In many developing countries, the ketogenic diet is expensive because dairy fats and meat are more expensive than grain, fruit and vegetables. The modified Atkins diet has been proposed as a lower-cost alternative for those countries; the slightly more expensive food bill can be offset by a reduction in pharmaceutical costs if the diet is successful. The modified Atkins diet is less complex to explain and prepare and requires less support from a dietitian.
In Asia, the normal diet includes rice and noodles as the main energy source, making their elimination difficult. Therefore, the MCT-oil form of the diet, which allows more carbohydrate, has proved useful. In India, religious beliefs commonly affect the diet: some patients are vegetarians, will not eat root vegetables or avoid beef. The Indian ketogenic diet is started without a fast due to cultural opposition towards fasting in children. The low-fat, high-carbohydrate nature of the normal Indian and Asian diet means that their ketogenic diets typically have a lower ketogenic ratio (1:1) than in America and Europe. However, they appear to be just as effective.
Nutritional ketosis is a natural metabolic state in which your body adapts to burning fat rather than carbohydrates as its primary fuel. It is clinically proven to directly reduce blood sugar (as measured by HbA1c), improve insulin sensitivity (as measured by HOMA-IR) and reduce inflammation (as measured by white blood cell count and CRP). Nutritional ketosis can be induced by following a ketogenic diet. Learn more in our FAQ below!
I just discovered your site and have been thoroughly enjoying many of the articles and appreciate that you get so in depth in your explanations. I’m in my late 40’s and, while not an extreme endurance athlete, I am moderately active with 18-20 mile rides 3x a week as well as some boxing and body weight resistance (push up, pull up, etc) mixed in. I’ve generally been paleo and stick to quality macros for the most part (grass fed meats/dairy, organic veg and oils) and zero supplements. I recently started following keto (after reading this article) about 10 days ago and things seem good thus far. I do, however, want to avoid any of the negative side effects you mention and also not lose any lean muscle. I’m currently about 174 lbs, 5’8″ and about 19% bodyfat – I’m taking in about 95g protein, 130g fat and <20g net carbs. I'm eating all quality – wild salmon, grass fed beef, pastured eggs, coconut oil, Brain Octane and Grass fed butter in coffee, sardines, etc. With a smattering of organic veg, but it seems real easy to bust through the carb barrier. *I'M ALSO TAKING KETOCANA PRE-WORKOUT* and I notice this is keeping me going throughout a ride or the gym.
Although many hypotheses have been put forward to explain how the ketogenic diet works, it remains a mystery. Disproven hypotheses include systemic acidosis (high levels of acid in the blood), electrolyte changes and hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose). Although many biochemical changes are known to occur in the brain of a patient on the ketogenic diet, it is not known which of these has an anticonvulsant effect. The lack of understanding in this area is similar to the situation with many anticonvulsant drugs.
It’s also important to note there have been no long-term studies on the ketogenic diet, nor has there been research that details what may happen to the body if it’s in a constant state of ketosis itself. But given how the body needs carbs to function properly, diets that are based on fat burning may lead to nutritional deficiencies, and supplements and multivitamins are recommended because you’re cutting out entire food groups, warns Alyssa Rothschild, RDN, who is in private practice in New York City.
Children who discontinue the diet after achieving seizure freedom have about a 20% risk of seizures returning. The length of time until recurrence is highly variable, but averages two years. This risk of recurrence compares with 10% for resective surgery (where part of the brain is removed) and 30–50% for anticonvulsant therapy. Of those who have a recurrence, just over half can regain freedom from seizures either with anticonvulsants or by returning to the ketogenic diet. Recurrence is more likely if, despite seizure freedom, an electroencephalogram shows epileptiform spikes, which indicate epileptic activity in the brain but are below the level that will cause a seizure. Recurrence is also likely if an MRI scan shows focal abnormalities (for example, as in children with tuberous sclerosis). Such children may remain on the diet longer than average, and children with tuberous sclerosis who achieve seizure freedom could remain on the ketogenic diet indefinitely.
Ben, great article! I recently did my own ketosis experiment and didn’t catch the 100-200g advise until later than I should have, I’m guessing. Great results for 1-2 months but after 3 months I quit sleeping through the night and would wake after about 4 hours of rest each night. My guess is that the extra carbs at night coupled with iodine supplements should allow me to “have my cake and eat it too?” Any other suggestions on the sleep issue? I’ve gone back to High Fat/Low Carb, have improved sleep but I do miss nutritional ketosis and want to try again once my sleep is stable. Thank YOU!!!
Ketosis is the metabolic process of using fat as the primary source of energy instead of carbohydrates. This means your body is directly breaking down its fat stores as energy instead of slowly converting fat and muscle cells into glucose for energy. You enter ketosis when your body doesn’t have enough glucose (carbohydrates) available. The prime function of the ketogenic diet is to put the body in ketosis.
First reported in 2003, the idea of using a form of the Atkins diet to treat epilepsy came about after parents and patients discovered that the induction phase of the Atkins diet controlled seizures. The ketogenic diet team at Johns Hopkins Hospital modified the Atkins diet by removing the aim of achieving weight loss, extending the induction phase indefinitely, and specifically encouraging fat consumption. Compared with the ketogenic diet, the modified Atkins diet (MAD) places no limit on calories or protein, and the lower overall ketogenic ratio (about 1:1) does not need to be consistently maintained by all meals of the day. The MAD does not begin with a fast or with a stay in hospital and requires less dietitian support than the ketogenic diet. Carbohydrates are initially limited to 10 g per day in children or 20 g per day in adults, and are increased to 20–30 g per day after a month or so, depending on the effect on seizure control or tolerance of the restrictions. Like the ketogenic diet, the MAD requires vitamin and mineral supplements and children are carefully and periodically monitored at outpatient clinics.
Alison Moodie is a health reporter based in Los Angeles. She has written for numerous outlets including Newsweek, Agence France-Presse, The Daily Mail and HuffPost. For years she covered sustainable business for The Guardian. She holds a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she majored in TV news. When she's not working she's doting on her two kids and whipping up Bulletproof-inspired dishes in her kitchen.
My question is: what if I want to be in ketosis for all the reasons mentioned in the Life Extension article and because I don't feel a strong urge to eat in between meals when I go lower carb and if I up carb intake I get hungrier more frequently and get urges . . . BUT on the flip side, I don't seem to digest fat all that well(dairy in particular is a no-no) and constipation is an issue and starchy carbs seem to help with that. It's a bit of a catch-22.
Next, you need to ease yourself into this stuff. As I mentioned earlier, KETO//OS is blended with MCT’s, which can cause digestive distress if you’re not used to consuming them. This is due to the fact that your body has not yet adapted to the increased fats in your diet, and is less efficient at utilizing ketones as its fuel source. Once your body has adapted to MCT in the diet, the digestive distress will resolve. But I recommend you start slowly with just about a half a serving a day, and over two weeks, build up to a full serving twice a day.
You indicate that exogenous ketones do not shut down the ability, of your body, to oxidize fat. Is that to say it does not have an effect on your body at all? My specific question is… does my body oxidize less fat, when supplementing with exogenous ketones? I think you indicate in your article that it could. I would expect it to, in that if I supplement then my body would not “need” to oxidize the fat to provide the energy.
Early studies reported high success rates; in one study in 1925, 60% of patients became seizure-free, and another 35% of patients had a 50% reduction in seizure frequency. These studies generally examined a cohort of patients recently treated by the physician (a retrospective study) and selected patients who had successfully maintained the dietary restrictions. However, these studies are difficult to compare to modern trials. One reason is that these older trials suffered from selection bias, as they excluded patients who were unable to start or maintain the diet and thereby selected from patients who would generate better results. In an attempt to control for this bias, modern study design prefers a prospective cohort (the patients in the study are chosen before therapy begins) in which the results are presented for all patients regardless of whether they started or completed the treatment (known as intent-to-treat analysis).