Does Ketosis Cause Kidney Damage?

Parts of the Lindora program involve putting your body into ketosis/following a ketogenic (keto) diet. Our program is medically based and has not been associated with kidney damage or disease in individuals who have normally functioning kidneys.

Ketosis vs. Ketoacidosis

Dietary ketosis is among the most misunderstood concepts in nutritional medicine. Ketosis (the presence of ketone bodies in the urine) is often confused with ketoacidosis, which is a life-threatening build-up of ketone bodies due to muscle wasting and dehydration as in states of shock or uncontrolled Type 1 diabetes. In the Type 1 diabetic, the absence of insulin leads to a toxic build-up of blood glucose and an extreme break-down of fat and muscle tissue. Patients in ketoacidosis are closely monitored in Intensive Care Units, individuals in ketosis are amongst the healthy, active population.

Dietary ketosis is a natural adjustment to the body’s reduced intake of carbohydrates as the body shifts its primary source of energy from carbohydrates to stored fat. The presence of insulin keeps ketone production in check so that a mild, beneficial ketosis is achieved. Blood glucose levels are stabilized within a normal range and there is no break-down of healthy muscle tissue. It would be difficult to make a credible argument against ketosis, which has been used so successfully among both healthy people seeking improved fitness and nutritionally fragile children with epilepsy.

How Much Protein is Too Much Protein?

In perhaps the highest protein intake ever studied, an adult male bodybuilder consumed an average of 2,263 calories, 71% from protein or 2.27 grams per pound for 10 weeks. His weight dropped from 168 lbs. to 139 lbs. and his body fat from 16% to 4.4%. Blood analysis found an increase in a reliable test of kidney function called “blood urea nitrogen” or BUN from 16 to 53 (normal is 6 to 25) without evidence of kidney damage. We would not advocate such high protein intake for such an extended period but it is interesting to note how much people have pushed the limits without suffering consequences.

This being said, please consult with a health care professional before starting a high protein weight loss program. The Lindora weight loss program is medially based and each patient has a medical exam prior to starting the program.

Everyone is in some degree of ketosis all day. The most sensitive tests of ketosis (“NMR” and “blood ketone level”) show that we all have ketones under any condition. For instance, an average person (not dieting or exercising, having just eaten) may have a ketosis reading of 0.003 to 0.01; most of us are up to about 50 after not eating overnight. After completing a marathon, runners have readings of over 100. And in the first week of a diet (whether or not it’s “ketogenic”), the readingsĀ  can be as high as 200-300.

Benefits of Ketosis

Some of the benefits many people experience while in a state of dietary ketosis for intentional weight loss may include:

  • Rapid weight loss
    Decreased hunger and cravings
  • Improved mood
  • Increased energy
  • Protection of lean mass.