“Loss of muscle mass as we age has a number of serious consequences,” notes Clark. “Muscle is metabolically active and helps boost daily energy expenditure and mitigate age-related weight gain.” Losing muscle mass can also decrease functional strength and heighten the risk of falls, notes Clark. Falls are the top cause of death from injury in older populations, according to the Institute of Medicine Division of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.
The keto diet is often called a fad diet. Make no mistake: it is. But unlike other trendy diets, the keto diet is unique because it actually pushes the body into an alternate, natural metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, you can reliably expect a few negative side effects, notably those that come with the "keto flu." But other side effects emerge only when people implement the keto diet poorly, typically by failing to eat balanced, nutrient-rich foods as a part of a high-fat, low-carb diet.
The keto diet isn’t new, and it’s been around for nearly a century. It was originally developed to treat people with epilepsy. In the 1920s, researchers found that raised levels of ketones in the blood led to fewer epileptic seizures in patients. The keto diet is still used today to treat children with epilepsy who don’t respond well to anti-epileptic drugs.
If you’ve decided keto is a good fit for your wellness goals, and you want to add fruit to your meal plan, choose fruits with the least amount of net carbs, which is the total amount of carbohydrate content in a fruit minus its fiber content (since the body can’t digest fiber), according to the website for the popular low-carb diet Atkins. The keto diet allows for about 25 g of net carbs per day, per the healthy-lifestyle website Ruled.me. Dietitians recommend reaching for the following.
Frankly, the results of my foray into ketosis and eventually keto-adaptation were astounding. I had the best Ironman triathlon season of my life and shocking levels of mental focus and physical ease, especially for races and workouts that lasted longer than two hours. Without experiencing muscle loss, hunger pangs or brain fog, I found I could go the entire day without eating, which was enormously helpful for business and personal productivity. My gas, bloating, fermentation and GI “issues” disappeared. My blood levels of inflammatory markers like HS-CRP and cytokines dropped to rock-bottom, while my levels of good cholesterol, vitamin D, and anti-inflammatory fatty acids skyrocketed.
Fascinating stuff and I am quite curious how we know for certain one is actually in ketosis i.e. using ketones as primary fuel source BECAUSE we do know that glucose has a shorter metabolic pathway to burn and under most conditions, given the presence of glucose, that is what the body will default to which is why high fat and high sugar together in diet is so detrimental. So if we use one or more of the above “boosters” and show high levels of blood ketones but also highish levels of glucose (during initial transition) will be mostly burning ketones or still defaulting to glucose?
Ketosis is deliberately induced by use of a ketogenic diet as a medical intervention in cases of intractable epilepsy. Other uses of low-carbohydrate diets remain controversial. Carbohydrate deprivation to the point of ketosis has been argued to have both negative and positive effects on health. Ketosis can also be induced following periods of fasting (starvation), and after consumption of ketogenic fats (such as medium chain triglycerides) or exogenous ketones.
The ketogenic diet doesn’t put a cap on saturated fat or even trans fats. The latter are fats you should always avoid. Read ingredient labels and avoid any food with partially hydrogenated oils, aka trans fats. These fats heighten your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and lower your HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. They also raise your risk of heart disease and stroke, according to the American Heart Association.
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.
The ketogenic diet is usually initiated in combination with the patient's existing anticonvulsant regimen, though patients may be weaned off anticonvulsants if the diet is successful. Some evidence of synergistic benefits is seen when the diet is combined with the vagus nerve stimulator or with the drug zonisamide, and that the diet may be less successful in children receiving phenobarbital.
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.
Along with biomarker testing, subjective symptoms can provide an indication of your ketosis. Sometimes, early side effects of the diet result from carbohydrate withdrawal. This can be known as the "keto flu;" symptoms include nausea, fatigue, headache and dry mouth. They're short-term, typically lasting about a week or less. Keep in mind, however, that we are all different. Our bodies react in different ways. Some of us may experience these symptoms later than sooner, to a lesser extent, or not at all.
A computer program such as KetoCalculator may be used to help generate recipes. The meals often have four components: heavy whipping cream, a protein-rich food (typically meat), a fruit or vegetable and a fat such as butter, vegetable oil, or mayonnaise. Only low-carbohydrate fruits and vegetables are allowed, which excludes bananas, potatoes, peas, and corn. Suitable fruits are divided into two groups based on the amount of carbohydrate they contain, and vegetables are similarly divided into two groups. Foods within each of these four groups may be freely substituted to allow for variation without needing to recalculate portion sizes. For example, cooked broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and green beans are all equivalent. Fresh, canned, or frozen foods are equivalent, but raw and cooked vegetables differ, and processed foods are an additional complication. Parents are required to be precise when measuring food quantities on an electronic scale accurate to 1 g. The child must eat the whole meal and cannot have extra portions; any snacks must be incorporated into the meal plan. A small amount of MCT oil may be used to help with constipation or to increase ketosis.
Achieving ketosis is a pretty straightforward, but it can seem complicated and confusing with all of the information out there.4If you want to learn more about ketosis and the scientific process around it, you can visit a very in-depth discussion about on Dr. Peter Attia’s website. Here’s the bottom line on what you need to do, ordered in levels of importance:
Before long, keto was everywhere. Grocery stores were filling their aisles with bars. Restaurants were touting keto-friendly options. "Keto" has joined "Dinners," "Healthy," "Slow-Cooker," and "Cookbook" among the tabs on beloved food site Delish. Other food sites -- this one included -- dog-piled on the SEO potential, going in on hot keto content. The chain reaction was swift and all-encompassing. And as it went viral, keto began appealing to vulnerable minds everywhere. My mind included.
Before you consume a BHB salt, these individual components are held together by ionic bonds. However, when you consume a supplement containing a BHB salt, it is absorbed into the blood where it dissociates into free sodium (Na+), potassium (K+), and finally, the actual ketone. This means that consuming a product containing a BHB directly and immediately puts ketones into your blood, without the need for you to eat tons of fats or engage in carbohydrate restriction or fasting to generate the ketones.
^ 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.
A Cochrane systematic review in 2018 found and analysed eleven randomized controlled trials of ketogenic diet in people with epilepsy for whom drugs failed to control their seizures. Six of the trials compared a group assigned to a ketogenic diet with a group not assigned to one. The other trials compared types of diets or ways of introducing them to make them more tolerable. In the largest trial of the ketogenic diet with a non-diet control, nearly 38% of the children and young people had half or fewer seizures with the diet compared 6% with the group not assigned to the diet. Two large trials of the Modified Atkins Diet compared to a non-diet control had similar results, with over 50% of children having half or fewer seizures with the diet compared to around 10% in the control group.
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!
For anyone, regardless of any underlying health issues, the so-called keto flu is a possibility (and even likelihood) as your body adjusts to ketosis on the keto diet, says Tori Schmitt, RDN, founder of YES! Nutrition, LLC based in Dayton, Ohio. Fatigue, irritability, headaches, and nausea are all symptoms of the keto flu, Schmitt says. Fortunately, keto flu lasts only about one to two weeks.
This is why Gaspari Nutrition chose highly branched cluster dextrin for what we consider to be the gold standard of recovery and performance drinks. This high molecular weight carbohydrate has a special helical structure, which gives it unique properties unlike many of the corn starches or polysaccharides out there. I'll be real with you and say this stuff isn’t cheap, but you certainly pay for what you get, and highly branched cluster dextrin is unlike any carb source I've found – especially if you want to control blood sugar levels and gut issues.
I have been taking Ucan 30 Minutes before run and take UCAN 1 Hour into run and 1 hour later. Also take BCAA powder in 8 ounce liquid during run. I have been doing HFAT and LCARB diet. Problem i slow down after 1 1/2 hour during my long run. I need your advice help fueling my run after 14 miles. This my first Marathon, I have run 7 Half Marathon around 1.58.
Ketone bodies are acidic, but acid-base homeostasis in the blood is normally maintained through bicarbonate buffering, respiratory compensation to vary the amount of CO2 in the bloodstream, hydrogen ion absorption by tissue proteins and bone, and renal compensation through increased excretion of dihydrogen phosphate and ammonium ions. Prolonged excess of ketone bodies can overwhelm normal compensatory mechanisms, defined as acidosis if blood pH falls below 7.35.
There are theoretically no restrictions on where the ketogenic diet might be used, and it can cost less than modern anticonvulsants. However, fasting and dietary changes are affected by religious and cultural issues. A culture where food is often prepared by grandparents or hired help means more people must be educated about the diet. When families dine together, sharing the same meal, it can be difficult to separate the child's meal. In many countries, food labelling is not mandatory so calculating the proportions of fat, protein and carbohydrate is difficult. In some countries, it may be hard to find sugar-free forms of medicines and supplements, to purchase an accurate electronic scale, or to afford MCT oils.
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
Children who discontinue the diet after achieving seizure freedom have about a 20% risk of seizures returning. The length of time until recurrence is highly variable, but averages two years. This risk of recurrence compares with 10% for resective surgery (where part of the brain is removed) and 30–50% for anticonvulsant therapy. Of those who have a recurrence, just over half can regain freedom from seizures either with anticonvulsants or by returning to the ketogenic diet. Recurrence is more likely if, despite seizure freedom, an electroencephalogram shows epileptiform spikes, which indicate epileptic activity in the brain but are below the level that will cause a seizure. Recurrence is also likely if an MRI scan shows focal abnormalities (for example, as in children with tuberous sclerosis). Such children may remain on the diet longer than average, and children with tuberous sclerosis who achieve seizure freedom could remain on the ketogenic diet indefinitely.
Hi Ben great science & sound advice. May I share with the group? I’m 42, in australia, have been an alcoholic for 10 yrs. In April 2016 I gave up drinking & started living strictly ketogenic. In 3 months I dropped 25 kilos. I have cheated on weekends but I go through a fast of sorts on Mondays to get back into ketosis by Tues. I work afternoon / evenings so I wake at 10.30am take a pre workout drink with raspberry ketones & a splash of mct oil & all my vitamins as well. I then do weights for an hr then get ready to go to work. I take 2 800ml protein shakes consisting of 20 ml mct & 30grm amino enhanced protein. I work in warehousing so I walk anywhere between 10 km & 5 km a nite. I feel great all the time, thanks largely to your research & advice. If have any thoughts or opinions I’d love hear them.
Weight loss benefits ushered the keto diet into the spotlight. That’s how most people have likely heard about ketones, a fuel source created naturally by the body when burning fat. But more and more research points to diverse applications of ketones in the blood outside of just fat loss, from improved endurance performance to the treatment of medical conditions like epilepsy.
Here’s what we do know: The keto diet may be useful in treating symptoms of epilepsy, a seizure disorder. “The use of keto in treating epilepsy has the most evidence,” Angelone says. One study conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine, for example, followed epileptic patients on the keto diet and found that 36 percent of them had a 50 percent reduction in seizures after three months on the diet, and 16 percent were seizure-free. However, experts aren't entirely sure why the keto diet has this affect, she adds.
Under these circumstances, as soon as the body’s limited reserves of glucose starts to run out, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run almost completely on fat. The levels of the fat-storing hormone insulin levels become very low, and fat burning increases dramatically. You thus get easy access your fat stores, and can burn them off. This is great for losing excess weight. Studies prove that keto diets result in more weight loss, faster. There are also more potential benefits.
“Rapid, significant weight loss is a common side effect of the keto diet because of the water losses that occur as carbohydrate stores are depleted,” says Clark. In a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, obese men following a modified version of the ketogenic diet, with high protein and low carbs, lost about 14 pounds in one month, compared with the control group, which lost about 10 pounds on a high-protein, medium-carb diet.
The Inuit are often cited as an example of a culture that has lived for hundreds of years on a low-carbohydrate diet. However, in multiple studies the traditional Inuit diet has not been shown to be a ketogenic diet. Not only have multiple researchers been unable to detect any evidence of ketosis resulting from the traditional Inuit diet, but the ratios of fatty-acid to glucose were observed at well below the generally accepted level of ketogenesis. Furthermore, studies investigating the fat yields from fully dressed wild ungulates, and the dietary habits of the cultures who rely on them, suggest that they are too lean to support a ketogenic diet. With limited access to fat and carbohydrates, cultures such as the Nunamiut Eskimos—who relied heavily on caribou for subsistence—annually traded for fat and seaweed with coastal-dwelling Taremiut.
Net carbs are what we track when following a ketogenic diet. This calculation is pretty straightforward. Net Carbs = Total Carbs – Fiber. For example, one cup of broccoli has 6g of total carbs and 2.4g of fiber. That would mean one cup of broccoli has 3.6g of net carbs. We count Net Carbs because dietary fiber does not have a significant metabolic effect.
The ketogenic diet is a mainstream dietary therapy that was developed to reproduce the success and remove the limitations of the non-mainstream use of fasting to treat epilepsy.[Note 2] Although popular in the 1920s and '30s, it was largely abandoned in favour of new anticonvulsant drugs. Most individuals with epilepsy can successfully control their seizures with medication. However, 20–30% fail to achieve such control despite trying a number of different drugs. For this group, and for children in particular, the diet has once again found a role in epilepsy management.
Kidney stones are a well-noted potential side effect of the ketogenic diet. Research published in the Journal of Child Neurology observed that among children following the keto diet as a treatment for epilepsy, 13 out of 195 subjects developed kidney stones. Children supplementing with potassium citrate in the study noticed a decreased likelihood of kidney stones. Speak with your healthcare practitioner about supplementing if kidney stones are a concern.
On the ketogenic diet I feel very shaky/anxious from when I wake up til about noon. Eating doesn’t really help. It could be electrolyte related but seems possibly more related to excess cortisol/adrenaline as noon is also when I start to crash and get tired on a more normal diet, and because those 3 am awakenings that worsen simultaneously in ketosis seem to also have to do with HPA axis stuff. Does this side effect potentially also have to do with my fasting blood sugar being elevated?