Girl Interrupted

Monday, September 19, 2005

[+/-] Diet: YES! Bring on the Ketone Bodies

I am on a high-protein, low-carb diet plan. This is not a no-carb diet plan (ala Atkins), because herbalife contains around 34 g/100 g of carbs, which I can't extract, but anyway:

The way this works is as follows:
Your body essentially has two metabolic pathways:
(1) carb metabolism pathway (controlled by insulin).
(2) protein and fat metabolism pathway (controlled by glucagon).

Your body prefers to use (1) because its easier and faster. When you have a low-carb, high protein diet:
- Your blood sugar levels drop.
- Then your insulin levels drop and glucagon is released.
- This switches on metabolism (2) and switches off metabolism (1).
- This is optimal after 3 to 5 days (once all your stored sugars ["glycogen"] in your muscles are consumed), when the body is forced to start using stored fat and protein for energy.

What are the disadvantages?
(1) Well, fat and protein metabolism is linked, so unfortunately, while you are breaking down fat, you are also breaking down protein (ie, muscle). This will lower your basal metabolic rate (ie, slow down your metabolism even further). Not a good thing. SOLUTION: make sure to eat large quantities of protein (preferebly in amino acid form) to replace muscles lost or to be converted instead of your own muscles.

(2) If this goes to extremes (ie, when you have no more excess fat), your body will start attacking other fatty tissue, like the protective layer around your heart and other organs, and the fatty-acid sheath surrounding your nerves. This is generally considered a Bad Thing - you don't want to get to this stage ;)

(3) When the liver is reduced to breaking down fat (in lieu of the usual glucose), it produces ketone bodies, a toxic byproduct. These can be excreted through the urine (resulting in a fruity smell), and a particular variety known as acetone can be expelled through the lungs (resulting in keto-breath: kind of like a mix of overripe fruit and nail-polish remover.)
Ketone bodies can also be oxidized by the brain in order to make the fuel it needs. But when ketone bodies become too numerous in the bloodstream, they can cause ketoacidosis, a potentially lethal condition that afflicts some diabetics. You don't want to get to this stage ;) In the long run, this can be extremely dangerous - your kidneys struggle to handle the excess, and major organ failure can result in death.

Fortunately, I am not following this to extremes (and I am drinking lots of water), and after only 3 days, I have noticed a fruity smell in my urine - a sign excess of ketones.

Yippee, that means I done good...

PS: Apparently, starvation mode is triggered when weight loss exceeds 18% of your starting weight (although, this figure is for people on hunger strikes, so I don't know how it applies to me, who is not on a hunger strike).

Filed as: My Diet ยป
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