No announcement yet.

Permanent ketosis leads to kidney/liver damage?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Permanent ketosis leads to kidney/liver damage?

    I recently told my friend, a professor of medicine at a large university, about my six-week-old PB eating habits (now largely carnivorous). He advised me that it's not good to keep your body "carb-starved" and in ketosis all the time, and that eating so much protein strains the liver's ability to produce urea and the kidneys' ability to process and excrete it. The long-term effects can include liver and kidney damage, he said.

    I've heard something like this before, but it seems to run counter to the research on MDA as well as the experiences of real-life carnivores.

    Do you know anyone who has sustained kidney/liver damage from eating too much protein? Is Tarlach on course for renal failure? Or is this just CW run amok again?

  • #2

    Ive heard it from bodybuilders who eat ungodly amounts of protein (mostly from powders) that they have kidney problems. I always heard as long as you keep hydrated your kidneys shouldnt have an issue, especially if u get your protein from meat sources. Although I can't back that up with anything other than broscience. Im interested to see some evidence though

    Natural Selection:


    • #3

      Absolute bull.

      1. What is the incidence of liver or kidney damage among the Inuit practicing their traditional diet?

      2. What is the incidence of liver or kidney damage among the Masai practicing their traditional diet?

      3. The venerable Dr. Atkins himself used ketosis to treat thousands of patients at his clinic over the course of several decades, and he challenged anyone to show one case where ketosis caused kidney damage. Not one case has ever been documented.

      Case closed. Ketosis is a safe and natural state, and any speculation about potential harm is just that: pure unfounded speculation.


      • #4

        The body naturally has a few feedback loops that prevent from ketoacidosis, which is what most people fear from ketosis such as:

        -decreasing glucose requirements in body

        -decreased nitrogen excretion via kidney

        -decreased protein synthesis because of lower thyroid function

        There are others but they haven't been definitively confirmed.

        Now there are really no long term studies done on ketosis and its' affects on humans. Most of the studies are done on epileptic children, but there protocols are quite different from what the average primal person might do.

        I do know that uric acid (waste product of protein) competes with the same transport mechanism in the kidney's as ketones do... do Im not one for recommending longterm ketosis.

        When clients/friends ask I usually give them a cyclical ketosis diet, if they are more geared towards fat loss, it's one re-feed every 7-10 days. More towards muscle building it's once every 3-5 days.

        On a related note, type 1 diabetics and mixing alcohol with ketosis is very dangerous and will most likely result in ketoacidosis.

        In Pursuit of Healthiness, Only to Achieve Happiness!:


        • #5

          Very interesting... thanks for the informed responses, Athena, Prowler, A.S.

          This is pretty much what I suspected (living off protein powder will blow out your kidneys, bacon not so much) and I have no problem following a carnivorous diet for 20 years just to prove my friend wrong -- at which point I expect he would dismiss me as a stastical outlier, so confirmed is he in his views.

          That's very interesting about Dr. Atkins defying anyone to produce a case of kidney damage from ketosis. That's kind of what I was wondering -- where are the casualties behind these grim warnings? I will look into Dr. Atkins' challenge further.

          BTW, did I ever mention I love the MDA community?? I've never seen a question asked here that didn't get an intelligent response (and usually many).


          • #6

            I love this community too. And I love the PB. It's not just a diet, but a great holistic approach to diet, exercise, and a healthy attitude that just clicks for me. There's nothing else like it.

            But yeah, living off protein powder is a bad idea. The reason is because of the lack of fats.


            When Vijhalmur Stefansson underwent his one-year meat-only diet to satisfy the doubters among the medical community, they tried a diet of lean meat only for a short time, in which time he suffered poor health. When they added fats back in to the diet, he regained perfect health which carried on to the end of the experiment.

            Similarly, some fad diets in the past have advocated liquid protein shakes, and were low in fat and in total calories. Without fat to burn for fuel, the body turns to excessive muscle catabolism, and several people on this regime died from heart failure.

            Similar things have happened with the so-called Kimkins diet, a scam which was basically a low-fat, low-calorie version of Atkins.

            Low-carb should never be low-fat. When you remove carbs from the equation, or minimize them, fat becomes your body's primary fuel source, as nature intended it to be.

            Anecdotal evidence tells me that in the old days, people ate the fatty meats and organs first and threw the lean muscles to the dogs.

            The fact that people pay a premium in this country for boneless, skinless chicken breasts is a laughable tragedy. And the fact that I went to Trader Joe's the other day and couldn't find a single piece of chicken with the bone and skin included makes me very sad, indeed.


            • #7

              Great stuff, Prowler, thanks a ton! I had never read the story of Vilhjalmur Stefansson before. Very compelling. I wonder how much of the criticism of excess protein should really be aimed at lack of fat. Now I am well armed with counterarguments to the "ketosis is bad" theory.

              I can't resist mentioning that my friend, who is roughly my same age and height, has been trying to lose weight for the last six months and plateaued at 180 (the same place I plateaued before discovering the PB). He hasn't seen me in a few months, but I'm now 158 and stacked. I am really going to give him the business when next we meet.


              • #8

                I know people (yes, PEOPLE) that have cured themselves of advanced kidney and liver disease by long periods of fasting. The doctors told them there was nothing they could do, of course. I have kidney damage that I'm working on by doing periods of vegetable juice fasting. I'm positive that starches and sugars are definitely more likely to harm kidneys than ketosis or high protein intake. If I eat a large amount of sugar or starch my kidneys ache the next day. Look at how cats have high rates of kidney disease. My bet is that if starches weren't added to cat food, this wouldn't be the case.


                • #9

                  Hi, Prowler-----Atkins diet of late 60's and early 70's---you can lose a lot of weight in a short time. The diet leads to excessive ketones in the system. Not all that bad if you drink a lot of water. Dr. Atkins gave instructions that no one should follow his diet more than two weeks without spending a few weeks on a more conventional diet. He also recommended drinking over 96 ounces of water a day while on the diet. The diet lost favor around 1972-73 after there were reports of people dying while on the diet. Probably didn't drink the water and/or kept at it too long. Around that time I just came out of the service and entered college. Transition from exrtreme activity to sitting at a desk all day. I gained over 70 pounds in that school year. I used the Atkins diet to drop that weight in a little over three months. Yea--I went too long, but I was desperate and besides, if I couldn't die in Vietnam, I couldn't die anywhere. I did develop some harsh kidney pain. Hot pads on my flanks almost all the time. I won't use that diet again if I go top heavy.

                  Stay hydrated if you want to be a total carnivore.

                  Note that nature's carnivores--lions,tigers, and bears---often eat their kill's stomach first--where all of the predigested plants are.

                  Tayatha om bekandze

                  Bekandze maha bekandze

                  Randza samu gate soha


                  • #10


                    Considering that after 10 years these people are very healthy, I'm just wondering HOW LONG is it supposed to take for this horrible, scary ketosis to harm someone? Just wonderin'

                    Too much protein can strain the liver, this is true. Ketogenic diets should be maximum 30% protein in my opinion and the rest fat (and carbs if it won't break ketosis).

                    Stabbing conventional wisdom in its face.

                    Anyone who wants to talk nutrition should PM me!


                    • #11

                      How much carb will break ketosis? Is it in grams or in percentage related to fat?


                      • #12

                        How much carb will break ketosis? Is it in grams or in percentage related to fat?

                        I'm sure that there are many factors involved, and I'm sure it varies from person to person, but many people consider less than 50g of carbs per day a "ketogenic diet." However, I would consider that nothing more than a vague approximation.

                        I have also heard it said that the relative percentage of carbs to fat does matter.


                        • #13

                          To stay in a mild state of ketosis, I have to eat less than 30 grams of carbs a day. If I start creeping up, I notice that I stop burning fat. I expect this is going to vary from person to person.

                          Start weight: 250 - 06/2009
                          Current weight: 199
                          Goal: 145


                          • #14


                            I just read from Lierre Keith's book, the "Vegetarian Myth" that the inuit and other traditional societies were rarely ever in ketosis because they ate a large proportion of their meats (especially organ meats) raw. Somehow, I don't know how, this staves off ketosis, supposedly.

                            I have yet to develop my own complete opinion on the issue, as I simply don't feel that I have enough information. That said, I personally stay out of ketosis as a default because of the huge quantities of vegetables I eat, plus bananas once in a while.


                            • #15

                              Ketosis is merely the state of your body breaking down fat (lipolysis) into ketones and using them for fuel. I don't see how eating raw meat would prevent that, and I also don't see how the Inuit could have possibly avoided burning fat for fuel in their bodies.

                              Also, you would have to eat massive amounts of vegetables to avoid any ketosis, unless you're meaning starchy tubers. And a banana once in a while won't prevent ketosis, either.

                              And why would anyone want to prevent ketosis anyway? It means your body is burning fat for energy, and evidence suggests that ketones are the preferred fuel source for muscles and major organs of the body.