How Your Body Processes Food

So, how does the body utilise the food and beverage products that you consume?? The body uses Glucose as its primary fuel source for all cells in the body. When you eat or drink the food moves from your mouth into your stomach for digestion. The stomach uses the acids present combined with enzymes to break the food into the simplest forms possible. Carbohydrates are broken into simple sugars, proteins into amino acids and fats into fatty acids. Water, vitamins and minerals are also extracted. When carbohydrates as consumed either as sugar or starches they are broken down into simple sugars and ultimately glucose molecules which are absorbed by the stomach and small intestine into the blood stream. The glucose is then ready to be either used immediately by the brain or the body, or the excess glucose is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. For the glucose travelling through our blood stream to be stored on our bodies we must manufacture a hormone called insulin which is produced in the pancreas. The pancreas is the organ that monitors our blood sugar levels and it in turn manufactures the correct amount of insulin required to store the excess glucose in our blood and to keep our blood sugar levels stable.

Ketosis is a metabolic process that occurs when the body doesn’t have enough glucose available from carbohydrate sources to provide energy to the body and the brain. By restricting your carbohydrate intake your body switches over into breaking down the fats stored on your body into glucose instead. The body produces a by-product during this process called ketones. These ketones are a type of acid and they are released from the body through urine and the breath. These ketones can be measured by using keto strips or by monitoring certain signs which we will discuss in a later post. For more information on ketones please see the following link –

Ketogenic diets or low carbohydrate diets are used for weight loss and provide benefits for people with a range of health problems including Obesity, Epilepsy, ADHD and Diabetes. Depending on the individual, the level of carbohydrates consumed in low carbohydrate diets for weight loss can be between 20-50g per day. You cannot consume a no carbohydrate diet as such as carbohydrates are intrinsically found in most foods, some higher than others. Potato’s (high starch/carbohydrate) verses celery (high water low carbohydrate) for example. I must admit that I didn’t count my carbohydrate intake, I just kept to list of foods that I knew were low in carbohydrate and avoided those foods that were clearly high in starch or sugar. I also utilised product labelling and nutritional panels to get a feel for the total carbohydrate level in foods and to compare product against product as they can be quite different for the same type of product. I’ll go into more detail on this in further posts.

My own experience in ketosis provided me with the following benefits

–         A higher intake of fat and protein provides a feeling of satiety and fullness and you feel less hungry between meals.
–         No need for snacking between meals. Once I had breakfast (usually 2 boiled eggs), I didn’t feel hungry at all before lunch so morning tea and afternoon tea were not a routine that I needed anymore.
–         An even level of blood sugar. I found a low carbohydrate diet helped to avoid the highs and lows experienced after eating carbohydrate heavy meals. For example, the tiredness that you can experience after eating a carbohydrate heavy lunch and the high and low cycle experienced after a sugar binge. I didn’t get the shakes if I hadn’t eaten for a while and if I couldn’t eat at lunch or dinner at my normal hour. I wasn’t getting the hunger pains which would usually find me reaching for the closest anything to satisfy my hunger.
–      I wasn’t constantly thinking about food, planning what I was going to eat or worrying about where I was going to eat my lunch or dinner.
–          I saved money as I avoided purchasing meals on the go from take-aways, fast food restaurants and bakeries. You will find low carbohydrate options at most fast food restaurants and I’ll give you my tips on these. I quit my daily coffee which also saved $4.00 a day. Add that up per month and that’s a lot of money in my pocket.
–         More energy when I was awake to keep up with the kids and when your awake you feel really awake and alert.
–           No Achne or blemishes at all. My skin was clearer and looked fresher.

–           Sleep came more easily and was deeper.
–     Blood pressure dropped, heart palpitations disappeared and my stress levels dropped.
–         As my weight dropped I was getting comments from work friends, colleagues, and other mums about how good I was looking and that made me feel great. As my self-esteem increased my general mood and outlook improved.
–         No need to spend a huge amount of money on a gym memberships that I never used.
–         No need to signup to an expensive weight loss group or a meal home delivery plan. I used that money to ensure I purchased good quality ingredients to boost my health and keep me motivated.
–         NO weighing or measuring of food, no counting carbohydrates just a simple set of guidelines on what and what not to eat. I also kept an eye on the Total Carbohydrate levels stated in the Nutritional Panels of the foods I was purchasing.
–       Increased self-control. After I’d been losing weight for a while I actually found myself looking at people in shopping centres munching down on cinnamon donuts, burgers and chips and I realised that I was feeling so fantastic about myself and my weight loss that I actually felt a little sorry for those people. Sorry that they had no idea how amazing it felt to be off sugar and refined carbohydrates. Ketosis resets your body’s sensitivity to sugar and you begin to realise just how sweet a lot of our everyday processed food and beverage products really are.

The following were the negatives that I found when being on Ketosis –
–           The “Keto Flu”. After eating a solid carbohydrate based diet for so many years, it takes your body a few days to make the changeover from burning carbohydrates into burning fat. During this period of time your body may experience flu like symptoms, ache’s, pains, tiredness, headaches etc. The most important thing is to keep in mind that these symptoms will pass in only a few days, for me it was between day 3-5. Keep on going, don’t quit so early and push on through. Within a few days you will start to feel the benefits of being in Ketosis and you will feel fantastic.
–           Constipation. This can occur when your on a low-carbohydrate diet as you are no longer getting the fibre you would from whole grains, breads and cereals. You must make sure that you are eating several salads a day. A salad based meal at least twice a day will help you consume as much insoluble fibre in vegetables as possible. Stick with your water based vegetables and keep your vegetables unpeeled wherever possible. I also recommend consuming some fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut or kimchi with your meal to help keep your gut flora balanced. We will talk about this in a later post.

As you can see, overall the good points well outweighed the few days at the beginning where you are feeling a little worse for wear. Everyone’s body is a chemistry set and every body works in it’s own way. I never purchased ketosis strips. The way I knew my body was in Ketosis, other than seeing the weight dropping off was listening to my body. After the initial few days of Ketosis flu, when I was in Ketosis it felt like I was walking on clouds, I felt light, energetic and airy. When I am off Ketosis I feel so heavy, almost like gravity is pulling down on me. You will learn by listening to your own body the signs of being in Ketosis. Some other signs include bad breath, urine smelling different, increased levels of ketones in the blood and urine (which can be tested with ketosis strips), loss of appetite and an increase in energy and focus.

If you have been going really well for a few weeks and you’re in a situation where everyone in the family wants pizza or the smell of KFC chips was just too hard to resist, it’s okay to take a break but know that if you do, you will throw yourself out of Ketosis by consuming a large intake of carbohydrate.  The good news is that whilst it will take you some time for your body to get back into Ketosis, you will get back on track. Have your meal, enjoy it while you’re having it but get back onto your low carbohydrate eating the next morning. The amount of carbohydrate that you consume in your breaks depends on how long it will take for you to get back into Ketosis. The more carbohydrate, starch and sugar you eat, the longer this process will take. After a while of being on the diet however you will feel the changes between the two states and you will know when your body has kicked back into a fat burning machine.

Copyright 2018 Food Facts for Healthy Eating

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