Published on Jun 8, 2018
These three dogs represent the science and the physiology of ketosis, the three ketone bodies. We’ve got acetoacetic acid, beta-hydroxybutyric acid, and acetone.
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So, let’s get down to the science. What are ketone bodies? All ketone bodies are, are the salt breakdown of a fatty acid. So, basically, fats have to be emulsified. Fats can’t just be processed. They have to go through a whole different process in the body to actually be utilized for energy. So, when we’re in ketosis, our body is taking fat and turning the into water soluble compounds, known as ketone salts or ketone bodies.
So, in this case, we have three. Three ketone bodies, nothing more, nothing less. We have acetoacetic acid, or acetoacetate. We have beta-hydroxybutyric acid, also known as beta-hydroxybutyrate, and we have acetone, kind of like nail polish remover, but sort of not. Now, here’s the thing, two of the three of these ketone bodies are utilized by the brain in the body for energy. One of the three is just a random waste molecule that really doesn’t do a whole lot other than measure, well, the amounts of waste of ketone bodies.
So, I’m gonna get to the actual explanation of them here a second, but I wanna help you understand what is happening with the actual metabolism of ketones in the first place and how they’re created. You see, ketones are produced from acetyl coenzyme A. Now, if you remember sophomore biology class we learned about the Krebs cycle or the, or the pyruvic acid cycle, or anything like that, and you probably remember a little bit about acetyl coenzyme A. I’m gonna spare you the boring details and I’m gonna cut right to the chase. Acetyl coenzyme A enters something known as the Krebs cycle, which ultimately creates energy. That’s all you really need to know. Acetyl coenzyme A is sort of the foundation of energy.
Ketone bodies are formed from acetyl coenzyme A. And they’re formed in the mitochondrial matrix of what are called hepatic cells. That’s a fancy way of saying liver cells. So, essentially ketones are formed from acetyl coenzyme A inside the liver. This function only occurs in the absence of carbohydrates. When carbohydrates aren’t there then acetyl coenzyme A gets converted into a ketone body essentially, which ultimately turns into energy.
It’s a little bit more complicated than that. I’m gonna paraphrase it here a little bit more. A lot of it has to do with something known as oxaloacetate. The availability of oxaloacetate determines what acetyl coenzyme A ends up doing. Whether acetyl coenzyme A ends up entering the Krebs cycle and getting converted into energy itself when carbs are present, or if acetyl coenzyme A gets converted into a ketone body and then enters the bloodstream. So, basically this oxaloacetate ends up being the root that determines or dictates what ends up happening, whether we’re gonna metabolize carbs or essentially whether we’re gonna metabolize fats. It’s much more complicated than that but basically that is the fork in the road, that oxaloacetate. Then, once the process is determined and the ketone bodies are formed, those ketones leave the liver and they go throughout the body and ultimately create energy. That’s the general summary of ketones and ketosis in a nutshell.
Let’s talk about the three different ketone bodies that you know. First, acetoacetic acid, also known as acetoacetate. This is the first ketone body that is formed. After acetyl coenzyme A creates a ketone body, this is essentially what is formed.
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