Ketotarian – Plant Based Ketogenic Diet, Addressing Criticisms of Ketogenic & Plant Based Diets, Ketosis and Cancer: Dr. Will Cole

Dr. Will Cole Discusses:

  • Vegan, vegetarian and pescetarian ketogenic diet options.
  • Metabolic flexibility vs. constant ketosis.
  • Is keto natural?
  • Available natural cancer survivor data with ketosis.
  • Common pitfalls of both ketogenic & plant based diets.

Resources Mentioned:

Is a Plant Based Ketogenic Diet Possible?

After last week’s recorded consultation with Dr. Paul Anderson in which he made the comment that most people promote the ketogenic diet “stupidly,” meaning more or less unlimited bacon and butter, the timing worked out nicely to have Dr. Will Cole on to talk about his new book, Ketotarian.

In the book Dr. Cole lays out vegan, vegetarian and pescetarian meal plans conducive to a ketogenic diet.  

Will notes that many people will see short term benefits from ketosis but when favoring predominantly meat and dairy will see problems down the road.

In Dr. Cole’s words, the plans capture the best of both worlds in the phytonutrient and detoxification benefits of a plant based diet and the metabolic benefits of a ketogenic diet.

Dr. Cole points out a common misconception with the ketogenic diet is that “vegetables will throw me out of ketosis.”  

He notes this is not the case with most leafy greens and many other vegetables, and that the fiber in vegetables is actually beneficial in keeping blood sugar low.

Metabolic Flexibility vs. Constant Ketosis

Dr. Cole mentioned something that bears repeating.  While he does encourage folks in the book to follow a fairly strict ketogenic diet for eight weeks up front, he’s not advocating for all keto, all the time thereafter.

The goal is to help people achieve “metabolic flexibility.” The ability for the body to easily shift from burning sugar when carbs are present to stored or dietary fat when they’re not.

The initial continuous diet could be considered more of an intervention to force the body to remember its fat burning capabilities and then carb intake can be customized from there.

No matter what one’s thoughts on a “ketogenic lifestyle” are, personally I do think having this ability makes a lot of sense.

Is Keto Natural?

Thinking about what’s “natural,” if you were surviving in nature and even if you were in a place with a high amount of fruit, you’d probably still come upon long periods of time with no food.

The fact that the body does have the ability to use this mechanism and that there are even short term benefits associated with it would seem to Indicate it’s meant to be used at least somewhat frequently.

Personally I was getting into the whole “becoming fat adapted” thing (probably more on the “stupidly” side of it…) in the year leading up to Ryder’s diagnosis and have retained that ability ever since.

Interesting though for me it doesn’t seem to be dependent on consumption of fats now that I have the ability.  I’m able to eat a bunch of fruit and then go back to not eating for the better part of 24 hours without even really noticing it.

This is why I do take issue with some folks’ use of the word “ancestral” eating.  Because if your ancestors were in the southern hemisphere they’d have a whole lot more access to fruits in nature than those in the north.

All the same though, again unless they were living in ideal conditions they would still likely have experienced frequent periods of ketosis.

So while I don’t know that I’ll ever be a fan of avoiding fruit and many vegetables as an ongoing lifestyle, I am a fan of the body being able to do everything it’s supposed to.

Available Ketosis Cancer Survivor Data

As it pertains to cancer specifically, Dr. Cole has seen about the same that I have: some very compelling stories and science around brain cancer, but not s much with cancers elsewhere.

As mentioned in the interview ketosis has not been in the public eye for enough data to be gathered about cancer to know what all is possible with it.

Dr. Anderson did mention a paper he’s publishing soon on results he’s seen with a metabolic approach to cancers of all types so we certainly look forward to seeing that when it comes out.

  2 Comments   Comment

  1. J Thompson

    Ryan said: “I’m always trying to figure out “what’s natural” – it seems like a pretty good yardstick… It seems like, in nature, you wouldn’t find people 24/7 365 in ketosis. When you look at seasonal eating, you’d have more access to fruits and that sort of thing in the summer, and not so much in the winter. ”

    People have lived healthily in most environments & climates around the globe – or at least, healthily for the 30-35 years we needed to live to perpetuate the species.
    So there is no “original” diet. Humans are omnivores & opportunistic. But that said, fruit & carbs in most indigenous diets were scarce.
    The fruit & carbs (grains & vegetables) that you take for granted didn’t exist: we’ve used selective breeding – a many-millennia genetic engineering project – to vastly increase the size of fruit & veg, their palatability, their fecundity. Broccoli didn’t exist; root veg was smaller & more fibrous and scarce, and grains were scarce, widely dispersed and tiny. Really unproductive as a food source for more than tiny populations: tribes or families. And they were rare: we’ve spread all useful food plants around the world. Potatoes are a good example: unknown in Europe until imported from Peru.
    Sugar didn’t exist, unless you found the occasional bee hive. You might find berries in North America’s native diet, in selective areas, for a few weeks of the year. The rest of the year there were no fruits: apples, pears etc. all come from Europe less than 500 years ago. And for the Inuit, there was no fruit or veg. Ever. But they were plenty healthy, strong & robust. ‘Till we screwed them up with sugar, carbs & alcohol.
    So yeah: the human body is extremely well-adapted to a keto diet 24/7, 365 days of the year. Meat and fat only, for life, if you want. But we can live on lots of other diets too, quite healthily. There is no “perfect” diet.
    There is, arguably, a perfectly terrible diet: nowhere on the planet have people done well (historically or in the present) on a constant diet of over-processed carbs & massive amounts of sugar.

  2. J Thompson

    Sorry Ryan: should have read more carefully. Was responding to the podcast. Your blog text addresses the issue I wanted to raise quite explicitly:
    “I do take issue with some folks’ use of the word “ancestral” eating. Because if your ancestors were in the southern hemisphere they’d have a whole lot more access to fruits in nature than those in the north.
    All the same though, again unless they were living in ideal conditions they would still likely have experienced frequent periods of ketosis.”

    I agree with you: I think ketosis would be pretty normal for most humans if only because of short- & long-term intermittent fasting: either eating infrequently or dealing with starvation on a pretty frequent basis. And the immune-system & metabolic boost it seems to promote look like very understandable adaptations to food-supply instability.


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