Diet

The Ketogenic Diet: Does It Help With Prostate Disease?

On my website and in my newsletters, I recommend the ketogenic diet for prostate and general health.

I’m beginning to get quite a few questions from people who wish to better understand this relationship between ketosis and the health of the prostate.

It’s quite a complicated relationship, and I don’t want to befuddle you with the science so I’m going to keep this brief explanation as simple and straightforward as I can.

I’m being asked by both men who have prostate cancer, and others who have an enlarged prostate (BPH).

So, I’m going to divide the question into two parts and both parts are equally important whether you are in one situation or another.

What is the Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet is a high fat, low-carb diet, which involves reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat.

On a ketogenic diet, your entire body and when insulin levels become very low, fat burning can increase dramatically.

It becomes easier to access your fat stores to burn them off. It has been shown to offer several health benefits, including weight loss, helping to control blood sugar, increased energy and mental focus, and better prostate health.

One study points out that this low-carb diet leads to weight loss and favorable changes in serum triglycerides and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

A ketogenic diet seeks to eliminate all grain and sugar in all their forms since the body equally quickly converts both to glucose in the bloodstream.

Similarly, and for the same reason, you should avoid all starchy vegetables, especially potatoes.

You are allowed to eat non-starchy vegetable carbohydrates. You should eat a high-fat diet, with low to moderate amounts of high-quality protein. But keep in mind this should be from healthy fats, such as fatty acids found in omega 3 fish and not saturated fat.

I am talking about high-quality fats like avocados, the right kind of butter, coconut oil, macadamia nuts, almonds, olives, along with omega three fats from small fatty fish like sardines, herring, or mackerel.

If those are difficult, then my wild and raw krill oil sourced from Antarctica is a perfect substitute. More detailed information about Ben’s Antarctican Krill Oil is freely available on my website.

Is it the same as the Atkins or Paleo Diet?

Not really. In general, keto diets are diets that result in being in a state of mild ketosis most of the time.

The Atkins diet starts in ketosis and remains in ketosis until you have lost a fair amount of weight. This is also called the “induction” phase of the diet.

After this phase, you then slowly introduce carbs back into your diet and keeping it at low levels. Junk and processed foods are avoided.

The Paleo diet isn’t always a keto diet. It often focuses on whole foods and avoids any cultivated and processed foods.

For example, if you consumed only meat and potatoes, then you have a Paleo diet. But not necessarily a keto diet. The reason is that the starch from the potatoes keeps you out of ketosis.

What are the three main types of Keto Diets?

The three main types of a keto diet are the Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD), Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD), and the Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD).

SKD is the type that’s most familiar to people. It’s a low-carbohydrate diet, moderate in protein, and high in fat.

Typically, an intake of 30 grams or fewer carbs will induce ketosis. The carbs of choice are leafy green vegetables, as they have low glycemic indexes and have the least effect on insulin release.

CKD is a version of the diet where refeeds, or periods of higher carb eating, are implemented usually once per week. The refeeds provide the body with the muscle glycogen needed for high-intensity workouts.

The principle behind TKD is similar to the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet. People on this version of the diet refeed with higher carb intakes before and after every workout.

This version of the diet would be ideal for athletes who want to perform at their highest intensity levels.

What is the difference between Ketosis and Ketoacidosis?

Ketoacidosis is a complication of diabetes. It’s a life-threatening condition that results from very high levels of ketones and blood sugar levels.

This combination makes the blood too acidic, which can change the normal functioning of internal organs like the kidneys and liver.

On the other hand, ketosis is the mere presence of ketones. And it’s not harmful. This state is achieved if you’re on a low-carb diet or fasting. You’ll have a higher than usual level of ketones in your blood or urine, But it’s not high enough to cause acidosis.

Setting up your Keto Diet

First, you take your lean body weight and multiply it by one. That number will be the total number of grams of protein that you need to eat per day.

Next, multiply this number by 4 to calculate the total calories that come from protein. The rest of your daily requirement will come from fats.

You don’t need to calculate carb grams because by default; you’ll likely reach your 30-50 grams per day. This can be done by simply including green vegetables and carbs that come from your fat and protein sources.

To figure out your fat grams, take the total number of calories it takes to maintain your body weight. Typically, it’s around 14-16 calories per pound of body weight. Subtract your protein calories from that number and then divide by 9. This will give you the total fat grams you need per day.

Lastly, divide these numbers by the number of meals you wish to eat per day.

What do I eat on a Keto Diet?

Fats will be the majority of your daily calorie intake. This will be a combination of saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans fats. Good sources of dietary fat are wild-caught fish, animal fat, avocados, egg yolks, and olive oil.

When it comes to proteins, you should balance it out in your meals with fattier side dishes and sauces. You can have fish, whole eggs, beef, pork, and poultry as protein sources.

Non-starchy vegetables are a vital part of a healthy keto diet, and the best ones are those high in nutrients and low in carbohydrates. Anything that resembles spinach or kale will be a good choice.

What foods should I avoid?

Avoid sugar at all costs. It’s not wise for you to consume processed drinks like soda, juices, and sports drinks, as well as chocolate and ice cream. Grains and wheat products also contain lots of carbs, so you should beware of pasta, cereal, cakes, and pastries.

Vegetables like potatoes and yams, because they contain a lot of starch, should be avoided entirely. Also avoid any large fruits like oranges, bananas, and apples because they’re high in sugar. Eat berries in moderation.

How does a Keto Diet work?

Your body adapts to the nutrients that are put in it. It processes different types of nutrients into the fuels that it needs. Carbs, fats and, proteins can all be processed for energy.

These are broken down into glucose, which is needed to create ATP (energy molecule).

Glucose is our primary source of fuel for most people, and it’s obtained mainly from carbs. But what happens if your carb intake is low? Ketosis will kick in, and your body will use your stored fat as energy.

This is how a ketogenic diet works. Ketosis happens when your body has no more glucose to use for energy. The body has no access to excess carbs. Thus, the body will burn fat and create ketones, which are then used as fuel for the body.

Ketosis is an amazing process. Studies show that the body, particularly the brain, actually prefers using ketones. It is 70% more efficient in using ketones for energy.

Can I lose weight on a Keto Diet?

Absolutely! There is substantial evidence that keto diets are beneficial for weight loss.

A 2014 review published in the International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health states:

One of the most studied strategies in the recent years for weight loss is the ketogenic diet. Many studies have shown that this kind of nutritional approach has a solid physiological and biochemical basis and is able to induce effective weight loss along with improvement in several cardiovascular risk parameters.

One study shows that people on a keto diet lost 2.2 times more weight than those on a typical low-calorie, low-fat diet. The participants also had improved triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels.

Another study found that people on a low-carb diet can lose as much as 15.2 lbs, while people on a low-fat diet lost only 4.6 lbs. Over three months, a low-carb diet can cause three times more weight loss.

Here’s how a keto diet promotes weight loss:

  •  Higher protein intake
  •  Food elimination
  • Converts protein and fat into carbs for energy
  • Suppresses appetite
  • Improves insulin sensitivity
  • Decreased fat storage
  • Increased fat burning

A keto diet is an excellent option for people who don’t like to count calories because you can eliminate certain foods.

Why is Ketosis important for prostate and other cancers?

Nutritional ketosis involves restricting carbohydrates to decrease the availability of glucose in your bloodstream. Restricting carbs also increases the production of ketone bodies from your liver.

Nearly all of your normal cells have the flexibility to readily adapt to using ketone bodies for fuel in place of glucose, but prostate cancer cells do not have this metabolic flexibility.

Hence, they effectively starve to death, while all your normal cells operate more efficiently than before.

A traditional ketogenic diet allows you to eat quite a few dairy products. However, dairy can be problematic for cancer in particular, even if from raw organic sources.

Lactose is a sugar made from galactose and glucose, and lactose makes up 2% to 8% by weight in dairy milk from cows.

Plus, there are a number of other serious problems in milk produced by cows if you are dealing with suspected or diagnosed prostate cancer. You can use small quantities of goat’s milk (which has a very different constitution).

You can eat grass-fed butter produced from grass-fed cows. And you should ideally restrict yourself to cheese and yogurt that is produced from goats.

Carbs create cancer-thriving conditions

Cancer cells need glucose to thrive. Since carbohydrates turn into glucose in your body, then lowering the glucose level in your blood through carb and protein restriction literally starves the cancer cells to death.

But if you do have or suspect you have cancer, you need to do more than this in order to gain all the benefits of ketosis.

Carbohydrate restriction will reduce glucose and insulin spikes. But it will not have a significant impact on baseline levels of blood glucose unless you also restrict your calorie and protein intake.

So, if cancer prevention or treatment is what you are concerned with: Carb restriction must be combined with calorie restriction and moderate protein restriction to effectively “starve” cancer cells of their preferred fuel (glucose and glutamine).

Your body has the flexibility to burn two types of fuel: fat and carbs.

Probably about 99 percent of Americans are adapted to burning carbs as their primary fuel. When your body is adapted to burning carbs, you will get hunger pangs about every two to three hours.

These hunger pangs vanish once you become fat adapted, however. Then you can go all day and not be hungry, because you have far more body fat to burn than glucose.

So how do you achieve this metabolic switch-over?

In my experience, intermittent fasting, where you gradually restrict the window of time during which you eat food down to about six to eight hours, is one of the most effective and easy ways to make this transition.

I recommend that you forego breakfast and have a satisfying brunch at about noon.

Eat as much as you like to satisfy your hunger in the following hours and end with a small pure vegetable-based snack at 6 o’clock.

Fast thereafter up until the following brunch. This will give you 18 hours of fasting, which will automatically put you into ketosis.

What if you do not have cancer?

In our present environment, we all have a high risk of contracting cancer during our lifetime. If your problem is one of an enlarged prostate (BPH), then you are already on a spectrum of prostate disease.

If neglected, this can escalate into prostate cancer. It is important to deal with it sooner rather than later. In any event, your quality of life will improve if you do so.

Is a Ketogenic Diet safe?

Experts say that while a keto diet promotes rapid weight loss, you should also consider the long-term effects of losing weight too quickly. Many studies show that people also tend to regain the weight that they have lost on keto diets because it’s hard to maintain weight for a long time.

Also, note that a keto diet depletes carb stores in the liver and muscles. Before you jump in this diet, it’s recommended that you seek advice from a licensed professional.

Who shouldn’t go on a Ketogenic Diet?

There are certain safety issues to consider. Here’s a list of people who shouldn’t go on a keto diet:

  1. Pregnant women
  2. Breastfeeding women
  3. People with a very low body-mass index (BMI)
  4. Children
  5. People with gallstones or those who have undergone gallstone removal

Should you go Keto?

Whether you have cancer or not, it will help you convert from carb burning mode to fat burning. This will help you optimize your weight and health. It will prevent virtually all chronic degenerative disease.

This is the holistic way of looking at disease prevention. Living healthily with a better diet and regular exercise has many ways of making you more resistant to disease and improving your long-term health.

For example, you will accumulate belly fat if you eat a diet containing many refined carbohydrates, pizza, pasta, cakes, bread, and beer. It is notoriously difficult to lose that belly fat, especially once you are past your 40s.

Your belly fat is constantly increasing your levels of estrogen and encouraging insulin resistance. Both will work towards inflaming and enlarging your prostate.

But this is only step one in a multistep process towards prostate cancer. The ketogenic diet will not specifically shrink your prostate, but it will help you avoid later disease, including prostate disease.

Sources

  1. Brehm BJ, Seeley RJ, Daniels SR, D’Alessio DA. (2003). A randomized trial comparing a very low carbohydrate diet and a calorie-restricted low fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women. the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 88 (4), p1617–1623.
  2. Dyson, P, Beatty, S, Matthews, D. (2007). A lowcarbohydrate diet is more effective in reducing body weight than healthy eating in both diabetic and nondiabetic subjects. Diabetic Medicine. 24 (12), p1430-1435.
  3. Paoli A. Ketogenic diet for obesity: friend or foe?. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014;11(2):2092–2107. Published 2014 Feb 19. doi:10.3390/ijerph110202092
  4. Weber DD, Aminazdeh-Gohari S, Kofler B. Ketogenic diet in cancer therapy. Aging (Albany NY). 2018;10(2):164–165. doi:10.18632/aging.101382
  5. Westman EC, Mavropoulos J, Yancy WS, Volek JS. (2003). A review of low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets.. Current Atherosclerosis Reports. 5 (6), p476-83.
  6. White H, Venkatesh B. Clinical review: ketones and brain injury. Crit Care. 2011;15(2):219. Published 2011 Apr 6. doi:10.1186/cc10020

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