What are Ketones?

Since I started this blog, I’ve been meaning to provide some background on the diet I’m experimenting with, so here is a good a place to start as any.

We all know what fat is, at least what it looks like on the outside.  It’s the cause of beer bellies, love handles, and cellulite.  We’ve all seen the stats now in the news saying how obesity is becoming an epidemic, with the world population getting fatter and fatter.

The purpose of fat isn’t to cause you problems.  Fat is actually a highly efficient way for your body to store energy.  A sort of extra battery for your body.

Under the right conditions, which we’ll get into later, your body will start to break down fat to release all of that stored energy.  Where this happens is in the liver.

The liver receives a signal saying that the body needs more energy and it starts to get to work.  It sends out little workers to start gathering fat from around your body and then it starts breaking down this fat in to smaller components for the rest of your body to use.

These smaller components are called ketone bodies; the break down products of metabolized fatty acids.  There are three types of ketone bodies that are made, beta hydroxybutyrate, aceto-acetate, and acetone (this last one cannot be used by the body).

The liver releases these ketones to the rest of the body to be used as fuel, particularly to be used by muscle and the brain.  The brain especially can run primarily on ketones under the right conditions.

What are the right conditions to get your body to start running on ketones?  This will be the next topic I will address in this series.

The primary source I’ve been referring to is “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance” by Drs. Volek and Phinney, a wonderful, short book that I urge everyone to read.


2 Responses to What are Ketones?

  1. […] wrote a summary trying to describe what ketones are in a little more […]

  2. […] wanted to know why.  If these are both essentially MCTs which we know are broken down into ketones which are then metabolized by both the brain and the body, why would one be more advantageous than […]

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