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!!
Western diets are high in carbohydrates, leading to high blood sugar levels, whereas the ketogenic diet enforces a small amount of carbs to be consumed. It can take some weeks of keto dieting to reach increased levels of blood ketones. For others, after 2 - 4 days of low-carbohydrate, high-fat ketogenic dieting, ketone levels in the blood can increase to ~1 - 2 mM, achieving ketosis.5
The benefits above are the most common ones. But there are others that are potentially even more surprising and – at least for some people – life changing. Did you know that a keto diet can help treat high blood pressure, may result in less acne, may help control migraine, might help with certain mental health issues and could have a few other potential benefits?
Adipose tissue can be used to store fatty acids for regulating temperature and energy. These fatty acids can be released by adipokine signaling of high glucagon and epinephrine levels, which inversely corresponds to low insulin levels. High glucagon and low insulin correspond to times of fasting or to times when blood glucose levels are low. Fatty acids must be metabolized in mitochondria in order to produce energy, but free fatty acids cannot penetrate biological membranes due to their negative electrical charge. So coenzyme A is bound to the fatty acid to produce acyl-CoA, which is able to enter the mitochondria.
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. 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—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. The condition presents symptoms of a fatty acid and ketogenesis disorder. However, it appears highly beneficial to the Inuit as it shunts free fatty acids away from liver cells to brown fat, for thermogenesis. Thus the mutation may help the Inuit stay warm by preferentially burning fatty acids for heat in brown fat cells. 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. 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. Ethnographic texts have documented the Inuit's customary habit of snacking frequently  and this may well be a direct consequence of their high prevalence of the CPT1A mutation as fasting, even for several hours, can be deleterious for individuals with that allele, particularly during strenuous exercise. 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.
Hi Ben – Great article. I had trouble at the end figuring out if you were now eating high fat (60-80% of calories), or if you went back to something closer to 50% fat calories and higher carbs and are using exogenous ketones to get int ketosis when needed. Are you doing any carbs at night or a refeed, or just having higher carbs on most days? Thanks
“For events longer than 60 minutes, consuming 0.7 g carbohydrates·kg-1 body weight·h-1 (approximately 30-60 g·h-1) has been shown unequivocally to extend endurance performance. Consuming carbohydrates during exercise is even more important in situations when athletes have not carbohydrate-loaded, not consumed pre-exercise meals, or restricted energy intake for weight loss. Carbohydrate intake should begin shortly after the onset of activity; [and continue] at 15- to 20-min intervals throughout the activity.”
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.
Me, I was a lot of things before I was keto: vegan, high starch, skinny, an Adderall abuser, paleo, Catholic, raw till 4, pescatarian, etc. The reason I went high fat/low carb was because some very smart-sounding people on the internet told me that I could “hack my body” and eat some fun things (bacon) if only I’d cut out a food group that was probably giving me constipation and cancer anyway.
After that happened, I set out once again to find some kind of carbohydrate source that allows one to maintain elevated liver glycogen and muscle glycogen stores without getting all the blood-sugar level roller coaster rides or gut rot and fermentation that many typical sports nutrition carbohydrate sources such as fructose and maltodextrin can cause.
This benefit surprised me when I first discovered it, but eating fewer carbohydrates during a workout can actually help you recover from workouts faster. The repair and recovery of skeletal muscle tissue is dependent on the “transcription” of certain components of your RNA. And a bout of endurance exercise combined with low muscle-carbohydrate stores can result in greater activation of this transcription. In other words, by training in a low-carbohydrate state, you train your body to recover faster.
If you want to make some enemies very quickly, just jump on to social media and say "the keto diet stinks." Because there are certainly a number of people who swear by the keto diet. Some of them will even swear at you if you say anything bad about the diet. Supporters of the diet claim that the keto diet will help lose weight relatively quickly, clear your mind, make you feel better, and even clear up your acne, because you no longer are taking in carbohydrates that "cause inflammation." People who question the diet have raised concerns about whether maintaining such a high fat diet is effective and healthy in long run. After all, high fat diets could raise the risk of various chronic medical conditions such as heart disease and cancer.
For the keto gurus who serve as keto's staunchest evangelicals, conversations swirl around oft-repeated talking points, and any sense of negativity is quickly batted away. I spoked to several "gurus.” The claims they made are already on most low-carb blogs: It’s gonna suck at first, but it’s Worth It. Fat makes you full. Blood sugar will go down. Insulin will be on point. You’ll realize that which has sat dormant in your body for too long -- a demigod. Devoid of carbs, your body will reconstruct in such a way that Zeus descended from parted clouds to congratulate you on your blood test results.
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.
Yes, they're technically a fruit, but we think olives deserve a shout-out all of their own, since they're also a great source of healthy fats and are one of a few keto-approved packaged foods. Plus, they're a great source of antioxidants, will satisfy your craving for something salty, and are blissfully low-carb. “About a palm's worth only has 3 grams of net carbs,” Sarah Jadin, RD, told Health in a previous interview.
Apparently, Dominic’s research seems to be suggesting the fact that diet-induced ketosis from a high-fat, low-carb intake, especially when combined with the use of nutrition supplements such as powdered ketones or MCT oil, can vastly reduce the need for the brain to use oxygen to burn glucose. This is because the brain can use up to around 75% of its fuel from ketones. So a ketone-fed or a fat-adapted brain can be better equipped to withstand low oxygen availability and potentially support longer breath-hold times. Dominic’s research also shows that in the presence of ketosis, the brain and body are able to resist the potential cell damage of long periods of time with low oxygen, also known as “hypoperfusion”.
“Muscle loss on the ketogenic diet is an ongoing area of research,” says Edwina Clark, RD, a dietitian in private practice in San Francisco. “Small studies suggest that people on the ketogenic diet lose muscle even when they continue resistance training. This may be related to the fact that protein alone is less effective for muscle building than protein and carbohydrates together after exercise.” Meanwhile, according to a small study published in March 2018 in the journal Sports, people following the keto diet for three months lost about the same amount of body fat and had about the same muscle mass changes as people following normal diets. Yet the folks on keto did lose more leg muscle.
Perhaps you fall into the category of Olympic athletes who would dope with damaging drugs, even if they knew it would kill them. However, if you desire a long, high-quality life, you don’t want to be a washed up ex-exerciser with diabetes, or you don’t want to experience joint, nerve and brain inflammation, damage and degradation, you may need to adjust your lens.
One more thing that I noticed is that my HR does not move Beyond a certain point. I can still perform quite at a high level and faster than most people at my box but weirdly enough it’s like there’s a block on my HR which doesn’t allow it to move beyond 160 bpm. I’m not sure if this is good or bad! Could I go even faster if my HR would pass this limit?? It is a physiological barrier created by the glycogen sparing mechanism that doesn’t allow my body to move after a certain point so it won’t have to tap into my glycogen stores or force my body to go into gluconeogenesis?? If I added some more carbs around my workouts would it be easier to get the glycolytic pathway to work more effectively since it’d be faster and easier fuel? I read about the downregulation of PDH enzymes after prolonged keto and I constantly worry that I dont use my glycolytic pathway as effective anymore. I LOVE this lifestyle but at the same time, as athletes; we’re always thinking on how to improve performance. What are your thoughts?! Thank you so much!!
Basically, the proven science is in the pudding. A highly cited low-carb study from The New England Journal of Medicine concludes with the statement, “The low-carbohydrate diet produced a greater weight loss (absolute difference, approximately 4 percent) than did the conventional diet for the first six months, but the differences were not significant at one year.” The study mentions health benefits from the low carb diet, of course, but that it’s largely unsustainable.
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).
Food is your body’s primary source of energy, and three main nutrients in foods supply your body with this energy. These are carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Typically after eating a meal, your body will first break down carbohydrates from foods, and then fat and protein.Ketosis is a natural metabolic state that occurs when your body doesn’t have enoughcarbs (or glucose) for energy, so it burns fat instead.
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.
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?
In addition, most studies that compare carbohydrate utilization with fat utilization fail to take into account the fact that full “fat adaptation” that allows you to gain all the benefits of using fat as a fuel actually takes time – often more than four weeks – and up to a couple years. But since most studies that compare fat and carbohydrate burning are short-term, you rarely see the benefits of this kind of fat adaptation actually fleshed out in research. Instead, the average research participant begins the study in a non-fat adapted state, gets either a high fat or high carb diet, then launches into exercise. But in an ideal study, that person would have followed either a high-fat or high-carb diet for many months before getting their fat burning capability investigated.
The diet is extremely regimented and very difficult to stick to, as just one baked potato and one slice of bread could hold an entire day’s worth of carbohydrates. While this is a deterrent for many, Christy Brissette, RD, a private-practice dietitian in Chicago, notes that many of her patients like the diet because of its strictness. “Some of my clients feel that the keto diet works for them because it doesn't involve any calorie counting and the rules are simple to understand,” she says. “They feel they have strict parameters that can take the guesswork out of dieting.”
I knew keto was on the The Today Show when relatives began dropping the term in the same charming way your grandmother might refer to “the Instagram.” They knew it was low carb and that it worked, because that’s what the show told them. But they couldn’t explain the state of “ketosis” or why their Yummy Yummy Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Breakfast Replacement Keto Bar was a better choice for weight loss than, like, cutting back on alcohol.
In Asia, the normal diet includes rice and noodles as the main energy source, making their elimination difficult. Therefore, the MCT-oil form of the diet, which allows more carbohydrate, has proved useful. In India, religious beliefs commonly affect the diet: some patients are vegetarians, will not eat root vegetables or avoid beef. The Indian ketogenic diet is started without a fast due to cultural opposition towards fasting in children. The low-fat, high-carbohydrate nature of the normal Indian and Asian diet means that their ketogenic diets typically have a lower ketogenic ratio (1:1) than in America and Europe. However, they appear to be just as effective.
Typically, to gain lean body mass one needs to have some degree of caloric surplus, or at the very least, not be in a significant deficit. This is especially true when looking to add muscle mass. It is certainly possible to gain muscle mass on a ketogenic diet. For most individuals this would require consuming adequate protein (while still remaining in ketosis), enough calories to support growth, sufficient electrolytes to support muscle function, as well as incorporating progressive resistance training. The type and volume of resistance exercise needed to add lean body mass will be very dependent on the individual and their age, training status, health status, etc. Therefore, the answer to this question can become quite nuanced, but in simple terms, yes, it is very possible to gain lean body mass on a ketogenic diet while still taking advantage of the health promoting effects this way of eating provides.