Starvation ketosis is when your body goes into ketosis as a result of depleting your glycogen storage due to carb deprivation. Ketosis is a process in which your body burns fat for fuel instead of glucose. Several circumstances can put your body in ketosis, some you may have control over and some you don’t. E.g., your body can go into a state of ketosis during the time you’re fasting, which is usually done by choice. It can also happen when you’re sleeping or during heavy exercise, things you may not have control over.
Nutritional vs. Starvation Ketosis
What is nutritional ketosis?
Nutritional ketosis is when your body gets into the metabolic state of burning fat for fuel with the help of a low carb diet like the ketogenic diet. In the keto diet, a big chunk of your daily macros (60-75%) will come from fat, 15-30% from protein, and 10% or less from carbs.
This diet-induced process of reducing your carb intake below 50 grams per day, will cause your body to start using its stored glucose (glycogen) to meet its needs. After a few days, the glycogen storage will become insufficient to meet the bodily functions, forcing your body to switch to fat for fuel, leading to nutritional ketosis .
What is starvation ketosis?
Starvation ketosis is when your body goes into ketosis due to the deprivation of glucose. It could happen by choice when you’re fasting, for instance. And it could also occur without choice, e.g., when you’re sleeping or after heavy exercise .
Fasting starvation ketosis is usually a healthy and rejuvenating process for your body. It can help you get into ketosis faster on the keto diet and also offer other health benefits such as improved cognitive performance and immune boost.
As stated above, fasting is usually performed by choice for various reasons such as:
- Religious & spiritual reasons
- To prepare for a medical procedure
- To improve your health
You have the choice to eat and drink as you wish, but you take a break for a certain period for any of the reasons stated above. A healthy fast usually lasts for 24-72 hours, and anything more than that is not recommended unless medically supervised. Intermittent fasting, however, may be more useful and sustainable in the long run.
Starvation Ketosis vs. Starvation Ketoacidosis
Starvation ketosis can be therapeutic when achieved via planned fasting such as a 24-72 hour water fast, or intermittent fasting.
Starvation ketoacidosis, on the other hand, is a medical emergency. It’s when your blood ketone levels are dangerously high. Your risk of developing ketoacidosis is high if :
- You have diabetes
- You’re pregnant
- You’re undergoing an extremely long fast
- You have an eating disorder
- You’re an alcoholic
E.g., pregnant women are more prone to ketosis due to their insulin deficiency, accelerated lipolysis, and increased free fatty acids. This means that even a shorter period of fasting can lead to starvation ketoacidosis and cause adverse effects for the baby and mother .
Ketosis, in general, is usually a safe and therapeutic metabolic process of your body using fat for fuel instead of glucose. Starvation ketosis can also be useful when achieved using a planned fast for a safe duration.
Starvation ketoacidosis, as stated earlier, is a whole different story. It’s a potentially life-threatening condition in which your blood ketone levels are dangerously high.
Avoid starvation induced ketosis if you fit in any of the categories discussed earlier, such as diabetes, pregnancy, and an eating disorder. Consult your doctor first if you wish to incorporate fasting in your lifestyle and how to do it the correct way.