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Be careful with low carb / keto diets

Artemisia

Senior Member
Messages
216
What I wish someone had told me many years ago before I experimented with restricting carbohydrates (essentially starving myself of glucose):

Use extreme caution with any low carb diets. Our cells run on glucose, and if you're not eating glucose, your body has to convert fat and protein to glucose which is inefficient. The last thing we need is more roadblocks in energy production as ME/CFS sufferers.

The brain has the biggest glucose demand and must have it at all times. If there's not enough glucose stored in the liver as glycogen, this is a crisis situation. The body will spike cortisol to break down muscle tissue and convert to glucose to keep your brain functioning. This is what I learned from my anatomy and physiology professor years ago, confirmed by reading Ray Peat, and ultimately confirmed by my own experiences.

Keto / low carb diets often hurt thyroid function, among other problems related to constantly high stress hormones. It's especially hard for women due to our differences in physiology.

A very low carb diet led to a severe decline in my health. If you're having problems on keto, consider adding some carbohydrate you tolerate.

Of course everyone should eat how they want. But since there's so little criticism of low carb diets, I thought I could give mine in the hope it's helpful to someone.
 
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Artemisia

Senior Member
Messages
216
Important post. It really hurt me too in 2016 and I only did it for a little over a month 😞
Sorry it hurt you too. I held on for over a year, despite feeling terrible on it, because I thought I was herxing/ healing. What a terrible mistake. It created my initial health collapse, including symptoms I still haven't resolved 15 years later.
 

sunshine44

Que sera sera
Messages
1,137
Sorry it hurt you too. I held on for over a year, despite feeling terrible on it, because I thought I was herxing/ healing. What a terrible mistake. It created my initial health collapse, including symptoms I still haven't resolved 15 years later.

I hear you so much 😞 I was told by practioners I was herxing and detoxing. Um. Nope. Waking up in the middle of night with moderate to severe liver area pain and blood sugar drops…. Is not good. Sigh.

Love and learn.

Prayers we both find more healing.
 

Springbok1988

Senior Member
Messages
158
Keto worked really well for me for over a year. Anytime I ate carbs of any kind I felt absolutely horrible and became bedridden. When I started taking benfotiamine I was able to stop doing keto as carbs no longer made be feel terrible.

I also fast everyday because it is the only way I have been able to avoid gaining weight.

I do appreciate the warning because people need to be aware it’s not for everyone but I wanted to add my experience so they know it can work for some.

The brain can run on ketones and some people find a reduction in brain fog while on the keto diet.
 

Artemisia

Senior Member
Messages
216
Keto worked really well for me for over a year. Anytime I ate carbs of any kind I felt absolutely horrible and became bedridden. When I started taking benfotiamine I was able to stop doing keto as carbs no longer made be feel terrible.

I also fast everyday because it is the only way I have been able to avoid gaining weight.

I do appreciate the warning because people need to be aware it’s not for everyone but I wanted to add my experience so they know it can work for some.

The brain can run on ketones and some people find a reduction in brain fog while on the keto diet.
I suspect most improvements people experience on keto are temporary side effects of increased cortisol, a stress hormone. Long term that will cause problems. Cortisol is anti-inflammatory and pain relieving. It can make people feel great... until it goes on too long and you crash. Ketones are inefficient fuel with harmful metabolic pathways from what I understand.

I know we're all different but I hope people will consider that even short-term improvements on a diet may not end up being beneficial in the long term. Keto does seem to be easier for men than women because women's capacity to store glycogen is lower and our hormones are different. So I really hope women will be very careful.

Carbohydrate intolerance can be from something like you had, a thiamin deficiency, or some kind of infection. Probably other things, I've heard people say they can tolerate carbs after addressing deficiencies. Glad you can tolerate them now.
 
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Dysfunkion

Senior Member
Messages
128
I tried an ultra low carb, meat based diet before in an attempt to solve my brain fog and fatigue. I had a clearer head at times but generally I was so tired I could barely function. Some people just don't have the digestive system conditions to be able to handle it or other factors. I do love meat but unfortunately my body can't handle anything but some seafood now and then. It's also much more expensive and I don't have the money to hold it up without cutting corners with questionable quality meat. I overdo it with carbs sometimes but I do need more than others since I'm also on the move physically so much and my digestive system doesn't absorb things very well. I also find different carbs affect me in different ways. The most energy friendly carbs to me I'm finding are from potato. I'm actually switching my primary carbs from rice to potato to see if that actually benefits me longer term. I heard the resistant starch in them is good for building up a better gut microbiome and I don't have any better options right now. I was wish I could eat a more balanced, traditional diet but I have so many sensitivities and problems absorbing nutrients that it doesn't leave me many more options.
 

Artemisia

Senior Member
Messages
216
I tried an ultra low carb, meat based diet before in an attempt to solve my brain fog and fatigue. I had a clearer head at times but generally I was so tired I could barely function. Some people just don't have the digestive system conditions to be able to handle it or other factors. I do love meat but unfortunately my body can't handle anything but some seafood now and then. It's also much more expensive and I don't have the money to hold it up without cutting corners with questionable quality meat. I overdo it with carbs sometimes but I do need more than others since I'm also on the move physically so much and my digestive system doesn't absorb things very well. I also find different carbs affect me in different ways. The most energy friendly carbs to me I'm finding are from potato. I'm actually switching my primary carbs from rice to potato to see if that actually benefits me longer term. I heard the resistant starch in them is good for building up a better gut microbiome and I don't have any better options right now. I was wish I could eat a more balanced, traditional diet but I have so many sensitivities and problems absorbing nutrients that it doesn't leave me many more options.
Potatoes are wonderful. rich in potassium too. Good conduit for salt as well.
 
Messages
93
Thanks for the warning. I was about to try it. I know some people get better with it, but I've never heard of anyone on keto becoming permanently worse because of it. It's ridiculous, that we all have very similar symptoms, but our response to the same treatments is so different.
 

Artemisia

Senior Member
Messages
216
Highly restrictive diets have never been good for me. (And I know many other women who have had disastrous effects from them.)

One reason people seem to do well on any restrictive diet at first is that you may (unwittingly) remove offending foods from the restriction, or some change is beneficial, but it's not because of what you intended.

Example: I was eating low fat/low protein and not menstruating in my late 20s. I switched to an ultra low carb / high fat and protein diet and started menstruating, thinking keto was healing me. But I just needed more protein and fat. Not to restrict carbs.

Or sometimes people think keto works because they're unaware they're really reacting to grains. When they could simply remove grains but not restrict carbs. Or they're allergic to the gums, fillers and stabilizers in many processed foods.

I think temporary elimination diets are good to see what you react to. But eliminating one of the three macronutrients long term (carbs, protein or fat) has not worked well for anyone I know.
 
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Wayne

Senior Member
Messages
4,306
Location
Ashland, Oregon
I just ran across the below linked article yesterday, which seems to fit in quite well with this discussion. I myself never tried to do a low carb diet, as it never seemed very balanced. I've always figured the "Universe" gave us things likes fruits and berries for a reason--to eat them!

My understanding is the liver uses up all its glycogen within about 12-14 hours, after which the body will start drawing on the body's fat reserves, and producing ketones in the process. I find that I do better when I don't eat for 16-18 hours, and then walk before eating. I'd even go as far as to say I feel the most "normal" and my energy is the best after I haven't eaten for that long.

So I do think there's value for me in letting my glycogen reserves run out, and force my body to turn to ketones for fuel. I also find it works better for me to break my 18-hour fast with a relatively low carb meal, but I then finish up with a dessert of a smoothie made of berries, nuts, and other fruits. BTW, food tastes incredibly good after not eating for 18 hours.

Also, I struggled for years being underweight by about 15-20 pounds. Since starting my intermittent fasting regimen in the past couple of years (and eating less), I was able to gain about 15 pounds or so. I think the rest my digestive system got from regularly going longer periods of time without eating made it more efficient and allowed me to gain some much needed weight.

Consequences of Low Carb Diet
by Joseph Mercola

STORY AT-A-GLANCE​

  • Keto diets can provide immediate symptom relief and rapid weight loss, but may worsen health in the long run due to the reliance on gluconeogenesis, a less optimal metabolic pathway for producing glucose internally
  • Low-carb diets fail to improve metabolic flexibility, inducing physiological insulin resistance instead, as they do not address underlying issues with glucose metabolism. Essential body parts, including the brain, muscles during strength training, and various organs, require carbohydrates for optimal functioning, highlighting the inefficiency of forcing the body to produce its own glucose through gluconeogenesis
  • Relying excessively on gluconeogenesis for glucose production is energetically costly and inefficient, requiring a significant energy investment for a relatively low energy return, and is stimulated by stress hormones, potentially leading to muscle loss over time
  • Low-carb diets can hinder thyroid function by reducing the liver's ability to convert T4 into the active thyroid hormone T3, essential for regulating metabolism, due to a decrease in glucose availability for the liver
  • Reintroducing carbohydrates in a balanced manner can improve metabolism and overall health, countering the negative effects of long-term low-carb dieting by enhancing the body's energy production and usage
 

Artemisia

Senior Member
Messages
216
In my opinion, a better thing to restrict would be processed food.

Eat nothing but whole, home-cooked food for a month and see how you do.
No dairy products with carageenan or polysorbate 80. No industrial juice processed with enzymes. No products with "natural flavors," MSG, citric acid, xanthum gum, ascorbic acid, or guar gum.

Just meat, fruit, veg, potatoes, and milk (if you can tolerate it).

If you want to play around with ratios of fat, protein, and carbs (increase one and decrease others or whatever), do it by keeping track of how you feel. Not what anyone else says (including me), not what doctors say (they're often wrong and prone to being misled by the media like everyone else).

Almost all humans have eaten carbs, fat and protein for most of our time on Earth (notwithstanding some isolated cultures). We didn't have polysorbate 80, citric acid, and xanthum gum until recently.
 
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Artemisia

Senior Member
Messages
216
I just ran across the below linked article yesterday, which seems to fit in quite well with this discussion. I myself never tried to do a low carb diet, as it never seemed very balanced. I've always figured the "Universe" gave us things likes fruits and berries for a reason--to eat them!

My understanding is the liver uses up all its glycogen within about 12-14 hours, after which the body will start drawing on the body's fat reserves, and producing ketones in the process. I find that I do better when I don't eat for 16-18 hours, and then walk before eating. I'd even go as far as to say I feel the most "normal" and my energy is the best after I haven't eaten for that long.

So I do think there's value for me in letting my glycogen reserves run out, and force my body to turn to ketones for fuel. I also find it works better for me to break my 18-hour fast with a relatively low carb meal, but I then finish up with a dessert of a smoothie made of berries, nuts, and other fruits. BTW, food tastes incredibly good after not eating for 18 hours.

Also, I struggled for years being underweight by about 15-20 pounds. Since starting my intermittent fasting regimen in the past couple of years (and eating less), I was able to gain about 15 pounds or so. I think the rest my digestive system got from regularly going longer periods of time without eating made it more efficient and allowed me to gain some much needed weight.

Consequences of Low Carb Diet
by Joseph Mercola

STORY AT-A-GLANCE​

  • Keto diets can provide immediate symptom relief and rapid weight loss, but may worsen health in the long run due to the reliance on gluconeogenesis, a less optimal metabolic pathway for producing glucose internally
  • Low-carb diets fail to improve metabolic flexibility, inducing physiological insulin resistance instead, as they do not address underlying issues with glucose metabolism. Essential body parts, including the brain, muscles during strength training, and various organs, require carbohydrates for optimal functioning, highlighting the inefficiency of forcing the body to produce its own glucose through gluconeogenesis
  • Relying excessively on gluconeogenesis for glucose production is energetically costly and inefficient, requiring a significant energy investment for a relatively low energy return, and is stimulated by stress hormones, potentially leading to muscle loss over time
  • Low-carb diets can hinder thyroid function by reducing the liver's ability to convert T4 into the active thyroid hormone T3, essential for regulating metabolism, due to a decrease in glucose availability for the liver
  • Reintroducing carbohydrates in a balanced manner can improve metabolism and overall health, countering the negative effects of long-term low-carb dieting by enhancing the body's energy production and usage
Fruit is amazing, my favorite food, and yes it seems like it's nature's gift to all beings who can eat it.

Well I'm glad Mercola has taken this turn. I seriously wish I could've warned my younger self never to go down the low carb path.
 
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Artemisia

Senior Member
Messages
216
My understanding is the liver uses up all its glycogen within about 12-14 hours, after which the body will start drawing on the body's fat reserves, and producing ketones in the process.
Hmm... I'm not sure everyone's body will draw on body fat after using up glycogen. I know mine doesn't or else I would not be overweight, because I have major trouble with glycogen storage (thanks for that, low carb diet of 15 years ago). And I often run out of glycogen when under stress, yet my fat stores do not budge.

I believe metabolic challenges will cause the body to spike cortisol. Maybe drawing on fat reserves is what happens in certain people, but not for everyone.
 
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Artemisia

Senior Member
Messages
216
Another misconception about keto: everyone loses weight on it. Wrong. I never had a weight problem until I did low carb. I never had problems regulating blood sugar. Not only did low carb make me fat--and I put on a lot of weight because of it--but it also elevated my fasting blood sugar and created a new symptom: endless, insatiable hunger.

https://raypeat.com/articles/articles/glucose-sucrose-diabetes.shtml
 
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Dysfunkion

Senior Member
Messages
128
Potatoes are wonderful. rich in potassium too. Good conduit for salt as well.

I heard the resistant starch in them could actually be good for your guts too sometimes because it can help build a more diverse microbiome but I also don't eat them too much either because they tend to stuff me up much quicker then other carbs and when I get too stuffed up then I get really brain foggy and lethargic. When I cross that potato starch threshold I tend to get pretty groggy for a while though I also don't know specifically if it's the starch in them doing that when I have too much. Also noticed how much potassium is in them too this morning when I looked up the nutrition info on them, I could use more of that but supplementing it doesn't make my guts happy. The most friendly form for them was the food form (potassium bicarbonate) and things got too gassy too quick.