Saturday, May 9, 2015

The ketosis concern

In my recent post: My new love of fat, commenter Serioiouslyservingthesavior brings up common concern about high fat/low low carb diets:
I have read before about a low-carb/high fat diet, but I've always been hesitant to jump in because a lot of sources say that severely cutting carbs puts your body into ketosis and that no one has studied the long term risks of this.
Is that something you've come across in your research?
The conclusion of this study states:
The data presented in the present study showed that a ketogenic diet acted as a natural therapy for weight reduction in obese patients. This is a unique study monitoring the effect of a ketogenic diet for 24 weeks. There was a significant decrease in the level of triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and glucose, and a significant increase in the level of HDL cholesterol in the patients. The side effects of drugs commonly used for the reduction of body weight in such patients were not observed in patients who were on the ketogenic diet. Therefore, these results indicate that the administration of a ketogenic diet for a relatively long period of time is safe. Further studies elucidating the molecular mechanisms of a ketogenic diet are in progress in our laboratory. These studies will open new avenues into the potential therapeutic uses of a ketogenic diet and ketone bodies.
There is actually so much information packed into that study that I highly recommend reading it for yourselves. I'll admit, several things mentioned in it, I had never thought of. For example, consider breast fed babies and what their diet consists of. I read further on that and found this article about weaning a baby to a ketogenic diet may be healthier than weaning a baby to a high-carbohydrate diet:
  • The period in which human brains grow the most, and in which food is least likely to be different from evolutionary conditions, is a ketogenic period. This suggests that a ketogenic metabolism is excellent for learning and development.
  • Breastfeeding in humans is particularly ketogenic. We hypothesise that the positive associations between health and longer breastfeeding may be due to extending the period of ketosis in infancy.
  • A related hypothesis we offer is that extending the period of ketosis after breastfeeding, by weaning onto ketogenic foods such as homemade broth [*] and fatty meat, rather than cereal, fruit, and starchy vegetables, would further promote brain development and reduce risk of disease.          
Thinking back to when my children were infants, I remember when there was a drastic change in their diapers from stools that had no smell to foul smelling stools. It was when they started drinking sugary formula and the introduction of "baby food" - which, looking back, was extremely high in carbohydrates. Interestingly enough, while I don't claim my crap doesn't stink - heh, I don't remember the last time I passed gas. The digestive process in my body has been very consistent, predictable, gentle, and lacking in gas and bloating.

I'll admit, I had been of the mind set that any diet that seemed as drastic as the one I was about to try had to be unhealthy. They say it is. However, for me it was worth trying because I know what else not only they say but is objectively true: obesity is unhealthy, sugar addiction is unhealthy, inflammation is painful. I remember Gabriel Iglesias (Fluffy) saying that his doctor told him if he didn't lose the weight (he weighed almost 400 pounds) he would not live much longer than two years. He joked that while his low carb/high fat diet might cause heart disease (something we know it doesn't), that it would take ten years for that to happen. Dead in two years or dead in ten, he saw eating the way he has as an eight year win. Seeing his successful weight loss of over 100 pounds was enough for me to adopt that same mentality - which led me to research as much as I could. I still have not come across a reputable source that has objective data that losing weight this way is bad or unhealthy.

My weight loss has been gradual and consistent. One to two pounds a week. I am now down from 189 (BMI 28.7) in the beginning of March to 175 (BMI 26.6) today. That's not at all drastic or cause for concern. I don't plan on adding more carbohydrates back into my diet until I reach my goal weight (145) or until I have convincing evidence that my health is at risk if I don't. For now I maintain approximately 5 grams of carbohydrates per day with the occasional 10-20 gram day if I eat a strawberry or two.


  1. I went keto about three years ago and lost almost a hundred pounds. However, I have the same sweet addiction as you do/did and put 70 of it back on.

    While I don't agree with Richard Nikoley's politics or general NSFW stance, he did some great things studying resistant starch. Ketosis changes your guts: no gas since there aren't any starches/sugars to digest, tl/dr. Find some potato starch and mix with water to feed the bugs in your guts.

    Also, Mark Sisson believes that the optimal weight loss carb number is 50-100 but that number will also take you out of keto. I found frozen veggies swimming in butter (and as many as I wanted) gave me lots of carbs to get through some jonesing but kept me keto.

  2. Thank you for the information, Sean, I'll look into the resistant starch. I happen to always have potato starch available (one of many gluten free flours I rely on when I bake for my daughter). I do remember coming across something on good gut bacteria and planned to read more, thanks for the reminder.

    I intend on upping my intake of carbohydrates gradually at some point. I'll be monitoring my cravings closely though. If I get irritable or the cravings become overwhelming, I'll take my carb intake back down. For now I'm not going to upset the applecart. The weight is coming off, I feel great and don't miss a single food item.

  3. Great post! Very interesting.


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