Metabolism and ketosis

hunting.JPG

Since posting the piece on ketone bodies and their causing breathalyzer problems I’ve had enough comments and emails to make me realize that there are probably many people unsure of what ketones really are, where they come from and why. Let’s take a look at the goals and priorities of our metabolic system to see what happens. Fear not, I’m going to try to keep the biochemistry to a minimum.

The primary goal of our metabolic system is to provide fuels in the amounts needed at the times needed to keep us alive and functioning. As long as we’ve got plenty of food, the metabolic systems busies itself with allocating it to the right places and storing what’s left over. In a society such as ours, there is usually too much food so the metabolic system has to deal with it in amounts and configurations that it wasn’t really designed to handle, leading to all kinds of problems. But that’s a story for another day.

If you read any medical school biochemistry textbook, you’ll find a section devoted to what happens metabolically during starvation. If you read these sections with a knowing eye, you’ll realize that everything discussed as happening during starvation happens during carbohydrate restriction as well. There have been a few papers published recently showing the same thing: the metabolism of carb restriction = the metabolism of starvation. I would maintain, however, based on my study of the Paleolithic diet, that starvation and carb restriction are simply the polar ends of a continuum, and that carb restriction was the norm for most of our existence as upright walking beings on this planet, making the metabolism of what biochemistry textbook authors call starvation the ‘normal’ metabolism.

So, bearing in mind that carb restriction and starvation are opposite ends of the same stick and that what applies to one applies to the other, let’s look at how it all works. I’ll explain it from a starvation perspective, but all the mechanisms work the same for a carb-restricted diet.

During starvation the primary goal of the metabolic system is to provide enough glucose to the brain and other tissues (the red blood cells, certain kidney cells, and others) that absolutely require glucose to function. Which makes sense if you think about it. You’re a Paleolithic man or woman, you’re starving, you’ve got to find food, you need a brain, red blood cells, etc. to do it. You’ve got to be alert, quick on your feet, and not focused on how hungry you are.

If you’re not eating or if you’re on a low-carbohydrate diet, where does this glucose come from?

If you’re starving, glucose comes mainly from one place, and that is from the body’s protein reservoir: muscle. A little can come from stored fat, but not from the fatty acids themselves. Although glucose can be converted to fat, the reaction can’t go the other way. Fat is stored as a triglyceride, which is three fatty acids hooked on to a glycerol molecule. The glycerol molecule is a three-carbon structure that, when freed from the attached fatty acids, can combine with another glycerol molecule to make glucose. Thus a starving person can get a little glucose from the fat that is released from the fat cells, but not nearly enough. The lion’s share has to come from muscle that breaks down into amino acids, several of which can be converted by the liver into glucose. (There are a few other minor sources of glucose conversion: the Cori cycle, for example, but these are not major sources, so we’ll leave them for another, more technical, discussion.)

But the breakdown of muscle creates another problem, namely, that (in Paleolithic times and before) survival was dependent upon our being able to hunt down other animals and/or forage for plant foods. It makes it tough to do this if a lot of muscle is being converted into glucose and your muscle mass is dwindling.

The metabolic system is then presented with two problems: 1) getting glucose for the glucose-dependent tissues; and 2) maintaining as much muscle mass as possible to allow hunting and foraging to continue.

Early on, the metabolic system doesn’t know that the starvation is going to go on for a day or for a week or two weeks. At first it plunders the muscle to get its sugar. And remember from a past post that a normal blood sugar represents only about a teaspoon of sugar dissolved in the entire blood volume, so keeping the blood sugar normal for a day or so doesn’t require a whole lot of muscular sacrifice. If we figure that an average person requires about 200 grams of sugar per day to meet all the needs of the glucose-dependent tissues, we’re looking at maybe a third of a pound of muscle per day, which isn’t all that big a deal over the first day. But we wouldn’t want it to continue at that rate. If we could reduce that amount and allow our muscle mass to last as long as possible, it would be a big help.

The metabolic system could solve its problem by a coming up with a way to reduce the glucose-dependent tissues’ need for glucose so that the protein could be spared as long as possible.

Ketones to the rescue.

The liver requires energy to convert the protein to glucose. The energy comes from fat. As the liver breaks down the fat to release its energy to power gluconeogenesis, the conversion of protein to sugar, it produces ketones as a byproduct. And what a byproduct they are. Ketones are basically water soluble (meaning they dissolve in blood) fats that are a source of energy for many tissues including the muscles, brain and heart. In fact, ketones act as a stand in for sugar in the brain. Although ketones can’t totally replace all the sugar required by the brain, they can replace a pretty good chunk of it. By reducing the body’s need for sugar, less protein is required, allowing the muscle mass (the protein reservoir) to last a lot longer before it is depleted. And ketones are the preferred fuel for the heart, making that organ operate at about 28 percent greater efficiency.

Fat is the perfect fuel. Part of it provides energy to the liver so that the liver can convert protein to glucose. The unusable part of the fat then converts to ketones, which reduce the need for glucose and spare the muscle in the process.

If, instead of starving, you’re following a low-carb diet, it gets even better. The protein you eat is converted to glucose instead of the protein in your muscles. If you keep the carbs low enough so that the liver still has to make some sugar, then you will be in fat-burning mode while maintaining your muscle mass, the best of all worlds. How low is low enough? Well, when the ketosis process is humming along nicely and the brain and other tissues have converted to ketones for fuel, the requirement for glucose drops to about 120-130 gm per day. If you keep your carbs below that at, say, 60 grams per day, you’re liver will have to produce at least 60-70 grams of glucose to make up the deficit, so you will generate ketones that entire time.

So, on a low-carb diet you can feast and starve all at the same time. Is it any wonder it’s so effective for weight loss?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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915 thoughts on “Metabolism and ketosis

  1. hello, i read somewhere that being in ‘deep’ketosis can cause some side effects including diarrhea. is this because fat is not stored in the absence of insulin, and is therefore excreted, or because of high levels of ketones in the blood. also are certain fats more likely to cause diarhea eg coconut, dairy? what i mean is can some fats (or too much fat)cause reactions like some proteins or sugars do (gluten lactose).great blog by the way.

    Hi Tony–

    I’ve never heard that ‘heavy’ ketosis causes diarrhea, nor can I see how it could physiologically.  Ketones never make it to the digestive tract: excess ketones are gotten rid of through the breath and the urine, not the stool.

    People who are on low-carb diets and have constipation can usually get rid of it by increasing the fat intake in their diets.  It is normal for a small amount of fat to make it through the small intestine and into the colon.  People who have conditions causing them to be unable to break down and absorb the vast majority of their dietary fat in their small intestines can end up with larger amounts of fat than normal in their colons, which does usually result in diarrhea.  But, people with normally functioning GI tracts and gall bladders don’t get diarrhea with increased fat intake.  Especially not with coconut oil, which has a fair amount of a type of fat that is easily and readily absorbed.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

    • It’s intresting that you guys bring that up. I sufer from absent seizures and when i started this diet, i noticed that i had diarrhea but i didn’t understand why?

      • Hi Richard,

        Absent seizures are sometimes stress related so you could have underlying GI issues and not be aware of them yet. I actually abide by a low-fat, low-carb diet when my own GI issues are acting up which cause diarrhea; however, everytime my body goes into ketosis, my stool, while isn’t normal, does get more formed than what I usually experience on a daily basis. Therefore, you maybe be causing the diarrhea with certain foods that you are eating that are aggrevating another condition that has not become exacerbated yet, rather than the diet itself.

    • Tony,
      You should look into excess ketones as relates to your body going into metablic acidosis, a more serious side effect than diarrhea. Acidosis causes electrolyte imbalances that disrupt nerve and muscle function and reduce hormone and enzyme activity that can lead to death.

      • When you’re healthy (no diabetes), the production of ketone bodies shuts down in the presence of glucose. Ketoacidosis only occurs when BOTH ketones and glucose are present (as is sometimes the case with diabetics). In a normal metabolism acidosis doesn’t occur no matter how high the level of ketone bodies.

        • What if you ARE a diabetic? Type 1. How do I do this diet safely? I’ve never had good control of my sugars, no matter how hard I try. I HAVE to do something, but have concerns with this subject of Ketoacidosis. I don’t want to get myself into this situation and have my doctors refuse to see me if I continue a diet they don’t condone.
          I just noticed comments are closed, but I’m hoping to get a response anyway.

          = D

          • Read the diabetes solution by dr Bernstein and find a dr who will help follow his protocols if you are serious about controlling your bs. He is strict and you may feel you are depriving yourself but if you are actually healthier you are will not feel deprived

    • I have been on Atkins since may 29 I am following it to a “T”. I drink tons of water record everything i eat keep my net carbs 20-25 (most of those carbs are veggies). I work out 5-6 days a week. I am in ketosis (ketone strips and tested my urine at work –I’m a nurse). I have not lost a pound. In fact I am up a pound. I want to lose 15 but scared at this point I may just keep gaining. I keep my calories around 1500 and my ratio %60 fat, %30 protien, and %10 carbs like the book says…..cannot understand what gives and haven’t found another person with the same experience.

      • Elaine,
        I am in this boat too! I have 40lbs to lose and after 9 days in ketosis(according to the strips) I haven’t lost a pound. I am feeling better over all but I really need to see the scale move at least a little. Just wondering if you have had any change since your post.

          • You still have to watch calories if you are trying to lose. I actually do a little bit of a combo with WW to keep myself in check.

          • Jennifer…..good point……….the book suggested a calorie range of 1500-1800 which i kept mine in while doing atkins but i think that may be too high I may try again but keep the calories between 1000-1200

          • Make very, very sure you haven’t let carbs creep in- I did Atkins for two months and didn’t lose any weight until I took very careful inventory of EVERY little thing I ate. Turns out a spoon of some sauces has enough carbs to stop ketosis, and I was eating “sugar free” stuff which contains maltitol, a sugar alcohol that unlike all the other sugar alcohols have carbs and glycemic load.

            I cut those out and started losing weight immediately- 10 pounds over 2 weeks so far.

          • If you read the ingredients list on many of the Adkins, it tends to have high sugar alcohol levels, which makes no sense if you are trying to reduce carbs. The key really is balance, not the Adkins! You will gain any weight you lose on a diet once you are off, but if you change your eating habits for the better, it will stay off. Try ground turkey instead of ground beef, Mrs. Dash seasonings, etc. Good stuff!

          • Hi Elaine,
            Yes, calorie counting is important especially if you eat food like sunflower seeds. Only 1 net carb but a whopping 200 calories
            in a 1/4 cup. My carbs are between 20-25.
            I average 4 lbs loss each week.
            Also, where can you find more recent posts?
            Thank you

          • Hi there atkins diet is no good try yourdietbuddies.co.uk i am on this diet which is shakes etc and in 4 days have lost half a stone so far and in ketone stasis hope this helps

          • Elaine
            I share your frustration. I consume 1800 cal/day and exercise 7 hours per week. Gained 3# over past 4 weeks. I don’t eat grains so my carbs are unreasonable low by default. I believe my body is reacting with a lower metabolism. Weight Watchers is more balanced so if you go there, your metabolism should increase.

            I will add oatmeal for breakfast and rice as a side to attempt to get my carbs above 100g. I do eat veg and add fruit to my daily smoothie. I believe this would be a better approach. I have also noticed that my PVC’s have been reduced.

          • I hit a plateau a few years ago when I was “low-carbing”- I had cut out all grains and beans so I was also SURE that by default my carbs were low. However, I started counting them again to get a better sense and it turned out that the addition of Winter squashes, tubers, fruit and nuts (all primitive foods) and some cheeses, the carbs had crept in again. I only BELIEVED I was low-carbing, but I’d sought out the starchy foods preferentially and was back to high carb without even realizing it. Grain-free doesn’t mean low-carb.

          • I was very frustrated last summer when I did a low carb diet. I exercised, cut out the obvious carbs and watched the hidden carbs like a hawk. however, I am pleased to say that even though my scale did not move for sometimes a week straight or more, the inches were coming off and my clothes fit differently. It is worth it to have someone measure you occasionally to keep your mind in the game. Measure the same places each time, such as the biceps, thighs, waist, neck, bust, around your “seat”. add all numbers together to get a grand total, and then use that number to compare each time you measure. It really helped me to stay focused, and i noticed my musculature improving. I also like to use the ketone strips to keep motivated. If you are in ketosis, you are indeed burning fat, however large or small the amount.

        • Hey.

          Intermittent fasting WITH a low carb diet and exercise has given me frankly insane results.
          Look into it.
          Also, I have found the type of training most people are doing is almost completely useless.

          Look at LEANGAINS program but with an emphasis on Low carb.

          • Agreed, if you are are not doing any weight lifting at all in your workout routine you are not going to lose much weight very fast. And they are complaining about gaining only 3lbs. What about inches? Are any of these people measuring their waste lines? Are you guys weighing yourselves the same time each day, preferably in the morning before you eat? You can gain and lose up to 4lbs every single day due to water weight. If you are drinking a lot of water, which you should be, it is normal to see a 3lbs gain over a period of 4 weeks. Also, are you sure you are keeping your carbs at a low? And what sort of exercises are you people doing? I’ve been only working out 6 days on low carb and already I’m in heavy ketosis, and whenever i’m in ketosis I always lose weight rapidly. Are you people checking your urin to make sure you are even in ketosis?

      • Elaine: I think it’s a mistake to combine carbohydrate-restriction with calorie restriction.

        The body responds to calorie-restriction with hunger and by burning fewer calories, both of which work against fat-loss.

        Successful carbohydrate-restricted diets are generally “ad libitum” with regard to protein and fat, i.e., they allow protein and fat to satiety.

        • Sam, I am thinking about your comment that calorie restriction and carbohydrate restriction together is a mistake. I am reading this thread because I have been in ketosis for 11 days (according to the strips), and I do feel that my clothes are a bit looser, AND my Tanita scale indicates that the percentage of lean has increased and the percentage of fat has decreased, but the scale has been stubborn and not moved downward at all. I am averaging 79% fat, 15% protein and 6% carbs (getting the just-right amount of protein for my small size). So I would enjoy hearing more on your topic and wonder if I should start to eat more since I am also calorie restricted.

      • Elaine,
        If you’re working out a lot, you could be losing fat and gaining muscle, leading to an overall weight gain. I did my first half marathon a month ago and in the training build up, even though I was visibly losing fat, I increased my weight by 5kg (~11lbs), before it dropped again by 2kg (~5lbs). I know other runners training for marathons with similar experiences. The UK celebrity Jordan trained for the London marathon, dropped 2 dress sizes, but increased her overall weight.

        Keep at the exercise and the weight will come off eventually. You will notice your measurements improve before the weight drops.

      • Make sure that you are not eating ANYTHING that has sugar alcohols. They are in all of the low cal or sugar free candies, cookies etc. Even diet mountain dew has them and by eating them it is the same as eating sugar.

        I got rid of them and lost 8lbs in the first week!

        Good luck.

      • Hi Elaine.
        Did you figure it out?
        I’m doing a protein sparing modified fast through a doctor and it’s the only thing that helped me lose weight.
        Carbs AND fat are very low.

      • I know this is a late response, but you have to put in less calories to get your body to lose weight. 1500 calories is way too high to see results.

        • lljames: your reply is based on misinformation. The idea that total calorie intake must be lower than calories burned (which is always guesswork anyway) is “conventional wisdom” that has been disproven over and over again in many published studies. According to G. Taubes in “Why We Get Fat” that law of “calories in must be equal or less than calories out” to lose weight is based on a misinterpretation of a fundamental law of thermodynamics in physics– which loosely states that the energy that goes into a system (ie calories) cannot be lost along the way, but has to used to do something (like become fat storage) or converted to energy and burned (metabolized). Because of the variables in our biological processes, notably hormones, our intake of calories and weight loss or gain is not as simple as a math
          equation

          • kPoulsen

            That fact is you must burn more calories than you take in. I fact MOST of the calories one takes in are used for energy only a portion is stored to fat. This is not a disputed scientific fact.

      • Are you sure you are getting enough protein? I found it hard to get in enough protein, within my daily calorie range, so I started doing a soy-based, unsweetened protein drink for breakfast. BIG help! You get about 20+ grams of pro for 110 calories. It actually tastes pretty good with just ice and Diet sprite, but it also tastes good by adding a single serve packet of Crystal Light! I do approximately 60/30/10. Mainly, I make sure to get my protein requirement for the day – 79-159. After that, it is easy to get the fat because I take 7200 mg Omega 3 every morning,which get me well on my way to 60%. The rest is just foundation veggies. I found out the hard way that UNDEREATING on protein actually can cause water retention. I’ve lost 50+ since early summer, fairly easily. I did recently add Vitamin D, just because it is a recommended basic in the book. t has worked for me so far and I plan to stick to low-carb living from now on…GOOD LUCK!

      • I know the discussions about the diets not working ceased at least 3 months ago. But here are my 2 – cents. I went on a low carbohydrate diet based on Dr. Atkins’ book. I did it with weekly visits to the doctor who prescribed the diet. Weight gain is common! It’s called a plateau. And you can go days without losing too. However, Once my body got in “balance”, it was all I could do to not lose weight. If I exceded my daily intake by as much as a drumstick from the Kentucky Fried Chicken store, I would lose up to 6 pounds in one day. No kidding. I lost 60 pounds and was mistaken for an 18 year old at the state fair concession where they guess your weight and age. I was 31 years old. I was carded until I got pregnant later in life, when I stopped partying.

      • A couple fundamental things that you are probably already aware of, but just in case. The best measures of the effect of these nutrition plans is: % body fat lost, and body measurements i.e. waist size. This is even more important since it should not be one’s objective to loose muscle mass. When we say loose weight, it often communicates the idea of indiscriminate weight loss including fat and muscle. By measuring total body weight, % body fat, and making body measurements you will be able to ensure you are loosing body fat while maintaining lean body mass (muscle, bone, organ). Also, not being completely familiar with atkins, to the best of my knowledge it is always fundamentally true that calories burned must be greater than calories consumed, even on no/low carb diets.

      • Elaine.. and other that have had this issue..
        I am not a doctor.. nor am I a scientist.
        However, I have done this diet for a long time.

        When I first started.. for the first month I had very little change.. my weight did not change. However, I did lost INCHES. Measure yourself.
        By the time 6 months had passed? I had lost over 70 pounds.

        Don’t worry so much about your weight. Watch your inches.. I think muscle weighs more than fat?

      • Eat more fat, like 75-80%, less protein and less carbs. I’m not an expert, but I’m a 40 year old woman with a lifetime of carb issues, and this is what works for me. At least for a week or two, eat what seems like ridiculous quantities of fat (butter and cream on everything!), minimize your protein, and cut out most veggies. I’m not planning to be low vegetables forever, but I really needed to cut my carb count to the minimum. After I upped my fat I found I didn’t need to snack on almonds, I was eating 2-3oz a day, just “needed” something. If you’re working out, you may just need more calories as well. I don’t work out and I eat around 2000 calories a day (I’m only 5’4″) and I’m losing, not lightning fast, but the inches and pounds are coming off. Hang in there, low-carb works! And the ketones are sooo good for your brain!

        • Kayla, I am writing this a really long time after your post, but I am interested in your statement about the ketones being good for the brain. This is what first attracted me to a ketogenic diet that I started about 13 days ago. I am eating the profile that you have mentioned, so I am checking in with you now to see how you are doing and if you care to make a statement about saving your brain.

      • If you are truly only consuming about 10% carbs then that is roughly 38 grams of carbs per day which is low enough to put you into ketosis but you’re fat/protein ratio is to high. Don’t forget that fats are 9 calories per gram and proteins are only 4 calories per gram so you are consuming twice as much calories from fats as you are from proteins. Although you’re in ketosis, your body is still having to burn high levels of fats that you are consuming which can prevent you from burning body fat instead which can cause weight loss to be significantly more difficult. You should be consuming more around 1200 calories per day but more like 50% of them coming from proteins, 40% from fats and 10% from carbohydrates. To ensure you are getting enough of the essential amino acids (proteins) in your diet then you need to be consuming animal protein such as fish, chicken, egg whites etc. every meal at least 3 times a day, at least 30 grams of protein per meal. Also try to get omega 3s from fish in your daily diet. Also drink lots of water and take a good multi vitamin if not already doing so

      • Hi Elaine,
        I am 56 years old and also following the program strictly for a month (including a 7 day Fat Fast to begin the program). I am even taking my ketone and glucose levels 2 – 3 time a day. I have gained about 5 pounds in the last month and am very concerned as well. I am weight lifting and taking bio-identical hormones. I believe this is a healthy diet but am confused as to why all of my male friends lose weight life crazy doing this and I am actually gaining! My hope is that it’s a temporary gain but I just don’t know what to think.
        I am feeling discouraged but determined to figure this whole thing out.
        Tina

    • Dear Mr Eades,

      I have your book, Protein Power, bought
      many years ago.

      I am taking two to three tablespoonsfuls
      of coconut oil a day to help me fight TB,
      after reading a report of such a benefit,

      I think this is mostly due to the lauric acid
      converting to the antibacterial monolaurin in the body.

      However, I think this much oil has caused
      ketosis, since I am now sweating very heavily
      from my back and rear thighs at night during
      sleep.

      I wonder if ketosis might be dangerous for the
      liver, since the TB drugs I am taking are already
      are quite hepatotoxic, and are known to cause
      hepatitis in some cases.

      Indeed, the doctor discontinued the standard
      four-drug regimen for TB for a few days last week
      (just before I started on the coconut oil),
      when a liver function test showed the SGOT
      and SPGT (AST and ALT) a few times higher
      than normal, and I had body rashes as well.

      He has just restarted me back on two of the
      drugs to see how I do for the next two weeks

      Thank you ,
      Tham

    • Last year humans have been classified in 3 types according to the microbes in our intestines: Ruminococcus; Bacteriodes and Prevotella. They digest cellulose. They are found in ruminants intestine.
      Vegetarian diet is healthy. It is based in eating vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and cereals. You can eat all vegetables you want without getting fat. When you stop eating meat you start to recover your taste for vegetables, especially if their organic.

      • @Maria,

        Without getting fat?! I was a whole food vegan fr two years, after an initial weight loss of 25lbs, I gained it back plus 65 more to top out at 300lbs! I’ve never been as sick as I was while vegan. That’s the same day I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes. Cutting cereals out of my diet and eating animal food reversed the diabetes, took 100lbs off my body and restored my health.

        Yes, vegetarians get fat. It happens ALL the time.

        ~Huntress

          • I couldn’t agree more- study nutrition and then throw veganism out the window like I did. I’m quite well educated about nutrition, and while vegan, I saw an endocrinologist 4 times a year and a vegan dietician bi-weekly- she tweaked my diet repeatedly trying to find a vegan food combination that worked for me- it didn’t exist.

            I’m not surprised at your reply though, go to ANY vegan discussion room and locate the posts from people who are ill or failing to thrive on vegan diets and there will be a cluster of comments about how the dieter is “doing it wrong”. They don’t even know him or her, but they’re so invested in the vegan religion that they cannot fathom the possibility that veganism isn’t the next coming.

            I stuck with it far longer than I should have. An intelligent person not under the influence of religious dogma would have moved onto something else long before allowing it to cause so much damage- but the vegan community hides its dirty little secret well- it shames ANYONE who isn’t 100% satisfied with veganism, anyone who becomes ill, anyone who feels tired, anyone who asks questions, anyone who suffers cravings for animal foods- they convince them that they failed veganism rather than what is actually true, veganism failed THEM.

            So no, Maria, I didn’t need to study nutrition to be vegan, I needed to study it to pitch veganism out on it’s ass. The fact is, if it was an optimal or natural diet, it would be intuitive- so the idea that one needs to study to know how to eat is ludicrous. The only reason it’s necessary is because the diet is SO lacking in naturally occurring nutrients that supplementation is REQUIRED, and after all, you need someone to tell you which supplements to take. 😉

          • Huntress, legumes have 20% protein and no saturated fat. The combination legumes-cereals like black beans and rice, is the perfect meal. It contains the right quantity of aminoacids, minerals and vitamins. This is what a vast majority of people eat throughout the world everyday. Studying I got to know all this.

          • Maria & Huntress,
            I am very new to all of this. I have type one diabetes (this means that I inject insuling as my pancreas does not produce any) and I have also recently been diagnosed with Celiac’s disease. I studied biochemistry as an undergrad and have been imersed in the nutrition stream of the medical field since I was old enough to understand it ( i was diagnosed with diabetes at two and there have been myriad of studies published about nutrition and fad diets). The only thing that has worked to maintain my blood sugar, satisfy my celiac needs and keep me healthy overall is the Paleo diet. That being said it is important to remember that with any of these “diets” one needs to be in constant communication with their doctor. Without getting too technical, one needs to understand the chemical make-up of their bodies and how the chemicals interact and break down.
            Maria, based on my research (study as you call it) over 70 % of the nutrients that you are getting from legumes and grains are being expelled and causing your system to work double time converting and controlling toxins. You may be able to live this way, most of our society is plugging away, its simply a matter of how healthy you really are. Unfortunately we cannot all go into the doctor and request and Chem 12 and CBC, MRI and regular X-rays. Not only will the medical community get tired of you but its not practical. However, what these tests would likely show in your body is that you have abnormally high levels of Iron (which causes leaching of other essential nutrients out of your body), a vitamin an dmineral difficiency of some kind that requires supplemements, weakening in the bones (possible osteoporosis or arthritis), and a decrease in overall muscle mass and function.
            Maria, all that being said maybe this works for you and you feel “great.” But don’t be so quick to discount other ways of thinking because they challenge yours. The vegan diet has been proven to be nearly fatal in several medical circles. It doesn’t mean that you are going to die from it but it certainly means that it does not work for everyone.

          • No, the perfect meal is an animal. Meat, organs, marrow and all. Nothing even comes close to the nutritional density.

          • No. This seems to have posted under Maria. Thank you Paleo Huntress for articulating the exact feelings many of us have regarding vegan-ism.

          • I agree with the Huntress’ setiments. I have a couple of close Vegan friends who have several very serious health issues that could be resolved quite easily with the right healthy fats in their diet. The ‘religious’ aspect of the Vegan community makes it impossible to try and reason in the presence of actual data to get my friends to re-consider yet alone try a healthy low-carb lifestyle.

        • Exactly, and we knew a total vegan who had sky high cholesterol due to the sheer number of carbs that one takes in when animal fats and protein are missing. We cannot do what our bodies were not made to do. We would need a rumen or a cecum like the animals I hunt and eat in order to manufacture the proper fatty acids and proteins needed for a strong and healthy human body. Not happening, and thank goodness, because a rumen or cecum does not make for a slim figure!

        • Vegetarian diet is NOT healthy for everyone, nor is vegan.
          I am a poster child for the problems insulin resistant people have with high carb, and even moderate carb diets. (I’m not talking about diabetics, but people like myself whose pancreatic function was compromised early in life.) My early insulin resistance was caused by a dangerous experimental medicine regimen that I underwent for a few months at age 8, causing bloating and weight gain. At age 8 I was a skinny, energetic little girl whose ribs stuck out. By age 9, after the months of cortisone and testosterone shots, I was fat and lethargic, and I struggled with weight problems from this point on. By the time I was in my mid-20s it became clear to me that carbs were not my friend, and on my first trial of a low carb diet, I could not believe how quickly I lost weight and felt wonderful — it seemed nearly miraculous.
          But in subsequent years, I wasn’t strong enough to overcome social pressures to be vegetarian or vegan, and I discovered the raw vegan diet and began what would be over 30 years of eating raw food, gaining weight, doing long water and vegetable juice fasts and cleanses, and generally torturing myself with the idea that if I would just TRY HARDER (the party line in the vegan movement and the raw food movement) I would stop failing. (I also tried macrobiotics for a brief period, and that was also disastrously bad for my body type, as well.)
          Finally I came to my senses and went back to low carb. In 3 weeks I lost almost 20 pounds, after YEARS of struggling to lose even a pound on a raw vegan diet. I felt reborn.
          I still struggle with social pressure because of militant vegans and vegetarians (and my own ambivalence about eating animals and their products), but this is a way of eating that really works, and I’m going to stay with it. I don’t lose a lot of weight on it, but I maintain, and am never hungry, and and am healthy and fit. (Maybe 20 lb. overweight at most — I can live with that. I’m 65, and I’ve been able to wear the same jeans I wore 20 years ago, so I will continue to try to tweak the diet so as to lose more weight, but as long as I don’t GAIN I am not too concerned.

      • Some vegans are obese. Learning to eat right and working out are an important part of any lifestyle independent of your food intake . You can maintain a low carbohydrate lifestyle as a vegan nobody says otherwise. All carbohydrates break down into sugars if they are utilized and absorbed in the intestinal tract. Watch out for vegetable with a high glycemic index these will lead to obesity from over consumption. Corn fed to cattle causes rapid growth and weight gain. Many of the pet foods list corn meal as the number one ingredient and low and behold our pets suffer the same aliments and diseases we as humans due from our poor diets. Very interesting finding regarding the gut flora. I’m hoping I have more Bacteriodes (most people do usually 30%) they manufacture vitamin k2 which prevents atherosclerosis. Include Natto in your diet if you can rich in Vitamin K2. Live Love Laugh Stay Well

        • Know what’s even more rich in K2? The MK-4 form that does significantly more for the body than natto’s MK-7?
          Butter from grass fed ruminants.

    • Tony,
      the statement that “fat is not stored in the absence of insulin” is a little tricky. Insulin deals with storing glucose when glucose it is too high in the blood (which is usually a result of eating carbohydrates rather than fat). If the excess glucose is not utilized in the next couple of hours it is converted into fat for long term storage. Therefore, if there was no insulin response to the ingested carbohydrate, then there is a low probability its resulting delivery of glucose into the blood would become stored as fat. (Glucose would continually recirculate in the blood and damage all the organs in its path.) Insulin does not play a role in metabolizing the fat. Insulin, as long as it is present, is like a check valve (a one way street): it allows ingested carbohydrates to be converted into fat and effectively protects the fat stores from being expended. So as long as insulin is present, burning stored fat will be extremely difficult.

  2. Very informative post. What happens if you eat more calories than you need, while still restricting the carbs enough to induce ketosis? Does your body convert extra protein to fat for storage? Does it store the excess fat you eat, even as it’s burning fat to make glucose?

    I’ve read that diets with extremely limited calorie intake have been shown to increase life span. Do those diets induce ketosis, too? Could that be associated with the increase in longevity?

    Hi Keith–

    Most people who consume rigorous low-carb diets at high caloric levels don’t tend to gain weight. They don’t lose – unless they are very large to start – but they typically don’t gain. No one knows why for absolute certain, but I have my own theory.

    There are many futile biochemical cycles in the body. By futile I mean cycles where energy is expended – usually as heat – but no work is done. It would be like putting your car up on blocks, starting it, and putting a weight on the accelerator pedal so that the engine would run fast. You would burn up a lot of gas over a couple of hours, but the car wouldn’t go anywhere. The body has ways of dissipating excess energy involving the reduction of protonmotive force across the inner mitochondrial membrane (a subject way too technical to address here, though I may try sometime in a long post), which is precisely what I believe happens when insulin is kept low and calories high.

    Long term low-calorie diets have been effective in animals, but haven’t been studied in humans for obvious reasons. Animals that are put on alternate day fasting regimens (see post here on the subject) have the same longevity benefits as do animals on caloric restriction despite the fact that the animals that eat only every other day consume way more calories overall (they double up on feeding days) than the calorically restricted animals. One of the main differences labwise between the caloricall restricted animals and the alternate day fasted animals is that the latter have high levels of ketones on their fasted days. Could that be the factor that makes these animals live as long as the calorically restricted ones despite eating 30-40% more? No one knows. But ketones do more than simply act as a fill in for glucose. (Click here for a post I did on this subject a while back.)

    Cheers–

    MRE

    • Dr. Eades-THANK YOU for a very informative post! I have maintained a low carb, high calorie diet and maintained my weight without change for the las two years. I decided to lose a few pounds, dropped my calories to appx 2,000 a day, and stopped drinking alcohol and caffeine.

      I lost 15 lbs in four weeks, and have 10 to go. Then I’ll get back to unrestricted and see if I can hold the (waist) line.

      Thanks Again,
      Andy

    • I’m doing a carb restricted/ketotic diet through Medi Weight Loss. By day 3 I had moderate ketones and maintained this through day 6. However, on day 7, without changing anything in my diet, I suddently fell out of ketosis and at day 9 now, I have not been able to regain the moderate level. Any idea on what happened and how to get back to moderate level ketones? I will contact Medi and see if my test strips went bad, etc. but I was wondering if you had any thoughts. I was wondering about varying levels of hydration and whether my urine was too diluted, so I tried testing first thing in the morning and the results are the same, between “negative” and “trace”. You have very interesting posts and are very good at presenting biochemistry to those not well versed in it.

      • I’m doing a carb restricted/ketotic diet through Medi Weight Loss. By day 3 I had moderate ketones and maintained this through day 6. However, on day 7, without changing anything in my diet, I suddently fell out of ketosis and at day 9 now, I have not been able to regain the moderate level. Any idea on what happened and how to get back to moderate level ketones? I will contact Medi and see if my test strips went bad, etc. but I was wondering if you had any thoughts. I was wondering about varying levels of hydration and whether my urine was too diluted, so I tried testing first thing in the morning and the results are the same, between “negative” and “trace”. You have very interesting posts and are very good at presenting biochemistry to those not well versed in it.

      • From what I understand once the body has entered into ketosis properly and the ketones are being used efficiently it is less likely that much, if any, ketones will be floating around in the urine, so the fact that test strips do not appear to show ketosis is not necessarily any indication that the body isn’t in it.

      • After the first week, maybe your body was efficiently using the ketones for energy instead of expelling excess ketones via urine…which would explain why the test strips were negative?

      • test strips are not an accurate measure of being in ketosis. The test strips only activate with the presence of ketones in the urine. It is possible that the majority or all of the ketones are being used by ones body especially when one includes exercise with a ketosis weight loss plan. The best approach is to follow your nutrition plan and monitor your % body fat loss, total weight loss, and body size measurements weekly.

    • If you eat to much protein, the protein will no be usable and will be stored as fat. To much of anything is not good for you. So don’t over due the Protein.

      Bucky
      S.D.A.

      • The body has to work VERY hard to store protein as fat and it literally expends more calories than it saves in doing so. You will not get fat from protein.

      • Insulin is responsible for fat gain. Protein intake does not increase insulin levels ergo protein cannot cannot make you fat.

        Your body has a set point of body fat dictated by the type of food intake. Glucose in the food sets the point at a certain level and body fat adjusts accordingly as dictated by insulin. Likewise, when you decrease the glucose the body adjusts the body fat accordingly as well.

    • dr mike; i go on low carb only to leave a few months later as my hair massively falls out. i dont know what do about this. i am 5’5″ and now weigh 257. started feb 16 weighing 285. usually i lose more weight on low carb, dont quite understand whats going on…. i do have serious yeast issues which i cant seem to get under control!! please help. i need my hair and would like to lose more weight…

  3. Great explanation Dr. Mike! Thanks for posting it. I’m going to link to this on my blog today.

    Hi Amy–

    Glad you liked it.  Link away.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  4. And ketones are THE preferred fuel for the heart, making that organ operate at about 28 percent greater efficiency.

    Source, please?

    Hi Jari–

    Here is one source.

    Richard Veech, the author, is probably the world’s leading authority on ketone metabolism.

    Here is a quote from the article that you won’t find in the abstract. After discussing his experimental results in determining heart efficiency with different fuels and finding that ketones increase efficiency by 28 percent, he writes:

    The fundamental reason why the metabolism of ketone bodies produce an increase of 28% in the hydraulic efficiency of heart compared with a heart metabolizing glucose alone is that there is an inherently higher heat of combustion in Image-β-hydroxybutyrate [a ketone] than in pyruvate, the mitochondrial substrate which is the end product of glycolysis.

    Cheers–

    MRE

    • I think the idea of the picture is, in the past, hunters went through “dry periods” when they had no food, thus inducing ketosis, and then when they killed an animal, such as a mastadon, they consumed only fat and protein, so they remained in ketosis. Therefore, hunters might have been very very lean and thin.

  5. Dr..many thanks yr time.
    Could you qualify starvation please i.e. when it kicks in or does that seem like a ‘who longs a piece of string question’

    thanks

    Hi Simon–

    Actually, all these processes are going on concurrently: we’re storing fat as we’re pulling it out to metabolize it, and gluconeogenesis is taking place to some extent most of the time.  It’s a question of which processes predominate at any given point.

    It’s like when you’re driving your car on the freeway in normal traffic and only have to use the brake occasionally (you’re predominately in accelerator mode) verses being in a traffic jam where you are constantly riding the brakes with a bit of the gas pedal here and there.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  6. I’m also interested in how to use ketosis to help maintain/measure weight loss.

    First, are test strips which detect acetoacetic acid in urine a good measure of ketosis in general? Are they too specific? Too inaccurate?

    Reviewing Protein Power and the PPLS, is it correct to ‘summarize’ the broad steps to weight loss, Protein Power style, as (Each step includes the previous):

    1) Achieve and maintain ketosis by restricting carbohydrate intake.

    2) Consume adequate protein to minimize usage of muscle tissue for gluconeogenesis.

    3) Maintain a caloric deficit (How necessary is this, if you’ve got the ‘metabolic advantage’ working for you?).

    4) Drink plenty of water to help your body eliminate waste and as much ketone as possible before it can be used for energy.

    This is kind of my take on it, but it seems to shift the emphasis from insulin to ketones a lot more than your writings do. This makes practical sense to me since (If those strips are a good measure) ketosis is A LOT easier to check than blood insulin levels! One possible hole here is if you can be in ketosis AND have elevated insulin levels simultaneously, with insulin ‘trumping’ ketosis. (I also know that micronutrients and essential fatty acids can have a huge impact on the weight loss equation, too.)

    Thanks!

    Hi Bob–

    Yes, the strips are fairly accurate as to the amount of ketones in the urine.  But there is individual variability in terms of getting rid of ketones.  Since ketones can be discharged in both the breath and the urine, some people have a tendency to prefer (based on their own biochemical makeup – not by their conscious choice) to eliminate them more via the breath than the urnine.  These people can be in heavy ketosis and not show much in their urine.  There are breathalyzer-like devices that give readings for breath ketones.  A combination of both would be the best way to truly quantify the amount of ketones being gotten rid of.

    Your steps 1-3 are accurate.  As far as I can tell, the metabolic advantage is worth about 300 calories.

    Step 4 is probably okay, but I don’t know that you’re going to get rid of the ketones before they can be used.  Tissues in need of energy voraciously grab the ketones from the blood long before they can be filtered out by either the kidneys or the lungs.

    I emphasize insulin in my writings because excess insulin causes most of the problems.  You’ve got to deal with that before you can even get into ketosis.  And, when people go on a rigorous low-carb diet, they will ultimately get into ketosis a lot of the time.  I’ve seen a lot of people frustrated with the Atkins diet because they feel like failures if they don’t get into ketosis, when the reality is that they are probably in ketosis a lot of the time, but just not when they happen to check.  I’ve seen many people become obsessed with turning their strips purple instead of obsessing on their diet and health.  Atkins himself – I suppose – got tired of hearing people complain that they couldn’t get into ketosis, so he had them do a ‘fat fast’ using (as I recall) macadamia nuts and cream cheese only diet, which is primarily fat.  If you reduce the carbs to practically zero and increase fat markedly – as this ‘fat fast’ would do – you will go into ketosis, but that’s not the point.  The point is to lose weight and improve health, not to obsess on the urine strips.  For that reason MD and I have always played down the ketosis aspect in our books.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  7. Dr. Mike

    I have recently switched from a calorically restricted very low carb diet to a non-restricted zero carb diet. My weight has gone from 161.5 to 178.5 in about 40 days. Granted I was previously eating 1000 calories per day and am now eating ~4000. Is it possible for this gain to represent a fat gain? I simply do not see how it could be possible. The only thing I can think of is that it must have been muscle mass.

    In your post you stated that glucose needs may come from muscles and this seems to be especially true on a restricted diet.

    Thanks

    Hi Freddy–

    Right you are: glucose comes from muscle on a restricted diet.

    I would suspect that you weight gain is primarily muscle mass.  If you’ve been on a 1000 kcal/day diet for any length of time, you will have almost certainly reduced your lean body mass, which will return once you start consuming more calories and more protein.  You should be able to tell yourself whether it’s fat or muscle.  Has your waist size increased significantly?

    The interesting part of your history is what has happened to the extra calories you’ve consumed since increasing your caloric intake.  If my math is correct, you’ve gained 17 pounds since you increased your caloric intake.  The rule of thumb on stored fat is that it contains about 3,500 kcal/lb, so (assuming you stored all your excess energy as fat) the 17 lb gain represents 17 X 3500 = 59,500 kcal.  You’ve increased your daily caloric intake by 3000 kcal (4000 – 1000) and you’ve been doing so for 40 days.  40 X 3000 = 120,000 kcal.  Yet you’ve only stored about half that.  Where did the rest go?  You’re metabolic rate is probably about 2000 kcal/day so that extra 1000 kcal (above the 1000 kcal provided by your original diet) represents 40,000 kcal.  59,500 + 40,000 = 99,500.  120,000 – 99,500 = 20,500 kcal unaccounted for.  20,500/40 days = 512.5 kcal/day.  Where did it go?  If you converted most of the excess calories into lean body mass (muscle + organ + bone), calories would be required for the growth.  So, given the calculations, I would bet you put most of the excess calories into lean body mass.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  8. Yes, yes, Dr. Eades: this information I/we know. Where is the long promised post on electrolyte/mineral homeostasis during LC diets?

    Prodding you gently with my post,

    R Cooney
    OHSU MSIII

    Hi Robert–

    You may have to refresh my memory.  Did I promise a post on electrolyte/mineral homeostasis?

    BTW, do you know an anesthesiologist on staff at OHSU named Jeff Swan?  If so, say Hi for me.  He and I were great friends during medical school and had many escapades together.  If you do talk to him, don ‘t believe anything he might tell you about the good ol’ days. 

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  9. I second the motion, a great explanation! I like the way you can take a fairly complex topic and make it understandable for a regular dumb guy like me.

    I read a squib in a fitness magazine recently about frequency of eating. It’s based on the “eat every three hours to keep your metabolism in high gear” notion. His assertion was that if you wait more than three hours between meals, your body goes into “starvation mode”, your metabolism slows down radically, and the next thing you eat is immediately stored as fat. This makes no sense in light of your discussion on ketones. Any thoughts?Thanks!

    Hi Thomas–

    Yes, I have a thought. I think the guy who wrote the article you mentioned is severely lacking a grounding in fundamental biochemistry. Everything I discussed in the post on ketosis is not rocket science, it’s basic biochemistry as taught in every medical school in the world. It’s not controversial, it’s just that people who haven’t been to medical school or haven’t studied biochemistry often don’t understand ketosis or where ketones come from or what they do. Which is why I wrote the post. People who write articles such as the one you described should at least make the effort to understand what they’re writing about before they publish this kind of nonsense.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  10. Perhaps Mr Kaz is implying that cave men and Paleolithic don’t go hand in hand ?

    Dunno really but we need enlightening thats for sure; and naturally i’m sure i speak for absolutely nobody when i say ‘we stand gobs agape, our, mine actually, breath held at thew prospect of knowing and the relief it shall bring to our existentially fevered brows’!!!!

  11. How many glycerols does it take to make one glucose?

    Never mind the fact that it’s not totally converted. Is it a 1:1 ratio, or something else like two glycerols needed for one glucose to be produced?

    Hi Carly–

    It takes two glycerols to make one glucose.

    MRE 

  12. You said that the average person requires about 200 gr. of sugar. And that when the ketosis process is humming along the requirement for glucose drops to about 120-130 gm per day.

    What is the reason for the drop in glucose requirements?

    Can this help explain why many people doing low carb often lose 10-30 pounds per month the first few months then substantially less the subsequent months?

    I am struggling to understand why weight loss seems more and more difficult the longer I am on a low-carb diet. I have lost 80 pounds over 9 months and am 20 pounds away from having having 18% body fat. The first six months were pretty much by the book. At the end of the sixth month, I was losing at a rate of less than 5 pounds per month, 1/6 of what I experienced during the first month. There was a noticeable slow-down during the 3rd month. Any thoughts on why the slow-down?

    Hi Daron–

    It takes a while to become fully ketone adapted.  At first, the body is making the ketones, but the tissues haven’t completely converted to using them for energy yet.  The body then wastes the unused ketones (which are highly caloric) in the breath and urine.  As time rolls on and the body becomes ketone adapted, it wrings every smidgen of energy it can out of the ketones, so you don’t get as great a loss as you do early on.

    Second, as you lose weight, you decrease your metabolic rate.  Resting metabolic rate is a function of weight more than anything else, and resting metabolic rate is the largest component of most people’s total metabolic rate.  As you lose and the metabolic rate falls, it becomes more difficult to lose more.  Sometimes it’s easier to think of weight loss in terms of percentage of body weight than in pounds.  As you get smaller, you lose less, but even though you’re losing less, that less represents about the same percentage of your overall body weight as did the larger amounts you lost when you were larger.

    The very best way to look at it is by percentage body fat.  If you’re a male, then you should shoot for a body fat percentage of around 15-18% irrespective of what overall weight that represents. Which seems to be what you’re doing.  Remember, you can decrease body fat percentage without losing any weight if you increase your muscle mass.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

    • >As time rolls on and the body becomes ketone adapted, it wrings every smidgen of energy it can out of the ketones, so you don’t get as great a loss as you do early on.

      How long would you say this time period is? I assume this is the reason for carb loading. With carb loading will your body be less efficient at getting energy from ketones once you go into ketosis again and how long would it take out of ketosis before the body is no longer well adapted to using ketones for energy?

      Thanks for the post. Some great info here.

  13. Sorry… I re-read your post and think I get it… some of the body burns the ketones for fuel rather than glucose. Therefore, less sugar is needed by the body. Since ketosis seems to set in for me at around day 3, this probably isn’t related to why the rate of weight loss slows after the first few months.

    • I think the when the ketones are burned for fuel it is of more importance than glucose which we can easily get from almost any food stuff on sale out there,

      I like the example you have given of yourself that ketosis seems to set in for you around day 3. Quite an interesting observation.

      • danny, i read somewhere that it takes approximately 3 days to deplete the liver of sugar…. perhaps thats why it takes 3 days to go into ketosis….

  14. Dr. Mike,

    Have you had any experience with LC diets being unable to provide fuel for intense exercise (sprinting, CrossFit Style Metabolic Workouts, etc.)?

    This study:

    http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/1/1/2

    seems to suggest that after one has become fat adapted, endurance exercise performance returns to normal, but sprint performance remains poor. The suggested reason is that this type of exercise can not be fueled by fat, it must be fueled by glucose.

    If this is true, does this mean that Paleolithic man’s ability to hunt while in ketosis was poor?

    Hi Craig–

    I’ve seen this same phenomenon reported in a number of papers.  In long stretches of high-intensity exercise, performance falls off with a low-carb diet.

    But, I don’t think that would impair Paleolithic man’s hunting ability or ability to survive.  No Paleolithic man – irrespective of how much carb he consumed – was going to be able to out sprint a lion chasing him or was going to be able to run down a deer.  Hunting was a group effort involving long bouts of low-intensity exercise (tracking and locating the game) and very short surges – just a few seconds at a time – of intense effort to bring it down. 

    I can’t see Paleolithic man indulging in sprints just to keep in shape, so there was really no necessity to evolve a system that would perform optimally under those circumstances.

    Another thought…Paleolithic man was on a low-carb diet from birth.  Modern man is on a high-carb diet from birth.  Some modern men decide to go on low-carb diets later on.  And they adapt relatively quickly as far as endurance exercise is concerned.  Maybe the adaptation period for high-intensity exercise simply takes a lot longer than we think. 

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  15. Dr. Mike,

    A lot of low carbers on various forums seem to be almost deathly afraid of protein. They seem to think that any protein not used for bodily functions is instantly converted to glucose, causing an insulin reaction and fat storage. I see comments all the time like “I am not losing anymore. I must be eating too much protein.”

    Is there ever a scenario that excess protein is converted to glucose, except for the times mentioned in your blog entry?

    Hi Ryan–

    This seems to be a common misconception.  The only time protein is converted to glucose is when glucose levels in the blood are low.  When dietary sources of carbohydrate are minimal, the body converts protein to glucose, but converts enough only to keep the blood sugar normal.  Any ‘excess’ protein can be converted to fat and metabolized as fat.  But, for the most part, this doesn’t really happen because the cost of protein metabolism is high, therefore a lot of it gets consumed in its own metabolism.  It takes about a gram of protein to make 0.7 gm of glucose, so if one is on a low-carb diet requiring an extra 70 grams of glucose production daily, it takes about 100 gms of dietary protein just to keep glucose levels where they need to be.  And that’s before the protein is even used for all the structural needs of the body i.e., hair, skin, nails, bone, enzymes, muscle, etc.

    Hope this answers the question.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  16. Dr Mike, after becoming ketone adapted, would taking long walks help Daron at comment #14?
    I know that the initial weight loss is mostly due to the process you explain in this post, but I’m wondering if adding long, slow cardio in addition to weight training makes a difference.

    Or maybe the question should be, is he doing enough weight lifting? Would increasing that be the way to go?

    Hi LC–

    First, it requires about 8-12 grams per day of the amino acid leucine to really begin to build muscle. It takes about 100 grams of meat protein per day (or whey) to get this amount of leucine. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so more muscle = greater metabolism. So, my first suggestion would be to ensure enough good quality protein to build muscle.

    Second, long walks may help a little, but probably not much. Long walks are good for other health reasons, just not particularly effective for weight loss. Weight lifting – especially a Slow Burn style of resistance training – would help more.

    It’s simply difficult to get off the last few pounds because these pounds represent a smaller larger percentage of overall body weight compared to the first pounds lost. It often requires a reduction in calories along with the carbs to get rid of these hard-to-get-rid-of last pounds. But dietary diligence will ultimately bring about the results.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  17. ” It’s simply difficult to get off the last few pounds because these pounds represent a smaller percentage of overall body weight compared to the first pounds lost. ”

    Didn’t you mean a larger percentage Dr Mike?

    Hi Neil

    Yes, I did mean larger.  Thanks for the correction.

    MRE 

  18. Amazing. We really are an amazing creation!

    Please, keep posting your “lessons”. I love reading them and I’m learning!! You’ve tackled some pretty complicated processes and made it very easy to understand.

    I’ll keep after it as long as my stamina holds out.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  19. With regard to Thomas’ post and your answer (#11) the trouble is once something is printed people in general take it as ‘gospell’. It’s in a paper/magazine/book – IT MUST BE RIGHT! I really do despair sometimes. This is a great post – gives me a bit more fuel in my constant battle against the low fat nerds.
    I went from 131 kgs to 103 on Atkins. I’ve been a bit lazy and crept up a bit (108) but have gone back to it strictly and have to get back to my 5km walks. For me it ended a lifetime of 2-3 migraines a week and other complaints as I discovered I also had a high level of gluten intolerance.
    I bless low carb every migraine free day (not one since Sept 2005!)

    Hi Odille–

    Good luck in your quest to get back to 103!

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  20. I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes about 2 years ago and have struggled with the American Diabetes association diet recommendation of 40 to 50% of calories from Carbohydrates.. could never keep the sugar level and kept taking metformin and diamicron and always felt hungry.

    About 3 weeks ago, I ran across the South beach Diet. I have cut out all bread, rice, potatoes and fruit 100%. I am eating egg beaters, cheese, chicken, seafood, vegetables… and exercising 5/6 times per week.. trying to still stay around 1500 calories per day. Actually lost about 10 lbs. (195-185). I have been able to get out of all pills for the past week and feel fine. Truly unbelievable.

    However, lately, past 2 days, though my blood sugar levels seem to be creeping up to 7-8mmol/L especially in the morning and staying there. Maybe my liver is putting sugar from proteins in and I don’t have enough insulin or it is not effective?

    Should I go back to Metformin? (my doctor seems to think I should). Wouldn’t it affect what my liver is trying to do.. i.e. generate glucose from protein?

    Thanks for you help.

    Hi Guru–

    I think you’re on the right track with cutting out the stuff you cut out.  I would strive to keep my carbs pretty low.  Other vegetables – legumes and corn, for example – contain carbs.  I would work diligently to cut my carbs back to no more than 30 or so grams per day to see what happens.

    Your liver is indeed converting protein to glucose in the early morning, a situation called the ‘dawn phenomenon’ because it happens in the early morning hours.  What happens is this.  Your liver converts protein to glucose to keep your blood sugar normal.  When blood sugar reaches normal level, insulin goes up just a touch, but enough to shut down the liver’s protein to glucose machinery.  If your liver is resistant to insulin (or if, in the case of type I diabetics, there is no insulin) the liver doesn’t get the signal to shut off glucose production and keeps on going.

    I’ve found in my own patients that as they continue on their low-carb diets for longer and longer that this liver insulin resistance improves and they end up with normal glucose levels in the morning.  It happens in most cases, but not all.  Taking metformin (which is one of the few drugs I actually will use with patients) at night help most people keep their sugars lower in the morning.  If I were you, I would probably take the metformin as your doctor suggest, keep on my low-carb diet for a month or so longer, then see what happens if I don’t take the metformin.  If the sugar comes back up, I go back on the metformin and try again after another month of low-carbing.

    Keep me posted.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

    • Hello Dr. Mike,

      I’ve been type 1 diabetic pumper, and have been diabetic for over 40 years (I’m 43 now). I started paleo living about a week ago, and have been studying everything I can find about the difference between ketosis and ketoacidosis, because all my life, my doctors have told me that ketones in my urine can kill me through ketoacidosis. I’ve learned however that the heart runs better on ketones, and I suffered cardiac arrest at age 34. No heart damage though. So I wonder if, as a type 1 diabetic and heart patient, is ketosis good or bad for me? I put myself into ketosis by restricting my carbs to 40 carbs yesterday, and woke up with trace levels on my ketostix. But my blood sugar is elevated to between 200-250 with no carbs since about 8PM last night, and I’ve had to double my insulin bolus to correct that high. Kinda paranoid about going over the 250 threshold and creating ketoacidosis. I’ve also increased my basal rate temporarily until I can bring myself out of ketosis. I’m monitoring every hour or so to make sure everything is ok.

      Is what’s happening to me the same as what happened to Guru? My liver is producing glucose from protein? I thought that a natural byproduct of ketosis was that the glycerol molecules combine from the fat burning to create glucose? Is it safe for me to stay in a ketogenic state if I just raise my basal rate accordingly? I thought one of the benefits of a paleo diet was to reduce insulin production?

      I have a doctor appointment with a new doctor next week, so I’ll certainly discuss this with him, but would love your input.

      Sincerely,
      Rich the Diabetic

  21. After reading the posts and the background research by Dr. Phinney, I’m still confused. I am a runner. It appears that I can preserve my VO2 Max and Aerobic capacity, but perhaps I won’t be as fast on a ketogenic diet. Is that right? And if so, should I be at a suggested carb level or should I just be patient and try to adapt?

    Hi Charles–

    I think you will be as fast at short bursts as you ever were, i.e., a 40, or even 100, yard dash.  And, if you’re a long-distance runner I would bet that you will be as fast there, if not faster because you will be burning fat, not glucose.  The problem comes with sustain high intensity exercise, say, running a 440 at full speed.  Depending on your aerobic ability to burn glucose you might be a little slower at that distance.  If I were running a 440 or doing a high intensity sport in competition I would increase my glucose consumption.

    As to how much, I don’t have the answer to that.  If I were doing it myself I would experiment around until I found what worked best for me.  Maybe other readers will report their experiences.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  22. I apologize. I should ask my question differently so you can be sure I’m not asking for medical advice.

    In view of the Phinney paper on ketogenic diets and physical performance, what should be the stance of the distance runner towards a ketogenic diet after reading this?

    I’ve always heard that VO2 Max and aerobic endurance were the usual markers for success at distance running. This would would seem to indicate that distance runners could certainly benefit from the ketogenic diet with ample adaptation. Indeed, it’s well-settled that the Kenyans, who dominate modern distance running, are able to run at a much higher percentage of their VO2 Max much longer than the rest of us.

    Dr. Phinney seems to leave the question open as to whether the athlete could adapt his sprint and anaerobic performance with more time. In fact, there are people in your own forum who have said that despite an initial decrease in energy, they have been able to match and even exceed their weight lifting abilities. What’s your take?

    Hi Charles–

    No problem; I didn’t take it as a request for medical advice. For whatever reason your comment got caught up in the spam filter.

    As I mentioned in the previous answer, I do think a ketogenic diet or a diet verging on the ketogenic will increase endurance performance. Phinney’s work along with some other privately published government research shows that high-intensity exercise capacity falls off a little. But that doesn’t mean that short bursts of high-intensity activity results in a decrease in performance. It happens only when the high-intensity work lasts long enough to deplete the glucose stores faster than they can be replenished endogenously, which, like all other physiology, varies individually.

    The papers I have that were studies of naval recruits and pigs (of all things) show that with adaptation to a ketogenic diet, the activity of the specific enzymes required to increase the availability of glucose were enhanced.  But these studies were done over the short term, i.e., several weeks, whereas in Paleolithic man these adaptations would have taken place over a lifetime.  Without long term studies we can’t say whether these adaptations would occur over this longer period.

    Best–

    MRE

    • I would like to comment on this as I am a runner and have been low carbing for months now at around 20-30gms/day of carbs. At first and for the first few weeks I noticed a markedly slower pace for my runs and felt sluggish and tired and wanted to walk, similar to the sensation of “hitting the wall” during a marathon (which I have experienced btw). However I kept at it and a few weeks in noticed that I had a gradual and steady increase in performance both in weight lifting (which now hardly ever leaves me with soreness like it did consistently before my low carb lifestyle) and with my interval sessions of 4-8x400m or more at near max speeds for me yet when I am nearing the end of my interval session, I still have energy to spare – enough to do a full out “kick” at the end just for fun. My easy running pace has increased as well. The training effects I am experiencing now are MUCH higher than I was experiencing with my high carb eating style before. I have run 10-12 miles w/no supplemental energy whatsoever other than water – of course if it had been hot out I would have had electrolytes to help also but that would’ve been all I needed. I may not be a study participant but I can attest to the fact that as time goes on, the body adapts to ketones and uses them very efficiently – even for high intensity exercise. I would say just be patient because I believe our bodies truly were designed to work very well this way. I am surprised each time that I do my strength training sessions or a speed run that I am faster and stronger in a shorter time. On the high carb diet I was on last year (and for 2.5 yrs prior) I had a hard time running well, faster, and avoiding backlash appetite repercussions because my body wanted sugar and wanted it NOW. It led me to overeat carbs and resulted in weight gain (fat) and slower and slower race times and over-training. The harder I ran, the more I ran, the more I weight trained, the fatter I got and the more I actually lost muscle and felt emotionally burnt out. My marathon was a prime example: I was not fat adapted so I hit a wall at mile 23 pretty badly. I walked almost an entire mile and stopped for part of it, not sure if I could finish. After a little rest, I did finish at a very slow pace and all that added an extra hour to my race time. Not to mention I had less muscle mass and more fat from all my hard training. I wondered if long endurance exercise was truly something that I was meant to do…it simply had too high a cost and did not accomplish what I set out for – fat loss. Though I did accomplish my life-long goal of finishing a marathon – but at what cost? Now I know better! Low carb is the endurance athlete’s best friend.

  23. Mmmm, that elephant looks tasty. Doc, I am perplexed. You and Mary introduced me to glucagon. I thought that I read in your book that glucagon is inactive when insulin is high. I thought that when insulin is stable then the pancreas produces glucagon. Then, in turn, glucagon enhances ketosis. Therefore if insulin is spiked then glucagon is low or nonexistant. I now think that I am mistaken in that conclusion. But my main question is, does stable insulin levels trigger glucagon or does glucagon get its stimulation directly from low blood sugar? :-)

    Cheerfully.
    Mary

    Hi Mary–

    Insulin and glucagon work like the accelerator and brake pedals on a car.  They work in tandem to keep blood sugar in the normal range.  If the blood sugar goes too high, insulin predominates in an effort to drive it into the cells and get it out of the blood.  When blood sugar is too low, glucagon levels go up, which help mobilize the stored sugar in the cells and drive the liver to make sugar.  If insulin goes up, glucagon goes down.  Glucagon only goes up if insulin levels are down.

    People with type I diabetes can’t make insulin so they only have glucagon.  Since the unopposed glucagon drives all the machinery that increases sugar in the blood, victims of type I diabetes have greatly elevated blood sugar levels even if they fast.  A little injection of insulin stops the whole process and normalizes the blood sugar.

    There.  Is it all clear as mud now?

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  24. Dr. Mike

    Can fat not supply glucose? If one eats a lot of fat should they not derive glucose from that as well?

    Hi Freddy–

    It’s a difficult question.  Fat, in the form in which we eat it, is made of triglycerides, which are three fatty acids hooked onto a glycerol molecule.  Fatty acids cannot be converted to glucose.  But, when the fatty acids are stripped away from the glycerol, the free glycerol can combine with another free glycerol to make glucose.  This doesn’t represent very much glucose, however.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  25. Hi Dr. Mike,

    A few questions. What happens when one is on a zero- or near zero-carb diet for a long time? Does glucose start to be drawn more from muscle eventually, if stored fat becomes very low?

    What effect does fat malabsorption have on ketosis?

    And, finally, if ketones passed in one’s breath can have an alcohol-like odor, is there also possibly an odor from ketones passed in urine? I frequently notice what I would call an elemental odor. One doctor proposed this may be from high meat consumption.

    Thanks so much for such a great explanation of this subject.

    Hi Christy–

    If one is on a low-carb or zero carb diet for a long period of time, there shouldn’t be much of any glucose made from muscle as long as there is plenty of dietary protein with which to make the glucose.  As long as plenty of protein is consumed, there shouldn’t be any muscle loss.

    Fat malabsorption shouldn’t have much of an effect on ketone production. 

    Yes, ketones in the breath and urine have an odor.  It’s more like acetone, which has been described as the smell of overripe apples.

    Hope this answers your questions.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  26. How can protein be stored as fat? When one is low-carbing isn’t it impossible to store fat?

    Thanks

    Hi Freddy–

    It’s converted to fat, but not necessarily stored. 

    Cheers–

    MRE 

     

  27. Hello Dr. Eades,
    You’ve mentioned a few times in your books and blog that dietary fat calorie excess in the context of a low carb dietary approach will not ‘tend’ to result in body fat GAIN. But I’ve noticed on many low carb boards that occasional high fat/high calorie proponents will swear blind that they can actually LOSE body fat STEADILY, and not just when very overweight either – at or close to goal bodyfat – while consuming truly heroic amounts of dietary fat.

    Your explanation of why fat calorie excess doesn’t usually result in bodyfat gain is very clear, but can futile cycling and/or mitochondrial protein uncoupling ( are they one and the same?), in the context of low carb/adequate protein/ high fat/ high calorie, explain steady bodyfat loss?

    Also (and apologies for sneaking in two questions) Robb Wolf recently mentioned a paper by Seyfried (et al) which lookes at the oxidative damage (particularly neurodegenerative) inherent in mitochondrial protein uncoupling. Robb’s observation was: So maybe ‘naturally thin’ folks who can eat any amount of food and not gain bodyfat (like me) aren’t getting a free ride afterall, even in the context of a low carb dietary approach.

    Btw. after being inspired by your original Blog entry on IF I’ve been VLC 24/24 IFing for nearly 7 months now after five years of VLC and I feel amazing. So I’m not eating truly heroic amounts of fat since I added the IF to VLC. IF seems really effective at naturally curbing appetite. Any tendency to binge (on low carb fare) on the ‘eat’ days disappeared after the third month.

    The reports of steady bodyfat LOSS with low carb/adequate protein calorie excess (ie fat calories) have me really confused.

    Sorry about the long query. Many thanks for your time!

    Stuart.

    Hi Stuart–

    Many people do continue to lose fat steadily on a low-carb diet.  A few do get into trouble, though, if their caloric intake is way too high.  They don’t seem to gain; they just don’t lose.

    I’m sure the reason for this is individual variations in futile cycling and mitochondrial uncoupling.  Which are different.  Futile cycling is when substance A gets converted to substance B which then gets converted back to substance A.  Energy is spent, but no real work is done.   Mitochodrial uncoupling is a much different process, which is far too complex to go into here.  But in simplistic terms the high energy electrons given off when fat and glucose are burned don’t really get the full bang for their buck because of a leak in the mitochondrial membrane (which can be a direct leak or an actual uncoupling protein) dissipates the energy without work being done.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  28. Dr. Mike

    When one is eating zero carbs there should not be much insulin in the blood. Some have claimed that protein causes an insulin spike and that fat does too. Is this true? If so, how would that factor in to weight loss?

    Also, do certain types of meat cause more of an insulin response than others (beef vs pork vs chicken).

    Thanks

    Hi Freddy–

    Meat doesn’t really cause and insulin spike.  I’ve got a couple of great papers and a few charts demonstrating this that I plan to post on sometime soon.

    Even on a zero carb diet there will be some insulin in the blood because insulin has many other functions aside from simply regulating blood sugar.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  29. Dr. Eades: May I burden you with one last question on this topic. Doesn’t the “adaptation” issue concern burning either carbs (glucose) or fat? If that’s true, then the problem, as I see it, is this: You’re burning fat and you want to increase your high-intensity exercise performance. Therefore, you up your carb level a bit, say from 30 to 60. Doesn’t that put you in that uncomfortable “my body needs to adapt” area that you escaped by going through the adaptation phase in the first place? Or are you saying, there’s a bit of a “magic” line there that is the right carb level for your performance level where you get the best of both worlds?

    Hi Charles–

    I would say it’s a real individual trial and error situation.  I don’t know that there is an optimal level of carb consumption that is the same for everyone.  Just fiddle with it until you strike a balance that works well for you.  I don’t think the difference between 30 grams per day of carb and 60 grams per day is going to make a huge difference in your adaptation.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  30. Dr. Eades

    I am confused. Exactly how much protein is needed to produce glucose each day if not eating carbs. You said 130 grams of glucose were needed daily, ketones supplying the rest. That means that 185 grams of protein is needed IN ADDITION to normal protein requirements. If my calculations are correct, a zero carb diet needs about 250 grams of protein daily. Is this correct???

    Thanks

    Hi Freddy–

    A lot of confusion here.  I’ll make a longer post on the subject soon.  You can get by on much less than 250 gm protein per day.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

    • Dr. Eades,

      If 0.7 grams of protein is necessary to create 1 gram of glucose via gluconeogenesis, which would entail that we would have to eat 185 grams of protein just to maintain blood glucose levels on a 0 carb diet then wouldnt it be wise for someone to eat maybe lets say 60 grams of carbs instead of 0, in order to prevent so much to practically all dietary protein being used for glucose production?

      • The body doesn’t require that much glucose in a ketogenic metabolism, as it’s using ketone bodies as an energy source. Excess protein isn’t necessary when there is plenty of fat for ketones.

        • Paleo Huntress,

          How is that so when Mr Eades says that the body needs 200 grams of glucose a day and that ketones cuts that needs to about 120. So the body still has to convert alot of protein to be able to reach that 120 grams of glucose.

          • If you read further, he then says,

            “The metabolic system could solve its problem by a coming up with a way to reduce the glucose-dependent tissues’ need for glucose so that the protein could be spared as long as possible.

            Ketones to the rescue.”

          • Your not answering the question. For instance, if you read what eades says in the last paragraph of his post he says

            “Well, when the ketosis process is humming along nicely and the brain and other tissues have converted to ketones for fuel, the requirement for glucose drops to about 120-130 gm per day. If you keep your carbs below that at, say, 60 grams per day, you’re liver will have to produce at least 60-70 grams of glucose to make up the deficit, so you will generate ketones that entire time.”

            Even if a person is eating 60 grams of carbs per day, their liver still has to make another 60 to compensate for what the ketones CANNOT cover. Your looking at 87 grams of protein just to cover that remaining 60 grams of carbs. Now imagine if someone isint eating any carbs at all, then the body has to use 174 grams of protein to cover the full 120 carb requirement. So unless someone is eating 174 grams of protein a day, how then is ketones muscle sparing?

            But the 174 grams of protein is JUST for the production of sugar, the body still needs protein for normal muscle and bodily maintenance. So if my normal protein requirement is 60 grams a day then i need to eat 234 grams of protein a day to be able to fuel gluconeogenesis and for muscular maintenance/regeneration.

            Mr Eades, I would like to hear your thoughts on this please.

          • Actually, the protein that can be used to fuel gluconeogenesis can come from sources other than the diet or the muscle. Ketosis actually helps cleanse the cells of junk protein, which can then be used for making sugar. It’s good for the cells to get rid of junk protein because junk protein prevents the cells from functioning properly. In fact, one of the hallmarks of aging is the accumulation of junk protein in the cells. So ketones are anti-aging substances.

          • Dr. Eades,

            It’s my understanding too that the breakdown of fat also results in glycerol which the liver then makes glucose from… and though not a significant amount of glucose, is still some. Is this true?

  31. Thank you for clearing the glucagon/insulin dilemma for me. But now I have another q. So if insulin is non existant in T1 diabetic, glucagon just pushes up the glucose to dangerous levels. So these levels become high because there is no insulin to counter or balance the affects of glucagon? Therefore it is glucose that regulates its relationship between insulin/glucagon.

    Hi Mary–

    No, it’s the other way around.  I/G regulates the amount of glucose.  Insulin makes glucose go down.  Glucagon makes it go up.  When there is no insulin (as in type I diabetes) the unrestrained glucagon drives glucose to sky high levels.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  32. Very enlightening article!

    Something that you wrote in the first part of your response to #24 brought up a question in my mind:

    “that doesn’t mean that short bursts of high-intensity activity results in a decrease in performance. It happens only when the high-intensity work lasts long enough to deplete the glucose stores faster than they can be replenished endogenously”

    Could you elaborate this point a little more in terms of how, or if, a person should help their system replenish glucose while performing sustained endurance activities?

    During this kind of exertion would it be OK to have sports drinks/food that are rich in carbs?

    How quickly will the system revert from ketosis?

    Would the gain in performance be significant enough to warrant the use of sports drinks and the like?

    Thank You.

    Hi Jason–

    I think a sports drink is a good way to do it.  As long as you are exercising intensely the glucose will be driven directly into the working cells and shouldn’t affect the adaptation.  Just make sure that the drink is sweetened with glucose (the best) or sucrose (which is half glucose) and not high-fructose corn syrup.

    You would have to give it a try to see if you experience a gain in performance.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

    • Aren’t sucrose and HFCS nearly the same? Sucrose is a 50/50 split between fructose and glucose, and HFCS (normally 55) is 45% glucose and 55% fructose. I find it hard to believe the a mere 5% can make sucrose something that is recommended and HFCS something that isn’t. I think most people should try to stay away from both.

      • They are almost the same thing in terms of amounts of the specific sugars. But the greater amount of fructose in the HFCS does start to make a difference with heavy use. Teens drinking huge amounts of soft drinks can get 20-30 grams more of fructose in HFCS than they could in sucrose-sweetened beverages. The other problem is that HFCS is much, much better for food processing applications than sucrose, and so it is put in many more products than is sucrose driving the carb (and sugar) count up. There is also an issue with absorption. The sugars are linked in sucrose, causing sugar to take a little more time to absorb whereas the sugars aren’t linked in HFCS, so they absorb more quickly.

  33. Thank you for an very informative blogg! You write that if you keep your carbs at for example 60 grams per day, then your liver has to produce at least 60-70 grams of gloucose. To do that the liver needs about 100 grams of protein (se #17). But we also need protein for growth and regeneration. So, the conclusion is that we need about 200 grams of protein (a man weighing about 75 kg) – otherwise the liver makes glucose from muscles. Is this really correct?

    Greetings from Sweden
    Goran Johannesson

    Hi Goran–

    I can see from a number of comments that there is much confusion about this issue.  I’ll do a post about it soon.  For now, though, rest assured that 100 or so grams per day of protein is sufficient for a 75 kg person.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  34. I know you just set up a policy of not responding to comments in here anymore, so I’m hoping this will result in a new post on the topic.

    Your explanation of how ketosis-lipolysis works was one of the best I’ve read, and I think it will help clear up a lot of the misconceptions out there about whether ketones are harmful in the context of a low-carb diet.

    I’d like your opinion on one of the branches of this problem – one in which I have seen disagreements frequently turn vicious.

    As you explained in your post, ketones in the context of a low carb diet are not just benign, but actually beneficial. They’re the actual fuel we use to power our muscles, rather than depending on the small amount of glucose produced from gluconeogenesis.

    If that’s the case, and this is the preferred fuel that our bodies evolved to use (re: your other post a couple of days ago about glucose and evolution), then wouldn’t it make sense that ketones are also the preferred fuel for us in utero?

    Certainly, there are differences between unborn children and adults, but surely our basic metabolic processes are the same?

    There just seems to be such hysteria over the idea of pregnant women following a low-carb diet, with most of the concern being that we’re somehow poisoning our babies because we’re exposing them to ketones. Why wouldn’t the babies be just as able to burn the ketones for fuel as we are?

    It seems to me that if a low-carb diet, even one that puts us in ketosis, is the best possible diet for us in general, then it continues to be the best for us when we are pregnant. Am I missing something that should lead me to a different conclusion?

    Hi Karishma–

    The medical literature (at least with animal studies; no one could ethically do such studies with humans) is pretty clear that ketogenic diets are NOT good for the developing fetus.

    I’m not an expert on this issue as it applies to developing fetuses, so I check with my friend Larry McCleary who is a pediatric neurosurgeon, low-carb advocate, and well read in the nutritional fetal development literature.  He says that in the fetal brain most of the lipid synthesis is from glucose and to a smaller degree, lactate.  Beta hydroxybutyrate (a ketone) is not a major contributor.  In addition, the enzymes in the pathway from BHB to acetyl CoA in the fetal brain are poorly developed.  Post natally they activate.  Hence, BHB is not a major provider for ATP generation in the fetal brain.

    For these reasons he feels that a ketogenic diet might not be the best diet during pregnancy.  But having said that, I (and he) don’t think a high-carb diet is the diet of choice either.  A moderate carbohydrate diet with plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables along with healthy servings of meat would be ideal in my opinion.

    The fetal programming literature indicates that during the first trimester mothers-to-be should avoid a lot of refined carbohydrates because it is during this period that the fetal pancreas is being formed, and elevated sugar levels can possibly cause developmental problems in that organ leading to diabetes later on in life.  During the third trimester mothers-to-be should load up on protein and fat.  During this stage the fetus is growing like crazy and needs to be provided with the necessary protein, otherwise the fetus cannibalizes it from Mom or simply suffers the consequences.

    Hope this helps.

    MRE 

  35. Dr. Mike, you said that the existing medical literature (and yourself for that matter) consider a ketogenic diet NOT GOOD for the unborn. I was wondering, how did our paleolithic produced healthy babies! since they were following a ketogenic diet. How about other low carb eating traditional peoples such as the Inuit and the Masai? First time post, long time lurker. Love your blog–Thank you

    Hi Zeledoc–

    I don’t know the answer.  And I suspect that the Inuit and the Masai have happy, healthy babies as did, I’m sure, our Paleolithic ancestors.  It’s just that putting a mother-to-be on such a diet has no grounding in the medical literature, and the first dictum of good medicine is (or should be) Do No Harm.  It’s one thing to put adults on such diets, watch what happens, and make recommendations for other adults.  It’s another entirely to put a fetus at risk experimentally.  And the work done on animals – even dogs, which are carnivorous – shows that ketogenic diets don’t produce the best pups.  As a consequence I wouldn’t put a growing fetus at risk by recommending the mother follow a ketogenic diet.

    Maybe some readers have followed ketogenic diets and have had healthy babies.  If so, I would love to hear from them.

    Best–

    MRE

    • i guess since they were on that diet for generations ,there genes got adopted to it ,and who knows,it may well be that if they would add some carbs ,thier babies would be even healthier ,

    • Weston Price found that many indigenous tribes and communities would ensure that a woman was eating a very nutritious diet both before and during her confinement to ensure that she would have a healthy baby.

      It is possible that her diet would be higher in natural carbohydrates from fruit (if available) and vegetables. But in any case, as long as she obtained adequate protein and fat there ought not to be any harm to her child. The Inuit do very well on this kind of diet.

      Many indigenous groups would focus strongly on the offal of an animal too. WP wrote that an American Indian tribe he visited would cut the adrenal glands up into as many pieces as were individuals in the tribe and share them around (not that they knew what they were, or even why they needed to eat them!), Apparently, the adrenals contain very high amounts of vitamin C amongst other things.

      The muscle meat would be given to the dogs!

      How wise they were – and how foolish we have become……

  36. In 1998 I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes (I have since concluded I probably already had diabetic tendencies, but that’s another issue) and I used a very low carb diet to keep my blood sugar level in tight control (much, much lower and tighter than the targets for regular type 2s). Once I figured out which foods messed with my blood sugar, I ate mostly protein, fat, and non-starchy vegetables (just a tiny amount of fruit). I was determined to not have to take insulin to get good control and I didn’t want a 13 lb baby! I ate much, much better on very low carb than before the diagnosis, let me tell you, because I had to make nearly everything from scratch (I didn’t have any LC cookbooks then!). I have no idea if my diet was ketogenic or not (after a while I forgot to check with keto-sticks because I was too busy measuring food, reading labels, and testing), but I only gained a healthy 28 pounds during the pregnancy, had a healthy, 7lb, 9oz baby, a fantastic no-pain-medication L&D (except for being induced with pitocin because the doc insisted once my due date passed). If I was in ketosis during the pregnancy, I haven’t noticed any ill-effects. In hindsight, that experience was a really nutritional eye-opener for me and I am thankful for it (and probably much healthier now, too).

    Cheers,
    Anna

    Hi Anna–

    Thanks for the feedback on this.  I’m curious if any other moms out there have similar stories.

    Best–

    MRE 

  37. “The fetal programming literature indicates that during the first trimester mothers-to-be should avoid a lot of refined carbohydrates because it is during this period that the fetal pancreas is being formed, and elevated sugar levels can possibly cause developmental problems in that organ leading to diabetes later on in life. During the third trimester mothers-to-be should load up on protein and fat. During this stage the fetus is growing like crazy and needs to be provided with the necessary protein, otherwise the fetus cannibalizes it from Mom or simply suffers the consequences.”

    I just reread the final part of your answer to commenter #36 and remembered that the diagnosis of GDM came at about the halfway point of my pregnancy, followed by scheduling delays in seeing the endocrinologist, diabetes nurse educator, and dietician. Then there were the couple of weeks it took to tinker with the diet prescribed to me and lower the carb count even more to get my glucose levels in control, which means that my very LC diet probably just lasted the third trimester. Prior to that, I am sure I was consuming too many carbs (though whole grain and unrefined for the most part, but still too many) and perhaps not enough veggies and fat. And I had just started to rapidly gain at the halfway point, but the high fat/low carb was better for a more moderate and steady weight gain rather than too much too fast.

    Whenever someone tells me that my LC diet is so unhealthy and unbalanced, I tell them that was how I had to eat when I was pregnant in order to have a healthy baby, so how can it be unhealthy now? If that doesn’t change their tune, I ask which “essential carbohydrate” I am missing.

    Cheers,
    Anna

    Hi Anna–

    Thanks for the informative update.

    Best–

    MRE 

  38. An interesting analysis of ketosis and Eskimos was published in 1928.

    http://www.jbc.org/cgi/reprint/80/2/461.pdf

    Hey Mike–

    It is truly a most interesting paper.  Thanks for passing it along.  I want to reread and digest, but at first blush it looks like long-term carb adaptation occurs so that ketosis really isn’t a problem.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  39. I just have a comment that I would like to share. If I had my pregnancies to do all over again, I would not hesitate in engaging in a low carb lifestyle. I mean, billions of babies were born in the past by Inuits and other traditionally low carb cultures. All three of my children have something where research indicates would be best avoided on a low carb diet. My son has ADHD, daughter #1 has asthma,Daughter #2 has serious eye problems.I am glad to read comments from others who actually did this.

  40. You know, Dr. Mike, I wonder what menopause was like for Eskimo women. I am beginning to appreciate the relationship between food choices and how they affect a woman’s body. I began to suspect that there was a relationship between menses and insulin after I began low carbing. After learning about PCOS how my mom and sis became diabetic 2 years after reaching menopause ( sister experienced surgical menopause ). Then I began reading publications on this and discovered that my assumptions were correct. Now I am wondering how, exactly, does a traditionally low carb diet affect symptoms of menopause. I don’t expect a comment but I do hope that there is a blog about it , unless I missed it.

    Truly,
    Mary

    Hi Mary–

    Haven’t blogged on it yet.  And I don’t know if there is a lot of info out there on menopause and Eskimo women.  But, if I stumble across some, I’ll definitely post on it.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  41. Terrific explanation – I actually understood:)

    2 questions:
    1) Is there such a thing as too much ketosis? Can one be in Ketosis for too many days? Can one be in too much of a ketotic state meaning can the body go through this process too well?

    2)If I’m buying into this Ketosis idea, can you provide a resource for a comprehensive list of permitted foods? (Assume that vegetables are desired as a part of my approach)

    Ok it was more than two questions but….

    Thanks for your time

    Hi Rabster–

    In answer to your questions:

    1) No, as long as you are not a type I diabetic, you can be in ketosis as long as you like.  And your ketones will not go too high.

    2) Any list of fruits and vegetables that you can find that show you the carb contents will work.  If you keep your carb intake below 30 grams per day, you’ll be in ketosis.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  42. I heard that ketosis is very hard on the kidneys. I have a friend who was born with one kidney, and her doctors expressly forbade her from doing any ketogenic type diets.

    What is your view on ketosis and kidney function.

    Hi Doug–

    It’s not ketosis that is supposedly “very hard on the kidneys,” but a ketogenic diet.  The part of the ketogenic diet that is supposedly damaging to the kidneys is the higher protein content of that diet.  Much research has shown that dietary protein DOES NOT have an adverse effect on normally functioning kidneys, even if it just one normally functioning kidney.  The idea that protein damages kidneys is what I call a vampire myth, one that keeps coming back to life no matter how many times it has been killed by the light of good research.

    If you want to read a good summary paper on this issue, click here

    Hope this helps.

    MRE 

  43. Thank you for a very informative and well written article. I’m interested in a deeper understanding of the biochemical process of “tissues adapting to ketones” – I can’t seem to find this information. You’ve stated, “It takes a while to become fully ketone adapted. At first, the body is making the ketones, but the tissues haven’t completely converted to using them for energy yet”.

    Is the adaptation linear, or does it follow a more parabolic trend? Is it all or nothing? What are the molecules involved? Also, once I’m ‘fully ketone adapted’, does my carbohydrate metabolism change? Would I lose my ketone adaptation if I start eating lots of carbs?

    Thank you,
    David

    Ketone adaptation occurs when the enzymes necessary for ketone use are made in the quantities necessary.  We have the code in our DNA to make all kinds of enzymes, but we don’t make them unless we need them.  It would be pointless for the body to make and keep in circulation all the enzymes required for optimal use of ketones if we weren’t really producing many ketones.  Once we start a ketogenic diet, however, and start cranking out the ketones, the DNA goes to work and makes the enzymes we need to use them properly.  This generally takes a couple of days to get the enzymes fully loaded up and working at their best.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  44. Thanks for your advice Doctor.

    I actually followed through on your advice and have for the past 4 weeks been on Carbs

    Glad it’s working. 

  45. Very informative article – I am in ketosis and have a question…

    I have a problem with carbs – My body was reactive hypoglycemic for 3 yrs – During that time I continued to eat bread every 2 hrs to keep the adrenaline surges down. But eventually, my body starting giving adrenaline surges every 15 minutes even after a good serving of broccoli. The theory is that my body said it had enough of the carbs. My endocrine can’t explain it – other than excessive stress.

    So I have been on a extremely low carb diet (essentially egg whites, meat, cheese, romaine and caesar dressing) for two weeks. The Ketostix are consistently ranging from small to large every day.

    Is this going to hurt me – because I feel I need to continue this way? I don’t have to eat 6-7 times a day anymore but am worried about damaging my body.

    Any thoughts?

    Hi Tom–

    Ketones are normal fuels for the body.  I don’t think as long as you’re not a type I diabetic that being in ketosis is going to cause a problem.  This is something, however, that you should discuss with your own physician.

    Best–

    MRE

  46. Thank you for your great explanation on acidity in the blood.

    Can you explain *why* lipolysis causes a decrease in appetite? Why does being in ketosis cause this? Is it related to fatty acids roaming around in the bloodstream? It’s fairly common to read about the decreased appetite factor when hitting ketosis, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen an explanation as to *why* it occurs.

    Thanks again so much! I *heart* your blog! Have a safe trip home!

    Jill

    Hi Jill–

    There is some controversy on this issue, but I think that it is pretty well established that ketones have an appetite-suppressing effect.  Also, and probably more important, when one is in the state of ketosis the liver is controlling the blood sugar, keeping levels stable.  A falling blood sugar is one of the most potent stimuli to eat that is known.  It’s probably a combination of the two.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  47. Thank you for your article regarding Metablism and Ketosis. Firstly, I have a concern about losing muscle mass while eating low carb. You mention that the protein you eat is converted to glucose instead of the protein in your muscles. But, wouldn’t the body “eat up” its own muscles first before utilizing dietary protein? Im kinda confused!
    Secondly, what causes a person while low carbing to have red, “watery” eyes? Is there something that can be taken (supplement, for example) to relieve this?

    I look forward to your comments!

    Hi Michelle–

    The body will use dietary protein before consuming muscle protein, so as long as dietary protein is adequate, you don’t have to worry about loss of muscle mass.

    I’ve never seen the red, watery eyes that you’re referring to as a side effect of low-carb dieting. Maybe some other readers can chime in on this issue because I’m clueless.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  48. Hello Dr. Eades,

    Long time reader here and health/science student wanting to ask a few questions. I just want to make sure that this is correct first. Protein is integral to the production of ketones- when dietary protein is converted to glucose, ketones are used to fuel the process. These ketones are made from bodyfat when dietary fat runs low. Furthermore, skeletal muscle will never be burnt provided you consume adequate dietary protein.

    Hence, for maximum fatloss, would it work to eat close to 0 carbs a day and eat say 60-70 percent of your macros from protein, and 30-40 percent from fats as opposed to the 65% fats/ 30% protein / 5% carb (the typical keto diet) breakdown, whilst eating hypocalorically?

    This way the liver will be forced to convert dietary protein to glucose (I weigh about 90 kgs so I will need close to 150 grams of glucose I beleive), using ketones to fuel the energy expensive process. Since there will not be enough dietary fat to fuel this process (I presume), a higher percentage of bodyfat will have to be oxidised to ketone bodies equalling more BODYFAT loss. The high amount of protein (perhaps coupled with some weight lifting twice a week) will preserve muscle mass thus keeping my metabolism running well.

    Is there any downside to eating so much protein and so little fat? I beleive it is a myth that if you eat lots of protein you are training your body to “burn” protein as your number one fuel source…It IS a myth right? I really see no need to eat so much fat as is prescribed in other “keto” diets. And how low can you drop your calories before leptin and hypothyroid issues come into play?

    Thanks for reading! I look forward to some enlightening answers =).

    Hi Khapz–

    As I read it, your premise is incorrect. Dietary protein is converted to glucose via gluconeogenesis, which is carried out in the liver. The liver cells don’t use ketones as fuel, so ketones don’t fuel the process of converting protein to glucose. Also ketones are not necessarily “made from body fat when dietary fat runs low”; ketones are produced from fat when carbohydrate intake runs low. A low carb intake stimulates the production of ketones in an effort to replace glucose with another water-soluble fuel.

    Reducing carb intake makes the body burn fat and produce ketones. The substrate for gluconeogenesis is protein, and, like the bones are the reservoir of calcium, muscle and other protein structures are the reservoir for glucose. So maintaining an adequate protein intake ensures that you have plenty of substrate for gluconeogenesis without having to catabolize muscle mass to make sugar.

    Hope this helps.

    MRE

  49. Just to let you know my experience with pregnancy and ketosis. I eat a lower carb higher protein diet in general but during the first six weeks of my pregnancy I would say 3 to 4 weeks of that period I was being very strict and only eating 20 – 30 g carb per day. I never at all experienced morning sickness. I had a healthy baby girl who is now a normal albeit lean 3 1/2 year old.

    Though this is off topic but when my daughter turned 3 we started to give her Nordic Naturals DHA for kids (normal suggested dose) and within 4 weeks she started to stutter only about three times during the day when she was with me but when she was with her father who would get her all riled up she would stutter alot. We took her off of the DHA and she stopped stuttering altogether about 3 weeks after that. Ever heard of that?

    Mmmm

    Hi Mmmm–

    No, I’ve never heard of that problem with fish oil. It is interesting. I think that for every product that exists there is someone somewhere who will have a strange reaction to it.

    Best–

    MRE

    • This may sound like a long shot, but I seem to recall something written by Julia Ross, author of The Diet Cure and The Mood Cure saying something about not taking one’s fish oil at night if they’re having problems sleeping (it was one of many, many suggestions for things ‘not’ to do at night if having problems sleeping, yet I’m not sure it was a major deal). While I realize that you’re talking about stuttering and not insomnia, something about how you mentioned your daughter stutters more when she gets ‘riled up’ reminded me of how I can’t sleep well that night if I get ‘riled up’ earlier in the day/evening. At any rate, I now take my fish oil with breakfast or the midday meal, instead of nighttime.
      Wish I had the time to look into it more right now, but thought I’d throw it out there just in case someone else can clarify for you.
      all the best…

  50. You mention somewhere that for those experiencing some constipation on a low-carb diet it helps to add fat.
    Could you talk about that a little more? Is there a time of day, for instance to eat the fat? (Such as, should I swallow a spoonful of sour cream at bed time if I usually move my bowels when I get up in the morning?)

    Since fat moves fairly slowing through the GI tract, it probably doesn’t much matter when you eat it.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  51. I know that I am very late on this but I also wanted to chime in on my experience with pregnancy and ketogenic diets.

    I had 3 pregnancies at advanced maternal age (35, 37, 39).

    Several years before the first PG, I lost about 25 pounds on PP and was maintaining it fairly well.

    The first 5 months of each pregnancy I was so nauseated and I existed on mostly carbs. However, at the 5 month mark, I began to feel better, and promptly resumed a 30g or less per day LC eating plan. To make matter worse, there is something about the way I carry that, after about 6 months gestation, I am unable to eat more than a few bites of food without feeling like I’m going to explode–and I would sometimes vomit if I ate too much. I tested negative for GD in all three pregnancies.

    First pregnancy (age 35) I was at my ideal weight when I conceived (130 pounds) I gained 25 pounds in the first 5 months and then lost 3 pounds the rest of the pregnancy for a net gain of 22 pounds. My son weighed 7 pounds 6 ounces, 21 inches, was and is (now 7 years old) quite healthy overall, although he does have mild asthma (as I did when I a child) and I also suspect he may have ADD w/o hyperactivity (as I also have)–time will tell. He is very slim 7 year old, average height, and is on grade level for everything. I was at pre-PG weight 7 days after the birth.

    Second pregnancy (age 37) I was at 140 pounds (gained some weight between the 2) when conceived. Again, I gained about 22 pounds in the first 5 months, and lost 3 pounds over the rest, for a net gain of 19 pounds. My daughter weighed 8 pounds, 3 ounces, 20 inches, was and is very healthy. She gets over a cold faster than any of us. She’s now 5 years old, very verbal, and her teachers project that she will be gifted. She is 100 percentile for height and weight for her age. She looks perfect…she is just the size of normal-slim 6 year old, even though she is 5. I was at pre-PG weight 7 days after the birth.

    Third PG (age 39), I was at 170 pounds when conceived (don’t ask…it was a hard year after the 2nd one!) I gained 10 pounds over that PG. My son weighed 9 pounds, 21 inches and he was a very big, healthy, happy baby. Now at age 3, he is very slim (30 percentile) and very tall (100 percentile). Everyone thinks he is 4 when they look at him. He is slightly less verbal and more introverted than the other 2, but is otherwise normal. We figure there is so much noise around here, he just gets tired of it and goes and plays by himself sometimes…kinda like his mother! 7 days after he was born I weighed 20 pounds less than when I conceived!

    I don’t know if this account is helpful, since I didn’t really LC during the early months of my PG, but thought I would share.

    Thanks for posting your interesting gestational history.

    Best–

    MRE

  52. I’m a 200 lbs, 22 year old man (bodybuilding enthusiast), and I’ve been on a weight loss cycle for approximately 9 months now. I’ve lost 47 lbs while maintaining my strength and even gaining lean mass through weight training. I’ve just switched to a Targeted Ketogenic Diet in which I consume small amounts of carbohydrate (40g from whole oats) pre-training. I was wondering how much protein I should consume in order to preserve or even gain lean mass while on a Ketogenic diet; currently I’m consuming a little over my weight in grams (between 205-210 grams of protein per day. I’m concerned that the amount of protein I’m eating isn’t enough to preserve muscle tissue on a Ketogenic diet, so I was just wanting to make certain that this is sufficient for my purposes.

    If you figure that you need 200 grams of glucose per day under normal circumstances, you can assume that 70 grams will be replaced by ketones on a ketogenic diet, which leaves you with around 130 grams of glucose that must come from somewhere. You’re getting 40 grams from the oats, leaving a deficit of 90 grams, which must come from protein via gluconeogenesis. Since it takes about one gram of protein to make 0.8 g of glucose, you will use about 112 g of protein to make the sugar you need. Since you’re consuming 205-210 grams protein per day, you should have sufficient to use for glucose production with plenty left over for muscle repair and building.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  53. Hello Dr. Eades
    In 1999, I purchased your protein power book and in following your program and rigorous exercises I lost 50 lbs in about 4 months.
    Once again I am forced to use this program again! All I can say is how incredible the boost in athletic performance is. At the moment I weigh 245 and am about 5’10 I have a very high BMI but pepole can’t believe my workout routine. I run 4 miles to the gym, climb 45 flights of stairs in 12 mins on the stepmill, lift weights for an hour have a protein shake and then run 4 miles home. When on higher carb, I could not run home and didn’t climb the stairs. The weight lifting has suffered a little, but I feel as if my endurance has doubled over night!
    I also do not need as much sleep. Why does a higher carb diet make you more sleepy?

    Bruce

    There are many answers to the question of why a high-carb diet makes one sleepy. Probably the most common reason has to do with elevated levels of insulin in the blood (driven by a lot of carbs in the diet) creating a relative abundance of the amino acid tryptophan, which then converts to serotonin, a sleep inducing substance.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  54. Greetings Dr. Eades,
    Earlier, you explained that “the body will use dietary protein before consuming muscle protein, so as long as dietary protein is adequate, you don’t have to worry about loss of muscle mass.” In addition to preserving muscle mass, is it possible to build muscle while eating low-carb? Will the extra dietary protein be solely used in the process of glucongenesis? Will some of the dietary protein go towards building new muscle?
    Thanks in advance!
    Michelle

    Hi Michelle–

    Yes, the dietary protein (as long as there is an adequate supply) will go to building new muscle. Only the protein required to maintain appropriate levels of blood glucose will be shunted to gluconeogenesis. The rest will be used to build and repair tissue including muscle. Any extra will be broken down and excreted.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  55. Hi. Great post. However, I have a question. PLEASE answer. I saw a study (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16037240?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum)
    that said that ketosis is dangerous for people because it produces nervous system damaging acetones! I would be very helpful if you could explain this study for me and my family.

    Thanks a lot,

    Stacey

    Hi Stacey–

    I’ve answered this question in the comments at least four or five times so far, which is one of the reasons that I want to quit spending so much time on comments. A lot of people don’t read them and the search option doesn’t really search them. Unless you are a comment reader you wouldn’t know, so don’t think I’m taking you to task for asking the question. I almost never read the comments on the blogs I read, so I figure a large number of people don’t read the comments on mine. It’s much better to put this kind of info in a post so that all can read it and newcomers can find it by using the search option.

    If you go to this post and scroll down through the comments to the four or five comment exchange I had with Tim Lundeen (it’s near the bottom of the comment list), you can find my thoughts on this issue.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  56. This is in response to Michelle Flint’s question dated September 9, 2007:

    “Secondly, what causes a person while low carbing to have red, “watery” eyes?”

    That question is the reason I found this site. Over the last few years I will go on and off a no/low carb diet. It finally hit me this time, that the red and burning eyes I have experienced as well as a “chemical smell” has coincided with my ketosis. The constant assault to my olfactory and burning of eyes is VERY uncomfortable. My doc has put me on high-dose prednisone before to get the chemical smell to leave and clear my eyes, but we never looked at the possibility that my ketosis was going on at the same time.

    I would definitely love to know if there has been some research done on this. Carbs are not a friend to my body, so I love being on a low/no carb diet. But I am concerned I won’t be able to continue with the diet if my symptoms continue.

    ~Pali

    Hi Pali–

    As far as I know there hasn’t been research on this issue. Ketones are normal fuels for most cells and our bodies produce them all the time. Even people on high-carb diets go into ketosis from time to time. I can’t imagine that ketones could be causing the symptoms you’re experiencing.

    Best–

    MRE

    • Can I suggest that the watery eyes could be down to detoxing. Being on what is – let’s face it – a far cleaner diet than the high carb ‘normal; diet allows the body to offload the years of accumulated crud.

      The body will use whatever exit is relevant for detoxing – the skin, the eyes, the breath, the bowels. Any toxins that have affected the eyes may well exit that way for a while. Even chemical-based eye makeup may well be detoxed through the eyes.

      The body is a wonderful thing and well able to look after itself if we give it the tools. Not all symptoms that appear to be detrimental actually are.

      It is no coincidence that many of the ‘side-effects’ listed in the patient information on common drugs – rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, etc., are all means for the body to rid itself of these unwanted (and often very toxic) substances.

  57. Hi, excellent post, one of my favorites on the site. Quick question about an answer to a comment, are carnivorous animals such as dogs, cats, lions, tigers, etc. in ketosis at any time? if no then what keeps them from being in ketosis?

    I’m not an expert in carnivore physiology, but I would expect that these animals would be in ketosis part of the time. Any one out there know for sure?

  58. Hi Mike.

    When I first tried to switch to a low-carb diet (getting rid of pasta, bread, pizza and so on) I
    lost about 7/8 kg. in some weeks (from 65 to 57/58 kg.).

    I’m 175 cm. tall, therefore I wasn’t very fat, even before starting the diet.

    After a while, I started to skip a meal now and again, but the problem is that I began to experience bowel and/or gastric problems, constipation and sometimes diarrhea.

    In spite of this, I’ve no sleepiness and I feel more energic than when I ate dishes full of spaghetti and 2/3 slices of bread for lunch.

    I was wondering if losing some muscular mass while NOT eating sufficient protein/fat could lead (together with other problems) to intestinal problems (IBS, Crohn, colitis, etc.)?

    What does happen to your digestive tract if you stay on a low/no carb diet and don’t eat sufficient quantity of proteins?

    Why is it that many low-carbers experience constipation, IBS and so on?

    Is there any relationship between loss of muscular mass and gastro/intestinal problems?

    As glutamine is the most abundant aminoacid in the muscle tissue, could these problems may be due, for instance, to a lack of glutammine in the intestinal tissue (eating less than sufficient protein)?

    Less muscular mass (and not sufficient protein or skipping a meal a day) = Less glutammine?
    Less glutammine = Less health of your intestinal tract?

    What do you think about.

    Thks.

    Marco

    Hi Marco–

    I don’t see how a low-carb diet is a low-protein diet. You write that low protein intake is a problem on your low-carb diet. You should be getting plenty of protein if your following a good, whole-food low-carb diet. Any problems you may be having I wouldn’t attribute to low protein, unless you’re trying to cut the protein as well. If you are, why?

    Best–

    MRE

  59. Hi, I’m well read on low carbing. I did Atkins years ago, I think in 2001, and lost 70-80 pounds, but wasn’t able to keep it off because actually, I’m not fond of eggs, cold cheese, and big pieces of meat, so needless to say I went back to my old ways of eating and gained back the weight. I started looking into intermittent fasting and Johnson Up Day Down Day Dieting and have started losing weight doing this. I’ve been reading about ketosis and low carbing again and am thinking of going back because I’m 29 and husband is 33, and it seems that heart disease is now occuring in our generation and I am so terrified of that happening. Anyways, before rambling too much more, would you think it be safe to combine IF with low carb? Mainly meaning 23 hour fasting every day, only eating supper, and having that supper be really low carb. I thought it would be easier for me to only have to eat one low-carb meal a day instead of 3 or more. But, since I’m not a huge lover of meat, I’m concerned – will I get enough protein in my one meal? I certainly don’t want to lose muscle mass. If I have to eat 3 meals a day, I know I can’t make it low carbing for a lifetime. Also, I was originally planning on trying to stick to below 40-50 grams of carbs a day to be mildly in ketosis, but one webside was pretty much saying stay completely away from even fruit, yogurt, cottage cheese, potatoes and everything because anything that makes insulin go up is bad. It that true, I don’t like feeling guilty about having an apple or half a potato. Thanks for any thoughts.

    I do think it is safe to combine low-carbing with intermittent fasting. That’s probably the way Paleolithic man did it.

  60. Hi Dr Eades, sorry I guess I got ahead of myself. I blogged here earlier today asking questions and afterwards found your blog on IF, which sorta answered more of my concerns. so now my main questions are, if I’m eating just one meal a day, should I be concerned about meeting a minimum amount of calories in that meal so as to not lower my metabolism? what if I’m eating less than 1300-1500 a day for a while, won’t that lower my metabolism? And then regarding carbohydrates. I’m really striving to find that perfect number that I can eat/enjoy a day and yet prevent, as much as humanly possible, heart disease and cancer. Do you have a number in mind? Less than 100 g, less than 50g?? I even read on some website today that this one website believes carbs cause cataracts, among other things. Interesting, but scares me about even thinking of eating an apple. I would really appreciate your ideas. also, since I started a few weeks ago of hardly eating during the day, I find that I get so hungry that I crave “healthy” foods, like today I’m wanting eggs, which from my previous comment earlier today, I pretty much hate eggs and eat them a couple times a year. and the other day I was craving tomatoes and cottage cheese. Is this normal? And I was just wondering if you knew biologically why I’m craving healthy foods instead of bad things like fast food, my usual craving. Just curious. Thanks so much. I’m re-reading your books right now by the way.

    In practice I usually started my patients on a diet of about 30 g off effective carbohydrate per day. As patients neared maintenance, their carb intake could go up to 100-120 or g of carb. If you limit your carbs to somewhere below 50 g per day and make sure you’re getting plenty of protein and fat, you shouldn’t have to worry about your metabolic rate falling.

  61. Hello
    Great article. I have been doing a ketogenic diet on and off (majority on) over the last 5 years.
    I really like it, and can stick with it to a T. I’m a avid bodybuilder, and carb up on the weekends. I have a question, I am considering playing football this year. Now I now extended ‘all out’ activity might suffer, but short bursts will not. Now would about a football game, of 2+ hours of short bursts? Usually when I carb up I’m a bit sluggish, so it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to carb up right before, but I don’t know what the best approach would be.

    Thank you for your time in helping everyone.

    I would carb up with something liquid – Gatorade Lite would probably be my choice. You want glucose, not fructose, so anything with glucose in it would work.

    Good luck.

  62. Hi Mike.

    You say we need about 200 gr. glucose a day.
    By staying in ketosis this need will drop to about 125 gr. glucose.
    If you eat 20/30 grams of glucose a day, you will need 100 gr. glucose, that is 125 gr. protein.

    The problem is that skipping a meal a day could reduce the daily protein intake to about 80/85 grams.

    Example:

    BREAKFAST
    2 eggs (15 grams protein)
    50 gr. bacon (6 grams protein)
    3/4 small tomatoes
    E.V. Olive oil
    Coffee

    DINNER
    Lettuce
    200 gr. Chicken breast (60 grams protein)
    Half avocado
    10 almonds (2.5 grams of protein)
    E.V. Olive oil
    A little piece of dark chocolate

    Supposing my calculation to be right, if you stay on this regimen for a long while (some months) your body will compensate your lack of protein by getting it from your muscle.

    My question is about glutamine:
    if, after a while, you have no more muscle mass to lose (because you’re very thin), could you experience impaired gastro/intestinal function due to lack of glutamine?

    Let’s try to change the question:
    If you’re very thin and you haven’t so much muscle mass to burn for protein, gastric/intestinal problems (IBS, Colitis, etc.) during a low carb diet could mean that your protein intake is too low?

    I read that, during several conditions, a lack of glutamine may occur and that this will result in functional disturbances of the immune system and/or the gut.

    I wonder whether gastro/intestinal diseases could hide a message like: “Hey… I’m running out of my stock of glutamine (muscle)… Please eat more protein!”.

    Thanks a lot.

    Marco

    p.s. – next question in Italian, ok? 😉

    I don’t really think the glutamine is the issue, but it’s easy to test. Simply get some powdered L-glutamine and take about 6-10 grams of it per day and see what happens. If everything gets better, then it may have been an issue with the glutamine.

    If you do this, let me know what happens. In English. :-)

  63. I have been on a low calorie diet for 1 wk, have lost 9 lbs, but am not in deep ketosis as of day 8. What would be the cause of ketosis not happening, if I have been very strict and have eaten onlyt the required amounts of lean protein and veggies? How long does this normally take? LOL, your earlier post made me laugh because I am trying not to be obsessed with being out of deep ketosis, but do I need to be in deep ketosis to be successful… And I am really interested in the reason why I would not be in deep ketosis.. This new information is so interesting.

    Are you on a low-calorie diet or a low-carb diet? If, as you wrote, you are on a low-calorie diet, that’s probably the reason you aren’t in ketosis. Most low-calorie diets are high-carb diets, and high-carb diets prevent ketosis.

  64. I’ve searched high and low for an answer to this question, but couldn’t find one.

    Assuming an overweight person is restricting carbs to the extent required for gluconeogenisis, will the body first use dietary fat or stored body fat to power the process? If it is the former, does it then make sense to restrict the percentage of calories from dietary fat?

    I assume you mean restricting carbs enough to cause gluconeogenesis to occur. Yes the body probably does use dietary fat first then stored body fat. When carbs are restricted to the degree necessary that gluconeogenesis is operating, insulin levels are low allowing fat to easily come out of the fat cells. But there is no real need for the fat to come out of the fat cells if there is enough dietary fat to meet all the body’s energy needs. So, if the object is to lose weight, one needs to limit calories (which in a low-carb diet are primarily fat calories) to create a deficit so that stored fat is used for energy.

    Hope this helps.

  65. Hi Dr. Mike:

    Great article, as others have noted.

    I have been on LC for one year exactly. As many others have experienced, my weight loss went from 3 lbs/wk. to 2 to 1 to 1/2 over the course of about 6 months, which was fine. I dropped 20 lbs. in 6 months, and hoped to drop another 10. I stayed on Atkins induction for about 4-6 weeks, then gradually increased carbs to maybe 40-60 grams a day. I don’t restrict calories or particularly pay attention to them.

    Over the last 3 to 4 months, I have put back on about 8 lbs, slowly. I had an idea that that might be due to ‘adaptation,’ or my body becoming more ‘efficient,’ which I think your blog bears out. However, I am wondering ‘what’s a brother to do?’ My inclination is to either a) reduce carbs or b) reduce calories. Would either or both of these approaches be better/effective? My ketostrips show ketosis infrequently or possible very light pink at this point, but occasionally a more obvious purple.

    Frankly, I hate being hungry, which is one of the advantages of LC dieting — I lost the insulin resistant roller coaster which left me hungry and distracted a lot of the time when I went LC. Therefore, I’d rather reduce carbs, but I’m not really sure what, physiologically, is going on. I don’t know, offhand, my BMI at this point, but I do know that my weight should probably be around 150-155, but is now closer to 170.

    Thanks.

    Hey Jeff–

    I received an email yesterday from a doctor who has a couple of patients whom he says are compliant with the low-carb diet he has them on and who are not losing. Here is my response to him:

    It’s been my experience that when compliant patients (and it’s often tough telling who’s compliant and who is not) fail to lose weight on rigid low-carb diets, they are consuming too many calories.

    A low-carb diet quickly increases insulin sensitivity and decreases circulating insulin levels putting the patient into the proper metabolic hormonal milieu to allow fat to easily leave the fat cells. Problem is that fat doesn’t need to leave the fat cells if enough calories are coming in via the diet to meet all the patient’s energy needs. Usually this isn’t a problem because in most people a low-carbohydrate diet brings about a spontaneous reduction of energy intake as a consequence of its satiating effect. But a handful of patients can eat enough kcal on a low-carb diet to meet their energy needs without their having to resort to stored fat. In my experience the three foods most commonly overeaten are cheese, nuts and nut butters. Patients can consume huge numbers of kcal from these foods while still remaining within their carb restriction levels.

    The first thing I do with patients like these is to go through their diet diaries and look for these foods and other high-energy foods. Usually pointing out what’s happening and instruction on getting calories down is enough to get weight loss going. I also sometimes put these patients on one or two meal replacement protein shakes per day to get things moving.

    The amazing thing about this situation is that these patients consuming pretty enormous amounts of calories don’t gain weight as long as they keep their carbs restricted. Try that with a high-calorie, high-carb diet and you won’t see the same results.

    A couple of other thoughts since these are both women…it might be wise if you haven’t done it to check their reproductive hormonal status. If they are on synthetic hormones, I would switch them to bioidentical hormones. And I might check their iodine levels as well. Many overweight women are iodine deficient, which impairs their ability to lose weight.

    Hope this helps.

    MRE

  66. Hi , Dr. Mike,
    I have been on a diet with average 600 Kcal from Monday thru Friday, and 1500 Kcal for Saturday and Sunday (low carb and high protein food), with the hope by doing so to restrict the overcall calorie intake under 900Kcal/day. I weigh 125 lbs, and resting metabolic rate is about 1340 Kcal/day. I heard people say if you keep your very low calorie diet long enough (lower than 1000 Kcal); your body’s metabolic rate will plummet, to where you will gain all your weight back as soon as you go back to your normal diet. IS that true? If I want to stay on a low calorie, how low can I go without mess up my metabolism?

    I really appreciate your site and blog. They are truly educational!

    Joy

    Your question is a difficult one. You will drop your metabolic rate on a very low calorie diet. Of that there is very little doubt. What is in doubt is how much it will drop and what is the calorie limit under which it really plummets.

    I plan a post on this issue soon.

  67. Dear Dr. Eades,
    My question is regarding ketosis. Is it an all or nothing state, e.g. you are in ketosis or you are not? And if so, does the amount of ketones “spilled” into the urine matter, is a large amount better than a trace amount?
    Thank you!
    Very informative blog!

    We are all going into and out of ketosis all the time. Those of us on low-carb diets are more in than out, but it’s a cyclical thing. If you are trying to lose weight and are losing, I wouldn’t obsess on the levels of ketones. As long as you’re there most of the time, you should do fine. And the urine isn’t the only way the body gets rid of ketones. It uses them for fuel and it gets rid of them through the lungs. Maybe you are so well adapted that you are burning them like crazy and therefore don’t have a lot that spill into your urine.

  68. Okay, all of this makes perfect sense. That’s wonderful. I also see that it’s supposed to be okay on not tearing down muscle. However, I am kind of hesistant, because I’m training for figure competitions at the moment. I trust my trainer, but I just want to make sure that my strength and size won’t suffer. I understand that a ketogenic diet is okay for the average person trying to lose weight or live healthier, but what about for someone in my position?

    It should be fine as long as you allow an adaptation period. Read this article for a thorough discussion.

  69. Hi,

    First of all thank you for posting this and for posting all of the comments. It has answered a lot of my questions.

    My question is, how many grams of fat should someone eat if they are trying to burn body fat with a low carb diet?

    I weight 68 kg and my ideal is about 52 kg. I have never eaten the number of kcals that supposedly is needed to maintain my current body weight, eating only 1300 on days when I’m doing good and rarely going over that number. I’m doing the low carb diet to lose body fat and not weight so I don’t mind gaining muscle mass.

    If I’m understanding your previous answers then I need to eat roughly 51 grams of protein a day, and 0-30 carbs. So how much fat should I eat?

    Also I read somewhere that dietary fiber doesn’t count as a carb in a low carb diet. Is there in basis in fact for this statement?

    Thanks!

    On a low-carb diet the fewer the calories you eat – while maintaining adequate protein intake – the more weight you will lose.

    I’m doing a post on this very subject in the next few days.

    It is true that fiber doesn’t count as a carb because it isn’t absorbed like carbohydrates and, consequently, doesn’t raise insulin levels. It does provide calories, however, because the bacteria in the colon convert the fiber to short-chain fatty acids, which are absorbed.

    Cheers–

  70. Hi Dr Mike,

    I have been following a VLCD in the form of lighter life for the past 24days and as of day 21 had lost a total of 19.68lbs which I am very happy with. I am not at all hungry am in ketosis and come monday have only 10 more wks of abstinence. My question is that I am going on holiday in 5 wks for 5 days. My plan at the moment was to have 2 meal packs during the day and in the evening have a very low carb meal with my husband and a few vodka’s that I know are low carb. Can you advise if I am in ketosis what would be the likely hood of me staying in ketosis during those 5 days or am I very likely to gain weight? I know that during atkins you are in ketosis if you stick to 20grams of carbs per day and it will only be 1 meal. I would really appreciate your advise as I am becoming a bit apprehensive about eating but I do not want to sit in a restaurant with my husband for those 5 days and have a little something to eat. Many thanks

    Hey Shelly–

    Hope this gets to you in time. I think you’re likely to stay in ketosis as long as the mix you use with the vodka doesn’t contain a lot of sugar. If you are going to drink vodka tonics, for example, make sure you use diet tonic. That sort of thing. And when people are on holiday, they seem to increase activity levels enough to compensate for the slight increase in carbs.

    Good luck and have fun.

    Cheers–

  71. But, then, why do people have such intense carb cravings and side effects while eating low-carb, i.e. being weak and shaky. (And please don’t claim they’re psychological.) If it’s normal/preferable/no big deal to be running in ketosis, why are so many people physiologically compelled to get out of ketosis as quickly as possible, i.e. driven to consume carbs?

    Because they don’t hang in there long enough to make it through the adaptation period. And they probably don’t take potassium supplements during the adaptation period.

    And a lot of it is psychological. If you don’t really want to cut carbs or you’re afraid to cut carbs, then when you do and you feel fatigued or shaky or any of the other symptoms, it confirms your fears and you bolt.

  72. Dr Mike ~ I have tried many different nutrition tactics and the Paleo ways of eating have produced the best results for me. Second best is a fasting and feast cycle. However, while in fasting mode I have noticed the mind does not respond as quickly, which is not optimal for a hunter, business person, athlete, etc. It seems it is better to maintain a consistent low-carb diet to “feast and starve all at the same time”. a) Is it best to accomplish this by eating every 3 hours or so or to be instinctual and eat when hungry? b) do larger meals later in the day or evening have an impact on the fat burning ability of the body (i.e time of day impacts of low-carb dieting). Great article good blog.

    Hey Sean–

    I don’t really know which is the best. I, myself, more or less eat when hungry. A number of studies have shown greater weight loss on an equal number of calories when the main portion of the caloric intake is skewed to the morning verses the evening. But none of these studies used low-carb diets, so there is no data to go by. I fiddle around with my own diet to find a combination that works best for me in terms of social and familial obligations (as to meal timing) yet maintains my weight.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  73. Thanks so much for the posting – very informative. I just recently started LC, mostly due my diabetes. I was diagnosed T2 at age 34 (seven years ago), with no overt symptoms besides fatigue. Although I’m now taking metformin (500mg) 2Xday, I still have unstable glucose levels (especially fasting glucose due to the dawn phenomenon). I recently read an article about Dr. Mary Vernon and have since started doing more research on LC and decided to give a try. It’s only been 5 days, but my fasting blood sugar went from 170 to 114 and seems much more stable throughout the day. I’m very interested in lowering (and perhaps eliminating) my meds… I keep looking for more information – especially concerning ketosis vs. diabetic ketoacidosis. I’m assuming that if I’m in ketosis, but my glucose levels are within appropriate range that I’m doing well. Can you confirm this for me? Thanks!

    If you are in ketosis and your blood sugars are normal, then, yes, you are doing well. That’s the situation I’m in myself most of the time. As long as you don’t have type I diabetes you won’t go into diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition.

  74. I gave up smoking and went low fat to prevent putting on weight, unfortunately it didn’t help and well yes made things worse i balooned by 3 stone in about 4 months and became a carb addict even though i was doing 2 hours of exercise up the gym and in theory eating less than i was burning it never shifted. I have been low carbing for about 6 weeks and have not managed to make it into ketosis (Sticks have never changed at all!). I haven’t lost anything, sadly all i have done is put on a couple of Kgs.

    As far as carbs go, I have a salad and perhaps spinach with my evening meal and that’s it (well it’s protein and fat i eat too!!) i’ve calculated the overall carbs to be averaging 15-25g a day… so how can i not be in ketosis or loosing weight?? I understand all the physiology and anatomy and so on, just can’t work out why my body won’t play ball…

    I can’t comment without a whole lot more information.

    Sorry.

  75. Here is a quote rom http://www.lowcarbportal.com

    “There are also other anomolies: A figure often used is that one kilogram of body fat represents about 3500 calories. But according to the United States Department Of Health, Education and Welfare:

    ‘On a high-fat diet, 4703 to 8471 excess calories were required for each kilogram of added weight. On a low carbohydrate VLCD [very low calorie diet], replacing fat calories with 8g/day of equivalent carbohydrate calories reduced weight loss by 1.68kg, corresponding to 3300 calories of carbohydrate/kilogram, possibly 2500 calories per kilogram for carbohydrate alone.'(Department of HEW Publication: NIH 75-708, Government Printing Office, 165-86.)

    Are they are saying that it takes 4,703 to 8,471 excess calories of fat to add a kilogram of weight, yet it takes only 2,500 to 3,300 calories of carbohydrate to add the same amount? If so ‘a calorie is a calorie is a calorie’ is not so meaningful after all: a carbohydrate calorie is obviously much more fattening than a fat calorie. So do calories count? Well, perhaps — but some don’t count half as much as others.

    Actually, excess fats aren’t stored in the body. Any unused fat calories are excreted in urine and faeces. (Endocrinology 1962; 70: 579. Experientia 1963; 19: 319. Metabolism 1964; 13: 87-97. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 1964; 115:424. Nature 1964; 201: 924)”

    Questions:
    I would like to hear what you have to say about the idea that it takes more calories from fat to gain a pound than it takes calories from carbohydrates, and if this is the case do you know of any explanation for this?

    Also, is it true that exess dietary fats are not stored, but excreted?

    I’m coming out with a post on this very subject within the next few days; I’ll address all these issues then.

  76. I have one more question, I have become interested in Low Carbohydrate Diets not for weight loss, but for other possible health benefits. I eat a fairly balanced diet, but I believe that the ammount of carbohydrates I eat may be causing damage to my health, although I have no weight gain problems. I am 27 years old and I still weigh the same I did in high school, approx 155 lbs. Is a low carb diet ok for someone like me, and if so should it be a modefied version. Thank you!

    Kenny Williams

    A low-carb diet is fine for one in your situation. You’ve got youth on your side right now, but you won’t always have. The low-carb diet should prevent a lot of problems in the future.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  77. With reference to my earlier post, i’m happy to provide any information you require! So
    please let me know what more you would like to know and i’ll happily oblige!

    Many thanks
    K

    Hi K–

    Problem is that even if I had all your information, I couldn’t give specific nutritional and/or medical advice online. I hope you understand.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  78. I am wondering if another ketosis “symptom” is having a metallic taste in the mouth…. if so, can you explain the physiology of this.

    Thanks!
    CJ

    I know that for some people this phenomenon exists, but I don’t have a clue as to the physiology.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  79. Hi Dr Mike

    I posted a question to you back in April and you very kindly repsonded to be before I went on holiday. I wanted to let you know that during my holiday had a few light protein only meal, drank vodka & coke light and swam 30-50 lengths every morning came back and had lost 4lbs. I am now on Monday 11wks into Lighterlife have lost 46lbs as of last monday and was possibly planning on doing the programme for an extra couple of weeks. This is where the next area of my life starts do I continue to do route to management whereby they introduce foods back in over 12wks and try to find your trigger foods, or do I follow a low carb diet which I know I can lose weight on. Is it healthy longterm to follow a low carb diet obviously I do not want to go without them totally but am happy to continue my life with not having alot. Hope you can advise me on my forward path and look forward to hearing from you.

    Hi Shelly–

    Glad to hear that you did so well on holiday. You will have to make the call about what you do for maintenance. But, were I you, I would go the low-carb route. The evidence out there suggests that a long-term low-carb diet is at least as healthy as a long-term low-fat diet. Neither has been studied for longer than a few years.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  80. I am on a supervised LC diet with B12 and B6 injections. The diet is very low in calories with potassium,calcium,magnesium supplements.

    If excersise does not factor into the amount of fat lost. What does make you lose more fat ?

    A higher protein diet, low in fat, low in calories. So the more protein you consume with low calories the liver will require the energy from fat cells to break down the protein ? So lets say if possible a 800cal diet consisting of 300g of protein. All of the protein will be processed and excess will be discarded. All of the ketones created to break down the protein into glucose if not used up will also be discarded as long as you are drinking enough water.

    So would the amount protein eaten directly relate to how much fat is lost as long as the calories are low ?

    Could you not just substitute your meals with something like NATURE’S BEST PERFECT LOW CARB ISOPURE which only has 210 calories 50g of protein 3 carbs. If taken 4 times a day that would put you at less than 1000calories a day and 200g of protein. Almost seems like the perfect way to loose weight.

    I would never suggest completely replacing all meals with this stuff but lets say using at intervals like every weekend to completely replace meals for 2 days. Then back to regular LC diet.

    Great article by the way very informative 😉

    First, you couldn’t possibly have an 800 cal diet containing 300 g protein because 300 g of protein contain 1200 cal. Protein requires a little more energy to metabolize than fat and or carbohydrate, so increasing the amount of protein will increase energy expenditure to some extent. The supplement you refer to would be fine for a meal replacement from time to time or even daily.

  81. Hi Dr. Mike,
    I am a 42 year old female. I weigh 280 lbs. I have a hypothyroid and take 125 mcg of synthroid a day. For the last 5 weeks, I have been eating only meet. No sauces, no veggies, no salad, no nuts, nothing but meet and eggs. I drink 1 cup of coffee in the moring with heavy cream and no sweetner. I drink at least a gallon of water a day and nothing else, other than the cup of coffee. Most days, when I check my ketosis level, my levels are small or none. About a week ago, I started walking 45 minutes a day. What am I doing wrong? I have not lost anything. Why am I not loosing weight and why if I am not eating carbs at all, can I not get into ketosis and stay there?
    Thanks,
    Denelle

    I can’t possibly understand what’s going on with you without going into a lot more detail. But if what you report is true, you need to be evaluated by a physician competent in the use of low-carb diets for the treatment of overweight. When someone goes on a strict program such as the one you report and has no success, underlying problems need to be explored.

  82. It’s funny how you keep on repeating that ketosis is dangerous if one has type 1 diabetes. As a person with type 1 diabetes myself I feel to expel that notion. When ketosis is formed due to a LACK of insulin, i.e. forgetting to administer an insulin dose a few times in a row, that would cause Diabetic KetoAcidosis (DKA), which is indeed dangerous. However when a type 1 follows a low carb diet (think Dr. Bernstein) and will develop Ketones along the way, that is NOT at all dangerous.
    I am sure you also meant the same thing, but the way it came across annoyed me.

    You are correct. It is diabetic ketoacidosis that is dangerous in people with type I diabetes, not the mild to moderate levels of ketosis they may have from following a low-carb diet. Thanks for the heads up. I’ll try to be more careful in the future.

  83. Hi,

    It was interesting to read your post and the responses for the comments. It is very informative indeed.

    I have a query here. I am 37 years, Type 2 Diabetic for 10 years, vegetarian eating dairy and eggs.

    I was on Metformin 500 for 3 years till year 2007 and that gave me diarrhea and I lost 15 lbs. My BG levels after food was around 140-170 while taking the medication. I stopped that medication and started on Low Carb diet. Now, my BG readings after meals are 95-105.

    My worry is, I am 110 lbs currently and very slender. If I am on LC diet, I will lose more weight. What can I do to increase my weight?

    Thanks for the help.

    If you are on a low-calorie diet and you keep your calories high, you shouldn’t lose weight.

    • If you are on a low-calorie diet and you keep your calories high, you shouldn’t lose weight.

      How is that possible.

      • “If you are on a low-calorie diet and you keep your calories high”

        He meant to say ‘low-carb diet and keep your calories high’. It is very easy to maintain weight with low carb high calorie regimen.

  84. Thanks so much for this…Everything else I’ve read has been thoroughly confusing, and you explained it quite simply while still remaining very informative.
    Thanks a bunch!

  85. Hi Dr Mike further to my last post in June. I have today reviewed my VLC diet and am going to do 2 more wks. I nearly stopped today as I am starting to feel sick of the packs but wanted to finish with the others in my group. I have spoken to my councellor today and she feels that I should then introduce the food on their route to managment programme. My thoughts as previously advised are to follow either atkins or a low gi diet. In the past when I have followed atkins I did induction would you recommend as I am already in ketosis that I keep my carb intake as low as 20 or slightly higher. I can maintain the 20 it is not a problem and considering that I have not been eating more than 500 calories a day anything is better than nothing. Obviously too I do not want to over do it even with the protein etc. Do you think I should still consider what I do start eating and would you have any recommendations. Many thanks your advise would we very much appreciated.

    Hi Shelly–

    I think you should start eating more than 500 calories per day. You can keep your carbs at 20-30 g per day and easily consume more calories and still lose weight. In my opinion most VLC diets fail because the people who administer them move people from the low-carb, low-calorie, high-protein fare to a low-fat, high-carb maintenance diet. I always moved my own patients onto a low-carb maintenance diet. You should discuss this possibility with your counselor or physician.

    Best–

    MRE

  86. Dr. Eades,
    There is some discussion in one of the low carb forums regarding conversion of ‘excess’ protein to glucose on a zero carb or very low carb diet. The assumption is that the resulting glucose production from the ‘excess’ protein raises insulin levels and thus prevents weight loss as insulin is the gatekeeper for fat loss. Along the same lines there is the question, can there be unnecessary gluconeogenesis from ‘excess protein’ in a overweight person? Metformin is given to diabetics to reduce gluconeogenesis for example. Is there any factual basis for the aforementioned?

    In addition, in another post Dr. Barry Groves sent the following to a poster regarding the brain’s need for glucose:

    “In the past was the belief that the brain couldn’t function properly without glucose. However, a study published in May 2003 showed that the brain can use ketones made from fats just as other normal cells do.[1] It was also shown nearly 70 years ago that ATP is delivered from the liver to the brain by red blood cells.[2] So there is absolutely no need to worry about the brain being starved of energy if we cut carbohydrates out of the diet.

    References

    1. Takenaka T, et al. Fatty acids as an energy source for the operation of axoplasmic transport. Brain Res 2003; 972, 1-2: 38-43.
    2. Hockerts T, Hingerty D. Medizinische 1937; 289. Cited by Werner E. Mschr f Kinderheilk 1960; 1: 5.

    So the question is, is he implying that the brain needs no glucose and therefore on a zero carb diet protein is not converted to glucose for the brain? This would imply one needs less protein for gluconeogenesis than one is led to believe.

    No, excess protein is not turned into glucose. It’s converted only when the body needs sugar, not simply because the body has ‘too much’ protein. I really need to do a post on this because I get asked this question more than any other. I’ve probably answered it at least 20-30 other times in other comments.

    There is absolutely no need for worry about the brain being starved for energy during a low- or even zero-carb diet. Ketones step up to the plate to pinch hit for a lot of the glucose and the body converts protein into glucose for the rest.

  87. I have always accepted the value of ketosis and the importance for ketones from a diet aspect. This year, however has been an eye opener in truly definig the importance of ketosis. Ketosis actually keeps us healthier and stronger. After reading this particluar blog-entry, Dr. Mike, I have come to realize that ketosis is the starvation mode.

    Also, while I am fasting, I do include fats such as the ketogenic cocktail found in the Brain Trust Program. I have the cocktail and cream in my coffee. I have increased my fats in my meals also. I want as many ketones in my body that I can possibly get. I also eat very healthy low carb meals, doc. I have been doing IF fast continuously since April of 2007, which should also help to keep me in ketosis. Any comments?

    Thanks,
    Mary

    Ketones are considered to be a part of the starvation response, but just because you’re in ketosis doesn’t mean you’re starving. You can be in ketosis and be well fed as you are on a low-carb diet. Ketones are normal fuels used by almost all of the cells in the body. They are nothing to fear.

  88. im diabetic and having ketones can be fatal even if u dnt have diabetes it starts to close all ur vital organs down this cud put u in a coma or u cud die and a low carb diet is dangerous as u need carbs to keep blood sugars stable

    Nonsense.

  89. Very interesting.

    I’ve got a little question regarding carbs in general, however. I’m severely overweight, and I’ve recently developed an odd little system… I eat one sort of food each day of the week based on color. (Apples, red peppers, etc on Sundays, oranges and carrots, etc on Mondays…) I use only fresh vegetables and fruits, and I also eat a little bit of seeds, tofu/meat alternatives, a little bit of cheese and only the occasional whole grain product. I keep my calories around 1,000 per day, never under that though. I drink about a half-gallon of water per day, and do lots of walking. Within five days, I’ve lost an astounding eight pounds– the most weight I’ve ever lost since I was about twelve years old.

    I’m wondering if this is a good system in general for weight loss, as a few people have expressed concern at the low calories and have this idea that I’m going to starve to death (ignoring the fact that I’m rarely if ever ‘hungry’). A few people even warned me against ketosis, saying it’s going to eat my muscle (?!) and that overall, such a system is unhealthy (again, ignoring the fact this is the best I’ve eaten in my entire life and haven’t had a single ice cream craving since I started it).

    Thoughts?

    Thank you~

    Lost weight is made up of a number of things – water, muscle, organ weight, various tissues, glycogen and fat. What you want to lose when you are overweight is fat. Eating a diet that you described is fairly low in protein and typically results in some muscle loss, which is less than optimal.

  90. Ah! I forgot to ask my main carb question:

    Is there much of a difference between the sort of carbs you find in breads, pastas and the like, and the carbs you find in say… carrots, apples, and such?

    Thanks again,
    William

    Basically carbs are carbs. It’s the other stuff in the bread, pasta and fruits and vegetables that makes the difference.

  91. If have been pondering another consideration. When I began low carbing, it was always discussed that pregnant women should not be in ketosis because the increased ketones could harm the baby. Well, from what I have read, shouldn’t carbohydrate-restricted ketosis be the ideal state that a woman should be in while she is pregnant. The reason I am thinking this is all of my kids seemed to have had learning difficulties especially my son who was diagnosed with ADHD. Although they say that kids grow out of this, which he seems to have done, I think that he would not have had this if I had been consuming a healthy low carb diet. My oldest suffers from asthma and my youngest has had dislocated retinas in both eyes. Now having said that, I am sure that a low carb diet would not guarantee a healthier pregnancy. However, deep down inside, if I had my pregnancies to do all over again. I would not change anything that I am doing right now.

  92. Hello and thank you for the wealth of knowledge presented here. I am doing the low-carb lifestyle, but one concern comes to mind: with respect to saturated fats and unsaturated fats, is it inconsequential which are eaten and in any quantity on the low-carb diet? Or, would it be a better idea to stick to unsaturated fats when cooking (other than the fats naturally found in meats), i.e. olive oil, vegetable oil, etc? Thanks in advance.

    I’m a kind of the-more-saturated-fats-the-better kind of guy. I don’t think anyone should be using unsaturated fats for cooking. Saturated fats are heat stable. There are no carbon-carbon double bonds to break. Unsaturated fats can become oxidized in the heating process converting them from good fats to bad, dangerous fats.

  93. Hello, I had a quick question about my first few days on the low-carb diet. I’m restricting my intake to 20 net carbs a day and approximately 1,200 calories. I run 3-4 times a week prior to the diet. During days 3 and 4, I have felt weak. My normal 5-mile run just drained me. Is that a normal response in the beginning or should I be worried? Thanks-

    It’s normal to be a bit fatigued at the start while you’re body is converting from carb burning to fat burning for its energy. You may want to add a little potassium to your diet. You can get it at most health food stores. Each tab typically provides 99 mg of potassium. I put my own patients on about 500 mg of potassium when they switch to the low-carb diet.

  94. Hi, I have started on the Low Card diet about 2 weeks ago and then I got to learn more about the cyclical ketogenic diet which required super no carb for 5-6 days and then carb up on the weekend. I am kinda in between this 2 diets….
    I have bought the ketostix and tested. I am currently in mild to med ketosis. I am interested to know if there are anyway that I can boost me into deep ketosis in order to burn more fat and loose the weight quicker. Or you do not need to be in deep ketosis in order to loose weight?
    And when comes the time I hit a platue and stop loosing weight? what do I do?

    Mel

    In my experience there is very little difference in weight loss whether in heavy ketosis or mild ketosis. The body can get rid of ketones through the breath as well as through the urine, and some people get rid of more that way than others. I’ve seen far too many people obsess over the level of ketones in their urine. If you’re following the diet properly, you should lose weight just fine irrespective of what your level of ketosis is.

  95. Thanks for the comment. If I am not mistaken, I think taking the ketosis test before and after workout also makes a difference? Apparently, you will “use up” the ketosis during exercise and therefore those dispose in the urine are whats left of it. Is that true?

    ANd I want to know if urine changes color when you are in Ketosis. Because I found that mine change to bright yellow, while I am drinking pretty of water thorought out the day.

    Mel

    You will use ketones during exercise. They are normal fuels. And you will dispose of the remainder in the urine and breath. As far as I know, ketones are colorless, so I don’t think they are what makes your urine more yellow. Heavy ketosis can bring about a little diuresis, which can lead to a little dehydration, making the urine more concentrated and therefor more yellow.

  96. One of the best web sites I’ve ever found. It is amazing the amount of time you spend and information you share. I can’t thank you enough.

    Very kind words, indeed. Thank you.

    MRE

  97. I agree with the previous poster. This is an incredible website. There are definitely people who actually are reading all of the comments and all of your responses and learning so much as a result. So, thank you for taking your valuable time to answer and educate the public. I so completely appreciate it and you!

    Thanks very much for the vote of confidence.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  98. Thank You for all the info its great I have a question regarding blood pressure i am currently taking the med hyzarr for my blood pressure when i wake up inthe morning i test for ketones and the stixs read purple approx 20 mins later after taking the med the stixs turn to trace or neg and itakes me a couple of hours to get back to ketosis does the med have a negative affect on weight loss.
    I also read that you can change the color of the sticks to deep purple by increasing your dietary fat intake, does that still mean that you are burning stored fat or dietary fat or both.

    That You DR

    You don’t need to be in deep ketosis to lose weight. I encourage my own patients not to focus on the ketones strips and instead focus on sticking carefully to your diet. If you do that, you will lose fine whether you’re always in ketoses or not.

  99. Hi Dr. Eades.

    I feel much more energetic on the lc diet which I love but I think at times it may be crossing the line to more of a state of anxiousness that is not good. I sometimes get the racing heartbeat and that can’t relax feeling. I also have been getting insomnia quite a bit although not all that unusual for me. I have read that a low carb diet increases cortisol levels. Is this true? Could it be the increased energy from ketones is due to an increased cortisol level? Or could is it possible that insulin production reduces cortisol levels?

    I am aware of the potassium need. I have taken 1-2 99 mg. a day sporadically. Is this still necessary after initial water weight loss? I have been on diet for 3 months now. BTW I wrote to you previously about a weight loss stall. I lowered my carbs, cut out dairy and peanut butter (don’t know why I was eating that) and it worked like a charm. Not sure which one did it.

    Also I wonder if you would like to comment on the following excerpt I took from a site that appeared to be promoting the Zone Diet. I would have thought it was Barry Sears himself but there was no mention of him. I have read many criticisms of lc diets before, but this was a new one on me:

    “However, on the Atkins diet you are almost certain to regain the weight because continual ketosis gets used to your fat cells to become “fat magnets”. In addition, the high saturated fat consumption boosts the thickness of your cell membranes so that over time your insulin receptors become less responsive resulting in an increase in insulin levels. Net result: Fat recovery is expected. Furthermore, some very nasty enduring health risks like the increased risk of heart disease due to increased lipid oxidation also occur in continued ketosis.” (…blah, blah)

    Thanks.

    In some people the state of ketosis induces a sort of euphoria and, often, insomnia. This state usually passes once one adapts to ketosis. No, low-carb diets don’t cause an increase cortisol. In fact, recent studies have shown just the reverse.

    I don’t know uttered the statement you quoted, but whoever it was needs to bone up on some basic biochemistry and physiology. It’s total nonsense.

  100. Hi doctor, I’m 15 yrs old and I’ve been yo-yo dieting for the past 5 months trying to find the right diet, the problem is that I’ve stoped working out about 2 weeks ago and I’ve honestly become a little lazy but been able to keep my weight just fine with the exception that my inactivity has lead me to gain a good 3-4 pounds, but that’s okay with me (before 143, now 146.5). Ketogenic diets have always really catched my interest but unfortunately my last experience with one (about 3 and a half weeks ago) wasn’t good, I restricted my carbs completely (less then 3 grams a day only coming from the small trace amounts of sugars and starches found in meats and sauces which from what I’ve heard luckily don’t really cause much of an impact on your insulin which of course supposidly means no fat stored in ketosis). One thing left to another and I guess I was bingeing and overeating on most of my meals with meats, cheese, mayo, creams, vegetable oil, and eggs. Up to day 4 I knew I had hit ketosis and was running on fat energy, but what I seemed to notice was that I gained some weight, and I’m not sure wheather it was fat or muscle or both, because my waist line was getting thick and I had a bit of a jiggly chunky fat belly (which wasn’t there before) that wasn’t too noticeable but stuck out just a bit which was enough for me to realize that something was wrong (I gained about 3.5 pounds). Then out of fear I immediately stoped the diet out of fear and went back to a 1700 caloric intake when in my ketogenic state I was eating around 3000 calories daily (I also have lost 60 pounds in the last 8 months during the time that I was exercising but I did it with a high carb, low fat diet, I don’t know if such weight loss in the past could have effected my adaption to ketosis or not). I really don’t know what could have gone wrong because from what you’ve said and from what I’ve heard also is that on a ketogenic diet no fat storage is possible if no carbs are being eatin and calories don’t matter because fat is being constantly burned or released through urine and breath, never stored.

    4 Questions:

    1. What could possibly be the case here? This has made me wonder if maybe ketogenic diets could have an impact in some on weight gain which at the same time sounds crazy because no carbs are present and there’s no possible way to store fat.

    2. Also, what confuses me is what you wrote on one of your post early stating that even if you consume excess calories on a ketogenic diet no weight gain is possible while at the same time no significant weight loss should be expected because you’re obviously getting enough calories to meet your energy needs throughout the day and that any weight gain should be primarily more lean body/muscle mass, how does this apply to me in my earlier experience with a ketogenic diet?

    3. You said early that this is false but I keep hearing it it’s true, could excess protein during a ketogenic diet cause at some point or another enough insulin impact to make your body store the excess as fat?

    4. I take a chromium picolinate supplement daily (800mcg, high potency), could this positively or negatively effect me on a ketogenic diet or even on a regular moderate carb-moderate fat diet?

    I couldn’t possibly begin to analyze what’s going on with you without a lot more information. But, I’ll go through your questions anyway.

    1. A reality that must be grasped when dealing with anything medical is that nothing works for everyone because everyone works a little differently. Although the vast majority of people don’t or can’t gain extra fat on a no or very-low carb diet, there are probably a few who can. You may be one of them. But, after being in the biz for a lot of years and treating thousands of patients, I have trouble understanding how the diet you described could give you a “jiggly chunky fat belly” in 4 days, especially in one who is 15 years old.

    2. We don’t know what your weight gain was composed of because we don’t have a body comp analysis, only your observation that your waistline seemed to be thickening. (See answer to previous question)

    3. I doubt that the excess protein would cause an insulin surge. It does increase insulin, but at the same time in increases the release of glucagon, insulin’s counterregulatory hormone, which offsets the effects of insulin.

    4. Studies have shown that chromium improves the sensitivity of the insulin receptor, meaning that one needs to make less insulin to keep blood sugar steady. Less insulin means less fat storage, so chromium picolinate has been used as a weight-loss supplement. It shouldn’t have a negative effect on a ketogenic or moderate carb-restricted diet.

    Hope this helps.

  101. Hi doctor, your information was very helpful and I’m so glad I came to you for help. I still have a few more questions regarding ketosis and dieting because in the last week I have gotten back into the diet after being on a diet lower in carbs for the last 3 weeks and noticed that my body is now getting well adapted after entering the first week with no carb intake at all. I was hoping you could help with the following questions as well, and thank you so much. =)

    1. I’ve recently heard that chromium picolinate can damage the chromosomes in DNA and can lead to cancer in the future, and I don’t know if it is true or not, what do you think?

    1. I’m sure at first to you it may seem a bit odd that a 15 year old who is now at a normal weight is doing a ketogenic diet lol. The reason is because I believe that carbs are not needed at all and should not be eaten because recent scientific studies have shown they are only harming us and making us age faster. I only eat fat and protein and soon in about a week or so I will start adding a few veggies to my meals once my body fully adapts to the state of ketosis. I’m doing this because I just want to live a healthier life and I believe this diet is the key to that life, my parents just don’t understand that and I’ve tried to make them see what I mean but they just think I’m nuts while they go off eating their high carb meals which totally bugs me out just by the site of it lol (and they can sure use a low-carb diet, believe me lol). I take a multi-vitamin along with chromium picolinate and vitamin c in the morning. Would you have any tips, suggestions, or advice you can give me while staying on this diet?

    3. Has there been any recent new studies or anything on ketosis and the diet? (Just wondering)

    The deal with chromium picolinate is overblown in my opinion. But, if you’re worried about it, you probably don’t need to take it. At 15 years old your insulin receptors are probably in pretty good shape.

    Sounds like you’re doing well on your diet. I can’t think of anything I would add except maybe a little magnesium and some vitamin D if you don’t get a lot of sun exposure or during the winter even if you do.

    Check out this journal. It’s free and keeps up with all the literature on low-carb and ketogenic dieting.

  102. I read the above comments regarding ketosis and pregnancy with interest. I’m wondering about nursing mothers and ketosis. The only thing I’ve found on the subject is from La Leche League and it’s several years old. It basically states that since there have been no studies on the subject, it’s best to avoid ketosis while nursing, just to be safe for the baby.

    Is there any evidence of which you’re aware that suggests that ketones are passed into breastmilk, and if so, do they have a detrimental effect on a nursing infant?

    I’m nursing a 3.5 month old, and have been improving my diet (lots of grass-fed protein, for example), but I am hesitant to allow myself to go into ketosis. I definitely need to lose weight and would love to be stricter with my carbs. Any light you can shed would be much appreciated!

    As far as I know, there aren’t any studies looking at this issue. So, I guess, I would have to go along with the recommendation to be careful. You can lose weight and keep on the cusp of ketosis so that you don’t have to worry about it. I would make sure to keep my fat and protein intake up to ensure that your production of breast milk doesn’t rob your body.

  103. 1. In ketosis, how is dietary fat AND protein not stored in the fat cells of the body even when aten in large frequent portions exceeding a person’s caloric needs? Just how is it possible? (I’ve heard many different answers to this question, what’s your say on it?)

    2. Is there any vitamin/supplement that can flush you of any trace of carbs on induction to ketosis? (Knowing now that chromium picolinate increases insulin sensitivity, does that mean it helps flush carbs too? I also have seen a supplement called “Carb Erase 1000″ with white kidney beans, would that help?)

    3. While in ketosis, can you lose more body fat by drinking a lot of water knowing that you’re flushing ketones out which in turn I think means that your body will switch from burning the dietary fat you’ve consumed (say you’ve aten 1 hour ago) to burning your fat reserves? Or am I mistaken? (I’m not sure lol)

    Thank you… =)

  104. 1. Would an occasional sweet, say, a milkshake, do that much harm even if you’re body had fully adapted to the state of ketosis? How does the body react after it has been deprived of carbs for so long and then suddenly out of nowhere, an inbalance, like a milkshake or a piece of cake, enters the body? What happens to your body? If the person still wants to stay in ketosis how long will it take that person to reach ketosis again after the sweet (carb, any form) has been consumed? Would it effect your body in a bad way?

    Thank a lot =)

  105. And breastfeeding moms should pay attention to their Vit D because there is very little in breastmilk. In Scandinavian countries it is customary to give vit D drops to infants, but that doesn’t seem to happen as much in the US (our San Diego pediatrician assured me that Vit D deficiency wasn’t possible here, but this year I am learning otherwise, from my own testing and person after person telling me they were tested recently and their levels were too low. Many hours indoors daily, clothing, and “prudent” sunscreen use really cut the sunlight exposure and Vit D production (not to mention age reduces it), even in “mild, sunny” climates.

    Carlson is one brand I know of that makes Vit D3 drops in an infant dose (also in 1000iu and 2000iU doses). I find the drops an easy way to supplement Vit D for my son, just a drop or two in his whole milk or any food (or he chews a gel-oil cap and spits out the gelatin cap). One can’t rely on the D2 added to some dairy milk products, as it isn’t the Vit D the body makes and isn’t used as effectively. The non-profit Vit D Council (www dot vitamindcouncil dot org has some good information based for children’s Vit D doses, based on research.

    I concur. All kids should get vitamin D supplementation as should breastfeeding moms.

  106. I am currently in ketosis and eating less than 4g of carbs per day (please be descriptive and detailed),

    1. will excess calories from fat make me gain body fat?
    2. will excess calories from protein make me gain body fat?
    specifically, why or why not?

    cause I love fatty foods and I was wondering if I’d gain body fat if I ate over my calorie limit, I don’t need to lose weight, I just don’t want to put any more because I’ve already lost enough weight on this diet, would an increase in calories make me put the body fat back on?

  107. 1. In ketosis, how is dietary fat AND protein not stored in the fat cells of the body even when aten in large frequent portions exceeding a person’s caloric needs? Just how is it possible? (I’ve heard many different answers to this question, what’s your say on it?)

    2. Is there any vitamin/supplement that can flush you of any trace of carbs on induction to ketosis? (Knowing now that chromium picolinate increases insulin sensitivity, does that mean it helps flush carbs too? I also have seen a supplement called “Carb Erase 1000″ with white kidney beans, would that help?)

    3. While in ketosis, can you lose more body fat by drinking a lot of water knowing that you’re flushing ketones out which in turn I think means that your body will switch from burning the dietary fat you’ve consumed (say you’ve aten 1 hour ago) to burning your fat reserves? Or am I mistaken? (I’m not sure lol)

    Thank you… =)

  108. why won’t u answer my question?

    1. In ketosis, how is dietary fat AND protein not stored in the fat cells of the body even when aten in large frequent portions exceeding a person’s caloric needs? Just how is it possible? (I’ve heard many different answers to this question, what’s your say on it?)

    2. Is there any vitamin/supplement that can flush you of any trace of carbs on induction to ketosis? (Knowing now that chromium picolinate increases insulin sensitivity, does that mean it helps flush carbs too? I also have seen a supplement called “Carb Erase 1000″ with white kidney beans, would that help?)

    3. While in ketosis, can you lose more body fat by drinking a lot of water knowing that you’re flushing ketones out which in turn I think means that your body will switch from burning the dietary fat you’ve consumed (say you’ve aten 1 hour ago) to burning your fat reserves? Or am I mistaken? (I’m not sure lol)

    Thank you… =)

    Somehow you’ve confused this – my personal blog – with a doctor’s question and answer column. I can’t spend hours answering personal questions from everyone who writes me. I answered a list of your questions previously.

    • When you eat a candy bar or a meal, the presence of glucose, amino acids or fatty acids in the intestine stimulates the pancreas to secrete a hormone called insulin. Insulin acts on many cells in your body, especially those in the liver, muscle and fat tissue. Insulin tells the cells to do the following:
      Absorb glucose, fatty acids and amino acids
      Stop breaking down glucose, fatty acids and amino acids; glycogen into glucose; fats into fatty acids and glycerol; and proteins into amino acids
      Start building glycogen from glucose; fats (triglycerides) from glycerol and fatty acids; and proteins from amino acids
      The activity of lipoprotein lipases depends upon the levels of insulin in the body. If insulin is high, then the lipases are highly active; if insulin is low, the lipases are inactive.
      The fatty acids are then absorbed from the blood into fat cells, muscle cells and liver cells. In these cells, under stimulation by insulin, fatty acids are made into fat molecules and stored as fat droplets.
      It is also possible for fat cells to take up glucose and amino acids, which have been absorbed into the bloodstream after a meal, and convert those into fat molecules. The conversion of carbohydrates or protein into fat is 10 times less efficient than simply storing fat in a fat cell, but the body can do it. If you have 100 extra calories in fat (about 11 grams) floating in your bloodstream, fat cells can store it using only 2.5 calories of energy. On the other hand, if you have 100 extra calories in glucose (about 25 grams) floating in your bloodstream, it takes 23 calories of energy to convert the glucose into fat and then store it. Given a choice, a fat cell will grab the fat and store it rather than the carbohydrates because fat is so much easier to store. Just thought this might help in some way for some people who don’t know.

        • The body breaks down fats into glycerol and fatty acids in the process of lipolysis. The fatty acids can then be broken down directly to get energy, or can be used to make glucose through a multi-step process called gluconeogenesis. In gluconeogenesis, amino acids can also be used to make glucose. In the fat cell, other types of lipases work to break down fats into fatty acids and glycerol. These lipases are activated by various hormones, such as glucagon, epinephrine and growth hormone. The resulting glycerol and fatty acids are released into the blood, and travel to the liver through the bloodstream. Once in the liver, the glycerol and fatty acids can be either further broken down or used to make glucose.
          I they find this to be informative.

          • Ketones are incompletely burned carbon fragments. The very fact that they are less efficient as fuel is what makes them give you that ‘metabolic advantage.’ Some of the calories burned are not used to their full capacity… hence the person can eat more calories when in ketosis than when not, and still lose the same amount of weight.

            Ketoacids are short (four carbons long.) It’s important because in that way they are able to penetrate cells to feed them when there is no glucose present. The fat stores accumulate fat as very long fatty acids. They’re ordinarily difficult to break down because they’re so long.

            When the body must use its fat stores for energy (our goal to lose weight), these fat cells begin to release the long fatty acids into the blood.

            To be used as fuel, particularly by the brain, the fatty acids go to the liver where they are literally cut into two carbon fragments (ketoacids.)

            They are then utilized (burned) by many tissues, including the brain. The brain operates just as well on a diet of ketoacids as it does on glucose. What’s left (the incompletely burned fragments) are called ketones, and they are what spill into the urine to be swept from the body. There is a lot of medicines, supplements, and even hydration levels that can contribute to a unreliable test result with the urine sticks. Vit C is guilty for giving a false-negative result. Hope this helps.

  109. I had gastric bypass surgery (roux en y) on January 18, 2008 and tomorrow it will be nine months to the date. I started at 370 pounds and have lost 150 pounds now!! I have added some berries to my diet because of the small amounts of food (1/2 cup three times a day) have caused some problems with constipation. I also added Cheerios for breakfast three times a week (1/4 cup cereal with 1/2 cup skim milk). I had a kidney stone and gallbladder attack last month and had the gallbladder removed after the stone was passed. I saw the urologist today and was happy to find that I am still in a high level of ketosis (ketones were above 80 in my urine).

    I loved your post because it was the first time ketosis has really been explained well to me. I was worried that adding in some fruits and the small amount of whole grain from cereal after eight months would get me out of ketosis. It makes sense that it couldn’t possibly increase my carb intake over 60 per day with such a small amount.

    I had a few questions for you if you have some time:
    1. do sugar alcohols affect ketosis or are they used because they do NOT affect this process???

    2. I am still at only about 500-800 calories a day and workout for about two hours daily (yes, I’m now addicted). A nurse practitioner told me today that because I am in chronic high ketosis I will naturally be tired on a general basis. I have noticed tha twhile I feel great with the weight loss and new active lifestyle. . . my legs feel sluggish. Is this normal after being in ketosis for nine months??

    3. I have noticed some orthostatic changes recently and wondered if it could have anything to do with ketosis?? Is it just drastic weight loss that does this? The good news is that before I lost weight my resting heart rate was 130. . it is now 57!!!!!

    Thank you in advance for your time. I would appreciate any information you can provide.

    Sounds to me like you’re doing pretty well. Sugar alcohols affect ketosis depending upon how well they are absorbed. Those that are absorbed more will tend to decrease ketosis whereas those that aren’t won’t. You’ve got to fiddle with it yourself to see. Being in chronic ketosis does not necessarily make one tired. Usually tiredness in the face of ketosis comes from a potassium deficiency. People go into ketosis because they are cutting carbs, cutting carbs reduces insulin levels, reduced insulin levels encourage the kidneys to get rid of excess fluid. As this excess fluid leaves the body it carries potassium along with it, often causing a potassium deficiency. Replacing the potassium usually solves the problem. I’m not sure of what you mean by ‘orthostatic changes’ so I can’t really tell if that’s ketosis-dependent or not.

  110. Good morning, I was wondering what to recommend for a TII diabetic who does weight training as a sport. She has been following a low carb diet for sometime. Her trainer wants her to eat more carbohydrate for energy. Is it necessary to have carbohydrate consumption with anaerobic training? If so, when should she have the CHO, how much should she have, and is it possible to consume less than 60 gm/day and still stay in ketosis? Also, she had mentioned to me that when she eats any CHO at all her BG spikes regardless of the kind of CHO consumed, any thoughts? She refuses to take oral medications recommended by her doctor. Thanks in advance.

    Tricia

    No, it is not necessary to have CHO for aerobic training. Fat burns aerobically just fine. If she is training, she can probably consume 60 g of CHO per day and stay in ketosis. Many people have a problem with blood sugar spikes when they eat carbs.

  111. I may have missed it ( I read for a long time), but can you comment on how a menstrual period affects ketosis? I was into moderate ketosis for 3 weeks, then no ketosis at all during my period.

    I’m not sure because I’ve never really thought about it nor have I read anything about it, but I wouldn’t think that the menstrual cycle would have a lot to do with ketosis. Other readers may have more experience than I and are welcome to chime in.

  112. SO let’s say I live on a very low carb diet (under 50g per day-regular basis) and all the sudden binge on carbs for a day or a week. What is the affect on the body? And would I go back into ketosis easily or would it take a while? How long?
    Thanks for your informative posts and responses. This has been an answer to prayer!

    I don’t want to encourage carb binging, but, yes, you can get back into ketosis easily when you get back on the program.

  113. Thanks so much for the information. What are your thoughts on the efficacy of a ketogenic diet to combat an aggressive brain tumor (grade IV). Could it be done in addition to chemo?

    Read here and here.

  114. Hi, I would like to know :
    1) can consuming wine ( a small glass a day ) put us off ketosis? I have checked that carb in a glass of red wine is only about 4-5g, but would like to know your opinion on it.
    2) Does our body absorb and store carb faster after we are in ketosis, hence ppl tend to put back on the weight once we go off the diet… and sometime put on more than before.

    Mel

    Typically a small glass of wine shouldn’t take one out of ketosis if other carbs are kept to a minimum.

    I don’t know if there is any experimental data showing whether or not carbs are absorbed more rapidly after a period of ketosis. My own hunch is that they’re not.

  115. How does being in deep ketosis affect your blood alchohol levels? Do you absorb the alchohol faster, and does being in ketosis make your blood level higher.

    Jacki

    I don’t know that ketosis affects blood alcohol or not. That’s not saying it doesn’t – it’s just saying that I don’t know.

  116. before the summer, i was 160, and without exercise and being on the zero simple carb diet, i lost 10 lbs in a month. if i had exercised during the month with the zero simple carb diet, would i have gone maybe past that 150 mark or would i have just reached it in say 2 weeks? starting today i am resuming that diet except i am starting from 170 this time, along with a good exercise routine which will be incremented daily. should i probably be able to drop 20 lbs in a month this time due to the quickness of that 10 lbs loss????

    According to the data as evaluated by Gary Taubes, there is no evidence that exercise will make you lose weight any more quickly. Read about it here.

  117. Dr. Eades,

    Working backward still on your blog, and haven’t seen mention of MCT oil:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medium_chain_triglycerides
    http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/issa23.htm

    (Sorry, these aren’t great links, most of my information comes from printed sources.)

    Anyway, several people commenting on this particular entry, concerned about lack of energy during workouts, might benefit from MCT oil. I use it all of the time, probably “eating” around 30 grams daily total. I especially use (10-12 grams) it before lifting weights (which I do quite intensely, not like most people lift weights), and never feel a lack of energy. It’s a relatively cheap supplemental oil if bought in a pure liquid form. Another good/healthy source is EV coconut oil, composed of ~60% MCT.

    Curious if you have any thoughts/experience with MCT oil?

    A recent study indicates that MCT supplementation may be beneficial to mitochondrial function, perhaps by generating less waste byproducts: PMID: 18582445

    I have had some experience. MCT are absorbed directly into the bloodstream instead of going through the lymphatic circulation first as do the longer-chain fats. Consequently, MCT provide a more instant source of energy, much like carbohydrate, but without raising insulin. And MCT converts easily to ketones, which is a good thing since ketones are a great fuel.

    The only problem I’ve encountered with MCT oil is that it makes many people nauseated when they take it. It doesn’t bother me, but I’ve heard that complaint from many.

    • Hi Dr Eades! stlll reading through the blog backstory – these posts are excellent. i’m using 3-4 tablespoons of coconut oil/day & find it both accelerates & “deepens” ketostix, if ketostix has any measure of merit. It’s also great for (my) sleep/wake cycle & seems to stimulate a sense of calm & concentration @work.

      Given that MCT’s are the preferred fuel source, and the body utilizes multiple fuel sources at any time (ketones/glucose/-) …

      Is it possible to “induce” ketones via. high coconut oil use WHILE on a high carb diet…. (e.g. new research on alzheimer’s/autism/epilepsy experimenting with F:P:C – MCT/1.2:1.1 ratios)? i.e. non-low-carb/MCT-induced ketosis (preferentially for the brain -> excess still spills out into the bloodstream & thus -> purple ketostix) while high carbs (high enough for that particular body to stimulate sufficient insulin secretion for FFA’s-> form triglycerides in fat cells)… and, if there is an overall “excess” of energy/FFA requirement (yes, calories *would matter*) … you could be actually GAINING bodyfat? Or is there some limiting factor …?

      Thanks!

      • I think it would be very difficult to induce ketosis on a high-carb diet irrespective of what fat is used because the elevated insulin stimulated by the high-carb diet would shut down the ketotic process.

        • Aha! that’s exactly what i thought – thank you.

          Would it follow that: While it would be possible to be in ketosis (purple ketostix) and bodyfat%/weight stable (equilibrium, probably the body’s set-point as consistently referenced by Taubes) …. it is virtually impossible to be in ketosis and GAIN bodyfat?

  118. i read the article, and your right. i would only have to disagree with you in accordance with the last section of the essay when it is stated

    “To be sure, this is the same logic that leads to other unconventional ideas. As it turns out, it’s carbohydrates—particularly easily digestible carbohydrates and sugars—that primarily stimulate insulin secretion. “Carbohydrates is driving insulin is driving fat,” as George Cahill Jr., a retired Harvard professor of medicine and expert on insulin, recently phrased it for me. So maybe if we eat fewer carbohydrates—in particular the easily digestible simple carbohydrates and sugars—we might lose considerable fat or at least not gain any more, whether we exercise or not. This would explain the slew of recent clinical trials demonstrating that dieters who restrict carbohydrates but not calories invariably lose more weight than dieters who restrict calories but not necessarily carbohydrates. Put simply, it’s quite possible that the foods—potatoes, pasta, rice, bread, pastries, sweets, soda, and beer—that our parents always thought were fattening (back when the medical specialists treating obesity believed that exercise made us hungry) really are fattening. And so if we avoid these foods specifically, we may find our weights more in line with our desires.”

    this gives some reasoning to my theory that as i am in the zero simple carb diet, along side a good, let’s say 30 minutes of running, i should be able to lose weight faster. i would agree with you if the case were that i was instead doing a regular carb intake, which by today’s standards is a horrendous illusion.

    i will report my results after 2 weeks from yesterday of this experiment and see how close i have gotten to 150 lbs

    I tend to agree with you on this. I think that exercise along with a good quality low-carb diet promotes the fastest weight loss. But is the desire to exercise driven by the low-carb diet? That’s the question.

  119. Dear Dr Eades
    Thanks so much for all the information you have printed here on your blog. After 4 weeks on low carb I have lost appox 10 pound, but yesterday after nearly 4 solid weeks of sleep deprivation I resumed eating normally. I just cant cope with only 2 – 4 hours of sleep (sometimes NONE!) , broken into 30-60 minute batches. Time in between anything up to three hours. My whole body seems to jerk somewhat like restress leg if i stay in bed, and i cant lay still. I tried Melatonin and Unisom but it was worse as i couldnt sleep or wake-up. My energy levels seem fine during the day, and i dont ever feel hungry.
    I put up with it, but after 4 weeks it is worse rather than better. I know LC Diets can effect your sleep but why? Also i am still in Ketosis and slept very badly again last night. Any suggestions? How long before I am out of Ketosis, which i think is causing the sleep issues.

    Ketosis does caused disturbed sleep in some. Try taking some herbal tea with a little sugar (yes, a little sugar – maybe a teaspoon) at bedtime. The small amount of sugar will knock you out of ketosis for a few hours and allow you to sleep yet won’t really affect the good things that are happening with your low-carb diet.

  120. Fat the preferred form of fuel? OMG!!!!! Let’s increase our already drastically high cardiovascular/cancer disease rates. Please of all you do more reading before you believe this charlaton. All forms of fat are known to increase cancer and heart disease rates. Wanna increase your cholesterol? Do it this way. Wanna increase your acid load in your body? Do it this way. Want to further along your osteoporosis progression? Yes Yes do it this way!! This is nothing but a money making scheme. Low carb diets contribute to very poor health outcomes. After all, it’s biggest proponent died of heart disease and obesity himself. Glowing representation I’d say!!!!

    Welcome aboard. Glad to have you as a reader. You may learn something, but somehow I doubt it.

    • rofl……….very classy response! I love it! This is the best blog on this subject Ive ever seen! All Ive been doing is reading basically the responses given for each question…(so people do do that, and there are ALOT of repeat answers which could be eliminated if people would do what Im doing). But I just loved your response to this reader! It was great! :-)

  121. incidentally, dear fake nutritionist, a person cannot gain 17 lbs of muscle within 5 weeks. Man nor woman. You’re nuts!

    And, I survived for 37 years with a kidney transplant on a very low protein diet! Know many transplant patients that survive that long with NO osteopenia?

    You are absolutely nuts!!!!! Go back to medical school or where ever you came from. You are a profit hound. I feel sorry for the people following your advise.

  122. Mr. Fakee, you can’t even address my comments. We do not want to initiate questions of doubt, I understand. I think you like all this attention, as a pretend authority. It’s transparent to me, although others fail to see it. You are an expert in falsehood. Do you EVER worry about the bones and vascular systems of your poor pitiful followers?! Somehow I doubt it…….

    So sorry Slow Burn hooked up with you. I shan’t be back, gratefully.

    AMF

  123. Holy cow! I wouldn’t even know how to cope with a loony like Dawna H. Ignoring is certainly the best approach. But she seems to be quite deranged, sending 3 messages within 17 minutes and waiting for a response on a moderated forum, is quite stunning.

    Methinks her lack of good fats has somehow impaired her brain function. You know how those angry vegetarians are.

  124. I have a question about how ketones get from my belly fat to my cell to be used as energy. You mention ketones are water soluble, but do they need any helper molecules to get across a cell membrane the way glucose does? If so, what helper molecule is that?

    Thanks

    M

    I haven’t gone back to the books to check, but as I understand it, ketone bodies diffuse across cell membranes without a transporter.

  125. By 60 grams of Carbohydrates is that the total amount of carbohydrate rich food or the carbohydrate content within? For instance would I eat 60 grams worth of Apples?

    Great Stuff

    60 grams is 60 grams. And as far as what happens metabolically, it doesn’t much matter where it comes from. 60 gm worth of apples would be fine. Most people like to spend their 60 gm wisely so that they get maximal nutritional density from them, but metabolically it doesn’t much matter.

  126. Hi,

    really interesting article. 1 question though:

    I am currently on a diet that composes of All fats, All Proteins, and vegetables (fiberous ones, non starchy).

    Do i still have to keep an eye on the vegetable carb amount( 0g net carbs) or 30g of starchy carbs is the limit?

    thanks

    Elmir

    Depends on what you’re trying to do. But, yes, you should keep an eye on the vegetable (and fruit, if you eat it) carb. If it’s 0 g net carb, you’ve got nothing to worry about, but I don’t know any vegetables that are 0 g net carb. If you stick to under 30-40 g net carb per day you should do fine.

  127. What do you think about a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet? The idea is to be eating nothing but Protein and Fat from Sunday through Friday at 6pm and then nothing but Protein and Carbs (and really loading the carbs) from Friday evening until Saturday night. The theory is that you will be refueling your muscles with extra glycogen(?) from the carbs so that you can get in two heavy lifting days on Sunday and Monday.

    Apparently this is fairly common with bodybuilders.

    Your thoughts? Does that carb-loading period matter?

    I’ve been asked about this a zillion times. I really haven’t looked into it in depth, but it does seem to work for some.

  128. HI again, I have a question about Ketone testing:
    I have been testing mine each day at different times to be sure I am burning fat but I cannot find any info on what the test range means. I get it that it tells me trace, small, moderate and large but I don’t know what those ranges mean. What is happening during trace/small that is different from moderate/large? And am I burning more fat if my ketones are higher? Less when they are lower? I want to understand the meaning of the range and shoot for the proper weight loss target every time, can you please explain?
    Thanks so much, and Love your books by the way!!!

    Typically the amount of ketones is proportional to the amount of fat being burned. But not necessarily always. You can be making ketones like crazy and burning them and releasing some in the breath and because you have been drinking a lot of fluids your urinary ketones are slight. So, I guess the take home lesson is that the amount of ketones doesn’t tell you a whole lot unless you know what else is going on. Which is why I don’t particularly monitor ketone levels.

  129. Dr. Eades,
    If the body tends to resort to gluconeogenesis for glucose during a short-term carbohydrate deficit, are those who inconsistently reduce carb intake only messing things up by not effecting full blown ketosis? If the body will still prefer glucose as main energy source unless forced otherwise for at least a few days, is it absolutely necessary to completely transform metabolism for minimal muscle loss?
    Also, if alcohol is broken down into ketones and acetaldehyde, technically couldn’t you continue to drink during your diet or would the resulting gluconeogenesis inhibition from alcohol lead to blood glucose problems on top of the ketotic metabolism? Would your liver ever just be overwhelmed by all that action? I’m still in high school so hypothetical, of course haha…
    Sorry, lots of questions but I’m always so curious. Thank you so much for taking the time to inform the public. You’re my hero!

    P.S. Random question…what’s the difference between beta and gamma hydroxybutyric acids? It’s crazy how simple orientation can be the difference between a ketone and date rape drug…biochem is so cool!

    P.P.S. You should definitely post the details of that inner mitochondrial membrane transport. I’m curious how much energy expenditure we’re talkin there..

    Keep doin your thing!

    Your Fan,
    Trey

    No, I don’t think people are messing up if they don’t get into full-blown ketosis. For short term low-carb dieting, the body turns to glycogen. Gluconeogenesis kicks in fairly quickly, though, and uses dietary protein – assuming there is plenty – before turning to muscle tissue for glucose substrate. And you have the Cori cycle kicking in and all sorts of things to spare muscle, so I wouldn’t worry about it. And you can continue to drink while low-carbing.

    A simple orientation can indeed work wondrous changes in how a substance affects us. Even a mirror image of the same substance (an optical isomer) makes a night and day difference in how the body handles (or even if the body handles) a particular molecule.

    I’ll get to the inner mitochondrial membrane in due course.

  130. Thanks for such a prompt and dilligent response.

    Upon further thought, I found myself with a few more questions I was hoping to get answered before I pursue a ketogenic diet.

    I realize you’re a busy M.D. so feel free to ignore or simply answer yes/no to any questions.

    1. If I am consuming lots of protein to maximize weight lifting and that protein is converted to glucose with 58% efficiency, am I counteracting my objective of ketosis, or is my body just going back to ketosis as soon as that glucose is used up?

    2. Is it possible to avoid gluconeogenesis to prevent your body from breaking down hard earned muscle mass in the absence of sufficient dietary protein since it doesn’t differentiate between the two? If not, what’s the minumum protein/weight ratio to restrict calories but keep muscle?

    3. Post-workout whey? Best to get a zero carb shake or would a 13g carb>>5g sugar work?

    4. How would a p.m. protein shake (e.g. casein) play into a ketogenic diet?

    5. Can high-intensity cardio on an empty stomach help induce ketosis? (just personal theory)

    6. Because of the resulting low insulin in such dieting, is one sacrificing the anabolic potential of insulin?

    7. Is there any risk of ketoacidosis in non-diabetics?

    8. Can cheeses and milks be tolerated in a ketogenic diet or should they be cut out?

    9. How long does glycogen hang around before being finally stored long-term as fat?

    10. If I mess up on carbs on a snack have i blown everything for a few days? I’m not sure I understand the timeline of transition between metabolic pathways. (I know you’ve said that only a little sugar will end ketosis)

    Broad sceme, I’m simply trying to cut weight quickly over 90 days without sacrificing too much muscle mass. I realize that in moderation my typical ‘carb down’ cycle will work over time, but I’m always interested by the sucess of others.

    Thanks so much for your devotion to teaching and tolerance of ignorant people like me.

    -TC

  131. I have a question related to ketosis in the morning. I have been on a low carb diet for approx. 2 weeks. I measure the ketones in my urine (using Ketostix). and at the end of each 8 hr workday I am measuring either a moderate or high level of ketones in my urine. However, when I measure the ketones first thing in the morning I have no ketones (as measured by the Ketostix) in my urine. Does this mean I am not using ketones for energy as I sleep?

    No, it means you are using ketones. That’s why you don’t see them in your urine. You are burning fat during your sleep and using it as you need it. During the day, you are eating fat as well as burning it, giving you the extra ketones that you see then.

  132. I’ve just started a Low-Carb Diet and i’m in my third day and i am shocked that i’m already in Ketosis !! I havnt followed a strict plan like Atkins … , i’ve just stopped eating Bread, Pasta etc . I have not been counting my daily Carb, but i’m sure i’m below 60g. I’ve been eating loads of salted peanuts, tinned hotdogs, low sugar ketchup and salad cream over the last three days and my ketostix are saying i’m in Ketosis. I’m i just lucky or will i get a shock ?

    Thank you in Advance !!!

    You’re consuming a lot of fat, and since you aren’t eating many carbs, your insulin is low. Which means you will have trouble storing that fat in the fat cells. If you can’t store it, you can do only two other things with it: burn it or turn it to ketones. I’m sure you’re doing both. Your degree of ketosis should subside over time as your body adapts.

  133. Wonderful, informative post! It’s amazing that you found the time to answer most of these comments (and, yes, I read them all).

    Keep up the great work!

    Diana

  134. Hi Doc, Am on a VLCD and i dont check my Ketones level at all with the Ketostix to avoid being discouraged. However I know am in ketosis ‘cos am losing weight 3-6lb a week… however I want to know the implications of coming out of ketosis and how long it will take to get back on it..

    Thanks.

    There are no implications to coming out of ketosis – people do it all the time, every day. How long to get back in? Depends on how rigorously you follow a low-carb diet. If you do it right, you should be in ketosis within a few hours.

  135. Regarding the early stages of LC when you get into ketosis and lose a lot of fluids — the last time I did LC (yes, I fell off the wagon; very happy to be back on) I had terrible calf & shin cramps. Shin cramps were a new & amazingly painful experience.

    This time I’m taking three 99mg potassium caps a day. As long as I don’t have leg cramps or dizziness I guess that’s an OK amount but should it possibly be higher during the first few weeks until I get ‘used to’ the different fuel? At what dosage is it dangerous?

    Thanks —

    I put my own patients on a daily prescription form of potassium that is equivalent to 5 of the 99 mg OTC supplements.

  136. Wow. I am so thankful that this thread has been continued for so long. I’m sure you’ve heard of carb cycling. My trainer/physician recommended this. Well, I gave it a shot, despite feeling pretty good about the size of my body while on low carb. I was looking “skinny” but was upset because my muscles looked flat and I looked kinda sick. Well, I could only stuff down around 60 carbs within the day, but it’s been a week since I’ve done this, and I’m having serious problems with constipation. Why does everyone else gets results from more fiber except me? It just backs me up even more (I took both soluble and insolible, plus I have flaxseeds with my salad). You see, I feel my bodyfat % has still been going down, my my WHOLE body seems to be holding in the toxins, and looks puffy (especially my midsection, although my waist is still 26″ – only 1/2 inch widder than normal).
    So, is there any way to speed up my transit time? I feel my body looked best when adding a little oatmeal post-workout, but I enjoyed my two weeks of feeling “thin” during ketosis. Come to think of it, I don’t think I was even going #2 that much before the carb-up, but I just know that if I had a couple of good BMs, my body would look 10X leaner. Perhaps I should lemon – fast for a day or two? This used to make me feel better.
    I must have Googled my situation 100 times, and even my trainer told me to eat more carbs on the carb up – like 500! I refuse to blow up like a balloon again. Your advice will be sincerely appreciated.

    I’ve always found that fat increases regularity better than fiber, and, unlike fiber, fat doesn’t damage your GI tract. If you are eating low-carb, try some really fatty cuts of meat, and I think you will see a difference.

  137. I’m quite impressed with your understanding of the metabolic issues involved in a low carb diet.

    I would appreciate it if you could weigh in on two commonly debated issues:

    1) Fasted cardio. Given the plethora of well-educated opinions on both sides of the coin, my “broscience” guess is that fasted cardio (medium instensity…for example, just below the point of increased breathing) is slightly more beneficial to people on ketogenic diets due to our bodies being less likely to break down protein. The debate is rarely framed in terms of people on ketogenic diets, so I’m curious to hear your opinion.

    2) PWO Dextrose. My limited understanding suggests that by adding 15g of dextrose in your post workout whey shake, two things of benefit happen: 1) The rapidly absorbed protein is spared for rebuilding rather than consumed in gluconeogenesis and 2) The dextrose, which (apparently) doesn’t need to be processed by the liver in order to be stored by muscles, is thus more readily stored as glycogen in the muscles rather than in the liver, thus providing glycogen for your next lifting session that doesn’t interfere with ketosis in the interim.

    That all seems to make sense to me, but I would love to hear your opinion and clarifications.

    Thanks!

    I’m not sure that people on ketogenic diets are less likely to break down protein. I would assume they are a little more likely to break it down to provide the substrate for glucose via gluconeogenesis.

    If you add the dextrose to a post workout shake it should spare some muscle tissue and allow the protein to be used for anabolic purposes. Dextrose is glucose, so the body handles it as it does glucose.

  138. Dr Mike,

    Thanks for this post. However did you had a chance to check this link on ketosis

    http://patrifriedman.com/writing/journal/expat/975ketosis.html#message

    This one lists the benefits of Ketosis and also bad things about Ketosis. It specifically lists that prolonged ketosis is dangerous for kidneys. Is that so? Please enlighten.

    Thanks

    Venkat

    I don’t believe long term ketosis is bad for the kidneys. People who are in long term ketosis tend to adapt to it, and ketone levels actually drop somewhat. Don’t worry about it.

  139. Dr Mike,

    I am not the first to say it, but what a wonderfull site. I have learned a lot. 2 questions though.

    1. Will the ‘futile biochemical processes’ influence thermogenesis (produce more heat)?

    2. I read that vitamine C helps in losing weight. Is that nonsenses or can it influence the biochemical processes needed for fatburning?

    Kind regards.

    1. Yes, futile cycling will increase heat loss. Futile cycling is how we maintain our body temperature as it is.

    2. I’ve never found vitamin C effective as a weight loss supplement. I think the idea that it does to any measurable degree is hype.

  140. Dr Eades,

    Thanks for the swift reply. This inspires me to ask another one. This time it’s about coffee. I read different things and I am aware a lot of it may be BS. Main points:

    – cafeïne enhances insulin resistence
    – digesting coffee induces insulin release.

    I know coffee is more than just caffeïne. Should I stop drinking it when trying to lose weight?

    Kind regards (from holland)

    I’m a big believer in the virtues of coffee. Enter coffee into the search function of this blog and you’ll find a number of posts on it.

  141. Dr. Mike

    Can ketones cause you to become intoxicated. Does it cause high breathalizer results. What type of doctor do i need to go to for a checkup to see my ketone levels in my blood.

    Here’s a post you may find of interest. Any doctor can check your ketone levels, but it’s pretty pointless because they change moment by moment. You can buy ketostix at the drugstore and check urine ketones yourself.

  142. Dear Dr Eades,

    You said that the low carb program is not rocket science but basic biochemistry, obvious to anybody that went through class 1 in med school. And I believe you. But it gets confusing when other MD’s give radically different advise. It concerns dr Gabe Mirkin. He states:

    “Meat contains a molecule called Neu5Gc that humans do not have, so the immune system of humans attacks this protein as if it was an invading germ and eventually attacks the host itself to destroy the blood vessels and increase risk for heart attacks and strokes.”

    See : http://www.drmirkin.com/public/ezine110908.html

    To be blunt : is Dr Mirkin MD a moron?

    Kind regards.

    I don’t know that he’s a moron, but he’s certainly not a critical reader nor (probably) a critical thinker. He states that he gave up eating meat a few years back, so now, I’m sure, he’s ready to jump on any theory that confirms his bias without giving it much thought. Plus, he gives the wrong citations for one of the scientific articles he cites, which gives him a major black mark in my book.

    If Neu5Gc is present in ALL mammal tissue other than human, why is it only red meat that causes the problem? Why not chicken or fish or whatever? It turns out that the problem occurs – if it occurs at all, which is speculative at this point – when Neu5Gc is consumed along with a toxic form of E.Coli. Since E. coli often contaminates meat, this could conceivably cause a problem. But E. coli contamination typically happens only with ground beef that’s undercooked. Searing steaks or other cuts of beef destroy any E. coli that happen to be on the surface (the only place E. coli can be on anything other than ground beef), so even if Neu5Gc were problematic – which I seriously doub’t – it wouldn’t be an issue with steak or any meat that is cooked.

  143. I think my question is already answered :

    “Dr. Ajit Varki and colleagues, reporting in the Proceedings of the
    National Academy of Sciences, say it is too soon to make any recommendations
    based on their findings.”

    This is the research Dr Mirkin (and thousands of other useless sites) refers to. He is jumping to conclusions! Apparently we are under continuous attack from vegetarian fundamentalists.

    I’m having steak tonight!

    Cheers, André

  144. Dr Eades,

    Just a thought:

    I found this article.

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-04/foas-vcd040306.php

    You should be able to verify the mechanism : carnitine is needed for fatloss (to make fat available for burning). Vitamin C is needed to produce carnitine. Hence, low vitamin C levels means no fatloss.

    A lot of people may have not enough vitamin C. Smoking is one problem, but a small cold will wipe out all your vitamin C if you stick to RDA levels. Could this be an explanation for people sometimes not being able to lose weight? I think so (but I am an ascorbate junkie :) )

    It’s true that ascorbate is need to produce carnitine, but you can get plenty of carnitine from meat, especially wild game. Remember CARNItine, from meat.

  145. Thanks so much for your time and effort. I’m deeply impressed by your knowledge and continuous efforts to educate us/me.

    Cheers,

    André

  146. Dear Dr. Eades.

    re CARNITINE I remember this.

    When I was a child my mother, worried about my thinness, used to drag me to a doctor.

    He game me this product:
    http://www.medicinelab.net/farmaci/co-carnetina-b12.htm

    It seems it contains CARNITINE, COBABAMIDE and Vit. B12.

    Taking this made me put up some weight in a very short time and my mother was finally very happy… till the next period of thinness, obviously.

    I’ve always read CARNITINE to be needed for fatloss, but I didn’t know it’s useful for weight gain too.

    Could you explain the way in which these three ingredients together provoke a rapid weight gain?

    Thanks in advance.

    Marco

    The product you are referring to is basically vitamin B12. If you gained weight on it, then you were vitamin B12 deficient before you took it.

  147. Currently, my goal is to get in better shape, tone up and lose some fat flab that has accumulated over the past 8 years. Each time I try to return to eating low carb anymore (eating 30-40 grams of carbs each day), I encouter uncomfortable symptons including: slow mental function; red, watery eyes; and lower blood pressure. When I try to get back into eating low-carb, I usually last a week into it and have trouble continuing on . Why does this happen? Maybe I’m not eating enough protein. (Back when I had my friend completed my measurements to determine my minimum protein needs, my figure was 57 grams/day. So I try to consume between 60 and 70 gram of protein per day. Maybe this is not enough protein to fuel gluconeogenesis? Also, I consume two to three 99mg potassium supplements per day.
    As an aside, do you recommend a low-carb eating lifestyle for one who was born with congenital heart issues? You mentioned earlier that ketones are the preferred fuel of the heart muscle.
    Thanks in advance for your response! I greatly appreciate any input you may have.

    I suspect that you are not getting enough protein to both meet your protein needs for tissue repair AND for gluconeogenesis. Try adding more protein to see what happens. And make sure you are taking a potassium supplement.

    Ketones are the preferred fuel of the heart muscle and a ketogenic diet would probably be good for one with a congenital heart problem, but I couldn’t recommend it without knowing a lot more.

  148. Hello, Doctor!

    Thank you for a wonderful article. I’ve done a lot of reading on ketosis, but your explanation is the most accessible – thank you.

    I have three questions:

    What is the proper carb to protein (to fat) ratio? Should I just, in general, look to keep carb intake below 40 grams daily, or can I eat more carbs if I eat more protein?

    Am I looking forward to an avoidance of carbs…forever? What happens if you’re on a LC-based diet and eat a fruit salad washed down with a soda and a chocolate donut as dessert? I have a tremendous addiction to bananas and orange juice – two big no-nos on an LC. Do I have to kiss those good bye?

    Finally, I am experiencing pain in my back (kidney area). Us this because I am not getting enough water?

    Again, thank you,
    ~Ocean

    There is no proper protein to fat ratio. If you’re on a LC-based diet and consume a bunch of carbs, you at least temporarily lose the metabolic advantage a low-carb diet provides. I have no idea why you are experiencing back pain. You should get it checked out.

  149. Dr. Mike,

    One more quick question: in my never-ending quest for true nutritional health, I came across another doctor’s website….only, his info is directly opposite yours. Both of you genuinely believe you’re giving readers the correct information and neither of you would intentionally want to give thousands of people erroneous (or harmful). How do I know who to believe?

    Dr. Snyder’s site can be found at http://www.snyderhealth.com/foodash.htm. I was particularly struck by his lists “Foods You Can Eat Freely” vs. “Foods You Should Never Eat!”

    I eagerly await your thoughtful response!

    Thank you,
    ~Rev. O

    My thoughtful response is that you’ve got to make a choice based on the evidence available to you as to which dietary regimen you wish to follow. Were I you, I would give each diet a few weeks to see which one works best.

  150. Dear Dr Mike,

    Yet another question. As I understand it, glucose stored in muscles is not available for maintaining bloodsugar levels- it can only be burned in the muscle. Only glucose in the liver can do that.

    I also understand that muscle can hold roughly 350 grams of carbs and the liver 100 grams.

    No here is my point; when I have been in ketosis for a while and I have been working out 2 or 3 times, my muscles should have depleted all glucose reserves. Now if I have a party, eating all those nice – high carb- things, the first 300 grams of glucose must surely go to muscle tissue (assuming there is no fructose in the carbs). So even when I eat up to 400 grams of carbs, I will stay in ketosis except for a brief period when insulin has to put all the glucose in my muscles. And if I keep my total calorie intake below 2000 I would still be losing weight.

    Would this reasoning be correct?

    Kind regards,

    André

    You may be losing weight, but you won’t be in ketosis. When you eat the carbs, blood sugar rises. When blood sugar rises, ketosis shuts down.

  151. HELP HELP! Insulin resistance?? Last year i started a diet unknowingly it became a low carb diet. I used to weigh 500 pounds. I was 31 when i started 8-2007 my diet im now 33, and 1.5 years into my diet. As you can imagine i used to eat a high carb high fat, high everything diet. Anyways it was taking its toll and from one day to next i started. I slowly went into this low carb diet unknowingly. After a couple weeks i was completely on vegetables and meats only, poultry, no suagrs or fruits. I was feeling great. In the first 3-4 months i lost almost 100 pounds. At this point i started adding fiber one bars and kaishi bars which contain probably the same amount of carbs i was eating for the entire day. I started getting hypoglycemic reactions, heart palpitations headaches, but they went away as soon as i got back on my strict diet. Anyways by 3-2008 i haded back 4oz milk and 4oz oj, a bit of fruits like 1 big fruit per day. By end 4-2008 i was down to 350 pounds. I was happy. I said to my self i taught myself ow to et i can eat normal again. If i want pancakes, anything i know its moderation. Low and behold i started getting hypoglycemic reactions rapid falls of my sugar level, which has lead to adrenaline reposnes to those rapid sugar drops. Im going from Dr to Dr and they says its just anxiety, stress etc. BUt im confused and cant seem to go back to my low carb diet. I think i came out of my low carb diet to fast. I need help and advice. Any help will be greatful. please email me at willyq12@pibschool.com or call me 626-255-5218

    For medico-legal reasons, I can’t give medical advice over the internet or over the phone to people I haven’t seen as patients. I don’t know that you came out of your low-carb diet too fast, I think your problem is that you came out of it at all. Why don’t you go back on it and see what happens? It worked to get you where you are weight-wise, why wouldn’t it continue to work?

  152. Hi there. Your explanation is very clear. I have some questions though:
    1. How many lbs do people lose in a week, average?
    2. Actually how many lbs we can lose in a month (healthily)
    3. How can I test ketone other than strip test? nobody sells that product in my country..
    Thanks a lot!

    Average weight loss depends upon the starting weight. Larger people are going to lose more than smaller people. In our practice, men lost an average of between 3-5 pounds per week, women 2-4. Again, how much you can lose safely depends upon starting size. I would say on average that 15-20 pounds per month is find.
    I don’t know where you can find ketosticks other than maybe online.

  153. I love this blog and this was a great post. I read all the comments & answers too – thank you for taking the time to post all this wonderful information.

    BTW, for those who have trouble sleeping at night, I have had success with ZMA (zinc/magnesium supplement). Sleep like a baby.

    Keep up the great work!

    -Michelle

  154. Great information. I am recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I began a low carb diet and added some exercise, lost 38 lbs in 3 months, feel absolutely terrific but am recently experiencing some gastrointestinal distress and gastropareses. I think it’s from the animal protein and concentrated fat contained in animal tissue ? The Metformin, low carb diet and exercise have reduced my blood sugar levels to average 100 – 115 from nearly 360. Who knew ? Just wondering how long is it safe to eat a low carb diet. Read “Dr. Bernsteins Diabetic Solution” which highly promotes low carb dieting but he makes no mention of it being dangerous in any way.

  155. Susana,

    Metformin delays stomach contents emptying and can create GI distress. The ER (extended release) is less likely to cause GI problems, or at least reduce them.

    I also highly recommend you read Jenny Ruhl’s websites. You can learn a lot more about oral diabetes drugs there. Her blog is Diabetes Update and her information website, Blood Sugar 101 (formerly titled What They Don’t Tell You About Diabetes) are priceless. You’ll easily find these sites with google. Jenny has also self-published a very good book, Blood Sugar 101, in response to requests for a non-online version of the Blood Sugar 101 website. The content is mostly the same, though of course, the website is easier to update regularly. Jenny scours the research literature and is more up on diabetes than most endocrinologists, I’ll wager.

    You are on the right track by restricting carbs to manage diabetes, IMO. Bernstein’s book and methods are excellent, not just for diabetics, either. I am not diabetic, but I have Impaired Glucose Tolerance and history of gestational diabetes, but I have used carb restriction (with an emphasis on Real Food, not low carb fake foods, and a paleo/stone age oriented diet – minimizing neolithic foods like grains, especially wheat, corn, and beans) for more than 5 years to lose the 20 pounds I gained after I bought a bread machine! , then to maintain my weight and manage my BG. I avoid soy, especially. By keeping my BG steady and in normal range with a low sugar/low starch diet, I hope to avoid progressing to diabetes altogether, or at the very least, delay it. I already seem to have some loss of insulin production (little to no first phase insulin response) so I’m very protective of my beta cells and don’t want to kill off any more with high blood glucose spikes from dietary indiscretions (otherwise known as “treats” by some people).

    This isn’t an unsafe way to eat. The Drs. Eades are onto to something. I’ve done a lot of reading up on human diets, biochemistry, and physiology in recent years (I’m an information junkie) and I’m quite convinced of this (though I always try to stay open to information which challenges my beliefs). But the more I learn, the more the pieces fall into place. Protein Power way of eating is much closer to the way humans ate until about 10,000 years ago, when agriculture changed diets dramatically. IMO, dietary changes in the past century towards increasingly industrial foods, especially cheap industrially processed grains and refined vegetable oils, are very detrimental to human health. I had to follow a carb-restricted diet 10 years ago when I was pregnant (gestational diabetes) so if it’s great for making a healthy baby…I have a hard time thinking it can’t be good for all humans.

    And I now feed my family this way, too – very little or no grain, little concentrated sugars, and no refined vegetable oils. I try to source most of our food directly from the source instead of a supermarket. We eat a LOT of natural fat (not industrial refined veg oil). My husband is better for it (he lost the weight he gained when I was baking bread and pizza a lot) and my son is thriving and growing well. My son has a bit more access to carbs than we do, but not nearly as much as his peers eat. I see no downsides to a lower carb diet for him, too, only upsides. He has no cavities (despite abysmal brushing habits), he’s very active yet isn’t hyperactive, his weight is just right (not too thin nor too much), and overall he’s a happy well-adjusted, healthy kid with a relatively adventurous palate. We hardly ever get sick and when we do it’s mild and gone quickly. So if my family’s experience is any guide, I think this is a much better way to eat long term than the SAD (Standard American Diet). Just my two cents…

    Good luck to you.

  156. Dr. Eades,

    Some of the food that I am eating contain very small amounts of sugar (i.e.whey protein powder, ranch salad dressing, etc) usually 1 gram or less. Is sugar strictly prohibited in the intervention phase of the diet? I have read Protein Power and have not been able to find an answer to this question.

    Also, will whey protein powder mixed with water raise insulin levels?

    Thanks for you help. By the way, I loved your book. Read it from cover to cover in one day.

    Glad you enjoyed the book. The small amounts of sugar in the foods you listed probably don’t cause much of a problem. Yes, whey protein powder mixed with water will run your insulin up a little, but it doesn’t matter because it runs glucagon up as well. Glucagon is insulin’s counter regulatory hormone.

  157. Dr. Eades,

    I have recently (as of this week) embarked on a high protein, relatively no carb diet to achieve significant weight loss. I am eating 3 high protein meals per day (staying with fish, chicken, eggs and vegetables), with 1 Atkins protein shake while drinking Metamucil 3 times daily to curb my appetite. I am planning to stick with it for 2 – 3 weeks, depending on my progress. I’m doing research now to investigate what possible risks, if any, I incur with this diet. This is how I discovered your site, which has been the most informative in my last 3 hours of reasearch.

    For the past three years, I have been challenged with losing weight. I love working out – working out 5 days per week, 2 hours most days, and 4 hours one day (I will continue my work out while on the diet). Eating has always been a challenge for me as I often “forget” to eat, and end up eating one huge meal a day. I work almost incessently and I often lose myself in my work until a very angry stomach reminds me that I have to eat. I also have a sweet tooth, and sometimes turn to cakes or sweet breads first on days that I’ve waited too long to eat and find myself starving. When I was younger, I could eat whatever I wanted as long as I worked out. Now at 31, I find working out alone is no longer helping.

    I have a lot of muscle mass – at 5’3″, 180 lbs, I wear a size 8 dress – 31″ waist, 43″ hips, 37″ bust. To get back to what is my ideal body – a size 6 dress, 27″ waist, 40″ hips, I estimate I must lose 20 – 25 lbs (I weighed 154 lbs four years ago with these same measurements and was my ideal size 6).

    I discovered recently that my continuous level of high stress may be the culprit to my inability to lose weight – it was four years ago that I started my own company. I am now on a stress management program, and have incorporated this high protein diet to help me “jump start” my weight loss. I do plan to re-introduce low carbs into my diet at the end of the 3 weeks, eating foods low on the glycemic index chart – I’ve discovered that foods high on the chart tend to make my thinking fuzzy and unfocused after eating them.

    Anyway, I tell you all of this to give you a picture of where I am. I have no medical issues, and no history of medical issues in my family. So having said all of this, are there any risks I should be aware of with this diet? How long can I eat a high protein diet balanced with Metamucil before it becomes necessary for me to reintroduce carbs (in the form of fruits and brown rice) back into my diet? What side effects should I be cognizant of?

    Thank you in advance for your counsel.

    Lilian

    I’ve taken care of thousands of patients on the kind of diet you describe. There are no risks that I know of if you are healthy going in. Many people – myself included – stay on this kind of diet for life.

  158. Dear dr Eades,

    I have a question on sleep. I read that ketosis causes an increase in short wave sleep (stage 3&4 of non rem sleep) at the expense of less REM sleep. I know that the production of growth hormone is high in SW-sleep. I also know that SW-sleep decreases with age.

    Could the low carb dieet restore youth-levels of GH? And is the reduction in REM sleep harmfull?

    Any thoughts on this?

  159. I just read this entire thing in one sitting!! Couldn’t stop! Thank you for your very informative work and lucid explanations.

  160. RE: Protein Power and Congenital Heart Defects

    Hi Dr. Eades,

    Would you recommend a ketogenic diet like Protein Power for one who was born with subaortic stenosis and coarctation (narrowing) of the aorta?

    Thanks!

    Sigh. I would have to know a whole lot more to make any kind of specific recommendation. Plus medico-legal considerations prevent me from making specific medical/nutritional recommendations online to patients who aren’t under my care.

  161. Hi Dr. Eades,
    I recently bought some “sugar-free” hard candy. The label says it has 15gm carbohydrate per serving (15gm of sugar alcohols), but notes that “for those watching their carbs, count zero grams, as sugar alcohols have minimal impact on blood sugar.”
    If I am on a serious low-carb diet, can I really ignore the carb content in these candies and eat them without spoiling my hard-won fat-burning metabolism?
    Thanks!

    Depends on the sugar alcohol – some are worse than others. Most studies show that about half the sugar alcohols are absorbed or, at least, have a carb-like effect. Most act differently on different people. Try a few and see what happens, but don’t overdo it or you will pay with mega GI distress. For my money, erythritol seems to work the best, followed by xylitol.

  162. I’ve been on a low car diet for the past 3 weeks. I used to weigh 197lbs, and currently weigh 182lbs. I’ve noticed my face looks slimmer, and my so called “double” chin is disappearing. I’m just wondering when i will notice the abdominal area start to slim? I will say my “love handles” so to speak have slimmed down a bit. But as far as Abs, maybe the six pack hiding under all the fat? Great article thanks for the information. I’m going to start working out again as well. Oh and one more thing I used ketostix to monitor how far in ketosis I’m in its usally in between moderate to large purple is visible……is this okay?

  163. Layperson here, new to this: is it correct to say that any time a person loses weight by losing fat, that they’ve been in ketosis? Or is fat more commonly burned by the body for fuel in other ways? Thanks. I’m learning a lot from your posts.

    It can be lost either way. People can lose weight on high-carb, low-calorie diets, and they’re almost never in ketosis.

  164. Do de tox diets like the mastercleanse , lemon juice/maple syrop, provide enough carbs to keep one out of dietary ketosis? if so, is this a good thing? Isnt ketosis necesary to metabolize fat and de tox the system?

    (very informative blog! Thanks!)
    George

    Anything with maple syrup in it is going to halt ketosis. I don’t know what’s in the other de tox diets, so I can’t comment on them.

    Fat can metabolize while in or out of the state of ketosis.

  165. how does ketones affect the body’s metabolism?

    I guess I don’t understand this question in view of the post you just read.

  166. Hey, i don’t know if youve already answered this, but i need it answered so ill ask it either way. im a high school sophmore, and ive always been been skinny (sometimes unhealthly so) but this school year ive been skipping breakfast most mornings (i have an early workstudy) and school only has lunch 3/5 days a week and i almost never remember to pack lunch (ill blame the adhd). And on top of that its lead to a sort of binge-eating on the weekends. i know its not healthy, my moms an ER nurse and she just lectured me telling me my diet’s whats been making me so cranky, since the ketones are acids and i havent been doing it intentionally so im not taking any vitamins to make up for the ones lost in ketosis. what i want to know is what i can do to fix it.

    im always tired, sometimes dizzy when i start to move suddenly, and im so cranky so often that my dads starting to hate me. also i dont knok if its related, but ive always had a great complexion, but its recently started to get bad. im perpetually stressed, have NO atention span (even for me), and my grades are down the toilet.

    please tell me what i can do to fix what ive done to myself!

    I’m sorry, but due to medico-legal reasons, I can’t give individual medical advice over the internet.

  167. Dr. Mike-

    I have recently been on a low carb diet for the past 4 days. This is the first diet that I have ever been on because at 5’5″ and 128 pounds i don’t really need to lose weight per se, i’m just trying to lose the excess fat from my middle. At 19% body fat i have found this impossible through a moderate diet, generally pretty healthy and frequent exercise(3-5x’s weekly, cardio and resistance training combo and pilates once weekly). I am giving you all this background because I woke up this morning in a very strange state. I have been restricting my carb intake to about 30g a day focusing on good fats, monounsat. with a watchful eye on saturated and getting as much fiber as I can through low carb berries and tons of veggies. However when I awoke this morning(after an evening 30min weight training session, first since the beginning of the diet I had just been doing low intensity cardio like walking or the elliptical since day one) at 5 am suddenly I felt very funny almost tingly and I checked my heart rate because something didn’t feel right and it was barely there and extremely slowed (around 40 beats a min). Then I sat up and my heart beat rapidly accelerated to around 190-200 beats a min(even at my most intense workout it doesn’t raise above 175-185). I tried my best not to freak out to make it worse and instead went and ate some kashi go lean cereal with milk, around a cup of berries, 1/4 of an avocado(for potassium) and after my heart rate hadn’t changed in about 20 minutes I drank about half a glass of grape juice. My heart rate slowly began to come down after that and by around 6am, 1 hour after the start of the rapid heartbeat it was practically back to normal. It scared me very badly and I am wondering what in the heck happened to me especially when ketones are the preferred fuel of the body. I don’t have diabetes and have lead a pretty healthy lifestyle of diet and exercise minus about 6 years of smoking, I have recently quit, one month strong. Can you extend some insight on my situation? Thanks.

  168. Dear Dr Eades,

    I am currently doing a 7 day detox cleanse in Thailand. I am not eating anything for 7 days. The only thing I am ingesting is about 1 cup of watermelon juice, young coconut water, and 2 bowls of vegetable broth. Currently its day 4 for me, I may be in ketosis, and I know my muscle protein is being used right now. I figure 7 days is not going to impact me too much, and once I get off my fast I can try to introduce veggies / protein / fat to send the rest of my diet into LC.

    My question is that while I may be hitting more than 50 cals of carbs currently with the juice, I am also using a lot of energy to do yoga in the mornings, swimming, sight seeing, etc. So if a person goes slightly above the 50 cal threshold but is rather active can they still hit ketosis or its basically a certain number of cals the body registers and remains out of ketosis?

    Depending on the above answer, would it make sense to eat the carbs I am going to eat right before or right after an activity to ensure its used as dietery fuel instead of stored as fat?

    I am doing this fast with my mother, and since starting I have been reading a lot about it and somehow ended up on your website. Your information is amazing and very informative. Its so hard to find good, unbiased information with data to back it up. Thanks for the service!

    If you are more active, then you can get by with a few more carbs.

  169. Dr Mike,
    This diet is almost the exact opposite of what I always believed was the ideal diet!! ie: vegan mostly raw food. Though Ive never really done it fully, Ive felt a bit guilty over the years that I couldnt! Now after fasting for 6 days to clean out my system, I came across your blog and feel like my dietary world has been turned upside down!!!
    One similarity however, consistent with my former beliefs is the refined sugar thing… As a hippie in the 70s I got into natural foods, organic, back to the land and all that..(I was involved in starting the first natural foods store and restaurant in Toronto) Anyway, white sugar was the biggest ‘sin’ if you will, back then, and in that I think we we right (meaning most all forms of sugar really)

    So, after my fast and getting my system ‘up and running’ I am experimenting with the low carb idea. One question I have, which I think has mostly been answered is, how will this affect my BPH? Lots of health folks, doctors etc say saturated fat is totally bad for this!! I dont know if I believe it anymore after reading what you and others say about it all…I have been on Flomax (tamsulosin) for 5 years or so and hope to get off it someday…
    Thanks for such an informative, well researched and honest blog!!!
    George

    If anything, it should make your BPH better. Don’t worry about the saturated fat.

  170. Hi Dr eades,

    Great site and fantastic advice, easy to understand from a laymans point of view.

    Thanks very much

    clint

  171. Dr. Eades, I use this particular blog to support my low carb/IF lifestyle. It is my Ad ha moment. I think that it sums it all up in a nutshell. It would be nice if I could get a tee shirt with this picture on it. I will use it when I run in an upcoming 5K run.

    What picture?

  172. Dr. Eades,
    I like to use the Ketostix to test my urine and see if I am in ketosis. You answered a question for me awhile ago about whether or not it was an all or nothing situation, and that you either are or are not in ketosis. It still seems like the darker the test strip the better, but mine are not turning very dark like they did when I was on Atkins a few years ago. I bought a fairly large container of them then which I still use but the exp date is in 2005. Would that make them less effective?

    I don’t really know anything about the shelf life of ketostix, so I can’t help you on that one. But people who are in ketosis for a while as a result of following a low-carb diet seem to adapt, and end up in lower levels of ketosis as time goes on.

  173. Dr. Eades
    I have been diagnosed with Reactive Hypoglycemia after my blood sugar dropped to 36 mg/dl 180 minutes within a glucose tolerance test. I have checked what symptoms are caused by Reactive Hypoglycemia and I have them all. The problem is that I was very thin with a BMI of 21 and my triglycerides and blood pressure were low. I’m just 22 years old.

    I went on a ketogenic diet with around 30 grams of carbohyrates a day.
    After a month I felt somewhat better but nothing extreme, symptoms of unstable blood sugar was still there although a bit improved. But after almost two months I was losing so much weight I was getting emaciated in the face and frail. Now I’m almost underweight with a BMI of less than 19. I don’t count calories and probably I don’t eat a lot but also with 30 grams of carbs I don’t feel like eating a lot, I don’t have much appetite and I am not interested in eating pounds of meat. That being said I consume enough foods: eggs, fatty meat, vegetables, fish, cheese, cream, pork fat, ground meat, butter. I just don’t gorge like the people who claim to have switched from eating 1500 calories to eating 4000 calories of meat. I couldn’t financially afford it anyway.

    Anyway I wonder if there are situations where eating more carbohydrates or concentrated source of carbs or decreasing the “heaviness” of ketosis is a good idea, like for example when you have almost no body fat to burn, when you’re extremely young or when you have Reactive Hypoglycemia (my reactive hypoglycemia didn’t improve a lot in a very low carb diet so maybe it responds better to higher carb intakes?)

    Also I wonder if you I can take advantage of this opportunity to ask you what you would suggest as the best approach to reverse Reactive Hypoglycemia.

    Thanks

  174. Hello Dr Eades

    I was wondering whether you have looked into the possible role of NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity) in regulating excessive levels of free fatty acids (induced for instance by overeating fat)? Studies like [url=http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=1693048]this one[/url] have shown a great individual variation in their tendency to stave off fat gain through such spontaneous activity.

    I had a thought about such variations in NEAT possibly being linked to insulin sensitivity and how much your levels of free fatty acids decrease as a result of insulin release when overfeeding, but haven’t found any research studying such a possible link.

    Any thoughts?

    /Colldén

    I’ve read most of the papers on NEAT and do believe it burns calories. The problem, though, is that it is an almost unconscious behavior, so I don’t see any way to harness it to help drive weight loss. I’m sure that those who eat a lot of low-carb calories increase their NEAT to get rid of those not needed for normal living.

  175. Dear Dr. Eades,

    I am 50 years old women who has been overweight for a while now. I have followed your diet exactly, for 10 weeks but I cannot get into ketosis (as per strips), nor am I loosing much weight. I am not eating many calories either and I am not cheating. I exercise regularily and am strong (weights and biking). I am metabolically healthy (as per blood tests) but have high leptin and low cortisol. My doctor thinks that I probably lack enzymes to metabolize fat.

    I have tried Atkins before, also no results. I have lost weight only once in my entire life, that was when I was exericising about 4-5hrs a day and eating LC diet with 1000 Kcal per day, not something I can repeat now (I was astudent at that time and had different schedule and energy level).

    I carry all my weight in my belly, my sister (who has been an athlete all her life and my mother also have the same body composition and problem, and we all gained weight after pregnancies, all of was had them late in life, in my case after 38).

    Any suggestions as to what to do and what could be the problem ??

    Kind regards, Ellie

    The idea that you lack the enzymes to metabolize fat is a strange one. I don’t think that is your problem, but without knowing a whole lot more, I can’t really make a recommendation. Plus, for medico-legal reasons, I can’t provide individual nutritional counseling via the internet.

    • The idea that you lack the enzymes to metabolize fat is a strange one. I don’t think that is your problem

      cant be ?,in my family we have couple peoplle ,cant take fat ,gives them symtoms of indigestion,and more .i read that one who grew op on a low fat diet ,espeacialy raw fats ,like avocado ,raw butter ,will lack digestion power to fats ,over the years ,

  176. You said:
    “biochemistry textbook authors call starvation the ‘normal’ metabolism.”

    Can you give me some sources and authors, please?

    Thanks,

    Miguel

    Look at any decent medical biochem text.

  177. Hi Dr. Eades,

    You write really well – and on so many topics. Regarding ketosis, as a dairy veterinarian I encounter ketotic cows not infrequently. Sometimes I see primary ketosis, when they are making so much milk and not taking in enough energy (negative energy balance). Mostly I see seconday ketosis due to digestive problems, such as a displaced abomasum and the cow simply has no desire to eat. If ketosis is let go too long in a cow (or other ruminant) they get “nervous ketosis” with symptoms of bizarre behavior. Basically the brain has been getting ketones too long and not its preferred energy source, glucose. My question is this: can “nervous ketosis” occur in humans that are too severely ketotic for too long?

    Second question is this: I was born with a bicuspid aortic heart valve (only 2 of the 3 leaflets). Very slight enlargement of heart right now, due to the murmur. Transesophageal echo showed a moderate-severe, eccentric murmur. This was found out when I went to my local doc to see how I could get into better shape and lose 20 pounds, without keeling over since I knew I had the murmur. You cited that ketones are the preferred fuel for the cardiac muscle – would this be good in my situation? (no coronary blockages at all, just the congentital heart valve issue).

    Thanks so much. I look forward to following your blog. I’ve never read anyone’s blog before, but lead an interesting life!

    I’ve never heard of ‘nervous ketosis’ in humans, so I doubt that it occurs. At least not as it does with cows. In my experience, most people on a ketogenic diet tend to decrease the levels of ketones in the blood after a while. I believe they become adapted to ketosis and are efficiently using ketones for fuel in many tissues.

    I’m not sure the ketones would make a great deal of difference in your situation since what you have is a mechanical problem and not a cardiac-cell energy problem. Following a low-carb, ketogenic diet would, however, help greatly in your efforts to lose 20 pounds. But I would caution you to check with your own doctor, who knows you and your condition much better than I, before starting such a regimen.

  178. Oops – I should read my writing more carefully before I hit click. Yes I know how to spell “write” (usually!). And I meant to say that *you* lead an interesting life.
    By the way, your take on observational studies is right on (i.e. the red meat / colon cancer study).
    Incidentally, folks should eat grass based dairy products and grass based beef products, local and organic if at all possible. Agree?

    HJK

    Not to worry about the typos. I try to correct those as I post the comments. The comment screen doesn’t have a spell checker but my moderation screen does, so I catch most of them.

  179. hi I aim to run a marathon end of sept…I am 5ft 3 and weigh 11 stone.my ideal running weight is 8 stone.my current fat mass is 40% and i want to half this…can i do a low carb low fat diet and still train for a marathon

    Sure. A lot of people do. It may be a little fatiguing at first, but once you adapt you may find you have more endurance.

  180. Great blog, thank you so much for all the information posted on your blog. I just bought 2 of your books from Amazon.com, Protein Power and the High Protein Low Carb diet one. I can’t wait to receive them as I am eager to read already! I am currently at a plateau for losing the last 7-8 lbs of body fat. I’m a 36 yr old female, 5’3″, and weigh about 117 lbs. ( I currently smoke about 1/2 pack ciggarettes a day)
    I believe I have adequate lean muscle mass and am not looking to gain additional muscle weight, only to maintain it. My workouts only consist on low impact stuff like speed walking with small incline on treadmill and beginner mat pilates about 3 times a week. For the past 6 weeks I’ve lost 10 lbs total while having 4cc lipo B-12 shots and taking phentermine daily to control my junk food cravings. I’ve been on a 1000 cal day diet during this time, consisting of about 40 g. protein and the rest in vegetables, fibrous grains/bread and 1/2 c. fruit a day. I am considering to begin a ketosis diet by increasing my daily protein and decreasing my carb intake.
    Would a diet of eating 2 dozen egg whites, 2 yolks, 4 oz chicken breast, 1 slice of wheat bread or equivalent carb value in vegetables and 1/2 c. low glycemic fruit (berry types) induce ketosis for me? How long would I need to do this to jumpstart ketosis? If this were to induce ketosis for me would it be helpful in burning off the last 7 lbs of fat for me?
    Thanks so much !

    I would imagine that the diet you describe would induce ketosis. In fact, I would be surprised if it didn’t. If you keep the calories at a deficit level, the ketosis should help some by a variety of mechanisms.

  181. Dr Eades, Very interesting & Informative .. Thanks.

    I am wondering if you are aware of a study that was done on survivors of concentration camps during WWII. The gist of the study suggested that the camp survivors, barring permanent physiological damage, went on to have longer life expectancies than ‘average’ persons.

    Your thoughts on this possibility, as related to permanently altering ones metabolic systems through extended near starvation would be much appreciated. Thank You.

    I’m not aware of the studies you mentioned, but I would love to read them if they exist. Anyone out there have a citation?

    I don’t know that one can permanently alter one’s metabolism after a bout of near starvation. I’ve never read any studies that even mention that, but that doesn’t mean they’re not out there. I just haven’t come across them if they are.

  182. Dear Dr Eades,

    I have been on the low carb diet now for about 3 months and i have been constipated so i sometimes take laxatives. Well this affect my diet and ketosis? Also I looked on the back at the inactive ingredients and saw that it had sugar in one and the other laxative contained corn starch. Would it be a big enough amount to affect ketosis?

    As long as the laxatives don’t contain a significant amount of carbs, it shouldn’t matter. Most people who are constipated on a low-carb diet can cure the problem by increasing their intake of fat and don’t need laxatives, however.

  183. Dear Dr.
    ive been low carbing for about 2 weeks and im down over 6 pounds already. Im drinking a ton of water and i am a runner so i havent slowed down on my running. My question is if i have one day a week where i have some “bad carbs” like bread or god forbid Pizza will that ruin everything i have accomplished. I dont plan on doing like a major high carb day just one day a week where i can satisfy my cravings. Also, what is your opinion on carb cycling. Would going in and out of Ketosis harm anything as opposed to constantly staying in ketosis. I realize there will be some water weight gained but im talking about true damage.

    thanks,

    Probably no permanent harm, but it will slow down your weight loss. I’ve not had any real experience with carb cycling other than with patients who cheat now and then on carbs. It generally slows down their progress, so based on that experience, I don’t recommend it.

    It probably does work for young people, especially young men, but I don’t think it works as well – if at all – for middle-aged people.

  184. in addition to the previous post: Basically im curious about carb cycling. What are your thoughts? My main concern is that i know eventually i would like to be able to add “good carbs” back into my diet. I have read so many articles on how if you do low carb that as soon as you start adding carbs back you gain all the lost weight back and then some.
    Your thoughts?

    • Dr. E,

      Thanks for all of the info.

      I have read through every single post and appreciate all of the info. In one of the above posts, someone asked you about the affects of Coffee/Caffeine on insulin….your response was to use the search button and read the numerous posts on Coffee…

      I did this and was not able to find anything…I just found a few posts where people mentioned drinking coffee in their diets.

      Does Caffeine increase blood sugar levels? I was jsut diagnosed as a t ype 2 diabetic and am trying to keep things under control, but I really like coffee in the morning. Can caffeine knock you out of ketosis or slow down your LC diet>?

      Thanks so much.

  185. Does fiber matter or not? I know some people say you go by net carbs but which one matters for ketosis? Im asking mainly about Boca Burgers because they say 6 carbs but 5 of them are fiber so only one net carb. Which one matters for ketosis?

    Fiber has no influence on ketosis. If the label is correct, the burgers shouldn’t affect ketosis since the actual usable carb is only a gram.

  186. This is an excerpt from “Integration of Metabolism, Energetics, and Signal Transduction”, by Robert K. Ockner
    http://www.amazon.com/Integration-Metabolism-Energetics-Signal-Transduction/dp/0306484714

    “Unfortunately, mitochondrial oxidation of ketone bodies is
    energetically less favorable than that of glucose in that they may exert an
    uncoupling-like effect on oxidative phosphorylation (ATP biosynthesis), and
    may predispose to the generation of ROS and therefore oxidative stress.
    Accordingly, in pre-empting neuronal glucose utiliztion by the neuron,
    ketone bodies may compromise neuronal energetic efficiency and, together
    with both endogenously generated and diffusible ROS exported by the fatty
    acid-oxidizing astrocyte, promote cell injury.”
    Chapter 10, page 208

    This author states that even ketones are prefered by the brain, they are not efficient and can promote different systemics disorders.

    I have been my self in a low carb diet for a while and feel great. I am trying to look deeper into the science of this kind of diet.

    Can I receive your opinion, on this, and also about the book?

    I’m not familiar with the book so I can’t really comment on it. As to the quote from the book… One of the reasons being in ketosis helps bring about weight loss is that the oxidation of ketones is energetically less favorable and ketones do exert an uncoupling effect, which allows energy to be dissipated. When energy is dissipated, fat is consumed.

    I disagree that ketones cause systemic disorders in the levels found in fasting or while following a low-carb diet. Read the book The Brain Trust by a good friend of mine who is a brain surgeon to learn about ketones and the brain.

  187. Dear Dr. Eades,

    WOW! This is the first time I’ve been to your blog, and I am hooked… I’ve been browsing now for almost an hour! This article is incredible! LOVE IT! My question is, once you decide to stop the ‘low carb’ diet, would it be safe to say that you should add your carbs back in slowly? Oh, and do you have a personal opinion about the optimum distribution of calories? Say 40% Carb, 40% Protein, 20% Fat or something like that? Hmmm… I’m going to go back and keep reading, see if the answers are already here! Thanks Again!

    Glad you’re enjoying the posts. My optimal would be more like 30 percent protein, 5-10 percent carbs, and the rest fat.

  188. Hi Dr. Eades:

    I would like to know if you are planning to answer my post from 9. July 2009, 13:02.

    Thanks

    Miguel

    Just did.

  189. Hi Dr. Eades:

    On June 2, 2008, 18:07 you answer to Kenny Williams:

    “I’m coming out with a post on this very subject within the next few days; I’ll address all these issues then.”

    Can you tell me which one is?

    thanks

    I think you’re looking for Low-carb and calories I and II.

  190. Thank you Dr. Eades! I am basically reiterating what others have already said: this post is incredibly insightful and helpful. It is clear and concise and well written for the laymen (like myself). Thank you.

    However….I am very confused. I keep reading different things from different places. For example Wikipedia and other sites says that in starvation mode fat is consumed first then (when there is no more fat remaining) then muscle is used. In your post, though, you are saying that fat is burned to liberate the fatty acids so that muscle protien can be converted into amino acids (then subsequently converted into glucose). Yet other sites say other things.

    Am I missing something or are other sites just incorrect?

    Thank you for any guidance you can give!

    Sad to say, but if Wikipedia says what you say it says (I didn’t check), Wikipedia is dead wrong (as are any sites that agree). During a long-term fast, the body breaks down fat for energy and protein for sugar. And it does it at the same time. Ketones, which are partial breakdown products of fat, replace some of the sugar in an effort to spare the muscle tissue. That’s what any medical school biochemistry textbook will tell you, and it’s true.

  191. Dr. Eades,

    Very good post. But I am having trouble with the ketosis Math.

    If an average person requires about 200 grams of glucose per day to meet all his needs. And if, after ketosis, this requirement drops to 130g grams of glucose per day. We can conclude that the ketones replace 70 grams of carbohydrate (or 280 calories) per day. Is that correct?

    That’s pretty much correct.

  192. hi dr

    Again just wanted to say thanks for this post, I have read it all,
    I just wanted to know, is high fat needed to enter ketosis?? For
    Example eating a low/ no carb diet with average fat?? Or is more
    Dierty fat needed?
    Also if I did calorie cycling, would that stop my metabolisming
    Dropping on low calorie & low carb together??

    Thanks again

    Tundet

    A lowered carb intake (or fasting) is what it takes to get into ketosis. If you eat a ton of fat along with a lot of carb, you won’t get into ketosis. The restriction of carbs is more important than the amount of fat.

  193. Hello Dr,

    Is there a calculation that i can use to see how many calories i need to create a calorie deficit so stored fat is used for energy?

    Thanks for your time

    There are many calorie counters on the web. Here’s one that looks pretty good. Just give it the info it asks for and calculate. Reduce calories from there.

  194. I do not believe we evolved. The body is a wonderfully designed machine. It’s no wonder then, to those of us who know there IS a God, that ketosis exists. God is good.

  195. War, disease and human suffering are terrible. It’s no wonder then, to those of us who suffered disease or the loss of loved ones, know that there is either no god at all or a god that is vicious and cynical. Let’s face it; we are on our own. Nobody other than us look after us. The universe is a very hostile environment, never meant for life. Life on earth is a happy accident. Unintended, but great. Just enjoy the ride.

  196. “I do not believe we evolved. The body is a wonderfully designed machine. It’s no wonder then, to those of us who know there IS a God, that ketosis exists.” (Sandi Penn)

    Ketosis exists in ALL creatures’ bodies that have a brain, heart, liver and blood–it is NOT a strictly human condition. That said, this discussion belongs elsewhere…Andre.(Mr. War, disease and human suffering)

  197. I do agree that this discussion belongs elsewhere. But I don’t need it. It’s just that Sandi Penn tried to turn it into a religious one and I couldn’t help but react. Using the phrase ‘those of us who know’ is arrogant. Guess that’s what triggered me. Sorry.

  198. When your body is in the state of ketosis does it have any negative effects on the kidney and liver or any other organs?

    No, not if it’s normal ketosis such as that produced by fasting or a low-carb diet.

  199. I started a new eating regime on Monday (today is Wed). It’s based on a book call Core Balance. I am basically eating protein, veges, fruits, good fats, and only a few carbs (wild rice). This is much different than my previous diet. I actually have been feeling really good these past few days, but have experienced (almost immediately) this bad taste in my mouth and sometimes a mild headache. After searching in the internet I found your posting and it explained that I must be in ketosis! I’m wondering how long it will be before the bad taste in my mouth goes away? Is that mainly from toxins trying to get out of my body? I am really enjoying the food I’m eating, and want to continue, AND this taste in my mouth is VERY annoying. I’m also just a bit confused and want to be sure I’m not sending my body into a state where it thinks it needs to hold ON to the weight (starvation mode), instead of shed it. Also, should I get some of those strips and see where my levels are? What is normal and what is too much? Appreciate your answers back. Thanks!

  200. Hi… I have read all of the posts in regard to weight gain while in ketosis, but I still have a question. Is it possible to within the first week gain a few pounds and THEN begin losing? Plus, I seem to be hungry a lot and today (5th day in) I got so hungry I got a terrible headache! For simplicity and convenience I drink probably one to two Muscle Milks a day… which do have some carbs. I am trying to go completely carb free for a while, at least in the beginning, but it is kind of hard since even protein drinks have carbs. At this point I will start just cooking chicken, fish, beef, and pork and eating just that. Do you think the protein drinks are throwing me off? Also, would it benefit me to have maybe a one cup serving of mixed frozen veggies, or would that throw me off, too? Oh, and one more thing… how much fat is too much on this plan? Thanks so much in advance!!! I truly appreciate your insight!!! Davina =)

  201. Ive been on a low carb diet for a year now and have had much success! Being hypoglycemic my blood sugar has completely stabilized and stays that way as long as I avoid grains of all kinds and refined sugar…however lately I have had several days of constipation followed by heavy diarrhea. My stomach makes lots of noise but I am not cramping like with typical diarrhea. I havent had a gall bladder in 13yrs so I tried avoiding high fat meats (such as pepperoni) thinking my fat intake was too high. Yet my GI is still cycling like this every few days for over a month now… any suggestions?

    By the way avoiding all grains and sugar daily has stopped all my cravings and I dont ever even want them anymore…Hooray!

  202. Hello Dr.,

    I have been attempting the Paleo diet, but was wondering if I am doing it the right way.
    For breakfast I eat 3 whole eggs and 1 cup of strawberries
    For lunch and supper: 5oz of chicken breast with 1 tablespoon of canola oil and 1cup of cooked broccoli.
    Two snacks during the day, consisting of 1/4 cup of blueberries and 1/4 cup of walnuts.
    My goal is to just lose body fat. Will this occur if I continue to follow the above diet?

  203. Hi what are the breath analyzers you mentioned and are they better than the ketostix? Also how much would the ketone levels change in urine during the day, is there a better time to measure? Thanks!

  204. Hi Dr. Eades–I have a few questions for you! :)

    1) I”m seriously considering going LC after trying many high-carb diets without success (this will be an experiment for me since I’m a marathon runner and every other runner I’ve ever mentioned this to thinks I’m nuts for trying it and won’t be able to get through training!). Theoretically, if I eat enough protein (I’m 5’9″, female, about 180lbs at the moment, so I figure ~150g), and limit the remainder of my calories (so basically just eat the ~600 cals from the protein), that will maximize my fat loss while sparing my muscle, right? And hopefully exercising regularly (both running and strength training) will limit the metabolic slowdown?

    2) In terms of being ‘blocked up’, from the posts I’ve read above, it seems that you think fat is preferable to fiber? Would 2g of fish oil a day be enough, in your estimation?

    3) I take a potassium-sparing diuretic for HBP…would this be enough to offset the potassium supplements you recommend, or would additional potassium still prove beneficial?

    4) Last question! In order to get through my runs, I plan on taking in ~45 g of carbs 30 minutes before I work out (and more during, if I need it). If I ensure that the CHO are from glucose or sucrose and not fructose (primarily), how much will this set me back in terms of weight loss (assuming this happens nearly every day)? I’m trying to lose ~40 lbs in 2 months (which may not be realistic, but I’m hoping!).

    Thanks so much, and I really enjoy reading your blog!

  205. Dr. Eades,

    Do you have any information about ketone and burning fat conversion? I know ketones in the urine give a clear indication that you are metabolizing fat. But what amount? Thanks a lot.

    Tammy

  206. Greetings Doctor, quite a forum you got going on:) Very informative. I am looking for a professional opinion… since diet is mainly protein and fat, according to many sources, it increases your blood’s acidity and calcium is taken from bones to reduce acid levels. Question is: If that is true, how dangerous it is and how to prevent future bone density decrease? will extra intake of calcium supplements be of any use?

  207. Could you explain how eating a lot of Saturated fat is ok on PP ? I just cant bring myself to eat the saturated fats, im fine with flaxseed oil and i eat a lot of chicken and fish and fat from almonds etc but i have a very hard time eating saturated fats. It scares me.

  208. Dear Dr Eades:

    I have enjoyed your books greatly. I was on your diet for five months, keeping the carbs between 10 and 55. My total Cholesterol dropped from 271 to 161 and my Triglycerides dropped from 310 to 73. A side benefit was that I dropped from 230lbs to 205lbs and reduced my BF about 20%. All this while having bacon five times a week as well as a much higher fat intake then before from nuts; I did not count calories at all. The best part for me was that I broke my dependency on carbs for my emotional well being.

    My question concerns the symptoms of ketosis. Prior to dieting, I have had strange bouts of “motion sickness” for lack of a better term. If you have every been really car sick you know what I mean – the hot flashes, the sweating clamminess, the reticence to turn your head or divert your gaze, and the nausea that seems to start in the high chest – throat area (as opposed to the stomach/abdomen nausea that you feel with the flu). I would get one that would last a couple of hours maybe once every two months. My PC Physician thinks it is allergy related (become Benadryl helps sometimes), the neurologist diagnosed it as migraine (without the symptom of the severe headache presenting), and I suspect either sinus problems (I have only about 10% balance in my left ear, which could exacerbate the situation) or aspartame, which I tend to use more of when dieting. One of the more odd features of the motion sickness is that, instead of wanting to avoid foods, I find myself craving sweets.

    Stupidly, I went off the diet for a month and “carbed it up” knowing I was going to go back on. I did so on September 2nd and, after about 2 days noticed some fairly extreme fatigue, but this was expected. However, things got worse during this Labor Day weekend. I had the motion sickness feeling, in varying degrees from September 4th to the 9th. None of the medicine I tried seemed to help. After a couple of days, my wife noticed that my “ketosis breath” was very strong. I also notice something I thought was odd. The ill feelings that I had worsen upon exhalation or holding before breathing in. The symptoms actually subsided (for a very short period) while I was inhaling deeply.

    Although, everything I have read about ketosis says that the symptoms are relatively mild and are usually just fatigue and breath issues. Could ketosis be the cause of the motion sick feeling? Could ketosis be excerbating one to the other potential candidates?

    I understand that, as my body adapts to burning fat, the ketosis symptoms will subside, but I am going back in to my doctor and would like to know if this may simply be a “bad case” of ketosis.

    Thank you for your time and your program.

  209. Hello and thank you for such an informative site.
    A low carb diet/lifestyle is so opposite to the things we have been taught. I am grateful for the clear descriptions of the physiology of how and why LC works.
    I am 10 days in (and have lost 7 pounds) on my LC diet with a goal of losing 40 pounds. Once I got past the first 3 days of transition it has been easy.
    It has been a pleasure reading the posts and I am sure it will be a source of reassurance as I progress.
    Thanks again
    J

    My pleasure.

  210. I have been sticking to a low cab diet for 3 weeks now and have not lost 1 lb. I did this diet several years ago
    and lost 40lbs in 3 months. I am in Ketosis and not cheating at all …. whats up with that???

  211. After one has been on a ketone diet for an extended period of time what are the dangers of Refeeding Syndrome occuring should one suddenly go back to a high carb diet?

  212. Dr. Eades:
    I work at a weightloss clinic which uses a high protein/low carb diet. Usually this causes a pronounced weight loss the first two weeks, then a slow 2-3 lbs./week loss. In years of practice with thousands of patients we have seen no complications from this technique.
    Sometimes our patients stop losing weight without dietary indiscretions. It has been suggested that they are in “starvation mode” and storing fat in direct violation of our instructions.
    Regardless of the cause, do you have suggestions to help these people? They are very frustrated.
    Thanks,

    Paul DeLeeuw MD

    The problem you describe is actually fairly common, and it’s usually caused by too many calories. I’ve written a few posts on this subject that you can read here, here and here. Hope this helps.

  213. Hi Dr. Eades,

    It was while looking up ‘Ketosis’ that I stumbled onto your site. Thanks for all the posts as everything is now a lot clearer.

    I recently joined a weight loss program and for the first time in a very long time am losing weight and feeling all the better for it. So far I have lost 40 pounds in 10weeks. Within one week on the program the swelling in my lower legs and feet was nearly gone. 2 weeks later I could walk properly as my knee was hardly giving me problems. Walking has since become a pleasure and not a chore.
    Your article on ketosis breath was also very interesting as I notices this earlier on in the program. Waking up during the night was terrible as I has this awful taste in my mouth! This has now gladly diminished.
    However I went to the hospital today as I was feeling weak and lightheaded. After a few tests they told me that all the bloodwork was fine and that the inly thing that they could find was that my body was in “Ketosis” due to the diet.
    What can one do to prevent this feeling? Maybe something lacking in the diet?
    I find that I eat well.
    High Protein bar for breakfast,
    High Protein soup or stew or scrambled eggs, (all prepackaged) for lunch accompanied by vegetables and salad as well as half a tsp of unprocessed sea salt, 2tblsp virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
    For my evening meal 200g of fish or 140g chicken or lean meat again with vegetables and salad. A protein snack is required either in the afternoon or in the evening.
    Any comments will be appreciated.
    Thanks

  214. I’ve had several people question your assertion that the body only converts protein on an as-needed basis. Is there any literature I can point them to that shows this conclusively?

  215. Great Information! I am following a low carb diet/ high protien, and thus far it is proving to work. I have only been doing this a week & 1/2 & I have lost 4 lbs already. Not sure if this is fat, water weight, or what. But, I did pee on the stick today, and it showed that my body is in ketosis.

    Question: If I stay at the dark purple on a regular basis…Could I be burning muscle rather than fat?

    -Crystal

  216. Hi, Dr. Eades. I know this is a lot but I didn’t want to multi-post. Firstly, I want to say that it was a pleasure reading your article – and I’m pleasantly surprised that not only do people still leave comments (two years after you published this article) but that you still respond to them! It gives me hope that you may get around to answering my questions.

    I have some questions: 1) I’ve been on a diet of around six meals a day, with each meal being about 50% low-GI carbs, 30% healthy fats, and 20% protein. I weight-lift 6 days a week and I have been eating around 2000 calories. Being a 5′ 10″ male, I lost about 2 lbs a week. I could see that I was gaining some lean muscle everywhere, while losing fat around the belly. I was hungry all the time and I knew that my basal metabolism rate was getting higher. After about 8 weeks, I started eating more calories to curb the weight loss, as I didn’t want to lose any more pounds. I was wondering: is ketosis not the only way to lose fat and gain lean muscle mass? That is, would I continue to lose fat and gain muscle mass by continuing my diet, with the same ratio of carbs-to-fats-to-proteins as I wrote above, just with more calories per day? It seems both the ketosis diet that you write about and the diet I have been on have similar effects at least in the short-run and I’d like that explained.

    2) how does a ketosis diet affect the basal metabolism? I know one isn’t starving on the ketosis diet, and as long as one is building muscle, I assume that basal metabolism can only go up.

    3) what are the long-term effects of ketosis on the liver? is it bad? it seems one would be working the liver a lot.

    4) what would be the dietary plan for someone looking to gain a good amount of muscle mass – is it possible while in ketosis? I heard that a high-GI carb intake is necessary post-workout in order to induce an insulin spike that would help glycogen and amino acids rush into the muscles that need repairing – is that true/necessary and how would that work in a state of ketosis?

    5) will the body produce enough glycogen for the muscles after exercise, if one is in a state of ketosis?

    I look forward to your reply – explanations will be much appreciated.

  217. I am an 80 year old type 2 diabetic on insulin (Humalog and Lantus). I have been on a low carb diet since sept 1 and have lost 10 lbs so far. However, I noticed a week ago that my BG has gone up, i.e., my insulin requirement has increased. Whereas I used to have an average BG of about 97 fasting and 102 otherwise, I’m now running something like 115 – 125. What do you think is causing this? Thanks

  218. Wow, very informative and useful I am on day three of a low carb diet W8forlife and initially had headaches but today I feel really energised and positive.

    Years ago I was diagnosed with IBS and went off the rails and completly cut out carbs and starchy foor within 6 weeks I went from being 10st 7lbs to 7st 2lbs the result was all my symptons went away – since then I met a wonderful italian partner and of course its pasta pasta pasta in the diet and have sadly got back in the 10’s. I am hoping that i can get my weight back down then manage the amount of carbs (pasta!) to a fistful a day.

    Do you think that my weight will maintaine if I were to use that as a rule of thumb – I amno good with grammes etc.

    Thanks.

    Liv.

  219. I have a question about ketosis, and forgive me if you’ve addressed it already but there are alot of posts here and I haven’t read them all…

    I was skimming through “Enter the Zone” By Barry Shears, Ph.D., and he states something about ketosis that seems to conflict with everything else I’ve read about the subject (i.e. Atkins, South Beach, etc). He states (in a nutshell) that high protien, low carb diets induce an “abnormal metaboilic state known as ketosis”, and that “the body has no use for these.. abnormal biochemicals known as ketone bodies. [The body] tries like mad to get rid of them through increased urination.” He states that, essentially “…the vast bulk [of] weight loss is merely water.” He goes on to say that in this case you are “losing the wrong KIND of weight”, that too much protien raises insulin levels(!), and even that “…ketonigenic diets may cause changes in the fat cells, making them 10 times more active in sequestering fat than they were when they went on the diet”. Can you tell me if there is any truth in this, is this antiquated thinking, or merely a way to compete with the Atkins book?

    Thank you in advance,
    Steve

  220. Dr. Eades,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to answer questions. Mine is concerning the logistics dieting down.

    I’m on a cyclical ketogenic diet, and I’ve been eating 25g fat and 25g protein (0g carbs) each meal for a total of 1950kcal with 6 meals/day or 2275kcal with 7 meals/day.

    I’m an active 19 year old with a resting metabolic rate of probably around 3000cal/day. Could I be more aggressive with a larger calorie deficit or am I already pushing it right now?

    The last thing I want is to eat too little and decrease leptin levels. I refeed generously with a 24-36hr carb load on weekends anyways so I doubt my body will think I’m starving myself.

    All-in-all is there a limit you would place on a caloric deficit?

  221. Hi,
    Liked your explaination and answered alot of those questions I had. I was wondering if you have heard of the Medifast diet. Limited Carb intake. Basically in consist of eating 5 of the Medifast prdoucts which are around 100 cal each with (approx) high protien 11g, low carb12g, fiber 4g and fats 0.5-3g. Then to eat a LEAN/GREEN MEAL which is 5-7 oz of meat, poultry or fish with approx 1 1/2 cups green veggie of some kind. Calorie intake for me is anywhere between 800-1000 a day. Eating a product or your lean green meal every 2-3 hrs. (increases your metabolism?) Average about 70-75 g of carbs a day. I have read by following this an individual is put into a mild ketosis thus the individual loses wt. I have been on this diet since Oct 8th 2009 and have lost a total of 12 lbs. Is this a healthy way to eat? Do you have anything to comment on about this type of Diet. If I were to “cheat” and eat higher carb content how much time does it take for you to get back into ketosis?

  222. A great google find, thanks.

    For a keto diet, do you have to be active during the day more or less, or would you still get results with your standard ‘sitting at desk’ during the day, and weekly doing 3x 90min evening weights workouts, and 3x 30min morning spin workouts ?

    As far as meals go, is it the same technique as a normal diet with metabolism in mind – eat little and regularly throughout the day ? like snacking on low carb cheese in the afternoon

    one more thing. could you confirm the TKD method for workout days, of loading say 30g carbs before a workout and 30g after at all ? and i assume another 20-30g carbs during the rest of the day

  223. I have a question which I am DYING to know the answer to, as I am sure many hypertensives are… What is the effect of an increase in fat, derived from sources such as beef, chicken and pork, on the heart and arteries, when in Ketosis? Can consuming a high fat, high protein, VLC diet create issues pertaining to the build up of fatty deposits or anything that can harm the arteries? When I told my GP I was going on the Atkins diet, he freaked out, telling me that the excessive amounts of fat would contribute to heart problems. I have been eating things like chicken (skin on), beef, eggs, some salad, but mainly foods with high protein, high fat content. Am I losing weight = good, but clogging arteries=bad ?

  224. I read somewhere that if your on a low carb plan like atkins, you arent supposed to work out too hard because your body runs out of oxygen and will then not burn as much fat? Is this true? will working too hard on a low carb diet actually make us burn less fat?

  225. On behalf of everyone, thank you very much for putting in the time to have this blog and even answer people’s questions. I’ve read most of the comments.

    My questions is, I always hear about the ways to tell if you’re in ketosis. I’ve heard that the brain feels foggy at the beginning. I’ve also heard that there is a funny taste in the mouth (as mentioned above), and strong smelling urine. Is it possible to be in ketosis and have none of these effects and feel no differently than any other time (i.e. a high carb diet)? I expected my energy levels to drop, but I’ve experienced no changes.

  226. Hi Dr. Eades, thank you for making ketosis simpler to understand for us non-biochemists-MDs.

    Would it be possible to achieve maximum absolute fat loss by only meeting glucose energy requirements (through GNG)? Meaning, eat only ~130g of glucose through protein energy (~520 kcal?), where the rest of the body’s energy requirements are met through its own catabolism. OK it’s extreme and probably not recommended, but maybe some of us who had to drop those last few pounds yesterday could tolerate a day of this on occasion. Or if there’s a different diet composition that might achieve serve this purpose faster, what might it look like?

    Thank you

    (and I found a great article that confirms everything you wrote here)

  227. Dear Dr.

    Thank you so much for your article I am learning a lot from reading it.
    I have a one year old Grand daughter with non ketotic hypogyemia. We have been able to sustain her sugar levels during the day with 50% organic carrot juice 50% pure water in a bottle. But at night when she’s sleeping she will have seizures because of the lack of glycogen. At least that is what her metabolic dr. told us. He has said to try to keep her sugar levels above 70. He also said to feed her corn starch in milk at night to help sustain her through the night but she is allergic to it and it puts her into hyper mode.In the mornings her readings are anywhere from 38 to 50. once in the early morning after a seizure her sugar was 72. I have been searching for an answer to this problem. I know it is dangerous for her brain. She is behind in her development. Can you give me some information that will be helpful. She is losing all her baby fat and has diarrhea continually. I’m really worried and praying and searching for answers. Can you help me?

  228. Dr. Eades,

    Thanks for your response to my question a couple months ago about my heart condition (bicuspid aortic valve and bounding pulse (130/50). As a veterinarian working with dairy cows, it is common knowledge that a ketotic cow (whether primary or secondary) has lower immune function since there is not enough energy to run the immune system essentially. Is this true also in humans?
    Thank you,
    Hubert Karreman, VMD

    Not true with humans. Mild ketosis probably enhances the immune system as long as the ketosis isn’t secondary to starvation, in which case it probably wouldn’t be mild.

  229. Kim, I have been on a low carb diet for 7 years…look forward to another 7 years of eating this way. I am dealing with much less inflammation. I work more efficiently on low carb and I have no desire to feel my body return to its old self ( pre-Atkins). So many people miss out on the true benefits of Protein Power and other low carb/ketogenic diets because so many myths have been passed around.

  230. Dear Dr. Eades,

    please let me know if there is scientific data on how cancer cells utilize the ketons. Do the cancer cells use them as efficiently as healthy non-cancerous cells? In another words, could people starve the cancer cells (tumors) a bit with keton – low carb diet? Could you provide a reference on the subject question?

    Thanks, Peter Strnad from the Czech Republic

  231. http://www.newtreatments.org/Cancer%20Treatment/ga/366

    The link above suggests that cancer cells – with their disfunctional mitochondria – should have difficulty with using ketones for energy. The article claims that research has shown that calorie restrictions and the ketogenic diet can reduce cancer.

    From other sources I learned that free radicals can be a cause of cancer by destroying the respitory chain in the mitochondria. We also know that ketones reduce ROS production AND increases glutatione levels (your most powerfull anti-oxidant). Combining these points, it seems the ketogenic diet could certainly be preventive for cancer,

  232. Hi – i hope you can explain something to me. I am on LighterLife, and have lost 52lbs in 4 months. I work out 3/4 times a week, a mix of cardio and weights and if I have had a big workout (burning 700+ cals) then I sometimes have 100g chicken as well as my 4 LL packs. I’ve noticed that when I work out a lot, I sometimes don’t lose much weight that week, and when I don’t exercise as much, I can lose more. I’m very keen to maintain muscle tone but I’m quite confused as to whether eating the protein post workout is a good thing or not. I try to drink 3L water a day (it’s tough!). Can you clarify whether there’s any benefit to eating the protein in being able to keep losing weight but maintain/improve muscle? I’m also conscious that exercising may help raise my metabolic rate, helping ketosis (am I right here?) – thanks for your advice in advance!

    I’m not familiar with LL, so I don’t really have a clue as to what you’re consuming. I do know that increasing protein intake can, when combined with resistance training, build muscle mass. Muscle mass weighs, so it would make sense that you might not lose as much on weeks you work out. But if you’re replacing fat with muscle, who cares?

  233. Dr Eades
    Can you tell me if taking supps like Vitamin D, Fish Oil or Fiber can knick you out of Ketosis. Can they prevent you from getting into Ketosis or do can they just affect the reading on the test strips? I’m having trouble getting into Ketosis and am trying to figure out why.

    The vitamin D and fish oil shouldn’t take you out of ketosis. It depends what’s in with the fiber.

  234. Dr. Eades,

    Do you know of anyone else who can conciously controls the cycles. Ketonic state moderate production of keyotons, unaffecated by carb consumption and sugar consuption.

    BB

    I don’t understand exactly what it is you’re asking.

    • are there herbs that can help you bring into ketonic state. altough not so restricted of carbs ?i know there are ,but would like to know thier power in that ,and a full list of comlete formula ,then we can have both worlds ,glyconutrients for the immune system ,anti oxidents from fruits ,and still protected from the age’s effect .

  235. I was on a low carb diet for a few months and ate a lot of meat and fat, something like 2500 calories with carbs at <100 g. I'm 80 yrs old, weigh 200 lbs (5' 6"). I lost some weight [10 lbs] but then hit a plateau then gained wt up to 206. Would age have much to do with the efficiency of a LC diet?

  236. I’ve read your thoughts on the limitation of keytones for the purposes of high intensity cardio performance but what do you think happens from a fat burning perspective during high intensity cardio? I’ve always performed intense circuit training (>180bpm) on traditional diets and plan on continuing while on keto. My question is would I be better off to keep it moderate (<130bpm) instead for maximum fat burning and muscle sparring?

    It has always been my understanding (and experience) that high intensity bursts raise your overall metabolism for a considerable period after the exercise as opposed to gentle longer cardio sessions.

    I'm not concerned with performance….just the fat burning and muscle sparring.

    Thanks for this page and all your thoughts!

    I might push it a little to see how I feel. Just remember, you need to adapt for at least a few days before you can get back to where you started endurance-wise, but it should get better from there. Take a look at this article for more info.

  237. Could ketosis cause irritation/pressure of the urethra or an urge to pee? Our family of four has been moving to low carb for a couple months, but just recently began a very low-carb diet (about a week ago). We’re all definitely experiencing ketosis. And two of us (mom and daughter) are noticing this urethra issue. I (dad) feel a slight irritation as well. It doesn’t seem like a typical UTI or yeast infection.

    It’s not really a problem I’ve encountered. At least no one has complained of it out of the thousands of patients on low-carb diets I’ve cared for. The only reason I can think of is that the urine may be a little more acid than usual. You could try drinking a little baking soda stirred in water to see if that helps. If it does, then the increased acidity is more than likely the cause.

    Anyone else out there have a similar experience?

    • I have experienced a much higher rate of elimination but no noticeable irritation. Several times (5-6) a day and at night (at least once). This is nearly double my pre-ketosis rate.

      I am attributing this to increased water intake as well as increased sodium and water elimination. If I back off on the water intake my elimination rate decreases, but I need the high water intake to flush out the by-products of ketosis.

    • Dr. Eades, thank you for your response. It’s the most reasonable I’ve received since asking around. I’ve since bought your books and see the emphasis you put on potassium/magnesium supplementation in the first week of lowering carbs. We did not do this. In addition, we increased the amount of fermented foods and beverages we were eating and began consuming more broths (beef and chicken).

      Considering these things: the drop in insulin triggering more uric acid in the blood, an increase in lacto-fermented foods and whatever probiotic/acidifying effect they may have in the body, plus a failure to increase potassium or other minerals to counter the additional lost in urination — does this sound like the “perfect storm” to you for acidifying urine to the point of burning the bladder/urethra?

      If so, what would you suggest now help heal the bladder? We’re still low carb, but have backed off the broths and added in some “alkalizing foods” — bananas and potatoes, for instance. Would potassium supplementation six weeks into the diet still be helpful? Would it have any effect on the sore bladder? Any other tips on soothing/healing a bladder injured by acidity?

      • I also want to run another possibility by you — that the mild burning sensation we’re feeling is not from any burning to the liner of the bladder at all; rather, it is fatigue of the smooth muscle of the bladder caused by low potassium. In this case, would you say the 500mg daily supplement of potassium is a good level to correct this?

      • I’m not convinced that it’s acidity that is the problem. You might want to check with a urologist and get a urine analysis to see what is really going on. If you want to reduce the acidity you could add some diet cranberry juice, which should alkalize things nicely. Potassium supplementation after the first six weeks isn’t a problem.

  238. I have just been prescribed 1000 mg of metformin because of high blood sugar A1c of 11….I was told that i have keotosis. When I read the metformin warnings it says do not use if a person becomes acidic.
    They use the term lactic acid…what is the difference between being acid because of keotones and lactic acid? Isn’t it all acid in the blood?

    • These are questions you should discuss with the doctor who prescribed the metformin. Lactic acidosis is a rare but serious condition some people – mainly those with kidney disease – experience when taking metformin. It has nothing to do with ketosis.

  239. Your site is most helpful. I have been on low carb diet for 7 weeks and lost 32 lbs so far – great. However I have terrible muscle cramps all over my body. Could you give me a reason for this and a cure. I really do not want to go off the diet as this is the first that has worked for me.

    • There could be any number of reasons, but the most likely is a low potassium level. Low-carb reduces insulin levels quickly, lowered insulin releases excess fluid from the kidneys, this fluid carries potassium with it. I always give my own patients a prescription dose of potassium when they start the diet. Federal regs limit the amount of potassium in OTC supplements to 99 mg per tab. Four to five of these OTC potassium tabs equals a prescription dose. But if you are taking certain medicines for high blood pressure, you should check with your physician before taking potassium.

  240. Hi Dr. Michael,

    I’ve been dropping what averages to a pound a day and want to make sure this is safe. I’m not starving myself, eating lots of protein, with carbs coming only from breading on chicken, or some vegetables or noodles from canned soup. I am of great physical health – no history of life threatening in my family. I’m also working out 2 hours a day, 5 days a week, a combination of 1 hour cardio, 1/2 hour strength training and 1/2 hour yoga.

    I am just slightly concerned about the pound a day – although I’m not complaining – I just want to make sure I’m not damaging my health in any way. Also, when I measure myself, it seems the weight is coming off primarily in my hips and buttocks area – very little from my waist or arms. Is there a reason for this? Or is it because the thighs are the biggest muscle group?

    Lastly, I am 10 pounds away to reaching my ideal body weight. How do you suggest I go about reintroducing carbs (like brown rice which I used to eat almost daily) back into my diet without risking weight gain?

    Thank you in advance for your counsel.

    • I suspect your weight loss will slow down fairly quickly as you approach your goal weight. If you were overweight before while you were eating brown rice every day, then lost weight when you quit eating brown rice every day, why would you want to reintroduce it? I don’t think you can go back to eating the same amount of brown rice you ate in the past without either sacrificing other carbs to keep your intake low or regaining your lost weight. I would use brown rice as an occasional treat.

  241. About 3 weeks ago started a diet in which my caloric intake is only 600 calories per day. My regimen consists of morning 7:00 am, i take a protein shake, a multi-vitamin, a potassium pill, an appetite suppressant, a thyroid pill, and a chromium picolinate pill. I am retricted to lean meats, nothing fried or processed. I can not eat vegetables, but in rare instances. If I consume vegetables, 4 oz only twice per day, no brocolli, green beans, onions, I can mushrooms, cauliflower, green peppers, I can eat and egg that equal 100 calories, that is considered a meal. I must eat 6 times per day, every 3 1/2 hours, either with 3oz of lean meat, 100 calorie egg, Protein Shake, or 100 calorie Protein Bar. I must end my night a Protein Shake. Thus far, I have lost 20 lbs. I initially started out at 290. I am down to 269. I just happen to stumble across this website, while researching information about Ketosis. I have tried every diet known to man. My insurance will not pay for the gastric, I am desperate to lose weight, I have tried personal training, every thing. This is the only thing that I have found to work. I just wanted to know realistically how long can my body stay in ketosis without hurting my organs, or organ functions. Also soliciting any comment about my current regimen

    • Since ketosis is not an unnatural state, you can probably stay on it for a long, long time. Given your regimen, with the thyroid medications and all, I trust you are under the care of a physician trained in the care of overweight people. If not, I would suggest you find one if you plan to continue this regime for long.

  242. Thank you for this information it is extremely helpful and educational in my understanding of nutrition and how our body processes food. My question is, if someone already has a fairly compromised liver via health issues how “taxing” is the process of gluconeogensis on the liver as opposed to other functions the liver would normally perform on a daily basis. I’m assuming that the liver would not perform the process of gluconeogensis as much unless on a restricted carb diet?

    I was told that this kind of diet wouldn’t be good for someone with an already compromised liver.

    • I don’t think gluconeogenesis is a hardship for the liver at all – it’s one of the liver’s primary jobs. I don’t know what is taxing the liver you’re talking about, but if it’s fatty infiltration alcohol-driven or other wise, the low-carb diet is the best choice.

  243. I stay thin (BMI 20.5) no matter what I eat (it is a healthy diet but not very low in carbs.)

    However, I am now trying to follow a lower carb. diet. Friends who have a weight gain problem and use it for weight control have convinced me that it is probably good for the health of other people too.

    Can you suggest a target carbohydrate intake which I should aim for, such as a maximum percent of total energy or maximum intake in grams per day, assuming a diet of 2,000 kcal.? (restricting it to 60 grams probably means too much change in diet for me.)

    Thank you for your work. It has definitely helped at least three people who I know here in the UK to escape morbid

  244. Greetings and thank you for all of the great info! I want you to know that I appreciate your time and effort maintaining this string for so long with such great info. I appreciate your patience as evident in answering repeat questions.

    I have read the entire blog. I have recently been grilled by my wife as to the potential for developing a “fatty liver syndrome”? I hadn’t seen anything posted prior to now about this. If it is a repeat question, I’ll keep looking.

    Thanks for your dedication to getting excellent information out to the masses.

  245. Dr,

    If you can help me with some insight. When on ketosis, would using an infrared sauna assist in burning of more fat as it brings the heart rate up? Definitely, drinking plenty of water to ensure I wont get dehydrated.

    • I’ve never been a believer in the notion that one could lose weight from sitting in a sauna. An increased heart rate really doesn’t have a lot to do with weight loss.

  246. I am sure that your wife is concerned about the fats that we indulge in on the low carb diet. Here is a link I found regarding fatty liver. It acutally states that meds used to treat diabetes are being used to treat fatty liver. Here’s another solution the low carb diet which does the same thing. in addition to that, the high fructose corn syrup is a major culprit to the root cause. I learned that from Dr. Eades by the way. 😉

    http://www.liverfoundation.org/education/info/fattyliver/

  247. Dr,

    I would like to thank you for all this very much needed information. I have been battling my weight for quite some time now and am quite glad that I found out about the ketogenic diet. It seems to work as I have lost 3 pounds in one week which was a hard achievement before. I usually had to run miles and miles to achieve the same result.

    My question to you is regarding the fact that as I am losing this weight, I realize that my fat (visceral, thigh, lower back) is softening. I have mixed feelings towards this phenomenon. I sometimes tell myself that I am turning into jello or that the KD is really working and that fat needs to soften first before it is eliminated from the body.

    I have been researching the net for this answer but could not find anything really stating that softening of fast was a necessary event before true reduction of fat percentage.

    Thanks again for all the info Dr. G.

    • as i lose weight i notice that my hard, full of fat belly and thighs are turning softer and flabbier. the belly that was out like a pregnant woman is turning into a “skirt” . i believe its because we had the skin stretched and full of fat and water, and as we are depleting both, the skin deflates.

  248. Hi, Great blog. So, can you explain why I have this overwhelming feeling of nausea after being on the South Beach Diet for a week? Specifically, how do ketones cause nausea, scientifically.

    Thanks!

  249. I think your fat is softer because your skin hasn’t shrunk yet and maybe your fat cell envelopes themselves are “emptier.” I know what you’re talking about, I just thought it must be a matter of pressure in the system being reduced until the body adapts by tightening up the connective tissues.

    M

  250. Thanks for the reply Dr.
    I don’t think that the fat is literally softening, but I thought that as one is losing fat, there is evidently less fat mass, hence, less firmness.
    I am definitely looking better and probably lost an inch off my waste. I just wanted to know if this phenomenon was normal or not.
    I now have another question for you Dr. Should one follow a ketogenic diet for one full month, do you have any estimate figure on how much body fat (weight) he or she can eliminate?
    I do know that it really depends on the individual gene, metabolism rate and current weight; but do you have some type of way of estimating it?
    I would really appreciate your answers. Again, thanks for taking the time to update this blog as often as you do. This is a great service to people such as myself.

    Sincerely,
    G.

  251. Just thought I would provide some supporting feedback for Guy. I have been on CKD for 3 weeks and dropped about 10lbs of bodyfat and I’ve definitely noticed what appears to be a softening of the remaining fat. Kind of weird.

    I’m 35 and an active bodybuilder at about 19% bf, currently at 182lbs from 192 and shooting for 175 so another couple weeks for me.

    So there you go, at least one other person noticed the same phenomenon.

    Dave

  252. Thanks. That was informative. Sorry to be a wudge, but there were two typos that take away from your message:

    “Your a Paleolithic man or woman”

    “which reduce the need for glucose and sparing the muscle in the process.”

    should be

    which reduce the need for glucose and spare the muscle in the process.

    or

    which reduce the need for glucose, sparing the muscle in the process.

  253. Dr. Eades, it has been nearly 3 years that I began my version of IF. I fast for 20 hours and eat within a 4 hour window. This basically boils down to eating 2 meals a day. Sometimes I shake up the fast by eating my fast-breaking meal in the morning and supper in th evening. I don’t do it to shake up my fast, I do it because of my crazy schedule. I also choose 3 days a week where I have one meal instead of two. I have lost neatly 40 lbs, Doc. I would like to add that upon increasing my vitamin D3, I quickly lost 7 lbs which brought my loss from 33 to 40 lbs.. I am not an athlete in the least but I have a nice figure and not flabby at all. I am also using it to treat pre-diabetes along with vitamin D3.

    Doc, I am doing quite well with IF and low carb. I am so glad that you presented this in your blog.

    My hat’s off to you,
    Mary T.

    P.S. Are you going on the cruise with Jimmy Moore?

    • Thanks, Mary. No, I’m not going on Jimmy’s cruise. We have too much going on right now to carve out a week in the sun. Maybe next time or maybe we’ll do one of our own. Don’t know if we could generate the interest needed to fill it, though.

  254. I am amazed, and excited to see you are responding to this forum. I read through looking for my answer and kept expecting your answers to stop.
    If you answered this question I missed it, or maybe didn’t understand it?

    How can a person be in ketosis and not be losing weight on the scale? If we are using fat for energy, wouldn’t it reflect? I see people stating, stop caffiene, artificial sweetners or maybe your ** deficient, but ultimately, I would think none of that would matter.

    Can you please tell me where I am wrong? And I am sorry if you already explained.

    Thanks so much,
    Angela

  255. Well, I live more in your neck of the woods ( Orange CA ). I know I will be interested in going on that cruise. I better start saving up my duckets just in case 😉

  256. Dr Eades

    I only just came across your blogs today and i cannot stop reading, its so refreshing to come across an expert who actually is an expert and not just following the mainstream thought on nutrition. I wish health ministers in every country have scientist such as yourself advising them out of their health policies aka fallacies and on to real science.

    Also, back in May 2007 a chap asked you about a blog on “electrolyte/mineral homeostatis during LC diets”. I was just wondering if u can shed any light in this area or point me in the right direction as this is quite a hot topic for me at the moment.
    I’ve been hearing so much about how during ketosis you must take minerals supplements to compensate for what you lose, and in particular how lack of pottasium can lead to heart failure. I am familiar with the biochemistry of muscle contraction so to me it sounds plausible but part of me just refuses to believes this because a) our ancestors did just fine without them and b) I am under the impression that the diuretic effects of low carbs and mineral loss that goes with it is just for the first week or two when water loss is greatest and then ebbs of.
    I understand you must be busy but if you could help me with this it will be much appreciated.

    Thank you

  257. Hello,

    I enjoyed reading your post. My boyfriend and I have become interested in doing a low carb diet to go into a state of ketosis. He got this idea from a coach that has recently been doing a low-carb diet for five days out of the week and on the weekend will eat more carbs. By re-introducing carbs back into the diet that soon will it result gaining the weight you just lost?

    I am currently doing the P90X program and in their first phase you are supposed to eat high protein, low carb foods. Then after the first four weeks bring carbs back into the diet. Will this also result in weight gain?

    Thanks for your help!

    Jessica

  258. Dr. Eades,

    I have a question about mineral depletion and exercise. My family went low-carb by way of the Specific Carb Diet to help some digestive issues. We came upon you and your awesome books and website when we discovered we had become mineral depleted, especially potassium and magnesium (even though we were eating a very nutrient-dense traditional diet). We are now supplementing and our low-potassium and low-magnesium symptoms are gone until we exercise. My husband gets a twitchy eye, calf cramps, and sluggish digestion. I get a headache, heartburn, and sluggish digestion. When we refrain from exercise, we are fine. But by evening on an exercise day, we will feel our low-mineral symptoms again. Any thoughts?

    Other info: We are taking 500mg of potassium and 300-600mg of elemental magnesium, and 1/2 t of fermented cod liver oil daily. I’ve started taking additional minerals (ConcenTrace Electrolytes) on exercise days and noticed that symptoms appear later in the day instead of soon after the exercise. By exercise I mean weight training 1-2x/wk, body weight exercise (like bringing home the buffalo)1x/wk, very light jogging 1x/wk, and very occasional sprints (like running from the lion). There doesn’t seem to be a problem on days that the only exercise in a 30-60 min. walk. I exercise first thing in the morning, my husband in the afternoon.

    Any help you can give would be appreciated.

    Thank you!
    Angie

  259. I’m sorry, it’s me again. I have a question I really hope you can answer: When low carb dieting is it ever possible while in ketosis to get a build up of ketones that would lead to ketoacidosis?

  260. I just wanted to say that you’re awesome. I was looking for an explanation for this, and you provided an excellent one. I’d kiss you if I could 😀

  261. Hi, very refreshing to read your informed wisdom opposite low carb. I have a question that will take a full paragraph to ask;
    I’ve been a low carb dieter for at least 25 years….bouncing up and down…mostly down. Two years ago I introduced exercise to make it work for me and two years later I’m finding that even extreme exercise isn’t getting it done. I went and got some keto sticks and discovered that somehow my body will not go into ketosis any longer. I ate nothing but meat for three days, no change in color of the sticks. The past two days I have eaten nothing at all, still no change in color of the sticks. Is this possible? I went and got another box of sticks but had the same result. Thanks…Hank

    • Yep, it’s not just possible but probable. After an adaptation period the body uses ketones so well that they don’t build up to a level that spill into the urine. No ketones in the urine, no changing color on the stix.

  262. Hello
    Very informative, my question is about ketoacidosis and the negative affects. My cousin is very large and pregnant now as well her fasting insulin went from 106 to about 160 in a couple of weeks so the doctors checked her keytone levels. They said to start drinking water to balance it out and recently she has been eating a little better and drinking a lot of water but the water goes right through her, within about five minutes. I looked it up and it seemed like ketoacidosis. If this is the case how can she go about getting on a low carb diet like the primal blueprint or the paleolithic diet. Im just a little confused due to the fact that i’ve heard keytones are poisonous and here it says tehy are great for fuel.

    Thank you
    Marcus

  263. Hi doc! I first want to say thank you for all of your great insight and information on these health topics. I find nutrition and health to be so interesting and its nice to find a doc that agrees with what I do. Not many health professionals agree that ketosis is healthy. They feel opposite. Thank you for taking the time to explain things in depth!

    I have recentlly started a low carb high protein diet. I am 23 years old, female and about 5’5. I had started the diet at 139.6 pds. Within the first 2 weeks, I got down to 130.6 and lost about 2% body fat (which put me at 26%). I didnt lose anymore on the scale for two weeks after that. I stopped drinking those 4 weeks and I think that helped. Well long story short, my graduation from college came at the end of 4 weeks and I drank and ate HORRIBLE that weekend). I only gained back a pound but it has been 3 full days of eating LC again and I havent got back into ketosis. Couple Questions:

    1. Did I really mess things up by shocking my body?
    2. Does it mean I have a slow metabolism since I am not jumping back into ketosis?
    3. I have about 12 more pds left to go to get to 18% body fat that I want. I know these will come off slower since its the last pds. However, is it possible for me to lose the weight overtime with a LIFESTYLE of eating low carb, high protein (about 1200 cals) monday through friday, drinking one night a week, and giving myself one “cheat” day a week. Which, my cheat days arent even bad. They are just adding in good carbs and the occasional burger and fries :) I am also including about 40 minute workouts everyday to help control the weekends and off days.

    Thank you for all of your posts! You are great!

  264. Dr Eades,

    How does low-carb work if one is trying to *gain* muscle while either keeping body fat constant (or, even better, reduce it)? In other words, what is the place of a low-carb diet within the context of bodybuilding or powerlifting? Can it be beneficial?

    Thanks!

  265. Dear Dr Eades

    thank you very much for your very informative blog.
    However I have been adhering strictly to your latest diet book – how to shed middle age spread. I exercise 5 times a week, and for the first couple of weeks I lost 2lbs per week, now on my 4th week ii have started to put on 2lbs per week. I use the ketone strips and am in ketosis every day (2nd top on the strip) what am I doing wrong. Is it the leucine, am I now putting on muscle and if so will I start to lose weight again or should I stop putting the leucine in the shakes.

  266. Hi,
    first let me thank you for responding in advance.
    my question is, if someone is in a keotgenic state, and exercises vigorously (weight train, specifically), can they increase their muscle mass? this being while lowering their body fat through ketone induction via carbohydrate restriction.
    thank you.

  267. Im so glad you did all this research so people who don’t have time to do so can be better educated about this topic. i wonder if you think fasting is a horrible idea when it comes to detoxing the body. Also, if i did the ketosis diet until i reached ketosis, (i would know by using the strips) then i began fasting, would i still burn muscle as i would had i been fasting from the start? thanks

    • You will definitely lose muscle mass if you fast for any length of time. If you go on a diet high in protein (especially the amino acid L-leucine) and low in carb, you can still build muscle.

  268. I have found the ketogenic process to bring me a bit of a double-edged-sword in the way of benefit. I am a Type 1 diabetic who is (mostly) hypoglycemia unaware. The way I would most often catch my lows (high 30’s to low 40’s) was by realizing I was getting a little mentally foggy… With the wonderful world of ketones to back up my brains fuel source, I don’t catch them until the low to mid-20’s now. The mitigating factor is that I have a continuous monitor that allows me to be warned in the 60’s via an alarm before I leave the safer zones. Without that I’d have a lot of extra work to do to keep up!

    I love having a clearer head even if it means I am sometimes a little slower to respond to some of my other treatment needs.

    Thank you for sharing so much of what you know, have learned and are learning. It is making a world of difference here!

    Cheers!

    Aron

  269. Dr. Eades,

    The first book I read on the low-carb diet subject was Natural Health & Weight Loss by Barry Groves, don’t know if you know about this book. He advocates low-carb, high-fat diet the same way you do. I find so many contradictory opinions about the subject on the internet and I’m still very confused about it all. Anyway, I’m giving it a try to see how I feel. I’m more interested in this diet not because of the weight loss factor but because of general health, energy levels etc.

    Although I suppose I’ve been all the right stuff (eggs and bacon, greek yoghurt in the morning, having salad + meat + fat as much as I can following a general rule of around 60% of fat….) for a couple of weeks, I’m not feeling great. I feel weak if I’m hungry or right after I ate as it seems that now my body take a long time to produce energy. I don’t remember feeling weak when I ate carbs!

    Dr. Eades, I’m sorry for my question, I’m just an ordinary girl who likes the subject of nutrition a lot because I love exercising.

    I’m sorry if you already explained, there is so much to read on this website! It’s all very interesting and compelling.

    Kind regards,

    Alessandra

  270. People who eat zero carb seem to univerally report fasting glucose levels of around 100. I myself had FG levels in the low 80s before going ZC, but now they’re 98 or 99. Any idea why this would happen? It seems counter-intuitive since we don’t eat carbs. Is it harmful?

  271. Dr. Eades,
    First of all, thank you for taking the time to answer all these questions, that, in the long run, can have such impact on our lives and bodies. I am 26 and have been on a no-carb, no meat (occasional fish) diet for more than a year now. I eat mostly raw, except for fat-free dairy, and I am taking multivitamins on a daily basis. I must say I am successfully running 5 miles a day, as well as taking several intense Yoga and Pilates class a week. My question to you would be: is there anything that should be modified or fine-tuned, in the long run, especially if I am considering having children a few years down the road? Can this affect my fertility? And is it safe to assume that I can never go back to even a low-carb diet, since that would mean gaining weight? I am a size 0-2, however, I feel it is a fine balance at times: if I decide even to eat fruits with higher sugar level, I immediately gain weight.

    Thank you again for all your insight and information.

  272. In my teens, I was put on the Stillman Diet – only meat, eggs, cottage cheese, and water. When I would rise from sitting to standing, I would black out (visually) for a few seconds. Can you explain why?

  273. Thank you for this blog. I’ve been going back and forth between a low-carb diet and a higher carb diet for years, knowing that the low-carb works better for me in many ways, but fearful that I was harming my long term health. Your blog has set my mind at ease and I may just end up going low carb for the long haul (if only I can beat the ketosis induced insomnia!)

  274. I have read other places that high fat is needed to enter ketosis. I think a couple of websites said that 65% of your calories need to be fat calories. Is this true?

  275. Another question that I have is whether I should do more weight training or more cardio exercises to lose more fat?

  276. Dr. Eades,

    Let me begin by saying that I truly appreciate your research and the the work you have done to share this knowledge. I am overjoyed to read your work.

    I have a peculiar question which I am not optimistic about obtaining an answer to:

    Is there any correlation of being in ketosis and the resurgence of HPV in carriers?

    I have found nothing on the subject, and am very curious about it.

  277. Your blog is very informative and I enjoy reading it. I have been on a ketogenic diet for few weeks now but something quite strange is happening or I don’t know what I am doing wrong.
    I do carb loading once a week and am working out regularly with weights. I seem to lose fat throughout the day but every morning when I wake up my BF% is always around 17% no matter how low it gets during the day. It’s been more than 5 weeks now and it’s still 17% when I wake up in the morning. At times during the day it goes down to 14.5% or 15% but when I wake up in the mornings it is always between 17% and 18% despite me doing everything right (or atleast try to do everything right) .
    5-6 weeks back my BF when I got up in the mornings was 17%Today after 5-6 weeks following a ketogenic diet with resistance training and exercise my BF in the mornings is still 17% after waking up in the mornings.

    I have been consistent in taking my BF readings(upon waking up in the mornings) so I should be seeing improvements in BF at that time relative to my own previous readings and using the same method of measuring BF. But it’s always the same even with calorie restriction. Something is not right.

    The BF goes down as the day passes but always jumps back to 17% range no matter how careful I am. And it’s been more than 5 weeks on a keto diet. I should be seeing permanent improvements but I am not. I only see temporary improvements in the day which returns to my 17% range. And I don’t starve myself. I maintain an extremely healthy calorie restriction pattern and carb loading accordingly.

    Your help will be greatly appreciated.

  278. Dr.

    Thank you for writing this article. It makes Ketosis so easy to understand. I dropped my carb intake to less than 30mg per day one month ago and have seen amazing results. I have lost 24 lbs. The last time I lost this much weight took 6 months and intense cardio workouts daily for 1 to 1.5 hours. I feel like I have more energy and focus as well. I never knew the carbs were doing so much to me. I now have only another 25lbs to lose and am excited that I have found a natural way to lose and maintain a healthy weight. It is amazing that the human body has this entire process, I wish more Dr’s directed people this way to lose weight. Thank you for your blog and helping others understand how they can maintain a healthy lifestyle.

  279. Dr.Eades

    I had a quick question. I have been following a low-carb diet for about a month or so now (sub 50 carbs) and enjoy it very much. I have one crutch on my heavy lifting days though, I use a pre-workout NO supplement (Superpump 250) I know its not that great for me, but I was wondering what its direct effects were on blood sugar levels and if it was hampering my ability to get into a Ketosis state. I see things like glucose binders and just really don’t know what they do to my body. Any thoughts ?

  280. I have been on a low carb diet for 4 weeks. During the 1st weeks I at less than 20 carbs daily mostly consisting of meat, eggs, had cheddar cheese, and low carb veggies such as salad and spinach. I also had 3 cups of decaf coffee w/ 2 to 3 TBS of heavy cream and liquid splenda. I would say that my calories were between 1500 and 2000. I did not go into ketosis at all during this period and lost no weight. The third week, I did a fat fast for 3 days eating cream cheese and macademia nuts w/ 1000 cals and then slowly started introducing small amounts of protein and gained back most of the weight I lost on the fat fast. The fat fast did induce ketosis. The 4th week I have been on the fat fast again for 4 days but this time I am not losing. Now I am afraid to start introducing proteins and other low carb veggies due to rapid weight gain during the last introduction. I am about 28% body fat and need to reduce that to about 20%. Any suggestions?

  281. Dr. Eades,

    I’m a military aviator who goes through routine physical examinations. One of the exams is a urinanalysis to test for “lipids and stuff” as the nurse says. Being a layman in the field of biochemistry, I don’t know the how an elevated ketone level would affect my urinanalysis and therefor my flight status. Do you have any thoughts on this?

    Thanks,
    Mike

  282. Please reply to a few questions:

    1. the article states “lion’s share [glucose] has to come from muscle. So if we have a lot of glucose in the system, won’t that prevent the breakdown of muscle? This basic logic could mean lots of glucose is good. However, I would guess this is to simple?

    2. just re-read more of the article and think I have something. Restricking carbs, forces the body to burn fat. The liver is now producing ketones to take the place of glucose. Accurate?

    3. you state “As the liver breaks down the fat to release its energy to power gluconeogenesis, the conversion of protein to sugar, it produces ketones as a byproduct.” How does the production of ketones save muscles? Wher is the protein coming from?

    4. In comments some talk about getting rid of ketones before they do damage. What damage would ketones do? Are ketones good/bad?

    Appreciate the explanation on Ketones, as it helps to better understand Robb Wolf & other readings.

  283. Hi Doctor.
    I started low carb diet 7 weeks ago and i have lost 33 lbs already yay! happy about that, but i been feeling very dizzy like after afternoon and it wont go away till i fall asleep next day i’m ok… also this headache…
    I’m in Dr. Bernstein diet.. this is pretty much the diet that has give me the motivation to go on as i can see the results…I have ask the nurses and the dr and they dont really give me an answer… what can i take to be away from dizziness and light headache?? i really dont want to leave my diet. thanks!

  284. I have a very weird problem. I’m to the point where I suspect candida overgrowth, but have not gotten a diagnosis.

    I have had reactive hypoglycemia symptoms for about 5 years now.

    I went zero carb a few months ago and felt great. Was eating about 150-200 grams of fat, about 100 grams of protein and no carbs. Blood sugar was stable all the time.

    However that didn’t last long. Now, if I eat more than 10-12 grams of protein in a sitting I get reactive hypo and hyperinsulin symptoms 4-5 hours later.

    My diet is raw eggs and fat now. Nothing else. I can only tolerate about 48-50 grams of protein per day, and I can only get carbs from eggs. If I eat even 1 gram of carbs from any other source I get severe reactive hypo symptoms from it.

    I must be wasting muscle mass because I can’t tolerate any carbs, and I can barely tolerate protein. I’ve lost literally 50 pounds in 4 months. I weight about 205 before the drop in carbs, and I now weigh 153.

    People are worried because it’s obvious I’ve lost quite a bit of muscle mass.

    I am very frustrated, and very confused.

    I also have a severe rash that only happens when I eat very low/zero carb. When I eat carbs it tends to go away.

  285. Does MSM effect the ketone strips. Methylsulfonylmethane. Does it have an effect on ketosis and what do u think about it as far as weight loss. I also take powdered vitamin c.

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  287. Hello Dr Eades,
    This post with all the comments is with out a doubt the best resource that I’ve found online about low carb diets, ketosis and diabetes. Here is my story:

    Last Friday I went in to have my blood checked as I was feeling very tired and a little scatter brained. I wanted to see if there was anything I was laking. So this last Tuesday my Dr. calls me with the results and everything is perfect and there are no issues except my Fasting Blood Glucose level was 107 which he said was pre-diabetic (everything else was exceptionally good he said). So he wanted to draw more blood to have a hemoglobin a1c test done. The next day he called me and said that my reading was 6.3 which is type 2 diabetic. I was a little shocked. I am 25 years old 5′ 11″ and have a BMI of 23.4.
    I had however, 2 weeks before the first test, switched from being vegan for 2 years (I was probably eating way too many carbs and oreos) to eating fish and dairy (and a bit of ice cream a few nights a week, which I’m sure doesn’t help).

    Although I kept hearing from my peers that my BG and a1c numbers weren’t that high and as long as I watch my diet and start working out a bit I could reverse my diabetes. Because I was so freaked out I started eating nothing but veggies, fish and a little bit of dairy. By Thursday I kept waking up early in the morning and couldn’t go back to sleep, I was feeling a little more tired than usual and a bit anxious for the most part.

    My question is, with my blood sugar levels not really being that high in the first place is this a good diet to follow for a long period of time and is it something that could possibly reverse diabetes?

    Thank you so much for this amazing resource, Dr Eads.

  288. I really dont care to eat meat. I have lots of cellulite that I would love to lose. Is it possible to get into ketosis without eating meats…maybe fasting on green juice of spinach, celery, cucumber, or lettuces, kales, things like this and adding in olive and coconut oils for fats?

  289. Great post, Dr. Eades. As my body travels through menopause, I have found that my tolerance for quick converting carbohydrates has become non-existent. Where I could eat basically anything in my early 40s and it could easily be burned off with a little uptick in exercise – that is no longer the case. Since I switched to a high-carb diet a couple of weeks ago, I feel so much better, and “regularity” along with less bloating and other benefits is being made evident every day. The great perk is that I’ve dropped about 5 lbs and didn’t even try. I’m interested in learning more. Regards.

  290. Dr. E,

    Thanks for all of the info.

    I have read through every single post and appreciate all of the info. In one of the above posts, someone asked you about the affects of Coffee/Caffeine on insulin….your response was to use the search button and read the numerous posts on Coffee…

    I did this and was not able to find anything…I just found a few posts where people mentioned drinking coffee in their diets.

    Does Caffeine increase blood sugar levels? I was jsut diagnosed as a t ype 2 diabetic and am trying to keep things under control, but I really like coffee in the morning. Can caffeine knock you out of ketosis or slow down your LC diet>?

    Thanks so much.

  291. First off, thank you SO MUCH for creating this wonderful resource! I have visited your blog time and time again for information. There is an answer I haven’t found here, though, and that is to the question: Assuming one is not a Type I Diabetic, and assuming normal kidney function, is it possible to produce an “overdose” of ketones? I find that when I am well into ketosis, I devlop some strange side effects, like tingling hands, feet & face, and some difficulty breathing (or perhaps more correctly, I just feel like I NEED to breathe much more deeply; I figure this has to do with blowing acetone off in the breath, but I can’t be sure). Usually when I notice these symptoms, my urine ketones are over 40, and sometimes even over 80. This scares me a bit, considering it happens in spite of the fact that I drink several liters of water daily to keep my kidneys flushed. Could it be I’m OD’ing on ketones, or could there be some other explanation?

    Thanks again,
    Michelle

  292. Hello,

    2 questions:

    First, for someone with high level’s of uric acid, where a high protein diet induces the gout, is there any alternative way of achieving ketosis in order to achieve weight loss for someone with high uric acid levels?

    Second, I’ve learned that a slow fat burning workout (65%-70% of max. heart rate) is the fat burning range vesus a crardio workout higher rate which is muscle-burning. My question is, will the effect of being in ketosis, which is fat burning help to accentuate the effects of a “fat burnng ” workout with the slower 65% heart rate workout?

  293. Dr Mike,

    I am in a low carb (60gr or less/day), normal protein (80-100g per day), low calorie (less than 1000Kcal/day) for 8 weeks. My weight loss varies a lot…
    1st week 3kg
    2nd week 0kg
    3rd week O.4kg
    4th week 2.4kg
    5th week 1kg

    Do you have any idea why?

    I have access to body composition measurement equipment and I know that the first 2.4kg were FFM (glycogen and water I suppose) and everything else after that Fat mass.

    Nefeli

    P.S. your blog is great!!!

  294. Dr. Eades,
    I’m on a high protein and high fat diet currently. Suggested by my friend who has had good success with this. It’s 65% fat, 35% protein, 5% carbohydrates. I’m aware that the release of glucagon prevents the body from going into a hypoglycemic state. Glucagon is released in a fasted state according to my physiology textbook. The question I have for you is can this lead to overall fat loss. I know my resting metabolic rate is 3000 calories, and I consume 1800 calories max. It’s all whole foods: red meat, eggs, whole milk, salmon, spinach, butter, and mozzarella cheese. I don’t intend on keeping this diet going for more then a couple of weeks and have seen some lbs drop already. I try to consume only fiber, and very low amounts of sugars. I’m curious if my theory will provide enough energy, while maintaining a fasted state by attempting to stimulate the release of glucagon. My main goal is to loss some body fat, and keep my muscle mass.

    Eric Shepard

  295. Been working out for 5 months and following high protein low fat diet. Doctor says I have too may ketones in urine and need to do blood work to rule out diabetes, but could be related to exercise and low carb diet. Can it be dangerous. I’ve read stuff online that seems a little scary.

    • If you follow a low-carb diet, you should have ketones in your urine. It’s perfectly normal. If your doctor knows you have ketones in your urine, he/she must have checked your urine. A typical urinalysis checks for glucose, too. If you have ketones in your urine and glucose, then you might need to be checked for diabetes. If you have ketones but no glucose, then it’s highly doubtful that you have diabetes.

  296. Hi Dr. Eades,

    I have read that if a person is eating low carb that he/she should eat a higher carb meal every 4 – 5th day so that BCAA’s will not be compromised. What are thoughts on this?

    Thanks in advance!

  297. I am completing my 8th year as a low carber. I find no need whatsoever to consume a higher carb meal to maintain good health at all. As a matter of fact, the longer I am low carbing the lease I feel the need for any carbohydrates above 10 grams per/day.

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  299. Dr. Eades, I have been showing ketones / oily surfaced urine for about six weeks now. I usually get oily urine the day after I take an L-carnitine supplement. But when I took 15 g of D-ribose for just one day, six weeks ago, I just have been having oily urine non-stop, to this day, despite no longer taking d-ribose. Lately it’s also showing foams in my urine. What is going on? How can I reverse ketosis or go out of it, besides adding more carbs? Help. I just lost my insurance Dr. Eades. BTW I am a 155 lbs man, no diabetes, checked last year. :(

      • Dr. Eades, I noticed that my stool has a pale orange color to it after doing this diet and cutting down my carbohydrate intake. What does that mean? Do I need to add something to my diet? Thanks very much.

      • Dr. Eades, I was finally able to see doctors at our county health clinic for 20$ per doctor per appointment. I had my CBC, electrolytes, eGFR, creatinine, glucose, lipids all checked. All came out normal except for creatinine which is mildly low (probably because of not eating enough protein due to my concern that it may have been proteinuria).

        The doctors could not understand why I am still having ketones in my urine despite eating carbs. Should I try eating about 200g carbs per day? One said that I may be reacting with food too fast and my fat metabolism became quicker after taking too much d-ribose for one day. My question is is there anything that I can take to increase carb metabolism instead, to use it for energy instead of fat just to stop the prolonged ketosis? Help! They don’t even know what’s going on! Thanks

          • Thanks, Dr. Eades. The preprandial/ fasting glucose was 80 (12 hr fasting, range was 60-125), I’ve had even lower values during random at 70. But the urine surface is also foamy I forgot to add. Granted, the sample I gave was not the first morning urine and it probably became so diluted with water since all I consumed the whole time was water.

            Would you reckon a 24 Urine test be made to check what these bubbles are? It is at the foamiest state in the morning. I’ve tried using a separate disposable container to check if foam will appear to rule out toilet detergent reaction, and it still did. My next appointment is next week, but it’s really hard for a broke 25y/o guy like me. those 20$ all add up, + 44$ test. It’s really scary. Sorry for venting I feel so alone in this, nobody in my family understands really.

          • I don’t know what the foam is, but I doubt that a 24 hour urine would help. If you’re blood sugar is normal, and your doctor isn’t alarmed, I wouldn’t worry about the ketones in the urine.

  300. Too many comments to read through to find this question, but just curious: I am on a very low, almost nonexistent carb cleanse. I feel like it “hurts”–like I’m having hunger pangs even when full. Any idea what’s happening biochemically to cause that feeling? Oddly, I find seeing my body’s reaction fascinating, and want to connect the dots. I am 5’7″ 128 lbs, so weight loss was not an issue. I’ve also eaten well for 7 years now–all pastured meats, good fats, lots of veggies. (Don’t get me wrong–not all the time!) I come from a family of alcoholics and big sugar eaters and often experience hypoglycemia, if any of that info plays a part. I also should add that I think I’m having some gallbladder pain occasionally, which led to my cleanse. Do a lot of people experience that “pain”? This is good info–thanks!

    • Charlotte, something similar happened to me and my family when we made an abrupt shift to very low carb. We also ate well prior to the change and were not doing it for weight loss.

      Our aches were in the bladder, esophageal sphincter (heartburn), and stomach, plus there was some leg cramping and various twitches. We investigated this quite a bit, which brought us to this thread and the Eades’ books. In short, we concluded two things:

      First, we had failed to supplement with potassium and magnesium when we made the shift. There is a sudden “flush” of water when you go low carb, and that water takes minerals out with it. This affects the action of the muscles.

      Second, we noticed that our aches and twitches were all associated with smooth muscles, which are the ones most reliant on glucose for fuel. Basically, it seemed we had gone TOO low in carbs. We didn’t have to increase carbs that much to get rid of the aches — small portions of fruit, potatoes, and dark chocolate worked for us — but we did have to do it and be consistent with it. Over time, I think our muscles have adapted at the cellular level to the change in fuel (less sugar, more fat), and we’ve been able to get our carbs down where we want them to be. Hope this helps!

  301. I started 6 days ago on a semi fast and thus have been in Ketosis for about 3 days. What’s I’ve not seen mentioned is that I feel great due to the ‘up’ effect ketones have on the brain (not to mention all the energy and needing less sleep. I’ve done this ‘starvation’ diet around 4 -5 3 times before. I usually lose about 30 pounds or so in around 6 weeks. I only take in about 600 calories a day. My problem is that I fail to change my habits (drinking, eating out, etc) and eventually gain it all back. I actually find it easier not to eat anything (because those ketones make you feel great!) than to maintain a regular diet.

    Basically this is known as a ‘protein sparing’ fast. You take in a certain amount of protein in order to lessen any muscle be