The brain is composed of a network of neurons that transmit signals by propagating nerve impulses. The propagation of this impulse from one neuron to another is typically controlled by neurotransmitters, though there are also electrical pathways between some neurons. Neurotransmitters can inhibit impulse firing (primarily done by γ-aminobutyric acid, or GABA) or they can excite the neuron into firing (primarily done by glutamate). A neuron that releases inhibitory neurotransmitters from its terminals is called an inhibitory neuron, while one that releases excitatory neurotransmitters is an excitatory neuron. When the normal balance between inhibition and excitation is significantly disrupted in all or part of the brain, a seizure can occur. The GABA system is an important target for anticonvulsant drugs, since seizures may be discouraged by increasing GABA synthesis, decreasing its breakdown, or enhancing its effect on neurons.[7]

These affect your brain and spine, as well as the nerves that link them together. Epilepsy is one, but others may be helped by a ketogenic diet as well, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and sleep disorders. Scientists aren’t sure why, but it may be that the ketones your body makes when it breaks down fat for energy help protect your brain cells from damage.
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.
Because the ketogenic diet alters the body's metabolism, it is a first-line therapy in children with certain congenital metabolic diseases such as pyruvate dehydrogenase (E1) deficiency and glucose transporter 1 deficiency syndrome,[35] which prevent the body from using carbohydrates as fuel, leading to a dependency on ketone bodies. The ketogenic diet is beneficial in treating the seizures and some other symptoms in these diseases and is an absolute indication.[36] However, it is absolutely contraindicated in the treatment of other diseases such as pyruvate carboxylase deficiency, porphyria, and other rare genetic disorders of fat metabolism.[9] Persons with a disorder of fatty acid oxidation are unable to metabolise fatty acids, which replace carbohydrates as the major energy source on the diet. On the ketogenic diet, their bodies would consume their own protein stores for fuel, leading to ketoacidosis, and eventually coma and death.[37]
I am curious if someone takes any or too much MCT oil (5-10 tablespoons/day) or Exogenous Ketones will the liver slow/stall or shut off endogenous ketone production as you are providing the ketones exogenously and thereby you may NEED to supplement ketones to maintain ketone levels or you may suffer a short term ketone deficit while the liver adjusts to making them on its own again. A parallel I am thinking of is exogenous testosterone supplementation and the hypothalamus/endocrine system slowing/stopping endogenous testosterone production (seen in bodybuilders).
I’ve been experimenting with MCT Oil Brain Octane. I have one questions. I’ve been eating about 20 – 25 gr. of carbs per day on a high fat, medium protein diet. I’m measuring ketones in the morning before taking the MCT and after. I’ve been taking btw. 1-2 tbsp of MCT Brain Octane with butter (Bulletproof coffee) – I measure again after 30 min., 1hr, 2 hrs. and don’t see a raise in my blood ketones. Anything I’m missing, would love to hear your thoughts, Ben. – Thx I’m measuring with Precision Xtra and Ketonix Red.
Yes, the carb backloading approach can definitely help. Honestly I have SO MANY ARTICLES here on the site about sleep. Just go ahead and use the search bar for sleep and you'll find a plethora of info. For targeted sleep advice, I'd be happy to help you via a personal one-on-one consult. Just go to https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/coaching. and then choose a 20 or 60 minute consult, whichever you'd prefer. I can schedule ASAP after you get that.
I am not a doctor and this is not to be taken, interpreted or construed as medical advice. If you have poor liver or gallbladder function, it can be a good idea to take care of that prior to a high fat diet, yes. But a healthy high fat diet would not cause liver issues per se. These are just my own personal thoughts and not a prescription or a diagnosis or any form of health care whatsoever.
To get the most benefit from the Keto diet, you should stay physically active. You might need to take it easier during the early ketosis period, especially if you feel fatigued or lightheaded. Walking, running, doing aerobics, weightlifting, training with kettlebells or whatever workout you prefer will boost your energy further. You can find books and online resources on how to adapt Keto meals or snacks for athletic training.
Amazing article – gonna have to print it and read it again. To much to break down in one sitting. Thanks Ben – you’ve pulled together so much insight and references that’s given me greater confidence and conviction. I’m 50 and use to be super active and a seasoned athlete but after a few ‘mid life surgical interventions’ I had to find a better way… Ketogenics has been that for me… no more inflammation… I can’t tell you how great it’s been to be pain free! Keep leading from the front.
Around this time, Bernarr Macfadden, an American exponent of physical culture, popularised the use of fasting to restore health. His disciple, the osteopathic physician Dr. Hugh William Conklin of Battle Creek, Michigan, began to treat his epilepsy patients by recommending fasting. Conklin conjectured that epileptic seizures were caused when a toxin, secreted from the Peyer's patches in the intestines, was discharged into the bloodstream. He recommended a fast lasting 18 to 25 days to allow this toxin to dissipate. Conklin probably treated hundreds of epilepsy patients with his "water diet" and boasted of a 90% cure rate in children, falling to 50% in adults. Later analysis of Conklin's case records showed 20% of his patients achieved freedom from seizures and 50% had some improvement.[10]
Radical diets like keto bring radical change, and I’m not referring to pounds you might shed from depriving your body of an essential macronutrient; I’m talking about changes in your social world, your relationship with food, and your mental health. I’m talking about the diet industry convincing us that if we pass on eating out with friends to do our at-home cardio fat-busting workout before roasting another variation on a chicken dinner, we’re going to feel joyous and at peace with ourselves once we reach our fitness “goals.” And we’re actually going to keep the weight off.
My question is: what if I want to be in ketosis for all the reasons mentioned in the Life Extension article and because I don't feel a strong urge to eat in between meals when I go lower carb and if I up carb intake I get hungrier more frequently and get urges . . . BUT on the flip side, I don't seem to digest fat all that well(dairy in particular is a no-no) and constipation is an issue and starchy carbs seem to help with that. It's a bit of a catch-22.
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.[1] 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.[4][5]
In a state of ketosis, your body breaks fat down in the liver and converts it into ketones to be used for energy. Fat doesn't generate an insulin response, so insulin levels remain stable. This makes it much harder to store excess fat, and easier to tap into body fat stores for energy. Not only will this allow you to maintain your weight, but it will greatly encourage weight loss.
But people who started following the keto diet noticed weight loss for a few reasons: When you eat carbs, your body retains fluid in order to store carbs for energy (you know, in case it needs it). But when you’re not having much in the carb department, you lose this water weight, says Warren. Also, it's easy to go overboard on carbohydrates—but if you're loading up on fat, it may help curb cravings since it keeps you satisfied.
-Cardiovascular Disease: High blood sugar has been shown to increase the risk for cardiovascular events, cardiovascular disease, and cardiovascular mortality—while lower glucose levels result in lower cardiovascular risk. Coronary artery disease risk has been shown to be twice as high in patients with impaired glucose tolerance, compared with patients with more normal glucose tolerance. The risk for stroke increases as fasting glucose levels rise above 83 mg/dL. In fact, every 18 mg/dL increase beyond 83 results in a 27 percent greater risk of dying from stroke. Incidentally, glucose can “stick” to cholesterol particles and render these particles extremely dangerous from a heart health standpoint, which is why it’s all the more important to control blood sugar levels if you’re eating a “high-fat diet.”
Moreover, recent studies show that the Inuit have evolved a number of rare genetic adaptations that make them especially well suited to eat large amounts of omega-3 fat.[57][58][59] And earlier studies showed that the Inuit have a very high frequency—68% to 81% in certain arctic coastal populations—of an extremely rare autosomal recessive mutation of the CPT1A gene—a key regulator of mitochondrial long-chain fatty-acid oxidation[60][61]—which results in a rare metabolic disorder known as carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A (CPT1A) deficiency and promotes hypoketotic hypoglycemia—low levels of ketones and low blood sugar.[62] The condition presents symptoms of a fatty acid and ketogenesis disorder.[62] However, it appears highly beneficial to the Inuit[60] as it shunts free fatty acids away from liver cells to brown fat, for thermogenesis.[63][64] Thus the mutation may help the Inuit stay warm by preferentially burning fatty acids for heat in brown fat cells.[64] In addition to promoting low ketone levels, this disorder also typically results in hepatic encephalopathy (altered mental state due to improper liver function), enlarged liver and high infant mortality.[65] Inuit have been observed to have enlarged livers with an increased capacity for gluconeogenesis, and have greater capacity for excreting urea to remove ammonia, a toxic byproduct of protein breakdown.[57][66][67][68] Ethnographic texts have documented the Inuit's customary habit of snacking frequently [69] and this may well be a direct consequence of their high prevalence of the CPT1A mutation[70] as fasting, even for several hours, can be deleterious for individuals with that allele, particularly during strenuous exercise.[57][70] The high frequency of the CPT1A mutation in the Inuit therefore suggests that it is an important adaptation to their low carbohydrate diet and their extreme environment.[57][60][70]
Keto-adaption is a complex set of metabolic processes in which the body shifts from using primarily glucose for energy to using largely ketones and fat for energy. Achieving ketosis doesn’t mean the body is maximizing the use of these ketones; it takes longer than a few days for the body to get used to burning fat and ketones as its predominant fuels.
Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when ketone levels become too high, due to a lack of insulin, and poison the body. This condition can happen to anyone with diabetes, but it is more common in people with type 1 diabetes because their bodies don’t make insulin. In the event that their ketone level rises, their bodies are unable to produce insulin to slow down this production. If left untreated, this condition can lead to a diabetic coma or death.
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.
Hi Mel, Assuming that your ranch dressing doesn’t have sugar added, you don’t need to worry too much about limiting it, but within reason. This is my homemade ranch dressing recipe, which has 0.9g net carbs per 2-tbsp serving. It would be hard to find a store bought one with much less than that, even though some round anything less than 1g down to 0g, which isn’t truly accurate. Also, keep in mind that if weight loss is your goal, some people find that too much dairy can cause a stall. Finally, make sure you aren’t using all your “available” carbs on ranch dressing – have it with some low carb veggies!
Another appropriate fruit on the keto diet, ½ cup of cubed raw cantaloupe has only 5.8 g of net carbohydrates. The same serving size is also low in calories, with 27 g, as well as in sugar, with 6.3 g. Plus,it offers vitamins and nutrients such as 214 mg of potassium (4.6 percent DV), 29.4 mg of vitamin C ( 49 percent DV), and 2,706 IU of vitamin A ( 54.1 percent DV). Cantaloupes are delicious and refreshing, and eating the fruit may help you stay full longer.
Your glycogen stores can still be refilled while on a ketogenic diet. A keto diet is an excellent way to build muscle, but protein intake is crucial here. It’s suggested that if you are looking to gain mass, you should be taking in about 1.0 – 1.2g protein per lean pound of body mass. Putting muscle on may be slower on a ketogenic diet, but that’s because your total body fat is not increasing as much.5Note that in the beginning of a ketogenic diet, both endurance athletes and obese individuals see a physical performance for the first week of transition.
Even though star fruit is another fruit that some people don’t think to add to their grocery list, it’s worth a try if you’re on keto and want to satisfy your sweet tooth. A ½-cup serving of cubed star fruit contains about 2.6 g of net carbohydrates, plus 1.8 g of fiber and 2.6 g of sugar. It’s also low in calories and has 88 mg of potassium (1.9 percent DV) and 22.7 mg of vitamin C (38 percent DV). 
Moreover, recent studies show that the Inuit have evolved a number of rare genetic adaptations that make them especially well suited to eat large amounts of omega-3 fat.[57][58][59] And earlier studies showed that the Inuit have a very high frequency—68% to 81% in certain arctic coastal populations—of an extremely rare autosomal recessive mutation of the CPT1A gene—a key regulator of mitochondrial long-chain fatty-acid oxidation[60][61]—which results in a rare metabolic disorder known as carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A (CPT1A) deficiency and promotes hypoketotic hypoglycemia—low levels of ketones and low blood sugar.[62] The condition presents symptoms of a fatty acid and ketogenesis disorder.[62] However, it appears highly beneficial to the Inuit[60] as it shunts free fatty acids away from liver cells to brown fat, for thermogenesis.[63][64] Thus the mutation may help the Inuit stay warm by preferentially burning fatty acids for heat in brown fat cells.[64] In addition to promoting low ketone levels, this disorder also typically results in hepatic encephalopathy (altered mental state due to improper liver function), enlarged liver and high infant mortality.[65] Inuit have been observed to have enlarged livers with an increased capacity for gluconeogenesis, and have greater capacity for excreting urea to remove ammonia, a toxic byproduct of protein breakdown.[57][66][67][68] Ethnographic texts have documented the Inuit's customary habit of snacking frequently [69] and this may well be a direct consequence of their high prevalence of the CPT1A mutation[70] as fasting, even for several hours, can be deleterious for individuals with that allele, particularly during strenuous exercise.[57][70] The high frequency of the CPT1A mutation in the Inuit therefore suggests that it is an important adaptation to their low carbohydrate diet and their extreme environment.[57][60][70]
I am new to Keto, but not new to a low carb diet. I just started a keto diet 8 days ago. My goals for being on the diet is a little body recomp (nothing major, a few pounds of fat loss), and moving to fat as primary fuel for endurance with a focus on trail ultra marathon races and training. Along with Keto I am doing heart rate training using MAF and OFM as a guide. supplemented with body weight and free weight strength training and some HITT.
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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