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View Full Version : Low-carb, fasting, and euphoria


Steve Shafley
04-05-2007, 02:12 PM
Somehow I missed this one.


Med Hypotheses. 2007;68(2):268-71. Epub 2006 Oct 2. Links
Low-carb diets, fasting and euphoria: Is there a link between ketosis and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB)?

* Brown AJ.

School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, The University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, Australia.

Anecdotal evidence links the initial phase of fasting or a low-carbohydrate diet with feelings of well-being and mild euphoria. These feelings have often been attributed to ketosis, the production of ketone bodies which can replace glucose as an energy source for the brain. One of these ketone bodies, beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), is an isomer of the notorious drug of abuse, GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate). GHB is also of interest in relation to its potential as a treatment for alcohol and opiate dependence and narcolepsy-associated cataplexy. Here I hypothesize that, the mild euphoria often noted with fasting or low-carbohydrate diets may be due to shared actions of BHB and GHB on the brain. Specifically, I propose that BHB, like GHB, induces mild euphoria by being a weak partial agonist for GABA(B) receptors. I outline several approaches that would test the hypothesis, including receptor binding studies in cultured cells, perception studies in trained rodents, and psychometric testing and functional magnetic resonance imaging in humans. These and other studies investigating whether BHB and GHB share common effects on brain chemistry and mood are timely and warranted, especially when considering their structural similarities and the popularity of ketogenic diets and GHB as a drug of abuse.

Neal Winkler
04-05-2007, 03:56 PM
*rubs chin thoughtfully* I knew y'all were hippies...

Steve Liberati
04-05-2007, 04:58 PM
Kid you not but I was planning to write a post on this very same topic. Tried the 12-6pm eating window over the last few weeks and recently went back to the 7-8pm to 5pm (overnight) fast that I was doing all along. My mood and energy levels jumped off the charts. Seriosily. Feel like I've been walking around high on life all week long. It's great! Who needs prozac???

Greg Davis
04-06-2007, 04:50 AM
Steve S.- do you have a web link to the study??

I can definitely attest to what theyre referring to. For anyone that has tried drugs like ecstacy or amphetamines in your younger days (i said tried not abused! - im not advocating drug use, just think the connection here is interesting) youll know that when you really tap in to high energy you can feel it through your jaw.. kind of hard to explain but a sure way to tell if someone is hopped up on drugs is they clinch their jaw cuz they can barely hold back their energy.

I can honestly say that when im in a fasting state I get a minor version of this sometimes, where I feel hungry, alive, and I it manifests itself through a bit of a jaw clench (helps me get psyched up to try a hard bouldering problem!). To a lot lesser degree but there is something goin on there..

Steve L.- Can you explain those hours?
7-8pm to 5pm (overnight) fast
Are you doing this intermittently or every day? Doesn't that only leave a few hours each day for eating?

Steve Liberati
04-06-2007, 05:04 AM
Steve L.- Can you explain those hours?

Are you doing this intermittently or every day? Doesn't that only leave a few hours each day for eating?

It's every other day. After a day of eating 3-5 meals (# of meals depending) I'll stop eating around 7pm in the evening...fast throughout the night of course...until around 5pm the following day (+~20hrs). Workout around 4:30-5 that day in a fasted state, wait like a half hr before eating 2-3 meals (# of meals depending) before calling it a day and going to bed. Next day will be a feed day where I'll eat anywhere from 4-5 smaller meals to 3 decent size meals. All protein and fat macros with exception to veggies and an occasional apple.

Doing this for about last 6-7 months and absolutely loving the results. Improvements across the board!

Greg Davis
04-06-2007, 05:59 AM
Steve L.- I like that sounds of that!

I love how IF is so flexible, depending on what comes up during the week you can always skip meals or have have less on a feed day.. only thing that can be tricky is making sure to get enough cals in if you fly by the seat of yer pants. But the more you play with it you start to get a feel for what you need. Great to hear how people are evolving their take on IF.

Robb Wolf
04-06-2007, 06:25 AM
Steve S.- do you have a web link to the study??

I can definitely attest to what theyre referring to. For anyone that has tried drugs like ecstacy or amphetamines in your younger days (i said tried not abused! - im not advocating drug use, just think the connection here is interesting) youll know that when you really tap in to high energy you can feel it through your jaw.. kind of hard to explain but a sure way to tell if someone is hopped up on drugs is they clinch their jaw cuz they can barely hold back their energy.

I can honestly say that when im in a fasting state I get a minor version of this sometimes, where I feel hungry, alive, and I it manifests itself through a bit of a jaw clench (helps me get psyched up to try a hard bouldering problem!). To a lot lesser degree but there is something goin on there..

Steve L.- Can you explain those hours?

Are you doing this intermittently or every day? Doesn't that only leave a few hours each day for eating?

Greg-

I know exactly what you mean about the jaw clench. Quite a number of people, from Lights Out authors to Devany, Seyfried and Mattson have conjectured that ketosis is THE default metabolism in humans. It kinda makes sense in light of intermittent fasting and the likely composition of the ancestral diet.

Greg Davis
04-06-2007, 06:32 AM
Very interesting Robb! Is this study Steve has posted available online?

Steve Shafley
04-06-2007, 07:36 AM
I'll see if I can get a copy of it.

kevin mckay
04-06-2007, 05:17 PM
Hey I think I posted this before but guess it is so relevant I will risk redundancy, when I was in college I fasted for a week and it was a real mind bender. Toward the end things took on a strange crystalline quality and I was well beyond euphoric.

Steve Liberati
04-06-2007, 06:56 PM
Greg and Kevin,

Like your sites by the way. Enjoy the content! Sure not any of us would run out of things to talk about if we ever meet offline. Good to know others with similar interests and ideals...

Greg Battaglia
04-08-2007, 11:06 PM
So Steve, if I read you correctly, you eat one meal at night on day one, and eat all day on day two, and then repeat? I found that this is the best alternative to a more WDish approach. When on the WD I noticed that I really had trouble raking in the calories and began to drop weight and performance. When I added in an ad libitum eating day after a WD day I had much more energy. If you don't mind me asking, what do you jaw-clenchers eat in terms of macro ratios? When I was on a ketogenic diet really high in animal a while back and following a WD eating schedule I had ENORMOUS amount of euphoric energy, so much to the point where I could not stay still for my life. It was freakin' awesome! But then again, I was also drinking a cup of coffee and a cup of green tea a day, so I'm sure that those helped to amp me up. Eventually I had to give up the keto diet because although it was working wonders for my energy, it didn't feel all that healthy (for some unknown reason I get heart palpitations when i eat animal fat from grain-fed animals). I ended up opting for a more Cordainish Paleo diet high in "healthy" fats (olive oil, nuts, avocado) and indeed rid my body of palpitations, but also saw my jaw-clenching energy plummet. I also gave up caffeine shortly after the animal fat as well, so that may have played a huge role in causing that euphoric energy. Any input?

Scott Kustes
04-09-2007, 06:06 AM
I've noticed the jaw clench thing too. I figured it isn't good for my teeth so I try to consciously not do it, but I constantly find myself with teeth clamped together fairly tightly. I also typically have a foot moving or something....damn desk jobs.

Steve Shafley
04-09-2007, 11:41 AM
I've got the PDF for the full article. If anyone wants it, PM me with your email address.

Dave Van Skike
04-09-2007, 07:47 PM
Can some brainiac give a shorthand description of how long it takes to initiate ketosis. as in, what are the essential steps? Do you have to burn through all the glucose first or do "fat adapted" folks drop switch to a fat metabolism quicker than the uninitiated?

Robb Wolf
04-10-2007, 01:11 PM
Can some brainiac give a shorthand description of how long it takes to initiate ketosis. as in, what are the essential steps? Do you have to burn through all the glucose first or do "fat adapted" folks drop switch to a fat metabolism quicker than the uninitiated?

Well...I really think the main determinant is insulin resistance. If one is highly insulin sensitive (or perhaps just at the normal set point for our species?) then glucose is highly conserved and one may be in ketosis even with adequate liver glycogen stores.

One can also dip into and out of ketosis by doing a very hard exercise session. it is common to find elevated ketone levels after hard training as all fuel substrates are ramped up in their respective usage.

In the classic Atkins type scenario glycogen is depleted and fat intake is increased, with the body eventually shifting to fat metabolism and consequent ketosis. Even in this scenario if insulin resistance is significant one may not enter ketosis easily.
Let me know if that covers what you were looking for!

Dave Van Skike
04-10-2007, 07:03 PM
Nope. That does it. Insulin...again.

kevin mckay
04-13-2007, 10:10 PM
what is the mechanism in IF that actually puts you into ketosis?

Edward Guzman
08-23-2008, 10:28 AM
I may be way late on this one. But I've been trying to figure out
what is going on with me.

I am bounding with energy. I'm talking doing Crossfit, Olympic lifts and running my kids down.
Then I bumped into this post, and it makes more sense.
I started IF a two weeks ago.

Greg Everett
09-11-2008, 07:44 PM
Bradley -

We removed you post. You can try again if you want, but keep it a little less explicit.

Bradley Martyn
09-11-2008, 08:03 PM
haha understandable...man that sure was strange

Liam Dougherty Springer
09-12-2008, 09:14 AM
Bradley -

We removed you post. You can try again if you want, but keep it a little less explicit.

Seriously, good call gregg that was just weird.