John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.
Recommendations: If conventional therapies are not helping you or your child lower the frequency of seizures, strongly consider using a ketogenic diet. Remember to discuss a suitable plan with your doctor and a registered dietitian, and monitor its effectiveness. Use Ruled.me to gain access to critical information on the keto lifestyle and community that will help you stick to the diet.
Ketosis has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties while also assisting with pain relief. Reducing glucose metabolism influences pain, so this could be one potential mechanism of action. In the review The Nervous System and Metabolic Dysregulation: Emerging Evidence Converges on Ketogenic Diet Therapy the authors look at numerous ways that a ketogenic diet can assist with pain and inflammation.
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.
Some athletes swear by the ketogenic diet, not just for weight loss but for improved performance in their sport, as well. But Edward Weiss, PhD, associate professor of nutrition and dietetics at Saint Louis University, doesn’t buy it. “I hear cyclists say all the time that they’re faster and better now that they’re on keto, and my first question is, 'Well, how much weight did you lose?'” he says.
To ensure you are getting enough potassium, include avocados and leafy greens like spinach in your daily diet. Sprinkle some unrefined salt on every meal and in your water to replenish your sodium levels as well. Some ketogenic dieters suggest getting at least 5 to 7 grams of salt per day (one teaspoon to a teaspoon and a half per day) during your first week on the ketogenic diet.
Our bodies run well on glucose (carbs)–they give us the necessary energy we need to function on a daily basis. When our body doesn’t get enough glucose (either because we’re cutting carbs too low, OR we haven’t eaten in too long), our body kind of freaks out and looks for other forms of energy to satisfy that role. That’s where the fat comes in. Without carbs, our insulin levels drop and fat is released from our cells. The fat overwhelms the liver which turns it into ketones, our body’s second choice to carbs for energy.
The keto diet involves a very high consumption of dietary fats, and very low carbohydrate consumption. Through these nutritional changes, the body reduces its use of glucose for fuel, and increasingly uses ketones (derived from fats). The diet was first used to control epileptic seizures, but there is growing body of research showing positive effects on Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, inflammation1, and diabetes.
The keto diet has been shown to help people lose weight in the short term; however, the long-term benefits of the diet aren't as clear, according to the Mayo Clinic. The diet is named for ketosis, which is the condition the body goes into when following the plan. In ketosis, the body uses ketone bodies, or water-soluble molecules produced by the liver and the breakdown of fatty tissue for cellular energy as opposed to sugars from ingested carbohydrates. And in some people, this results in weight-loss.
The whole area of calcium supplementation is rife with misinformation. Mainstream docs assume that osteoporosis is due solely to lack of calcium, ignoring that you need to have adequate Vit D levels to absorb the calcium in the first place (and their idea of adequate D blood levels are absurdly low) as well as Vit K2. Since bone is made of calcium phosphate, you also need adequate phosphate as well. Milk contains calcium phosphate – no surprise since it is designed to build the bones of the growing animal – so dairy is your best source of calcium. You also need protein since bone is calcium phosphate within a protein matrix. To rebuild osteoporotic bone you need 1.2gm/Kg of body weight, 50% more than the RDA of 0.8gm/Kg.
The initial weight loss is usually short-lived as carbohydrates hold onto fluid in the body. Beyond that, we need fat on our bodies in order to function and survive. Fat is essential and plays a vital role in many basic physiological functions of our body. This notion of ‘burning’ as much fat off our bodies as we can can be downright dangerous because biologically, we need fat. Having too little body fat can lead to issues such as:
The diet is called "keto" in reference to the ketogenic state your body enters when it gets essentially no carbs — its default form of fuel for energy — and instead, uses fat as its source of energy. If you think about it, that's a pretty dramatic shift for your body to make. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that aside from hastened weight loss, keto can bring with it some significant complications.
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)
Keto flu symptoms and side effects can include feeling tired, having difficulty sleeping, digestive issues like constipation, weakness during workouts, being moody, losing libido and having bad breath. Fortunately, these side effects don’t affect everyone and often only last for 1–2 weeks. (And yes, you CAN build muscle on keto.) Overall, symptoms go away as your body adjusts to being in ketosis.
Increases in cholesterol levels need discussion too. We do see temporary increases in cholesterol levels often as individuals transition onto a ketogenic diet. However, when you examine lipid particle size (a more important way to look at the cardiovascular risks), the risk pattern doesn’t seem to increase with a ketogenic diet. Harvard Health has written about lipid particle size here before: http://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/should-you-seek-advanced-cholesterol-testing-
Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD): If you find it difficult to stick to a very low-carb diet every day, especially for months on end, you might want to consider a carb-cycling diet instead. Carb cycling increases carbohydrate intake (and sometimes calories in general) only at the right time and in the right amounts, usually about 1–2 times per week (such as on weekends).
Getting 80-90% of your calories from fat, which is what’s generally required for true ketosis, is fairly difficult. Keto is not just low-carb, it’s also moderately-low protein. That requires filling your plate with avocado, coconut oil, fatty meats, gravy — and very few carbohydrates. While the range for carbohydrate intake vary from person to person, 25-30g is usually the maximum amount allowed to stay in ketosis. That’s the equivalent of one medium apple.
Several comprehensive studies and meta-analyses have demonstrated that after a few months or even a year of a low carb diet versus a moderate/high carb diet, there are no significant differences in the amount of weight lost (2,3,4,5). I will say, however, most of these diets are NOT keto and are simply lower carb (i.e. 20%). Also, long-term effects (beyond 1 year) are not often studied due to budgetary constraints, so interpret results as you wish.
Controlling your blood sugar levels helps you control your cravings, Dr. Burrows says. “When we are not on a sugar roller coaster from processed carbohydrates, most people make better food choices because they are not looking for their next hit of food,” she says. You may also find you’re able to go longer periods without eating, he says. Intermittent fasting is a common practice among dieters who’ve been eating keto for a while. Learn how one woman totally kicked her sugar habit by trying the keto diet.
In addition, on the day the diet was initiated, diabetes medications were reduced – generally, insulin doses were halved, and sulfonylurea doses were halved or discontinued. Due to the possible diuretic effects of the diet soon after initiation, diuretic medications were discontinued if of low dosage (up to 25 mg of hydrochlorothiazide or 20 mg of furosemide) or halved if of higher dosage. Participants were also instructed to take a standard multivitamin and drink 6–8 glasses of water daily, and were encouraged to exercise aerobically for 30 minutes at least three times per week.
Incidentally , there’s a very informative article on the bbc website about one of the last remaining hunter/gather societies left in the world, living in Tanzania. They have amazing gut health and no t2d. Would you like to guess at the type of diet they follow? This would be the caveman diet that the writer mentions, and yes these people might not live as long as us but the cause of death is never a lack of motivation to stay on a keto diet.
There is one precaution with keto and children who are under their ideal weight, though, and you will need to decide if the risks outweigh the benefits – being in ketosis is a natural appetite suppressant. This will vary from person to person for how much this affects them, but if your child seems even affected by this appetite suppressant property, you may find that the GAPS or SCD diets are a better fit for healing the gut and encouraging weight gain.
Foods that are emphasized as part of an alkaline keto diet include non-starchy vegetables, raw foods, green juices, lean proteins and lots of healthy fats. Foods that are high in sugar, carbs and acidic that should be avoided include: added sugar, high-sodium foods, processed grains, too much meat and animal protein, milk and dairy products, alcohol and caffeine.
The typical American consumes about 52% of calories from carbs, 33% from fat, and 16% from protein, according to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This macronutrient breakdown is fairly close to current dietary recommendations from the United States Department of Agriculture, which recommend 55 to 60% complex carbs, 30 percent fat and 15% protein to help prevent cardiovascular disease.
On a ketogenic diet, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run mostly on fat, burning fat 24-7. When insulin levels become very low, fat burning can increase dramatically. It becomes easier to access your fat stores to burn them off. This is great if you’re trying to lose weight, but there are also other less obvious benefits, such as less hunger and a steady supply of energy. This may help keep you alert and focused.
Reduce daily net carb intake to less than 20 grams: Although it’s possible that you may not need to be this strict, eating fewer than 20 grams of net carbs every day virtually guarantees that you’ll achieve nutritional ketosis. What does 20 grams of carb look like? Use our visual guide to find out, or simply try our keto recipes and meal plans that limit carbs to less than 20 grams per day.
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).
"Many of the richest sources of fiber, like beans, fruit, and whole grains are restricted on the ketogenic diet," registered dietician Edwina Clark told Everyday Health. "As a result, ketogenic eaters miss out on the benefits of fiber-rich diet such as regular laxation and microbiome support. The microbiome has been implicated in everything from immune function to mental health."
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Another small but very important benefit of the ketogenic diet is that when in the state of ketosis, ketones, along with a high protein intake, seem to suppress appetite. A high-carbohydrate diet, on the other hand, increases hunger levels. Because you have to consume a lot of fat on a ketogenic diet, which hold 9 calories per gram, you are not getting much food volume. It's not mandatory to be hungry on a reduced-calorie diet.
The comments defending the keto diet suggest that the individuals are successfully using the keto diet to help them maintain a healthy weight and a healthier A1C level. The individuals also suggest that they view it as a way of life rather than a diet. This is good news for many of us who are facing the question of whether it will be helpful and necessary to reduce carbohydrate intake to keto producing levels in order to halt or reverse the onset of type II diabetes. I think like those individuals, Tami is speaking from her own personal experience where she had success losing weight, but had difficulty maintaining the keto diet long-term. I am sure that though you have been successful, you can understand that there are many who might find it difficult to maintain. I too have been given very bad guidance by Medical Doctors who lean on old Med School information to practice medicine rather than continuing to broaden their knowledge base and learn more about nutrition. I cannot get back the 20+ years of suffering with a debilitating disease that could have been cured because my doctors were not well informed or willing to listen to information that disagreed with their limited knowledge base. Those years are gone and the destruction to my body is not reversible. So I understand the anger you feel toward a system that isn’t working in the best interest of the patient. But I think that expressing anger toward those who disagree with our personal experience, is not solving the problem. Hopefully we can change the ADA guidelines by respectfully urging them to reconsider their position based on the sheer volume of the comments they receive from successful people like you, who are living the keto diet lifestyle and living better. I commend you for becoming your own best health advocates. Thanks for your encouragement and your passion. And thanks to Tami as well for sharing her personal experience and the information she had collected. We all have to be true to what we believe and we all have a right to come to our own conclusions. It is good to know that there are success stories out there. I wish you all good health and continued success. I also hope that one day medical training will do a much better job of preparing doctors to become their patient’s best advocates, actively learning and searching for cures rather than treating symptoms in ways that cause even more disease to develop. The system is failing so many of us.
Here’s another controversial yet promising area of study: Research suggests that when patients with diabetes take on a low-carb diet (like keto), they experience improvements in insulin sensitivity by up to 75 percent, as well as a reduction in blood sugar control medications. What we aren’t sure of, however, is whether these improvements are due specifically to the effects of ketosis or to weight loss in general, so similar results could theoretically be found with any successful diet.
The word “keto” often has negative associations for people living with diabetes, especially Type 1. DKA, diabetic ketoacidosis, is a life-threatening condition arising when the body produces too many ketones. So how does entering ketosis deliberately through a conscientious diet differ from entering it accidentally? The answer has to do with the level of ketones, the former causing “regulated and controlled production” and the latter causing an overabundance.
Hey there! I started on the keto diet fully a few days ago but have been slowly working my way into for a couple weeks; eliminating . I have unspecified/other specified bipolar and have already spoken with my doctor about starting this diet. She said she recommends it fully. Today, I feel tired, foggy and I’ve had a headache for two days in a row. My mood is lower than I would like but being bipolar, I can’t really tell if its that or keto. There really aren’t many articles for keto and bipolar and I was wondering if you know of anyone with this condition and doing keto?
One way to find out if the keto diet is not be ideal for your cardiovascular health is by checking if your total-to-HDL cholesterol ratio is above 4 and/or your LDL-P remains high or increases after starting the keto diet. If this is the case for you, then you may fare better with a low to moderate fat diet with plenty of whole foods, fiber, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats (especially omega 3s), and limited saturated fats.
On the flip side, hypos can be an issue, especially early on…and if you treat them too aggressively, they could knock you out of ketosis. I remember my first 3 weeks on keto, my CGM trend line hugged a blood sugar of around 80. It was glorious, but I had to reduce insulin substantially through trial and error and felt like I was low every five seconds.
And science is now catching up, this review paper on ketogenic diets as a form of cancer therapy concluded: “Although the mechanism by which ketogenic diets demonstrate anticancer effects … has not been fully elucidated, preclinical results have demonstrated the safety and potential efficacy of using ketogenic diets.. improve responses in murine cancer models”
In some ways, it’s similar to the Atkins diet, which similarly boosts the body’s fat-burning abilities through eating only low-carb foods, along with getting rid of foods high in carbs and sugar. Removing glucose from carbohydrate foods will cause the body to burn fat for energy instead. The major differences between the classic keto and the Atkins diet is the former emphasizes healthier keto fats, less overall protein and no processed meat (such as bacon) while having more research to back up its efficacy.
In a March 2018 blog post, Dr. Ede provides a range of very helpful tips for anyone already on mood-altering or psychiatric medications who want to try a ketogenic diet, such as how to talk with your psychiatrist or mental-health provider and what laboratory metabolic tests the doctor should order to help monitor your response to the diet. Most importantly, she provides details about some specific medications — notably specific antipsychotic medications, anticonvulsant medications, and lithium — that should be carefully monitored.
Ketogenesis has existed as long as humans have. If you eat a very low amount of carbohydrates, you starve your brain of glucose, its main fuel source. Your body still needs fuel to function, so it taps into your reserve of ketones, which are compounds the liver creates from fat when blood insulin is low. This process is known as ketosis: It’s like when a hybrid car runs out of gas and reverts to pure electricity.
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It has been known for more than a decade that bipolar disorder shares a number of clinical, biochemical and physiologic features with epilepsy and that a similar neurobiology may underpin both disorders. Both conditions cycle, both are risk factors for each other, and anticonvulsant drugs used in epilepsy have been found to be effective in helping manage bipolar illness.
He has been on keto diet for at least 3 years now. I think that he is some proof that yes, it does work. And it may be that some people do need keto. However, I don’t believe that everyone needs keto diet to get reversal. I have had reversal with regular ADA diet in my clinic. Not just a few! Many have reversed. However, I just want for keto dieters to find a clinical trial. We do need more information. We must understand what happens in the long term on keto diet. I personally did Atkins years ago, which was 20 grams. I had a very hard time to stay on it. I lost 20 pounds, and then I did gain it back. I just could not live without some more carbohydrates than this allowed. I don’t know about being on 60 to 70 carbs, and staying in ketosis. It seemed I was out of it at 22 carbs. Anyway, this was not for me. Maybe it is for you. No one is saying that one should never go on a keto diet, but we are wary of it. We need more science behind it. Therefore, I am just going to put this out here now. I will paste it down the page so that others may see it. They are taking participants. If you fit the criteria, please help us to get more than people’s opinion about this diet. Then we can be more positive about it, and recommend it if the science is there. Here is the link to the clinical trial. Thanks for your comments:
We also need to define “reversible”… that’s not easy. But what matters is that a low-carb or ketogenic diet increases metabolic flexibility and decreases pathological insulin resistance. In so doing it decreases cardiovascular risk factors and improves overall health. Many diabetics don’t even need external insulin or other diabetic medications when following a ketogenic diet.
At the core of the classic keto diet is severely restricting intake of all or most foods with sugar and starch (carbohydrates). These foods are broken down into sugar (insulin and glucose) in our blood once we eat them, and if these levels become too high, extra calories are much more easily stored as body fat and results in unwanted weight gain. However, when glucose levels are cut off due to low-carb intake, the body starts to burn fat instead and produces ketones that can be measured in the blood (using urine strips, for example).
Work towards cycling fasting days so you’re fasting on 2–3 nonconsecutive days per week (e.g. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday). Stick to only light exercise or yoga on fasting days to reduce feeling exhausted or hungry, keeping higher intensity activities for your non-fasting days. This approach allows for more dietary and lifestyle “moderation” because the goal isn’t to eat 100 percent “perfectly” all the time.