Extra Virgin Olive Oil vs. Butter Experiment v2.0

Update 11/16/2020: All of the results are going on the final experiment page

UPDATE 10/31/2020: First half of blood tests available! (see below)

My friend Dave Feldman had planned to do an experiment where he did a 4-week study of the effects of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) and Butter, with all other sources of calories consumed remained constant. “Planned” because he ran into some problems and stopped. This is something I’ve done multiple times in the past so I decided to take over from Dave and run with it (besides, the guy can only do so many experiments a year). I’ll quote from Dave here:

One of the most common suggestions in lowering cholesterol (both total and LDL) is “replace saturated fat with mono and polyunsaturated fat”. This advice appears to have lots of evidence behind it. I’ve both read many studies and heard many stories that back up this advice, although individual results can vary.

In particular, I regularly hear one should “replace butter with extra virgin olive oil” where they can. Given the enormous popularity of both these sources of fat, I decided to set up an experiment to test each in isolation — and it’s going to be a bit ambitious.

Personally, I would much prefer to use Avocado Oil or Light Tasting Olive Oil, both have a light flavor that isn’t super terrible. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, on the other hand, tends to have a rather strong flavor that’s going to be a bit difficult to get through for 21 consecutive meals (twice). I suspect it’s going to be a bit like when I did Macadamia Nut Oil back in 2019, tolerable but no fun. As Dave said, it’s important that it be extra virgin olive oil because that’s kind of the “go-to” when people take out butter and other saturated fats from their diet, and the additional compounds that are in the extra virgin olive oil will likely come into play as well.

Experiment Design

The Experiment will be what’s called a “double crossover” – meaning that I will go back and forth TWICE modulating the variable (butter vs EVOO) each time. A “crossover experiment” is where the people doing the experiment do both phases, typically they do the placebo/control and the intervention. By doing this you can see if the effects of the changes are from a participant’s personal idiosyncrasies or if the change is really having an effect. By doing the crossover twice, it will allow control for a bunch of variables and will show if the effects of one fat are repeatable the second time, clarifying the effects. The only better way to do the experiment would be to wait a few months and repeat the experiment in the opposite order to further rule out the possibility of the order changing the results. I’m not going to do that, so don’t ask.

I will attempt to keep all other variables as equivalent as possible throughout: eating times, exercise times/duration, and sleep schedule. For the Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) I will be using Kirkland Signature Extra Virgin Italian Olive Oil. There is some VERY heated discussion about the authenticity and purity of Olive Oils, this particular product appears to be authentic and pure, it also is readily available for anyone else that is crazy enough to repeat this experiment. For the butter, I will be using standard plain Kirkland Salted Butter. I won’t be using “grass-fed” Kerigold or other fancy butter because the metabolic difference is negligible and I’m not buying into the narrative that beef and butter are only OK if they are “grass-fed” – if you want to have a discussion about the merits of “grass-fed” vs. conventional, please contact Dr. Peter Ballerstedt.

My daily diet during the experiment will consist entirely of:

  • 3 servings of Keto Chow – I’ll be using the plain Chocolate Flavor for all 84 meals during the experiment
  • 1 can per day of Kirkland Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon – this will add additional protein and give 1080mg of omega 3, plus something to chew =)
  • Water and Keto Chow Electrolyte Drops will be consumed ad libitum
  • 155ml of EVOO or 175g of Butter, during their respective phases of the experiment
Keto Chow for 4 weeks

what I’m eating for 4 weeks!

Schedule Outline

  1. October 5: Baseline blood test.
  2. October 5-11 Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  3. October 12: Blood Test 2
  4. October 12-18 Butter
  5. October 19: Blood Test 3
  6. October 19-25 EVOO
  7. October 26: Blood Test 4
  8. October 26-November 1: Butter
  9. November 2: Blood Test 5

Blood and other tests

I plan to check blood ketones and glucose daily for the length of the experiment, I will also be collecting glucose readings using the FreeStyle Libre 2 system. Based on the design that Dave concocted, I expect I will be getting the same blood tests he planned:

  • Apolipoprotein A-1
  • Apolipoprotein B
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Complete Blood Count (CBC)
  • Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP)
  • Cortisol
  • Fatty Acids, Free (NEFA)
  • Ferritin, Serum
  • Fructosamine
  • GGT
  • Glucagon, Plasma
  • GlycA
  • Hemoglobin A1c
  • IGF-1
  • Insulin and C-Peptide
  • Leptin
  • Lipid Panel
  • Lipoprotein(a)
  • Lp-PLA2 Activity
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR)
  • Oxidized Low-density Lipoprotein (OxLDL)
  • Reverse T3
  • Testosterone, Serum
  • Thyroid Panel
  • Uric Acid, Serum
  • Vitamin B12 and Folate
  • Vitamin D, 25-Hydroxy

I’m also going to be going through the extra hassle to get some additional tests from Boston Heart Diagnostics as well. These include:

  • Adiponectin
  • Cholesterol Balance
  • Fatty Acid Balance
  • HDL Map
  • Interluekin-6
  • another Leptin
  • Oxidized Phospholipids on apoB (OxPL)
  • hs-CRP
  • another Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
  • Free T3
  • Free T4
  • Total T3
  • Total T4
  • Hepatic Function Panel
  • Renal Function Panel

Dave’s Endpoints of Interest

I’ll just go ahead and quote Dave for this:

As with the original design of this experiment I have outlined two categories of interest: lipid levels and inflammation markers. However, I’ll now be adding an additional test via Boston Heart that I’ve been waiting for — the Oxidized Phospholipids on apoB test (OxPL).

Something I’ve long speculated on is whether OxLDL would track tightly with OxPL. OxLDL is a pass/fail test — either the LDL particle has detectable levels of oxidation or it doesn’t. But the OxPL should show the degree of oxidation in those particles detected as an average for the total sampled. Thus, I think it will be an excellent test for risk and give us much more valuable information (but I do have some caveats, discussed below).

  • Will EVOO interventions have lower relative total and LDL cholesterol levels (TC & LDL-C)?
  • Will EVOO interventions have a greater oxidized LDL to total LDL particle count ratio (OxLDL/LDL-P)?
  • Will EVOO interventions have a greater oxidized phospholipid to oxidized LDL particle ratio (OxPL/OxLDL)


Quoting Dave again:

As mentioned above, there are many factors that can influence cholesterol levels, particularly LDL. There is one effect that is rarely discussed in the literature but is of particular interest to me — how much we see particular types of dietary fat result in higher or lower oxidation per LDL particle.

In other words, are we seeing lower levels of LDL cholesterol because LDL particles are getting oxidized and cleared by scavenger receptors at a higher rate? There are many limitations to the experiment in how well it can provide evidence to this answer, but it might open the door.

We can’t easily know the true rate of clearance for OxLDL in vivo, or how much this is impacted by the degree of oxidation per particle. However, oxidized LDL particles are commonly understood to be cleared at a higher rate than unmodified LDL. So it will be meaningful data if we find a higher OxPL to OxLDL ratio in one intervention over the other.

Regardless, there will be quite a bit more data from all the other blood markers to provide comparisons that go well beyond lipids.


The results are still coming in, but I have entered the first 2 tests (control and EVOO) from LabCorp and the first 3 tests (control, EVOO, and Butter) from Boston Heart into my running spreadsheet that contains ALL my blood test results from all the experiments I have done (you have to scroll pretty far over to the right, these new results are on AE).

By |2020-11-16T09:13:21-07:00September 25th, 2020|Categories: Keto Chow|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |2 Comments

Powdered Fats with Keto Chow and rounding on nutrition labels

This entry is part 66 of 131 in the series Ketogenic Diet

This is a topic I’ve looked at twice before, once with powdered cream from Hooser Hill Farms and once with powdered cream from Anthony’s. I actually was working on a completely different project yesterday and happened upon the product specifications for the specific ingredient that (I believe) is used for Anthony’s Powdered Cream. This represents FAR more accurate information than what I previously had available so I’m going to revisit my earlier post.

This is something that has been asked a lot and will continue to be asked: is there a powdered cream that can be used with Keto Chow? People would like it for the convenience factor of being able to just add water – perfect for hiking or other uses where transporting liquid isn’t an option and you don’t want to have to melt butter for your fat. The issue becomes: whenever you take a liquid and make it into a powder you’re going to be doing 3 things and typically doing a 4th thing:

  1. The volume will be larger for the same number of calories
  2. The mass or weight will be higher for the same number of calories
  3. The cost will be higher for the same number of calories
  4. The number of carbohydrates will be higher for the same number of calories

Now, if the convenience of having a “just add water” mix outweighs those factors, you have a winner. Otherwise, there is some analysis to be done. Let’s do some comparisons! When doing these comparisons I’m going to make use of the nutrition specifications I found that are FAR more accurate than what is shown on a nutrition facts panel. The panels will tell you the ROUNDED number per serving which is something like a tablespoon or an ounce – the specifications will tell you the typical values per 100g or what percent they are. The USDA common foods database also has these 100g values and are accurate to 1 decimal or better.

productcostgramscalories/100gcarbs/100gcarbs per caloriecarbs 1500 Cal$ per 1500 Calnutrition specs
Sweet Cream Powder$14.99454744.312.80.01725.796$6.65specs
Butter Powder$12.99454698.77.70.01116.530$6.14specs
Liquid Heavy Cream$3.989523402.840.008412.529$1.84specs
Regular Butter$9.4618167170.060.0000840.126$1.09specs

The nutrition label for all 4 of these products show 0g of carbs per serving because anything under 0.5 gets rounded down to 0 or “less than 1g” The problem with that rounding is that we’re not talking about using a 1 tablespoon (6g) serving of the powdered cream, we’re talking about potentially using 200g over a day to reach 1800 calories (300 from keto chow, 1500 from the fat) for 3 meals. “Where’s the powdered OIL?” you say. That’s another issue entirely: it’s relatively easy to find powdered MCT oil, but few other oils are powdered on anything suitable for a keto diet. Most oils are combined with maltodextrin (starch) to make them a powder, which is not suitable at ALL for a keto diet. MCT might be on maltodextrin, or they could use one of the suitable media: acacia gum, soluble corn fiber, or casein protein; the first two add total carbs as fiber. The REAL problem for MCT oil is: using powdered MCT oil for a significant percentage of your daily calories is not something I would recommend trying (it’ll jack up your HDL and triglycerides and will not be nice to your bowels).

Now: few people are using Keto Chow 3 meals a day for all their meals, and your specific calories might be higher or lower (I figured 1500 made the math easy). 1/3 of the 25.8 carbs you’d get from the powdered cream, plus the carbs from Keto Chow (depending on flavor) would have you around 9.3g of non-fiber (net) carbs in each meal. Does 9.3g for a meal fit into YOUR carb budget for the day? If you’re backpacking and otherwise exercising it might be perfect! If not… maybe not. The powdered versions are FAR more expensive, that is for sure (3.6x for the cream, 5.6x for the butter)!

So again: does the convenience of having a powdered fat outweigh the costs? That’s for YOU to decide =)


By |2021-04-09T10:38:42-06:00February 28th, 2020|Categories: Keto Chow, Ketogenic Diet|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Beverly’s Week 3

This entry is part 4 of 16 in the series 100 Days of Keto Chow - Beverly's Experience

Am I really going to do this for 100 days?  Oh my.  Right now, that feels like such a loonnngggg time.  April 12.  Ugh.  Yeah, so there is a part of me that is re-thinking my commitment to this project.  But the in-control part of me feels rather settled into this new liquid diet routine.  As much as I miss my favorite keto meals (chorizo & eggs, pizza toppings, taco salad, buffalo wings, omelet, grilled chicken Caesar salad…), I really love using Keto Chow for all of my meals.  The decision-making process regarding what will be for lunch or dinner is a simple choice between Chocolate Keto Chow and whatever other flavor(s) are currently pre-made and waiting in my refrigerator.  Yum!

No matter what Keto Chow flavor I choose, my last meal of the day is ALWAYS warmed up.  Oh, how deliciously comforting it is to wrap my hands around a large soup mug and sip warm Keto Chow.  If you haven’t tried it, you really should.  In my microwave, it takes three minutes to get to just the right temperature.  I stop it once or twice in the middle to stir it (if I don’t, the liquid expands a little too much for my mug and overflows).

Back when I first became a Keto Chow customer in November 2017, I went “flavor crazy”.  Oh my goodness!  At some time or another, I have tried every single shake flavor that is offered (the only one I really didn’t like was Banana).  In addition to trying all of the flavors and combining many of them (i.e., Strawberry-Banana-Chocolate, Chocolate-Caramel, Vanilla-Mocha), I bought 26 bottles of sugar-free flavored syrups (Torani and DaVinci brands).  I was out of control, trying different flavor combinations at every meal.  I even experimented with adding differing amounts of xanthan gum to my mixes.  It was so fun!  Things have calmed WAY DOWN since those days though.  Now I just have my few favorite Keto Chow flavors and my few favorite sugar-free flavored syrups always in stock and am completely satisfied.

Last Sunday, my husband chose his favorite local buffet for lunch.  He is so supportive of me in this project, the least I can do is accompany him out to a restaurant once in a while.  It’s not super-tempting to sit in a restaurant or at a meal with other people who are eating.  But it’s not super-easy either.  I’m not sure how to describe it.  It’s certainly not fun, that’s for sure.

Something my wonderful husband does regularly is pick up a diet soda for me whenever he is out for an errand.  Even though he does it often, it’s always a surprise and something I love about him.

One of my sisters who lives out-of-state was in town for a couple of days this week and I had the opportunity to meet with her Monday after work.  She does keto too (and keeps Keto Chow on hand even though she’s not an every-day consumer like I am) so I knew I could count on her to place my order at Starbucks since she goes there literally every day and I almost never do.  I had a sugar-free cinnamon hot macchiato with unsweetened almond milk (or so they claimed unsweetened – I have to admit, I don’t fully trust restaurants) for what I think was – fingers crossed – 100 calories and 7 net carbs.  It was GREAT to spend time with my sister and enjoy a “treat” in sort-of a restaurant setting.  Even if the barista didn’t use the right ingredients, my ketones didn’t seem to be affected so it’s all good.  ;)

Speaking of ketones, I started checking them right before lunch instead of right before dinner a couple of days ago.  I’m just trying to be more consistent to check at/near the same time each day.  I also added trend lines to my charts this week just for something different.  Whoopty doo.  :)

With a Day 1 weight of 135.6 and a weight today of 131.8, I have lost almost 4 pounds in 3 weeks.  I think that is awesome!  I am back near my lowest weight and feeling much less like a stuffed sausage in my jeans.  I did NOT like that feeling, and I was determined to not buy a bigger size!

I have to say that Chris’ adding cheese to his Keto Chow soup had me a little bristly.  It seems like a slight stretch to say cheese is well within reason – but maybe I’m just jealous since I don’t have any Keto Chow soup on hand at the moment.  If I did, I guess I could make Keto Chow using cheese as my fat source.  Hmm, I hadn’t ever thought of it that way until just now.  I had thought of cheese as an extra in addition to the fat source (and therefore too many calories).  I think I’m liking (and approving of) this idea after all!  Now I have to add Savory Chicken Soup to my next order.  Thanks for the idea, Chris!

Sustainable bioreactors to feed the planet and generate wealth.

A few days ago, there was a post on the /r/soylent subreddit that caught my interest and got me thinking (in case you don’t know, Soylent was designed to be a nutritionally complete meal replacement, much like Keto Chow is, but with much higher carbohydrates and sugars). The original post was talking about how Rosa Labs, the manufacturers of Soylent, had changed and lost the original vision of the founder. Among other points, they talked about how Soylent no longer used oils made from algae. One of the comments REALLY got me thinking:

I want soylent to be made entirely from algae and synthesised efficiently and sustainably in bioreactors in huge factories thereby providing cheap healthy food for everyone.

So I started thinking what would be an ideal set-up for synthesizing food that would NOURISH people: have ample amounts of quality proteins and fats, along with vitamins and minerals. Ideally, I’d want it to sequester carbon and build soil health as part of the process. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. With algae, you need a lot of water and sun exposure, that’s a little hard to do with much of the surface of the planet. I think a better approach would be to grow cellulose and use microbes to process it. We have huge areas that are covered in trees, rocks, and grass that isn’t farmable. When you see graphs of the land usage in the United States, the biggest part is in pasture/rangeland – that would be perfect for this since it’s generally rocky and hilly or too dry for farming anything but grasses.
  2. By using grasses, we get the benefit of carbon sequestration and soil building. When grasses are cut down and then grow back, they not only grow UP, they also grow DOWN into the soil. This added biomass is what made the rich soil of the great plains. Growing crops like corn and wheat tend to deplete the soil (which is odd, since those are grasses too). Regardless, it’s a way to build the soil, shove carbon into the ground, and produce cellulose for our bioreactors.
  3. Using grasses like this, it would be a good idea to have the bioreactors mobile. They would go around from area to area with a harvesting mechanism to cut down the grass and then start it processing. Cutting the grass is important because you need to either cut it or burn it or it won’t grow (and build soil and all that). The movement and harvesting would be best powered by the fermentation process of the reactor so it’s self-sustaining, just needs a little maintenance and some water to move the reaction along.
  4. The reaction that’s going on and the byproducts of it will likely produce some “greenhouse” gasses – but the cool thing is that any produced will be the result of previously sequestered carbon. Everything going into the reactor used to be water, sunlight, and carbon from the air. If some comes back out, it’s really not a big deal since it’ll get captured by the grasses again anyway.
  5. This is a perfect use for the grasses because vertebrates (like us) cannot break down cellulose – no vertebrate makes the enzyme necessary to break the bonds and turn cellulose into simpler sugars, thus we use microbes that can easily do it! We don’t even need to genetically modify these since they already exist in nature.
  6. Here’s an important part: when you talk about protein in vegetable/plant sources, that’s what’s called “crude protein” and it’s measured by looking at the total amount of nitrogen in something and ASSUMING that all nitrogen in it is part of amino acids. Well, that’s a frankly stupid assumption because you can often have nitrogen in other molecules or in proteins that us humans can’t utilize unless it’s processed by a bacteria or other specialized microbe. The nitrogen in the grasses will be converted into amino acids by the microbes in the bioreactor. Research that I’ve seen on the subject indicates that there’s a greater than 100% return, meaning that for every unit of crude protein you put into this sort of reactor, you can potentially get 1.2 or higher back. It’s like printing your own money! Except it’s protein. Whatever.
  7. If we’re dreaming big, it would also be ideal to have mechanisms in place so that (again, powered by the reaction with water, oxygen, cellulose, and some salt and stuff) we can have the reactors self-replicate. It would probably require the use of biological reaction vessels and other stuff that could be made from the byproducts (proteins!) of the reaction because self-replicating metal isn’t really a thing.
  8. Once we have them replicating like that, they would be an amazing way for less advantaged people to generate wealth and improve their lives. These reactors really are like printing their own money! Once people have them and are enjoying the benefits that come from them, it would be a pretty stupid thing for people in more affluent countries to tell them they should stop using the bioreactors because they somehow, inexplicably damage the environment. That’s ludicrous! They only way you could possibly claim they were damaging the environment is if you claimed that the amount of water used by the reactors included ALL of the water that falls on ALL of the grassland used to grow the grass, and you looked at carbon emissions without accounting for the carbon going into the reaction in the form of cellulose. Seriously not an honest conversation here.
  9. Because the reactors are mobile, storage of the reaction byproducts is going to be a challenge. Aside from the waste =) we’re talking about the human USABLE byproducts here, we’ll get to the waste in a second. Some of the byproducts will be coming out in a liquid form that’ll have proteins and fats and all that, but some of the byproducts would be used to form the chassis and other structures of the bioreactor – every so often you’d be able to “harvest” the older bioreactors.
  10. OK, the waste: again, they’re mobile so the majority of the solid and liquid waste from the reactions would be deposited right back onto the grassland so they can be utilized by the grasses to… grow more grass. It would be all of the stuff that the bioreactors didn’t use but that the grass needs to grow. Pretty much a perfect match!
  11. Dreaming big here again: let’s fit them with a sensor package and rudimentary Artificial Intelligence so that they can avoid obstacles, do the harvesting autonomously, handle the self-replication, and more – all without needing humans to do very much at all except maybe transport them around if needed. In fact, a few would probably get lost and eventually “go wild” – just imagine free-roving autonomous bio-reactors wandering around breaking down grass and water into more bio-reactors. It’d be a sight to behold. Having the AI might cause a bit of a moral dilemma for people that have qualms about harvesting something with any intelligence – it’ll create some interesting discussions – just so long as we don’t get bogged down arguing about supposed environmental issues, that was covered in #8

So, sounds like a cool project right? I suspect it would take quite a bit of R&D and time to get it working just right, but once we have these free-roving autonomous bio-reactors working it would be an amazing thing. Until then, we should probably just better utilize ruminants.

By |2020-09-21T11:37:48-06:00January 17th, 2019|Categories: Future Foods|Tags: , , |1 Comment

Keto Chow in Women’s World Magazine

Women’s World was doing a story about using Keto Smoothies – they contacted us here at Keto Chow to see if we knew people that had experienced success using Keto Chow. They also wanted to get some information from me regarding the efficacy of shakes/smoothies and a ketogenic diet. There’s a bit of a disconnect between my original responses and what was published =) Don’t get me wrong: I think that if 1 woman reads the article, starts doing Keto, and changes her life then the article and interview were a resounding success.

If you want to read the whole article, it should be available on newsstands right now.

Anyway, I thought my original responses to their questions were pretty good so I’m going to publish them here:

First, I need to know a little more about you. I read that you lost weight yourself (and your wife as well!) Can you tell me a little more about that including how much?

As of right now, I’m maintaining a 40lb weight loss over 4 years. Outside of ketogenic diets, that’s so infrequent that I’m considered a “unicorn” =) I started keto back on Oct 21, 2014. My wife was doing Whole30 (which is a lot like Paleo) and decided to join in on the fun when she saw my success (and her best friend went Keto, so they could meal-prep together). She’s down 30lbs.

Our story is about women who used keto smoothies to lose weight. They turned to keto smoothies because they’re easy to prepare, kept them feeling full and they could take them on the go. Jumping right in: Are smoothies/shakes a great option for busy people who are following keto? Why or why not?

One of the biggest problems with doing keto can be learning what you can and what you cannot eat. You’re turning the dietary recommendations on their head: you need to eat healthy fats, especially quality saturated fats. You need to get more salt. Whole grains are off the menu. It goes on! For people new to doing keto it can be daunting and potentially dangerous if they aren’t getting the right amount of electrolytes. This causes the so-called “keto flu” that’s one of the chief reasons people try keto and stop within a few days. It’s entirely avoidable by simply adding more salt to your diet but people may not know that. I see using a well-formulated smoothie or shake that is specifically designed for a ketogenic diet as an extremely useful tool, both for people new to a ketogenic way of eating, as well as experienced users that need something to get them through the “boring” meals and on to cooking a fantastic meal with family or friends. Having something you can turn to that you KNOW will be getting you the right nutrients is very nice!

Studies have shown that using smoothies/shakes as meal replacements can help dieters lose weight faster and without hunger. Do keto smoothies/shakes as meal replacements have the same effect? Why or why not?

I think they can, and in my experience (and the experience of thousands of people I’ve interacted with) it holds true. I think one of the main reasons it can help accelerate weight loss is that you have your nutrition tightly controlled for the meals you’re using a well-formulated keto shake. It should have ⅓ of your daily nutrition and the correct amount of protein and fat for what you need. Getting the right micronutrients (vitamins, trace minerals) lets your body have what it needs to heal; and when your body is healthy, weight loss comes along! Now I want to be clear on this: I’m talking about shakes that are designed for keto and have the right amount of nutrients in them, this isn’t just randomly throwing ingredients at a blender and drinking it. You’d need either a well-researched recipe or a product that’s been engineered and tested to be complete. A random shake/smoothie would only be suitable for occasional use (maybe 3 times a week and not more than once a day) whereas one that’s complete can be used as often as you feel like it. Personally, I’ve used the recipe I came up with for all 3 meals with absolutely no other food for up to 6 weeks and I know of others that have gone as long as 6 months for various reasons, but for most people: 1-2 times a day with some baked salmon or a steak with their family is more appealing!

Do you think keto smoothies/shakes might help a keto newbie do a better job of keeping carbs down and fat up?

Oh, absolutely! Both are particularly difficult as carbs tend to be in everything that’s convenient, and at the same time, they’re usually low fat! Having a shake that you can control the amount of carbs, and mix in some delicious heavy cream, avocado oil, or even straight-up avocados is phenomenal. Hit the right balance and you’ll be satiated and happy and look forward to the next one.

Can overeating keto-friendly foods slow results—especially in older, sedentary women?

Yes. Most “keto friendly” snack foods are low in carbohydrates and work great for occasional use, but you eat 4 or 5 and suddenly you’ve blown through half your carbs for the day. Also, many are high in protein and low in fat, not having the fat in there makes them less filling and too much of the protein can hamper your progress. This effect is especially amplified in older women who will often have to work especially hard to stay on track. They’re really facing an uphill battle. One thing that helps everyone is to eliminate snacking. Try to only eat at mealtimes and let your body enjoy having a rest from elevated glucose and elevated insulin. If you can, you might even try grouping your meals together: skip breakfast, eat a late lunch and an early dinner. That “intermittent fast” will get food out of the way and let your body heal!

Would keto smoothies be a good way to help prevent overconsumption of keto foods?

If you’re not experiencing the results you want with a keto diet, using a well-formulated shake or smoothie will indeed help keep you from having too many “keto friendly” foods. Especially if you’re adding the right amount of fat for your needs to the shake, you may even have a hard time finishing it all because you’ve gotten your fill.

Do you think keto smoothies have the potential to help some women lose weight more quickly? If so, what type of women might benefit most?

I think that women who have a busy schedule, don’t know how or what to cook, or that simply need a convenient go-to meal would benefit the most from using smoothies as part of their keto diet. Having the nutrition, calories, carbs, and more so tightly controlled gives women the opportunity to meet or exceed their goals or better health and weight loss.

What are some guidelines for making a keto smoothie? (ie: ? amount fat, protein, veggies to use or not use, fruit to use or no use, etc)

The key to making a good keto smoothe right is going to be to get the right amount of quality fats, adequate protein, keeping the carbs as low as possible, and getting the right micronutrients. There are a bunch of online “keto calculators” that can help you establish how much fat, protein, and carbs you need in a day and you’ll want to plan accordingly. You’ll need to limit the amount of fruit, remember: it’s nature’s candy and your liver doesn’t care if the sugar is “natural” or “organic” – it just sees sugar. Adding a few berries for a touch of flavor usually works well and doesn’t add too many carbs. Mind you: we’re talking about 3-4 blueberries or a pair of strawberries, not a full container! Avocados are excellent and full of potassium (way more than a starchy banana!). If you can tolerate dairy, look for heavy cream or unflavored and unsweetened full-fat yogurt. Milk, especially skim milk, is loaded with sugar and should be avoided. Unsweetened almond milk is OK to replace water but it’s low in fat so plan accordingly. Green leafy vegetables are a good addition but you need to avoid tubers and other vegetables that grow in the ground like CARROTS – the plants store sugar and starch in the roots and you don’t want that! Don’t be afraid to add salt to your smoothie too. That salt is vital to keeping the “keto flu” from ruining your day. Avoid seed/vegetable oils, they aren’t what you want – olive, coconut, and avocado oils are actually fruit oils and work great!

Any particular ingredient or ingredients that you feel would make a keto smoothie particularly powerful?

  • Avocados are absolutely amazing and work great if you’re mixing up your smoothie in a blender. They have high-quality fats, lots of potassium, are very low in carbohydrates and taste pretty good (to me!)
  • MCT Oil is a fantastic source of great fats made from refined coconut or palm oil. Your liver turns it right into ketones which can help get you into a deeper state of burning ketones (or “ketosis”). Be aware that most people can only tolerate 1 tablespoon at a time of MCT oil, trust me: you don’t want to overdo it!
  • Almond or other nut butters are also a great addition in limited quantities. They give a great taste and add some quality fat and protein. Make sure you don’t go overboard, they have a fair amount of carbs.
  • Erythritol is probably the best thing to use to add some sweetness to your own smoothie recipe. It doesn’t hurt dogs like xylitol, doesn’t raise blood sugar, and pretty much counts as 0 carbs for most people. The powdered version dissolves more easily.
  • Heavy cream is fantastic (and what I use for most of my own shakes!) It adds an amazing taste, great creamy mouthfeel, is low in carbs (0.4g per tablespoon), and the fat profile is exactly what you want. People with lactose intolerance can often handle as much as a half cup per meal without problems.

What are the best fats to add to a keto smoothie and why?

The best fats for your body are going to be the ones that don’t oxidize and that means saturated or mono-unsaturated fats. Poly-unsaturated “vegetable” (seed) oils react easily and cause all kinds of stress on your body and damage to your cells. It’s a bit much to go into here, but there’s never been a link between saturated fat and heart disease (though they’ve spent 50 years trying to prove, unsuccessfully, that there is one!). To the contrary, studies show that eating more saturated fat is associated with lower MORTALITY or lower risk of dying from everything (which is really the goal, right?). That means dairy, avocados, coconut oil, butter, and olive oil are what you want and the processed seed oils are what you do not want. It’s pretty much the opposite of what the dietary guidelines USED to say back in the 80s, they’ve been slowly changing those guidelines over the last few years without calling attention to the changes.

If someone wants to purchase a pre-made keto shake, what should they look for and what should they avoid?

Look for something that’s not just a protein “snack” – too often you’ll find a shake that’s been rebranded as “keto” just because they added a little MCT oil, or they’re adding lab-created ketones. For a smoothie to be something you can use consistently, and not have it leave you hungry and with a vitamin deficiency, it needs to be designed for complete ketogenic nutrition. The label will have a bunch of vitamins and minerals that may be hard to pronounce but don’t let that deter you, all vitamins are “chemicals”. I’d recommend staying away from shakes that have “BHB” or ketones added to them, those are great for performance athletes or seizure patients; but if your goal is to lose weight, you want your own body to be making ketones for you (for free!). Look for “nutritionally complete” and I wouldn’t be worried if it’s not “organic” or “all natural” – with a keto diet you’re eliminating the stuff that should concern you simply by getting rid of processed carbohydrates.

If someone is replacing two meals a day with a keto smoothie/shake, how much would you say they could lose in 48 hours?

For optimal success, keto needs to be an all-in thing. You can’t have two keto meals, then eat french fries and donuts and expect it to work. Doing 2 meals using a quality keto shake and then having a good keto dinner is a great way to go. When you first start doing keto, there’s often a “whoosh” of water weight loss that can happen in 48-72 hours. It’s your body using up sugar bound to water in your muscles and liver – yes it’s water weight, but it will stay off so long as you stick to keto. Now: not everyone experiences the “whoosh,” so don’t get discouraged. I’ve seen people healthily lose 8lbs right off the bat and continue losing 10-15lbs a month, but your results may vary and it’s much harder for women than for men. Men tend to lose pounds and women tend to lose inches, especially at first. Your body is doing a remodel and that may not show on the scale at first. The key is to Keep Calm and Keto On (or “KCKO” as we say)!

And why would you say this would be a great jumpstart for someone who is just trying out keto for the first time?

Using smoothies is a really great way to control your food and give you something actionable you can work on. Especially at the beginning when you’re new to everything and unsure what you can or can’t eat, it can lead you through the rough patches to success.

If women start this before an event do go to during the holiday season will they be able to drop weight in a short time? Why or why not?

Many women will be able to use keto to quickly drop weight before an important event, it’s the release of the water weight that goes along with starting keto. Usually even more important than the initial weight loss will be a reduction in water retention, inflammation, puffiness, and looser clothing. If you’re planning on starting a keto diet, take some measurements and some “before” photos so you can track your progress. The scale isn’t the only measure of success, so don’t get discouraged if your husband loses 10lbs after a week of keto and you don’t. And be aware that for greatest success, keto is a way of life – not just a quick diet. You can’t expect to keep off the weight if you go back to eating what made you heavy to begin with!

What’s the most you’ve seen someone lose in 24 hours on keto?

I know a lady that lost 5lbs in 24 hours (and kept that off).

In 48 hours?


What’s the most you’ve seen someone lose in total on keto?

I know several people that have lost over 100lbs (and kept it off for years!), I think the most weight loss I’ve seen is 250lbs.

What words of advice do you have to readers who are interested in adding a smoothie/shake as a meal replacement to their keto diet?

  • If you’re making your own recipe, I’d recommend adding the ingredients as well as your other food into a good tracking app like “cron-o-meter” so you can make sure you’re getting the right nutrition, keeping your carbs down, and getting enough electrolytes.
  • If you’re using a recipe you found, pay attention to the nutritional information provided, and you might want to do the same “track it in an app”!
  • If you’re thinking about buying a pre-made shake mix, make sure it has the nutrients you need and that it’s not just a protein snack. Look for shakes that allow you to customize the amount of fat in each meal so you’re not getting too little or too much.

And finally, here is what was condensed out of my responses:

By |2019-02-08T01:40:45-07:00December 14th, 2018|Categories: Future Foods, Keto Chow|Tags: , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Effects of Keto on blood work in identical twins

When we went to Low Carb USA (San Diego) earlier this summer, over a meal I mentioned to Dave Feldman that one of our sets of twins had one doing keto (hereafter referred to as “KT”) for a year and the other not doing keto (hereafter referred to as “NKT”). Dave got really excited (that’s a SEVERE understatement) and wanted to know if we could convince them to get some blood tests to see how keto was affecting their cholesterol, insulin, glucagon, and other factors. Dave wanted to make sure they had similar activity levels. Both have Fitbits Alta HRs, you can see the raw data from those here (KT) and here (NKT). They are relatively close in activity 169,928 steps for KT vs 158,278 for NKT over a 2 week period before the blood tests. Sleep patterns are noticeably different: the Fitbit on KT recorded 5524 minutes of sleep, the Fitbit on NKT recorded 6388 for the same 2 week period; that’s 92 vs 106.5 hours.

The same 2 weeks leading up to the blood draw, each was taking Dave Feldman style photos of everything they ate, which proved to be the biggest annoyance for both during the experiment and they were looking forward to concluding so they could stop with that. This was to ensure that we had a record of what they were eating and that both stayed pretty much consistent with their food during the 2 weeks before the blood draw. The day of the blood tests came, KT was worried as she has had issues with blood and fainting – strangely KT had absolutely no problems at all with the blood draw and was done in about 3 minutes. NKT, on the other hand, went pale and ended up needing to lie down before the lab could finish the blood draw. We were very happy that she came out OK, though I doubt she’ll be donating blood anytime soon. =)

Before we get to the results I should explain that both parents in our home are quite strict with keto for ourselves. Two of our daughters are also strict about staying keto, though both are more “lazy keto” and don’t track carbs or such – frankly, it’s not really necessary. As young and healthy as our children are, simply the act of cutting out sugar and flour was likely enough to prevent problems in the future. Our other children are not doing keto and will eat candy, pizza, fruit, and such if given the opportunity – though we, as parents, do not buy anything non-keto anymore so it’s usually at school or when visiting.

Now for the data! Dave wanted to get a recording of his first read-through of the blood tests:

Most of the analysis was done by Dave during the video so refer there for commentary. If you prefer to look at the data yourself, you can either read it in tabular format on the “Twins” tab of this spreadsheet (the other tabs are data from previous experiments I’ve done) which also has % difference and absolute value difference columns for comparison, or you can grab the original blood tests in PDF format: KT, NKT. I’ve made some handy graphs (also on that spreadsheet in the “Twin Charts” tab) to illustrate some of the takeaways.

To start, we have a comparison of their NMR Lipid Panels. Nothing here is really a surprise at all, KT has higher numbers for all of the measurements except LDL size which is the same for both, this follows Dave’s hypothesis regarding the lipid system as an energy distribution aparatus. Both are low on HDL but have fantastic Triglyceride levels. Both also have a remnant cholesterol of 8. Dave has explained this better but this number represents energy parked in the blood in VLDL particles and you want this as low as possible since it tends to be a legit indicator of risk; an 8 is fantastic.

Both have really good fasting glucose.

Which should make their nearly identical Hemoglobin A1c not a surprise at all. This number represents the percentage of their red blood cell hemoglobin that has become “glycated” or exposed to glucose. It serves as a way to measure your average glucose over several months, usually 6 months. HbA1c is the test used to diagnose Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, although elevated HbA1c is a symptom of T2DM, not the cause. Most experts agree that the underlying cause is hyperinsulinemia or chronically elevated insulin levels.


KT’s low fasting insulin doesn’t indicate how close she is to having hyperinsulinemia or her risk of T2DM or Alzheimers – that would require a Kraft test and measuring insulin response to glucose over time instead of once while fasting. NKT’s elevated fasting insulin does indicate that even without eating for 12 hours, her insulin was still elevated. For now, she’s likely to be able to handle that insulin load; but Dave feels that he’d like to see insulin below 10 in the future. This higher number for NKT was one of the few surprises that were in the test, most of the other markers fell in-line with what Dave expected to see based on the other results he has seen from both keto and non-keto subjects.

The other surprise was the low glucagon levels in both. A typical level is 50, and one would expect KT to have higher than normal levels. While hers is higher than NKT, both are abnormally low. Glucagon is something that Dr. Benjamin Bikman presented about at the 2018 Low Carb Breckenridge conference, interesting stuff.

So, in summary: It’s interesting to note the difference in the LDL numbers of the two. Many professionals are of the opinion that LDL is causal in atherosclerosis and would insist that KT has a higher risk of heart disease in the future. The cool thing with this data is that genetically they’re identical, with the same environment, same living conditions, same lack of cholesterol-lowering medication. They actually have almost the same triglyceride numbers too! NKT and KT both are handling the glucose load really well (that’s rather expected, given all the machinery is still new and fully functional). It is important to note the massive difference in their respective fasting insulin. So many of the chronic diseases in modern society are a direct result of too much insulin: chronic hyperinsulinemia. NKT is in danger of hyperinsulinemia causing problems in the future which is something to be truly concerned about.

By |2018-12-05T08:55:14-07:00November 23rd, 2018|Categories: Ketogenic Diet|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

Comparison of Keto “Meal Replacement” nutrition, costs, net carbs, fat, and more

in 2017, when we went to our first KetoCon in Austin Texas, I noticed that quite a few of the vendors that were going to be there offered “meal replacement” products marketed to the keto eater – so I decided to do a comparison of the available options, mostly for myself so I could speak intelligently about what’s out there but I thought it would be of value to the community at large.

Meal Replacement Comparison Sheet

You can view the spreadsheet I’ve put together here. The table is sorted by whether it’s nutritionally complete and then by cost for 2000 calories. I put “meal replacement” in quotes for a reason: many of the mixes do not give you a nutritionally complete meal, rather they are more of a snack – honestly, you’d be better off grabbing some string cheese (you’ll notice I have an entry in the table for string cheese! =). You cannot use any of the non-complete products for more than an occasional “meal”, once a day at the most though you might want to limit consumption to 2-3 times a week.

The ones that are nutritionally complete are designed to give you all your nutrition for any given meal. Meaning you should get all your vitamins, electrolytes, fats, everything. In theory, you could replace a single meal, multiple meals in a day, or even go nuts and replace all of your meals without suffering from nutritional deficiencies. Personally, I like to call them “engineered staple foods”.

Earlier today, we got an email from a guy using Keto Chow that thought it was remarkable the change in how many supplements he no longer takes when using Keto Chow, you can see that at the top of this post. That email got me thinking about a photo someone posted on Facebook showing the difference in nutrition between their old “meal replacement” and Keto Chow using Cron-O-Meter (which I think is the BEST app for tracking a keto diet, period). I thought it would be good to show a similar comparison, I simply loaded up Cron-O-Meter and selected a meal of 8 different “Keto Meal Replacement” options to compare with Keto Chow, here’s what you get:

None aside from Keto Chow even come close to providing 1/3 of your daily vitamins and minerals, and most are extremely low calorie and low fat – like they’re not sure about this whole “keto” thing. I have no problem at all living for weeks or months on Keto Chow alone, I doubt that any of the creators of the other “Meal Replacements” would even attempt such a thing (and for good reason). I believe that if a product isn’t good enough for me, it isn’t good enough to sell to other people either.

Two of the nutritionally complete options in the spreadsheet require you to buy your own fat source (Keto Chow and Keto Fuel) and that’s included in the cost per meal based on Great Value Heavy Whipping Cream for Keto Chow, Chosen Foods Avocado Oil (also for Keto Chow), and Great Value Olive Oil for Keto Fuel. Your costs may be higher or lower depending on how much you use. Putting in the cost for 2000 calories on these two was weird. If you use 157ml of heavy cream in Keto Chow, it costs $10.86 – use 118ml (for 1600 calories a day) and the cost for 2000 calories goes up to $13.10. The same sort of thing happens with Keto Fuel (which could also use heavy cream instead of olive oil, that’s just what’s in the directions). You could also use your own fat source to amp up the other products to a higher calorie. Anyhow, because of this confounder, I’ve also included a cost per day for how much it would cost to get a full day’s nutrition based on the number of meals per day the manufacturer recommends.

By |2019-12-30T15:57:25-07:00October 24th, 2018|Categories: Future Foods, Keto Chow, Ketogenic Diet|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Do Low Carb Diets Cause Early Death? (video)

This entry is part 122 of 131 in the series Ketogenic Diet

So there’s been a big to-do the last few days about a new study that purports to indicate that a low carb diet will cause an early death. The news headlines have been rather extreme, and it seems that everyone has forgotten the PURE study from 12 months ago. Regardless: our friend @kendberry.md Ken Berry, MD, put out a video discussing, at length, everything going on in this study.

From the description of the video:

Do low-carb diets really lead to early death? Here is my response to the recent article published in the Lancet Journal of Public Health. I’ve included links below because I want you to actually read the study and verify what I’m saying. This topic is so important, and this field of science is so dubitable, that you can’t take anyone’s word about it, you need to read it yourself.

Harvard University currently is highly esteemed in the fields of medicine and nutrition research. The Lancet is currently highly esteemed in the fields of medicine and nutrition publication. But, if they don’t both stop publishing rubbish such as this as valid science from which we can glean valuable information, the reputations of both will suffer soon. Main-stream media’s blind, thoughtless parroting of whatever Harvard and the Lancet say is actually crippling both institutions, and destroying their credibility.

Your one life and your health are too important to entrust blindly and thoughtlessly to “expert opinion” you need to read and watch and research for yourself, and listen to your own body.

By |2018-08-21T08:33:30-06:00August 21st, 2018|Categories: Ketogenic Diet|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

Chris on the FanPress podcast – the history of Keto Chow, nutrition, and more

This entry is part 115 of 131 in the series Ketogenic Diet

This podcast was recorded a while ago (January 28, 2018 to be specific), took Steve a while to get it posted – probably because it went kinda REALLY long. I have to say: this is by far one of my favorite podcast interviews so far. Steve let me (over) indulge myself and give a rather complete history of Keto Chow and my journey thus far. It was also nice to be talking to someone who really likes what I’m doing. I just checked my email and I have one from him way back from May 2015! This one will be tough to beat. It goes on rather long at nearly an hour and a half but if you’re up for it, I recommend checking it out!


Clinging with all their might

This entry is part 110 of 131 in the series Ketogenic Diet

OK, so I recently did an experiment where I consumed the same 2000 kCal a day for 6 weeks. I was messing around with the source of the bulk of those calories, mostly using different fats but the final week I substituted out all of the saturated fat I ate the week prior, and instead ate candy. Remember – still the same 2000 calories. I had been losing weight pretty consistently the 5 weeks I was living on fat. I gained weight the week I was eating the same 2000 calories from carbohydrates. It’s all documented ad nauseum on the experiment page, with data, graphs, DEXA scans, and more. I posted about it on reddit and have gotten some rather interesting comments from people who insist that the type of calorie is irrelevant and the only cause for weight gain is eating too many calories and not exercising enough. I’m rather forthcoming with my views on the subject (I think sugar is fattening and fat is not).

Today I got the best one yet. I said:

It’s like saying “Bill Gates is rich because he saves more money than he spends” or “The room is crowded because more people entered than left”. Sounds rather silly right? That’s because it’s the EFFECT and not the CAUSE.

To which they replied:

Bill gates isn’t rich because he saves more money than he spends. He’s rich because he takes in more money than he spends… which sounds an awful lot like calories in calories out.

Wait…. what? I’ve never had anybody actually think that “he makes money” is the CAUSE and REASON Bill is rich (as opposed to his ruthless business acumen and the lucky break he got with licensing QDOS, among other things) but if that’s what someone wants to believe, that’s what they want to believe.

By |2018-02-26T15:37:14-07:00February 26th, 2018|Categories: Keto Chow|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments