Long Term Ketosis - Good, Bad, Ugly?


Exactly! They ate what they even remotely thought would keep them alive, to pretend they had an actual WOE is insane, sure, of course they’d rather take down some huge animal, who the hell wouldn’t? But we ultimately have no idea what they did back then, we find some remains, do some tests, then take that and add in 80% assumption.

My view, who the hell cares what they did? If I was alive back then my goals would be to not starve, not get eaten by something bigger than me, and have somewhere to hide. That’s probably about it. Saying I won’t eat a salad because it’ll “poison” me, because a caveman didn’t is mental. I like salads as much as I like bone in Ribeyes… seriously! If anything, if they did eat salads theirs wouldn’t have been genetically screwed with and poisoned 50 times before they ate them. I’m all for looking into our pasts as humans, but this thing of blindy trying to be people we’re not living in a time we don’t doesn’t work. Not for me at least.

For people happy doing that… more power to them!


I will happily provide an opinion based on the principle of logic:

The fact we’re having these discussions highlights the evidence gaps in biological anthropology. And while it is fine to base theories on what evidence we have with some degree of certainty (astrophysics is a classic example here), it does not logically follow that it must also be true. The same is the case for theories derived from the social sciences. For example, you can look at observational data from hunter gatherer tribes like the Hadza and draw conclusions on what is a ‘natural’ or ‘normal’ metabolic state. However, it does not logically follow that it must also be true. Therefore, any arguments regarding what our ancestors ate and what they eschewed is conjecture. And hence, any view that ketosis is ‘natural’ or ‘normal’ cannot be proven.

Further, the exact same argument can be reversed using the same logic: being in a non-ketogenic state is ‘natural’ or ‘normal’, which can be advanced by virtue of the empirical fact humans ingest carbohydrates and have the biochemical facility to metabolise them.

(Bob M) #9

I listened to a book about the Comanches, and many of them followed the buffalo and ate basically nothing but buffalo. But they were a fractured group, having 7 or so different tribes, and some of those I thought ate plants too, if they were close to the prairie but next to a forest, for instance.

But for Native Americans on the east coast for instance, there were these:

I think Michael’s question is related more toward whether ketosis is “bad”/dangerous if followed over time. I highly doubt it, based on the number of tribes and peoples who can be in ketosis for years.


I believe it has already been established that there is no qualitative evidence beyond one year on a KD.

I think too many folks get carried away on this perennial ketogenic state thing. To the point they are making arguments that our ancestors walked away from fruits because they didn’t want to get kicked out of ketosis. Why does it matter so much?

(Bacon is better) #11

Is that true? I thought the Virta study was in its third year.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #12

What fruits? You may find this of interest:

And this:


To be unequivocal, any naturally occurring non-animal food.


From my reading of the study design and its reporting methodology, I’m not sure they have the data showing participants’ daily ketone readings for the study duration. Combined with the fact this is not a metabolic ward study, it is open to further challenge. Clearly, this was not the purpose of the study anyway (as its title tells us).

(Bacon is better) #15

Studies using food-frequency questionnaires are far more questionable than this one.

Not to mention the fact that a metabolic ward study on any sort of scale would be prohibitively expensive, quite apart from the difficulty of finding a reasonably large group of subjects willing to be cooped up in one for a number of years.

In any case, my point is that we have accumulated a fair amount of data on long-term ketogenic eating to believe it is safe, regardless of the fact that it flies in the face of government recommendations.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #16

@Jamesbrawn007 I am asking you to show me some specific Pleistocene ‘fruits’ not hypothetical ‘naturally occurring non-animal food’. Don’t show me a photo of your local fruit market because none of that stuff existed. Check out the second link I posted above. To be human ‘food’ a substance must be digestible by humans - not just ‘out there’.


That’s not in dispute.

Exactly, which is why the body of evidence regarding ‘long-term’ KD safety is slim.


This goes back to my original reply, it is hypothetical. It is simply not possible to show our ancestors were in long-term ketosis.

(Bacon is better) #19

And my point is that it’s no slimmer than the evidence for any other way of eating, and probably better. Have you looked at the Volek study, done on athletes who had been ketoadapted for at least two years?

By the same reasoning, however, it is simply not possible to show our ancestors were not in long-term ketosis, either.

Although, given what we know of their diet from archaeological digs, it might be the safe bet.


I have. Conversely, have you read the feedback from one of Phinney/Volek’s most notable study participants - Ben Greenfield?

Absolutely, the issue only arises when one party asserts they were.


Being in nutritional based real active ketosis has its merits for medial issues to be addressed. I don’t doubt that.

But what is ketogenic long term? We do not have to be in active ketosis at all times cause if the physcial body is a healthier body then it will not ‘be in active ketosis’ every day or even for long periods ever…we burn ketones therefore we are ketogenic burn but we also have all ketones and burns in there changing and adapting and dumping diff. ketones at diff. times.

An active ketosis body will never a be just a longer term ketogeneic body in truth. How one eats will activate natural active ketosis thru manipulation as one might require but a ketogenic body burns ketones so different from when we start to how long on plan and what we do continue to eat.

Just put time into researching what is a ketogenic menu for the body and what is ‘an active ketosis forced ketosis’ menu and we see the differences. But in the end it is who you are and what one might require but I think most will never require ‘forced active ketosis’ on some pee stick for long term benefits from ‘just being a ketogenic’ body.

(Bacon is better) #22

Or when another party asserts they were not.

(Joey) #23

Like others, I wish I had reliably robust experimental results to point as the basis for much of what I believe in life. Instead I must rely on the perceived credibility of other sources. So I challenge much of what I see as a matter of good logical practice.

I’m very glad to see @amwassil initiate this thread and hope to follow along. But in this spirit, I’ll quibble (slightly) with this reasoning…

I’m unconvinced that genetic “dies” are ever cast. Between mutations, selection pressures, and epigenetics, it seems the more we learn about genetic lineage the more we come to see how remarkably malleable our DNA fingerprints are.

The fact that we can convert our mitochondria to burn “this” vs “that” fuel (viz. fat adaptation) in just a matter of weeks suggests to me the notion that our distant ancestors ate a certain way and therefore we’ve been set into a preconfigured dietary mode for maximum health seems flawed.

Observation across the globe/cultures strongly supports the conclusion that humans are natural omnivores - and can survive on any number of food groups for decades. Whether that’s “thriving” remains the interesting and open question.

Looking forward to reading whatever science is available. My guess is there’s very little indeed that’s useful on an n=1 basis. :vulcan_salute:

(Doing a Mediterranean Keto) #24

Just speculation, but the way I think is:

Humans really want sugars and refined carbs. This probably means (at least, to me) that humans had scarce access to sugars, in normal circumstances. And it was a big evolutionary advantage to eat as many sugars as you could find in nature.

Probably this means that humans were quite often in ketosis, but punctuated by periods out of ketosis (as many as they could).

For example, when I was eating bread, pasta, etc. I never wanted fruit. But when in ketosis, I know I would really like fruit. Even though in nature fruits were less “perfect” than now, I am pretty sure that a human would fill his stomach with fruits, if he found a fruit tree full of fruits.


yea if you didn’t have an entire roasted boar pig to hound down :slight_smile:

I feel ya but sugar ‘cravings’ and ‘today’ will never be what life was back in the day thousands of years ago and take into effect GMO increasing sugar content and transportation cause no one in Iceland was eating a pineapple.

So we have to truly put all this in real context of what it was and what it has become kinda :slight_smile:

back in hard times and more people required food, any darn source which is why in winter more died than survived…those berries and whatever plant sources in the area were life to be given to us another day…not for everyday enjoyment year round as it is now.

Natural real life. So forgotten now in this day. :frowning: and that covers any issues other than just our nutrition.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #26

The genetic die was cast 4-5M years ago when our hominid ancestors ‘gave up’ (‘lost’, ‘abandoned’ or ‘whatever’) their big guts and the ability to digest cellulose. We’re not going to get that ability back - and would not want it back even if we could. From that development we might still have remained just another primate genus of the tropical rain forest with a diet limited to less complex carbs than cellulose.

Fortuitously, though, when our ancestors lost their big, cellulose-digesting guts, they also came down from the forest canopy to the forest floor, then eventually out onto the savanna. I say ‘fortuitously’ because around 4M years ago our specific genus (Homo) began to grow a bigger and energy hog of a brain. This organ demanded a lot more energy than our ancestors could get from eating energy and nutrient dilute plant fodder.

Browsing the savanna of central Africa was a smorgasbord of energy and nutrient dense fat and meat on the hoof. We have sound evidence in the form of ‘Lucy’ (Australopithecus afarensis) that our ancestors were eating that fat and meat at least 3.9M years ago. Hunting those animals required skill and cooperation which a growing brain could provide. The fat and meat in turn provided the energy and nutrients required to continue to grow the brain. A positive feed-back loop.