The problem comes when people remain ketotic for extended periods. We know with confidence that long-term ketosis poses substantial risk for health complications because thousands of children have followed ketogenic diets over the years as a means of suppressing intractable grand mal seizures unresponsive to drugs, seizures that can lead to irreversible brain damage if not stopped. A ketogenic diet reduces seizures by approximately 55%. Because seizures are a chronic problem, these kids maintain ketosis for months to years.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Studies since shown that the accumulation of fat droplets, and not carbohydrate stores in the liver and muscle cells, contributes to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. These droplets result from raising levels of saturated animal fats in the blood, like those found in chicken, beef, cheese, dairy and fish. One hit of saturated animal fat can start causing insulin resistance, inhibiting glucose uptake after just 160 minutes (11).
Type 2 diabetics may be on a range of medications that only treat symptoms, have serious side-effects and leave root causes unaddressed. Medications like Metformin may still make sense to use while reversing diabetes with a ketogenic diet. However, most if not all drugs like insulin and sulfonylureas can and should be discontinued. A note of caution though, changing doses or discontinuing medications is something you should do with the help of your doctor (or at the keep them informed).
Constipation is the rule–as virtual elimination of dietary carbohydrates also means virtual elimination of prebiotic fibers that nourish bowel flora. Over time, this leads to metabolic distortions including a drop in HDL cholesterol, rise in triglycerides, rise in small LDL particles that lead to heart disease, rise in insulin resistance and blood sugar, rise in blood pressure, even if these parameters initially improved on the diet. This is also due to dysbiosis and lack of prebiotic fibers. While this has not yet been tracked in children, in adults we can expect that these distortions in bowel flora will, over time, also lead to heightened inflammation (bowel and elsewhere), diverticular disease (.e.g., diverticulitis), and colorectal cancer. Yes: prolonged ketosis can add substantially to risk for colon cancer. Other peculiar gastrointestinal complications of prolonged ketosis have also been observed, such as protein-losing enteropathies.
You may need more water. Going keto causes an initial reduction in fluid retention in cells throughout your body. Your digestive tract requires water to keep the fecal matter soft and moist. As you aspire to consume more fluid, be sure to add a pinch of salt to each cup of water you drink, and to sip steadily throughout the day instead of binge chugging. These measures will help you better absorb additional fluids instead of excrete them.
I told the nurse that I would not take the medications, and I would manage it with diet. She looked at me skeptically, and said “I would not recommend that.”. They had me scheduled for a follow up in a month and a half, so I told her that I would do my own thing for that time, and if my numbers did not improve, we could discuss the medication further.
We are all supposed to be eating 5 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables per day. That provides you with all the essential vitamins and nutrients needed to run a healthy body along with the protein you choose to consume alone with them. I guess if you can fit those into a Ketogenic diet and make that work for you for a lifetime, I would have to say that is absolutely wonderful! I just know, I have a lot of willpower and I only made it 1 year back when I tried. It was just too restrictive. I see too many stories like that. The blogger I wrote about, all the studies, most participants had dropped out at 6 months. No study I have seen has shown anyone who has stayed on it for 10 years, 15, 20, 30, 40 years. If you know one, please let me know!
Weight loss isn't the only benefit of this way of eating. Here is a piece from my friend Sybille Bellamy. We each have a child with Angelman Syndrome, which can lead to seizures. Our children not only have a better life on Ketogenic foods, but their brain function has also improved. Studies show similar benefits for people with epilepsy. Ketogenic diets may also help children on the autism spectrum.
This general “muscle wasting” assertion often comes from trainers and dietitians who really have not studied the science on muscle preservation. They will tell you that the brain requires at least 100 grams of carb per day and if you don’t get those carbs in the diet, your body will break down your muscles to get it. This is true when one’s diet is high carb, and no ketone bodies are available as an alternative source of brain fuel.
Another one of my concerns long-term is that many people are being persuaded to remain on a ketogenic diet over a long period. In 3, 5, or 10 years, we are going to see a sharp rise in colon cancer cases. People in conventional dietary circles will then point fingers at all of us engaged in unconventional dietary advice and we will be lumped together and labeled as dangerous fads. The key is to be smarter and to view ketogenic dieting as the short-term tool/response it is, not as a solution to all health struggles.
Ketoacidosis occurs when the level of ketones in the blood gets out of control, which poses a severe health risk for diabetics. When massive quantities of ketones are produced, the pH level of the blood drops, creating a high-acidic environment. Nondiabetics need not fear, as the regulated and controlled production of ketone bodies allows the blood pH to remain within normal limits.
Bingo!! It’s all about the $. The info graphic at the very beginning is labeled Keto-Paleo. And is misleading. Contrary to popular belief the Paleo diet is plant based. It restricts carbohydrate and dairy consumption based on foods that cause an inflammatory response in the body. Keto restricts foods that cause a blood sugar spike two very different purposes. American nutrition is very obviously broken and any recommendation tied to a money making association should be taken with a grain of salt because you can bet there are $$ strings attached. Usually big Pharma funding.
“When I was taught about biochemical fuel-burning, I was taught that glucose was “clean” and ketones were “smokey.” That glucose was clearly the preferred fuel for our muscles for exercise and definitely the key fuel for the brain. Except here’s the dirty little secret about glucose – when you look at the amount of garbage leftover in the mitochondria, it is actually less efficient to make ATP from glucose than it is to make ATP from ketone bodies! A more efficient energy supply makes it easier to restore membranes in the brain to their normal states after a depolarizing electrical energy spike occurs, and means that energy is produced with fewer destructive free radicals leftover.”
Depriving the body of dietary carbohydrates for a period, long enough to deplete the body of its glycogen reserves, produces a ketogenic state. This depletion typically takes three to seven days to occur. During this time, you will notice that your energy level becomes consistently diminished as your body consumes energy with no new source of fuel added. You will also find that you begin to drop water-weight, as glycogen is bound to water and then excreted.
I must note here, that as a nutrition professional who has worked in pediatrics and seen children who must follow this diet, it is incredibly challenging for both the child and family. Most people who must follow this diet for therapeutic medical reasons have trouble actually reaching ketosis with diet alone, and need to drink poor-tasting formula drinks to keep their carb-to-fat ratio in tight control. Many of these individuals must follow this way of eating to survive or have any sort of quality of life.
I have multiple autoimmune diseases. I fought 4 doctors, all of whom told me that adults can’t get type 1. I finally went to the Jefferson Diabetes Center. Yup! Type 1 diabetes. I’m slender, do marathons, bp 100/60, triglyceride/HDL ratio 1.08. And I STILL fought 4 doctors because of the ADA misinformation. All it takes is a simple blood test to look at antibodies. That’s all it takes, but the test is almost never run.
Financial disclosures: There were no conflicts of interest reported except for Dr Bernstein who has received royalties for books on the management of diabetes (which were used by members of the online social media group surveyed in this study). Dr. Hallberg who holds stock options and receives research support from Virta Health, and consulting fees from Atkins. Dr. Rhodes is the site principal investigator in clinical trials for pediatric type 2 diabetes that are sponsored by Merck and AstraZeneca. Dr. Westman has an ownership interest in companies using low-carbohydrate principles, and he receives royalties for books related to low-carbohydrate diets. Dr. Ludwig has received royalties from books on nutrition and obesity; and Dr. Galati is author of Eating Yourself Sick: How to stop obesity, fatty liver, and diabetes from killing you and your family (2018).
Balance your fat. Saturated fat has received a terrible rap in the literature, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only fat you should consume. Look to the fatty acid ratios of ruminants like beef and lamb—or your own adipose tissue—for guidance. They have about equal amounts of saturated and monounsaturated fat with a small amount of PUFA. Mix up the butter and cream with olive oil and avocado oil.
The research on how diet affects PCOS is minimal, but there is one compelling study on the ketogenic diet and women with PCOS. In this study, five overweight women ate a ketogenic diet (20 grams of carbohydrates or less per day) for 24 weeks. The results were astounding — average weight loss was 12%, free testosterone decreased by 22%, and fasting insulin levels dropped by 54%. What’s even more impressive is that two of the women became pregnant despite previous infertility problems.
Once you’ve stayed on keto for a couple of days, you may notice a new odor coming from your mouth that smells like overripe fruit or nail polish remover. This is an unfortunate side effect of ketosis that occurs when acetone (i.e., the primary ingredient in nail polish remover) is created as a by-product of ketone production. Unfortunately, your body can’t do much with the acetone it makes, so most of it will be excreted with each breath.
I’m discouraged to see that nowhere in the article nor in the comments is there a mention of a diet’s best fit to genetics. Consider if someone is an APOE E2 carrier and/or has certain polymorphisms of the APO5 gene. These are quite rare in Okinawa but much more prevalent in the USA (12% of the population). According to a number of well-designed studies, these genetic characteristics point to a higher fat, lower carbohydrate diet as beneficial and even a “moderate” carb diet as problematic.
Twenty-one of the 28 participants who were enrolled completed the study. Twenty participants were men; 13 were White, 8 were African-American. The mean [± SD] age was 56.0 ± 7.9 years and BMI was 42.2 ± 5.8 kg/m2. Hemoglobin A1c decreased by 16% from 7.5 ± 1.4% to 6.3 ± 1.0% (p < 0.001) from baseline to week 16. Diabetes medications were discontinued in 7 participants, reduced in 10 participants, and unchanged in 4 participants. The mean body weight decreased by 6.6% from 131.4 ± 18.3 kg to 122.7 ± 18.9 kg (p < 0.001). In linear regression analyses, weight change at 16 weeks did not predict change in hemoglobin A1c. Fasting serum triglyceride decreased 42% from 2.69 ± 2.87 mmol/L to 1.57 ± 1.38 mmol/L (p = 0.001) while other serum lipid measurements did not change significantly.
This information is not designed to replace a physician's independent judgment about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient. Always consult your doctor about your medical conditions. Vertical Health & EndocrineWeb do not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use of this website is conditional upon your acceptance of our user agreement.
If you are on medication, Dr. Ede recommends you work closely with your psychiatrist or mental health care provider. “Ketogenic diets cause profound shifts in brain and body chemistry rather quickly. These changes are almost always positive and healthy, but they can have a major impact on medication levels, dosages and side effects that require close medical supervision,” she says.
Thank you for your wonderful comments Marcia. To share more about me personally with you all…I am not a completely non-diabetic Certified Diabetes Educator. I found out I had Prediabetes 15 years ago when I became a Diabetes Educator. I tested my own A1c and found it was 5.8%. The incredible news? There have been years when my A1c dropped to a normal level of 5.4%…out of the prediabetes range. My last A1c in May was 5.8%, so I still have Prediabetes 15 years later, but not diabetes, and without any medication, just the sensible diet I’ve discussed and exercise, so I really am living with this. I feel it everyday, I wonder what my A1c is going to be just like you every 6 months when I go to have it drawn.
We have solid evidence showing that a ketogenic diet reduces seizures in children, sometimes as effectively as medication. Because of these neuroprotective effects, questions have been raised about the possible benefits for other brain disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, sleep disorders, autism, and even brain cancer. However, there are no human studies to support recommending ketosis to treat these conditions.
Also, if you listen to Dr Bernstein talk about his childhood (he is well into his 80’s), the “original” recommended diet was only ketogenic in the sense that it was high-carb and caused keto-acidosis, which he describes as almost killing him as a teenager. He still considers the ADA recommendations as ketogenic for this reason (you only have to listen to him a short time to hear him railing against the ADA).
But beyond that, experts aren't convinced that the keto diet has any other scientifically-proven health benefits. In fact, it may have some distinct downsides. If you follow the keto diet incorrectly, for example (like by eating lots of saturated fats, versus healthy unsaturated fats), you're at risk of raising your cholesterol levels. “The best strategy to keep your heart healthy is to get as much fat as possible from unsaturated sources such as olive, avocado and canola oils, nuts, seeds, avocados, and olives," says Ansel.
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.
Hello Dr. Jockers, in the past few months I have been working on cleaning up my diet. Eating gluten & dairy free as much as possible. I started taking exogenous ketones at the same time. I got a juicer for Christmas and about 3 weeks ago I added celery juice ( 1st thing in the AM) and a carrot, apple, turmeric juice in the afternoon. Some days I am fine and other days I have sudden diarrhea within an hour of drinking the celery juice. I’ve read so much about the benefits of drinking it but am wondering if the ketones are reacting to it adversely? Please let me know your thoughts on this.
MCTs are natural sources of essential healthy fats for energy. They are easily digestible and absorbed by the body, providing instant but lasting energy. Including MCT oil in the keto diet can stabilize blood sugar levels and enhance the production of ketones. Since that is the goal of your keto diet, optimal blood ketone levels, MCT Oil is a no-brainer.