Remember the low-fat diet craze? Back in the 1990s, we were told that swapping regular cookies and chips for those labeled "low fat" would be the ticket to easy weight loss and better health. Today, it's the opposite—a low-carb, high-fat eating plan called the ketogenic diet, or keto diet for short, is getting all the buzz. Celebrities like Halle Berry, Kim Kardashian, and Megan Fox are fans; more than 7 million Instagram posts have been tagged #keto; and upwards of 1 million people search "keto diet" on Google every month.
In the study, the researchers fed mice a ketogenic diet for several days and expected to find a favorable outcome — perhaps weight loss or another indication of improved health. Instead, they found that the liver began resisting insulin almost immediately and the mice were unable to regulate their blood sugar levels after only three days on the diet. (Insulin resistance, meaning that cells in the body don't respond to insulin, is a key characteristic of type 2 diabetes.)
The aim is far broader than suggested by the article here: It’s not just about what you put in your mouth – it’s also about timing and exercise. There are three ways to be in ketosis – which simply means that “fat burning” and not being dependent on sugars. Fasting puts a man into ketosis in 3 days and a woman by 2 days. Endurance exercise gets you there in a couple of hours. Eating a high fat diet will do it too. The goal however is hidden by the detail – it is to acquire a “Flexible Metabolism”. The aim is to switch on the full fat burning capacity and keep it running – which takes from between 4 to 12 weeks physical adaptation (for the muscles to fully be able to use ketones). The heart runs approximately 27% more efficiently on ketones than on glucose! The brain works better too – Alzheimer’s being referred to by researchers as “diabetes 3”. Once you have a Flexible Metabolism you can consume carbs during or after exercise without dropping out of ketosis – though this depends on your own bio-individuality. I can eat quite a lot of carbs – without losing ketosis – my partner cannot.
Kidney stones are a well-noted potential side effect of the ketogenic diet. Research published in the Journal of Child Neurology observed that among children following the keto diet as a treatment for epilepsy, 13 out of 195 subjects developed kidney stones. Children supplementing with potassium citrate in the study noticed a decreased likelihood of kidney stones. Speak with your healthcare practitioner about supplementing if kidney stones are a concern.
Controls glucose and reduces diabetic symptoms. In a randomized study of overweight adults with type 2 diabetes, the participants were divided into two groups. The first group followed a 32-week ketogenic diet program while the second group followed the conventional low-fat, diabetes diet plan. At the end of the study, the ketogenic diet group improved their glycemic control and lost more weight than the other group. The research showed that the ketogenic diet improved the participants’ blood glucose levels while also reducing the need for insulin.
One of the keto side effects people may complain about is keto breath. Although this is not quite related to the three major causes we’ve discussed so far, keto breath is something that many people experience in the early stages of keto adaptation. When you begin producing ketones, you produce them in several different forms. The ketone that is released through the breath is acetone and is responsible for the keto breath that some people experience.
Let’s also get one thing cleared up, there’s a difference between not pooping and constipation. Constipation is obvious blockage and discomfort–there’s something there but it ain’t movin’. Not pooping is well, not pooping. There’s nothing there to come out. When you produce less waste, you poop less often–and on Keto, you’re going to poop less often. The body is very efficient at extracting nutrients from meats and fatty foods. The result is less waste. So don’t mistake fewer bowel movements with constipation.
…uric acid goes up promptly in the same time frame that ketones go up, but after 4–6 weeks, despite ketones staying up, uric acid starts to come back down. Based on these data and my clinical observations in thousands of patients, uric acid returns to or below pre-diet baseline within 6–12 weeks despite the person remaining is a state of nutritional ketosis.
Glucose is stored in your liver and released as needed for energy. However, after carb intake has been extremely low for one to two days, these glucose stores become depleted. Your liver can make some glucose from amino acids in the protein you eat via a process known as gluconeogenesis, but not nearly enough to meet the needs of your brain, which requires a constant fuel supply.
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.
Ketosis is different, because, when in the state of ketosis, the brain will prefer ketones over glucose. For the dieter this is good! The body will not have to break down protein for energy. In turn the body will be forced to use its fat reserves, a.k.a. your love handles, for its energy. This is why a low-carb diet is such a good method of dieting.
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Ketones are more beneficial to the brain than glucose is. This is great news for patients with Type 1 Diabetes, because it will not affect the brain function when you are running low in glucose. Ketosis prevent raising blood glucose levels, since you are not introducing large amounts of carbs into your system. They help in stimulating the growth of healthy brain cells.
Our body needs some time to get used to ketones being elevated in the blood stream to begin using them effectively and efficiently for cellular energy. By consuming an exogenous ketone supplement, you get the body adapted to ketones faster and using them as an energy source before the body has built the metabolic machinery to produce its own ketones effectively.
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.
It’s a fairly common scene for new keto dieters. Aubrey Marcus recently referenced a highly-disturbing stat that 25% of physicians still equate consuming dietary cholesterol with increased blood cholesterol, an association that has been unequivocally refuted by recent science. But before you accept AHA-sanctioned diet advice, determine if there’s actually a problem.
Is a keto diet good for type 2 diabetes? The keto diet can be very helpful for type 2 diabetes since the body is now using fat rather than carbohydrates as its main source of fuel. This way of eating decreases the body’s demand for insulin and helps to keep blood glucose levels at a low yet healthy level. If you’re a type 2 diabetic who takes insulin, then you may likely need less insulin as a result of following the ketogenic diet.
Recently, four studies have re-examined the effect of carbohydrate restriction on type 2 diabetes. One outpatient study enrolled 54 participants with type 2 diabetes (out of 132 total participants) and found that hemoglobin A1c improved to a greater degree over one year with a low-carbohydrate diet compared with a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet [5,6]. Another study enrolled 8 men with type 2 diabetes in a 5-week crossover outpatient feeding study that tested similar diets . The participants had greater improvement in glycohemoglobin while on the low-carbohydrate diet than when on a eucaloric low-fat diet. The third study was an inpatient feeding study in 10 participants with type 2 diabetes . After only 14 days, hemoglobin A1c improved from 7.3% to 6.8%. In the fourth study, 16 participants with type 2 diabetes who followed a 20% carbohydrate diet had improvement of hemoglobin A1c from 8.0% to 6.6% over 24 weeks . Only these latter three studies targeted glycemic control as a goal, and two of these were intensely-monitored efficacy studies in which all food was provided to participants for the duration of the study [7,8]. Three of the studies [6,8,9] mentioned that diabetic medications were adjusted but only one of them provided detailed information regarding these adjustments . This information is critical for patients on medication for diabetes who initiate a low-carbohydrate diet because of the potential for adverse effects resulting from hypoglycemia.
Chelsea is the site editor and nutritionist for Ultimate Paleo Guide and Paleo Meal Plans. In 2016, Chelsea graduated from the National University of Natural Medicine with a Master’s degree in Nutrition. When she’s not working for Ultimate Paleo Guide or coaching CrossFit, Chelsea enjoys hiking, traveling, cooking, and eating. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @chelsbrinegar and LinkedIn.
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.
A number of studies suggest keto can disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in your GI tract (a condition called dysbiosis) due to high saturated fat intake and eating less fiber. Diets lacking in prebiotic fiber decrease probiotic, "friendly" bacteria as a result. Since the GI tract is considered the "bodyguard" of your immune system, this may impact your gut-brain connection, immune function, and chronic disease risk.
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.
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Multiple sclerosis diet tips Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic condition that can lead to weakness and memory loss, among other symptoms. Some studies suggest that making dietary changes may help boost a healthy gut flora, which could improve symptoms. Find out more about which foods to eat and which to avoid, and get some lifestyle tips, too. Read now
But what I think is funny is that the keto diet has been staring us in the face forever. Look at Inuit tribes that survived off of blubber in a region that grows next to nothing most of the year. Yet their people didn’t die out or show signs of metabolic disorders or heart disease until introduced to the modern western diet that prioritizes carbohydrates over fat. Here is an interesting link, however I find the conclusion disheartening and frankly more than a little suspicious. (Basically the people in charge decided to drop the study and introduced a bunch of “what about…” questions to obfuscate a clear pattern in observation across many indigenous people from across the face of the planet and decided the outcome “wasn’t enough” to introduce into public policy…)
Because slimming down is the main reason most people consider altering their diet in the first place, it’s a good place to start. Because the ketogenic diet has been studied for so long, there’s actually a fair amount of research in this department. One 2013 meta-analysis compiled results from 13 different studies to determine how a diet featuring no more than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day stacked up against a low-fat diet. According to the researchers, those on the ketogenic diet lost more weight. It’s also important to note these studies occurred over a pretty lengthy amount of time, with a minimum follow-up of 12 months.
ME: There is a sort of three-phase process the body goes through as it adapts to burning fat as its primary fuel. After two to three days, you will show elevated ketones [the buildup of chemicals created by the body when it burns fat for energy] in the blood. Energy will be low for the first week or two, but keeping electrolytes up such as sodium, magnesium, potassium [by using sea salt liberally and considering a supplement if necessary] and drinking water usually help. After about four to six weeks, the body actually makes more mitochondria [the powerhouses of our cells], and that is when your energy starts to soar. You also start seeing amazing mental clarity and focus, cravings go away more and more.
Protein: A typical recommended keto protein intake is between one and 1.5 grams per kilogram of your ideal body weight. To convert pounds to kilograms, divide your ideal weight by 2.2. It’s important to note that Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO) recommends that adults with diabetes limit their protein intake to less than one gram per kilogram of body weight each day and that adults with chronic kidney disease avoid protein intake greater than 1.3 grams per kilogram per day.
There is nothing inherently difficult about following a ketogenic diet. We have many patients who do this very easily over many years. The metabolic benefits significantly outway any perceived challenges from limiting particular food types. Uptake would be far more widespread if nutrition professionals left their predujical opinions of SFA’s behind. Finally, given the expertise in Ketogenic Diets at Harvard, Dr David Ludwig, for one springs to mind, I am surprised the author did not avail themselves of the local expertise.
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.