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The keto diet is often called a fad diet. Make no mistake: it is. But unlike other trendy diets, the keto diet is unique because it actually pushes the body into an alternate, natural metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, you can reliably expect a few negative side effects, notably those that come with the "keto flu." But other side effects emerge only when people implement the keto diet poorly, typically by failing to eat balanced, nutrient-rich foods as a part of a high-fat, low-carb diet.
“Adequate dietary carbohydrate is critical to raise muscle glycogen to high levels in preparation for the next day’s endurance competition or hard training session. Accordingly, during the 24 h prior to a hard training session or endurance competition, athletes should consume 7-12 g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight. However, during the 24 h prior to a moderate or easy day of training, athletes need to consume only 5-7 g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight.”
The modified Atkins diet reduces seizure frequency by more than 50% in 43% of patients who try it and by more than 90% in 27% of patients.[18] Few adverse effects have been reported, though cholesterol is increased and the diet has not been studied long term.[48] Although based on a smaller data set (126 adults and children from 11 studies over five centres), these results from 2009 compare favourably with the traditional ketogenic diet.[18]
Endogenous ketone production denotes ketones produced naturally by the body. It's the body’s natural adjustment to the absence or restriction of carbohydrate in the diet. Without enough glucose from carbs to fuel its cells, the body turns to fat to replace glucose as its primary source of energy. In the liver, fat that is not burned for energy directly is converted to ketones. This means that you are in a ketogenic state. Ketone levels increase in the bloodstream and provide an alternate and efficient fuel source for the body and brain. As a result, muscle protein is spared from being converted to glucose for energy.

Great article! As someone who just started a “ketogenic diet” two weeks ago, I am opting to hold off on using ketone supplements for the following reason. You state how “Keto-adaptation occurs when you have shifted your metabolism to relying on fat-based sources, instead of glucose (sugar) sources, as your primary source of fuel.” If the goal is to “switch” our body’s energy supply to ketones and one uses supplemental ketones, how do they really ever know if their body has successfully accomplished this goal if they are using supplemental ketones? Aren’t they getting a false sense of ketosis if their blood or breath tests show them above 0.5 millimolar through the use of the supplements? I understand that it may take me longer to reach ketosis naturally but I guess I see it was worth it to truly reap all of the benefits that you outline in your article.


A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that people who do twice-a-day workouts, but defy standard nutrition recommendations by not eating for two hours after the first session (thus depleting carbohydrate stores with the first session) experienced a better ability to burn fat (with no loss in performance) compared with a group that trained only once a day and ate carbohydrates afterward.
Other research further supports the potential benefits of this diet. For example, preliminary studies link following the keto diet to reduced symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. (4) Previous research suggests it may also help reverse metabolic syndrome, manage Parkinson’s disease, has been proven to help control seizures in children with epilepsy, and, according to the results of a small pilot study, may potentially even improve symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). (5, 6, 7)
MCT oil is extracted primarily from coconut oil, and derives unique benefits from its shorter fatty acid chain length. Most dietary fat contains 12 carbons in the fatty acid chain, while MCTs are only 6 - 12 carbon chains in length. Shorter chain length allows for easier absorption and rapid conversion to energy in the liver, specifically caprylic (C8) and capric (C10).
Ketone bodies are acidic, but acid-base homeostasis in the blood is normally maintained through bicarbonate buffering, respiratory compensation to vary the amount of CO2 in the bloodstream, hydrogen ion absorption by tissue proteins and bone, and renal compensation through increased excretion of dihydrogen phosphate and ammonium ions.[9] Prolonged excess of ketone bodies can overwhelm normal compensatory mechanisms, defined as acidosis if blood pH falls below 7.35.
Early studies reported high success rates; in one study in 1925, 60% of patients became seizure-free, and another 35% of patients had a 50% reduction in seizure frequency. These studies generally examined a cohort of patients recently treated by the physician (a retrospective study) and selected patients who had successfully maintained the dietary restrictions. However, these studies are difficult to compare to modern trials. One reason is that these older trials suffered from selection bias, as they excluded patients who were unable to start or maintain the diet and thereby selected from patients who would generate better results. In an attempt to control for this bias, modern study design prefers a prospective cohort (the patients in the study are chosen before therapy begins) in which the results are presented for all patients regardless of whether they started or completed the treatment (known as intent-to-treat analysis).[19]
“Adequate dietary carbohydrate is critical to raise muscle glycogen to high levels in preparation for the next day’s endurance competition or hard training session. Accordingly, during the 24 h prior to a hard training session or endurance competition, athletes should consume 7-12 g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight. However, during the 24 h prior to a moderate or easy day of training, athletes need to consume only 5-7 g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight.”

Therefore, more people experiencing "keto crotch" need to visit doctors to determine what's really happening. It could be that some of the people claiming "keto crotch" are instead detecting smells that are not related to their diets. Many different smells could emanate from your crotch, some are normal, some are not. Conversely, who knows for sure what a drastic change in your diet may do to different parts of your body? There is still a lot unknown about the links between nutrition and your various bodily functions. You are a complex system with many unknowns. The keto crotch could be a real phenomenon, but more scientific evidence and studies are needed.

Carbohydrates help control blood sugar levels, which are of particular importance for people with diabetes. A study published in May 2018 in the journal Diabetic Medicine shows that while a keto diet may help control HbA1c levels (a two- to three-month average of blood sugar levels), the diet may also cause episodes of hypoglycemia, which is a dangerous drop in blood sugar. Echoing many registered dietitians, the Lincoln, Nebraska–based sports dietitian Angie Asche, RD, says she is “hesitant to recommend a ketogenic diet for individuals with type 1 diabetes.”

Great post!! I’m a 41 year old Master CrossFit athlete, been in keto / LCHF Primal lifestyle for the past 9 years. I feel that my performance has improved a lot and continues to improve pretty significantly. I was a top 200 Master Open Qualifier on 2016 and 2017 and I’m usually on the podium of local competitions so my performance is really not bad…and I’m totally fat adapted. I follow sort of a TKD where I sometimes eat carbs at night during the week, but never above 100g so It doesn’t even kick me out of ketosis due to activity level. I’ve been playing with some measurements and I noticed that my BG reading after high intensity training sessions is really high (up to 180mg/dl). But it goes down fast (sometimes it goes down to 50mg/dl but I show no side effect of hypo, function completely normal). From my research, the high glucose post high intensity is normal and due to the stressful response of the exercise and also because my liver is producing the glucose from gluconeogeneses to provide it for the workouts, when needed. This only happens when the workouts are long, above 30 minutes.

The diet is extremely regimented and very difficult to stick to, as just one baked potato and one slice of bread could hold an entire day’s worth of carbohydrates. While this is a deterrent for many, Christy Brissette, RD, a private-practice dietitian in Chicago, notes that many of her patients like the diet because of its strictness. “Some of my clients feel that the keto diet works for them because it doesn't involve any calorie counting and the rules are simple to understand,” she says. “They feel they have strict parameters that can take the guesswork out of dieting.”
Achieving ketosis is a pretty straightforward, but it can seem complicated and confusing with all of the information out there.4If you want to learn more about ketosis and the scientific process around it, you can visit a very in-depth discussion about on Dr. Peter Attia’s website. Here’s the bottom line on what you need to do, ordered in levels of importance:
Other research further supports the potential benefits of this diet. For example, preliminary studies link following the keto diet to reduced symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. (4) Previous research suggests it may also help reverse metabolic syndrome, manage Parkinson’s disease, has been proven to help control seizures in children with epilepsy, and, according to the results of a small pilot study, may potentially even improve symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). (5, 6, 7)
Ketones are also a cleaner-burning fuel than carbs. They’re burned for energy in the mitochondria, and fewer free radicals (a highly-reactive, short-lived uncharged molecule) are generated when compared to burning glucose.15 What’s more, ketone molecules themselves cause a decrease in production of free radicals,21,22 while also increasing glutathione–a powerful antioxidant protecting against mitochondrial damage induced by free radicals.23

A survey in 2005 of 88 paediatric neurologists in the US found that 36% regularly prescribed the diet after three or more drugs had failed, 24% occasionally prescribed the diet as a last resort, 24% had only prescribed the diet in a few rare cases, and 16% had never prescribed the diet. Several possible explanations exist for this gap between evidence and clinical practice.[34] One major factor may be the lack of adequately trained dietitians, who are needed to administer a ketogenic diet programme.[31]

Here are a few of the most common side effects that I come across when people first start keto. Frequently the issues relate to dehydration or lack of micronutrients (vitamins) in the body. Make sure that you’re drinking enough water (close to a gallon a day) and eating foods with good sources of micronutrients. To read more on micronutrients, click here >


"Keto is not a great long-term diet, as it is not a balanced diet," Nancy Rahnama, M.D., M.S., an internal medicine and bariatric specialist, told Reader's Digest. "A diet that is devoid of fruit and vegetables will result in long-term micronutrient deficiencies that can have other consequences. The keto diet can be used for short-term fat loss, as long as it is under medical supervision."


The classic ketogenic diet is not a balanced diet and only contains tiny portions of fresh fruit and vegetables, fortified cereals, and calcium-rich foods. In particular, the B vitamins, calcium, and vitamin D must be artificially supplemented. This is achieved by taking two sugar-free supplements designed for the patient's age: a multivitamin with minerals and calcium with vitamin D.[18] A typical day of food for a child on a 4:1 ratio, 1,500 kcal (6,300 kJ) ketogenic diet comprises three small meals and three small snacks:[28]

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.
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In the US especially, coconut oil and MCT oil manufacturers are legally allowed to claim that lauric acid is an MCT because chemists named it that way, even though it does not act like other true biological MCT oils. If you are relying on plain coconut oil or “MCT-labeled” oil to get enough useful MCTs, think again and check the label: odds are you’re getting very few of the potent, ketogenic shorter chain MCTs (also known as “C8” and “C10”), and instead getting mostly cheaper but ineffective lauric acid.
The ketogenic diet reduces seizure frequency by more than 50% in half of the patients who try it and by more than 90% in a third of patients.[18] Three-quarters of children who respond do so within two weeks, though experts recommend a trial of at least three months before assuming it has been ineffective.[9] Children with refractory epilepsy are more likely to benefit from the ketogenic diet than from trying another anticonvulsant drug.[1] Some evidence indicates that adolescents and adults may also benefit from the diet.[9]
It usually takes three to four days for your body to go into ketosis because you have to use up your body's stores of glucose, i.e., sugar first, Keatley says. Any major diet change can give you some, uh, issues, and Keatley says he often sees patients who complain of IBS-like symptoms and feeling wiped out at the beginning of the diet. (The tiredness happens because you have less access to carbs, which give you quick energy, he explains.)
For someone more interested in health/muscle gain rather than weight loss, should I up the protein and good carb levels a bit? I’m around 10% BF and weigh 220, so I require a higher calorie intake the average. In just a few days striving for a Keto-diet, I’m averaging between 50-60g gross carbs (30g net), 160g protein and 220 fat (8%-22%-70%) DO you think that is a good target or should I try and adjust?
But sadly, whether due to government subsidy of high carb foods like corn and grain, funding from big companies like Gatorade and Powerbar, our sugar-addicted Western palates, or the constant (unfounded) fear mongering about saturated fats and heart disease, the type of research that shows these fat-burning and performance benefits of carbohydrate restriction simply get shoved under the rug.

Ketones are also a cleaner-burning fuel than carbs. They’re burned for energy in the mitochondria, and fewer free radicals (a highly-reactive, short-lived uncharged molecule) are generated when compared to burning glucose.15 What’s more, ketone molecules themselves cause a decrease in production of free radicals,21,22 while also increasing glutathione–a powerful antioxidant protecting against mitochondrial damage induced by free radicals.23
Advocates for the diet recommend that it be seriously considered after two medications have failed, as the chance of other drugs succeeding is only 10%.[9][31][32] The diet can be considered earlier for some epilepsy and genetic syndromes where it has shown particular usefulness. These include Dravet syndrome, infantile spasms, myoclonic-astatic epilepsy, and tuberous sclerosis complex.[9][33]

Around this time, Bernarr Macfadden, an American exponent of physical culture, popularised the use of fasting to restore health. His disciple, the osteopathic physician Dr. Hugh William Conklin of Battle Creek, Michigan, began to treat his epilepsy patients by recommending fasting. Conklin conjectured that epileptic seizures were caused when a toxin, secreted from the Peyer's patches in the intestines, was discharged into the bloodstream. He recommended a fast lasting 18 to 25 days to allow this toxin to dissipate. Conklin probably treated hundreds of epilepsy patients with his "water diet" and boasted of a 90% cure rate in children, falling to 50% in adults. Later analysis of Conklin's case records showed 20% of his patients achieved freedom from seizures and 50% had some improvement.[10]


Another possible nutrient deficiency: potassium, a mineral important for both electrolyte balance and blood pressure control, notes MedlinePlus. “Inadequate intake of potassium is likely when consumption of fruits and starchy vegetables are decreased,” says Asche. She recommends adding lower-carb sources of potassium to the diet, including avocado and spinach — as well as lower-carb sources of fiber, such as chia seeds and flaxseed (be sure to enjoy ground for the best health benefits).


“Adequate dietary carbohydrate is critical to raise muscle glycogen to high levels in preparation for the next day’s endurance competition or hard training session. Accordingly, during the 24 h prior to a hard training session or endurance competition, athletes should consume 7-12 g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight. However, during the 24 h prior to a moderate or easy day of training, athletes need to consume only 5-7 g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight.”
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