Uppdaterad: 20 jun 2018
Low carb diets are quite popular today, but there’s a big difference among people how they chose to interpret what a low carb diet is and is not. Some people are meticulous about counting carbs or calories, other prefer to improvise as they go along. Some people are strict during the week and liberal during weekends, implement refeeds or prefer a more Paleolithic approach.
I was lecturing this summer, about the medical benefits of blood ketones. I was giving the lectures on different events where low carb enthusiasts gathered so I was a bit nervous, that they had heard it all before. To my surprise, a lot of the information about blood ketones was very new to the attendees. Few people, despite having followed a low carb diet for many years, had any deeper knowledge about ketones.
Some experimented with urine sticks and blood ketone devices, but the extreme healing properties of blood ketones were relatively unknown. There are a lot of misconceptions about ketones, even in the low carb community which is why the paleo diet has a better reputation. Ketosis is often viewed as extreme, unnecessary and potentially dangerous. One woman came up to me after a lecture, and told me she divorced her husband when he persisted in being in ketosis. She couldn’t stand the smell. It wasn’t just him that smelled but also the family car, so he got to keep it. The funny thing is that it’s not ketones that smell but the digestion of milk proteins that gives a certain odor, stay off dairy products and you won’t suffer from bad breath.
Ketosis = natural metabolism
Ketosis is part of normal human metabolism. Children are born in ketosis, unless the mother is diabetic, and ketones are our preferred energy source. Then we train our bodies to run on glucose instead, for years and years until the body prefers sugar over anything else. That’s why it’s really difficult to be ketotic in the modern world, even if you follow a strict low carb diet. As soon as the body experiences any type of stress (biological, physiological or emotional) it will raise the blood sugar, or try to make blood sugar out of proteins or even triglycerides. To stay in a state of ketosis you will need a very specific strategy. That strategy comprise 80E% fat intake to every meal with around 150-200 grams of fat per day and will put you in medical ketosis.
The science of blood ketones
The medical benefits of ketosis are impressive and many of them was discovered a hundred years ago, through the study of children with severe epilepsy and type 1 diabetes. It was found that these children could live a normal life as long as they maintained a deep state of ketosis. Everything they ate was rigorously measured, no more than 5% carbohydrates per day and very limited protein intake.
Before insulin was invented and distributed worldwide, diabetes was always treated with a strict low carb diet and the reason is quite self-explanatory. How ketosis cures epilepsy is not as obvious but the fact is that ketones can pass through the blood brain barrier and alter brain cell metabolism. This means that all kinds of neurological dysfunction can be improved with a steady supply of blood ketones. Depression, ADD/ADHD, anxiety, Parkinson’s disease and dementia can all be improved with improved brain cell metabolism and communication. Please see the scientific articles in the end of this article.
Blood ketones and cancer
Blood ketones are currently being used as treatment in patients with malign brain tumors, in several university hospitals in Germany. There’s a lot of scientific evidence that support this treatment method, not just for brain tumors but for all kinds of tumors. The reason it works is because blood ketones cut off the malignant cells preferred energy source – glucose, and put the cells in repair mode.
Here are some scientific articles;
From low carb to high fat
To be able to experience the healing effects of blood ketones you need to keto adapt, and to keto adapt you need to focus more on “high fat” than on “low carb”. To keep the carbohydrates to a minimum is crucial, but you cannot keto adapt without enough fat or too much fasting. The body needs a safe transition into ketosis. Most low carb enthusiasts are hybrids that run on ketones and glucose alternately; it’s a good start but will not give all of the medical benefits of ketosis.
To be truly keto adapted is a whole other level of health and wellness!
Here are some guidelines:
150-200 grams of fat a day, 80% fat intake to every meal for at least 3-6 month before the body is fully comfortable with ketones. Stay away from caffeine and anything that will be a stressor for the adrenal glands, which includes excessive training and poor sleep. All kinds of stress raise the blood sugar, lower ketones and make you store more body fat.
Avoid dairy except for butter and ghee. Milk fat is healthy but milk proteins can trigger inflammation and through you out of ketosis. They are quite insulinemic and can feed your candida and give you a bad breath or body odor.
Stick to real meals and avoid all kinds of snacking, no protein bars/low carb bars and no nuts or low carb snacks. Replace all this with meat, cruciferous vegetables and homemade mayo or avocado and fried eggs.
A ketone optimized diet doesn’t allow for much variation, but if you have a true medical need it’s definitely worth the effort! I cannot think of any diet with more healing properties than the keto diet.
My reasons for deep ketosis
I’ve been following a strict ketogenic diet for about 8 years and I find it superior when it comes to optimizing physical and mental performance. I use it to build muscle, improve my fitness level and to be able to stay productive through the course of the day. Blood ketones actually have a bunch of really cool effects on strength and body composition, but more on that in my next article.
I hope I have sparked your interest in blood ketones and that you feel inspired to do some more research on your own, or look up the reference list.
Please check out my new book The Keto Guidebook where I explain more about these things in detail.