New to keto. ME/CFS, which advice is best for me?



Hello good people,
I used to eat sort of keto-ish for a long time, because I could tell my body preferred it (although I hadn’t heard of keto at the time). For some years now, my diet has been terrible, and I’ve decided to eat better and go about it properly. I’ve been easing into keto woe for the last couple of weeks. I had a few days where I felt awful, and have been making sure to get enough salts and water. I’ve also had some days where I felt better than in a very long time. I already had a day where I just felt like walking outside all day, and it was absolutely wonderful!

I’ve lost a surprising amount of water, and definitely feel as I’m heading the right way with this, although I have no way of measuring anything since I’m on holiday.

I’ve been reading a lot on this forum and there is so much good information (thank you!). I see people have varying goals with this woe, and it’s not always clear to me which advice is best for what goal. I see people write about IF, fasting and lots of other things, and wonder whether all the various things people do would be good or bad for me personally. I am not diabetic or overweight. I am exercising, according to my energy levels. I am gradually increasing exercise as my body allows, and have increased my muscle mass. I have some health issues, and especially since I have ME/CFS I don’t want to do anything that will affect me/my energy levels too negatively. I am looking to help my body heal itself and get stronger.

Any advice/wisdom would be much appreciated.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #2

Welcome! I began keto 3 1/2 years ago also primarily for the health benefits. I consider it the best thing I ever did for myself. I think you will get to that as well. During the initial adaptive phase, you’ve decreased carbs to the point of not supplying your metabolism with sufficient glucose to fuel your daily activities. At the same time, your cells and organs have not yet figured out just what to do with the ketones and fatty acids you’re now giving them. So you can expect to experience what I call ‘running out of gas’. Rest assured it will pass. Just don’t panic if/when it happens. Maybe it won’t. I never experienced it more than trivially and I suspect that the better one’s overall health when starting keto the less initial side effects of carb withdrawal one experiences. The most important thing starting out is to keep carbs sub-20 grams per day so you remain consistently in ketosis. Ketones and fatty acids are more efficient and cleaner burning fuel than glucose, and you will adapt to utilizing them sooner if you stay in ketosis. Best wishes.

(A fool and his bacon are soon parted) #3

I have a sort of fatigue syndrome, the result of a virus I contracted in 2006. While I sometimes envy the people who talk about being really energetic on a ketogenic diet, I am satisfied to just feel normal again. Just being able to mow the lawn, without having to spend two days in bed recovering, makes me quite happy. I got a bit discouraged six months ago, when I came down with another bad viral infection that was going around and ended up exhausted for a few months, but am happy to say I am now back up to normal energy levels.

There isn’t anything you particularly need to do on a ketogenic diet, except to wait out the fat-adaptation period, which is generally six to eight weeks. Your body is already producing ketones, but your muscles need time to reactivate the metabolic pathways that use fatty acids instead of glucose. You should gradually feel stronger and less fatigued.

I should probably note that if you are a woman, there may also be a period of hormonal adjustment while your body sorts itself out. People here on the forums can help guide you through all that, if you have any questions. Or even if you’d like to keep us posted on what’s happening with you.


Thank you both! What you call ‘running out of gas’ is what I call ‘low/out of battery’. :slight_smile: Since I’ve had ME for many years I am quite familiar with it. I have been feeling some of that lately, but since I’m on holiday it’s hard to separate different causes. I’m taking it easy and making sure to hydrate + electrolytes.

I’m not sure I’ve been staying under 20 consistently, but I’ve been keeping fairly low at least. I’ve tried staying under 30. I expect it’ll be easier when I’m back home. I will be stricter from now on :slight_smile:

I’m sorry to hear you have CFS too. It’s great though that you are feeling normal again, that gives me a lot of hope!

I don’t dare think anything will cure it for me, but if I will feel a little better and stronger it’s worth it regardless. To feel normal again has been a dream for a long time. If you can do it, maybe I can too!

Thanks for the comment on the hormones also, that was entirely new to me. I haven’t read anything about that at all, and I’ve noticed them being slightly odd this week. It’s good to know what’s causing it. Do you have any idea how long until it will stabilise?

(A fool and his bacon are soon parted) #5

A lot of women say they took a month or so to get fully sorted out, sometimes longer. When you’ve been a member long enough to see the Health Forum (which is blocked from casual viewing), take a look for topics on menstruation and other women’s issues. You will see that women respond to a ketogenic diet in a variety of ways, and where they fall in that range seems to depend on previous dieting history, what women’s conditions they might be starting with, and how close they are to menopause. The effect of this way of eating on menstruation seems to be wildly variable, and for obvious reasons, I can’t speak to that!


Thanks so much, that’s really good to know! I will look out for the topic showing up. :slight_smile:

(Pennie Malone) #7

Dr Myhill (an ME/CFS specialist in the UK) actually recommends the ketogenic diet (a diary free version) to treat those with ME/CFS. Even just a short time on the diet a year ago took me from mostly bedbound to being able to have enough energy to manage shopping for myself occasionally.

I highly recommend looking at the PK Diet Cookbook on Amazon. It has a lot of science on ME, Keto and a meal plan requiring next to no cooking designed for those with ME and CFS. The meal plan is aimed at those in the UK with the items to buy but I’m sure where ever you are there will be alternatives