Ketones Turn on Uncoupling

July 10, 2022

Ketones Turn on Uncoupling

Your body has two fuel sources. Carbohydrates and fat. You could add protein but generally speaking, protein is used for muscle building and extra is broken down into glucose. If you have any carbohydrates (glucose) around, your body will naturally default to running on that first. Here is the catch. You only can store 1500 calories of carbohydrates. Every pound of fat is 3500 calories and given that the average woman is 30 percent fat, she has 40-50 pounds of fat or 140,000 calories of fat. That is the reserve she needs to make it through winter, pregnant.

Back to carbs. When we eat a meal, we fill up our carb tank first. That gives us about a 12-hour fuel source during which our body burns glucose exclusively. You can prove that for yourself by measuring your own ketones. Ketone meters are widely available (Keto-Mojo is on Amazon). They measure beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB). Six hours after a meal, your BHB level is zero. Twelve hours, it is 0.1. Sixteen hours, 0.4. Almost like clockwork. If you do "intermittent fasting" and skip breakfast, thereby going 16 hours with no food, your BHB will start to climb as your body begins to switch over from glucose/carbs to fat. If you do a 5-day, fast mimicking diet of 800 vegan calories, <8% protein, and 50% fat, your ketones will keep rising until by day 5 you are at 4.0. If you eat three meals a day, 5-6 hours apart, you will never have any ketones in your blood.  Never. 

That's what civilization has done for us. By giving us "food security", and manufacturing delicious, prepared carbs in easy packages, we eat meals three times a day with sufficient carbs in them to always have a topped-off tank of carbohydrates, and never ever burn off our glycogen/carb stores.  So we never access our fat stores.

Inside our cells, our peroxisomes never get challenged to chop up fat and make ketones. Because of that, they wither. Literally. Without any demand to make ketones, the peroxisome doesn't petition the nucleus of your cell for the enzymes it needs to make ketones. The effect of that is easy to measure. You go on a "diet" and cut down on calories. But you are unable to burn fat. Your glucose declines and you become hypoglycemic. Without any fuel around, your brain goes into panic mode and you feel awful. You have to eat. Your diet fails.

You want ketones. Their presence means you are burning fat. But ketones are much, much more than that. They turn on uncoupling of your mitochondria. That means they induce your mitochondria to burn some calories as heat. Suddenly, you aren't just burning fat, and losing some weight. But the fat you are burning is being used as heat, so you are getting an extra 20-30% boost in fat usage. So much for the adage, "A calorie is a calorie is a calorie". And ketones act as very powerful hormones on many tissues in your body. They turn on the messages for your mitochondria to multiply. That means you can make more energy and burn more calories. That heat production is mediated through "uncoupling proteins" that basically let extra high energy proteins escape the mitochondria by giving up their energy as heat instead of making ATP fuel.

Why would they do that? Think back to 10,000 years ago, before agriculture. You are huddling in a cave in November in Europe (Or China, or India, or Peru), the beginning of winter. There has been a frost and all the plants you used to munch on are dead. You only have animals for food. (It could be Africa, at the beginning of the dry season. Again, no plants for the next 4-5 months.) You need to make heat to keep you warm. You are eating the fat from the animals you catch. Your body senses the lack of plant foods, carbs. You start pulling on your stored fat stores and putting out ketones. That turns on uncoupling protein and that makes you warmer. The teleological explanation makes perfect sense for a hunter-gatherer. Our planet Earth was much, much colder for some 100,000 years during the ice ages. We needed to stay warm to survive.

But you want to lose weight and you are trapped by feeling too awful when you cut your calories. Now you know why you feel awful. You need to induce your cells to learn how to burn fat into ketones. Not only that, you want to supercharge your mitochondria and burn some extra calories as heat.  You can't do it all at once. It takes a week or so to turn on the cellular messaging from your peroxisomes, your ketone manufacturing organelles, to your nucleus and get the mRNA back to manufacture your necessary enzymes. And as you do that, you make brown fat. Brown fat is fat cells full of mitochondria, uncoupled, and making heat. A calorie is now being burned for heat.....sort of like in your home. You can use energy to make electricity or heat. Carbs make electricity, but you also need heat, and uncoupled mitochondria, brown fat, make heat. You lose weight.

www.What will Work for me. I'm trying to explain this concept from several angles so that I get the concept in my head. I learn better when I have a lot of various angles to get a better handle on the idea. My current fascination is with ketones from ketone esters. Eating ketone esters routinely blunts your appetite while turning on uncoupling. The price of ketone esters has just dropped 75% so they are now almost affordable. Juvenescence is much cheaper than KetoneAid (the first on the market). This may mean you don't have to starve to get your uncoupling, you just have to have ketones around. Instead of not eating to get BHB, you can just swig some ketone esters. I'm going to try that for a couple of weeks, 4 times a day: one capful. See what happens.

References: FASEB Journal, FASEB Journal, Annals of Neurology, Obesity, Keto-Mojo,

Pop Quiz

1. Your body makes ketones every day, naturally. T or F. Answer: Trick question. It would if you went more than 12 hours without food but in America today, we never go 12 hours. We eat every 8 hours. So, False. True if you intentionally skip breakfast.

2. How many calories of glucose can you store? Answer: 1500.

3. If you skip breakfast and don't eat for 14 hours, how certain are you that ketones will be in your blood? Answer: 100%

4. Ketones in your blood means what? Answer: You are beginning to switch over to burning fat. Aka, losing weight.

5. Ketones do what to fat tissue? Answer: they act as a hormone and turn on the multiplication of mitochondria, changing white fat to brown fat, chock full of mitochondria and burning fuel to make heat. That gives you a 20-30% boost in your calorie consumption. Helping you lose weight faster.