Ketosis Dangers: How To Maximize the Nutrient Density of a Low Carb Diet.

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Low Carb & Ketogenic Diet, Podcast

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

I don't think it's any secret that I often have a giant, fat-filled, “ketogenic kale shake” for breakfast…

…and sometimes not just for breakfast, but multiple times during the day, especially on busy days. Heck, there's been occasional days where I have had a shake for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

You’ll need a powerful blender for this one. Take a couple large handfuls of kale (preferably dinosaur kale that's been lightly steamed and drained), and toss the kale into the blender. Then add a handful of raw almonds, 3-5 raw brazil nuts (purchased in the shell, like this), 1/2-1 avocado, a teaspoon cinnamon, 1-2 tablespoons dark chocolate powder and 4-6oz full fat coconut milk (preferably the BPA free variety like this). I'll often also add in a handful of fresh herbs (i.e. mint, cilantro, parsley, oregano, etc. – which are fantastic for cleansing the gut and liver too).

Then push blend.

After 30-60 seconds of pulverizing, you can stir in 1-2 heaping scoops grass-fed, cold-processed whey or vegan protein powder and for a bit of added texture (yes, I like to chew my smoothie for better nutrient absorption), 1 teaspoon sea salt (I highly recommend this Aztecan stuff), and a handful of unsweetened coconut flakes with a tablespoon or two of organic cacao nibs.

It tastes magical.

And this recipe has never ripped me out of ketosis – despite it being a good 800-1000 calories if you make a big one! Here’s a video of me punishing the process of gracefully making a variation of that Ketogenic Kale Shake.

Now that shake is certainly a good example of a high-fat, low-carb meal that keeps you in ketosis – and I discuss the benefits of ketosis in Chapter 14 of my book “Beyond Training. But perhaps more importantly, the shake is also extremely nutrient dense, a characteristic of low-carb meals that is often lost in an era of simply guzzling MCT Oil or  consuming insane amounts of heavy cream and butter.

6_1_07_chairLack of nutrient density is one serious danger of ketosis, and my guest on today's podcast is going to explain why that is, tell you the best way to achieve ketosis, and also give you the best nutrient dense foods that you must include on a ketogenic diet if you truly want to optimize your vitamins, minerals, nutrients, micronutrients and hormones.

Her name is Dr. Terry Wahls.

Dr. Wahls is a board certified internal medicine physician and clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa, where she teaches internal medicine residents in their primary care continuity of care clinics, sees patients in a traumatic brain injury clinic and conducts clinical trials.

But she is also a patient with a chronic progressive neurological disorder – secondary progressive multiple sclerosis – which confined her to a tilt-recline wheelchair for four years. But during this time, Dr. Wahls did not give up.

Instead she began reading the medical literature night after night, looking for her own answers about what drove disability in the setting of MS. She delved into the latest research on autoimmune disease and brain biology, and decided to get her vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids from the food she ate rather than pills and supplements.

Dr. Wahls adopted a nutrient-rich Paleo diet, gradually refining and integrating it into a regimen of rich nourishing foods, neuromuscular stimulation, and the spin on a ketogenic diet that you're going to discover in this podcast.

bicycle And amazingly, she healed herself.

First, she walked slowly, then steadily, and then she biked eighteen miles in a single day. In November 2011, Dr. Wahls shared her remarkable recovery in this “Minding Your Mitochondria” TEDx talk that immediately went viral. Now, in her new book  “The Wahl's Protocol“, Terry shares the exact details of the protocol that allowed her to reverse many of her symptoms, get back to her life, and embark on a new mission: to share the her protocol with others suffering from the ravages of multiple sclerosis and autoimmune and chronic diseases, but also people who simply want to maximize their performance, health and longevity.

During our interview, you'll find out:

The science of why ketosis works for things like nervous system disorders, improving physical endurance, or healing the body.

-How Terry used a ketogenic diet during her healing journey.

-Why Terry need to modify the ketogenic diet, and what some of the potential dangers of a ketogenic diet actually are.

-A “day in the life” of nutrient dense eating for ketosis.

-The most important things to measure if you're going to do ketosis.

Resources from this episode:

The Wahl's Protocol book


Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil or SuperEssentials (which has fish liver oil in it).

Metametrix Ion Panel from DirectLabs

-Fasted, fat-burning, ketogenesis expert and nutritionist Barry Murray, who was interviewed in this podcast episode and is now a nutrition consultant and coach for Pacific Elite Fitness! You can hire Barry for a consult or for coaching or consulting by clicking here. He specializes in fasting, endurance exercise, low-carb, high-fat protocols and ketosis.

-My Premium podcast episode: “Insider Pro Athlete Nutrition Consult with Ben Greenfield”. In this Premium episode, you get to sit in and hear me analyze the diet of a professional athlete I work with. Click here to go Premium for $9.99/year.

If you have questions, comments or feedback about how to maximize the nutrient density of a ketogenic diet, then leave your thoughts below!

wahls_protocol jacket 8.20.2013

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

31 thoughts on “Ketosis Dangers: How To Maximize the Nutrient Density of a Low Carb Diet.

  1. eliza carraig says:

    I could not tolerate the Multiple Sclerosis medications for long….. I started on MS Herbal Treatment from VHC, the herbal treatment immensely helped my Multiple Sclerosis condition, i had a significant recovery with this natural treatment. Go to  vinehealthcenter. c o m…..

  2. JB says:

    Would love to hear the interview but don’t see a link anywhere. Is the podcast still available?

    1. Yep – it's still available – maybe try in a different browser?

  3. Steve says:

    Most of what it talked about regarding traditional ketogenic diets regard the medical variety, and not the sort of ketogenic diet that people who are not epileptic follow for healt reasons. Wahls was *hardly* the first to realize that you can round your ketogenic diet out with non-starchy vegetables and berries. It’s also worth noting that she did a hell of a lot more to facilitate her (partial) recovery (and we’ll see how long it lasts) than change her diet. even resorting to regular (and painful) electro-stim treatments which artificially exercise her muscles. Also note that something as simple as a fall from a bicycle can still set her back months of progress. She it *far* from being a “cured” MS sufferer. I also have some issues with the objectivity of her professional research in the area. (And yes, I have her second book “The Wahls Protocol”. It’s a good solid diet. Particularly the ketogenic version. But its claims remain unproven.

  4. Sandra says:

    I’m interested in the diebetes and ms question Tanya wrote also. I’m on 2 types of insulin and I’m not sure what to eat when they want you eating carbs every meal and not going into ketosis either.

  5. Tanya says:

    Hi great pod cast with Terry Wahls. As a diabetic with ms I follow the Wahls diet. I have been told not to go into ketosis because of by diabetes, yet feel I need to, to halt my ms progressing. Do you or Terry Wahls have a view on this? Thanks. Tanya

    1. Charles says:

      If you’re a type 2 diabetic, ketogenic diets are being used to reverse type 2 diabetes. See Dr. Stephen Phinney and VirtaHealth.

  6. Jeanninerenae says:

    Hello, Dr. Wahls talks about being able to identify ketones in urine initially after starting ketosis via smell. I've been eating a ketogenic diet for about 18 days now and notice that no matter the amount of water I consume, my urine is almost always yellow. Is this dehydration or something to do with ketosis?
    Thank you!

    1. Hmm…I often see this if taking a multivitamin or B12 supplement. Otherwise, it is likely dehydration and I would drink more water!

  7. bryanb541 says:

    Copy that Ben! Thanks for the response!

    Hey thanks for all the info you provide. I love the site, podcast, and book. It's been really helpful in my adventure back to health. Thanks again for your time!

  8. bryanb541 says:

    Hey Ben,

    I got a random question about the Omni blender. I done a buch of research. I'm going to buy one. But at this point would you buy anything else with it? Like the Noise Cover or an extra container?

    1. I don't have a noise cover. Didn't spring for it yet. But some mornings my wife wishes I had. ;) So I just have the black one with no extras! Get it here:

  9. Poster says:

    Ben – yet another great podcast. Thank you for all of your efforts!

    Just wanted to drop a quick note about your link to the Nutiva Coconut Oil, as you labeled the link “Extra Virgin Coconut Oil”. There is no such thing (or standard, more specifically), by which coconut oil could be classified as “extra virgin”. While your brand preference may be Nutiva, which is fine, you might be interested to read an article about coconut oil labeling and production put out by Tropical Traditions:…

    1. Thanks I will go check this out!

      1. Poster says:

        One more follow-up to the Coconut Oil…

        What is one to do if they have allergies to Coconut Oil? It seems like it’s in a league of it’s own when it comes to lauric acid and MCT’s.

        Does MCT oil remove enough of the fiber/protein that it shouldn’t cause allergy response? What other oils could be utilized to help one stay in ketosis and to help build up the fat intake?

        Thanks BG!

        1. MCT's do indeed eliminate some of the protein fraction of coconut oil that can cause allergic responses.

          1. Poster says:

            Thank you, sir. Again, thanks for the great research you do as well as taking the time to reply to comments!

  10. alisonjbr says:

    I was very excited to hear this podcast. My 9-year old son has ADHD, and I want to try a ketogenic diet over the summer, coupling that with going off his stimulant meds for the summer. He's only 4'-3" and around 55 lbs, in the 5-10% height and weight, so that's the motivation for this. He doesn't eat on the meds, but he has no self-control off the meds and on a SAD diet. I plan to buy Dr. Wahls' book, but I'm very nervous about transitioning to this. Let's just say organ meats and sulfurous vegetables have not been a staple around our house.

  11. Josh_S says:

    Hi Ben, can you recommend a BPA-free steamer? I used to have one branded by Dr. Weil but they are out of production now.

    1. Best bet is to go with a stainless steal one like this:

  12. HeleneGomez says:

    Also, for those listeners who can't afford a vitamix or blendtec etc, I use a cheap oster blender. it doesnt like it sometimes but ive yet to burn it out. i know oster is a good brand for a cheapie. i cant afford organic or grassfed animal foods, let alone $500 for a blender. i put as much greens in my oster as you do in ur kale shake, plus chopped beet and then 3 eggs and cream or coco milk, pure water, etc. just run it AWHILE. it'll get it smooth :)
    Do What You Can With What You Can Do.

    1. This blender is affordable with a killer warranty!

  13. HeleneGomez says:

    Do u think eating these shakes a few times a day would be ok to do for a fairly long time…like a month? i love shakes, altho i dont put as many calories into it lol i also use eggs in the a.m. shake but then i'd eat nuts with the other ones or even meat or put in some nutbutter. i dont like powdered anything.

    1. Yep, that would be fine, but you're not getting any of the benefits of meat, unless you are blending a steak in there. Ew. So carnitine, creatine, heme based iron, etc. you would be missing out on.

      1. HeleneGomez says:

        um, no. i meant eat the meat separately :O
        and the nuts for that matter. only nutbutter seems ok to me in a shake.
        dr wahls eats a shake and then a full meal basically besides as she only eats 2x a day. so eating something besides the shake is not a unique idea. even having raw cheese with it or yogurt with it or in it, if u do dairy.

        1. Yes, I'd branch out a bit if I were you. Buy Terry's book. ;)

  14. EpicShelli says:

    Great stuff! As someone who has been experimenting with Ketosis, I've been concerned about getting enough nutrients. This interview is perfect timing. In addition, my mother has M.S., so I'm eager to challenge her to follow the Wahls Protocol. We can do it together… One question, how much MCT oil should I eat with each meal? Dr. Wahls indicated she has MCT oil with every meal (or at least every serving of carbs)? Please let me know, and thanks for this great podcast!

    1. About a tablespoon of MCT oil is what you should shoot for! Use the good stuff, like this:

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