Our bodies love sugar. Every cell is primed to accept and burn sugar and has storage tanks scattered through the body to place this nutritional gold when the demand goes up and when our intake goes down. Sugar is the primary fuel source for all organs including our brain, muscles and other organs. However, humans have a metabolic safeguard. Its embedded deep in our DNA and has been with us for our existence. During times of famine and long stretches between killing wild game or waiting for plants to grow, our bodies need a survival mechanism. It’s called Ketosis.
Ketosis is the metabolic process of burning fat, a rich source of energy for our body to function. In a healthy person who is undergoing a medically supervised weight loss program, this state occurs only when sugar and carbohydrates are avoided. The storage form of sugar, called glycogen, is depleted as more sugar is burned and less is consumed to replace it. This is a critical step in the process. Without avoidance of sugars and easily metabolized carbohydrates, the tanks will refill and the process his halted.
Depletion of the sugar fuel tanks takes approximately four days and during this time, a healthy person may exhibit mild symptoms of headaches, fatigue, and sleep disturbance. This is a result of our bodies yearning and demand for sugar. While these symptoms can feel unpleasant, they are necessary to push our metabolism toward fat burning.
After five days, when our fuel tanks are depleted, and our bodies are searching for energy to burn, fat stores are finally tapped. This fuel storage is littered throughout our bodies, evident under our skin and hidden deep around internal organs. Burning fat over sugar, leads to consistent and successful weight loss and for individuals who are overweight or obese. The result is a reduced risk of chronic illness such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Practically speaking, we can achieve a state of ketosis by eliminating sugars and starches but continuing to consume complex carbohydrates in the form of fiber rich vegetables. At the same time, we want to eat less fat and continue to consume a healthy amount of protein as to not risk the loss of muscles mass.
Lastly, following a medically supervised program helps to ensure safety in starting and maintaining ketosis for weight loss and better health.