Keto & Stress

Published: July 25, 2019

Keto & Stress

People are going to tell you that keto causes stress, they’re going to tell you you’re going to be in starvation mode. You can’t eat just fat, you can’t get rid of carbohydrates. You’re going to be starving yourself. What’s going to happen to your cortisol levels, you’re going to be so stressed out. Okay, first and foremost, that’s just not entirely true. But, there’s also a little bit of truth to that. You see, when you first start a keto diet, you’re going through a lot of adaptations. So I have to give some credit where credit is due. People that say you’re going to be under stress aren’t entirely wrong. But the benefit is, once you’re thoroughly in ketosis and you stay there for a little while, your stress levels actually go down. So we’re going to break it all down and give you some legit peer reviewed science to back it up. I’m Thomas DeLauer with Keto-Mojo, and we’re talking about keto and stress.

The Stress Response

So, first things first, when you first start a keto diet, yeah, your body’s adjusted to carbs, and then you’re ripping them away, and you’re going with something different. Of course it’s going to cause a little bit of a withdrawal effect, it’s going to cause a little bit of a stress response. But it’s not the end of the world, it’s just an acute reaction like your body’s supposed to have. When anything changes in your life, your body’s going to have some kind of physiological response, no big deal. But there is a study that is published in The Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology that took a look at eight people. These eight people were put into either a ketogenic diet group, a mixed diet group, or a controlled diet group for just three days. It was a really quick study, three days. And they want to measure levels of beta-hydroxybutyrate, they wanted to measure some hormone levels. They wanted to measure free-fatty acids. There’s a lot of things they wanted to measure. But, ultimately, at the end of three days, what they found is that the group that was on the ketogenic diet ended up having an increase of V02 Max which is great, a decrease in overall insulin which is even better. But they did have a subsequent increase in cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. Okay, well, so they had all these benefits, but yeah, there stress hormones did go up a little bit. But here’s what we have to look at. That was after three days.

Metabolism Journal Study

So let’s go ahead and let’s take a look at a more concrete thing, because a lot of the problems with studies overall is that they don’t measure very frequently. So we get like a baseline, and then we get an end result. We’re never looking what’s going on throughout. We should be measuring our ketones all the time. That’s why I’m always a big fan of utilizing a Keto-Mojo meter when you’re at home, right. You can always test your ketones. But these studies are kind of a different story. So this next study took a look at what happens once you’re more fat adapted. Because if you stick through it past just three days, you’re going to end up finding that your stress response actually goes down. So this study was published in the journal Metabolism, and it took a look at 12 men that switched from their normal diet over to a ketogenic diet. So they made the switch. And then eight men stayed on a control diet. And they measured them over the course of six weeks, and they wanted to see overall what happened. Well, they found at the end of six weeks that the ketogenic group had a significant reduction in fat mass, no surprise, a significant increase in lean body mass, more muscle that’s awesome, but they had no change in their glucagon, they had no change in their cortisol, and no change in other stress hormones showing that once they were stabilized and once they were in keto they didn’t make a negative affect in any way. Their stress hormones were right where they needed to be. In fact, everything was functioning great. In fact, their thyroid levels actually improved, so their metabolism probably improved.

The Relationship Between Sodium and Cortisol

Now, one thing that you do need to be aware of is sodium and the relationship with cortisol. Okay, we do need to keep track of this, because when you’re on a ketogenic diet, what can happen is you become somewhat depleted in your minerals. If you’re depleted in sodium, then it can have a reaction with your brain where it triggers the hypothalamus to release more of the corticotropin releasing hormone, triggering the adrenals to release ultimately more glucocorticoids, and therefore more cortisol. So, the only time you can run into that situation is if you’re not getting enough sodium. But you can always keep tabs on where you are as far as ketones are concerned by measuring your ketones. And believe it or not, measuring your ketones is going to give you a good indicator of the anti-inflammatory and anti-stress effects of keto, because there’s a lot of science that’s now saying that the ketogenic diet is very good for stress in general. It helps us manage it better simply by tilting us over to the gamma-aminobutyric acid scale rather than the glutamate scale. All that means is that it makes our brain a little bit more calm, then amped up, which of course is going to have a positive effect on stress. So, you want to make sure you’re always measuring so you make sure make sure you’re in the right place. Don’t let your ketones get too low, and ultimately, don’t even let them get too high. You want to sit right in that sweet spot. And you do that by utilizing the gold standard of ketone measuring, which of course is Keto-Mojo. So, as always, keep it locked in here with Keto-Mojo, and I’ll see you in the next video.


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