What Is The Difference Between Ketosis And Ketoacidosis

While there is confusion around it, we know there is a difference between Ketosis and Ketoacidosis. One is a normal and not harmful process, while the other is an extreme and dangerous condition. In this article, you are going to learn more about what they are.

What Is Ketosis?

We can define Ketosis as a natural metabolic state.

Glucose (sugar) is the preferred source of energy in normal circumstances. The body will use it to get the energy to live and perform tasks. If you cut enough carbohydrates from your diet, as it happens in a Keto Diet, your body will encounter a shortage of glucose. Not having glucose to use, the body has to switch to another fuel, fat!

Ketosis is that metabolic process where the body uses fat as an alternative fuel. In Ketosis, the body transfers the fat consumed as food and stored in our body to the liver. The liver converts this fat into Ketones. Muscles and other organs “burn” then Ketones for energy.

Ketosis can have some side effects during the period of adaptation. It also has several benefits though:

  • Fat burning, the body burns stored fat, resulting in possible weight loss
  • Better level of energy, Ketones are slow-release fuel, providing more constant energy
  • Reduced insulin level due to the reduced consumption of carbs
  • Mental clarity and focus

Ketosis can be achieved and maintained following specific macronutrients ratios.

What Is Ketoacidosis?

Diabetic Ketoacidosis is a dangerous condition experience usually by people with type 1 diabetes and in some cases by people with type 2 diabetes.

Ketoacidosis happens as a consequence of insufficient levels of insulin. Insulin normally triggers the use of glucose (sugar) for energy or storage. With an insufficient level of insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream and is not used as energy. In addition, there is an increase in Ketones production to satisfy the energy demand. An excessive concentration of Ketones in this condition can cause the blood to turn acidic.

The metabolic state of Ketoacidosis can build up over hours or days and can have some of the following symptoms:

  • Increased urination
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Mental confusion
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fruity or smelly breath
  • Dehydration

Ketoacidosis can be tested and treated.

Difference Between Ketosis And Ketoacidosis

Although the sound of Ketones can alarm you and is present in both definitions, there is a key difference between Ketosis and Ketoacidosis.

Ketosis is a metabolic state where the body uses fat for energy. This happens, transforming fat into Ketones, a source of energy.

Ketoacidosis involves the blood turning acidic due to extremely high levels of Ketones in the blood. Insufficient production of insulin is the main cause of Ketoacidosis.

The two conditions are in some way related because Ketoacidosis triggers Ketosis. A normal Ketosis is not harmful if the level of Ketones is not too high. It is also important to understand that Ketosis can also be activated without Ketoacidosis.


Despite the confusion, Ketosis and Ketoacidosis are two different things. While a normal level of Ketones (produced in Ketosis) is not harmful, extreme levels can cause Ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is more frequently experienced in people with diabetes.

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