The Role of Insulin

Insulin, a hormone crucial in regulating blood glucose levels and energy metabolism, plays a significant role in the context of the ketogenic diet. Understanding the function of insulin is essential for maintaining a state of ketosis, as it directly influences the body’s ability to use and produce ketone bodies as an alternative fuel source.

Produced by the pancreas’ beta cells, insulin is released in response to elevated blood glucose levels after a meal. Insulin binds to receptors on various cells, including those in the liver, muscles, and adipose tissue, signaling them to absorb glucose from the bloodstream for energy or storage. Additionally, insulin plays a critical part in lipid metabolism by promoting the storage of excess glucose as glycogen in the liver and muscle tissue, or as fat in adipose tissue when glycogen stores are full.

In a ketogenic diet, carbohydrate intake is significantly reduced, causing a decrease in glucose levels and, consequently, insulin levels. Lower insulin levels trigger the release of stored fatty acids from adipose tissue, which are transported to the liver and converted into ketone bodies through a process called ketogenesis. This state of ketosis allows the body to use ketone bodies as an alternative fuel source when glucose is scarce.