Ketone Body Metabolism

Ketone body metabolism

updated 3/23/20

Humans and dogs vary greatly between the measurable amount of serum ketone levels we can test with a blood reading. But it may be inaccurate to say that “dogs produce less ketones than humans”

So are dogs producing LESS ketones than our human counterparts? or are dogs simply utilizing the ketones more efficiently than humans and we’re just not seeing them sitting “stagnate” in the blood which reflects a lower serum ketone reading in our dogs when we test them? you have to remember, if the body/muscles/tissues/cells are utilizing the ketones , we wouldn’t expect to see higher levels of ketones in the blood because they’re being used, if anything we’d expect to see lower ketone readings because the ketones aren’t just sitting in the blood , they are being utilized by the body. which is explained further in this article.

Personally, I think dog’s are simply USING and utilizing the ketones more efficiently than humans. And another part of my reasoning for this is how muscles and mitochondria differ between humans and dogs.

Dog’s have up to 70% more mitochondria than humans¹. yes, you read that right, 70.
So why does this matter? well, the mitochondria are coined as the powerhouse of the cell “an organelle found in large numbers in most cells, in which the biochemical processes of respiration and energy production occur”, so if dog’s have 70% more mitochondria than humans, perhaps this can help explain why we may see lower measurable blood levels of ketones in dogs. But just because the blood levels of ketones may be lower than their human counterparts, doesn’t necessarily mean the dog is producing LESS ketones, but perhaps their bodies are just utilizing them more efficiently than humans and they aren’t just sitting in the blood being “unused”.

“The main job of the mitochondria is to perform cellular respiration. This means it takes in nutrients from the cell, breaks it down, and turns it into energy.”

And, the more a dog or human exercise’s the more the number of mitochondria increases along with MCT transporters which we’ll talk about in the next part below. So an increase in exercise is another reason we can expect to see serum blood ketone readings to start lowering as a dog or human starts exercising more.

More reasons we may see, or could expect ketone levels to start lowering the longer a ketogenic diet is utilized-

Might a more active dog or person see lower serum ketone reading than a less active dog or person?

picture of dog and bicycle with ketone and glucose meter readings verifying ketosis in dog
Blood reading verifying ketosis

 My dog Emie has always been a very active dog. Whether she’s out running with me on the trails while I mountain bike, swimming in the pool, or hiking. She has always been extremely active. And we’ve never really seen very high ketone readings in her blood testing and it always stressed me out thinking that something was wrong that her ketone levels just never seemed to be high.

Shortly after we began feeding keto, The highest measurable reading I’ve had with her while on a 2:1 ketogenic ratio was .6mmol but it’s more common to find her ketones to be around .2mmol which isn’t all that high but the following information may shed some light on how ketone readings can vary and why they can vary from dog to dog, human to human etc.

MonoCarboxylic Acid Transporters (MCT transporters) are what transport ketones into the bodies tissues and the rate at which ketones are taken into the bodies Cells depends on how available MCT Transporters are and the number of MCT transporters varies from individual to individual, and dog to dog etc.

So if there is an abundance of MCT transporters we may expect to see lower measurable ketone readings in the blood compared to a situation where the individual or dog has LESS MCT transporters. The lower amount of transporters, the higher the concentration of measurable ketones in the blood. And we may expect to see lower blood ketone levels as the number of MCT transporters increase the longer a ketogenic diet is being used.

Exercise also increases the uptake of Ketones
“our bodies can increase MCT transporters in order to allow more ketones to be taken up into the cells. one way to do so is to increase exercise. Exercise boosts the body’s capacity to utilize ketones and take them up into skeletal muscle due to the fact that lactate, which is produced during exercise, and ketones both use MCT transporters. When exercising, the lactic acid that is built up in your muscles is also cleared by MCT transporters. Thus, exercise itself may cause the amount of MCT transporters to increase. Therefore the more physically active you are the more MCT transporters you are likely to have. This is why individuals who are fit, lean, or exercising tend to see lower plasma levels of ketones than obese and/or sedentary individuals. Their ketones are more efficiently transported from the bloodstream into the cells. Thus it is important to keep in mind that blood ketone levels may no the the most accurate indication of your level of ketosis” – source: The ketogenic bible Dr.Jacob Wilson & Ryan Lowery. PhD

info cited: ¹
dogs have more mitochondria than humans-

Iditarod sled dogs’ fat burning capabilities


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