“Keto diets should only be used under clinical supervision and only for brief periods,” Francine Blinten, R.D., a certified clinical nutritionist and public health consultant in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, told Healthline. “They have worked successfully on some cancer patients in conjunction with chemotherapy to shrink tumors and to reduce seizures among people suffering from epilepsy.”
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)
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.
The biggest issue is that some people consider keto to be a free pass to skip the green stuff. Either that, or they assume “vegetable=carb” and avoid them. Without plants, it’s tough to eat enough fiber, especially the fermentable, prebiotic kind that sustains our gut bacteria. We don’t need bowel-rending quantities of fiber. We shouldn’t take pride in the ability to fill the toilet bowl with perfect coils of crucifer corpses. These are unnecessary at best and downright harmful at worst.
But what does the science say? Results are mixed. In one Spanish study of 20 obese adults, participants were put on a low-calorie keto diet and lost an average of 40 pounds over four months. Another small experiment had a similar outcome. In a six-month Experimental & Clinical Cardiology study of 83 obese adults, those on the keto diet lost an average of 33 pounds, while lowering their bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and increasing their good (HDL) cholesterol.
In a survey of both children and adults, researchers found that a very low carbohydrate diet promotes “exceptional glycemic control” in those with type 1 diabetes mellitus. When it comes to type 2 diabetes, the Journal of American Medical Association recently published a review examining the effective use of the ketogenic diet in those with type 2 diabetes.
The keto diet involves getting up to 80 percent of daily calories from sources of healthy fat, a significant change for most of her patients who were accustomed to running on carbs, caffeine and sugar for energy. It became clear that something else had to be adjusted in order to prevent the side effects associated with the keto diet. This is when she came up with the idea to focus on restoring alkalinity first and foremost.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...
Holy smokes what a great article! Thank you for such a thorough read. I have been doing a “keto diet” (keeping carb’s under 40 g/day-I use a tracker) since the beginning of January and felt “fluish” at first like you state. That passed and this past week (It is now Feb 11)my weight loss has stalled so I am experimenting with even lower carb’s (15-20g/day). This change has really interrupted my sleep the past 3 nights, hence me typing this at 4:44 in the am after deciding to do some research the past hour. Will this too pass? Or is it time for a Mg supplement? And if so can I use a pill rather than a drink? Between all the water and the bone broth I am unsure how more I will want to drink ha! But if I have to then I will, just thought I would ask. Again, thank you for all you are doing and such a fantastic read!
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.
For many people, one of the more surprising side effects of starting a ketogenic diet is a bout with the “keto flu.” How so? “When you go on this diet, your kidneys don’t retain as much salt or water, which can lead to flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue and headache, or constipation,” says Laura Saslow, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing. “But these are typically short-lived symptoms that can be prevented or treated by increasing your salt and water intake.” However, if you have high blood pressure, speak with your doctor before adding more sodium to your diet. And know that the keto flu only lasts a week or two; symptoms typically subside once the body adjusts to the diet.
Additionally, people with gallbladder disease, pancreatic insufficiency, a history of kidney stones, or a history of anorexia should talk with their doctor regarding the safety of a ketogenic diet program. Last, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding require higher protein intake and should adjust the ketogenic diet plan to meet this macronutrient need.
The only issue with keto, is really that I’m afraid that it might be hard to up my calories to a maintenance weight now that I’ve gotten a taste preference for the rich assortment of foods with no carbs in them. I’m satisfied with less calories than I will need after my excess fat is burned off… but , maybe I bet my body will send more hunger signs once there isn’t anymore body fat in the cupboard to use instead of what goes down my throat.
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.
Imagine your body is a home with a fireplace in the middle and the heat required to keep it at a comfortable\livable temp is keeping the fireplace burning at a manageable and constant pace. To do this you have two fuel-types at your disposal: Kerosene and Charcoal. (in this analogy Kerosene is carbohydrates and coal is fat). American diets are high in carbs, which is like throwing a bucket full of kerosene on that fire. Will it keep the house warm? Sure, but it burns down fast so you have to keep throwing bucket after bucket on it to keep it going, consuming tons of kerosene, and you get these huge spikes in heat. It is much harder to control the strength of the flame, and thus much harder to keep the house at a constant, comfortable temp.