Seyfried’s Cancer Diet: My Fasting Jump-Start to Ketosis

fasting jump-start to ketosisDr. Seyfried’s book, Cancer as a Metabolic Disease, inspired me to attempt a fasting jump-start to ketosis to see how long it takes to achieve his “zone of metabolic management.” Read on to see how it’s going so far! (I’m still alive…)

Note: this post was originally published on Aug 1, 2013. It was edited to streamline content and improve graphics, then re-posted in June 2016, therefore some older comments may pertain to content that was removed during revision.

Dr. Seyfried’s Ketogenic Diet for Cancer

Caution: dietary experiments with fasting and ketosis are best done under medical supervision, particularly if you have a medical condition or take any daily medications. Everyone’s metabolism is different, so results will vary. Please see my post “Is the Ketogenic Diet Safe for Everyone?”

Cancer as a Metabolic Disease by Thomas Seyfried After reading Dr. Seyfried’s book,1)Seyfried, Thomas N. Cancer as a Metabolic Disease: On the Origin, Management, and Prevention of Cancer. Hoboken NJ: Wiley, 2012 I immediately felt sympathy for those of you out there who have cancer now, or who are cancer survivors worried about recurrence—were you hoping for a simple nutritional strategy, such as “eat more broccoli” or “add chia seeds to your morning smoothie?” Had I led you down a road of hope and then left you feeling disheartened when you saw how difficult Dr. Seyfried’s diet appeared to be? Let me try to make it up to you by trying his diet myself while you watch from the comfort of your living room.

Seyfried’s Fasting Jump-Start to Ketosis

Dr. Seyfried says the fastest way to achieve optimal blood glucose and ketone levels is to begin with a water-only fasting jump-start to ketosis for 3-5 days, and then embark on a low-calorie “ketogenic” diet, aiming for blood sugar levels of 55-65 mg/dL and blood ketone levels of at least 4.0 mM  (see article 3 of my cancer series for more details). As a reminder, average blood glucose levels for most healthy people eating a standard diet run between about 70 and 95 mg/dl, and blood ketone levels are usually 0.3 mM or less.

SodaStream (Soda-Club) USA

His plan sounded extreme even to me. However, fasting is supposed to be rather comfortable once you get used to it, and ketogenic diets are known for reducing appetite and improving people’s sense of well-being in most cases. Thankfully I do not have cancer, but nevertheless, in an attempt to rekindle the hope that some of you may have lost, I thought I’d take one for the team and try his recommendations myself.

Goals of this Experiment

  • To see if I can reach Dr. Seyfried’s “zone of metabolic management.”
  • To see if I can maintain high ketone levels and low blood sugar levels using my mostly-meat diet [standard ketogenic diets tend to rely heavily on high-fat dairy products, eggs, and coconut oil, none of which I tolerate well].
  • To explore the impact of protein:fat ratios, calories, and exercise on ketone and blood sugar levels.
  • To compare urine ketones to blood ketones and see if there is any correlation.
  • To document effect of this diet on mood, energy, concentration, weight, sleep, etc.
  • To document any side effects of this diet.

My N=1 Experiment, Phase I: Fasting Jump-start to Ketosis

“N=1” refers to an experiment with only one subject (in this case, me). Everyone’s metabolism is different, so please take my experience with a big grain o’ salt. Please note that, just because Dr. Seyfried suggests that a water-only fast is the fastest way to get into ketosis does not mean that it is required. I also can’t say whether faster is necessarily better for your health or easier than a gradual transition to ketosis.


Day 1 (1/31/13)

Ketogenic Diet and Fasting Entry - Day 1

Notes: Much easier day than I had expected. Stomach a little growly, slightly lightheaded, minor difficulty concentrating, vision slightly blurry, low energy. Slept well, but had a funny dream about a granola bar—something I haven’t eaten in nearly six years! Since exercise confuses things, none for now.

Day 2 (2/1/13)

Ketogenic Diet and Fasting - Day 2Notes: Fascinating that blood sugar this morning was higher than last night, without any food. This may be due to cortisol and adrenaline reactions to falling blood sugar—these hormones kick in when blood sugar falls to pull it back up again. Mild headache in the morning. More difficulty concentrating today—”spacey” would be the right word—but it only affected my efficiency in doing paperwork. I was otherwise fine and able to work a full day, run errands, drive, etc. Sleep was terrible—slept from 10pm to 1:30 am, then wide awake until 5am, then back to sleep until about 7:30 am. Sleep quality itself was very light and dream-filled, but no granola bar visions tonight. I can’t believe how much easier this is than I thought it would be—I’m not experiencing distressing levels of hunger or cravings.

Day 3 (2/2/13—Happy Groundhog’s Day!)

Ketogenic Diet and Fasting - Day 3

Notes: Finally, we have the appearance of (modest) ketones and blood sugar is stabilizing. Concentration was better today, but still not back to normal. Hunger was more noticeable in the morning and afternoon but again, not distressing. Would it have been nice to eat something? Yes, but it didn’t preoccupy my mind. By late evening, hunger is stronger, there is a very mild headache, slight lightheadedness, and stomach growling—this may represent blood sugar falling?—but I was productive late into the evening. I am motivated to keep going by 1) intellectual curiosity and 2) hope that once the ketones are nice and high and the blood glucose is nice and low, hunger will disappear and I’ll feel great. We shall see! I sure am saving a lot of time and money this week…

How much longer did my fasting jump-start to ketosis last? What happened on Day 4 took me completely by surprise! Read about Days 4-7 in the next post in this series Ketosis for Cancer: Week 1—My Transition to Ketosis.

Recommended Ketogenic Diet and Cancer Resources

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  • Melchior Meijer

    You’re a breath of fresh air Dr Ede (as a collegue of yours just expressed it elsewhere). Please keep it up! As an aside, I stopped drinking my daily glass of red wine recently and have seen some interesting (unexpected and positive) results!



    • Hi Melchior
      Thanks for your kind words. Of course I am very curious to know the results of your red wine experiment–perhaps you have posted it on your Paleo Perspective site? I will visit and see…if you would care to share with us here, perhaps you would consider posting on my alcohol page?

      • Melchior Meijer

        No, not yet reported on my blog. I will put a comment on your alcohol
        page tonight. First I have a nasty ‘pay the bills’ deadline to meet :-(. Hanging out here is (very
        welcome and inspiring) procrastination, right now. Good luck with your caurageous fasting

        • Des

          Hi Melchior, I too am very interested in seeing your wine experiment. Do post in the alcohol section soon please !

  • I agree with Melchior. And I am really looking forward to reading the next installment about the experiment. You have laid it all out so clearly what you are doing and how you are doing it, that it’s all so easy to follow and imagine. I am riveted. I will be curious to hear about the conference.

    • Thanks, Dr. T! I really appreciate the interest and support. I will do my best to stay at it…today is only day 4…

  • Ruby

    Fascinating! Good luck and please post frequent updates. I’d love to do a similar experiment myself. Don’t have the tools yet though 🙁

    • Thanks for the interest and for the good luck! Yes, I will post every few days about my progress. The ketone strips are very expensive; I order mine from a Canadian pharmacy at They were the least expensive I could find (props to Jimmy Moore’s Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb’s website!)

  • Kitty

    Just testing

  • Kitty


    My Blood Ketones are above 0.5 in the morning and around 2 sometimes 3 at night

    But for this one need to add LOTS of fat like olive oil sometimes 2 to 3 Tbsp per salad twice a day, fatty meat and fish

    I have no weight to lose, keep stable and solved my Low Sugar problems.

    Very hard first month (being at the end of month 1) while the body adapts, no joke, a rough ride indeed, but now after 3 weeks things start to brighten up

    So far I read and experienced, protein make sugar, so not to high there but lots of good fats: olive oil, avocado, coconut oil and I eat quite a bit of nuts

    Fat is the answer to what I read and experimented myself to low Ketone readings

    Testing both now for a month or two: urine ketone and blood ketone measurements are nearly the same but not always, so I prefer to measure blood ketones, low but above 0.5 in the morning and high at night. Will stop at some time due to the high cost of it and only use urine strips later

    • Kitty, thanks so much for sharing your experience here! I imagine your ketones are lowest in the morning because you have been using them for energy overnight while you are not eating…and it is interesting that you notice the urine and blood measurements being mostly the same. It makes sense that ketones would rise when you eat more fat, and I am curious to know a) what your motivation was to begin a ketogenic diet in the first place, and if it helped you to accomplish your goal(s); b) if you felt any different when ketones were low compared to when they were high, c) if you ever measured blood glucose as well? Please do not feel any obligation to answer, only if you wish:) I really appreciate your post.

      • Kitty

        Here are my answers:
        1. To keep a weight loss which I achieved on a different diet but which gave me Low Blood sugar every day and to get rid of Low Blood sugar I was fighting with almost all my adult life
        2. No not yet, only day 21. But still getting through to a keto “adapted” state, may take months, believe me this first month is not a very nice feeling, but I am able to exercise again, something I could not do in the first weeks
        Once I am further along, I may feel a difference, good question
        3. I measure my Fasting Blood Glucose every morning and I am around 65-75 and I have no bad feelings at those levels. At night it is around 90-95
        I am a beginner to, just really interested as nothing else worked for my Low Blood Sugar and keeping my weight down
        But that is just me


        • Thanks so much, Kitty–yes, we are both beginners and we will continue to learn along the way. I hope you feel better soon, and if you don’t, there may be some dietary changes you can make to your plan that can help you feel better. I don’t know if you’ve been reading the comments of others, but Elaine, for example, has had some great results by identifying and removing specific foods that were bothering her. So you achieved not only 50 lb wt loss, but also cured low blood sugar–that’s great!

  • Pete Greenway

    You are amazing, and have my utmost respect. This is a fine example of true dedication to research. I personally have never been able to complete even a 24hr fast, you might have inspired another attempt. I would like to see my average blood glucose levels come down more.

    • Pete, you are too kind:) Today, day 4, is my least favorite day so far…but I’m hoping that tomorrow will represent a turning point. Of course one doesn’t need to fast to get into deep ketosis or to lower blood sugar, this is just the fastest way…I think it would be hard to justify doing this unless one had a serious illness such as epilepsy or cancer (or had an obsession with nutrition science and had a website)…

  • Congrats on making it to day 4! This is an impressive endeavor and I can’t wait to hear your next results 🙂 You are very inspiring! One question, do you know which amino acids can be converted to glucose?

    • Hi Elaine
      Thanks for the encouragement! The answer to your excellent question is that all amino acids except for leucine and lysine can be converted into glucose. This information is also included on my protein page, which has a lot more detail about protein metabolism in general.

  • Dr. Cory Altabet

    I find that cycling between ultra low to moderate and even sometimes
    high carb diets is best to keep the balance of all receptors and
    metabolic pathways. Mother Nature has forced us to do this in our hunter
    gathering past. Staying in any one metabolic state for a long period
    will cause an adaptive metabolic callus that may not be ideal for
    disease prevention and longevity. The adaptive callus in general can be
    an evil that protects you from something far more evil. Plaque on your
    arteries is not ideal but if not there your artery would blow out like
    tire tube. Think of it as a patch that prevents immediate death but
    eventually will clog the artery. For the most part all adaptive calluses
    to stress are designed to prevent the soonest death and or prevent the
    worst immediate dysfunction.

    Of course there may be some
    exceptions where adaptations are positive but I see those when there is
    an apparent deficiency such as very weak muscles that need stress to
    strengthen them to a strength that would enhance survival in the natural
    world. When muscles have to adapt to chronic stress such as intense
    weightlifting then the adaptive muscles building does reach a point
    where it is not ideal for longevity or survival as mother nature
    defines. Too big and bulky to fight and run efficiently is the adaptive
    callus that can be seen as not ideal but it prevents you from intense
    muscle break down when doing very heavy lifting which would eventually
    happen if not adapted. Muscles ripping in half is far more evil than
    being big and bulky in terms of survival in the jungle.

    staying in state of ketosis from ultra low carbs eventually will cause a
    metabolic callus that is not ideal for the balance of things that
    creates longevity. To prevent this metabolic callus you must cycle
    different states of metabolism, even weight gain once you are in a
    desired weight range.
    How long do we cycle in each metabolic state? Use your self guided intuition. There is no blanket recommendation due to individual needs that can vary due to infinite combinations of factors. Self reflect and listen to your body when it is time to switch. Obvious signs of being cold sensitive or reaching a plateau are examples of times to switch things up. This cycling method can be done with intermittent fasting which also may have anti cancer effects.
    That’s how I see it.

    • Thank you for sharing this perspective, Dr. Altabet. If you know of any scientific references regarding this theory, I would be interested in looking more closely at the topic.

      • Dr. Cory Altabet

        Most of it is from experience with myself and my patients. Standard biochemistry/physiology certainly can support the concept of metabolic calluses. Such as increasing the adenosine receptors on blood vessels when regular caffeine use happens. This shared receptor grows in numbers (adaptive callus) so we can maintain normal adenosine effects of vessel dilation. This callus is one that takes up quite a bit of space that may interfere with other optimal receptor space needs. The callus protects you from hyper constriction of blood vessels from lack of adenosine constriction (Evil) but the increase receptors to compensate is less evil.

        Many are familiar with caffeine withdrawal and the massive vaso dilation headaches when there is no caffeine to compete with adenosine and the numerous receptors (adaptive callus)
        There are some many studies on defending each state of metabolism such as Rosedale low carb and Jaminet “safe carbs”. I have always argued they are both right and we need to experience both extremes and in between for the balance of the benefits you get from both. It tends to make sense from an evolutionary standpoint that we were forced to evolve with dietary cycles due to seasons and other food restrictions from the nature of our perfectly angled earth axis.
        Perhaps I can provide yo with some supporting research from my notes that I cold think of but there is probably not much or anything that directly compares people who cycle vs a static metabolic state in a long term study.

  • Wow, I just found your blog and I spent hours yesterday and this morning reading through your articles! I printed out the cancer ones and the write ups of protein, vegetables, and cholesterol for safekeeping. I love how you reduce such complex concepts down into understandable articles!

    I have been low carb since 2006, and have been maintaining a 50 lb loss since I reached my weight goal about a year after I started low carb. I have been watching the paleo movement gain momentum and low carb starting to become more and more accepted, these are exciting times!

    Anyway, thank you so much for your efforts and expertise, I have bookmarked your blog and look forward to following your experiment!

    • Hi Sarah
      Thank you so much for the nice compliments–I’m so glad you like the site and that you’re finding it useful! Low carb since 2006 is amazing, and congratulations on a maintained weight loss of 50 lbs! Inspirational~

  • Keep going, you have one more person cheering you on! 🙂

  • Evinx

    Thanks for a fantabulous blog. Love reading your posts.
    I have been VLC (<50 carbs/day, sometimes 20 or so), & found my FBG creeping up to 105-115, am blood ketones to about 1.5 & nighttime ketones at 2.3 – 3.5.
    The increasing FBG has been worrying & best explanation I have found is from Peter at Hyperlipid He refers to it as physiological insulin restance.
    Do you agree? Anxious for your thoughts as you seem to be starting to to experience this; thought it may be too early to tell.
    Thanks again for your outstanding blog.

    • Wow, Evinx, to be deemed fantabulous is too great an honor:) I’m so glad you like the blog.

      Thank you for sharing your experience here; it is interesting that your FBS is rising. I do not yet have enough of my own experience to say, although when I was trying Phinney and Volek’s version of ketosis, my blood sugar stayed in the 70’s and 80’s unless I ate dairy or ate too many calories in general, but the longest I was on it was 25 days, and since I was going in and out of ketosis, I am sure I wasn’t keto-adapted yet.

      I am a fan of Peter Attia’s blog and have a (different) link to his site above. I just read the link you sent and it’s very interesting! I will keep all of these possibilities in mind as we go forth…I wonder how long you have been VLC, whether you eat dairy foods, and whether you count protein grams? Just my curiosity talking–only answer if you feel comfortable sharing, of course.

      • Evinx

        Been VLC about 8 months. I do eat dairy – heavy whipping cream & grass fed butter & hard cheese from grass fed cows (am lactose intolerant so only hard cheese or aged cheeses work). Eat about 4-5 oz of chicken at lunch & 4-6 oz of grass fed beef at dinner. Also full fat lactose free sour cream. Of course eggs (pastured). Only fruit is blueberries – which I am now in process of eliminating. my weight is extremely stable at 156 lbs, 5’11” male. Does not vary more than +/- 1 lb. do you think the dairy might be driving the FBG numbers?
        BTW, Peter from the blog Hyperlipid is a different Peter than Peter Attia.

        • Wow, this fast has really been impairing my concentration today–I’m so sorry that I confused P Attia w Peter from Hyperlipid (he has a difficult last name, right?) I have visited his (excellent) blog before and will add a link to his homepage to my list of resources at the end of this article. I should also spend more time on his site to learn from him. Thank you for the correction:)

          8 months is great! Yes, I am suspicious of dairy products, even the carb-free, high-fat types, only because of how they affect me. I need to look into the possibility that the fat fraction of dairy foods may contain substances that raise insulin or IGF-1 levels. This could simply be my own idiosyncratic response to dairy, and I know many are (happily) able to enjoy high fat dairy products on their VLC and ketogenic diets, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to work for me. However, the only way for you to know for sure if it’s the dairy that is throwing you off is to remove it for a few days and see what happens.

          • melancholyaeon

            If you go over to the Atkins community forum, you will see Colette, the nutritionist, offer the usual advice: high FBG in the morning on an VLCK diet is due to too much protein. Reduce your protein to 3-4 oz. servings, or even reduce your evening protein serving to 2 oz. This has worked for many people in the Atkins group. Good luck to you, Evinx.

  • melancholyaeon

    Hi Dr. Ede:

    I sympathize with your experiments. Good luck.

    Please understand I totally support your efforts. With that in mind please forgive me if I say: They seem extreme and unnecessary to me, however, if I may be so bold. There is a much easier way, if I may offer my experience. Not that the “easier” way is actually without effort. 🙂

    I have been living easily between 2.4 & 4.1 on the blood ketone meter since late May 2012, about 3 weeks after I read Phinney & Volek’s book. I easily reached 2.0 on the blood meter within 3 days. I eat 3 meals a day and 2 snacks. I have never fasted or skipped meals. Nor would I. 🙂

    I am a 40+ year old woman and now wear size 7 junior’s clothing. I lift weights once a week, walk between 6500-10000 steps a day, and eat 1650-1700 calories daily, in the exact ratio of 80-2% fat, 12% protein, and 6-8% total carbs. Currently I am leg pressing 306 pounds at the gym. i do not have cancer or pre-diabetes or anything. I am interested in NK for the mental benefits as described by Attia (who btw is no longer eating NK).

    Altho’ I realize some people have special circumstances such as diabetes or the like, a “normal” person can easily reach strong NK following Volek’s instructions carefully. This is problem – most do not follow them carefully or plan well. To manage NK properly requires very careful planning and a laser-like focus on tracking what you eat and do.

    You cannot vary. Ever. The first week at least requires strong focus and intense willpower to track, track, track and not deviate an iota from the plan. To maintain stable ketosis, as you yourself attest, you cannot deviate. You just can’t.

    The main issue people have appears to be too much protein.Volek’s chart is aimed at people who are “performance atheletes.” If you are running the ultramarathon or the 100-mile race, yes you can eat that much protein.

    Those of us who are not, cannot. Jimmy Moore also discovered this. Like myself, he also eats well below the Volek protein guidelines. So I absolutely understand that you couldn’t get to strong levels of NK at 80g protein a day. i would counsel you to go down to 50-60g max. It’s very individual, so some trial and error is unavoidable. You will have to experiment.

    I do well at 80-82% fat, but Jimmy has to eat more like 85-87% fat. Again the exact fat level has to be determined by careful experiment and extremely dedicated tracking. Most people get lost quickly because they are not careful – meticulous – in the tracking. You have to rather maniacal about it.

    Some of the questions you ask above have been answered by Phinney. Altho’ Sisson argues you can “fall of the wagon” and “switch,” this is not what Phinney’s research shows, nor what your own experience seems to tell you. 🙂 My experience and that of Jimmy Moore bears this out, and supports your own report.

    You cannot “switch.” You cannot cheat. You cannot vary, if your goal is to stay between 2-4 reliably on the meter (remember, ketone levels naturally vary throughout the day). Once you find your percentages and calorie limits – particularly the protein limit – you must always stay there.

    Day in, day out. You cannot vary or your ketosis will slip. You will eat something like a 2 oz serving of protein for your 3 daily meals and 2 oz. of very-low carb veggies. You will use a lot of fat in the forms of sauces, such as bernaise or hollandaise.

    You will be able to eat butter and very small amounts of heavy whipping cream, but not any other dairy, or cream in large amounts. You will not be able to eat fruit, legumes or any kind of grains/potatoes/etc. Most people will find, as did Andreas Eenfeldt, that artificial sweeteners cause weird effects when they actually measure themselves, so none of them either. No diet soda or tea drinks.


    This sounds very restrictive, but basically it takes you up to what the Atkins people call Rung 4 or 5 of the OWL ladder. There is actually a lot to eat, so you’re not suffering and you shouldn’t feel deprived, once you have said goodbye to sugar, sweeteners, dairy, grains, potatoes, bread and all processed foods.

    What does a whole, real food NK diet look like? Pull out your Julia Child, Louis Diat, or Elizabeth David. Look carefully at these recipes. Plug them into your favorite online calculator. You will see nearly all the old French country peasant standby dishes are at least 70% fat. Those that are not are traditionally served with some kind of sauce to increase the fat percentage.

    For example, you don’t eat boiled eggs – you eat eggs Florentine, poached eggs on a tiny bed of spinach sauteed in butter and drenched in hollandaise. You add avocado slices to many things. Etc. It’s not weird-looking at all. Most people looking at what you eat would think you just liked French food a lot, which is considered normal. No one can tell you are eating NK if you are doing it, honestly.

    Attia gives the impression you have to live off Superstarch, but this is only if you intend to swim 50 miles in a day. 🙂 This level of activity and supplementation is unnecessary in both my experience and Jimmy Moore’s.

    The only jump-start some may want to use is MCT oil. Fry in that or add it to your salads if you like – it will increase your ketone production as you stabilize your diet parameters. 🙂

    But once you find those parameters, that’s where you are. Forever. All you have to do is stay there. Without wavering. 🙂

    Best wishes! I will follow you arduous self-experiment with interest. But I repeat it is unnecessary to undergo such rigorous self-starvation to simply achieve stable NK. 🙂

    • Dear Melancholyaeon,

      Thank you kindly for taking the time to share your wisdom, experience, and perspective. I agree completely that one of the reasons I may have had trouble is that I may require less protein; that’s one of the things I aim to understand with this experiment. I also agree completely that fasting is extreme and unnecessary; I’m only attempting it because it is what Dr. Seyfried recommends, and I am curious about its effects.

      Unfortunately I have numerous food sensitivities that take things like sauces, dairy, eggs, spices, coconut oil, and nearly all vegetables off the menu for me, so I will be working almost entirely with animal foods. Prior to my recent experiments with ketogenic diets, I had been eating a nearly all-meat diet, but was not counting calories or protein grams. After reading Phinney and Volek I tried a new approach, but I don’t have enough experience yet to know how best to make it work for my chemistry and my food limitations. I am hoping it will be relatively easy once I figure it out.

      And no worries, I do not intend to include sweeteners in my daily diet, but I would like to (ala Eenfeldt) test each one methodically simply to document their effects once I have (hopefully) achieved stable ketosis, simply out of curiosity.

      Thank you for your interest and your advice. I’m sure many readers will appreciate your post.

      • melancholyaeon

        Ty for your quick response, Dr. Ede. You are very kind. There are quite a few people, like Peter at Hyperlipid, who do very well on a ZC or nearly ZC diet. If so, best wishes to you! 🙂

        I would say that your comment here:

        “I had been eating a nearly all-meat diet, but was not counting calories or protein grams”

        is gold, very illuminating. It takes a lot of courage to be honest on the ‘net and possibly admit to mistakes or hear criticism! So I applaud you!

        I think everyone who has had strong success with NK, such as Jimmy Moore, Attia, and myself, have just made a huge commitment to data collection and tracking. Tracking, counting, measuring and weighing everything is necessary to succeed here. That’s what I have learned from others, and that’s my main insight to share with the readers here. Join your local Quantified Self group, they will offer you support in tracking. Count your calories, weigh your food, get a pedometer, use an online app, etc.

        Again, good luck. Excuse me for hogging your comments section this afternoon. 😀

        • Thank you, Melancholyaeon.

          An important clarification–the diet I ate prior to attempting ketosis was uncounted. The diet I attempted after reading Phinney and Volek was meticulously tracked using scales, meters, etc., and I agree that this is necessary.

  • Someone, Somewhere

    Thanks, Dr. Ede, for another fascinating and educational post.

    A couple of thoughts and questions:

    1. A little over a year ago, I undertook a medically supervised water fast at True North Health Center in Northern California, to allow my intestines time to heal from years of abuse (I was diagnosed by an MD at True North with gluten, soy, egg, casein, and nut IgA-mediated intolerances, via a mail-order stool test from I got twice-daily bedside check-ins from the doctors, as well as daily urine tests and weekly blood tests. I planned to stay for about 20 days, but I had to quit after about 6 days, because I got to the point where the thought of drinking water was nauseating, which the doc said was my body’s way of telling me that it was time to quit. You probably already know this, but if you get to that point, I hope you won’t hesitate to quit too, because at that point, it can get dangerous!

    Questions, in descending order of interest:

    1. My own latest diagnosis is a bit unclear, but it looks like the consensus (from a psychiatrist and a neurologist) is that I suffer from adult-onset tic disorder NOS (triggered by an experience in meditation). I am skeptical, because my involuntary twitches and babbling are rhythmic, while the DSM defines tics as non-rhythmic, but I suppose the NOS diagnosis can perhaps encompass my atypical presentation. I suspect psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (aka, pseudo-seizures) as an alternative, but the doctors who evaluated me were not convinced, probably because I can suppress the symptoms voluntarily and remain entirely lucid throughout. My question is whether you have you ever heard of ketogenic diets helping with tic disorders or pseudo-seizures.

    2. If and when you get a chance to look at that article by Loren Cordain I posted a few weeks ago and the associated article suggesting that meat-only diets cause atherosclerosis, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. Here, again, are the links: and

    3. Any thoughts about nitrates and nitrites? I have seen conflicting evidence on their healthfulness. I avoid them because they tend to give me headaches, dehydrate me, and give me a feeling of inflammation (swollen ear canals, increased pulse), and because I avoid anything that I don’t think our ancestors ate, but I’d be interested to hear your scientific perspective, especially because cured meats such as bacon can be so tempting on an all-meat or near-all-meat diet.

    4. Could you please provide a sample of what you have eaten in a representative day on an all-meat diet? I am curious how you get enough fat without dairy, nuts, and oils. I’ve recently begun buying slabs of grass-fed beef fat from my butcher and roasting it in the oven. It comes out similar to pork skins, but is much healthier. Surprisingly tasty!

    • Hi SS
      Thank you for the caring warning, and no worries, I would not continue if I were not feeling well. Science comes second to health.

      I have not specifically heard of ketogenic diets being used to treat tic disorders or pseudoseizures, however it would theoretically make sense, as ketogenic diets seem to be very helpful for the central nervous system in general.

      Thanks for reminding me about that article. I will definitely read it because I am very interested in it as well. I will incorporate it into my future posts about my mostly meat ketogenic experiment.

      I have some information about nitrates and nitrites on my meats page, if you haven’t seen it yet. If you have already read it and you have additional questions, please let me know.

      I have a little trouble tolerating beef and pork, but your beef fat sounds delicious! I will certainly give it a try. A friend of mine introduced me last year to “duck cracklins”, which is the same idea, just with duck skin. Very tasty! You are exactly right when you say that the challenge with a mostly-meat ketogenic diet is the protein:fat ratio can be challenging. I hope to work this out over time…and yes, I will be posting about what I’m eating along the way so people can see all the mistakes I’m making:)

      • Someone, Somewhere

        Hi Dr. Ede,

        Thanks for your quick and comprehensive reply.

        I am glad to hear that you are putting your health before science 🙂

        I will look at your information on nitrates and nitrites on your meat page. Thanks for the suggestion.

        In case you’re interested: The beef fat is extremely easy to make. Just put the slab on a wire rack over a baking pan in the oven at 300 degrees for 1-1.5 hours. That’s it!

        With regard to treating tics and pseudoseizures with a ketogenic diet, your thoughts make sense.

        Forgive me if this is off-topic, but I have another question about tics: As a “holistic” psychiatrist (assuming you embrace the title), do you know of a viable alternatives to medication for the treatment of tic disorder? And are tics generally treated by psychiatrists or neurologists? My personal psychiatrist and neurologist have not given me a tic disorder diagnosis, but a psychiatrist and a neurologist who contract with Social Security and MediCare to do evaluations did. I am (and my psychiatrist is) concerned that if I am given benefits on the basis of a tic disorder diagnosis, I will be expected to take neuroleptics or else have benefits discontinued due to a failure to comply with treatment recommendations. I have no desire to ingest neuroleptics, as I believe they are toxic, and because I believe that I am improving through rest and the passage of time alone. So I could use some research to back up my view that neuroleptics are not the only viable treatment, if I am to find a way out of this sticky situation. Do you know of any?

        Speaking of which, the neurologist who evaluated me for Social Security said that my case was fascinating—presumably because I can allow and suppress the tics/convulsions and infantile babbling at will, because of the psychological richness of the infantile babbling of previously repressed material, and/or because of the fact that symptoms were initially triggered by meditation—and strongly encouraged me to volunteer myself as a research subject for a case study by a neurologist. Do you happen to know of any neurologists at Harvard or elsewhere who might be interested in studying me? I can give you more details via email, if you’re interested.

        • Hello, SS
          I’m sorry to hear of the difficulties you are experiencing. I do not know of nutritional approaches specifically for tic disorders, and a quick literature search turned up nothing on the topic. Unfortunately I do not know of any clinicians with a special interest or expertise in this area, and am not permitted to provide medical advice on this site. I wish you the best in your search for an alternative approach to this problem.

          • MikeS

            Dr. Ede: I suggest that you and SS take a look at Emily Deans’ outstanding blog, Evolutionary Psychiatry.http://evolutionarypsychiatry:


            She probably wouldn’t have direct answer, but quite possibly could aid you in your search.


          • Someone, Somewhere

            Thanks, Mike. I’ll check it out.

          • Someone, Somewhere

            Hi Dr. Ede,

            Thank you for your compassionate response. I figured you’d probably say that, but I figured that it couldn’t hurt to ask 🙂

          • Marijke

            Maybe you could take a look at the GAPS nutritional program: and It addresses gut flora and detoxification and it often helps with tics, at least for children. I followed it myself with great success for other issues. It can be twisted easily into a ketogenic version if you would like that.

  • JEY

    A large website for everything low carb and ketogenic, for consumers and professionals alike, is the Nutrition & Metabolism Society.

    Info on Diet and Cancer, ketogenic diets (, a link to the NMS Journal in the professional section for current relevant studies, and much more embedded under each tab.

  • Cyn

    How long in the “the zone of metabolic management” does Dr. Seyfried recommend his program for as a cancer therapy? Do you have any idea if it’s days, weeks, months or years?

    I had heard about his work back in 2009 & at that time he recommended 400-600 calories a day – thankfully he has amended that amount. At that time, he recommended 80% fat & at a max 600 calories would only leave 30grams left for proteins AND carbs.

    • Hi Cyn

      I looked it up in the book to be sure; it’s a little confusing.

      He writes: “Finally, phase 3 of the treatment strategy is designed to maintain metabolic pressure on surviving tumor cells.” By metabolic pressure, he means either initiating another fast and returning to the restricted ketogenic diet right after debulking surgery, or “carefully executed diet-cycling strategies.”

      “Diet cycling for cancer patients could involve weekly transitions from calorically restricted KD-R to nutritious, low-calorie, or low glycemic index diets.Patients should continue monitoring their blood glucose and ketone levels for as long as possible or until disease resolution is achieved.”

  • Cyn

    I was trying to find low glutamine low carb proteins & think eggs are probably the best option with 133mg of glutamic acid per gram of protein. Most other options ran about 150mg.

    I was surprised to find that nuts & dairy had a much higher glutamic acid levels per gram of protein – cream at 215mg – cream cheese at 217mg – cheese at 240mg – almonds at 324mg – flaxseed at 224mg.

    I guess that is why Dr.Atkins had dairy limited & seeds & nuts banned during the conversion period.

  • Try Elaine Cantin’s book “The cantin Ketogenic Diet” which is available on Amazon. She aslo has a Facebook page “Elaine’s Alternative Tips For Cancer” where various people ask questions and give comments. She successfully cured her own breast cancer with her diet. Her diet is a moderate protein, high fat diet, no processed foods at all and NO carbs or sugar and lots of veggies, especially green ones and things like red cabbage and cauliflower to name some. She also has some ketogenic friendly recipes for desserts like muffins and cookies in the book for those of us with a sweet tooth. 😉

    • Hi John
      Thanks for the recommendation! I heard Jimmy Moore interview her on his “Ask the Low Carb Experts” podcast, and it was very interesting–I wish I could eat veggies–that would help so much–but unfortunately most of them don’t agree with me:( I would like to read her book, though, as part of my ketogenic diet research for a future blog post, so I appreciate your reminding me of her work. I’m sure others reading these comments may also find her book useful, as well.

  • Diana

    I am currently on a ketogenic diet for cancer patients. It is guided by a oncology dietician from a university cancer center where research is being done on ketosis as a cancer treatment. I have read your entire blog. I want to make it clear that current actual practice is NOT to begin with a fast. Dr. Seyfried can publish whatever he wants, but this isn’t being done. It is found to be just as effective to start with reduced calories. It also is crucial that there be a 4:1 ration (fats to protein/carbs) at every single meal. The meals are constructed by a qualified dietician, every component is weighed on a gram scale, and there can be no wiggle room whatsoever. I cannot imagine how anyone can be successful on this without this guidance. In Dr. Schenk’s paper on this, she emphasizes that it is almost impossible for anyone to do this alone. My experience is that it is incredibly rigorous and difficult. The sense of deprivation is real and constant. However, for those of us with cancer, it is not an experiment; it is a potentially life-saving lifestyle change (temporary). I am dismayed that someone might read your adventures and not try it because of your experience when, with the proper support, guidance, and strict adherence to what has been shown to work (4:1 ratio), they can, in fact, succeed.

    • Dear Diana
      Thank you so much for this very important and valuable perspective. I do recognize that what I tried to do was only an experiment and was not meant as clinical advice, and also tried to make it clear that people should not undergo this without supervision–probably myself included! I am glad to know that it is possible to achieve the proper ratios with the right guidance and I wish you the best in your efforts to restore your health. I truly hope that I did not discourage anyone from exploring dietary approaches as an important piece of their cancer treatment protocol, as that is the opposite of what I had intended.

    • Sarah

      Hi Diana, Would you give me the name and contact information for your oncologist. My father has recently been diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. We’ve been trying to do the ketogenic diet on our own, but we’ve been searching for a professional to help us get it perfect! I would really appreciate to hear from you. My email is ‘sharahhodge’ ‘@’ ‘’.

    • Emilia

      hi Diana, my husband has just been diagnosed with small cell blood cancer and the doctors gave him an estimate of 18 months of life with a 5% chance of conventional treatment working. We have a 5 year old daughter and a 5 month old son. after doing some research myself I found the ketogenic diet and the success stories. My husband spoke to his oncologist about the diet and it was just dismissed by his doctor who thinks we are just wasting our time. I was wondering what do you mean by the 4:1 ratio, is it 4 times more fats then proteins and carbs put together? we’re in UK and trying to do it alone as we cannot find any doctor who supports the idea so any help would be greatly appreciated. would it be possible to get an email address for your doctor to get some advise and guidance.
      My email address, if you find a minute:
      Thank you

    • Lena

      Diana, i know it’s been a few months since your post but i’d love to hear how you’re doing on the ketogenic diet. My dad was diagnosed with glioblastoma, grade 4 brain cancer, 14 months ago. He is in wonderful health but the tumor is progressing. I would love to get more information from you when you have the time. Please email me at

      Thank you.

    • Cynthia Darvin Vega

      Hi Diana,

      I have just found this blog, and your post. I realize several people have asked for further information from you, and I as someone with a very rare intimal sarcoma in my heart, am also asking if you could share the name of the dietician and/or university where the research is being done. I know I need help with this, but really want to succeed.


    • Wyatt

      I notice you have not returned after your little tongue lashing even though it would be great if you followed up as witnessed by the several people who could may be in the same boat as you and benefited from your experience.

  • MAD Gal

    I have been on the Modified Atkins Diet (MAD), which is used therapeutically to control seizures. I achieved ketosis on it and am wondering why it couldn’t be used instead of the Keto diet. It is much less restrictive than the Keto diet (no weighing or measuring, no fluid restriction, no fasting, no calorie restrictions), which makes it easier to manage as far as cooking or eating out. It’s still not an easy diet, but I felt much healthier when I was on it.

    I’m really curious, because you’re getting the same results. Also, the restrictions for Keto seem to put a lot of people off and may make continuing the diet harder for some.

    • Hi MAD Gal

      The diet I tried was the one recommended by Seyfried, only because my purpose was to summarize his book and then try out his ideas. However it is not the only version of a ketogenic diet that has been recommended for cancer patients. Also, fasting is not absolutely necessary, it’s just one way he suggested to begin. In fact, having tried fasting, I wouldn’t recommend it. Seyfried recommends a very low calorie ketogenic diet; I tried to limit my calories at first but found it was too difficult, so I stopped doing that. I completely agree that his version of a KD is extreme and could be off-putting to many, although if faced with advanced cancer, I imagine a person could become extremely motivated. While there have been promising studies of the MAD in epilepsy, I am not aware of any clinical studies of the modified Atkins diet in humans with cancer, but the study of low-carbohydrate diets in the treatment of cancer is in its infancy, so hopefully we will see more studies in the near future!

      • MAD Gal

        I’m really enjoying your Keto diary with all its ups and downs. 🙂 Trying to read them in order. I was very interested in reading about the effect that this diet may have on the thyroid. At 53 I’ll keep this in mind. I agree completely that male Drs. don’t address that issue. In my experience they tend to run for the hills when the subject of hormones come up.

        FYI The MAD diet is often referred to the modern Keto diet.

        I’m also looking forward to many more studies re: the cancer/diet link!

    • S.S.M.

      Not to hijack, and I don’t know if you will see this, but I’m and adult doing MAD for seizures, too. If you want to get in touch, here’s a link to my pintrest board for adults doing MAD.

  • joy

    What is the difference in your diet, and the Paleo diet? Are they the same? If I already have low blood sugar and get a headache and the shakes if I don’t eat, should I still try to achieve keto-acidosis?

    • Hi Joy

      The diet I eat is a mostly-meat, very low-carb, ketogenic diet. A Paleo diet includes not only meat but also fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and eggs, and is not a low-carb diet. Low blood sugar symptoms such as headaches and shaking can usually be cured by removing “fast” carbs from your diet (i.e. eating a low glycemic index diet) but in some cases a low carb diet is required (less than 50 grams of carbohydrate per day, spread throughout the day). Most people do not need to go to the extreme of ketosis to get rid of common low blood sugar symptoms. Please see my “carbohydrate sensitivity” page for more information. To get there, click on the Foods tab then scroll down to Carbohydrates then scroll right to carbohydrate sensitivity).

  • JayBee

    GK..I landed here because I was diagnosed with CLL last week, age 44, and am looking for information on optimizing my diet to help fight it. We are too young for this CLL crap. About three years ago, maybe I somehow knew I had cancer, my wife and I changed from a “healthy” American diet to a low-carb “Primal” diet, similar to Paleo but I am very low carb. After three years of eating like this and being careful to eat only clean foods and avoid bad oils, I couldn’t imagine eating any other way. As soon as I made the switch a lifetime of stomach pains went away, I have an immune system for the first time kin my life, I lost 60 pounds, and every aspect of my life was improving for the most part. Now a new challenge I guess. Have you seen or read any research on ketogenic diets for CLL specifically, or at least for blood cancers? I

    • GK

      Hi JayBee ! I know what you mean man… I myself was turning my life around for the better when they diagnosed me with CLL…I have dropped from 273 to 225 over two and a half years but only recently decided to go to the restricted keto diet trying to find even more ways to improve my situation. What triggered this extra push was an elevated reading of my WBC in June (the biggest 5 month increase since I was diagnosed). In the past 6 months I also had a ton of stress due to some changes in my work situation, had relatives over from Greece, had an unstable diet which I think all contributed to these increased levels. In any case I do think that stress has a lot do to with this and it is best that you try and live a happy full life with minimal stress (to the extent possible). Beyond that I do believe that a good diet could positively affect my situation. Only the fact that (as you also conquered) most of my physical problems (acid reflex, digestive issues etc…unstable energy levels and mood swings) are all gone is a testament to this. It would be nice to find a study that directly links the two but for now I am content to believe that cancer of any type is cancer and to this extent the evidence that links any type of cancer cells to glucose is good enough for me. I have some material and personal notes if you’d like to modify diet to decrease the amount of protein you consume. By any means I am not saying that you should change it. I don’t know what is right or not and I don’t think anyone does. So for now… my main goals is to eat keto (sometimes restricted), keep stress levels down and/or be happy, provide steady oxygen levels to the body by exercising moderately – consistently. It is the first time I have communicated with a fellow CLLer and it feels good. Got to go ! Let me know if you want to communicate and exchange further ideas / info.

      • Philippe

        Hello GK,
        I have CLL too, I am 58, and was diagnosed in july 2012.
        Since 1 year I try a mixt Budwig and paleo diet, it is close to the ketogenic.
        It seems to me the Cll was a very aggressive one when we discovered it. I had a decrease when I began Budwig diet in september last year . But since january WBC increases slowly.
        I will also try somme little fast.
        It will be very interesting to communicate our experiences.

        Philippe (France)

  • John Theobald

    A vegan ketogenic diet is completely doable. Just avoid protein from soy which has health risks. a mix of 70% Gemma pea protein and 30% rice concentrate protein which can be obtained from True Nutrition very inexpensively as a custom mix. Much cheaper than any commercial vegan protein. It is a complete amino acid profile and has a PDCAAS of 1.0141 which is higher than many whey proteins.

  • halonet

    I was diagnosed with CLL several years ago. WBC was over 33,000 and I was more overweight. It seemed to go hand in hand with Diabetes Type II. I work in a stressful job in computer technology. I addressed my weight with low carb Atkins diet and exercise but the WBC did not respond but lowering. The biggest thing I found that the diet and EGCG lowered my WBC to 18,000, “cured” my kidney disease, helped my cholesterol, cut my diabetes meds in half, . I based my dosage on the Mayo Clinic trials. There are a few good sources for “purer” EGCG. The whiter powder it is the better.