When you lose weight, your body gives off substances known as ketones. These ketones can be secreted in the urine and serve as an indicator you are losing weight -- in addition to the decreasing numbers on the scale. However, ketones' presence also can indicate a more harmful condition. Knowing how to tell the difference can help you experience healthy weight-loss results.
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Ketones are a substance the body produces as a byproduct of fat metabolism, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center. When you are trying to lose weight, your body will use glucose buildup in your fat stores in order to obtain energy from your food, resulting in weight loss. In addition to being produced while weight loss occurs, ketones also are a sign of diabetes. This is because ketones also are present when the body is not able to use insulin to break down sugars in your body. This occurrence can be dangerous to your health because the ketones can spill into the urine.
Ketones produced by the body are often associated with following a low-carbohydrate diet, according to the Better Health Channel. This is because the body breaks down sugars stored in the muscles when you do not eat enough carbohydrates. While dieting in general results in the release of some ketones, those following low-carbohydrate diets are likely to release a higher number of ketones.
If your physician performs a urine test and finds your ketones to be high, it’s important to notify him you are losing weight, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center. He may recommend an additional blood test to ensure your blood-glucose levels are not high — which can be a sign of diabetes. However, dieters with high ketone levels should not experience high blood-glucose levels.
Those inside and outside the medical profession often believe excess ketones due to weight loss or a low-carbohydrate diet can cause a condition known as ketoacidosis or acidosis, according to Diabetes Health. This condition results when the body produces excess amounts of glucose, which sets off a chain reaction that can be life-threatening. However, low-carbohydrate diets themselves will not result in ketoacidosis. However, if a person has complicating factors, such as diabetes, this can increase the risk for developing ketoacidosis.
While the normal patient population is not affected by a low-carbohydrate diet that results in ketone loss, weight-loss attempts, particularly from low-carbohydrate diets, can be dangerous for pregnant women, according to the Better Health Channel. Your body also needs carbohydrates while pregnant in order to gain energy from food to nourish your baby. For this reason, you should not follow a low-carbohydrate diet while pregnant in order to avoid ketone buildup that leaks into the blood.