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Is it dangerous to continually have low-grade ketone levels in your blood?

Low-grade ketones are not a problem; it’s part of the survival system that humans have for getting through famines. We don’t have many famines nowadays, but if they’re not eating overnight, a large percent of the population is going to have ketones in their blood in the morning.

Ketones in your blood shows that you are metabolizing your own fats. One of the purposes of fat is for survival, to help you out in a pinch. Your body converts fat to ketones, and the ketones help keep the brain alive. Ketones also provide energy to your heart.

The combination of high ketones and high blood sugar are potentially dangerous because you can become very dehydrated. The kidneys are efficient at peeing away glucose, and they also pee away ketones, so you are losing water. If you diminish your blood volume enough to cause dehydration, you will not be delivering insulin and glucose to your peripheral tissues, and you won’t respond to the insulin that you inject, because it’s not getting to the target. 

So, what makes high ketones and high glucose together dangerous is the effect it has on hydration. However, benign dietary ketosis is not dangerous if you have enough insulin to cover the fasting state, so that blood sugars do not increase.


Richard K. Bernstein, MD is one of the most knowledgeable,
committed and successful pioneers in the field of diabetes today.  He invented blood sugar self-monitoring  and basal/bolus insulin dosing, when he was an engineer.

Dr. B is Director Emeritus of the Peripheral vascular Disease Clinic of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. His private medical Practice in Mamaroneck N. Y. specializes in treating diabetes and obesity.
 He is a physician, research scientist, thriving Type 1 for  67 years, and
best-selling author of nine  diabetes books including Diabetes  Solution , The Diabetes Diet and several E-books. This link <>will give you more information about his publications. To  sign up for his free monthly tele seminars,  visit <>.

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