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There are three instances where there’s research to back up a ketogenic diet, including to help control type 2 diabetes, as part of epilepsy treatment, or for weight loss, says Mattinson. “In terms of diabetes, there is some promising research showing that the ketogenic diet may improve glycemic control. It may cause a reduction in A1C — a key test for diabetes that measures a person’s average blood sugar control over two to three months — something that may help you reduce medication use,” she says.
If you're healthy and eating a balanced diet, your body controls how much fat it burns, and you don't normally make or use ketones. But when you cut way back on your calories or carbs, your body will switch to ketosis for energy. It can also happen after exercising for a long time and during pregnancy. For people with uncontrolled diabetes, ketosis is a sign of not using enough insulin.
If you’re serious about maximizing the benefits of ketosis, then forego coconut oil, MCT liquid oil, olive oil, etc. and instead use Brain Octane as your oil of choice for recipes like bulletproof coffee, or in teas, salad dressings, or as a sushi or entrée flavor enhancer. For a slightly less expensive, but not quite as effective form of MCT, use XCT oil.
I think there is a lot more to the story than ketosis or very low carb for everyone. In my own experience, high carb works much better. I tried very low carb for a long without really feeling amazing, I then switched back to high carb and quickly lost weight and leaned out. I still eat high carb and my strength is better and I'm even leaner now. I find it very difficult to overeat (I obviously eat very 'clean diet').
You need to do a “common man’s” version of a good ketogenic nutrition program or discussion. Great article, and I leaned a few things. Those Ketone Salts and other supplements can get pricey. I eat a very low carb and high fat diet and meander in and out of ketosis during the week. A pure ketogenic diet is so restrictive that meals it can get very repetitive during the week. I’d like to learn more about cooking with oils and how temperature effects their qualities. I can only handle eating so much raw food, and I love to cook my greens and other vegetables in bacon fat and coconut oil. It will be next May before I can get my blood work performed (insurance reasons) so until then I’ll need to be careful and hold back on those after supper dark chocolate excursions! Thanks!!
Hi, I am a parent of son with epilepsy. On our last EEG we found out he is having 10 absence seizures per hour as well as bimonthly grandmal seizures . People have been using the ketogenic diet for seizure control for years. Our neurologist mentioned that seizure control is effected by blood insulin as well as ketones. I know the original Keto esters came from DR. D’Augustino’s work with Navy Seals who were having seizures due oxygen toxicity. The main reason we have not been using the Keto diet is lack of compliance and it so easy for kids to get out of ketosis. I am wondering if we could get seizure control with a zonish/adkins diet with keto os, brain octain supplementation. Even an educated guess would be appreciated. Thanks, Mike
They mimic ketosis, to answer your question in short. Best to get fat adapted and use ketones to get the best of both worlds and to enhance fat burning abilities. They will allow you to use glucose and fatty acids simultaneously, yes. Anyways, I'd be happy to help you via a personal one-on-one consult. Just go to https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/coaching. and then choose a 20 or 60 minute consult, whichever you'd prefer. I can schedule ASAP after you get that.
Kidney stones are a well-noted potential side effect of the ketogenic diet. Research published in the Journal of Child Neurology observed that among children following the keto diet as a treatment for epilepsy, 13 out of 195 subjects developed kidney stones. Children supplementing with potassium citrate in the study noticed a decreased likelihood of kidney stones. Speak with your healthcare practitioner about supplementing if kidney stones are a concern.

When your body burns its stores of fat, it can be hard on your kidneys. And starting a ketogenic diet -- or going back to a normal diet afterward -- can be tricky if you’re obese because of other health issues you’re likely to have, like diabetes, a heart condition, or high blood pressure. If you have any of these conditions, make diet changes slowly and only with the guidance of your doctor.
I have that thing on a “real” ketogenic diet where I wake up at 3 am with my mind/heart racing and can’t sleep. It happens the very first day I reduce my carbs and continues as long as my carbs are reduced (5 weeks is the longest I’ve been able to put up with this to see if I could fix it and stay ketogenic). Magnesium and/ or cal-mag before bed does not help. Is carb loading at night the only hope for fixing this? I already take great care with bluelight and EMF.

There are many misconceptions about ketosis. The most common is mixing it up with ketoacidosis – a rare and dangerous medical condition that mostly happen to people with type 1 diabetes if they don’t take insulin. Even some health care professionals tend to mix up these two situations somewhat, perhaps due to the similar names and a lack of knowledge about the distinct differences.
I know, I know you’d think with all these side effects I’d just give up on ketosis! but I enjoy the mental clarity and I have a lot of food sensitivities and gut and yeast problems and don’t tolerate carbs well either so I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. Not craving what I can’t have constantly is LIFE CHANGING! (34 year old female with chronic fatigue, thin, hike for exercise).
The ketogenic diet is a medical nutrition therapy that involves participants from various disciplines. Team members include a registered paediatric dietitian who coordinates the diet programme; a paediatric neurologist who is experienced in offering the ketogenic diet; and a registered nurse who is familiar with childhood epilepsy. Additional help may come from a medical social worker who works with the family and a pharmacist who can advise on the carbohydrate content of medicines. Lastly, the parents and other caregivers must be educated in many aspects of the diet for it to be safely implemented.[5]
The ketogenic diet is indicated as an adjunctive (additional) treatment in children and young people with drug-resistant epilepsy.[26][27] It is approved by national clinical guidelines in Scotland,[27] England, and Wales[26] and reimbursed by nearly all US insurance companies.[28] Children with a focal lesion (a single point of brain abnormality causing the epilepsy) who would make suitable candidates for surgery are more likely to become seizure-free with surgery than with the ketogenic diet.[9][29] About a third of epilepsy centres that offer the ketogenic diet also offer a dietary therapy to adults. Some clinicians consider the two less restrictive dietary variants—the low glycaemic index treatment and the modified Atkins diet—to be more appropriate for adolescents and adults.[9] A liquid form of the ketogenic diet is particularly easy to prepare for, and well tolerated by, infants on formula and children who are tube-fed.[5][30]
Net carbs are what we track when following a ketogenic diet. This calculation is pretty straightforward. Net Carbs = Total Carbs – Fiber. For example, one cup of broccoli has 6g of total carbs and 2.4g of fiber. That would mean one cup of broccoli has 3.6g of net carbs. We count Net Carbs  because dietary fiber does not have a significant metabolic effect. 

It’s easy to get caught up on the “low-carb” part of the diet and not give enough attention to the “high-fat” part. Fat is what makes you full, gives you energy (when in ketosis), and makes food taste delicious. For most people this figure should be north of 70 percent of daily calories. Keep carbs under 20g, hit your protein goal, and eat fat until you’re full.
Ben – curious about your thoughts on this. I went into ketosis (using LOTS of coconut oil) but it raised my cholesterol and doc was worried about my lp(a) level (17mg/dL on VAP) even though crp was 0.5, trigs 51 and a1c was 5.2. Advised a low fat diet. Have you seen this before with folks on a lchf/ketosis diet and is there anything to be concerned about? Off to read your coconut oil article. Thank you!
Food is your body’s primary source of energy, and three main nutrients in foods supply your body with this energy. These are carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Typically after eating a meal, your body will first break down carbohydrates from foods, and then fat and protein.Ketosis is a natural metabolic state that occurs when your body doesn’t have enoughcarbs (or glucose) for energy, so it burns fat instead.
For example, a key component of safe and lasting fat loss is your capability to tap into your body’s own storage fat for energy. This access to fat cannot happen if your body is constantly drawing on carbohydrate reserves and blood glucose for energy. In the type of moderate- to high-carbohydrate diets you’ve learned are widely recommended by prevailing nutrition science, not only does the utilization of fat for energy become far less crucial (since you’re constantly dumping readily available sugar sources into your body), but your metabolism never becomes efficient at using fat. There is a growing body of evidence proving that a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet results in faster and more permanent weight loss than a low-fat diet. Furthermore, appetite satiety and dietary satisfaction significantly improve with a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that includes moderate protein.
I've been on the diet for about a month and a half now and I've noticed that my vaginal odors have gotten MUCH stronger... (It smells like a mix between urine and discharge... I'm not exactly sure how vaginas are 'supposed' to smell like. Many say 'musky' but I feel like that's too mild of a word... It's much stronger than 'musk' for me :/ ). My discharge is white in color and it doesn't smell fishy. Sometimes when it dries on my underwear it's a light yellow? Has this happened to anyone before? Is it because of my change in diet (if so, can anybody explain why?), or could it be something else?
The Johns Hopkins Hospital protocol for initiating the ketogenic diet has been widely adopted.[43] It involves a consultation with the patient and their caregivers and, later, a short hospital admission.[19] Because of the risk of complications during ketogenic diet initiation, most centres begin the diet under close medical supervision in the hospital.[9]
Note: Are you a vegetarian or vegan and want to go on a ketogenic diet? It’s still possible! Just keep in mind that the dietary restrictions can sometimes be a little bit intense. Make sure to plan ahead and prepare to aid your success. To help out, we’ve published articles (with 7 day meal plans included) for both the vegetarian ketogenic diet and the vegan ketogenic diet.
The original therapeutic diet for paediatric epilepsy provides just enough protein for body growth and repair, and sufficient calories[Note 1] to maintain the correct weight for age and height. The classic therapeutic ketogenic diet was developed for treatment of paediatric epilepsy in the 1920s and was widely used into the next decade, but its popularity waned with the introduction of effective anticonvulsant medications. This classic ketogenic diet contains a 4:1 ratio by weight of fat to combined protein and carbohydrate. This is achieved by excluding high-carbohydrate foods such as starchy fruits and vegetables, bread, pasta, grains, and sugar, while increasing the consumption of foods high in fat such as nuts, cream, and butter.[1] Most dietary fat is made of molecules called long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). However, medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)—made from fatty acids with shorter carbon chains than LCTs—are more ketogenic. A variant of the classic diet known as the MCT ketogenic diet uses a form of coconut oil, which is rich in MCTs, to provide around half the calories. As less overall fat is needed in this variant of the diet, a greater proportion of carbohydrate and protein can be consumed, allowing a greater variety of food choices.[4][5]
The remaining calories in the keto diet come from protein — about 1 gram (g) per kilogram of body weight, so a 140-pound woman would need about 64 g of protein total. As for carbs: “Every body is different, but most people maintain ketosis with between 20 and 50 g of net carbs per day,” says Mattinson. Total carbohydrates minus fiber equals net carbs, she explains.
Yes, the carb backloading approach can definitely help. Honestly I have SO MANY ARTICLES here on the site about sleep. Just go ahead and use the search bar for sleep and you'll find a plethora of info. For targeted sleep advice, I'd be happy to help you via a personal one-on-one consult. Just go to https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/coaching. and then choose a 20 or 60 minute consult, whichever you'd prefer. I can schedule ASAP after you get that.
Ketosis is an option for many people with type 2 diabetes because they still produce insulin, which helps their body maintain a safe level of ketones in the blood. If you’re considering trying ketosis or the ketogenic diet with type 2 diabetes, be sure to consult your healthcare provider first to ensure it’s safe for you. This eating approach may interfere with some types of diabetes medication or be inappropriate for you if you have certain diabetes complications, such as kidney damage.
When in the hospital, glucose levels are checked several times daily and the patient is monitored for signs of symptomatic ketosis (which can be treated with a small quantity of orange juice). Lack of energy and lethargy are common, but disappear within two weeks.[17] The parents attend classes over the first three full days, which cover nutrition, managing the diet, preparing meals, avoiding sugar, and handling illness.[19] The level of parental education and commitment required is higher than with medication.[44]
Those issues can be part of what's known as the “keto flu,” Warren says. Other side effects of the keto diet, all of which are tied to carb withdrawal, can include lightheadedness, nausea, mental fog, cramps, and headaches, in addition to tiredness. Luckily, the keto flu doesn't usually last more than a week—which is coincidentally about when people start to see the number on the scale go down, says Warren.
Your glycogen stores can still be refilled while on a ketogenic diet. A keto diet is an excellent way to build muscle, but protein intake is crucial here. It’s suggested that if you are looking to gain mass, you should be taking in about 1.0 – 1.2g protein per lean pound of body mass. Putting muscle on may be slower on a ketogenic diet, but that’s because your total body fat is not increasing as much.5Note that in the beginning of a ketogenic diet, both endurance athletes and obese individuals see a physical performance for the first week of transition.
People use a ketogenic diet most often to lose weight, but it can help manage certain medical conditions, like epilepsy, too. It also may help people with heart disease, certain brain diseases, and even acne, but there needs to be more research in those areas. Talk with your doctor first to find out if it’s safe for you to try a ketogenic diet, especially if you have type 1 diabetes.

Great article! As someone who just started a “ketogenic diet” two weeks ago, I am opting to hold off on using ketone supplements for the following reason. You state how “Keto-adaptation occurs when you have shifted your metabolism to relying on fat-based sources, instead of glucose (sugar) sources, as your primary source of fuel.” If the goal is to “switch” our body’s energy supply to ketones and one uses supplemental ketones, how do they really ever know if their body has successfully accomplished this goal if they are using supplemental ketones? Aren’t they getting a false sense of ketosis if their blood or breath tests show them above 0.5 millimolar through the use of the supplements? I understand that it may take me longer to reach ketosis naturally but I guess I see it was worth it to truly reap all of the benefits that you outline in your article.
The modified Atkins diet reduces seizure frequency by more than 50% in 43% of patients who try it and by more than 90% in 27% of patients.[18] Few adverse effects have been reported, though cholesterol is increased and the diet has not been studied long term.[48] Although based on a smaller data set (126 adults and children from 11 studies over five centres), these results from 2009 compare favourably with the traditional ketogenic diet.[18]
A survey in 2005 of 88 paediatric neurologists in the US found that 36% regularly prescribed the diet after three or more drugs had failed, 24% occasionally prescribed the diet as a last resort, 24% had only prescribed the diet in a few rare cases, and 16% had never prescribed the diet. Several possible explanations exist for this gap between evidence and clinical practice.[34] One major factor may be the lack of adequately trained dietitians, who are needed to administer a ketogenic diet programme.[31]
If I see a TSH above 2.0 or a trend towards higher values in someone who is testing repeatedly, I get worried – and prefer to see TSH at 0.5-2.0. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you begin to shove carbohydrates indiscriminately down the hatch. However, it means that your high-fat, low-carb diet should include thyroid supporting foods rich in iodine and selenium, such as sea vegetables and brazil nuts, and should also include carbohydrates timed properly, such as before, during or after workouts, when the carbohydrate is more likely to be utilized for energy and less likely to spike blood glucose levels.

So if your high-fat diet includes a high amount of roasted seeds or roasted nuts, nut butters, heated oils such as heated coconut oil or heated extra virgin olive oil, barbecued meats or meats cooked at very high temperatures, then your triglyceride count is going to go up. You should have triglycerides that are less than 150mg/dL, and a triglyceride to HDL ratio that is no more than 4:1, and in most of the healthiest people I’ve worked with, triglycerides are under 100 and the triglyceride to HDL ratio is less than 2:1. If your ratio is whacked, your ketotic diet isn’t doing you any favors.


Amazing article – gonna have to print it and read it again. To much to break down in one sitting. Thanks Ben – you’ve pulled together so much insight and references that’s given me greater confidence and conviction. I’m 50 and use to be super active and a seasoned athlete but after a few ‘mid life surgical interventions’ I had to find a better way… Ketogenics has been that for me… no more inflammation… I can’t tell you how great it’s been to be pain free! Keep leading from the front.
Achieving ketosis is a pretty straightforward, but it can seem complicated and confusing with all of the information out there.4If you want to learn more about ketosis and the scientific process around it, you can visit a very in-depth discussion about on Dr. Peter Attia’s website. Here’s the bottom line on what you need to do, ordered in levels of importance:
Advocates for the diet recommend that it be seriously considered after two medications have failed, as the chance of other drugs succeeding is only 10%.[9][31][32] The diet can be considered earlier for some epilepsy and genetic syndromes where it has shown particular usefulness. These include Dravet syndrome, infantile spasms, myoclonic-astatic epilepsy, and tuberous sclerosis complex.[9][33]
Ketosis is deliberately induced by use of a ketogenic diet as a medical intervention in cases of intractable epilepsy.[12] Other uses of low-carbohydrate diets remain controversial.[14][15] Carbohydrate deprivation to the point of ketosis has been argued to have both negative[16] and positive effects on health.[17][18] Ketosis can also be induced following periods of fasting (starvation),[19] and after consumption of ketogenic fats (such as medium chain triglycerides[citation needed]) or exogenous ketones.[20]
People use a ketogenic diet most often to lose weight, but it can help manage certain medical conditions, like epilepsy, too. It also may help people with heart disease, certain brain diseases, and even acne, but there needs to be more research in those areas. Talk with your doctor first to find out if it’s safe for you to try a ketogenic diet, especially if you have type 1 diabetes.
This is the second shortest form of MCT, also rare and comprising about 8% of coconut oil. It is slower to turn into energy but less expensive than C8. XCT Oil is triple-distilled in a non-oxygen atmosphere with no solvents, and it contains C10 and C8, because these are the only two MCT oils that turn into ATP quickly without the liver. You would need 6 tablespoons of coconut oil to get one tablespoon of XCT oil.

I have never been able to fix the electrolyte loss symptoms I get on the ketogenic diet (heart palpitations, dry mouth, air hunger) by supplementing with electrolytes. Blogosphere says that is just the transition, but mine seem to only get worse over time. I’ve tried about 2 grams of extra potassium, 800 mg extra magnesium, and 3 grams extra salt (in addition to my already liberally salted foods) spread throughout the day. This did not help. Also does eating salt alone cause you to retain water and therefore retain the rest of the electrolytes without supplementing them?
The ketogenic diet has been studied in at least 14 rodent animal models of seizures. It is protective in many of these models and has a different protection profile than any known anticonvulsant. Conversely, fenofibrate, not used clinically as an antiepileptic, exhibits experimental anticonvulsant properties in adult rats comparable to the ketogenic diet.[58] This, together with studies showing its efficacy in patients who have failed to achieve seizure control on half a dozen drugs, suggests a unique mechanism of action.[56]
The popular low-carb diets (such as Atkins or Paleo) modify a true keto diet. But they come with the same risks if you overdo it on fats and proteins and lay off the carbs. So why do people follow the diets? "They're everywhere, and people hear anecdotally that they work," McManus says. Theories about short-term low-carb diet success include lower appetite because fat burns slower than carbs. "But again, we don't know about the long term," she says. "And eating a restrictive diet, no matter what the plan, is difficult to sustain. Once you resume a normal diet, the weight will likely return."
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