Seasonal Ketosis?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 04, 2013 at 10:43 PM

Hi! I'm new to paleo/high-fat low-carb diets. But since starting I've lost about 10 lbs and I love how natural this feels.

I don't know officially if I have been in ketosis continually all this time; I haven't been testing myself.

But here's an idea that I have for maintenance once I get to my optimal weight/size, and I wanted to run it by all of you and see what you think:

I was picturing being in ketosis 2 seasons out of the month. Maybe Spring and Summer. During Autumn and Winter I would start adding some ancient grains like buckwheat and millet (I know these are not paleo, but bear with me) to carefully and watchfully gain 10 lbs, in a way that I imagine would mimick ancestors that would have stockpiled these grains to keep themselves warm and chubby during the colder months. Then lose those pounds every spring.

Does this sound like a healthy yearly habit, or should I always avoid all grains? Would this constitute "yo-yo dieting"?

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2 Answers


on June 19, 2013
at 07:14 AM

Dr Jack Kruse thinks this is the way to go, being in ketosis seasonally, but he'd advocate the exact opposite of what you're going to do: stay very low carb during the cold months (Fall/Winter) and allow for moderate carbs during the hot months and when the light cycles are longer (Spring/Summer).

So you'd be able to eat fruit and starchy vegetables that are grown locally in your place during Spring/Summer. That's suposing that were you are it's hot on this seasons and cold on winter. If your climate is more average I guess you could relax rules and stay middle carb all year long as long as you respect seasonality and eat local food. The thing here is to respect the natural way of eating that you're supposed to go according to your ancestral genes and how evolution works on mammals. We're supposed to eat low carb when the climates are could because they'd be harder to gather at that time of the year. There's no bananas or grains when the weather is very cold.

So when it's cold you'd be supposed to subsist on animal flesh you could hunt. You'd also be in ketosis and burn the needed fat to stay warm and bear with the cold weather and lean down gradually. Starvation and low carb would also allow for better mental clarity and a sense of need to hunt, etc. When the climate is hotter and light cycles are long, then fruits and vegetables grow and that's when you would want to eat them and you can relax more. And this would make you kind of out of your ideal weight as you supply carbs to your body but there would be no problem as this would enhance energy and fertility and prepare you to have some fat storage for when you enter the winter again...

The point here is that most of us seem to be in an eternal summer because never get too cold and always eat high carb food and other junk (think SAD) so we put weight on but don't allow ourselves to go the path of starvation that comes with cold so we gain weight and never lose it. So leptin and insulin resistance go up as time goes by and this seems to bring diabetes to the game, and that's also why calorie restriction/low carb could be working so well to reverse it (as we know from what most people here has achieved when got to the Paleo Diet and low carb approach, amazing results are reported regarding weight loss).

Well, that's a summary of JK ideas, I honestly thing that he might have a point with this but I admit this could be a subject of intense debate.



on June 04, 2013
at 11:39 PM

I don't think that's a good idea. Normally, any relatively healthy person is in ketosis at least some part of the day. Such as in the morning, right after sleep. Having breakfast late or none at all can extend that period. Otherwise I just don't see the point. Ketosis is not some magic state. Especially as you get into the lower bodyfat percentages, when burning fat becomes inefficient and carbs work better.

White rice and buckwheat are probably the most tolerable grains for the gut lining(almost no fodmaps and the proteins are safe). Especially with some butter. Don't really have much experience with millet, though. Anywho, I see no reason why you can't eat them on a regular basis year round and continue to lose weight. If you've found through experience that they work for you, go ahead. Throw some tubers in the mix as well, if they agree with you.

As far as actual prehistoric cultures. Even if there were populations of people who were in ketosis for entire seasons, it would only be due to starvation. You're not in that situation, so why unnecessarily simulate it?

Now, eating more or less carbs depending on activity level is a fine strategy. Try it out and see what works for you and at what times. Typically, people can get into fantastic shape just by eating whole foods that don't give them any digestion issues and some basic smart training. That's my piece.

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