Is A High Fat Ketogenic Diet For Everyone? Obviously Not

Here’s Kati, in commnets:

I was eating a lower fat low glycemic south beach style diet and dropped to my very happy adult weight, then eventually found ketosis. Gained 40+ lbs in a couple years and could not figure out for the life of me why my eyes were always dry to the point of contacts not staying in, bad insomnia and why the weight was creeping on. It couldn’t be my perfect diet! Fast forward to about a year ago last winter, I thought I was going to die. I kept getting respiratory infections and real influenza hit me hard, And any cold I got turned into a secondary infection requiring antibiotics. I think I was on antibiotics 3 times in 4 months. Anyway, all that to say, I’m glad to be back with what seems most sane, with a couple fasts thrown in per week for fat loss ( eat stop eat- the fat is finally coming off again). I just love you guys here. You have helped so much with me not being afraid of carbs (Paul Jaminet has helped too), and for me starting to regain my once robust immune system back. I love all the articles on resistant starch, chronic nutritional ketosis busting and even the occasional controversy. It gives me a lot to think about.

And here’s Bret:


Thanks for sharing your story. As you have certainly seen, a lot of chronic ketosis advocates seem to believe unconditionally that chronic ketosis is the “right” or “perfect” diet for everyone. Anecdotes like yours are important, because they provide hard proof that such a belief is wrong.

I remember getting swept up in the chronic ketosis hysteria myself. All these smart (and seemingly smart) doctors, authors, bloggers, etc were speaking with such confidence and so many technical details, it was difficult not to believe they were correct. But really, all they did was proffer another hypothesis that, while largely antithetical to the mainstream in its specific advice, was equally fallible and, as we now know, equally flawed.

I have been fooled once by the mainstream dogma. I was fooled again by the VLC dogma. I do not intend to be fooled a third time. Every piece of advice that comes my way now will be taken with a grain of salt and regarded with much skepticism and scrutiny. There is simply too much room for bullshit, no matter who is doing the advising.

But to be fair, here’s Mark:

Being a Type 2 diabetic, I guess the importance I see in all this is that the Inuits did eat low carbs ( I saw 30-40 grams re the snip it of Rabinowitch scientific literature presented by Duck Dodger) which is 5-6% of the carbohydrate portion of daily calorie consumption. IF this is so, I feel confident they were indeed insulin resistant and would fail an OGTT. I don’t see where this is proving anything detrimental about low carb, it just debunks the “they ate no carbs” myth. What does anything in any of the “scientific literature” say about them having diabetes or CVD? Did they have any deficiencies due to, I assume, a very low level of resistant starch in their diet?

Collin, I’m with ya on low carb, but I crush 1250 LCHF calories in just my 2 cups of BP coffee every morning then add 3egg&cheese omelet and bacon for breakfast on top of that.

Not saying LCHF is for everybody, obviously it is not. I know the ADA recommended diet is not for me. I do know that I tolerate retrograded starch in Anasazi beans and resistant starch in BRM’s unmodified potato starch and wanting to know more about it.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. joHn on November 17, 2014 at 23:12

    Looks like people are starting to have second thoughts about these high fat butter swimming diets. It’s strange he recommends against fats and carbs combined when he openly promoter The perfect health diet book.

  2. Bret on November 18, 2014 at 20:27

    I don’t agree that he made that exact recommendation, joHn. He wrote that eating large amounts of fats and carbs together — to an extreme such as upward of two thirds of one’s daily caloric intake — didn’t seem to be a smart idea.

    This is the major difference I see between what Mark advised to avoid and what the PHD encourages.

    The following line caught my attention:

    Just because some butter is safe and health-promoting doesn’t mean a half stick as a meal is safe and health-promoting.

    That reminds me of Tom Naughton’s comment on a slightly different note, during his revisiting resistant starch series: that (paraphrased) just because a low carb diet is good, that does not mean an extremely low carb or zero carb diet is better.

    These two examples show how quickly people are to err to an opposite extreme upon hearing that a popular tenet has been discredited, even if only partially. On the note of the comments Richard featured in this post, I think that’s largely how chronic ketosis picked up so much steam. When people, including many revered VLC gurus, learned they might benefit from limiting carbs and didn’t need to be afraid of fat, they took that to mean that a diet of almost no carbs and gobs and gobs of fat was not only okay, but ideal.

    Perhaps the lesson moving forward is that just because a piece of advice is found to be in error (or at least questionable, when it was previously regarded as unquestionable), that doesn’t mean that going off the deep end in the other direction is a good idea.

  3. Barbara on November 19, 2014 at 09:55

    All of the stomach problems that I developed on LCHF/Paleo ultimately brought me to your website. Keep those bean recipes coming! Adding back in beans, occasional rice, and the occasional bit of GF bread has done wonders to improve my health back to pre-paleo levels. Still struggling with the weight loss though!

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