“Despite its temporary side effects, we have always suspected that the ketogenic diet is relatively safe long term, and we now have proof,” says senior investigator Eric Kossoff, M.D., a pediatric neurologist and director of the ketogenic diet program at Hopkins Children’s. “Our study should help put to rest some of the nagging doubts about the long-term safety of the ketogenic diet,” he adds.
This concept was previously unthinkable as modern nutritional science was led to believe that the body’s metabolism relied on gluconeogenesis to create ATP as energy for the body’s metabolic processes. Glycogen derives from dietary carbohydrate intake, so by removing it from the diet, nutritionists expected devastating health results to emerge in practitioners of the diet.
It’s only dangerous to not get enough carbs at each meal if one is taking too much meds or insulin for the amount of carbs they are eating! Restricting carbohydrates doesn’t lead to hypoglycemia unawareness, but having lots of lows and lots of highs will (and decreasing insulin and carbs leads to way fewer highs and fewer lows, or at least it can). On the other hand, being in ketosis does make low blood sugars less negative as an experience. I still feel my lows just fine, but they are less of an emergency because my brain still works (feeding on ketones) and by body doesn’t freak out and release tons of adrenaline that then makes me want to eat a house. Mind you, I still wake up and know immediately if I’m low, I know from experience and how it feels in my head and body but without the crazy shakes. This is not unawareness but it is less reactive.
It wasn’t until my waist started pushing 35 inches that I decided I needed to do something. That something just happened to be a slight change in life style. I gave up eating processed carbs, i.e. cereals, bread, rice, pasta, pizza, beer (yes pizza And Beer!), and continued eating such things as meat, nuts, cheese, vegetables. Foregoing the processed carbs is really not that much of a loss when you consider the benefits. The impact of processed food industry didn’t hit America til the early part of the 20th century. And I dare say that it had anything to do with increasing longevity. I’ve been living a ketogenic life style for about six months and plan to continue. But for those of you thinking that its a quick fix, I’m inclined to say that, in my case, your wrong. This wasn’t exactly quick a fix. It took all of those six months to reduce my waist size to a leaner 33 inches. I’d like to think that I’m not done yet. I drink half my body weight in ounces of water (nothing to do with the ketogenic life style, but thought i’d mention it). I’m far from hungry, don’t see a down side to this, and I’m looking forward to my yearly physical and blood work results. I’m glad that I stepped outside the normal dieters box.
She has found that when women stick to eating a lighter dinner, and then abstain from eating for about 13–15 hours between dinner and breakfast, they experience improvements in their weight, blood sugar control, etc. She recommends that women try avoiding eating after 8 p.m. or experiment with eating only two meals per day, with tea or broth between meals to help curb hunger. Another option is to try skipping dinner altogether on 1–2 days per week. For most women, when attempting IMF, it’s not recommended to snack between meals unless the woman is very active (such as an athlete in training) or dealing with a hormonal issue such as adrenal burnout.
Carbs are still the primary fuel for the body during high-intensity exercise. A ketogenic diet may be better suited to athletes performing endurance sports (like marathon running or cycling). Athletes engaged in more intense cardio (like sprinting, hockey, football) may perform better with a higher percentage of carbohydrates. These athletes may experience a decrease in high-intensity output while following a ketogenic diet, but ultimately, a lowered carbohydrate intake as isn’t “dangerous” for athletes.
After the depletion phase, your body will enter a survival mode where it starts to signal the liver to produce ketones from available dietary fat sources and body fat stores. These ketones will replace glycogen as the body’s fuel source in the absence of glycogen. The body will go back to burning glycogen for energy when you start eating carbs again.
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Traditionally, in the sports nutrition field, we talk about the importance of timing carbohydrate and fluid intake on improving sports performance. For some time now, research has been looking at the role of very low carbohydrate diets on sports performance. Trailblazers in keto and sports performance research like Dr. Stephen Phinney have been conducting studies in this area since the 80s. In one of his studies, the glycogen stores of cyclists on a keto diet were not completely depleted and lipid oxidation was increased. Researchers concluded that the body was able to adapt to the lack of carbohydrates and preserve what was needed to use the fat as fuel. However, based on the VO2 max breath test, since the body was attempting to preserve the carbohydrate during the exercise, it appears that the intensity of the exercise was limited. In a more recent study, off-road cyclists following a keto diet experienced small improvements, but still not significant enough to make strong conclusions.
Dehydration. With fewer water-binding carbohydrates in the diet, the body is less able to hold onto fluids, which can lead to dehydration. Eating more salt can help offset this, but it can also raise blood pressure, creating a whole new set of issues. If you plan to follow a keto diet, hydration is key. To know how many ounces of fluid you need each day, Yancy recommends dividing your body weight in half. Then think of the resulting number as your daily fluid goal in ounces. So if you weigh 200 pounds, strive for 100 ounces of water a day.
One notable clinical trial of the ketogenic diet for schizophrenia occurred in 1965. Back then, one of the authors noted that in some of his schizophrenic patients a carbohydrate binge preceded eruption of their hallucinations and paranoia. The study put 10 women with schizophrenia on a ketogenic diet for two weeks. The diet was added to their standard treatment of medication and ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) and resulted in a significant decrease in symptoms. A week after the women resumed a standard diet, symptoms returned. Despite this preliminary, positive outcome, few researchers in the intervening 50 years have investigated the promising potential of the ketogenic diet in schizophrenia.
That’s why the Bulletproof Diet uses cyclical nutritional ketosis, and why on days when I eat carbohydrates, I always have Brain Octane Oil so my cells have a steady supply of ketones. This builds metabolic flexibility: you can eat fat and carbs and your body will use them both, which is the goal. You want to be resilient and full of energy no matter what, and that means you want cells strong enough to burn whatever you give them.
For some, ketosis can cause more negative than positive side effects. Dorena Rode, a 52-year-old author, and speaker from Occidental, California, tried the diet for a month and experienced heart palpitations and dizziness. Unlike Drew, Rode says her cholesterol increased from 192 to 250 mg/dL after she introduced more fat into her diet. (Less than 200 mg/dL is considered desirable, while anything over 240 mg/dL is considered high.)
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.
We really do only want to try and share the knowledge we have through seeing thousands of different patients with complex issues over decades with all of you. Physicians jump at the chance to have a CDE see their patients in their practice or in the hospital because they know our value. They know how thorough we are when assessing their patients and often find issues that may have been overlooked for years. It’s all we do all day, so it’s our specialty…diabetes. We live and breathe it and are very passionate about helping people overcome their hurdles. I do hope sharing some of my personal experience with all of you will help, but I am here if you all have more questions anytime!
In 2009, Drs. Eric Westman and Bryan Kraft published a case study and a review of the literature for a 70-year-old woman with life-long schizophrenia. Diagnosed at age 17, she had experienced daily visual and auditory hallucinations (skeletons that urged her to hurt herself) since the age of 7. She also had obesity, sleep apnea, hypertension, and gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) among a number of other health issues. After only 8 days on the ketogenic diet, the voices and hallucinations stopped. At the time of publication she had continued the ketogenic diet for more than a year, with no return of hallucinations, and had lost more than 10 kilograms (22 lbs).
High-protein ketogenic diet (HPKD): This version of the keto diet is often followed by folks who want to preserve their muscle mass like bodybuilders and older people. Rather than protein making up 20 percent of the diet, here it’s 30 percent. Meanwhile, fat goes down to 65 percent of the diet and carbs stay at 5 percent. (Caution: folks with kidney issues shouldn’t up their protein too much.)
Most people already know about the keto flu, which can happen when you start the diet. It’s a result of the body adapting to the low-carb state. Lowering carb intake forces the body to burn ketones for energy instead of glucose. Once the body is in ketosis — burning fat instead of glucose — the keto diet is working. But you may not feel so great at first, hence the term keto flu.
Diets require discipline, and it is not always easy for people to follow them without indulging in a "cheat day." One day may not make a big difference in the long-term, but a recent study from the University of British Columbia in Okanagan, Canada (UBCO), found that when it comes to the keto diet, a single dose of carbohydrates may have dangerous side effects.
The keto diet has a massive fan base that has grown at least in part due to the popular Netflix documentary The Magic Pill, which touts a trove of promising keto health benefits. But the fact of the matter is that most of the studies on the keto diet are premature. Meaning: They’re in small populations of humans, or they’re in rats. (And you are very different from a rat.)
A ketogenic diet also has been shown to improve blood sugar control for patients with type 2 diabetes, at least in the short term. There is even more controversy when we consider the effect on cholesterol levels. A few studies show some patients have increase in cholesterol levels in the beginning, only to see cholesterol fall a few months later. However, there is no long-term research analyzing its effects over time on diabetes and high cholesterol.
“It’s unhealthy and unsustainable,” they say. “How can a high-fat diet help you lose weight? It’s dangerous for the heart, increases the risk of ketoacidosis, leads to poor mineral intake and electrolyte imbalance,” they say. But the ketogenic diet has a well-established history of aiding in disease treatment. It has been used to help people with epilepsy (especially children) since the early 1900’s, and more recently, it has been used to manage type-2 diabetes (since it lowers the need for insulin therapy).1
What is the ketogenic diet exactly? The classic ketogenic diet is a very low-carb diet plan that was originally designed in the 1920s for patients with epilepsy by researchers working at Johns Hopkins Medical Center. Researchers found that fasting — avoiding consumption of all foods for a brief period of time (such as with intermittent fasting), including those that provide carbohydrates — helped reduce the amount of seizures patients suffered, in addition to having other positive effects on body fat, blood sugar, cholesterol and hunger levels. (1)
A related clinical diet for drug-resistant epilepsy is called the medium-chain triglyceride ketogenic diet, in which MCT oil is extensively used because it’s more ketogenic than long-chain triglycerides. (13) Another dietary therapy for epilepsy called Low Glycemic Index Treatment (LGIT) was developed in 2002 as an alternative to the keto diet. LGIT monitors the total amount of carbohydrates consumed daily, and focuses on carbohydrates that have a low glycemic index.) (14)
What happens is that fats get stored in your body if you do not have enough physical activity every day to break them up. As they get stored, they show in the form of belly fat. As a result of that, you appear obese. To make the body slim, you have to use up the daily fat as soon as you ingest it. Otherwise, it accumulates in the body and makes you obese.
Certain Cancers Keto may be used in combination with chemotherapy and radiation, some studies have suggested, including one published in November 2018 in the journal Oncology. (12) But ultimately more studies are needed to determine if keto can play a role in cancer therapy, and patients should not use it as a stand-alone treatment or without a doctor’s consent.
Your body uses the carbohydrates you eat for energy, so if we restrict how many carbohydrates we eat, the body has to get its fuel source from fat. A byproduct of this fat burning state are ketones which are produced; this is called nutritional ketosis. You can determine if you are in this fat burning state by purchasing urine ketone testing strips from your local pharmacy.
I’ve practiced Keto diet and nothing is wrong with me. Yes the first few months there were side effects like headache etc… but after that your gonna get smooth. Keto diet are for those people who are badly in need to get in shape like those who have obesity because no matter what the consequences are, People who have been hanging by a thread because of obesity will do everything to make all things right again and that’s why Keto diet works for me.
Other potential risks include kidney stones, several vitamin and mineral deficiencies, decreased bone mineral density, and gastrointestinal distress. (7) Here’s why: When you’re eliminating certain food groups (like fruits, legumes, and whole grains) and severely limiting others (like many vegetables), it’s not uncommon to experience nutritional deficiencies. A lack of fiber, for instance, can make it more likely you’ll experience constipation.
“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.
In another study looking at ketogenic diets as a treatment for cancer,5 this research team concluded, “based on the results of rigorous preclinical and clinical studies performed thus far, the KD would appear to be a promising and powerful option for adjuvant therapy for a range of cancers. Cancer-specific recommendations await the findings of randomized controlled clinical trials.”
The crazy thing is it is not hard, if it matters. Sure I can see it being hard for someone who does it to lose weight, then when they get closer to their ideal, they want to have treats, etc. Well, for a type one diabetic there’s no end in sight, this is it, and it’s a relatively complication free life (many people reverse their complications when they bring their A1C down to normal) vs. one with inevitable complications. So, perhaps it was too hard for you after a year (you didn’t say, but I assume you are not a type one diabetic), but that is a choice you can make. Not I.
Mike, that’s exactly right! With T2, we no longer have the option of eating carbs, sugar and all the good stuff. Why can’t dieticians and the ADA recognize that and quit trying to shove all those carbs down our throats? I don’t get it… I seriously don’t. And I think the author of this article would do an about face is she actually had diabetes. It’s amazing the amount of people who claim to be experts that seriously don’t get it!! It I had Celiac Disease, I couldn’t eat gluten… at all. Why is the same not recognized for diabetics? Our meters show us when we are eating too many carbs. Its VERY clear as the number goes very high. What do the professionals not get about that? It’s been the most amazing thing about this whole process for me and I just can’t believe how biased people are against a very low carb diet for managing diabetes. You think that because people can’t maintain that kind of diet for long term makes it OK to go ahead and be against it? Did it ever occur to any of the professionals that by recommending a low carb diet it might actually encourage people to maintain it? Instead, you are giving them excuses and reasons to eat way too many carbs!! Last August 2016 I was diagnosed with T2, with an A1C of 12.7. My last blood test showed an A1C of 6.2 (July 2017) and I had reduced some of the meds I was originally on. I am still working on lowering my numbers. The whole process has been a slow progression to keto and I had to stumble on the whole thing myself through my own research. I tried vegan at first and quickly realized that I was eating too many carbs. Then I went low carb but knew I could do better. When I tried the Keto diet, my numbers went much lower. You get over the sweet addictions. You get over the bread addictions and you find suitable substitutions. You do what you have to do. But by not recommending an ultra low carb diet simply because you don’t think people can do it is ridiculous! It is basically telling people that they can’t possibly manage their own lives… they can’t possibly make their own, good choices. And then, because you are the authority, you are giving them reasons to not even try. You defeat them before they even begin. It just amazes me!
Keto Diet is NOT strictly 20 grams of carbs per day. Not only are you biased but you are not being truthful. 20 grams per day is just the recommended guideline for maintaining ketosis. Many people can consume 40, 50 even 60 and 70 grams of carbs per day and stay in ketosis. It depends on the person. Age, size lifestyle and exercise all factor into how many carbs can be allowed and maintain ketosis. It is ok to not recommend a diet but when you leave out important aspects you do both your readers and yourself an injustice. Don’t base your article on one or two 3 page leaflets you read on ketosis written 20 years ago.
Cost. At the grocery store, your shopping cart can take on a whole new look (and price tag) thanks to high-ticket items such as beef, fish, poultry, pork, and cheese, which are replacing budget-friendly pasta, potatoes, rice, and bread. And chronic constipation may require fiber supplements or stool softeners. Before beginning a keto diet, determine whether it’ll fit within your budget.
It is important to point out however, that type 2 diabetes also improves during any form of caloric restriction and it is likely that a keto diet is not unique in that aspect, rather it is causing a caloric deficit by severely restricting carbohydrate intake. We have helped numerous clients lose fat while on a moderate carb intake in a caloric deficit.