Nutritional ketosis is a safe state, even in pregnancy.

Piece of Red Meat on Parchment Paper

Nutritional ketosis might be where you want to go for a variety of health reasons including weight loss, sports performance, cancer management and tight control of diabetes, particularly with women diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

Lowering carbohydrate intake will mean the body looks at the alternate fuel sources of healthy fats and protein. It takes most people a couple of weeks to transition and that can be no problem or occasionally unpleasant. For me, I had no issues at all.

Ketone levels in the blood are typically 0.5 to 3.0 mmol/L. Mine normally sit there with ease.

A confusing state is often found with pregnant women running low carb in their pregnancy for a diagnosis of gestational diabetes. They might have a routine urine test showing some ketones and the nursing/medical staff panic and want to put them on insulin.

The better option is to actually measure the blood ketone levels and monitor the blood glucose. Most of these women, and their babies, are just fine and running in nutritional ketosis.

Diabetic ketoacidosis has nothing to do with the normal healthy nutritional ketosis. Those terms are often confused by people, including doctors.

Diabetic ketoacidosis is generally restricted to people with type 1 diabetes who are sick with infection or with drug related complications. Their ketone levels in the blood stream are typically at 15 – 20 mmol/L and they are very unwell. That situation is a medical emergency and needs treatment in hospital immediately.

A parent of a child with type 1 diabetes, Paul Smith, once described to me the difference between nutritional ketosis and ketoacidosis and the confusion surrounding the similar terms.

The difference between the two was the difference between being ‘skinny’ and ‘being skinned’. Sound similar but nothing at all similar.

Here’s to a healthy, normal state of nutritional ketosis for those that want to be there, and let’s stop panicking about a normal physiological state.