Tag Archives: DKA

Ketosis versus Ketoacidosis

Courtesy of Master Isolated Images

Courtesy of Master Isolated Images


I hear over and over again that low carb dieting can lead to ketoacidosis.  It’s confusing to me because of the people out there who thrive on very little carbohydrates.  How do they avoid diabetic ketoacidosis?  How have I in the past?  I looked it up and learned that: (and correct me if I’m wrong)

Ketones are organic compounds that result when body fat is broken down for energy.  If you lose, say, a pound of fat you will make ketones.

Ketosis is the presence of excess ketones in the body.  It is the continuous state of fat metabolism.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) is a state of absolute or relative insulin deficiency aggravated by ensuing hyperglycemia, dehydration, and acidosis-producing derangements in intermediary metabolism.  The most common causes are underlying infection, disruption of insulin treatment, and new onset of diabetes.

Ketones resulting from low carb dieting or from fat loss measure around 5 to 20 mg/dl while the quantity of ketones associated with DKA is quite higher.  The warning to diabetics is if one low carb diets and then has elevated blood sugars, they are perhaps more likely to reach a point of ketoacidosis sooner than if they had no trace or small amount of ketones in their system to begin with.

What I’m understanding is that low carb dieting in diabetics should only be done with very tightly managed blood sugars. 

I could be wrong.  But it seems people might confuse the two because I’ve heard people say that they wouldn’t limit carbs because they don’t want to go into DKA.  These people I’m referring to don’t have diabetes of any kind so that is where my confusion stemmed.  If you don’t have diabetes and you limit carbs for some reason, then the ketosis in the body is not going to lead you to DKA-it just means you’re a constant fat burning machine?

Any thoughts on this?