Over 8–10 mmol/l: It’s normally impossible to get to this level just by eating a keto diet. It means that something is wrong. The most common cause by far is type 1 diabetes, with severe lack of insulin. Symptoms include feeling very sick with nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and confusion. The possible end result, ketoacidosis, may be fatal and requires immediate medical care. Learn more
I don’t know about you, but I find these risks pretty damn concerning. The fact is that I want to be around to play with my grandkids, and considering that my genetic testing with 23andMe has revealed that I have a higher-than-normal risk for type 2 diabetes, I doubt that shoving more gooey gels and sugary sports drinks into my pie hole is going to do my health any favors. So if I can achieve similar levels of performance and body composition with carbohydrate restriction, I’m all in.
Western diets are high in carbohydrates, leading to high blood sugar levels, whereas the ketogenic diet enforces a small amount of carbs to be consumed. It can take some weeks of keto dieting to reach increased levels of blood ketones. For others, after 2 - 4 days of low-carbohydrate, high-fat ketogenic dieting, ketone levels in the blood can increase to ~1 - 2 mM, achieving ketosis.5
Implementing the diet can present difficulties for caregivers and the patient due to the time commitment involved in measuring and planning meals. Since any unplanned eating can potentially break the nutritional balance required, some people find the discipline needed to maintain the diet challenging and unpleasant. Some people terminate the diet or switch to a less demanding diet, like the modified Atkins diet or the low-glycaemic index treatment diet, because they find the difficulties too great.
A ketogenic diet helps control blood sugar levels. It is excellent for managing type 2 diabetes, sometimes even leading to complete reversal of the disease. This has been proven in studies. It makes perfect sense since keto lowers blood-sugar levels, reduces the need of medications and reduces the potentially negative impact of high insulin levels.
After 2 years in ketosis suddenly I find my blood glucose has risen to high levels even while in ketosis. I thought it was the dawn phenomenon, stress hormones like cortisol but now I am beginning to think I am eating too many exongenous keytones like too much MCT oil? I am not taking exogenous keytone supplements but wondering if too much oil/ fat in the diet generates exogenous keytones which inhibits the livers production of endogenous keytones. I have read if the liver is producing endogenous keytones it is not at the same time producing glucose through gluconeogenisis?
Other causes of diarrhea on the keto diet include consuming a diet low in fiber (fiber helps ward off diarrhea by bulking up stool) and eating processed low-carb foods like shakes and bars that may contain sugar alcohols. These sugar alcohols can ferment in the gut and cause gastrointestinal discomfort. Yawitz suggests limiting foods labeled “sugar free” if you’re prone to gas or diarrhea when you eat them. And you may want to gradually adjust your carbs downward and your fats upward. “Also build your diet around [naturally] high-fiber, low-carb foods like avocado and nonstarchy vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus,” she says. Other keto-friendly ways to get more fiber include chia seeds, almonds, and coconut.
Nutritional ketosis is a natural metabolic state in which your body adapts to burning fat rather than carbohydrates as its primary fuel. It is clinically proven to directly reduce blood sugar (as measured by HbA1c), improve insulin sensitivity (as measured by HOMA-IR) and reduce inflammation (as measured by white blood cell count and CRP). Nutritional ketosis can be induced by following a ketogenic diet. Learn more in our FAQ below!
I started a ketogenic diet about 5 weeks ago and have experimented with KetoCaNa and KetoForce along with Now Foods MCT oil (which is made of caprylic and capric acid) in the hopes of easing the transition into ketosis. I don’t use it every day, but often before an aerobic based workout. I was wondering if taking these exogenous ketones at the beginning of a ketogenic diet helps you become keto adapted by up regulating the body’s handling of ketones. And conversely, does taking exogenous ketones down regulate or affect lypolysis since BHB is readily available? My main priority at this point is fat loss.
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.
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.
Koia Keto is our answer to your Keto needs! We start with a coconut milk base, blend in our Koia proprietary protein blend of pea, rice and chickpea proteins, then add ingredients you need on your Keto journey, like MCT oil, to create a 100% plant based protein beverage. Each flavor is crafted to be a deliciously indulgent treat, with choices like Chocolate Brownie and Cake Batter, so you don’t feel like you’re missing out on that midnight ice cream just because you’re staying Keto. Every bottle is packed with 14g of MCT oil, providing healthy fats for fuel, with 0g added sugar. Koia Keto is the indulgent solution for any time your sweet tooth is calling.
The original therapeutic diet for paediatric epilepsy provides just enough protein for body growth and repair, and sufficient calories[Note 1] to maintain the correct weight for age and height. The classic therapeutic ketogenic diet was developed for treatment of paediatric epilepsy in the 1920s and was widely used into the next decade, but its popularity waned with the introduction of effective anticonvulsant medications. This classic ketogenic diet contains a 4:1 ratio by weight of fat to combined protein and carbohydrate. This is achieved by excluding high-carbohydrate foods such as starchy fruits and vegetables, bread, pasta, grains, and sugar, while increasing the consumption of foods high in fat such as nuts, cream, and butter. Most dietary fat is made of molecules called long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). However, medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)—made from fatty acids with shorter carbon chains than LCTs—are more ketogenic. A variant of the classic diet known as the MCT ketogenic diet uses a form of coconut oil, which is rich in MCTs, to provide around half the calories. As less overall fat is needed in this variant of the diet, a greater proportion of carbohydrate and protein can be consumed, allowing a greater variety of food choices.
Hi Ben great science & sound advice. May I share with the group? I’m 42, in australia, have been an alcoholic for 10 yrs. In April 2016 I gave up drinking & started living strictly ketogenic. In 3 months I dropped 25 kilos. I have cheated on weekends but I go through a fast of sorts on Mondays to get back into ketosis by Tues. I work afternoon / evenings so I wake at 10.30am take a pre workout drink with raspberry ketones & a splash of mct oil & all my vitamins as well. I then do weights for an hr then get ready to go to work. I take 2 800ml protein shakes consisting of 20 ml mct & 30grm amino enhanced protein. I work in warehousing so I walk anywhere between 10 km & 5 km a nite. I feel great all the time, thanks largely to your research & advice. If have any thoughts or opinions I’d love hear them.
Infants and patients fed via a gastrostomy tube can also be given a ketogenic diet. Parents make up a prescribed powdered formula, such as KetoCal, into a liquid feed. Gastrostomy feeding avoids any issues with palatability, and bottle-fed infants readily accept the ketogenic formula. Some studies have found this liquid feed to be more efficacious and associated with lower total cholesterol than a solid ketogenic diet. KetoCal is a nutritionally complete food containing milk protein and is supplemented with amino acids, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals and trace elements. It is used to administer the 4:1 ratio classic ketogenic diet in children over one year. The formula is available in both 3:1 and 4:1 ratios, either unflavoured or in an artificially sweetened vanilla flavour and is suitable for tube or oral feeding. Other formula products include KetoVolve and Ketonia. Alternatively, a liquid ketogenic diet may be produced by combining Ross Carbohydrate Free soy formula with Microlipid and Polycose.
The first modern study of fasting as a treatment for epilepsy was in France in 1911. Twenty epilepsy patients of all ages were "detoxified" by consuming a low-calorie vegetarian diet, combined with periods of fasting and purging. Two benefited enormously, but most failed to maintain compliance with the imposed restrictions. The diet improved the patients' mental capabilities, in contrast to their medication, potassium bromide, which dulled the mind.
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).
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.)
If you’ve decided to move forward in trying the keto diet, you will want to stick to the parameters of the eating plan. Roughly 60 to 80 percent of your calories will come from fats. That means you’ll eat meats, fats, and oils, and a very limited amount of nonstarchy vegetables, she says. (This is different from a traditional low-carb diet, as even fewer carbs are allowed on the keto diet.)
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. 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. Children with refractory epilepsy are more likely to benefit from the ketogenic diet than from trying another anticonvulsant drug. Some evidence indicates that adolescents and adults may also benefit from the diet.
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
On the ketogenic diet I feel very shaky/anxious from when I wake up til about noon. Eating doesn’t really help. It could be electrolyte related but seems possibly more related to excess cortisol/adrenaline as noon is also when I start to crash and get tired on a more normal diet, and because those 3 am awakenings that worsen simultaneously in ketosis seem to also have to do with HPA axis stuff. Does this side effect potentially also have to do with my fasting blood sugar being elevated?
^ Klein MS, Buttchereit N, Miemczyk SP, Immervoll AK, Louis C, Wiedemann S, Junge W, Thaller G, Oefner PJ, Gronwald W (February 2012). "NMR metabolomic analysis of dairy cows reveals milk glycerophosphocholine to phosphocholine ratio as prognostic biomarker for risk of ketosis". Journal of Proteome Research. 11 (2): 1373–81. doi:10.1021/pr201017n. PMID 22098372.
Longer-term ketosis may result from fasting or staying on a low-carbohydrate diet (ketogenic diet), and deliberately induced ketosis serves as a medical intervention for various conditions, such as intractable epilepsy, and the various types of diabetes. In glycolysis, higher levels of insulin promote storage of body fat and block release of fat from adipose tissues, while in ketosis, fat reserves are readily released and consumed. For this reason, ketosis is sometimes referred to as the body's "fat burning" mode.
The ketogenic diet is a mainstream dietary therapy that was developed to reproduce the success and remove the limitations of the non-mainstream use of fasting to treat epilepsy.[Note 2] Although popular in the 1920s and '30s, it was largely abandoned in favour of new anticonvulsant drugs. Most individuals with epilepsy can successfully control their seizures with medication. However, 20–30% fail to achieve such control despite trying a number of different drugs. For this group, and for children in particular, the diet has once again found a role in epilepsy management.
The difference between ketosis and ketoacidosis is the level of ketones in the blood. Ketosis is a physiological adaptation to a low carbohydrate environment like fasting or a ketogenic diet. There are situations (such as treatment-resistant epilepsy) where ketosis can be beneficial to health. Ketoacidosis is an acute life-threatening state requiring prompt medical intervention; its most common form is diabetic ketoacidosis where both glucose and ketone levels are significantly elevated.
On the keto diet, your body begins to shed fat, water and glycogen, and as this happens you lose key electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium and magnesium. When you're running low on these electrolytes, you might experience headaches or extreme fatigue. These losses are most pronounced during the first few weeks after you enter ketosis, so if you're going to start the keto diet it's best to plan ahead to make sure you get healthy amounts of these electrolytes — and other vitamins and minerals — either through supplements or a thoughtfully-designed meal plan.
These are the widely recognized LCT’s, or long chain fatty acids in coconut oil, mostly saturated, including stearic acid (C18:0), oleic acid (C18:1), and linoleic acid (18:2). The exact percentage of each depends on region the coconut is grown, time of harvest, and other growing variables. They are good as a fuel source in your food, and have some of the tastiness of coconut oil, if your goal is getting into ketosis fast, you won’t benefit from eating a lot more of them compared to eating true medium chain fatty acids.
Because the ketogenic diet alters the body's metabolism, it is a first-line therapy in children with certain congenital metabolic diseases such as pyruvate dehydrogenase (E1) deficiency and glucose transporter 1 deficiency syndrome, which prevent the body from using carbohydrates as fuel, leading to a dependency on ketone bodies. The ketogenic diet is beneficial in treating the seizures and some other symptoms in these diseases and is an absolute indication. However, it is absolutely contraindicated in the treatment of other diseases such as pyruvate carboxylase deficiency, porphyria, and other rare genetic disorders of fat metabolism. Persons with a disorder of fatty acid oxidation are unable to metabolise fatty acids, which replace carbohydrates as the major energy source on the diet. On the ketogenic diet, their bodies would consume their own protein stores for fuel, leading to ketoacidosis, and eventually coma and death.
Hi Ben…first, I have learned so much from you, thank you! I’m interested in using exogenous ketone supplements and I have a question for you. I just read the transcript of an interview Dave Asprey did with Dr. Richard Veech (episode 299). He advises against them, and says they can even be harmful. I was disappointed to read this, and wanted to ask you about it, since I respect your opinion greatly….thank you.
I’ve been experimenting with MCT Oil Brain Octane. I have one questions. I’ve been eating about 20 – 25 gr. of carbs per day on a high fat, medium protein diet. I’m measuring ketones in the morning before taking the MCT and after. I’ve been taking btw. 1-2 tbsp of MCT Brain Octane with butter (Bulletproof coffee) – I measure again after 30 min., 1hr, 2 hrs. and don’t see a raise in my blood ketones. Anything I’m missing, would love to hear your thoughts, Ben. – Thx I’m measuring with Precision Xtra and Ketonix Red.
“For events longer than 60 minutes, consuming 0.7 g carbohydrates·kg-1 body weight·h-1 (approximately 30-60 g·h-1) has been shown unequivocally to extend endurance performance. Consuming carbohydrates during exercise is even more important in situations when athletes have not carbohydrate-loaded, not consumed pre-exercise meals, or restricted energy intake for weight loss. Carbohydrate intake should begin shortly after the onset of activity; [and continue] at 15- to 20-min intervals throughout the activity.”
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?
Ben, great article! I recently did my own ketosis experiment and didn’t catch the 100-200g advise until later than I should have, I’m guessing. Great results for 1-2 months but after 3 months I quit sleeping through the night and would wake after about 4 hours of rest each night. My guess is that the extra carbs at night coupled with iodine supplements should allow me to “have my cake and eat it too?” Any other suggestions on the sleep issue? I’ve gone back to High Fat/Low Carb, have improved sleep but I do miss nutritional ketosis and want to try again once my sleep is stable. Thank YOU!!!