Why do low carbohydrate diet proponents talk so much about ketosis

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The goal of some very low carbohydrate diets is to produce the metabolic state known as ketosis. In the absence of carbohydrate, fats burn incompletely, causing by products called ketone bodies to accumulate in the bloodstream. Being in ketosis is a sure-fire indicator that your body has been forced to run on fat for fuel. That's why achieving ketosis is the primary goal of so many low carbohydrate diets.

Ketosis can occur when your carbohydrates are dropped below 100 grams, although most people don't stay in ketosis until carbohydrates go below 30-70 grams a day. Ketosis can be detected with a urine test. Paper strips called "ketostix" are dipped in the urine and when they change to a certain color, this indicates you've achieved a ketogenic state.

The "high carb gurus" often argue that ketogenic diets are dangerous and unhealthy. Ketogenic diets might be dangerous, depending on the parameters of the diet and a person's health status, but no sweeping conclusions can be made about their safety because the research is inconclusive. Many people have stayed on ketogenic diets for months or even years without complications - including epileptics who use ketogenic diets to treat their condition.

Whether or not ketogenic diets are unhealthy is uncertain, but the real reason you should avoid them is because ketosis is not a requirement to burn fat. Only a calorie deficit is necessary to burn fat. Ketogenic diets are extremely strict and nutritionally unbalanced. They are what you could call "extreme measures." It's an irrevocable law that the more "extreme" a nutrition program is, the greater the side effects will be and the more difficult the diet will be to stay on. (Imagine trying to stay on a diet that only allows you a few cups of salad or veggies and nothing but fat and protein for the rest of the day.)

It's simply not necessary to remove all your carbohydrates or go into ketosis to accelerate fat loss. A moderate reduction in carbohydrates is often all it takes to help to control blood sugar and insulin better. It's really just a matter of balancing carbohydrates with protein instead of eating mostly carbohydrates and small amounts of protein. Bodybuilders have been doing this for decades, but the mainstream has been very slow in catching on.

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