When the body releases lipid, or fats, from its fat stores a process known as lipolysis happens. The simple definition of lipolysis is “fat splitting” and when it occurs fats are broken down into glycerol and fatty acids. Many of the major organs such as the liver, heart and resting skeletal muscles prefer fatty acids and glycerol as their primary energy source and they get these as they are released into the blood stream.
Lipolysis is a function of fat metabolism, which is of importance to anyone trying to lose weight. How much fat one carries around is simply based on the number of calories one takes in compared to how many they burn each day. So the amount of fat one carries around is based primarily on the amount of carbohydrates they eat per day. The majority of people who are attempting to lose weight immediately start out on the cutting calorie route. They consume fewer carbohydrates, which on the surface seems like a good idea, only to have their metabolism slow and their lipolysis process altered.
The problems begin when someone trying to lose eight begins to decrease the amount of calories they intake. When carbohydrate intake is diminished there is an acceleration of the lipolysis process and a slow down of metabolism because the body’s energy needs require the use of stored fat. In the world of weight loss this is good, after all getting rid of excess body fat is a good thing, right?
But what happens when the intrepid dieter takes in to few carbohydrates? A chemical process that can have life threatening affects. Acetyl CoA (acetyl coenzyme A) is dependent on how much oxaloacetic acid is available to work as a pickup molecule to transport the acetyl CoA to begin the Krebs cycle, which is an important part of the metabolic process. Because the body is experiencing a carbohydrate deficiency much of the oxaloacetic acid is converted to glucose to supply the brain with the energy it needs. This conversion of oxaloacetic acid to glucose results in a supply deficit of oxaloacetic acid.
This creates a problem in that the fat oxidation process cannot be completed because of the lack of oxaloacetic acid. When this happens ketogenesis begins to start. This is a process where the liver begins to create ketones from acetyl CoA that are then released into the blood stream. As more ketones are released into the blood a condition known as ketosis begins. Ketosis is common in people who are starving, people who are diabetics and also those who eat to few carbohydrates because of weight loss regimens or eating disorders.
Most ketones are organic acids which as they build up lead to a condition called metabolic acidosis. A build up of acid in the blood causes a blood PH drop because the body is unable to buffer the acid and remove it from the blood stream fast enough. If ketosis is left untreated it can quickly lead to a coma or even death as the blood PH continues to drop and the central nervous system is depressed.
Lipolysis is tied to the metabolism of the body in many ways. By eating a healthy sensible diet that provides an adequate amount of carbohydrates the chances any one suffering from ketosis is minor, but it is important to realize that starving oneself for the sake of weight loss may create health issues far more dangerous then carrying a few extra pounds.