Does sugar kick you out of ketosis?


I have been keeping my carbs low, definitely under 20 grams. Today I tracked again and it only came to 11,4 grams. I must confess I chose the carbs poorly as ate 20 almonds, 10 blueberries and 3 cherry tomatoes, oh and a square of my Lindt 90% dark chocolate. As it would probably have been a lot better to get those carbs from green vegetables. Now please don’t think I am restricting myself any other way. My staples of late have been egg, bacon, beef burgers and pork chops as well as, though I have cut down on these recently, cream, butter and cheese. So though I keep my carb count low I am definitely not counting calories, protein, fats, etc, just enjoying my food. But I’m getting off track. The chocolate has a bit of sugar in it, and I was just wondering if, even if I keep the carbs really low I could kick myself out of ketosis eating something that has, even if such a tiny amount, sugar in it? Also would something that had dextrose in it do the same? Yesterday as I was out and about, I ended up buying a (truly expensive) keto mini sausage snack. Honestly, there was not much to buy at all that would be considered keto friendly. And couldn’t help but wonder if I was sabotaging myself by eating the snack, effectively kicking myself out of ketosis. How do you feel about a product that has either dextrose or sugar in it?

(May the blessing of bacon be always with you) #2

The answer is yes and no. The sucrose molecule consists of a molecule of glucose and a molecule of fructose bonded together. The glucose counts towards your carbohydrate limit as normal, but the fructose has no effect on on insulin. It is shunted into the liver and metabolised there. Dextrose is simply another name for glucose and has the normal effect on insulin

The same liver pathway also deals with alcohol and branched-chain amino acids. It is fairly easily overwhelmed, which is the reason we advise against eating sugar. I have read here and elsewhere that having to stop and deal with fructose/alcohol/BCAA’s halts the process of ketogenesis. I can’t, however, say how accurate that statement is; I can think of reasons for and against its truth.

The dextrose/glucose does have an effect on insulin, and the fructose has an effect on the liver. So if you ate enough dextrose/sugar, the glucose might or might not have been enough to raise insulin to the point of halting ketosis, and the fructose might or might not have temporarily interfered with ketosis in the liver. Sorry not to be able to be more definite!


No - As long as you stay under the daily carb limit needed to keep you in ketosis (20g net carbs for most people, could be higher or lower for other people).

So let’s say I have fried eggs, mackerel & some leafy green today and that gives me 5 net carbs. If I then eat 4 Lindt squares (7 net carbs which are all sugars), my total net carbs for that day is still only 12 net carbs.

This is still way under 25g net carbs (my limit), so I remain in ketosis.

The above example is not theoretical by the way. I buy the 90% Lindt bar once in a blue moon and I eat like half of the whole bar in one day. Not kicked out of ketosis, as long as my total net carbs for the day is still <25g.

I prefer Lindt 90% because I haven’t found a dark chocolate bar with sweetners that doesn’t give me gastrointestinal issues.

Hope that makes sense.


Hi thanks for your reply. I don’t count net carbs but total carbs, just to make it easier on myself, and usually find myself a good bit under 20 grams total carbohydrates. But I do it not for weight loss but for health reasons so it may be in my case I need to keep the carb count a good bit lower than you to heal my metabolism and allow the insulin to fall sufficiently. Also I’m only 4 weeks in and not even entirely sure if I’m in ketosis, as I understand this varies from person to person. That Lindt chocolate is so good, isn’t it? And totally addictive. My daily square is so tiny lol, and sometimes I even break the square in half. I am just really unsure about the sugar if say, it turned out I have insulin resistance. I don’t actually know if I do, but sugar appears inflammatory to me.


Hi, thanks for your reply and for lending your input. I understand that how low you go with carbs depends upon one’s metabolic system, and the damage it might have sustained from eating a high carb, low fat, low sodium diet for many years. I also think, looking back over the years I calorie restricted a fair amount. So I have no idea the amount of damage I did to my metabolism or how many carbs I could safely consume, how much sugar (like in my 1 square of 90% dark Lindt chocolate) I could ingest before getting kicked out of ketosis. Provided I already am in ketosis, I’m not fully sure of that either. I count total carbs, never net carbs to be on the safe side, just to give my body a fair chance of reaching fat adaptation. I have a question though, is it possible if overeating protein that the body could switch from using fat as the preferred fuel to carbs?


I think perhaps keep things the way they are (under 20g net carbs) and see how things go from there. If you used to eat the standard UK diet before (usually 100 - 300g carbs) are you are now under 20g net carbs, that is already going to be making a huge difference to your insulin sensitivity & you are already producing much lower levels of insulin than you used to.

I say don’t overthink it. If you want to eat the occasional Lindt square, go for it. If you don’t want to - don’t. The presence or absence of the occasional Lindt square is not what is going to make the day/night difference to your insulin sensitivity. Keeping your carbs consistently low for months/years/life however, will do the trick.

So the goal is adopting habits that will make it sustainable for you personally to stay on this way of eating for months/years/life. If eating an occasional Lindt square makes that sustainable - go for it.

PS: I love the occasional Lindt 90%. I buy one every 2-3 months or so. After almost 4 years of being Keto, I have had no issues with it coming from someone who was previously very insulin resistant.

(Michael) #7

Yes and no. It is possible to run off glucose produced from protein if you have enough protein. This can run concurrently with ketogenesis if there is also enough fat. Which dominates depends on the volume and background energy level of the cells.

Again, it is very dependent on both the person (IR) and the current energy state. For example, if you ran a marathon, you could eat quite a bit of pure sugar which would almost instantly be absorbed, with or without an insulin response, by your hungry cells. You could eat a lot more before starting to deter ketogenesis, so it is dependent on your current state. Assuming not doing a lot of exercise, again everyone is different, but the recommendation of under 20g seems to work for most people, while some can go much higher and stay in ketosis.


Not really, if your carbs are anywhere near the 20’s you’re in ketosis by day 3 at worst. Your liver doesn’t hold much glycogen at all. The glycogen stores in your muscles don’t have an effect on you entering ketosis.

Yup! Junk food always is!

Sugar is a carbohydrate fuel source, so yes it works against ketosis. But lose all the “kicked out” crap that gets burned into people, it’s stupid. If you eat a little bit of sugar to the point you stop ketosis, you still only ate a little bit of sugar, with no glycogen reserves it’ll burn off incredibly fast and you’ll be back in ketosis again. Not a big deal. A piece of chocolate isn’t doing any damage. Ketosis isn’t some fragile thing you have to tip toe around. Sugar in high amounts is inflammatory to everybody. Key word there is high amounts.

You say you’re not doing this for fat loss, but not sure if you’re insulin resistant? You’d typically have a bunch of signs of that. You speak of healing metabolism and lowering Insulin, but not sure if you have a problem or not? What do you have going on that you’re trying to use keto to correct?


@never2late, don’t worry so much, you do it right, you eat little carbs, even total, you are almost surely in ketosis all the time… And if you go off a tiny bit, what? You come back quickly again as a super tiny bit of sugar gets sorted out in no time. If you still worry, eat your chocolate after a walk or tiny exercise but it probably isn’t needed.

If I am wrong and your individual body will have problems (one can be almost never be sure, very few things are general), I suppose you will notice it…? I always considered the first month the time when you should focus on keeping your carbs low, your food okay (as keto obviously can be done in a crazy, very unhealthy way too), get used to keto and don’t worry about things unless you have a valid reason for it. Many, maybe most people on this forum started keto here not quite healthy metabolically and they didn’t need to do extreme things because of it. The 20g carb limit is there for a reason, it works for almost everyone, without extra conditions. Not for all but close.

(May the blessing of bacon be always with you) #10

This is an open question. It used to be believed that excess protein was automatically turned into glucose, but the actual situation turns out to be more nuanced than that. There are data to suggest that protein intake past a certain point inhibits ketosis, even if it’s not used for gluconeogenesis.

But there are also researchers, such as Benjamin Bikman, who worry about how we lose our ability to assimilate protein as we age, and they promote eating quite a bit more protein than, say, Phinney and Volek recommend. Ted Naiman even goes so far as too say, “Too much protein isn’t even a thing.”

I think Bikman would say that, so long as carb intake is minimal, we are going to be primarily in fat-metabolising mode, no matter what. I suspect that part of the reason we don’t really know the answer to your question is that most of the research has been done on a population of carb burners, and we know that the body’s response to protein is different, depending on whether it’s in the context of high or low carbohydrate intake.


Hi, thanks for your reply. I am a healthy weight, 117 pounds on a 5.2 frame, and I am quite thin on my top half. Unfortunately I have lipoedema so my lower half is disproportionate, though you wouldn’t really notice it if you saw me, wearing slacks etc, as I am a size UK 8 on top and a size UK 10 on the bottom. But I have problems with tender fragile tissues, swelling as lipoedema means fluid in the fat, and inflammation which I am hoping to cure. It is my final hope, as I will never be able to afford liposuction, to become fat-adapted, so that though nothing historically has ever been known to affect lipoedema, neither diet nor exercise, my body in fat-adaptation mode would start to eat up the diseased lipoedema tissue. It’s a long shot, but newer research has shown a ketogenic diet may be highly beneficial to treat lipoedema. As to me thinking I could be insulin resistant, well that was because I always seem to have an inflammatory response to sugar, and I can’t say I entirely understand the science around metabolism, insulin and the immune system yet, as it’s a lot to wrap my head around.


I think I’ve read something of the same that as you get older you need more protein, especially as a woman, as it’s harder to maintain or build muscle mass. I am 39 so probably in that sense need more protein. And there must be a reason why I’m craving meat and eating it to satiety with just a few carbs in my daily life now, it is like my body is turning carnivore though I am still keeping it, with adding a few nuts and vegetables to my daily menu, keto.

(May the blessing of bacon be always with you) #13

Listen to your body. It’s foolish to think we can outsmart two million years of evolution.

And forgive a small rant, please. A carnivore diet is ketogenic, because the body is getting its energy from the fat, because there’s no glucose coming in (and what little glucose the red blood cells and other organs require is made by the liver). I think the confusion comes from not registering as high a level of serum β-hydroxybutyrate on carnivore. But my wild guess would be that the lower reading simply means that production and consumption are better matched on carnivore, because we see something similar when people have been keto long enough.


Actually I’m sure I was eating a lot more than 300 grams carbs. I was addicted to sugar in the form of dried fruit and nut and fruit bars and could scoff down a whole bag (500grams!) of dried mango in a day as well as four or five of those ‘healthy’ fruit bars that were about 20 grams carbs each! And that’s in addition to all the bread I ate. Every friday I would in addition, in the evening, eat a whole (shop bought) pizza all by myself, I was a total carb addict. And I thought I was healthy at the time because I had given up all those refined sugars like candy bars, cakes and biscuits due to a serious illness I battled through.

At all those different times, before and after I gave up refined sugars, I weighed precisely the same as I do now, I was even thinner at times. But I was suffering from chronic inflammation, had daily headaches, dizzy spells and achy joints and went through one blood sugar crash after another, though I thankfully never developed diabetes. I was living in denial for such a long time telling myself I was fine, and I now suspect that was because of carb addiction. It was only when I was diagnosed with lipoedema I looked into ways to combat it and discovered keto.

Since this WOE which I’m now 4 weeks into, I’ve been feeling a lot better overall. My energy although still not great, is much more stabil, I’ve not had a single blood sugar crash, wheras I used to have those all the time. So though I’m doing keto for lipoedema I have discovered some general healing in my body already. And it truly motivates me.

(KCKO, KCFO) #15

Siobhan Huggins has been researching lipedema. She might have some suggestions, so I am tagging her for this. @siobhan .

All so Daisy’s ketowoman podcasts have addressed this issue, be sure to check those out as well, links in the resources section. She just did a podcast on Stay off my operating table S3E09.


When I have read 100-300g carbs, I thought people must eat really fatty in the UK too as this amount of carbs gives little energy… Of course a high-carber often eats way more.

I had my moments with dried fruit too but I always was aware that it’s to be eaten in moderation (and realized that I have zero self control with dried dates, I only ate 500g in 1-2 hours and not more because I didn’t have more. And it was after years of low-carb, I banned dates right away… I don’t even like them much, compulsion works in interesting ways).
You are in good company, most of us had wild times…

(I don’t know what a sugar crash is like, I don’t remember having such a thing. Shouldn’t the body does its job even if we eat sugar? Mine apparently did.)

It’s great you have positive reinforcement from your body, it must be very motivating and uplifting too. Good luck in the future too! :slight_smile: You probably will have other positive effects if you keep eating right. And you didn’t even reach fat adaptation yet, I am curious what will you get :wink:


Yes I think I might have been up in at least the 7-800s grams carbs, because at the time I shunned fat as the plague, believed salt was bad, and my diet was much more limited in protein. But hey, high carb foods were cheap and didn’t punch holes through the budget. So if I was living a bit in denial it was also because of this, as I have definitely not found keto to be cheaper, rather the opposite. But I’m sticking with it as can’t put a price on health.
I don’t know if it’s called a blood sugar crash, but my body would just kind of collapse, I’d feel shaky and get chills, dizzy spells, black spots in front of the eyes, and there must’ve been some problem with oxygen in that moment reaching my brain as I also remember that state of confusion, inability to focus and think. Until I ate something high carb or sugary) like dried fruit), then I usually felt better. Well, whatever that was, I don’t seem to have it anymore. Yes, it will be exciting to see what fat-adaptation will bring when I get there and where I will be healthwise in about a year from now.


Thank you, I will look into them :slight_smile:


The lower-carb I go, the cheaper my diet becomes but it wouldn’t be true if my body would accept anything below 120-180g protein… Still, overeating (maybe 800g carbs isn’t overeating for you but those calories alone are way too much for me) is wasteful cost wise too.

(I probably would have nearly died at 800g carbs… But I can’t eat without fat being my major energy source so of course.)

But keto shouldn’t be really expensive. If a carby diet is way cheaper, there is a big chance that it isn’t good enough nutritionally (not caring about carbs now, just getting what our body needs), I would think. Of course it’s not so simple, different prices in different countries, different people make it complicated. But I am very, very careful with money and food is the biggest part of our expenses, by far… So I pretty much minimize my food costs without sacrificing important things (I did this with an okay salary as well, I still didn’t waste money and I don’t need luxury food items galore to get lots of food joy. so I am very experienced) and cutting out carbs and most processed things did good. Of course it matters where we come from. My costs only diminished a little as I already bought simple ingredients and just some snacks, others may experience a huge drop - and some like you a raise, yes.
I actually could make a cheaper plan with some plants, I just couldn’t do it despite the similar macros. Boredom, hunger… I need my current food. But I will experiment a bit as I probably have a way - but I couldn’t eat like that for more than 1-2 times a month. So I need to eat meat as that is the cheapest, it sounds so weird, people always think eating meat galore is expensive… It depends on the meat, of course. I can’t eat a bunch of vegs and call it a meal, I just get more hungry. Only the protein-rich ones have some chance but eating them all the time? I never could have done that.
Almost all protein sources are not super cheap. And I get all the other stuff I need from them so adding carbs is just extra cost.
Fat is cheap so if one can get away with little protein, it’s easier cost wise. With my high protein intake I can’t pull it off with, like $3 a day. I could if I had to but I would be miserable. I have such days but not many. (Of course countries have different prices, UK has some lower prices than us - butter! - while Australia has way higher ones and New Zealand is just crazy. But they don’t have zillion people below a $500 monthly salary I suppose. Of course other costs may be way higher so we just can’t compare. Still, if you need to spend half or more of your income on food, that may signal some hardships and poverty. It’s the Nigerian average, my SO says, it’s the worst there.)

But it’s fine if it’s more expensive if you can afford it and it gives you better health. Health is so extremely precious, I don’t even understand people actively ruining it when they have better options…


Yes, my partner and I can afford it as we’ve already made a budget for my Keto WOE. But I was just pointing out how it was not cheaper, but more expensive. So we shop in Aldi and the weekly food shop just for me alone comes to about £34, then there’s my partner and our two children, but they don’t eat keto. Though my partner has been really supportive about me wanting to use Keto to try and treat my lipoedema. I find I need a lot of protein now that I’ve given up all those carbs, but once I’ve had sufficient protein I’m not hungry, so I now have three regular meals a day. And for the week I buy for myself:

2 packets of bacon.
1 packet of beef mince.
1 packet of burgers.
1 packet of pork chops.
1 tub of double cream.
1 packet of butter.
2 packets of sliced cheese (to bulk up and spice meals)
1 bag of nuts.
Chicken legs.
2 x box of 15 eggs.
2 packets of avocados.

Then there’s the rest of my family’s weekly food shop, all the snacks my two boys are crazy about, all the fruit and both green and starchy vegetables, bread, oat biscuits, cereal, dried fruits, milk, unsalted butter, cheese, yogurt and the sort of proteins and meats they prefer, and so on.

My partner is good at using up things, making soups and curries and making meats last longer that way. But then he is a much better cook than I am. I tend to just throw meat on the grill and fry some keto friendly vegetables to go with it. For my picky children I steam carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli and cabbage to go with their preferred meats. Lately my oldest has begun developing the taste for bacon, while my youngest will only eat beef mince and sausages.

So … with a bit of planning and budgeting the keto WOE can be done. And feeling already so much better than I did on my high carb, low fat diet, I’m motivated to stay on. Would I have begun this WOE if I didn’t have lipoedema? Probably not. But seeing now that it benefits the body in different ways, I am glad I did.