I am always pleasantly surprised when I stumble across a nice nugget of information unexpectedly. I was on the MDA website looking for something and came across a reference for ketones. I said to myself, “ketones, oh, yeah, right, ketones, those are the…uh…it’s a kind of a…” Yep; I really didn’t have a ton of clarity on this one.
So I decided to dig around a bit and see if I could nail down something solid here on this energy source known as ketones and the corresponding energy system known as ketosis. Turns out that ketones are a diverse group of compounds that can be found in a number of different arenas, but in this case we’re focused on the ketones our bodies produce when we are burning fat and not carbs. In a primal diet, where carb count is low, and fat and protein is high, something interesting happens with that internal metabolic motor; instead of using glucose as its primary fuel, fatty acids in the liver become it’s main supply. These fatty acids are converted to what are commonly referred to as ketones. So ketosis is simply the process by which our bodies convert fatty acids to ketones for energy as opposed to carbs for glucose. Fat as fuel, not sugar.
So what’s the big deal? Should we try to enter a state of ketosis? Not really; well, yes and no. If you are already running a low carb, “ketogenic” diet, then you are probably already in a state of ketosis a lot of the time without even knowing it; especially during periods of intermittent fasting, our bodies will naturally hit our fat stores for energy. The notion of balance in this arena is no different than any other. I am not a believer in a prolonged periods where a balanced food paradigm is not the operative modality. It has to be balanced. Training hard and burning a very stable fuel source like fat is essential and probably inevitable if you are on an 80/20 primal diet. IF on the other hand you still have not managed to dial in a sustainable formula that is primarily meats and veggies, you’ll want to work on that in order to improve the performance of your metabolic engine.
Remember, when we are hitting very short, intense WODs we are still going to rely on glucose for our energy source; it’s our bodies way of responding to that max effort state once we have crossed that lactate threshold and we hit that anaerobic state. But what about fueling during our “normal” daily lives? Ketosis is a great way to keep your energy steady and even, as opposed to the peaks and valleys of a carb program.
For more on this check out the MDA article here.