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Ketones are a special type of fat that can stimulate the pathways that enhance the growth of new neural networks in the brain. A ketogenic diet is one that is high in fats, and this diet has been a tool of researchers for years, used notably in a 2005 study on Parkinson’s patients finding an improvement in symptoms after just 28 days. The improvements were on par with those made possible via medication and brain surgery. Other research has shown the ketogenic diet to be remarkably effective in treating some forms of epilepsy, and even brain tumors.
I am new to Keto, but not new to a low carb diet. I just started a keto diet 8 days ago. My goals for being on the diet is a little body recomp (nothing major, a few pounds of fat loss), and moving to fat as primary fuel for endurance with a focus on trail ultra marathon races and training. Along with Keto I am doing heart rate training using MAF and OFM as a guide. supplemented with body weight and free weight strength training and some HITT.
In other words, I personally found that while following “strict ketosis”, things became eerily similar to the days in college when I was a competitive bodybuilder pursuing sub-3% body fat percentages. I simply wasn’t the most fun guy to hang out with in social situations due to my extreme dietary restrictions, the intense self-control became nearly exhausting, and when I traveled, I missed out on many culinary experiences, such as homemade ravioli in Rome, freshly baked crostinis in the Basque regions of Spain, and Korean rice bowls in Seoul.
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.

The benefits above are the most common ones. But there are others that are potentially even more surprising and – at least for some people – life changing. Did you know that a keto diet can help treat high blood pressure, may result in less acne, may help control migraine, might help with certain mental health issues and could have a few other potential benefits?


Typically, to gain lean body mass one needs to have some degree of caloric surplus, or at the very least, not be in a significant deficit. This is especially true when looking to add muscle mass. It is certainly possible to gain muscle mass on a ketogenic diet. For most individuals this would require consuming adequate protein (while still remaining in ketosis), enough calories to support growth, sufficient electrolytes to support muscle function, as well as incorporating progressive resistance training. The type and volume of resistance exercise needed to add lean body mass will be very dependent on the individual and their age, training status, health status, etc. Therefore, the answer to this question can become quite nuanced, but in simple terms, yes, it is very possible to gain lean body mass on a ketogenic diet while still taking advantage of the health promoting effects this way of eating provides.
I’m missing one key-step in this whole process … I understand (vaguely) how to get into ketosis via diet, starvation, or supplementation. But, my confusion really is with the supplementation method (such as XCT Oil, for example). If I supplement with these to get into ketosis quicker, but haven’t significantly altered to a high-fat diet, won’t I just shift back into glucose-use as soon as I burn out the supplemented ketones?? like within minutes / hours?
Hi Ben, great article. I have been a keto-adapted athlete for over 2 years, all through nutrition (65/25/10). I have recently discovered UCAN, KetoOS and MAP Aminos. So, here’s my question: If I am going out for a 4-hour ride, and I want to fuel myself just on these supplements and my body’s natural fat stores, how and in what order should I take them? If I take them all together, will the aminos in the KetoOS interfere with MAP Aminos? Or should I just make a mix of the UCAN and KetoOS in 10oz of water and use it to wash back my 6 MAP tablets, 15-mins before my ride? Thanks for your advice!
As insulin levels plummet from carb-cutting, more water is flushed out, along with excess sodium (in contrast, excess insulin from carbs causes sodium and water retention).4 In some people, dehydration contributes to constipation, which can also result from avoiding fiber-rich carbohydrate foods. While less common, diarrhea or loose bowels can be triggered by a number of factors including too much or too little fat, dairy intolerance, or changes in gut flora. 
-Cardiovascular Disease: High blood sugar has been shown to increase the risk for cardiovascular events, cardiovascular disease, and cardiovascular mortality—while lower glucose levels result in lower cardiovascular risk. Coronary artery disease risk has been shown to be twice as high in patients with impaired glucose tolerance, compared with patients with more normal glucose tolerance. The risk for stroke increases as fasting glucose levels rise above 83 mg/dL. In fact, every 18 mg/dL increase beyond 83 results in a 27 percent greater risk of dying from stroke. Incidentally, glucose can “stick” to cholesterol particles and render these particles extremely dangerous from a heart health standpoint, which is why it’s all the more important to control blood sugar levels if you’re eating a “high-fat diet.”
Thank you for this article as it cleared up a bunch of stuff for me. I started trying to get into ketosis back in August and lost 20lbs in about 6 weeks. Then it all stopped but had another 20lbs I wanted to loose. I had a hard time staying in ketosis and gave up about a week ago with the holidays approaching. Anyways I glazed over all the technical and science facts as it makes my head spin and might of missed it but my only question is what is the food portion of the diet like? The drinks are the easy part, do you have a diet plan that is good for someone that hits the gym hard 4-5 days a week for and hour and half. 45 min weights and 30-45 min cardio? It’s what I struggle with most the food and what attracted me to a ketogenic diet in the first place is eating 1 or 2 meals a day and being satisfied.
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.
My question is, does the benefit to using KetoCaNa only extend to significant decreases in oxygen demand/ increases in physical performance/ heightened mental acuity/cognitive performance.? Of course, these are all great benefits, but if I were to use KetoCaNa as a pre-workout, is it going to impair my endogenous ketone production? I usually train fasted with a strong black coffee and L-Carnitine.
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used primarily to treat difficult-to-control (refractory) epilepsy in children. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose, which is then transported around the body and is particularly important in fueling brain function. However, if little carbohydrate remains in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies pass into the brain and replace glucose as an energy source. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood, a state known as ketosis, leads to a reduction in the frequency of epileptic seizures.[1] Around half of children and young people with epilepsy who have tried some form of this diet saw the number of seizures drop by at least half, and the effect persists even after discontinuing the diet.[2] Some evidence indicates that adults with epilepsy may benefit from the diet, and that a less strict regimen, such as a modified Atkins diet, is similarly effective.[1] Potential side effects may include constipation, high cholesterol, growth slowing, acidosis, and kidney stones.[3]
I have that thing on a “real” ketogenic diet where I wake up at 3 am with my mind/heart racing and can’t sleep. It happens the very first day I reduce my carbs and continues as long as my carbs are reduced (5 weeks is the longest I’ve been able to put up with this to see if I could fix it and stay ketogenic). Magnesium and/ or cal-mag before bed does not help. Is carb loading at night the only hope for fixing this? I already take great care with bluelight and EMF.

"The keto diet is primarily used to help reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in children. While it also has been tried for weight loss, only short-term results have been studied, and the results have been mixed. We don't know if it works in the long term, nor whether it's safe," warns registered dietitian Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.


A high-fat diet also trains your body to burn even more fat during exercise, even at high intensities. Fat is released faster and in greater amounts from your storage adipose tissue and transported more quickly into your muscles and mitochondria. Your muscles also store more energy as fat and use this fat-based fuel more efficiently and quickly. Even more interestingly, a high-fat diet can cause a shift in the gene expression that codes for specific proteins that increase fat metabolism – and create very similar adaptations to exercise itself. So the mere act of shifting primary fuel intake from carbohydrates to fat begins to make you more “fit”, even if you’re not exercising.
The ketogenic diet typically reduces carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams per day — and calls for increased protein and fat intake, according to a review published in August 2013 in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Roughly speaking, on keto you’ll get 70 to 80 percent of your calories from fat, about 20 percent from protein, and as little as 5 percent from carbs.
Moreover, recent studies show that the Inuit have evolved a number of rare genetic adaptations that make them especially well suited to eat large amounts of omega-3 fat.[57][58][59] And earlier studies showed that the Inuit have a very high frequency—68% to 81% in certain arctic coastal populations—of an extremely rare autosomal recessive mutation of the CPT1A gene—a key regulator of mitochondrial long-chain fatty-acid oxidation[60][61]—which results in a rare metabolic disorder known as carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A (CPT1A) deficiency and promotes hypoketotic hypoglycemia—low levels of ketones and low blood sugar.[62] The condition presents symptoms of a fatty acid and ketogenesis disorder.[62] However, it appears highly beneficial to the Inuit[60] as it shunts free fatty acids away from liver cells to brown fat, for thermogenesis.[63][64] Thus the mutation may help the Inuit stay warm by preferentially burning fatty acids for heat in brown fat cells.[64] In addition to promoting low ketone levels, this disorder also typically results in hepatic encephalopathy (altered mental state due to improper liver function), enlarged liver and high infant mortality.[65] Inuit have been observed to have enlarged livers with an increased capacity for gluconeogenesis, and have greater capacity for excreting urea to remove ammonia, a toxic byproduct of protein breakdown.[57][66][67][68] Ethnographic texts have documented the Inuit's customary habit of snacking frequently [69] and this may well be a direct consequence of their high prevalence of the CPT1A mutation[70] as fasting, even for several hours, can be deleterious for individuals with that allele, particularly during strenuous exercise.[57][70] The high frequency of the CPT1A mutation in the Inuit therefore suggests that it is an important adaptation to their low carbohydrate diet and their extreme environment.[57][60][70]
There are many misconceptions about ketosis. The most common is mixing it up with ketoacidosis – a rare and dangerous medical condition that mostly happen to people with type 1 diabetes if they don’t take insulin. Even some health care professionals tend to mix up these two situations somewhat, perhaps due to the similar names and a lack of knowledge about the distinct differences.
“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.
Elevated blood ketone levels is the sign of ketosis, while certain subjective symptoms can also signal ketosis. Increased mental clarity, less brain fog, and diminished appetite are fairly common among people in ketosis. The ketogenic diet specifically has its own assortment of symptoms. Fortunately, the negative symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, and bad breath are often temporary and tend fade as your body becomes better at fat burning and naturally producing ketones. The positive symptoms of ketosis coincide with higher levels of ketones in the blood. This may occur after several weeks of adhering to the ketogenic diet or very shortly after ingesting exogenous ketones.
I am not a doctor and this is not to be taken, interpreted or construed as medical advice. If you have poor liver or gallbladder function, it can be a good idea to take care of that prior to a high fat diet, yes. But a healthy high fat diet would not cause liver issues per se. These are just my own personal thoughts and not a prescription or a diagnosis or any form of health care whatsoever.
If you want to make some enemies very quickly, just jump on to social media and say "the keto diet stinks." Because there are certainly a number of people who swear by the keto diet. Some of them will even swear at you if you say anything bad about the diet. Supporters of the diet claim that the keto diet will help lose weight relatively quickly, clear your mind, make you feel better, and even clear up your acne, because you no longer are taking in carbohydrates that "cause inflammation." People who question the diet have raised concerns about whether maintaining such a high fat diet is effective and healthy in long run. After all, high fat diets could raise the risk of various chronic medical conditions such as heart disease and cancer.

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.


"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]
Hi, I am a parent of son with epilepsy. On our last EEG we found out he is having 10 absence seizures per hour as well as bimonthly grandmal seizures . People have been using the ketogenic diet for seizure control for years. Our neurologist mentioned that seizure control is effected by blood insulin as well as ketones. I know the original Keto esters came from DR. D’Augustino’s work with Navy Seals who were having seizures due oxygen toxicity. The main reason we have not been using the Keto diet is lack of compliance and it so easy for kids to get out of ketosis. I am wondering if we could get seizure control with a zonish/adkins diet with keto os, brain octain supplementation. Even an educated guess would be appreciated. Thanks, Mike 

Ketosis is an option for many people with type 2 diabetes because they still produce insulin, which helps their body maintain a safe level of ketones in the blood. If you’re considering trying ketosis or the ketogenic diet with type 2 diabetes, be sure to consult your healthcare provider first to ensure it’s safe for you. This eating approach may interfere with some types of diabetes medication or be inappropriate for you if you have certain diabetes complications, such as kidney damage.
The DNA test does not necessarily take into account your goals (e.g. breathholding, Ironman, cognition, etc.) and if your goals would benefit from ketosis, then you may want to choose it as a dietary strategy even though it could indeed be true that for FAT LOSS a higher carb intake may suit you. So it all depends on your goals. Or you could just us the supplements like ketones AND eat more carbs and get "best of both worlds".
The ketogenic diet is indicated as an adjunctive (additional) treatment in children and young people with drug-resistant epilepsy.[26][27] It is approved by national clinical guidelines in Scotland,[27] England, and Wales[26] and reimbursed by nearly all US insurance companies.[28] Children with a focal lesion (a single point of brain abnormality causing the epilepsy) who would make suitable candidates for surgery are more likely to become seizure-free with surgery than with the ketogenic diet.[9][29] About a third of epilepsy centres that offer the ketogenic diet also offer a dietary therapy to adults. Some clinicians consider the two less restrictive dietary variants—the low glycaemic index treatment and the modified Atkins diet—to be more appropriate for adolescents and adults.[9] A liquid form of the ketogenic diet is particularly easy to prepare for, and well tolerated by, infants on formula and children who are tube-fed.[5][30]
Some clinicians[37] regard eliminating carbohydrates as unhealthy and dangerous.[38] However, it is not necessary to eliminate carbohydrates from the diet completely to achieve ketosis. Other clinicians regard ketosis as a safe biochemical process that occurs during the fat-burning state.[35] Ketosis, which is accompanied by gluconeogenesis (the creation of glucose de novo from pyruvate), is the specific state that concerns some clinicians. However, it is unlikely for a normally functioning person to reach life-threatening levels of ketosis, defined as serum beta-hydroxybutyrate (B-OHB) levels above 15 millimolar (mM) compared to ketogenic diets among non diabetics, which "rarely run serum B-OHB levels above 3 mM."[39] This is avoided with proper basal secretion of pancreatic insulin. People who are unable to secrete basal insulin, such as type 1 diabetics and long-term type II diabetics, are liable to enter an unsafe level of ketosis, eventually resulting in a coma that requires emergency medical treatment.[citation needed] The anti-ketosis conclusions have been challenged by a number of doctors and advocates of low-carbohydrate diets, who dispute assertions that the body has a preference for glucose and that there are dangers associated with ketosis.[40][41]
Children who discontinue the diet after achieving seizure freedom have about a 20% risk of seizures returning. The length of time until recurrence is highly variable, but averages two years. This risk of recurrence compares with 10% for resective surgery (where part of the brain is removed) and 30–50% for anticonvulsant therapy. Of those who have a recurrence, just over half can regain freedom from seizures either with anticonvulsants or by returning to the ketogenic diet. Recurrence is more likely if, despite seizure freedom, an electroencephalogram shows epileptiform spikes, which indicate epileptic activity in the brain but are below the level that will cause a seizure. Recurrence is also likely if an MRI scan shows focal abnormalities (for example, as in children with tuberous sclerosis). Such children may remain on the diet longer than average, and children with tuberous sclerosis who achieve seizure freedom could remain on the ketogenic diet indefinitely.[46]
^ Jump up to: a b Cardona A, Pagani L, Antao T, Lawson DJ, Eichstaedt CA, Yngvadottir B, Shwe MT, Wee J, Romero IG, Raj S, Metspalu M, Villems R, Willerslev E, Tyler-Smith C, Malyarchuk BA, Derenko MV, Kivisild T (2014). "Genome-wide analysis of cold adaptation in indigenous Siberian populations". PLOS One. 9 (5): e98076. Bibcode:2014PLoSO...998076C. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098076. PMC 4029955. PMID 24847810.
2) I have a hard time eating real food soon after rides/workouts. I had used Hammer Recoverite (1scoop instead of suggest serving of 2 and add 1scoop whey isolate protein) in the past because I feel a significant difference the day after with less muscle fatigue. Then I read a previous posts on your opinion of post-workout supplementation ( https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2013/07/what-to-… ) and I realized the primary ingredient in Recoverite is maltodextrin. Since the 2013 article, has anything changed in your research that you might suggest I add PWO to aid in the muscle fatigue/recovery? (In other words, Is there anything more healthy I can take to replace the Recoverite or should the aminos/electrolytes/carbs/MCT’s from the recipe in this article be sufficient?) Thanks in advance, I appreciate all of your work!
As insulin levels plummet from carb-cutting, more water is flushed out, along with excess sodium (in contrast, excess insulin from carbs causes sodium and water retention).4 In some people, dehydration contributes to constipation, which can also result from avoiding fiber-rich carbohydrate foods. While less common, diarrhea or loose bowels can be triggered by a number of factors including too much or too little fat, dairy intolerance, or changes in gut flora. 

Wondering what fits into a keto diet — and what doesn’t? “It’s so important to know what foods you’ll be eating before you start, and how to incorporate more fats into your diet,” says Kristen Mancinelli, RD, author of The Ketogenic Diet: A Scientifically Proven Approach to Fast, Healthy Weight Loss, who is based in New York City. We asked her for some guidelines.

Jalali says people following the diet have the best chance of keeping the weight off if they stay on it long term. And that’s not always easy to accomplish. The weight may come back if you go back to your regular eating habits. And regaining weight may lead to other negative effects. “Chronic yo-yo dieting appears to increase abdominal fat accumulation and diabetes risk,” notes Clark.

I’m not sure if I really understand the idea of exogenous Ketones putting ones body into a state of KETOSIS, in that their own fat cells will be burned for fuel. Won’t the body just use the exogenous ketones and energy and continue to use glucose sources as well? How does taking ketones, make the body burn it’s own fat stores? I always thought that one would have to be in a state of energy deprivation for the body to actually begin to use the TG in the fat cells to generate ATP. Please let me know what I’m missing…
Some Inuit consume as much as 15–20% of their calories from carbohydrates, largely from the glycogen found in raw meats.[43][44][47][45][50] Furthermore, the blubber, organs, muscle and skin of the diving marine mammals that the Inuit eat have significant glycogen stores that are able to delay postmortem degradation, particularly in cold weather.[51][52][53][54][55][56]
In addition to the seaweed and glycogen carbohydrates mentioned above, the Inuit can access many plant sources. The stomach contents of caribou contain a large quantity of partially digested lichens and plants, which the Inuit once considered a delicacy. They also harvested reindeer moss and other lichens directly. The extended daylight of the arctic summer led to a profusion of plant life, and they harvested plant parts including berries, roots and stems, as well as mushrooms. They preserved some gathered plant life to eat during winter, often by dipping it in seal fat.[71]
Although many hypotheses have been put forward to explain how the ketogenic diet works, it remains a mystery. Disproven hypotheses include systemic acidosis (high levels of acid in the blood), electrolyte changes and hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose).[19] Although many biochemical changes are known to occur in the brain of a patient on the ketogenic diet, it is not known which of these has an anticonvulsant effect. The lack of understanding in this area is similar to the situation with many anticonvulsant drugs.[56]
“Loss of muscle mass as we age has a number of serious consequences,” notes Clark. “Muscle is metabolically active and helps boost daily energy expenditure and mitigate age-related weight gain.” Losing muscle mass can also decrease functional strength and heighten the risk of falls, notes Clark. Falls are the top cause of death from injury in older populations, according to the Institute of Medicine Division of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.
As you may know, "keto diet" is short for ketogenic diet, because who has the time to say "genic." It is a high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carb diet with approximately 80% of your calories from fat, 15% from protein, and only 5% from carbohydrates. The goal of the diet is to induce ketosis in your body. The theory is that typically your body may rely on burning the carbs that you eat rather than the fat stores in your body for energy. The thinking is that by severely restricting the amount of carbs in your diet your body may then be forced to burn your body fat instead. Breaking down this fat then results in ketones, which is not some acapella group, but instead organic compounds made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. One type of ketone produced is acetone, which is in certain types of nail polish removers. This accumulation of ketones may result in "keto breath", which is a rotten fruit or metallic smelling bad breath that can smell a bit like, surprise, surprise, nail polish remover.

No offense brother, but this whole article is a big selling advertisement. The health benefits of a “low – carb, high – fat” diet are well known and proven. I directly blame nutritionists, like yourself, for the fact that ~70% of American is considered obese now, not fat, obese. And the fact that Heart Disease is the number 2 killer in America now, second only to cancer.
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