Archives for posts with tag: ketosis

I’m posting this more as a “note-to-self” than anything else.

I haven’t done much research on this at all, mostly because it takes a lot of time to find sane and compelling sources, so it is highly likely that a lot of the answers I’m looking for are out there.

If anyone actually reads this and is involved in the field, please let me know!

There is such a wide spread of hormonal experiences when transitioning to ketosis on all the forums and groups I visit online. Some women lose their cycles, for how long I don’t know.  Many who stay on a ketogenic diet seem to regain a normal cycle after some months, but I have absolutely no idea what the norm is. I don’t know if a norm exists. And then some are on birth control, some not.

I don’t make any conclusions because all reported experiences end up being an echo-chamber. The only conclusion I have so far is that different things happen to different women, but there seem to be a few subsets of common experiences.

There are two things in particular that interest me:

  • the differences between menstrual cycles on a ketogenic diet, a non-ketogenic carb-restricted diet, a “normal” middle-of-the-road diet, and a very low-fat diet,
  • the effects of different forms of hormonal birth control on all of the above cases.

The first set of baseline questions seem to me to cover the continuum of metabolic regimes. (My background is in applied maths and fluid mechanics, so it seems that this is how I now process the world: hard definitions, mathematically defined regimes and effects during regime changes. What have I become!)

It should go without saying that this kind of data should be long-term data and tested for metabolically healthy women as well as those who have already developed shit like PCOS.

Then I want the corresponding set of data for the same questions, but during periods of active weight (i.e. fat) loss.

I really want good sets of data to exist with ALL the parameters available. Influences on mood, period pain (damn you forever omega 6’s and prostaglandins), bloating, PMS-cravings, flow rate, cervical mucous, give me everything.

With online food-tracking and cycle-tracking being as easy as it is these days, there really is no excuse. It should be “relatively simple” to get a first-pass investigation going with so many people voluntarily switching to different diet regimes.

Tools like MyFitnessPal, My Days, FatSecret and all similar apps are sitting on a wealth of information. I want it!

All the data. That’s my Christmas wish.




I thought it was about time that I compile a list of videos on YouTube that could put food and health into perspective.

This is not a full compendium of every video out there, but rather a collection that, in my opinion, covers the map of what I consider relevant at the moment.

The list below is not in an order of good to best, but rather grouped together and ranging from introductory to more involved, although a lot of their content almost overlap entirely.

As always, by linking the videos and recommending them, I am by no means implying that every single idea in them is true. They are there to make you think a bit.

Okay here we go!

— General overview —

Grant Schofield: “How Can We Change the Way We Eat”

Professor of Public Health at the Auckland University of Technology, Schofield goes through some of his first-hand experience of being a public health advisor.
This one goes at the top because Schofield describes, to me, what this is all about. Do you think about the way you want to die and how you want to be able to live up to that point?

“If you don’t, you should.”


Grant Schofield

Grant Schofield

Gary Taubes: “Adiposity 101 and the Alternative Hypothesis of Obesity”

The latest of the many, many versions of this lecture on YouTube.

What drives fat accumulation?

Why do we think about being fat in the way we do?

Just… watch, and consider what is being said. Taubes gives no advice, so you can make up your mind.

Edit: here is a 9min concise summary of the whole thing.

Gary Taubes

Gary Taubes

Stephen Phinney on The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living and Performance

If anyone has the authority to speak from experience, it’s Dr Phinney. He has been living the nutritional ketosis lifestyle and as you can see, is very much alive and well.

This talk covers starts with treading through the background of particular native populations who found themselves to be living on the cusp of dietary revolution. Luckily there are records of what these peoples most likely ate before their diet, culture and health changed dramatically.

Dr Phinney also discusses his own academic work regarding athletic performance on ketogenic diets.
Watch and learn!

Stephen Phinney

Stephen Phinney

Tim Noakes on The Great Diet Controversy

Noakes, professor of exercise and sports medicine at the University of Cape Town, talks about his own experience of being the king of carbo-loading (my words) to realising, oi vey, he was wrong.
Noakes was a lean, active marathon runner who ended up with type 2 diabetes.
A lot of people wonder what you should eat, and I think Noakes sums it up pretty well:

“What is food? Food is something which was alive until quite recently.”

This is a long presentation, but well worth your time! Especially if you are South African and totally confused about all this Banting business. Hopefully this places Noakes’ journey in context.

Tim Noakes

Tim Noakes

Robert Lustig on Sugar: The Bitter Truth

The Authors@Google version of Dr Lustig’s presentation on sugar and fructose metabolism.

Robert Lustig

Robert Lustig

— Dieticians and personal stories —

Caryn Zinn on Low-Carb, Healthy Fat: Weight loss and sport.

Dietician Caryn goes through her set of tips for starting out a low-carb lifestyle. I’m happy to say that I can say yes and yes to every single one of these! It was nice to watch this for the first time and go “oh cool, I must be doing this right then”. 🙂
And here’s another vote for big food prep days with loud music and wine! Sometimes I put a movie on. Either way, I make food for the entire week.

Full fridge, empty pantry.

Confirmed! My pantry is now contained in a single kitchen drawer and this includes tea and coffee. SPACE!
Both the fridge and freezer are full. So many eggs. Mmm.

Caryn Zinn

Caryn Zinn

Vicky Kuriel on Case Reports from an LCHF Dietician

Some more practical guidelines from a dietician actively involved in the effects of low-carb, high-fat on the lives of real people.

Vicky Kuriel

Vicky Kuriel

Eric Westman on how to practically implement a low-carb, high-fat diet.

Dr Westman goes through what and how you eat if you are interested in a ketogenic-type diet. He has some very useful tips and ideas, especially if you are not interested in precisely tracking your calories.
Remember, salt is your friend, especially in the beginning if you get inexplicably exhausted. Broth is excellent.

Eric Westman

Eric Westman

Peter Attia on how he changed from burning sugar to burning fat.

Dr Attia’s personal journey to an LCHF lifestyle. He has done self-experimentation and has built up a fascinating understanding of his body’s use of fuel.

Peter Attia

Peter Attia

— Health & Disease —


Craig B Thompson, current president of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, on basic cancer ideas and research trends.
(The first ~5min are introductory.)
What is cancer and why do we do so much research on it?  He gives a very good, understandable intro into the basic ideas of cancer growth which is invaluable to someone like me.

And what does food have to do with cancer?

He discusses overeating as the cause of obesity and links it to the profuse availability of food. However, he doesn’t differentiate between the different types of foods we are able to consume. Compare this is to the ideas in Gary Taubes’ Adiposity 101 lecture.
Thompson asks:

“Why do we turn that food sometimes into growth, and other times just into storage, and fat.”

In other words, we’re all asking the same question and the answer is not, in fact, entirely obvious.

Craig Thompson

Craig Thompson


Sarah Hallberg on Reversing Type 2 Diabetes Starts With Ignoring the Guidelines

What are we telling people with diabetes to eat?!

Sarah Hallberg

Sarah Hallberg

Jason Fung on the perfect treatment for diabetes and weight loss

Dr Fung also treats patients with diabetes and has seen that diabetes is in fact not an irreversible, chronic disease. Eat, and maybe fast, your way healthy again.

Jason Fung

Jason Fung

Fertility and PCOS
Michael Fox on How to Eat to Get Pregnant
Dr Fox treats patients with fertility problems and has gradually come to learn from his patients’ experiences. His treatment starts with nutrition if there is any evidence of insulin resistance.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a sign that you have insulin resistance (metabolic syndrome).

Michael Fox

Michael Fox

Alzheimers and dementia

A discussion with Grant Anderson, Robb Wolf, Peter Attia, Tara Dall, Malcolm Bacchus and Gary Taubes.

1. Malcolm Bacchus

A neurologist discusses Alzheimers and dementia and his experiences when diagnosing patients.

My grandfather had Alzheimers. It is absolutely not the way you want to go if you could avoid it.

Malcolm Bacchus

Malcolm Bacchus

2. Grant Anderson, Peter Attia, Robb Wolf, Gary Taubes, Malcolm Bacchus: ketones, coconut oil, carbohydrates… Alzheimers.

This touches on a fear of mine: ending up in hospital or an old-age home and being fed things I would not otherwise want near my body. I think of my grandmother who is 101 and will probably live forever, but who has no real say in what goes into her own body. This is a woman who was cooking for herself well into her late nineties and fasting every Friday. (I should’ve listened to her advice a long, long time ago!)

Malcolm Bacchus, Tara Dall, Gary Taubes discussion.

Malcolm Bacchus, Tara Dall, Gary Taubes discussion.

3. Tara Dall (lipidoligst)

The role of insulin resistance in various chronic disease states and how to address the risk factors before the onset of disease.

Tara Dall

Tara Dall

4. Gary Taubes, part one

A neurologist’s take on the Alzheimers chapter in Good Calories, Bad Calories:

I reviewed the chapter in the book you provided. This man is right on.
The theories about insulin and Alzheimers have been well-known for a while.
Coincidentally, in our Journal of Neurology, this is recently reported on. This is not theory anymore, it is fact.

Cheers, sugar and bread.

Gary Taubes

Gary Taubes

5. Gary Taubes, part two

More on dementia and Alzheimers.

Gary Taubes

Gary Taubes

— Some more interesting and technical stuff —

Ken Sikaris asking Does LCHF Improve Your Blood Tests?

A presentation on the effects of a low-carb, high-fat diet on the typical values in a lipid panel. This could be interesting for anyone trying to make sense of all the numbers and have no clue where to start.

Ken Sikaris

Ken Sikaris

Interview with Kenneth Brookler, ENT specialist

Ivor Cummins has posted two wonderful interviews on his blog, The Fat Emperor.
The first interview is with ear, nose and throat specialist Dr Kenneth Brookler. (The fancy name for this is an otorhinolaryngologist… Try saying that with your mouth full.)
This conversation is overflowing with insight from Dr Brookler’s experiences across medical specialties over the years. Do your curiosity a favour and have listen.

Kenneth Brookler being interviewed by Ivor Cummins (

Interview with Joseph Kraft, pathologist

The second interview is with Dr Joseph Kraft, a lifetime pathologist who administered over 14 000 insulin assays. He authored the book: Diabetes Epidemic & You.

Dr Kraft indirectly summed up scientific paradigms beautifully when he addressed the common notion of “fat clogging the arteries”:

Well see this business of clogging the arteries, this is not something that’s been demonstrated. It’s a concept which they think will explain where they are in regard to their interpretation and management of cardiac disease.

This is a truly wonderful interview with what seems to be a great and humble scientist at the end of his career (he’s in his nineties!).

Joseph Kraft

Joseph Kraft

I’m pretty much living at work at the moment, so pre-prepared meals are crucial.

My daily dinner for this week consists of mixed green leaves, some red bell peppers, 3x meatballs (consisting only of mince, greek yogurt and a little butter), avocado and a dollop crème fraîche on top.

I can eat like this forever! 😀

Staple diet of awesomeness.

Staple diet of awesomeness.

Dr Eric Westman, current president of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians, talks through the steps of starting a ketogenic diet and discusses some of the things you can do to make your life easier.

One useful tip I learned was that a cup of greens or other veggies is roughly equivalent to a fist-size. I loathe measuring cauliflower and broccoli, mostly because I don’t care for being that precise, so this is a great way to learn to eyeball a serving of veggies.

I seemed to have jumped the gun in my first basic science post! I followed the route that most textbooks (the ones I could easily find online) set out: highlighting the importance of glucose as the fuel needed for our body to function and that the metabolism of glucose is akin to the metabolism of fuel. And then later on there is a short chapter on the role of fats and keto acids, often paired with the phrase starvation mode.

So through this unintended marketing ploy, I already assume that glucose is the one and only preferred fuel of my body. I have heard that it can survive off of my stored fat, but this is only in case of emergency…

Let’s do it a bit differently, then.

As I outlined in my previous post, our cells need the molecule ATP to survive. This molecule is the food our cells need to function and perform all their tiny tasks. The food our bodies need to create ATP is often grouped into what people call macronutrients.

Food is our fuel.  What we eat can be divided into three main sources of energy: carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

Food is our fuel.
What we eat can be divided into three main sources of energy: carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

These macronutrients are luckily words we’re all familiar with: carbohydrates, protein and fats. Interestingly enough, alcohol also provides energy, but I think we can all agree that we can’t live off a diet of pure alcohol, even though we sometimes try…

In the end, all three of these macronutrients have to be converted to the ATP molecule so that our cells can function. The journey from food as a body fuel to a potential cell fuel occurs through digestion. Carbohydrates get stored as glycogen, protein as amino acids and fats as triglycerides.

Once broken down into these compounds, they can be metabolised, chemically transformed, into the type of energy an individual cells can use. Each compound has its own path that it must follow to be metabolised. These are called metabolic pathways, and as you can see in this chart, I am greatly simplifying all the processes happening. And that chart should give you some idea of the headaches biochemistry students surely must endure.

In simple terms, carbohydrates and protein can form glucose, while fats can form keto acids (also called ketone bodies).


Two paths to a working body: glycolysis and ketosis.

The cells can use either glucose or keto acids to create ATP. When you’re body has any reserve glycogen stored up, or available glucose in the bloodstream, it will choose to run on glycolysis. When your body sees that there is no more stored glycogen and no available glucose in the blood, it will naturally switch to ketosis and use the stored fatty acids to form keto acids for energy.
This switch between processes is not a strange or frightening occurrence. In fact, most people switch into ketosis at night since the body is not getting fresh glucose supplied from food.

Something to note is that ketosis is not your body’s starvation mode if you are on a high-fat, carbohydrate-restrictive diet. How can it be if you are actively putting fuel into your mouth? Starvation is only starvation when you are actually starving.

Now, how about your brain?

Your brain needs fuel, too!

Your brain needs fuel, too!

Your brain also needs fuel to thrive, and like your cells, it will run on glucose as long as it is readily available.

However, your brain can also tap energy from keto acids! Just as in the rest of your body, your brain changes its metobolism method in order to use the keto acids as its source of fuel.

There is a catch, though. Your red blood cells need glucose to create ATP. Luckily, as mentioned in the previous post, your body can produce enough glucose through gluconeogenesis for the red blood cells to function, even while running on ketosis. It’s amazing, really!

Is ketosis dangerous? Well, in the case of Type 1 diabetics it can be! In their special case, they can develop ketoacidosis. This happens when they can no longer produce enough insulin to tell their bodies to metabolise glucose, so their bodies over-produce keto acids while also retaining high levels of blood glucose. Total energy confusion, it seems.

This state only poses a threat to people who don’t know that they have type 1 diabetes. This is not a concern for the average human able to produce insulin. However, as always, if you are worried go see a medical doctor for a check-up! But please go prepared and read up on type 1 diabetes.

I hope this post gave some insight into what happens after we eat! As always, this is a incredibly simplified outline, but I hope it gives a reasonable, bare-bones overview of what goes on inside.

Don’t fear fat. It is fuel. 🙂