July 9, 2015

My Experience With Vegan Ketosis AKA "Eco Atkins"


Since my last post, I had maintained a vegan ketogenic diet for a period of months. I stopped sometime in April. Since I didn't keep any record, this will be a subjective retrospective report. I used some ketone urinalysis sticks, so I do know I was in ketosis. Sometimes I was reading a deep purple (I.E. high level of ketones).

I still have interest in keto, but intend to experiment with daily cyclic keto or MCTs as an alternative to chronic ketosis. Veganism is an uncompromisable must, and appears to be healthier anyway. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/plant-based-atkins-diet/

Reading so many positive reports about ketosis, I wanted to give it a try. Since ketogenic diets are used to treat epilepsy, I knew it had powerful effect on the brain. It was these effects that I was after. Some of this activity may may be due to the structural similarities of BHB to GHB. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17011713. That abstract only mentions GHB's effect on GABA(B) receptors. Perhaps this is because they were simply unaware of the GHB receptor itself, and it's contribution the the euphoric effects of GHB.

Confounding Factors


Most of my time in ketosis, I was eating <50g carbs. For a period I was eating <20g carbs. I exercised occasionally, but irregularly. Exercise can help dispose glucose, which is why I mention it here.


Since I had to wake up earlier than normal to get to class, the conclusions I can draw are limited. I learned sometime during my ketogenic diet that ketosis may help with delayed sleep phase syndrome by shortening the free running circadian period, as seen in mice. http://atvb.ahajournals.org/content/29/10/1571.long. Additionally, ketogenic diets may improve sleep quality. both acute and chronic.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17241208 3 month study in epileptic children.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18681982 Acute effects in healthy men.
Nevertheless, I had sleep problems before, during, and after my ketogenic diet.

This link has some interesting speculations regarding diet and sleep.
Since thermogenesis was noted as a potential sleep enhancer in the link above, it's possible that deep ketosis provides benefits, while light ketosis does not. I need to do more research about thermogenesis in ketosis, but it is my current understanding that ketone metabolism is directly correlated with plasma ketone levels.


I often experienced tachycardia (accelerated heart rate) during my time in ketosis. I also experienced this after stopping ketosis, so it appears that ketosis itself was not at fault. The doctor I visited said that sleep deprivation can lead to tachycardia, so I assume that's what it was. Hypomagnesia probably also played a role. I downloaded an app on my phone and casually (I.E. in a non-scientific manner) measured my heart rate. The app was accurate if used properly. Based on loose observations, the tachycardia was agevated by acute sleep deprivation. However, my blood work showed I was deficient in magnesium, which ketosis probably played a role in causing. This hypomagnesia probably played a part in my tachycardia. Most people consume bellow the RDA for magnesium anyway. Supplementing magnesium seemed to help with both sleep and tachycardia. Sleep is still a major issue, however.

Coinciding experiments

During my time in ketosis, I was experimenting with several supplements. I was playing with the CILTEP stack (cAMP promoter), vanadium (insulin receptor agonist), chlorogenic acid (carb absorption inhibitor, plus other machanisms), and African dream root. All of these could have effected my experience with ketosis.


Why I wanted to try ketosis

There are many positive things said about ketosis online. However, the online reports are bound to be biased, since those who don't have a positive experience are unlikely to voice their opinion. Nevertheless, on review of the scientific literature, ketosis seemed to have desirable properties.

However, being underweight at the time, I didn't want to lose weight, so I made an effort to make my diet hyper-caloric.

Why vegan?


What I ate on VeganKeto

My diet changed as I experimented. Mostly, I ate lots of nuts, tofu, veggies, mushrooms, black soy beans (a keto suatable bean), seeds, avocados, mock meats, etc. I made crunchy cookies from flax seed flour/meal, rhubarb pie/jelly, tofu scramble, veggie soup with nuts, etc. I also made some low carb foods that were not quite keto, but acceptable in small portions. I also made a couple attempts at vegan keto coconut ice-cream, but it would solidify if put in the freezer. If eaten right away, it was decent ice-cream.

Difficulty level

It was probably not much more difficult than regular keto. I just replaced meat with nuts. The only thing that would have been helpful is eggs for baking. Soon that will probably not be an issue, once Hampton Creek Foods finally releases their egg scramble, or some other product suitable for baking. Their "Just mayo" was useful, tasting indistinguishable from regular mayo.

Finding out about black soy beans was helpful. They are not my favorite beans, but it went well with a tofu and veggie scramble. I was also experimenting with lupin flour, but had little success to date. I made some lupin humus, which was good. I had to put the raw lupin flour in the toaster to cook out the strange taste it has. I also made some chips using lupin dough flattened and deep fried in coconut oil. This was too time consuming to use regularly, unless I come up with a better method. I would like to experiment more with lupin flour in the future.

All in all, it was somewhat challenging to do vegan keto, but probably not much more than regular keto would have been for me. However, since I was able to get creative, it was probably easier for me than an average person doing the standard animal based keto diet.

Effects noted

  • I generally had reduced hunger. Hunger took longer to set in, and was less intense.
  • Not surprisingly, my exercise capacity was limited. Intense exercise is possible in ketosis, but it is dependent on several factors. Daily activities, such as rushing to get to class on time, would leave me more tired than I would expect otherwise.
  • Metallic taste, strong smelling urine, and sweet breath were all experienced, as expected.
  • Effects on cognition were unclear and hard to measure. If I were to speculate, I would say it enhanced cognition that was otherwise compromised by sleep deprivation.
  • Effects on mood were unclear, largely due to the confounding sleep deprivation. All in all, I think it may have had a positive effect.
  • Effects on sleep were unclear, since my sleep schedule was forced to be different from usual.

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