Keto Diet

Anyone here in Keto diet? Had a discussion with my wife, who is vegan, about Keto. She was concerned because she see it being pushed in running magazines. She showed me a load of research about long term health issues with high fat, high protein low carb diets, can do really nasty things to heart. I do not practice Keto, and it really doesn’t appeal, however I told her that people do keto as there is lots of evidence to show that it improves athletic performance for long distance athletes
… to which she said show me the research. As a former researcher I know how to do research, so I sat down and started to look. What i found was a load of unsubstantiated anecdotes in favour of keto, but more alarmingly quite a lot of scientific research that shows no performance benefits and surprisingly no significant weight loss benefits.

Has anyone actually seen good research that shows benefit from Keto diet?

I dug in to it, and reached the same conclusions as you. In fact, evidence that it is detrimental to athletic performance is more robust than material in support, which as you say, is largely anecdotal.

I tried it for a bit once. I lost weight easily, I felt full, I could still eat cheese. Seemed good. But I felt rough. I would go for a gentle run and bonk after 30 minutes, and by bonk just completely stop dead and could hardly move.

No idea on the evidence. I think the issue with things like this is there is no interest or funding from proper independent bodies to research it and so often it’s done by people with vested interests and hence conflicting evidence.

One research paper did show initial weight loss as the body initially starts to consume muscle rather than using fat. Also identified that people on Keto require less fluid (cant remember science behind it but my wife will share with me tomorrow), so weight loss observed was all fluid and muscle, with negligeable reduction in fat

I only went by the scales so no idea on actual composition.

My feeling is cutting any one major food group out just isnt a good idea. Variety is important, just less of it, or less of the crap.

Certainly do see keto supporters are very dogmatic in their opinion.

Think there are a few pro triathletes that have switched to it, cant remember their names.

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Didn’t that Tri Taren get into with the Plews guy who swears by it…?!

He went 9:40 at Roth and did it fat adapted.

He think he then stated why he wouldn’t continue with it…

Eating your own body to exercise really doesn’t appeal… the logic they always cling onto is you have a virtually unlimited supply of fat … well certainly enough to fuel and Ironman and fat weight for weight is richer in calories than carbs…

It can and does go horribly wrong though

Primal Endurance by Mark Sissons is an interesting read.

The book covers exercise ( similar to 80/20. lots of low intensity, small amount of high intensity ) and diet ( escape carb dependency and become fat adapted ).

I’m not sure how many people have followed it successfully, but if you didn’t happen across it while researching Keto, its worth a look.

Nothing as drastic as keto, nor would I ever be tempted in to it, but if I go full distance again I would re-introduce a small amount of fat adaption strategies to try improve. Not formally tested RER but I suspect I’m decent fat burner anyway and not completely carb dependent.

I think most people (especially diabetics) would probably benefit from lower carb compared to a plate dominant in rice/pasta, and hence think higher fat advocates have some merit for health too, but nothing as drastic as the extreme HFLC/keto arguments that attract attention. They seem to work for acute weight loss and satiety though.

I do fasted runs, and eat far less pasta, white rice and bread than I used to, I guess my aim is to get my body used to exercsing with low level of carbs. But certainly wouldn’t consider Keto. Even so, I am interested in understanding whether Keto really has benefits.

Lots of advocates out there who push their own idea of the perfect diet.

Is it not true to say that the only thing everyone agrees on is that the majority of processed food is not that good for you?

A diet rich in quality, fresh food is surely the best.


There are a number of books supporting the research. In our family it’s predominantly for the reversal of type 2 diabetes which my stepdad and uncle have done incredibly well at, while their brother ignores the evidence and carries on with the meds.

Sports performance is still a growing area of research. But the main point is that you have to be completely Keto to achieve the benefits, doing a half job about it is the dangerous part.

The main doctors and scientists to look up are
Tim Noakes - very active on Twitter and will point you in the direction of substantiated research.
Jason Fung
James Unwin
Gary Taubes
Ancel (sp?) Keyes

And Jeff Volek wrote a book called The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living.

Happy researching. You’ll open a minefield of info.

You’ll find this interesting, whatever your takeaways from it are.

He’s a kona medalist and a science geek.

I’m in the middle of reading The Obesity Code by Dr Fung. He doesn’t seem to argue Keto at all, he does argue the LCHF point though. My partner is a GP with an interest in lifestyle medicine and has adopted IF 16/8 which I am trying to do. I find it easy enough other that when I exercise later in the evening, which I know isn’t ideal anyway.

Fung talks through the mechanics behind fat storage as a function of a hormonal response rather than an unregulated ‘excess calorie’ dump into fat, with the hormone controlling fat storage being insulin. There’s a lot of evidence that increased insulin or insulin resistance causes increase in body fat.

Interesting podcast recently from Rich Roll. Two diabetics on who put forward the idea that low carb was wrong for diabetics and high carb was the way to go, mainly fruit and veg.

As you say, minefield

and that sums up the problem I have with Keto… at least one of those isn’t a scientist or doctor at all… Taubes is a journalist FFS… if we are to have a sensible debate, reference credible, peer reviewed research, not the protagonists… its a lot lot harder.

I’m not on a Keto diet (that basically means ZERO refined carbs right ?) but i am on a diet plan which has significantly reduced my carb intake. A bit of oats but aside from that most of the carbs are coming from things like courgette and sweet potato. The weight loss has been, by my standards, dramatic. And this is form someone who recently pb’d a marathon so not a huge amount to lose. IN 3 weeks i’ve lost 3% bodyweight, 2% of it being bodyfat (allowing of course for Tanita scale accuracy). Its been a real eye opener for me. My performances have still been pretty decent (road running and cross-country) but i’m not doing Ironman… or even long runs.
Despite running a calorie deficit of 500cals per day… i’ve not been hungry eating lots of high(er) fat/ high(er) protein meals. I think if i’d still been on bread/pasta/rice i would be consuming more calories yet still feeling hungry(er).
I’m quickly coming around to the view that refined carbs are indeed evil unless consumed very moderately.

In The Obesity Code it talks a lot about the way the body responds to calorie deficit by reducing BMR and how a deficit only works on a short term basis. The low carb diet but eating more in theory should still result in weight loss.

You have to run a calorie deficit to lose fat though, you don’t want it too high as the body goes into ‘starvation mode’ and tried to store fat at every opportunity and use muscle protein. However, being active as @twhat will be should mitigate this. The metabolic mess that obese peoples’ bodies are in is quite different to the vast majority on here.

I agree with what was said earlier, the less you eat highly processed food the better but to villainise one food group seems daft to me. Having people thinking that eating an apple is just eating sugar is daft. As a society we eat way too many carbs (esp. processed) and reducing this would help a lot with a lot of the chronic health issues we have.


Sometimes you need the journalist to ask the difficult questions and shout about the research. Don’t just deny it because it’s a journalist. They have an ethics code too (if they’re not writing for the red tops). As with all science it’s about questioning and weighing up the good and bad.

You can read Noakes’s last book and see how the world of Dieticians was called into question and you’d probably take their word as fact.

Ask the questions. That’s what makes life more interesting.

I used to eat loads of rice, pasta and white potatoes then about 7 or 8 years ago I stopped eating them and replaced them with more veg.

I figured I was getting plenty of carbs with the amount of veg I was eating and by cutting out those other carbs I felt like I had more energy and didn’t feel sluggish and got leaner.

My evening meal plate now consists of a nice piece of fish and a big pile of veg, sometimes including sweet potato.

I do still eat rice/pasta/potato if out for a meal etc. but it is on the rare occasion if nothing else suitable on the menu.

I don’t think I am on a low carb diet but cut out ‘white’ carbs and it doesn’t affect my training and can manage a long run (3 hours on 3 gels).