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ketone safety -- what's the skinny?I ♥ my keto diet. And, no, love is not too strong a word. Like iodine and organics, kombucha and tabatas, I ain’t givin’ it up. I’ve been on the ketogenic diet for a year now. My energy is up and sustained, focus is better than it’s been in years, sleep is much improved, plus I’ve lost 19 pounds and 2 inches from each of the 3 major circumferences.

I can’t think why I’d stop doing this. Anyone?

The ketogenic diet looks a lot like Atkins, only keto is a huge improvement. Here’s the shortcut version: to go keto, you eat high fat (approx 40% of your calories), high protein (40%), low carb (5-10%).

Once your carb intake is low enough, your body switches over from being a sugar-burner for fuel to being a fat-burner. They call this “being in ketosis.”

While in ketosis, your body metabolizes your adipose tissue (a polite way of saying FAT) via your liver, ketones are produced and released into your bloodstream. Then your muscles and brain use these ketones for fuel.

Ketones are a much longer burning, higher quality fuel than sugar. Sugar burns out fast, like kindling. When it’s gone, you crave more fuel, usually in the form of carbs which turn to sugar in your body… which burns out fast. See the cycle?

Interestingly, we humans are born fat-burners. Somewhere along the way, we become sugar burners.

Here’s a correlation for you. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Americans are FAT. As a woman who’s battled her weight all her life (shopping in the Chubbettes at 6yo, ya’ll), I know that misery. The only reason I’m not huge today is because I had a “come to Jesus” health crisis. It scared the crap outta me and my family. When I got well enough, I started learning about health, fell in with the Weston A Price Foundation, then started implementing everything I learned.

What's the skinny on ketone safety?Today, as a functional health practitioner and health blogger, I’m committed to doing and sharing what works. Like…

As you read the links below, you’ll find there are many, many, MANY other advantages to being in ketosis than just weight loss. That’s like the minor miracle.

Before I started the keto diet, I spent hours researching it. I bought books, watched videos, followed bloggers and youtubers… I’m a little OCD when it comes to research. I like to know what I’m getting into.

I looked for all the warnings re. the keto diet, ketosis and ketones. There are almost none.

What's the skinny on ketone safety?On the flip side, I found — and continue to find — more and more people singing its praises, specifically of the therapeutic benefits of having ketones in your bloodstream.

I’m thinking we’re on to something.

Safety Concerns for All Things Keto

I can find no evidence of inherent dangers to the ketogenic diet, ketosis or ketones.

Here’s a PubMed study on the long-term effects of a ketogenic diet on obese patients. The conclusion states:

“The present study shows the beneficial effects of a long-term ketogenic diet. It significantly reduced the body weight and body mass index of the patients. Furthermore, it decreased the level of triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and blood glucose, and increased the level of HDL cholesterol. Administering a ketogenic diet for a relatively longer period of time did not produce any significant side effects in the patients. Therefore, the present study confirms that it is safe to use a ketogenic diet for a longer period of time than previously demonstrated.”

The three topics of concern I did find are:

  1. Most people confuse ketosis with ketoacidosis;
  2. The myth that ketones are bad for kidneys;
  3. Whether or not a person can eat too low carb.

Ketosis vs. Ketoacidosis

A LOT of people (including doctors) confuse ketosis with ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis IS dangerous. However, it would be darn near impossible to get from ketosis to ketoacidosis if your pancreas is still producing insulin.

Here’s an article from one of my favorite keto bloggers, Dr. Peter Attia, on the topic of keto vs ketoacidosis.

Heck, ask the Diabetes Warrior about high fat/protein, low carb diets. He’s been helping people effectively cure their diabetes for years with that diet. He’s so good, the state of NC tried to shut him up. That’s my standard: if the authorities want to shut you up, you must be doing something right. Authorities lost, by the way.

Ketones ‘n Kidneys

Kidney stones, to be exact. No laughing matter! Here are the facts, then you can decide if ketones are right for you.

For decades, the ketogenic diet has been used successfully with epileptic children. Over 50% of kids on the diet experience relief. Some kids experience complete relief, meaning no more epilepsy!

However, between 5-8% of kids developed kidney stones. Most of these were easily resolved with potassium citrate, either prescribed or with lemonade. It’s important to note that there has been no attempt to correlate the kids’ kidney stones with any other health concerns or diet. It was just noted that a very small percentage of the kids in the study developed kidney stones. This is one of those “uncontrolled variables,” the bane of a researcher’s life. But there it is.

Now, while no studies have been done with adults, it might be prudent for anyone with the risk factors for kidney stones to proceed with an eye open.

Interestingly, the #1 risk factor for kidney stones is not drinking enough water!!! The ketogenic diet is diuretic in nature so any good direction on going keto will tell you to drink lots of water, more than normal.

Here’s Robb Wolf on the topic of ketones and kidneys.

Low Carb vs. No Carb

You can find so much discussion on the pros and cons of going very low carb (VLC). Oy vey, no room to even begin with it here. The bottom line with carbs is that there is no human physical requirement for them. We just really like them!

As far as diets go, the weight-loss sweet spot for carbs is below 30 net grams per day. To maintain weight, you can eat 70-100 net grams of carbs a day. (To figure net carbs for a food, take total carb grams minus fiber grams. That’s your net carb grams.)

Ketones for Health!

Just today, I listened to Dr. Mercola and Dr. Thomas Seyfried discuss mitochondrial dysfunction as possibly being the root of all disease, and the role of ketones in healing it! (If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll see what I’m learning.)

What's the skinny on ketone safety?Research has consistently proven that ketones have benefits for fitness, fat loss (not just weight loss, but fat loss), focus, improved energy, muscle retention, treating epilepsy, cancer, diabetes, MS, auto-immune disease — too many dysfunctions to list. In fact, do an online search for “[any malady] keto” and see what you get.

It’s impressive. We’re definitely on to something. I’m sticking with it!