Ketosis vs. Ketoacidosis: The Difference is Deathly Important!

Ketosis vs. Ketoacidosis: The Difference is Deathly Important!

Keto appears in two different terms—one is helpful, and the other is deadly. It has to do with ketone levels, which are beneficial to a certain degree but life threatening in excess—especially when they’re coupled with high blood sugar. Before going Keto, make sure you know the difference between ketosis and ketoacidosis.

What is Ketosis?

Ketosis is a metabolic state the body enters when it doesn’t have enough glucose to burn for energy. A lot of factors can trigger ketosis, but the most common one is a low-carb diet. Once blood glucose levels dip below a certain level, the body resorts to burning fat as an alternative energy source. 

Fat stores travel to the liver where they get converted into a chemical called ketones. The liver sends these ketones to bodily cells for energy. A person achieves ketosis once they have sufficiently increased their ketone levels.

A handful of symptoms indicate that you’re in ketosis. Here are a few to look for:

  • Bad breath (might smell like fruit)
  • Reduced appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Higher energy levels
  • Improved focus and sleep

What is Ketoacidosis?

Formally known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), ketoacidosis occurs when there are dangerously high levels of ketones and glucose in the bloodstream. This life-threatening condition has “diabetic” in the name because DKA is most commonly found in people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Their bodies produce little or no insulin, a chemical that regulates blood glucose levels. Low insulin causes blood glucose levels to spike.

Ketones and high blood sugar create a dangerous combination. Blood becomes too acidic and, as a result, someone with ketoacidosis can suffer from irreversible liver and kidney damage.

Visit a hospital right away if you’re diabetic and notice one or more of these symptoms:

  • Fruity breath (similar to ketosis)
  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Upset stomach
  • Confusion

Ketosis is Important; Ketoacidosis is Life Threatening

Ketosis and ketoacidosis may sound the same, but they’re vastly different. Ketosis isn’t a disease—it’s a natural metabolic state that helps your body adapt to low blood glucose levels. On the other hand, ketoacidosis can quickly become fatal if left untreated. Ketosis results from a normal increase in ketones, whereas ketoacidosis results from extremely high ketone levels.

People with diabetes have a higher risk of ketoacidosis, especially if they pursue the keto diet. However, diabetic patients can safely achieve ketosis (and avoid ketoacidosis) by regularly managing blood glucose levels. Consistent monitoring and insulin doses can help diabetics metabolize glucose at an acceptable rate.

Always Listen To Your Body

No diet is worth risking your life. If you start to feel crummy, take a step back from keto and ask your doctor if the diet is right for you. Don’t feel pressured to push through the “keto flu” to achieve ketosis. What may appear to be a harmless side effect could actually indicate the presence of a deadly illness. Listen when your body speaks—it will always tell the truth!

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