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Is it possible to burn fat without ketosis?

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  • Is it possible to burn fat without ketosis?

    I have read a lot of posts and web sites about ketosis and about "weight loss," and I've read some books, as well. Based on what I've read, it seems that it would be impossible to "burn fat" (in the sense of burning body fat) without entering ketosis. If I have this right, the body burns energy supplies in these stages:
    1) alcohol (e.g. most of what is in beer)
    2) blood sugars (e.g. table sugar, most of the stuff grains break down into, fruit sugars, etc.)
    3) glycogen (stored in muscles)
    4) fat (fats that are eaten come first, followed by body fat)
    5) protein (comes last, after depletion of all other easily available stores of energy)
    It would seem logical, if this is right, that as long as your body has stores of alcohol, blood sugars, and glycogen, no body fat will be burned.
    So, to go on, if I have this right, then regardless of the kind of diet you are on, the only way to lose "weight" (in the sense of losing fat, which is the only kind of weight loss 99% of us are interested in) is to enter ketosis.
    Finally, if this is right, then any diet that promises "weight loss" (be it Ornish, the Paleo Diet, Atkins, or whatever) is promising that you will enter ketosis. If not, you will not actually "lose weight" in any sense you could desire. And it follows from this that any diet that works to any degree has no business warning people off ketosis, since it is going to occur.
    It also follows from this, in general although perhaps not in every situation, that the fewer carbs you eat, the more body fat you will burn (as long as you are in a calorie deficit).
    Is this right or wrong? Or right in some ways, but wrong in others?
    Thank you, list members...
    By the way, I bring this up in part because I have read quite a few critiques of Atkins, Paleo, and all "low carb diets," and every single one of them seems to screech about the supposed dangers of ketosis. I remember reading this back in the 1980s: "the one thing you don't want to do is enter ketosis, because then your body will be in starvation mode and will start hoarding ever single calorie," blah, blah, blah.

  • #2
    I don't know that I can provide a clear and/or complete answer to that question -- so I'll leave it to others. I would like to point out though that your body usually burns a mixture of fuels. So when both glucose and circulating fats are available (as they usually are) your body doesn't use the glucose exclusively (only moving on to the fats when no further glucose is available). Instead, it uses both simultaneously.

    I hope that helps. Basically, I guess I'm trying to say that you are always "burning fat". The key to weightloss is getting your body into a state where you're burning more of it than you're storing (on average). Reducing carbohydrates tends to help many people achieve this (and certainly an excess of carbs can make it difficult or even impossible), but I don't think ketosis necessarily required (depending on one's metabolism). In the past, I've successfully "cut up" with carbs in the 350g/day range.

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    • #3
      My ex-husband certainly lost fat without being in ketosis. He lost about 30 pounds on a low fat diet and exercise just before we met. He was miserable and hungry the entire time, but he thought CW was the only way to go. I somehow doubt he was in ketosis eating pasta every other night.

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      • #4
        I think quite a few diets have people avoiding ketosis and people still lose weight due to just not eating that much. They might be miserable and hungry, but they do lose weight.

        I think ketosis helps people lose in a way that makes more sense because it lowers fasting blood insulin levels and you are not as hungry. Your body doesn't "want" to put the weight right back on.

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        • #5
          The answer is yes. Ketosis is one method, but there is not need to enter ketosis to lose fat.

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          • #6
            Once he burned through the carbs and glycogen, wouldn't his body go into ketosis? Put it this way: if you burn 2000 calories a day and consume 1,000 calories of carbs and 250 of protein and 100 of fat, then you will be in a caloric deficit. At that point, the tendency of your body would be to burn glycogen and then fat, if I have this right.

            Anyway, in principle, I don't understand how you can burn fat without being in fat. Isn't "ketosis" another name for a metabolic state in which fat is converted to fuel for the body? Is there any other way to lose fat without, say, actually cutting it out (e.g. by liposuction)?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by john_e_turner_ii View Post
              The answer is yes. Ketosis is one method, but there is not need to enter ketosis to lose fat.
              So what is the other method? How does the body eliminate fat without entering ketosis? Or is there some net reference I can look at that would explain this?

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              • #8
                Here we go again. haha Eating at a caloric deficit can burn fat. The fat on your body is basically stored energy. If you do not eat enough to supply your body with the energy it needs, then it taps into the fat reserves to make up the difference.

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                • #9
                  I think ketosis works for some people that have trouble losing fat because they are carb sensitive. However, even on ketosis, if you eat more than your body burns, then you will still not lose fat. There are many examples of people in these forums that have stalled weight loss while in ketosis. Ketosis does not mean that you will continually burn fat. It just means that your body is primed to use fat as the preferred fuel it chooses to burn.

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                  • #10
                    So if we're burning fat stores but not in ketosis, what is the fat being converted into for use as fuel?

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                    • #11
                      I think many folks here think that being in ketosis (as indicated by ketostix) is a magical way to lose body fat.

                      You can be in ketosis and burn dietary fat or stored body fat.

                      As John said, you need to have an overall calorie deficit to burn body fat.
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Dragonfly View Post
                        I think many folks here think that being in ketosis (as indicated by ketostix) is a magical way to lose body fat.

                        You can be in ketosis and burn dietary fat or stored body fat.

                        As John said, you need to have an overall calorie deficit to burn body fat.
                        Yep. I'm pretty regularly in ketosis, but my weight loss has been pretty slow (hypothyroid) and I do have to watch my calories. I don't eat a lot of carbs so my fuel has to come from somewhere and that's mostly the fat I eat and a little of the fat on my behind.

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                        • #13
                          Maybe he's thinking in terms of being in ketosis as your regular state rather than dropping into ketosis briefly but with great frequency.

                          I wonder if that's one of the reasons I felt so tired and cranky dieting the CW way. My body wasn't adapted to burning ketones as its regular fuel.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by DaisyEater View Post
                            Maybe he's thinking in terms of being in ketosis as your regular state rather than dropping into ketosis briefly but with great frequency.

                            I wonder if that's one of the reasons I felt so tired and cranky dieting the CW way. My body wasn't adapted to burning ketones as its regular fuel.
                            Yes, folks use the term ketosis in different ways here.

                            Primal eating/low carb makes having a calorie deficit much less painful, for sure!
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                            • #15
                              Kreb's cycle anybody? Ketosis is not the only way for fat to be metabolized. A quick google search can verify this.
                              Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
                              -Paul the Apostle, 1 Cor 6:19-20

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