"But plenty of people have dietary restrictions," you say. And you're right. Plenty of people have allergic reactions or seizures if they don’t restrict their diets -- that’s why you don’t often find someone allergic to peanut butter spooning a jar of smooth Skippy at midnight to get that fix. Diets are largely psychological; there must be a big, sustainable answer to why am I dieting? And fear of dying is, obviously, a lifelong motivator.
Ben – curious about your thoughts on this. I went into ketosis (using LOTS of coconut oil) but it raised my cholesterol and doc was worried about my lp(a) level (17mg/dL on VAP) even though crp was 0.5, trigs 51 and a1c was 5.2. Advised a low fat diet. Have you seen this before with folks on a lchf/ketosis diet and is there anything to be concerned about? Off to read your coconut oil article. Thank you!
Note: Because you'll be excluding some major food groups on the keto diet (grains, many fruits) you should definitely think about taking a multivitamin—especially one that contains folic acid, which helps your body make new cells and is often found in enriched breads, cereals, and other grain products, says Julie Upton, R.D., cofounder of nutrition website Appetite for Health.
A study with an intent-to-treat prospective design was published in 1998 by a team from the Johns Hopkins Hospital[20] and followed-up by a report published in 2001.[21] As with most studies of the ketogenic diet, no control group (patients who did not receive the treatment) was used. The study enrolled 150 children. After three months, 83% of them were still on the diet, 26% had experienced a good reduction in seizures, 31% had had an excellent reduction, and 3% were seizure-free.[Note 7] At 12 months, 55% were still on the diet, 23% had a good response, 20% had an excellent response, and 7% were seizure-free. Those who had discontinued the diet by this stage did so because it was ineffective, too restrictive, or due to illness, and most of those who remained were benefiting from it. The percentage of those still on the diet at two, three, and four years was 39%, 20%, and 12%, respectively. During this period, the most common reason for discontinuing the diet was because the children had become seizure-free or significantly better. At four years, 16% of the original 150 children had a good reduction in seizure frequency, 14% had an excellent reduction, and 13% were seizure-free, though these figures include many who were no longer on the diet. Those remaining on the diet after this duration were typically not seizure-free, but had had an excellent response.[21][22]
^ Freeman JM, Vining EP, Pillas DJ, Pyzik PL, Casey JC, Kelly LM. The efficacy of the ketogenic diet—1998: a prospective evaluation of intervention in 150 children. Pediatrics. 1998 Dec;102(6):1358–63. doi:10.1542/peds.102.6.1358. PMID 9832569. https://web.archive.org/web/20040629224858/http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/press/1998/DECEMBER/981207.HTM Lay summary]—JHMI Office of Communications and Public Affairs. Updated 7 December 1998. Cited 6 March 2008.
I asked a few former keto dieters what their experience was like. My friend Anthony said he lost a ton of weight because he was no longer allowed to have basically anything unhealthy he had previously enjoyed, which ties back to “low rule complexity.” But he eventually stopped losing weight, started craving the foods he’d removed, and was nervous he’d gain weight again without these restrictions. A former professor of mine found herself in a state of general malaise that never passed (more on that later), and felt much more energetic overall when she dropped the diet.

“To achieve the relatively high rates of intake (up to 90 grams/hour) needed to optimize results in events lasting longer than three hours, athletes should practice consuming carbohydrates during training to develop an individual strategy, and should make use of sport foods and drinks containing carbohydrate combinations that will maximize absorption from the gut and minimize gastrointestinal disturbances.”
The same goes for people with type 2 diabetes. While some preliminary research suggests the keto diet may be safe and effective for certain people with type 2 diabetes, there’s still the risk for low blood sugar, especially for those on insulin, and the keto diet omits certain food groups known to benefit those with this disease. For example, a study published in September 2016 in the journal Nutrients highlights the importance of whole grains for helping to control weight as well as episodes of high blood sugar. Whole grains are off-limits on the ketogenic diet.

Carbohydrates are necessary for the conversion of inactive thyroid hormone to active thyroid hormone, and if you’re on an extremely strict low carbohydrate diet, then you may actually be limiting this conversion. Your TSH is what tells your thyroid gland to “release more hormone,” so your TSH rises when your thyroid gland is underactive, or conversion of inactive to active thyroid hormone is inadequate. A high TSH means that the pituitary gland is releasing its hormone to try to get the thyroid to respond and produce more thyroid hormone. Because of inadequate carbohydrates, TSH will often elevate in a high-fat, low-carber – indicating potential for long-term thyroid and metabolic damage.
So I was following a ketogenic plan for the past month in an effort to lose about 4-5% body fat and try to turn down the inflammation in my body to help with my hashimotos and psoriasis. I don’t eat meat, so it was ALOT of eggs (from the farmers market), primal mayo, wild caught salmon and cold smoked lox (vital choice), brain octane oil, coconut oil, avocado oil with VERY little carbs…like 85% fat, 10% protein and 5% TOTAL carbs. I was eating about 1100-1200cal per day and BELOW 18g TOTAL carbs…Couldn’t get above .6 in AM fasted blood ketones or below 80 fasted blood sugar. I do 90min of Ashtanga yoga (primary and half of second series) 5 days a week and 20-30min weight/HIIT style workouts about 3-4 days per week (Kettlebell, jump rope, plyometrics and free weights). I take Concentrac Trace Minerals along with my d3/k2, l-carnitine, l-glutamine, forskollei, green pastures butter/cod liver oil and probiotics. I have been at the Bulletproof Conference this weekend and I bought the new Bulletproof exogenous Ketones to try.
A small Feb. 20, 2017, study looked at the impact of a six-week ketogenic diet on physical fitness and body composition in 42 healthy adults. The study, published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism, found a mildly negative impact on physical performance in terms of endurance capacity, peak power and faster exhaustion. Overall, researchers concluded, “Our findings lead us to assume that a [ketogenic diet] does not impact physical fitness in a clinically relevant manner that would impair activities of daily living and aerobic training.” The “significant” weight loss of about 4.4 pounds, on average, did not affect muscle mass or function.
Other research further supports the potential benefits of this diet. For example, preliminary studies link following the keto diet to reduced symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. (4) Previous research suggests it may also help reverse metabolic syndrome, manage Parkinson’s disease, has been proven to help control seizures in children with epilepsy, and, according to the results of a small pilot study, may potentially even improve symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). (5, 6, 7)
Ben. I do not read epidemiological studies anymore… Just biology. There are plenty of examples of traditional cultures consuming high carb (and high fat) without any of the health issues those studies in your article claim. So either high fat or high carb both work if done properly… AND in the right environment. Both are ancestral not just one of the two and have posit and negat because it has to do with the climate and environment around. I do not listen to anybody that pushes JUST one because they are ignoring the reality. I hope you join this "common sense" wagon.
Ketones are a special type of fat that can stimulate the pathways that enhance the growth of new neural networks in the brain. A ketogenic diet is one that is high in fats, and this diet has been a tool of researchers for years, used notably in a 2005 study on Parkinson’s patients finding an improvement in symptoms after just 28 days. The improvements were on par with those made possible via medication and brain surgery. Other research has shown the ketogenic diet to be remarkably effective in treating some forms of epilepsy, and even brain tumors.
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. :)
I tried a lot of shit to get thin. I used to eat exactly seven almonds to stave off hunger before bed. I finished my last meal at 4pm and my breakfast at noon. I passed on croutons. I worshipped fitness influencers so much that my ex photoshopped a photo of Tim Ferriss and I cooking together. I swore by kettlebelling. I peed on test strips at the drug test clinic I worked at to measure my ketone levels. I put MCT oil and butter in my coffee and avoided bread for nearly three years. I thought about making an Instagram of myself dumbbell lunging on a weight bench with the reps in the description. To some people, I was #goals.
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.[10] 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.[10]
Thank you for this article as it cleared up a bunch of stuff for me. I started trying to get into ketosis back in August and lost 20lbs in about 6 weeks. Then it all stopped but had another 20lbs I wanted to loose. I had a hard time staying in ketosis and gave up about a week ago with the holidays approaching. Anyways I glazed over all the technical and science facts as it makes my head spin and might of missed it but my only question is what is the food portion of the diet like? The drinks are the easy part, do you have a diet plan that is good for someone that hits the gym hard 4-5 days a week for and hour and half. 45 min weights and 30-45 min cardio? It’s what I struggle with most the food and what attracted me to a ketogenic diet in the first place is eating 1 or 2 meals a day and being satisfied.

Lemons are also keto-friendly, so go ahead and add a spritz of lemon juice to your ice water. One typical lemon wedge has about 0.5  g of net carbohydrates and only 0.2 g of sugar. The fruit also offers  3.7 mg of vitamin C, which is 6.2 percent of the DV. Lemon water contains antioxidants that fight free radicals, and it also promotes healthy digestion, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
What about fruits and vegetables? All fruits are rich in carbs, but you can have certain fruits (usually berries) in small portions. Vegetables (also rich in carbs) are restricted to leafy greens (such as kale, Swiss chard, spinach), cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, bell peppers, onions, garlic, mushrooms, cucumber, celery, and summer squashes. A cup of chopped broccoli has about six carbs.
The longer cholesterol circulates in your bloodstream, the higher the likelihood that it will dig its way into an endothelial wall and potentially contribute to atherosclerosis or plaque formation. This is why it’s so dangerous to eat a high-fat diet, but to also have your nightly dark chocolate bar, overdo it on the red wine, or have weekly “cheat days” with pizza, pasta, or sugar-laden ice cream.
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 >
Ben – curious about your thoughts on this. I went into ketosis (using LOTS of coconut oil) but it raised my cholesterol and doc was worried about my lp(a) level (17mg/dL on VAP) even though crp was 0.5, trigs 51 and a1c was 5.2. Advised a low fat diet. Have you seen this before with folks on a lchf/ketosis diet and is there anything to be concerned about? Off to read your coconut oil article. Thank you!
There’s not enough of it to matter in coconut oil, it tastes bad, and it often results in stomach/gastric upset, but it does get converted quickly into ketones. If your MCT oil brand of choice makes your throat burn or has a weird flavor, one reason may be that the distillation did not remove enough of the C6. There are other reasons this can happen too, discussed below.
Easy: use about half of the recommended serving of Glycofuse, and instead add one scoop of Catalyte electrolytes, one scoop of Kion Aminos, and one serving of ketones and/or MCT’s in the form of Brain Octane, KetoCaNa or KETO//OS (pick your poison, it’s up to you). While any of these forms of ketones and/or MCT’s works for daily focus and short workouts, I found that for long workouts they aren’t very gut friendly unless you really spread out the dosage (e.g. one serving every three hours), so you’d only really use that stuff in something like, say, an Ironman triathlon or multi-day adventure race.
-Cancer: Numerous studies have found that the risk for cancer increases with high blood sugar, which makes sense, since cancer cells feed primarily on glucose. This includes cancers of the endometrium, pancreas, and colon and colorectal tumors. Tim Ferriss recently hosted a fantastic article by Peter Attia about this very issue, and how ketosis may indeed be a potential cancer cure.
Acetone, the least abundant ketone, is present in the breath and is responsible for the unpleasant odor. Acetone is a solvent in nail polish, if that gives you an idea of what it might smell like. But it's not as bas as it sounds; acetone breath is a sign of ketosis and fat burning. It's the ketone measured in breath tests used for detecting ketosis.6
Ben. I do not read epidemiological studies anymore… Just biology. There are plenty of examples of traditional cultures consuming high carb (and high fat) without any of the health issues those studies in your article claim. So either high fat or high carb both work if done properly… AND in the right environment. Both are ancestral not just one of the two and have posit and negat because it has to do with the climate and environment around. I do not listen to anybody that pushes JUST one because they are ignoring the reality. I hope you join this "common sense" wagon.
Protein will induce an insulin response in the body, if consumed in high amounts. The most intuitive way to start a keto diet for most people is by removing all of the carbs they have been eating. Typically people will replace those calories by increasing their lean meat consumption. That's a recipe for disaster! Keeping protein moderate is an often overlooked, but very important part of a keto diet. Most people need around 0.6g to 1.0g of protein per pound of lean body mass.
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