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External stressors increase cortisol and effect on blood ketosis.

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 16, 2012 at 8:51 PM

Does elevated cortisol decrease ones ability to get into/stay in blood ketosis?

I think this question is different than does ketosis cause increased cortisol. Here's my situation. I was happily, easily and comfortably in blood ketosis (always over 0.5, often over 1.0). My child had an emergent medical situation and urgent surgery which put him (and us) in the hospital for 2 weeks. I was able to maintain my very low carb levels despite the crappy low/no/fake fat hospital food... I didn't eat it. I added pats of butter to any meat or hot liquids, used the labeled bottles of EVOO instead of mystery dressings/sauces, stuck with minimally processed foods (if I couldn't recognize what it was, I didn't eat it), etc. I was very comfortable keeping to my healthy habits since it gave me something I could control. This LCHF Primal dietary protocol has been fantastic for eliminating stress eating. I had to drop my twice weekly heavy lifting but took the stairs and walked the long distances between various parts of the hospital.

Since we've been home I'm back to my previous patterns of measuring and controlling macro nutrients. However, I haven't been able to get blood ketones back above 0.5 despite keeping carbs <50gms (usually <30) and protein < 100gms with fats at about 130-140gms. It was a very stressful experience as you might imagine. I imagine my adrenals were pumping out the stress hormones. Do cortisol or other stress hormones enhance some metabolic process that prevents blood level ketosis under conditions which usually enable blood level ketosis?

I'm asking just to know whether I should try a few no carb days or just give it a rest, stay the course and decide that it may take a few weeks/months for my adrenals to realize all is well and get back to nominal stress hormone production. I'll save my blood ketone test strips instead of testing and wondering every day.

Thanks so much for any constructive information in advance. I've tried some search engines but they all seem to keep coming back to "does dietary ketosis cause adrenal stress" instead of "does stress prevent dietary ketosis".

76211ec5301087de2588cfe3d6bccba9

(1178)

on October 18, 2012
at 02:52 PM

you were in very light ketosis based on your blood readings and I stand by my answer--drop your glucogenic cals and your will get back into ketosis.

A87b3054d0975cce8d57909c1a8cae51

(10)

on October 18, 2012
at 02:47 PM

Thanks. I read Kruse regularly. I hadn't heard of FatburningMan. Thanks for that lead. Will check it out. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

A87b3054d0975cce8d57909c1a8cae51

(10)

on October 18, 2012
at 02:46 PM

Thanks for taking the time to answer. I've been following Volek & Phinney's "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance" for my macro recommendations. They had me in blood ketosis regularly before the family emergency without adding ketones through the use of MCT/coconut oil.

A87b3054d0975cce8d57909c1a8cae51

(10)

on October 18, 2012
at 02:40 PM

Thanks. Good advice for someone who hasn't been in blood ketosis. I was regularly in blood ketosis (AMB Abbot Precision system) before the family emergency. Just trying to figure out why I couldn't get back when following the same protocol. I find ketostix completely uncorrelated to blood ketone measurements as I'm a long term (over a decade) low carb life stylist. Thank you for taking the time for your very thorough answer.

A87b3054d0975cce8d57909c1a8cae51

(10)

on October 18, 2012
at 02:14 PM

Thank you so much. Of course. I should have thought of searching Robb's site. From your link: "Cortisol: [...]The hormone released in response to any kind of systemic stress. Its primary functions are to increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis; [...]" Thank you again. "a little short term stress avoidance"... great advice. Best regards, cb57

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4 Answers

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0
7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on October 16, 2012
at 09:18 PM

There is a post workout rise in blood sugar, which seems to be a response to the stress of working out, so you have some biological basis for what you are thinking. Is your blood sugar running higher than usual? If so, that might be a sign that cortisol is still active at higher levels, and would explain the lower ketone levels.

I do notice taking the carbs lower makes ketone production easier, but this may be a case in which a little short term stress avoidance might be more advisable than a stricter diet. I guess it depends on what would stress you out more. In the long term though, taking those carbs down to around 20g will likely do the trick.

Pregnenolone may help, as may some of the adaptogens- there is a list in this article.

A87b3054d0975cce8d57909c1a8cae51

(10)

on October 18, 2012
at 02:14 PM

Thank you so much. Of course. I should have thought of searching Robb's site. From your link: "Cortisol: [...]The hormone released in response to any kind of systemic stress. Its primary functions are to increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis; [...]" Thank you again. "a little short term stress avoidance"... great advice. Best regards, cb57

1
76211ec5301087de2588cfe3d6bccba9

(1178)

on October 16, 2012
at 09:04 PM

30-50g of carbs is a lot. and your protein is way too high. drop your net (fiberless) carbs to 10g and your protein to 0.8g/kg of your lean body weight and replace those calories with fat. this isn't a cortisol issue; you simply are eating too many glucogenic foods. supplement with coconut/MCT oil to get more ketones into your blood.

A87b3054d0975cce8d57909c1a8cae51

(10)

on October 18, 2012
at 02:46 PM

Thanks for taking the time to answer. I've been following Volek & Phinney's "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance" for my macro recommendations. They had me in blood ketosis regularly before the family emergency without adding ketones through the use of MCT/coconut oil.

76211ec5301087de2588cfe3d6bccba9

(1178)

on October 18, 2012
at 02:52 PM

you were in very light ketosis based on your blood readings and I stand by my answer--drop your glucogenic cals and your will get back into ketosis.

0
B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on October 16, 2012
at 09:26 PM

No. Ketosis is governed by your brains need for glucose. If you fail to provide 100-120g a day of glucose (from dietary carbohydrate, stored glycogen reserves or gluconeogenesis) then you meet some of that need with ketones.

I've got to "deep purple" but only by restricting my carbs to <25g Net Carbs (ie with the fibre subtracted), restricting my protein to <15% and exercising.

There are lots of reasons why your ketostix might not be turning purple:

  • They're out of date
  • They've got damp
  • You're drinking too much liquid and diluting them out
  • You're testing at the wrong time (they're highest in the evening, lowest in the morning).
  • You're burning them all up.

However, the most likely reason is that you're not deep in ketosis are:

  • You're eating too many carbs
  • You're eating too much protein (more than 0.8g per lb of lean body mass)
  • You're eating too many calories
  • You're fundamentally a bad person.

Number 2 will probably catch you out the most. (I made the last one up).

In my experience ketostix are a pretty fair guide to blood ketones. If my blood ketones are over 2mmol/l then the stix will be deep purple.

A87b3054d0975cce8d57909c1a8cae51

(10)

on October 18, 2012
at 02:40 PM

Thanks. Good advice for someone who hasn't been in blood ketosis. I was regularly in blood ketosis (AMB Abbot Precision system) before the family emergency. Just trying to figure out why I couldn't get back when following the same protocol. I find ketostix completely uncorrelated to blood ketone measurements as I'm a long term (over a decade) low carb life stylist. Thank you for taking the time for your very thorough answer.

0
5a21b66ef8ee09eeb0a5cfaefcac7b4a

on October 16, 2012
at 09:06 PM

That is something that I don't know for sure but I think it is entirely possible..there are a couple of website that will answer questions like this..I would try FatburningMan.com, his is great and always has good answers or Dr Jack Kruse..he is uber uber smart and a hard a$$ but most of the time will take the time to answer questions..give that a try..I trust them..hope that helps

A87b3054d0975cce8d57909c1a8cae51

(10)

on October 18, 2012
at 02:47 PM

Thanks. I read Kruse regularly. I hadn't heard of FatburningMan. Thanks for that lead. Will check it out. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

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