Omega 3s and a (long-term) keto diet?

(Bob M) #1

Anyone have thoughts about omega 3 intake for those of us on a (long-term) keto diet?

When I went keto, way back in 2014, I tried to eat more fish. I even took fish oil supplements for a while, until after research, I determined the fish oil may or may not be real, and the research supporting supplements is all over the map.

After a while, I stopped even eating fish, except for Lent or anytime we had fish. I didn’t eat sardines, for instance, which I ate before with “lunch”. I also cut back/removed all seed oils and even started eating more beef (less PUFA) and eating less chicken/pork (more PUFA, in general, though it’s hard to know).

When I get blood tests done, my measures of “inflammation” such as HS-CRP and ferritin are always low.

But when I had an Omega 3 test done, my O3s were abysmal (though my saturated fats were quite high):

In the context of a keto diet, do you think omega 3s are still beneficial? Have you felt a benefit, for instance?

(In more detail, I have arrhythmia sometimes, due to cardiomyopathy diagnosed over 8 years ago. These had been fine until about 2-2.5 months ago, when all of the sudden I had two cases of major arrhythmia. These both occurred after riding my bike early Saturday morning, then working physically hard on the house all day, swimming, having a drink sometime during the weekend, etc. It could have been overwork, although I also wonder whether the Pfizer covid vaccine I got might play a role. The vaccine was at least 2 months previous, though. Not sure there’s a connection.

Anyway, to the extent this IS caused by “inflammation”, I’ve started adding back in fish, as O3s supposedly reduce inflammation and arrhythmia. But I also pulled back on my exercise, started taking 81 mg aspirin per day, and also curcumin – supposedly another “inflammation” reducer. I feel a heck of a lot better, but I changed like 9 variables.)

(Old Baconian) #2

While the ω-3 and ω-6 fats are essential to the diet, we don’t need much or either of them, apparently. So the trick for those of us exposed to the Western food system, as Dr. Phinney says, is not so much to get our ω-3 up, but rather to get our ω-6 intake down. It is the ω-6 fatty acids that are inflammatory, when eaten excessively.

The goal, as I understand it, is to get ω-3 and ω-6 in roughly equal proportions, because they compete for the same cell receptors. The only other thing I know is that fish is a good source of ω-3, but not the only source.

(Bob M) #3

It’s weird, because my O6/O3 ratio is still 6.2:1, which for someone who really tried to avoid O6, is relatively high (I think). For as much as I avoid PUFAs, I would think that I’d have a better ratio. Odd.

A reasonable explanation is that I’m not getting enough O3, say in fish. That is, I’m limiting O6, but not adding O3 to compensate. I don’t really have any other ideas.

I can’t afford grass-fed beef, but even if I could, the difference (in O3s) isn’t much between grass-fed and grain-fed.

So, I guess I just need to add more seafood and see what happens. Or maybe buy those fancy Omega 3 eggs, and eat them?


I never figured out what to do about omega3. I personally just ignore it. I eat close to zero seafood (just like I did all my life. and I basically never supplement anything), I mostly live on eggs and pork and hope for the best. I don’t feel any problem so I don’t try to solve this but I like to read about such things. Too bad I haven’t the vaguest idea about how much omega3 or omega6 I consume. I don’t eat seed oils, it’s something… I’ve read even eggs can be so very different, I get them from a good source as far as I know, I can’t do much more…

(Joey) #5

While I can’t offer insight re: the tension between O3 & O6, their preferred ratios, etc., I will note that hemp seeds are touted as a “good source” of such stuff…

Personally, I sprinkle (organic) hemp seeds on most of my salads. But you’ve got me wondering, so I just took a closer look at the label - which doesn’t reveal much about ratio of Omega3 vs Omega6, GLA, except to say it’s a “good source” :wink:

… which now makes me wonder whether it’s a “good source” of something I want to eat in such amounts or proportions :roll_eyes:


Omega 3 supplements are the Olive Oil of supplements, buy verified stuff… or it’s most likely cut with something.

I buy IFOS certified Omega’s in Triglyceride form, more bioavailablity and less screwed around with. Sports Research has a good one that’s not expensive at all vs many that claim to be higher end. Nordic Naturals is also a good one.

(Bob M) #7

Thanks, @lfod14. I’ll have to check those out.

This is indicative of all of the wildly-ranging studies:

It’s basically, “Here are a bunch of epidemiological studies indicating O3s are good. But when we get to RCTs, it’s all over the freaking map.” For instance:

With respect to AF risk, the data for a benefit of these fatty acids are quite limited at this time, and the data for ALA influencing risk of SCD are equally sparse. Therefore, additional data are needed before these supplements can be recommended as antiarrhythmic agents.

AF = atrial fibrillation, always considered to be bad. SCD = sudden cardiac death.

So, I WANT to believe eating fish/other O3 sources is good; but studies like this leave me wondering… Especially for us low carb/keto/carnivore folk, who should already be eating a low “inflammation” diet. (And could doing something like eating fish might be good for reasons other than O3?)


For me, yes - absolutely. Reducing my Omega 6 consumption and increasing my Omega 3 pretty much eradicated my chronic inflammation that I had for over 25 years. I supplement Omega 3 everyday in additional to dietary intake and I minimise my Omega 6 consumption. My O3:O6 ratio is like 1:1 or 1:2 most days.

I made a mistake one month of eating several foods high in omega-6 (pork chops, nuts, chicken wings, dairy…others I can’t recall) and immediately noticed a sharp increase in inflammation. Dialled it back down and all was well again.

I don’t miss the pain and happy to ditch or eat minimally anything high in Omega 6. There are other things to eat.

(Joey) #9

SCD is often considered bad, too. :no_mouth:

(Edith) #10

Dehydration and/or not enough sodium?

(Jenna Ericson) #11

I would really like to get a test like the one you showed! I see it’s called a “Dried Blood Spot Fatty Acid Profile.” Did you ask your doctor for it or was it one of those online tests where they send you a kit?

I found this article about fatty acid signaling that I thought was interesting:

The article provided some information about the derivatives of PUFAs that might be relevant here, but also stated that: “While fatty acid-derived signaling is known to play critical roles in mammalian reproduction and development, little is known about how these signals exert their effects. Studies on lipid signaling in simple model systems will promote understanding these signaling pathways with molecular and cellular resolution.”

Until more research is available it’s hard to know how detrimental the current average ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is compared to a more evolutionarily consistent ratio, however, it seems safe to say we should aim for a ratio of 1:1.

I’m waiting on a video though from Layne Norton, who apparently has an opposing argument about seed oils (if that’s a thing), so keep an eye out.

(Ohio ) #12

I know this is going to sound crazy and may not work for all. But Walnuts are high in Omega 3 so I do a steel cut oats/ground walnuts mix. 1/4 cup steel cut oats, while that’s cooking I’m hand grinding black walnuts (1 cup). Ceylon Cinnamon (Not Cassia!) & Nutmeg (as much as I can handle. 1-2 tsp Maple Syrup optional. Let cool to maximize resistance starch. Add Cinnamon Zeylanicum bark oil (if possible) after cooled. One drop!

The only cuts of meat I eat is raw fish. Salmon row reigns supreme. Grass FINISHED organ meat in soups. I can stop sharing cookie recipes now but I have other methods of maintaining the 3:6 ratio.

My feeding window is only a few hours if I eat and high activity, so my oatmeal method may not work for others.

(Ohio ) #13

Don’t buy “grass fed” beef. It’s normally finished with grain anyways. Even if USDA organic. As long as they see grass, they’re good. Grass FINISHED is my only read meat.

You mentioned affordability, how much did that diagnostic cost? I want one.

(Central Florida Bob ) #14

There has been talk on the forums over the years that the ALA found in plant sources of omega 3s is not as readily metabolized as the EPA found in salmon and other animal sources. I think the term was less bioavailability than EPA, which would imply that eating more of the ALA may get you there. And it may be overly simplistic to say to eat a quart jar of shelled walnuts as opposed to a few ounces of salmon or sardines (I made up that ratio of amounts).

Is there any evidence that vegetarian vs. animal sources matter?

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #15

Or jump to the issue of bioavailability of ALA here:

Studies of ALA metabolism in healthy young men indicated that approximately 8% of dietary ALA was converted to EPA and 0%-4% was converted to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (6). In healthy young women, approximately 21% of dietary ALA was converted to EPA and 9% was converted to DHA (7). The better capacity to generate long-chain PUFA from ALA in young women compared to men is related to the effects of estrogen (8, 9). Although only the essentiality of ALA is recognized because it cannot be synthesized de novo by humans, the relatively low rate of ALA conversion into EPA and DHA suggests that these long-chain omega-3 PUFA may be considered conditionally essential nutrients.

My take: yes, you’d have to eat a heck of a lot of walnuts to get the EPA and DHA equivalents of a small portion of salmon.

(Bob M) #16

@VirginiaEdie As always, there are so many variables, it’s hard to tell. I developed cardiomyopathy over 8 years ago and was doing great until recently, with those two episodes. Could it be electrolytes? That’s possible. Could it be inflammation from the second dose of the vaccine? Unlikely, as the episodes were about 1.5-2 months after the dose, but I really don’t know. How long does the inflammation take to happen in someone like me? I was also taking berberine. Could that have hurt? Maybe. Could I have just “overdone” it? Maybe.

I feel 100 times better now, and I feel as if I’m almost back to normal. I do have a stress test in a few weeks to help see what’s up.

But, I’ve:

  • Stopped exercising so much; still exercising, just doing less
  • Started taking curcumin (supposedly anti-inflammatory)
  • Started taking 81m aspirin (definitely anti-inflammatory, but can cause bleeding internally)
  • If I know I’m working on the house over the weekend, I don’t exercise on those days (which is what I used to do, but then started exercising more).
  • Trying to increase my electrolytes, including magnesium. I’m taking one pill a night now.
  • Even though I was only drinking 1-2 drinks per week, I’ve stopped those too.
  • Started eating daily servings of fish.

So, as always, I changed too many variables at once. And if it was from the vaccine, that inflammation goes away over time, too.

@jennasaurus This is the test. It’s unfortunately $100, and I’ve only taken it once. It has even more info in the results, but what I showed is only the part I have here at work.

I agree that 1:1 might be a suitable goal. I thought that by limiting PUFAs, which I try to do and have been trying to do for a long time, I’d make this ratio better. Lower O6, that should bring up O3. But I guess I actually have to make a concerted effort to get my O3 up.

@JustMo In many ways, I envy you people who can tell when they are inflamed. I tend not to be able to do this. For me, unless I go off plan and eat a bunch of wheat and other inflammatory foods, I don’t have any feedback about inflammation. Eating dairy or pork or chicken or anything causes no negative effects I can tell. (I DO get negative effects from plants, like sweet potato, spiralized zucchini, uncooked bell peppers, etc. These cause digestive issues, though. Not really inflammation.)

So, it might be a benefit that you get that type of feedback.

Anyway, I’ve been eating 1 can of sardines or other fish every day. The can of sardines in water I just ate has about 1 gram of EPA and DHA. I’ll continue this for a month and see what happens.

If I can afford it, I’ll get another Omega Quant test done to see how things have changed.

(Ohio ) #17

Right. I purchase walnuts by the 5 lb bags.

Also what your saying applies to salmon vs salmon row.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #18

Except, you get a lot of other good stuff from salmon, herring, sardines and their roe, etc you don’t get from walnuts. Plus, walnuts are 7% carbs (14% total but half is fiber) so you’re going to have to eat lots of carbs to get more than a pittance of usable ALA. Since you say you already eat fish and roe, I don’t see the point of eating walnuts for the sake of the minimal EPA and DHA you’re getting from doing so.

(Ohio ) #19

As my name implies: endocannabinoid system.

It worked for me in a few ways.

I’ll eat Salmon one day. Walnuts the next. Etc

(Joey) #20

I’m afraid that research will be hard to come by - i.e., isolating omega-3 vs omega-6 ratio effects on long-term health in humans. Can’t imagine anyone who would suffice as a “control” and epidemiological approach leaves more confounding factors than the targeted area of study.

The additional challenge with defaulting to some “evolutionarily consistent ratio” is that humans evolving by the seas and rivers would have a very different dietary intake of fish products than those inland. As a result, you’d likely have various metabolic tendencies based on your ancestry - and mixed ancestry (many folks) would have a hard time figuring out what ratio would be consistent with their genetic mix.

In short, if we’re waiting for science to lead the way on omega3/6 actionable insights, it’ll likely be a long wait. :nerd_face: