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Ketones in labwork


Adriane

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I got sick the other week and went to the doctor and they drew all the normal labs. I had very large amounts ketones which was concerning to me. My doctor didn't seem concerned and said it can occur when a person has a diet high in fat and protein and low in carbs. That is pretty much what I've been doing (and yes I know this isn't designed to be low carb but when you take out bread from my diet it is significantly lower in carbs). I was wondering from the Whole30 opinion about ketones. I work with a diabetic and ketones for her are very very bad. In my mind I associated that ketones in anyone were bad but maybe not?

 

I've read mixed things on ketones in science articles and not too sure what to believe at this point. I have tried to up the number of carbs in my diet to try to level it out nonetheless. But that seems really hard. Fruits and veggies tend to be pretty low in carbs when the recommended amount ~225grams/day.

 

Thanks for the info.

 

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Not that I'm an expert, but I'll just throw this out there:  I'm doing my first Whole30 now, but until I started it, I was actually on Medifast, a very low calorie, low carb diet (<100 g carb/day), and while I never checked to see if I actually had ketones, I know from other signs I was in ketosis (a metallic taste in my mouth, for one). Whether that's a good thing or not, I don't know, but it is the goal of Medifast for participants to be in a very mild ketosis, they say it promotes fat burning and helps curb hunger, and many people on the Medifast forum would regularly use Ketostix or similar products to test for ketones (and then freak out if they didn't test positive for them, and cut back even further on whatever carbs they were eating). All of that is just to say, it is possible for someone to have some ketones in their system due to low carbohydrates in their diet and at least short term not have any problems with it, so if your doctor is not concerned, and you trust your doctor, don't worry about it.

 

I don't completely understand all the science, so I won't go into great detail, but my understanding is that ketones form when the body starts using its fat stores for energy. For most people, this is okay -- they're in ketosis, they have ketones floating around in their blood stream, but their body can deal with them. For diabetics, their bodies can't deal with the ketones (I guess insulin helps break them down, and diabetics don't produce insulin, or enough insulin, to do that), so they don't leave the system fast enough, so they build up, and can cause something called ketoacidosis, which is very dangerous and can be life threatening if it's not treated.

 

Anyway, that's just a very longwinded reply to say, if your doc isn't concerned, and you're at least more or less healthy and not diabetic, don't worry about the ketones. 

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The Whole9 doesn't have much of anything to say about ketones. It is just one more thing to not worry about while doing a Whole30. If you follow the meal template and eat as many starchy veggies as you need to feel good and perform well, you will be fine.

 

I personally do well without eating starchy veggies very often, at least with my current exercise regimen. And my doctor has been consistently happy with my blood work. In your case, I think you can relax and quit worrying. Your doctor would have expressed concern and made recommendations if there was anything dangerous about your numbers. 

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I've read mixed things on ketones in science articles and not too sure what to believe at this point. I have tried to up the number of carbs in my diet to try to level it out nonetheless. But that seems really hard. Fruits and veggies tend to be pretty low in carbs when the recommended amount ~225grams/day.

 

 

 

Who is recommending 225g carbs a day? I find this to be a huge exaggeration for the normal person. is it suggested by people who are also promoting whole grains and refined carbohydrates for health?  (pretty sure the original food pyramid was developed with financial aid from the wheat industry)

 

for the every day person, you can get plenty of carbohydrates through fresh fruit and vegetables. sweet potatoes are your friends :) there are plenty of other delicious alternatives.

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Ketones are not a bad thing. They are bad for diabetics because they don't have the process that they need (because of lack of insulin) to get rid of them so their body resorts to other methods which can result in ketoacidosis. That is what is bad. Like Tom said, carry on and if you want, eat some starchies. :)

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Simply Google ketosis vs. ketoacidosis to get an idea why the two are confused. If your glucose levels are maintained without prolonged, excessive highs, ketosis is actually a normal state to be in. Though, our normal state is not achieved by the majority. It is when the body enters ketosis plus has excessive high glucose due to lack of insulin that danger comes with ketoacidosis. 

 

From http://voices.yahoo.com/the-difference-between-ketosis-ketoacidosis-6040618.html :

 

"The damaging effects of diabetes are not due to ketone production, but by the acidic effect of extremely high blood sugar. People wrongly assume that both conditions are dangerous because they both involve the formation of ketones, yet it is actually the high blood sugar levels in diabetic patients that present any dangerous symptoms. Understanding this critical difference between the conditions ketoacidosis and ketosis is fundamental to the formation of a basic knowledge of the body's metabolic processes."

 

Under old school rules, us diabetics weren't even instructed to test for ketones unless glucose was above 240. Perhaps we should stop being taught to eat 60g of starches with a meal and our glucose won't hit 240 in the first place.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ketoacidosis is what happens to type 1 diabetics if they don't get insulin. It is when their ketones are SUUUUUUPER high because they have 0 insulin.

 

The average person eating SAD has a small amount of ketones in their blood. Someone eating between 100-200g carbs a day has slightly more, and someone eating less than 100g carbs has even a little bit more.

 

Someone who's body produces even some insulin can go into full ketosis without going into ketoacidosis, and be totally fine, even long term. There are inuit tribes people in alaska who survive most of the year eating nothing but seal meat and blubber and small birds they catch and ferment inside seal skins who are in a constant state of ketosis and have survived that way for millennia.

 

Our bodies can actually produce enough carbohydrates from fats and proteins to keep us functioning and alive, even if we don't eat any, but even "home-made" carbs require insulin to be used by cells. 

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