What is the Difference Between Ketosis and Ketoacidosis?

Sometimes people get nutritional ketosis confused with a dangerous condtion called ketoacidosis. It is important to understand the difference between the two.

Nutritional ketosis is a normal metabolic function that occurs when the body has exhausted its glycogen stores. The liver produces small organic molecules called ketone bodies and cells use the ketone bodies as a source of energy. Ketosis is a safe process unless you are diabetic or your body is not producing enough insulin.

It is important to keep in mind that ketosis is an adaptive response triggered by a lack of glycogen so when you are transitioning to low carb you may experience symptoms such as headache, nausea, fatigue, dry mouth, and brain fog commonly referred to as the keto flu. These symptoms are usually temporary and should subside within a couple of days once you are fat adapted.

Ketoacidosis is a serious metabolic condition that more commonly occurs in type 1 diabetics, or in late-stage type 2 diabetes patients who no longer manufacture enough insulin. The pancreas does not produce the amount of insulin required to regulate the flow of fatty acids and the acid-base balance of the body is interrupted. The blood can become acidic from a build up of ketone bodies which severely affects the function of certain organs. Symptoms can include fruity breath, nausea, hyperventilation, dehydration, and low blood pressure. Ketoacidosis requires emergency treatment and can be life threatening if left untreated.

So there it is folks. Ketosis and Ketoacidosis are different animals, although both involve ketones. Ketosis occurs when ketones being produced are in the 1-8 mmol/L range. Ketoacidosis occurs in the 15-25 mmol/L range. Nutritional ketosis is generally safe if you are not diabetic and have a functioning pancreas. If you are producing insulin, even in small amounts, ketoacidosis is not likely to occur.

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