acetyl-coA, as the level of acetyl-coA rises, the liver begins to convert it into ketones. When ketone levels are high enough, they begin to cross the blood-brain barrier and one is considered to be in a state of ketosis.
Ketones and specifically being in a state of ketosis is very beneficial for many reasons. Ketones help to prevent inflammation on a cellular level, with the most important benefit is the reduction of neural inflammation. Ketones, specifically beta-hydroxybutyrate (one of the three main ketones bodies), also prevent processes that lead to the degradation of ATP, which is the body’s source of energy on a cellular level; decreased ATP levels are linked to many disease states.
Ketones are a more efficient fuel source for the body and more importantly the brain. As ketones breakdown, they increase ATP. While in a state of ketosis you are more likely to feel focused, increased clarity, and more energy. Not to mention that to get to this state your body has to be actively breaking down your fat stores, which is very beneficial to body composition and lowering body fat percentage.
I could go on about the benefits of ketosis and ketones. I encourage you to read some for yourself.