Is Ketosis Dangerous? (Science of Fasting & Low Carb Keto)

Is Ketosis Dangerous? (Science of Fasting & Low Carb Keto)

Recently, low carb diets, intermittent fasting
and even prolonged fasting have become very popular and they all have something in common. They move you towards entering the state of
ketosis. Ketosis is a state where your body is running
primarily on fat, fat from your diet or your body. Ketogenesis is when Fats are broken down into
something called ketones. These ketones (or ketone bodies) are usually
thought of as an alternate fuel source, because instead of glucose, ketones are used to power
most tissues as well as the brain. Sustaining ketosis means restricting protein
to less than 20% of your calories and carbs to less than 5% Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of
confusion around ketones, most people have been taught that ketosis is a dangerous unnatural
state that appears only during starvation or in diabetics… So with this video I’d like to clear up
some misunderstandings and, I’ll present to you why entering this fat burning state
of ketosis can be perfectly natural, and might even even be the preferred state for humans,
compared to having our bodies always running off of carbohydrate. To see how there can be so much confusion
around a topic like ketosis, let’s first take a look at the story of the thymus gland. Back around the 18th and 19th century, it
was hard to get cadavers for anatomical study. People didn’t really like having their recently
deceased loved ones cut up for examination. So people called resurrectionists were employed
by anatomists to exhume the bodies of the recently dead. Sometimes resurrectionists would even wait
near a funeral and snatch the body right then and there. Because of this, wealthy people would purchase
very well crafted lockable coffins and they would hire armed guards to protect the graves
of their loved ones. The 1832 Anatomy Act even said that if a person
died in a poor house, or their relatives could not pay for medical expenses, their body was
to be immediately turned over to the anatomist for study. This meant that anatomists were much more
likely to get their hands on the body of a poor person who couldn’t afford such measures. So… what about the thymus? Well, people facing the hardships that come
from being poor, are of course going to be under a lot of stress. Chronic stress. Nowadays we’re very familiar with the fact
that chronic stress leads to all types of diseases, and that it can atrophy certain
organs. In the case of the thymus, stress can reduce
its size by as much as 75%. So what ended up being recorded into the anatomy
books as a normal thymus gland was actually a thymus that was severely reduced in size. Then, in the 1900’s a german anatomist called
Paltauf was trying to find the cause of Sudden Infant Death syndrome. Manny middle and upper class babies were abruptly
dying of this. So Paltauf examines the bodies of these higher
class babies and notices that their thymus glands appear to be abnormally large. So he concluded that if you wanted to be a
good parent you should irradiate the thymus gland of your child to make it smaller and
prevent sudden infant death syndrome. By the 1920’s all the the leading pediatric
textbooks were offering this advice. Paltauf of course didn’t realize that he
was simply someone who had the rare chance to look at the bodies of children whose thymus
was not affected by the chronic stress of poverty. Unfortunately this misunderstanding persisted
well into the 1950’s, having several thousands of people die from irradiation induced cancer. So, what does any of this have to do with
ketosis? Well, ketones also have the misfortune of
being misunderstood due to how they were discovered. Physicians first noticed ketones in the latter
part of the 19th century, when they were noticed to be in abundance in the urine of patients
in a diabetic coma. It was understood that a vast overproduction
of ketones was responsible for the terrible symptoms of something called diabetic ketoacidosis. So for half a century ketones were thought
to be the very negative product of impaired carbohydrate utilization. Only after technology and analytical techniques
improved did we understand that ketone bodies are perfectly normal components of the blood. Even if you’re not technically in ketosis,
Ketone bodies are always present in the blood of a healthy person and their levels increase
the longer you go without food. After an overnight fast, ketone bodies supply
2–6% of the body’s energy requirements, while they supply 30–40% of the energy needs
after a 3-day fast. Before we continue, being in ketosis through
fasting or diet is nothing like diabetic ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis involves exorbitant levels of
ketone production, far higher than what you could achieve even when fasting for weeks. Being worried about ketoacidosis through diet
or fasting is like worrying that eating at a sushi restaurant is going to put you in
brief coma just like that one kid who chugged a bottle of soy sauce on a dare. So not only are ketones normally found in
healthy people, but it’s been found that certain tissues prefer to use ketone bodies. In fact, as is explained in the Biochemistry
textbook published by W.H. Freeman “Fatty acids are the heart’s main source of fuel,
although ketone bodies as well as lactate can serve as fuel for heart muscle. In fact, heart muscle consumes acetoacetate
(a ketone body) in preference to glucose.” Some people actually purposely enter ketosis
through fasting in order to improve mental performance. A study at the University of Cambridge concluded
that a ketogenic diet “improved physical performance and cognitive function in rats,
and its energy-sparing properties suggest that it may help to treat a range of human
conditions with metabolic abnormalities.” I guess Plato figured this out for himself
when he said “I fast for greater physical and mental efficiency.” Going without food for better cognitive function
may sound ridiculous considering it was for a long while thought that the brain can run
only on glucose ( carbohydrates). George Cahill and his group at Harvard Medical
School demonstrated in 1967 that the brain can use ketone bodies as a source of energy. What he found was that during starvation,
ketones are the predominant fuel for the peripheral tissues and the brain, with the brain deriving
more than two thirds of its energy from ketone bodies. Despite this, the body still requires some
glucose, even when you aren’t eating anything. For example red blood cells can’t run off
of ketone bodies because they don’t have any mitochondria to metabolize them with. But all of the body’s glucose needs are
met by the fact that the body can make its own glucose, for example it can make glucose
from the glycerol backbone of fat. For this reason, even during prolonged fasting,
people will keep a stable blood glucose level. This also illustrates that there is actually
no dietary requirement for carbohydrate. Of course vegetables and some fruit are very
important because they have all kinds of micronutrients and fiber, but your body doesn’t actually
require the carbohydrate inside those foods. I’m not necessarily saying a zero carbohydrate
diet is best, just that it’s very possible to live without dietary carbohydrate assuming
you get enough fat and protein. There are essential amino acids and there
are essential fatty acids – types of protein and fat you must get from the diet. However, there is no such thing as an essential
dietary carbohydrate – your body is perfectly capable of making as much glucose as it needs. In fact, in the absence of dietary carbohydrate,
the brain runs so efficiently off of ketone bodies that you can drastically deplete glucose
levels of people in deep ketosis and it won’t affect them. A 1972 paper describes an ethically questionable
study where overweight patients fasted for 2 months, putting them in deep ketosis meaning
they were producing a very large amount of ketone bodies. Insulin was then infused into these patients
until their blood glucose went as low as low as 9mg per deciliter – a level that should
cause coma or death. However, the patients didn’t really react
to this. There was no particular change in cognition,
nor did their body react to the drastic drop in blood sugar. “The only people in the room who had palpations
and sweating and anxiety were the physicians. The people who had the blood sugar levels
that should be associated with coma or death were completely unphased. Had completely normal mentation. It is clear that the human brain is perfectly
happy with beta hydroxybutyrate as not just its majority fuel, but essentially its sole
fuel.” Actually anyone watching this video would
have, at at least one point in their lives, been in a similar situation where blood glucose
is very low and ketone utilization is very high in their bodies. It’s estimated that a newborn’s brain
consumes on average between 60 and 71% of its body’s energy budget. Compare that to the lowly 25% of the body’s
energy budget an adult brain uses. Despite this massive need for energy, a newborn’s
blood glucose level is incredibly low at around 35mg per deciliter. This is half of the lower end of a normal
adult’s blood glucose level. This means that the newborn’s brain would
have to be deriving more than half of its energy from ketone bodies. In his book on the health potential of ketones,
Dr. Muneta Tetsuo, director of Muneta Maternity Clinic in Japan explains that pregnant women,
whether they are restricting carbohydrate or not are producing higher than normal levels
of ketones. By comparing the mother’s blood with the
newborn’s umbilical cord blood, he found that out of 416 cases, 70% of babies were
born with even higher levels of ketones than that of the mother. By analyzing the villi that provide contact
with the mother’s blood to the fetal membrane, Muneta deduced that the fetus must be living
in an environment of elevated ketones from the start of pregnancy. And, even a month after birth, babies on average
had a blood ketone level 5 times higher than that of a normal person. As Muneta wrote in his book: “Newborns are
living off of ketones!” Not only is ketosis helpful for supplying
the energy needs of the newborn baby, it may also be an important factor in the development
of the brain. It’s been understood that exercise is beneficial
for the brain because it increases the level of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor – BDNF,
which is a protein that promotes the growth of new brain cells. Because of this, Dr. John Ratey of Harvard
Medical School has given BDNF the nickname of “miracle gro for the brain.” However, the mechanism for how exercise triggers
BDNF was not clear for some time, until a paper came out last year that was headed by
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry Dr. Sama Sleiman. I think the title is quite straightforward:
“Exercise promotes the expression of brain derived neurotrophic factor through the action
of the ketone body beta hydroxybutyrate.” Growth of the brain is very important in a
more broad sense as well – growing a big brain is of course what allowed us to become human. And When it comes to human evolution, efficiency
is the name of the game. That is our bodies had to develop methods
for more efficient extraction and utilization of energy, mainly to support our big energy
hungry brain. One tradeoff for a bigger brain was a smaller
gut- less energy spent on the gut meant more for the brain. As is stated in a Public Library of Science
article titled “Man the Fat Hunter,” to adjust for the high metabolic cost of a large brain
“…shrinkage in gut size was a necessary accompaniment. … A shorter human gut, had evolved to be
more dependent on nutrient and energy-dense foods than other primates. A smaller gut is less efficient at extracting
sufficient energy and nutrition from fibrous foods and considerably more dependent on higher-density,
higher bio-available foods that require less energy for their digestion per unit of energy
/ nutrition released.” This implicates fat as an important food source
because it is obviously very energy dense, providing 9 calories per gram. But the efficiency of using fat for fuel is
deeper than just calories. Also, our brains’ power and capacity for
intellect comes not just from the increase in size, but also from enhanced blood flow
and efficient use of oxygen. Roger Seymour of the University of Adelaide
and his team found that bloodflow to the brain increased at an unexpectedly rapid pace over
a period of 3 million years. Seymour says: “While brain size was increasing
3.5 times, blood flow rate surprisingly increased six hundred percent, from about 1.2ml per
second to 7ml per second. …This indicates that our brains are six
times as hungry for oxygen as those of our ancestors, presumably because our cognitive
ability is greater and therefore more energy-intensive.” This would suggest that the most important
fuel for the brain is going to be one that uses oxygen more efficiently. And this is exactly what ketones do. Dr. Richard L Veech found in 1994 that administering
ketone bodies to a rat heart led to a 25% increase in hydraulic work, but a decrease
in oxygen consumption. Theodore VanItallie explained this phenomenon
in a 2003 article by saying that the ketone body beta hydroxybutyrate increases the efficiency
of energy production in the cell’s mitochondria. If you were schooled in the states and attended
even a day of biology class, you would know that mitochondria are the “powerhouses of
the cell.” But is this improvement in efficiency happening
in the powerhouses of the brain cells? Well, Vanitallie says that “Studies of blood flow and oxygen consumption
in the brains of food-deprived obese human subjects revealed values that were well below
the normal levels for adult human brains… they suggest an increase in the metabolic
efficiency in human brains using ketoacids as their principal energy source in place
of glucose.” People who have done extended fasts will sometimes
report a euphoric or drastically enhanced state of mental clarity around day 6 or 7
– this is when ketone bodies have reached a particularly high concentration: somewhere
over 5 millimolars per liter depending on the person. In essence ketone bodies may be a preferred
fuel source for the brain as they provide more cellular energy per unit of oxygen compared
to glucose. Getting more bang for your oxygen through
ketosis would be incredibly significant for the development and maintenance of big brains. Some of Dr. Dominic D’Agostino’s work
revolves around taking advantage of ketosis’s efficient usage of oxygen in the cells. His research touches on ketosis’s potential
for treating a variety of illnesses including Epilepsy, ALS, Alzheimer’s , Parkinson’s and
even some cancers. His initial research, funded by the Office
of Navy Research, was aimed at improving Navy Seal Divers diving capabilities. The most straightforward display of ketones
efficient use of oxygen is that simply by being in the state of ketosis, Dr. D’Agostino
was able to double his breath hold time from 2 minutes to 4 minutes without any prior training. To sum all this up, when fasting long enough,
or when protein and carbohydrate intake are restricted enough, our bodies switch over
to breaking down fat and making ketones – potentially the most efficient fuel that can be used by
humans. The brain is a massive blood flow, oxygen
and energy hog that needs to constantly be fueled – anything that could enhance energy
efficiency would be very important for the survival of big brained humans. Despite the evidence that our bodies and brains
may actually prefer to run on ketones, ketosis is still frequently misunderstood as a potentially
dangerous state. Going back to the thymus story, surely children’s
thymuses wouldn’t have been irradiated if the anatomical data of healthy children had
been available at the time. And, maybe with ketones, the perception of
them would be totally different if the first pieces of data didn’t come from a diabetic,
but say a healthy pregnant mother, or a healthy newborn.

100 thoughts on “Is Ketosis Dangerous? (Science of Fasting & Low Carb Keto)

  1. What I have learned of from Dr Eric Bergs video is that fasting is better that ketogenic diet. It has far better effects than ketogenic diet. Of course we have to cut down on carbs.

  2. High Protein diet does effect ketosis ?
    does High Protein diet can produce Glucose (through Gluconeogenesis / Glycogenolysis process) on low card diet which can further lead to Hyper insulinmia ?
    Plz explain .

  3. Can you make a video about how ketosis/ketogenetic diet should work? What exactly should we know about amounts of intake etc. also combined with intermittent fasting?

  4. he said if protein and carbohydrates are restricted enough the body enters ketosis. 14:36
    do you have to restrict protein as well?
    i'm on the keto diet rn which means i intake a lot of protein
    can someone clear this up for me pls

  5. Is it more in the sense of where the source of energy is coming from, internal or external? Best to get it from food or adipose tissue? Glucagon is the hormone to access that unlimited energy supply.

  6. Fascinating, but how to fight sugar addiction, the carbohydrate convenience and availability, and finally sugar enablers?

  7. okay okay you've got me interested…but what if I am trying to gain weight (muscle). How can this way of eating (either keto or fasting) help me gain muscle mass?

  8. Fancy video and very one sided. Reality is a keto diet is the number one diet people do not stay on, they go on it for a few days then give up. Why? well because without eating carbs most people feel like crap, they don't get smarter as you said in the video. In my experience and many other peoples if you are exercising and have to do mentally demanding tasks, doing them on a keto diet is very hard. Also see how long you're muscles stay soar and how tired you are after a workout with 0 carbs. It is just another fad diet just like gluten free, paleo, etc. Cutting out carbs has their place and time for certain people and there are benefits for sure, its not for everybody.

  9. I live for your content, man. Would really appreciate if you'd tackle ketosis in relation to athletic performance. If carbs wasnt really that "required" for daily functioning, would it change when we talk about high-intensity exercise or training?

  10. Hi I’m 1week into keto (i feel great) and i checked my body fat percentage when i started and 1week later.

    I was wondering if i have to calculatete everything i eat ,so that my meals are 70%fat ,25%protein ,and 5%carbohydrates? Or if i can continue with the menu i have set up already.

    I also intermittent fast so i eat one meal a day

    This is the result of 1week
    34%→32.5%(fat percentage)

    This is the menu
    1tbsp peanut butter
    40g (3tbsp) whey protein
    1cup milk
    40g whey protein

    1 avocado
    1 tomato
    2tbsp dressing

    1 Boiled egg
    1/2 Avocado
    1/2 Chicken breast
    1tbsp Olive oil
    2tbsp dressing

    1/2 chicken breast mints
    1tsp spice

  11. So ketonees are efficient for the brain. What about for muscles during high intensity exercise ? Weightlifting, plyometrics, sprints, etc

  12. Very true I’m a type one diabetic and when my blood sugar is high and I’m in state of ketosis I’m definitely in a more euphoric state

  13. From the 1967 Cahill paper, Full Metabolism in Starvation:

    "D-beta-hydroxybutyric acid … owing to its greater efficiency in providing cellular energy [to the brain] in ischemic states…" what about non-ischemic states? The abstract doesn't say anything about that.

  14. my only wish would to have all sources in the description so when I'm told "that is just a youtube video" I could link atleast 7 links. 3 is enough and 2 is must to prove anything… I'm shit finding stuff, compared to cousin who solved my problem in 1min took me first 1 week googling and rage to give up and ask help :^)

  15. Some people confuse the word "ketosis" with "ketoacidosis" because they sound similar. But they're not the same thing. Just like "unemployment compensation" is not the same as "unemployment constipation", even though they, too, sound the same.

  16. When I eat carb such as pasta or bread I'm always craving for sugary food too, but now that I'm ketosis I feel full all the time and don't need to eat that much. Keto diet literally saved me. I feel more energetic and less stressed.

  17. This was super interesting! I've had to start a modified keto (so closer to a MAD instead of true keto diet which is extremely restrictive) for epilepsy under the recommendation of my doctor and I've been very anxious about it because of all the things I've tangentially heard about keto so this was really help to see 🙂

  18. Verdict of video- Ketosis is beneficial to human body not dangerous.. Thanks me later …(Great research by the way.. good job "What I've learned")

  19. 20 percent protein seems a bit low. for a 2500 calorie diet that equates to only 125grams. I'm aiming for atleast 1gr/lb.

  20. 2019 and people cant even get their meals right. Smh LMAO
    U morons are spending more time on diet programs then actually living life. Ur gonna end up healthy and old, but alone and ignorant af.

  21. does fasting cause gastric problems? my stomach starts acting up after a day of fasting even if i drank a ton of water=(

  22. Ketones are "alternative" fuels, is not meant for long term. The body still prefer glucose. The blood only burns glucose, and in fact, it becomes greasy with too much fats causing Hypoxemia. Ketosis is Stressful to the body.

  23. whether you call it a creator or just nature we were designed to be hunter gatherers & their diet had always been low carb, keto & intermittent fasting & that is without the physical activity we are designed to do everyday… we take much pride in our species but Neanderthals & other humans species lived here on earth for hundreds of million years because they stuck to the way they were designed to be, from w/c we haven't even got to 2 million years here on earth yet & we see life as a burden already. the way I see it Neanderthals & other human species just didn't want to live the life w/c homo sapiens imposed upon the earth….

  24. Another great job putting together a very informative and accurate health video! Excellent work! My personal experience with fasting and ketosis is totally consistent with your commentary. Keep them coming!

  25. I tried doing no carbs and my blood sugar dropped to 65 and I almost passed out and got super disoriented. What’s up with that? I have hypoglycemia issues and insulin resistance. I’m not fat at all. 5’10 and 157 pounds.

  26. People need to stop seeing health as fat loss. I think the key is just to eat healthy in general, and not eat non-stop. Because eating is also stress

  27. I’m really interested in this topic but I don’t know what books to read to get a more in depth understanding of ketones. I was also wondering, do ketone bodies restore genes?

  28. Excellent information. Surely, "authentic" Eskimos/Inuit eat essentially zero carbs their entire lives. Of course, they're not particularly noteworthy for living extremely long lives though.

  29. In any video about the ketogenic diet, not one has talked about the increased energy required to break down fats into fuel, and how it affects the body. I'm no expert and I don't entirely know, but when I was on the ketogenic diet, I found my energy levels were extremely low and I was unable to peak in performance

  30. enough fat and PROTEIN. I think keto is incomplete. I think we are designed to eat a lot of meat, a little bit of fruit and some veggies and herbs. That is it.

  31. Really enjoyed this interesting video until you started talking about evolutionary nonsense! I just don't understand why so many educated, enlightened, creative, brilliant minds still cling to the impossible and unproveable theory of evolution. Other than THAT, it's a great vid!!

  32. If our bodies can make glucose during a ketogenic state then why do we get fatigued or unable to muster a short, intense burst of energy?

  33. I love all the Simpsons clips you put on here! Also very informational and entertaining. Love these types of videos.

  34. I wish this video had mentioned some of the negatives–like that the keto-diet is correlated with an increase in kidney stones, bone fractures, and high cholesterol, if maintained over several years.

  35. The conspiracy theories in me just ponder 🤔, how many businesses and how much of our economies would simply vanish if we cut out sugars and high carbs.

  36. The body does not like being in ketosis. The inuits who don't really eat carbs, their bodies made genetic mutations to stop producing ketones, that should tell you something. Listen to your body, it does NOT want to be in sustained ketosis, it's not natural.

  37. This is exactly why ppl no longer trust science, medical, pharmaceutical, and food industry. They clearly still do not fully understand the human body. Making diabetics sicker, causing cancer, pushing drugs, and poisoning food, all for the live of money. There is a special place in hell for those type of animals.🔥🔥🥵

  38. I have had 2 urinalysis tests in a row that said I had ketones in the urine. The first said 1+. The second said 3+. This happened on a diet which actually had more carbs than the standard keto diet and fewer skipped meals than the standard keto diet.

  39. I was almost diabetic and high high blood pressure. 4 months after doing keto I'm at normal levels and feeling better than ever. Also lost over 22 kgs

  40. if you won’t to say it, I will… A diet without carbohydrates is best! Dr. Eric Berg – “there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate”

  41. Keto or a high fat high protien diet. I feel like a beast in the gym. Made so much gains.

    I thought you wouldn't agree but very happy to see you are. Subbed bro

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