There are numerous benefits that come with being on keto: from weight loss and increased energy levels to therapeutic medical applications. Most anyone can safely benefit from eating a low-carb, high-fat diet. Below, you’ll find a short list of the benefits you can receive from a ketogenic diet. For a more comprehensive list, you can also read our in-depth article here >
Ketosis is an option for many people with type 2 diabetes because they still produce insulin, which helps their body maintain a safe level of ketones in the blood. If you’re considering trying ketosis or the ketogenic diet with type 2 diabetes, be sure to consult your healthcare provider first to ensure it’s safe for you. This eating approach may interfere with some types of diabetes medication or be inappropriate for you if you have certain diabetes complications, such as kidney damage.
Remember how important it is to measure ketone blood levels accurately? Same goes for food tracking. A food tracking app, like MyFitnessPal, provides insight into macronutrient intake and thus the ability to tweak the diet to achieve ketosis. Tracking diet (inputs) and measuring ketones levels (outputs) delivers the best shot at optimizing the keto diet plan.
Decades later, when low carb became the best thing since sliced bread, people were calling it the Air Force Diet and the Drinking Man’s; Atkins and Paleo; Comet and Cupid. Then, in 2016, podcaster and MMA commentator Joe Rogan discussed keto once on his show and his loyal following of fitness enthusiasts and life optimizers took it and ran (especially in the mornings, to increase fat burning during the fasting state).
In the US especially, coconut oil and MCT oil manufacturers are legally allowed to claim that lauric acid is an MCT because chemists named it that way, even though it does not act like other true biological MCT oils. If you are relying on plain coconut oil or “MCT-labeled” oil to get enough useful MCTs, think again and check the label: odds are you’re getting very few of the potent, ketogenic shorter chain MCTs (also known as “C8” and “C10”), and instead getting mostly cheaper but ineffective lauric acid.
Conklin's fasting therapy was adopted by neurologists in mainstream practice. In 1916, a Dr McMurray wrote to the New York Medical Journal claiming to have successfully treated epilepsy patients with a fast, followed by a starch- and sugar-free diet, since 1912. In 1921, prominent endocrinologist Henry Rawle Geyelin reported his experiences to the American Medical Association convention. He had seen Conklin's success first-hand and had attempted to reproduce the results in 36 of his own patients. He achieved similar results despite only having studied the patients for a short time. Further studies in the 1920s indicated that seizures generally returned after the fast. Charles P. Howland, the parent of one of Conklin's successful patients and a wealthy New York corporate lawyer, gave his brother John Elias Howland a gift of $5,000 to study "the ketosis of starvation". As professor of paediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital, John E. Howland used the money to fund research undertaken by neurologist Stanley Cobb and his assistant William G. Lennox.
After initiation, the child regularly visits the hospital outpatient clinic where they are seen by the dietitian and neurologist, and various tests and examinations are performed. These are held every three months for the first year and then every six months thereafter. Infants under one year old are seen more frequently, with the initial visit held after just two to four weeks. A period of minor adjustments is necessary to ensure consistent ketosis is maintained and to better adapt the meal plans to the patient. This fine-tuning is typically done over the telephone with the hospital dietitian and includes changing the number of calories, altering the ketogenic ratio, or adding some MCT or coconut oils to a classic diet. Urinary ketone levels are checked daily to detect whether ketosis has been achieved and to confirm that the patient is following the diet, though the level of ketones does not correlate with an anticonvulsant effect. This is performed using ketone test strips containing nitroprusside, which change colour from buff-pink to maroon in the presence of acetoacetate (one of the three ketone bodies).
You need to do a “common man’s” version of a good ketogenic nutrition program or discussion. Great article, and I leaned a few things. Those Ketone Salts and other supplements can get pricey. I eat a very low carb and high fat diet and meander in and out of ketosis during the week. A pure ketogenic diet is so restrictive that meals it can get very repetitive during the week. I’d like to learn more about cooking with oils and how temperature effects their qualities. I can only handle eating so much raw food, and I love to cook my greens and other vegetables in bacon fat and coconut oil. It will be next May before I can get my blood work performed (insurance reasons) so until then I’ll need to be careful and hold back on those after supper dark chocolate excursions! Thanks!!
C8 is the rarest MCT found in coconut oil, comprising about 6% of coconut oil. It has potent anti-microbial properties (way more potent than lauric acid) to help you maintain a healthy gut, and it is the fastest MCT to metabolize in the brain. (hence the name Brain Octane). Your liver does not need to process C8, and it only takes the steps for your body to turn it into ATP cellular energy (sugar takes 26 steps). You would need 18 tablespoons of coconut oil to get just one tablespoon of Brain Octane.
Keto breath, on the other hand, is less of a side-effect and more of a harmless inconvenience (your breath literally smells like nail polish remover). Basically, when your body breaks down all that extra fat on the keto diet, it produces ketones—one of which is the chemical acetone, Keatley previously told WomensHealthMag.com. (Yes, the same stuff that's in nail polish remover.)
Let’s meditate for a second. Close your eyes. What do you see when you picture yourself on keto? Naturally, carb deprivation has carved out Michelangelo's David from your block of pudgy carrara marble. You have so much more energy now, thanks to the chunk of grass-fed butter (or ghee!) you’ve slid into your morning coffee. You're so spry, in fact, that you’re considering investing in bitcoin even though you’re late to the game, or writing a novel even though you don’t read, or getting into a relationship just because you’re overwhelmed by the trove of eligible suitors now bashfully small-smiling at you on public transport.
Before I highly suggest that you don’t purge your bread products, I’m going to play devil’s cautious-and-hardly-audible advocate and say, yes, drastically cutting carb and sugar intake can have health benefits: it can increase levels of good cholesterol, reduce blood sugar, and all that stuff. But you can accomplish these same goals by, for example, replacing Wonder bread with a healthier carb. There's no need to side-eye the croutons your server forgot to omit like they’re a physical manifestation of the Seven Deadly Sins.
If you’ve never heard of rhubarb, it might be time to broaden your palate. Rhubarb tastes tart, and you can enjoy it raw, roasted, or puréed in a small, low-carb smoothie or moderate portion of sauce. A ½-cup serving contains about 1.7 g of net carbs and only about 13 calories. Rhubarb also has 176 mg of potassium (3.7 percent DV), 62 international units (IU) of vitamin A (1.2 percent DV), 4.9 mg of vitamin C (8.2 percent DV), and 52 mg of calcium (5.2 percent DV). Just remember to remove the leaves before eating, as they can be toxic in large amounts.
The original therapeutic diet for paediatric epilepsy provides just enough protein for body growth and repair, and sufficient calories[Note 1] to maintain the correct weight for age and height. The classic therapeutic ketogenic diet was developed for treatment of paediatric epilepsy in the 1920s and was widely used into the next decade, but its popularity waned with the introduction of effective anticonvulsant medications. This classic ketogenic diet contains a 4:1 ratio by weight of fat to combined protein and carbohydrate. This is achieved by excluding high-carbohydrate foods such as starchy fruits and vegetables, bread, pasta, grains, and sugar, while increasing the consumption of foods high in fat such as nuts, cream, and butter. Most dietary fat is made of molecules called long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). However, medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)—made from fatty acids with shorter carbon chains than LCTs—are more ketogenic. A variant of the classic diet known as the MCT ketogenic diet uses a form of coconut oil, which is rich in MCTs, to provide around half the calories. As less overall fat is needed in this variant of the diet, a greater proportion of carbohydrate and protein can be consumed, allowing a greater variety of food choices.
About 20% of children on the ketogenic diet achieve freedom from seizures, and many are able to reduce the use of anticonvulsant drugs or eliminate them altogether. Commonly, at around two years on the diet, or after six months of being seizure-free, the diet may be gradually discontinued over two or three months. This is done by lowering the ketogenic ratio until urinary ketosis is no longer detected, and then lifting all calorie restrictions. This timing and method of discontinuation mimics that of anticonvulsant drug therapy in children, where the child has become seizure-free. When the diet is required to treat certain metabolic diseases, the duration will be longer. The total diet duration is up to the treating ketogenic diet team and parents; durations up to 12 years have been studied and found beneficial.
Sleep enough – for most people at least seven hours per night on average – and keep stress under control. Sleep deprivation and stress hormones raise blood sugar levels, slowing ketosis and weight loss a bit. Plus they might make it harder to stick to a keto diet, and resist temptations. So while handling sleep and stress will not get you into ketosis on it’s own, it’s still worth thinking about.
As a matter of fact, from a pure biology perspective, lauric acid should actually be considered a LCT, because unlike C8 and C10 forms of MCT, lauric acid gets processed by your liver. This matters because your body metabolizes MCT’s differently than LCT’s: unlike LCT’s, MCT’s get very quickly converted into ketone energy to fuel your brain and body instead of requiring a pit stop in the liver for processing.
One proposed benefit of the ketogenic diet is that you may lose more weight compared with other diets. One study of 17 obese men found that a high-protein, low-carb ketogenic diet over a four-week period helped reduce hunger, resulting in lower food intake and more weight loss compared with a high-protein, medium-carbohydrate nonketogenic diet. (3)
The difference between ketosis and ketoacidosis is the level of ketones in the blood. Ketosis is a physiological adaptation to a low carbohydrate environment like fasting or a ketogenic diet. There are situations (such as treatment-resistant epilepsy) where ketosis can be beneficial to health. Ketoacidosis is an acute life-threatening state requiring prompt medical intervention; its most common form is diabetic ketoacidosis where both glucose and ketone levels are significantly elevated.
Hi Ben, great article. I have been a keto-adapted athlete for over 2 years, all through nutrition (65/25/10). I have recently discovered UCAN, KetoOS and MAP Aminos. So, here’s my question: If I am going out for a 4-hour ride, and I want to fuel myself just on these supplements and my body’s natural fat stores, how and in what order should I take them? If I take them all together, will the aminos in the KetoOS interfere with MAP Aminos? Or should I just make a mix of the UCAN and KetoOS in 10oz of water and use it to wash back my 6 MAP tablets, 15-mins before my ride? Thanks for your advice!
^ Yiu H. Hui (February 1985). Principles and issues in nutrition. Wadsworth Health Sciences Division. p. 91. Retrieved 2014-05-19. Eskimos actually consume more carbohydrates than most nutritionists have assumed. Because Eskimos frequently eat their meat raw and frozen, they take in more glycogen than a person purchasing meat with a lower glycogen content in a grocery store. The Eskimo practice of preserving a whole seal or bird carcass under an intact whole skin with a thick layer of blubber also permits some proteins to ferment into carbohydrates.
There are many misconceptions about ketosis. The most common is mixing it up with ketoacidosis – a rare and dangerous medical condition that mostly happen to people with type 1 diabetes if they don’t take insulin. Even some health care professionals tend to mix up these two situations somewhat, perhaps due to the similar names and a lack of knowledge about the distinct differences.
Thanks for all of the great info!! I have Hashimoto’s and would really like to try a high fat/low carb diet. You mentioned that this might not be a good option for people with thyroid issues. How do you recommend I modify my diet to lose weight taking into consideration the Hashimoto’s. I take Westhroid, a non-synthetic thyroid supplement to help with my sluggish thyroid. Thanks so much for any advice you can give me. :)
If you are already in ketosis and accustomed to high-fat, low-carb diets, you can take one heaping scoop in about eight ounces of water fifteen minutes prior to working out. It stays in your system and will provide your body with elevated ketone levels for about three hours. When taken as a pre-workout, KetoCaNa has also been shown to decrease the amount of oxygen consumed at a given power output.
In 1921, Rollin Turner Woodyatt reviewed the research on diet and diabetes. He reported that three water-soluble compounds, β-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate, and acetone (known collectively as ketone bodies), were produced by the liver in otherwise healthy people when they were starved or if they consumed a very low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. Dr. Russell Morse Wilder, at the Mayo Clinic, built on this research and coined the term "ketogenic diet" to describe a diet that produced a high level of ketone bodies in the blood (ketonemia) through an excess of fat and lack of carbohydrate. Wilder hoped to obtain the benefits of fasting in a dietary therapy that could be maintained indefinitely. His trial on a few epilepsy patients in 1921 was the first use of the ketogenic diet as a treatment for epilepsy.
In the mid-1990s, Hollywood producer Jim Abrahams, whose son's severe epilepsy was effectively controlled by the diet, created the Charlie Foundation to promote it. Publicity included an appearance on NBC's Dateline programme and ...First Do No Harm (1997), a made-for-television film starring Meryl Streep. The foundation sponsored a multicentre research study, the results of which—announced in 1996—marked the beginning of renewed scientific interest in the diet.
3 years ago I was 500 pounds at my absolute worst. Went through a traumatic experience when I was 17 and afterwards the weight just seemed to add on over the years. I'd always been a big guy but it got really bad. Decided to start the keto diet after looking into healthier lifestyles and fast forward two years later (with intermittent fasting and gym training) I had lost 260 pounds. I kept under 1200 calories a day and the best feeling was not constantly being hungry. The last year has been more of a maintenance but with keto cycling.
The ketogenic diet is not a benign, holistic, or natural treatment for epilepsy; as with any serious medical therapy, complications may result. These are generally less severe and less frequent than with anticonvulsant medication or surgery. Common but easily treatable short-term side effects include constipation, low-grade acidosis, and hypoglycaemia if an initial fast is undertaken. Raised levels of lipids in the blood affect up to 60% of children and cholesterol levels may increase by around 30%. This can be treated by changes to the fat content of the diet, such as from saturated fats towards polyunsaturated fats, and if persistent, by lowering the ketogenic ratio. Supplements are necessary to counter the dietary deficiency of many micronutrients.
In other words, I personally found that while following “strict ketosis”, things became eerily similar to the days in college when I was a competitive bodybuilder pursuing sub-3% body fat percentages. I simply wasn’t the most fun guy to hang out with in social situations due to my extreme dietary restrictions, the intense self-control became nearly exhausting, and when I traveled, I missed out on many culinary experiences, such as homemade ravioli in Rome, freshly baked crostinis in the Basque regions of Spain, and Korean rice bowls in Seoul.
In the first week, many people report headaches, mental fogginess, dizziness, and aggravation. Most of the time, this is the result of your electrolytes being flushed out, as ketosis has a diuretic effect. Make sure you drink plenty of water and keep your sodium intake up.6One of the fathers of keto, Dr. Phinney, shows that electrolyte levels (especially sodium) can become unbalanced with low carb intake.