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Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet

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Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet Fitter Stoke 5/28/13 11:13 AM
RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet fivebells . 5/28/13 10:42 AM
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RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet Fitter Stoke 5/29/13 1:27 PM
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RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet Martha Colins 9/19/17 2:19 AM
RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet Simon T. 5/28/13 3:32 PM
RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet Fitter Stoke 5/29/13 8:45 AM
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RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet Fitter Stoke 5/29/13 8:55 AM
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RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet Fitter Stoke 6/8/13 7:51 AM
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Hooray for bacon! Bagpuss The Gnome 6/8/13 1:05 PM
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RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet Fitter Stoke 6/8/13 1:57 PM
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RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet fivebells . 6/10/13 12:39 PM
RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 6/10/13 1:05 PM
RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet fivebells . 6/10/13 2:09 PM
RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet Fitter Stoke 6/10/13 1:41 PM
RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 6/10/13 1:59 PM
RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet Rednaxela 4/3/14 3:02 PM
Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
5/28/13 11:13 AM
Riffing on Daniel's earlier post proposing controlled studies of meditation...

I've thought for awhile that, despite their claims to the contrary, the high carb, vegetarian fare they serve on meditation retreats is not even close to an ideal diet for meditators. If you're going to do nothing but mental work for a week, a ketogenic diet is far superior.

Basically, a ketogenic diet is a diet that forces your body into ketosis, where it's no longer using glucose for fuel but is instead converting fat into fatty acids and ketones. You get your body to go into ketosis by drastically reducing carbohydrate intake (below 30 grams/day usually does the trick). So basically you eat a diet of meat, eggs, vegetables, maybe some cheese.

After an initial period where you feel like a pile of dog shit, you experience euphoria and sustained mental clarity. Concentration is much easier than it was before, and in my experience, it's easier to remember details, too. You no longer experience any energy swings from food whatsoever.

I remember being completely useless from 1 pm to 2 pm every day on retreat as my blood sugar swung wildly from the whole grains I had just eaten. I quickly gave up resisting and accepted I needed to take a nap every single afternoon. This just doesn't happen when you're in ketosis. The feeling of hunger is not usually accompanied by weakness or fogginess. Your liver says, "Don't worry, bro. I got this," and you do what you have to do.

The experiment I'd like to do is to take two groups on retreat, feed one of them the usual vegetarian slop and feed the other ones steak and eggs and then see how easily they're able to access and remain in jhana based upon their self-reports and the evaluations of the teachers.

The main problem with doing this experiment is that you couldn't wait until everyone was on retreat to assign the diets, because there's the initial period of induction into ketosis where you feel like dogshit. By the time the brain learned to use ketones for fuel, the retreat would be over, and everyone would be home. So the retreat would either have to be exceptionally long, or the ketosis group would need (at least) a two week head start on the diet.

My prediction is that the ketosis group would do better overall at a task like entering and remaining in jhana. I also predict that the ketosis group would report more productive days overall, i.e., there wouldn't be blocks of time where they'd be too tired or too foggy to meditate.

Overall, it's necessary to challenge this notion that the vegetarian diet is the best one for meditators. Vegetarianism might be part of the scene because of the moral prohibition against harm, but I suspect that the claim that it's the best diet from a nutritional, energy-providing point of view is wrong.

If anyone would like to try an N of 1 experiment on this, please let me know your results. I've been following a ketogenic diet for the past couple months, and I like the effect it's had on my concentration and my ability to meditate at any point in the day I feel like. I no longer have to take advantage of the morning hours right after I've had my coffee to meditate, so this allows me a lot more flexibility in my schedule. Adapting to ketosis is a bit of a project, but the results are certainly interesting.

Edit: More detailed explanation of ketosis for geeks.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
5/28/13 10:42 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Not quite the same thing, but for the past couple of weeks I have only been eating one meal a day, consisting of an avocado, two eggs, two sausages, a handful of cashews, a fifteen minute delay to let the fat and protein affect my stomach, two apples, a cup of oats soaked in hot water, a few tablespoons of flax seeds, a quarter cup of honey and an orange. Many positive factors have contributed to my meditation progress over this time, but I think this has been one, though probably not a major one.

If you think fluctuations in blood sugar levels are contributing to failing attention, it may be worth checking that by measurement. Blood sugar monitors are marketed to diabetics on a loss-leader model which makes them cheap for occasional use. It's also worth experimenting with exercise after the meal. Excess insulin won't be necessary if your muscles are hungry enough to take up the excess blood sugar for their immediate needs.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
5/28/13 11:07 AM as a reply to fivebells ..
fivebells .:
Not quite the same thing, but for the past couple of weeks I have only been eating one meal a day, consisting of an avocado, two eggs, two sausages, a handful of cashews, a fifteen minute delay to let the fat and protein affect my stomach, two apples, a cup of oats soaked in hot water, a few tablespoons of flax seeds, a quarter cup of honey and an orange. Many positive factors have contributed to my meditation progress over this time, but I think this has been one, though probably not a major one.


This reminds me of another dimension: intermittent fasting. It's part of the Theravada tradition to only take one meal a day or at least not eat after noon, so monks are probably benefiting from the effects of intermittent fasting, too. But that's a whole nuther ball of wax.

If you think fluctuations in blood sugar levels are contributing to failing attention, it may be worth checking that by measurement. Blood sugar monitors are marketed to diabetics on a loss-leader model which makes them cheap for occasional use.


Been there, done that. The problem is that most glucometers blow. You'll get vastly different measurements depending which finger or hand you prick - sometimes big differences from the same finger. If you don't mind sticking yourself eight times a few times a day and averaging the results, it's not that bad. But even an obsessive nut like myself isn't up for that.

The other option is to fork over $70+ or so and get a better glucometer, but I haven't felt like doing that, because it's not worth it to me when what I really care the most about is how I feel, and it's obvious as anything that my energy and focus are a lot better and more stable when I'm low-carb. IF I abstract away from exercise...

It's also worth experimenting with exercise after the meal. Excess insulin won't be necessary if your muscles are hungry enough to take up the excess blood sugar for their immediate needs.


My assumption is that you're not doing a lot of exercise on a meditation retreat, that with the exception of light chores, you're spending the vast majority of your time parked on a cushion or slowly pacing back and forth.

In my experience, ultra low carb isn't usually great if you're doing anaerobic exercise (weight lifting or sprinting). It's often ideal if you're an endurance athlete or if you're trying to fuel some very serious brain performance (as you would be on a retreat).

Of course, YMMV, which is why it would be helpful to have two large groups to test it out on. Some people just aren't going to do well on a ketogenic diet no matter what - just like some people are going to have insanely improved performance. The majority will probably lie somewhere in the middle. (Same to some extent for a high-carb vegetarian diet - some people have no problem with that diet whatsoever.) But I'm suspecting you'd see the results I predict - two bell curves with the ketogenic group pushed toward better performance - if the samples were large enough.

Though until someone funds my study, you can just try it out yourself and see how your brain responds to it. :-)

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
5/28/13 3:59 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Hey there,

Vegetarians can do fine with ketogenic diet egg and dairy ketosis. I've done this a few times.

Vegan ketogenic diet (edit for clarity] is doable, too (been there, do that). Earth Balance buttery spreads, tofu... very doable, but people who are not vegan then see they have other sources of chemical brain-pleasure addiction, such that dairy foods may be part of their chemical pleasure set-points in the brain and these people will get to deal with that taste-texture-satiety craving on retreat (versus just carb craving in KD). That's an excellent use of retreat in my book.

Good luck. I hope you get to do it. I think three days is fine and I personally know the ketogenic diet (KD) effects on me well, Retreatents who are ready to carry out the KD experiment on their own in order to see the effects of a 7-day KD will continue after the retreat and get to see how the brain's set-point on chemical pleasure needs (addiction) changes and everyone else will chow down as soon as they leave the retreat. Either way: okay.

Life on retreat removes a massive number of deliberate, pleasure-seeking moves the brain makes throughout the day which trigger chemical pleasure cycles (i.e., snacking, day dreaming, walking around, shifting, chatting, planning, scheming... etc); with these constant little moves restrained through the retreat practice, food becomes one huge source of the brain focusing its set-point on getting a chemical pleasure cycle during retreat. CRAVING!

This test you propose really gets into how each person may affectively be determining his/her brain's set-point on satiety, pleasure, and thus craving arises from how one puts in motion one's own mental set-point on pleasure in action in the first place. A person can see over time how one is feeling like an object of something external ("oh, woe, I must have a chunk of bread or steak or..."), but actually being the effect of one's own internal causes --- affective determinations of pleasure, satiety. Then what is the mind determining is pleasant, neutral or painful? Then what is eating? Then who is eating, how?

It makes those maddening oryoki-sytle investigative chew-chew-chew-chew meals, mindfulness, explosive in cause and effect.



[edit: to be clear above I'm talking about vegan and vegetarian ketogenic diet in case you have folks who want to do it that way]

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
5/28/13 3:32 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
I switched to a quasi-primal diet about one year ago and eliminated grain entirely from my diet. I recommend anyone that want to improve his diet to read The Primal Blueprint. The primal diet doesn't goes as far a a keto diet and recommend about 150 grams of carbs a day which is still much lower than the 400-600 grams you get if you follow the USDA food pyramid. There is no way I go back on a diet based on grain. Now I can spend more than 24 hours without eating and not feel a drop in energy. I had that drowsiness problem on retreats because of the ridiculous amount of rice served. drowsiness is also no longer a problem at work.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
5/28/13 7:06 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
You mention ability to enter jhana as something that the keto diet might help with. Do you think it would help with other aspects of the path? eg. Advancing through nanas, getting the A&P, getting stream entry, having fruitions, realizing the three characteristics moment-to-moment, etc.

My experience on retreat is that some of the weird sensations that came up due to the diet I wasn't used to were some of the biggest benefits to my meditation. Although I can see the benefits of not having that energy crash from blood sugar fluctuations to meditation, is feeling energized and euphoric really that beneficial in the long run? I found that the traditional advice of not eating a meal after noon was incredibly helpful, and the idea that meditating just after eating is never as good to be pretty accurate. With that in mind, don't you think this might be more pronounced with a higher fat diet? Don't get me wrong, I think for nutrition and health a keto diet is great, and I try to keep a fairly high fat paleo diet myself, but I'm a little skeptical on the benefits for meditation. Which I guess is a good reason to test your hypothesis out!

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
5/28/13 9:22 PM as a reply to Ben H.
I think the ketogenic diet is an excellent idea. They key, of course, is to trick your body into thinking that it is starving! I've read some reports that the Atkins Diet (and others like this) are comparable to fasting, minus the not eating.

Either way, it probably doesn't matter how you get into a ketogenic mode, the end result is the same... heightened mental awareness and clarity.

Another interesting concept would be to try meditating at a high altitude or under similar low oxygen conditions.

One aspect that I've been curious about is whether concentration practices in particularly are just different physiological reactions to hypoxia (low oxygen). For example, divers will often report a period of higher mental awareness just before slipping into a more peaceful low energy state. This may be compared with the transition from the 2nd jhana to the 3rd. Though probably unrelated, it made me wonder if perhaps that is one perk to having Zen temples up in the mountains. And a corollary would be as to why athletes often experience a sense of euphoria or calmness when in highly anaerobic states. Another fun fact is that hypoxia can also be considered a form of nutrient restriction if we consider that we need oxygen just as we need water and food.

It could be that low nutrient conditions (oxygen, calories, etc) induce a crisis mode in the body which would normally be useful for figuring out solutions for problems. Or, in the case of there being no food, be clever in coming up ways to remedy that. In that sense, then, meditation makes use of thees physiological properties and trains the mind to turn the problem solving inward and direct it toward the self.

I wonder if that makes any sense. haha.

Anyhow, some of this is just my own private musing. Likewise, I'd like to say one word of caution. If any of you decide to play with this information, I'd say just be cautious about how you go about it. Hypoxic and low nutrient states can be seriously detrimental to your health if you overdo it. Be smart and safe about it.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
5/29/13 8:45 AM as a reply to Simon T..
Simon T.:
I switched to a quasi-primal diet about one year ago and eliminated grain entirely from my diet. I recommend anyone that want to improve his diet to read The Primal Blueprint. The primal diet doesn't goes as far a a keto diet and recommend about 150 grams of carbs a day which is still much lower than the 400-600 grams you get if you follow the USDA food pyramid. There is no way I go back on a diet based on grain. Now I can spend more than 24 hours without eating and not feel a drop in energy. I had that drowsiness problem on retreats because of the ridiculous amount of rice served. drowsiness is also no longer a problem at work.


I'm familiar with Mark Sisson; I read his blog sometimes.

I adopted the plan Robb Wolf laid out: did a 30-day pure Paleo introduction and have since reintroduced some cheat meals here and there, mostly so I can occasionally go out and eat with other people. I have a lot more experimenting to do yet. Starches seem to pose very little problem for me in terms of energy crashes or fat gain - unlike sugar or wheat which seem to wreak all kinds of havoc.

Have you tried a ketogenic diet? I ate relatively low carb (~70-80g/day) for a few years, but the difference between that and < 30g/day was drastic. It's like what you describe in terms of being able to go a long time without eating or fogginess, except there's a high degree of extremely crisp mental clarity. It's that enhance concentration and memory recall that I think would be a great mix with hardcore meditation in a retreat setting.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
5/29/13 8:48 AM as a reply to Ben H.
Ben H:
You mention ability to enter jhana as something that the keto diet might help with. Do you think it would help with other aspects of the path? eg. Advancing through nanas, getting the A&P, getting stream entry, having fruitions, realizing the three characteristics moment-to-moment, etc.


Yes. I mention jhana specifically because I think the mental clarity and enhanced concentration would be particularly suited for jhana, and jhana would be a relatively straight-forward test of these mental faculties (assuming we had a clear definition beforehand of what counts as jhana). But in general, the ketogenic diet seems helpful with any kind of high-powered brain activity, be it vipassana, mathematics, writing papers, remembering numbers, etc.

...Which I guess is a good reason to test your hypothesis out!


You just answered your questions. :-)

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
5/29/13 8:55 AM as a reply to Lara D.
Lara D:
I think the ketogenic diet is an excellent idea. They key, of course, is to trick your body into thinking that it is starving! I've read some reports that the Atkins Diet (and others like this) are comparable to fasting, minus the not eating.

Either way, it probably doesn't matter how you get into a ketogenic mode, the end result is the same... heightened mental awareness and clarity.


Yes, though with one caveat, which I'm going to add because a lot of people (including physicians) get confused about this.

There is another state called diabetic ketoacidosis which is life-threatening.

To be clear: nutritional ketosis is not the same thing as diabetic ketoacidosis! Nutritional ketosis seems to be perfectly safe even for long periods of time. This is not to say that everyone thrives in nutritional ketosis or that it's the best diet for every activity imaginable, just that it's not dangerous.

One aspect that I've been curious about is whether concentration practices in particularly are just different physiological reactions to hypoxia (low oxygen). For example, divers will often report a period of higher mental awareness just before slipping into a more peaceful low energy state. This may be compared with the transition from the 2nd jhana to the 3rd. Though probably unrelated, it made me wonder if perhaps that is one perk to having Zen temples up in the mountains. And a corollary would be as to why athletes often experience a sense of euphoria or calmness when in highly anaerobic states. Another fun fact is that hypoxia can also be considered a form of nutrient restriction if we consider that we need oxygen just as we need water and food.

It could be that low nutrient conditions (oxygen, calories, etc) induce a crisis mode in the body which would normally be useful for figuring out solutions for problems. Or, in the case of there being no food, be clever in coming up ways to remedy that. In that sense, then, meditation makes use of thees physiological properties and trains the mind to turn the problem solving inward and direct it toward the self.


You can adapt to higher altitudes. Whether it has any impact on meditation, I can't say, since, unlike carb deprivation, it's not something I've been able to experiment with.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
5/29/13 10:28 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:
This test you propose really gets into how each person may affectively be determining his/her brain's set-point on satiety, pleasure, and thus craving arises from how one puts in motion one's own mental set-point on pleasure in action in the first place. A person can see over time how one is feeling like an object of something external ("oh, woe, I must have a chunk of bread or steak or..."), but actually being the effect of one's own internal causes --- affective determinations of pleasure, satiety. Then what is the mind determining is pleasant, neutral or painful? Then what is eating? Then who is eating, how?


Yeah, the craving is definitely an issue if you're not used to depriving yourself of carbohydrates. For most people, simply removing sucrose and fructose from their diets will be difficult but will result in positive effects.

The cool thing about ketosis is that it feels awful at first, but the advantages are obvious once you're given time to adapt to it. It's this adaptations that I'd be curious to test rather than the ability of a person to deal with cravings, though that's obviously a huge part of the Buddhadhamma.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
5/29/13 11:10 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:
Vegetarians can do fine with ketogenic diet egg and dairy ketosis. I've done this a few times.


Any good resources for guidance on this?

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
5/29/13 11:58 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
Just for balance, here's a discussion - from a paleo-oriented author - of some of the risks of extremely low-carb diets:

http://perfecthealthdiet.com/2012/10/very-low-carb-dieting-are-the-hormonal-changes-risk-free/

Basically, he says you can run into thyroid and other hormonal problems long-term, especially if you're an athlete. I think you can get most of the benefits you're looking for by cutting out certain culprits - like wheat and sugar - without going extremely low-carb or going into ketosis.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
5/29/13 1:27 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Some Guy:
Basically, he says you can run into thyroid and other hormonal problems long-term, especially if you're an athlete.


Yeah but we're talking about doing it short-term, not long-term, and I specifically put aside physical activity since we're talking about a meditation retreat. And while some people do run into thyroid issues, many do not, even over the long-term. (I got a complete thryoid panel after doing the diet for 30 days, and my results were normal across the board.) You can follow one of the links I posted above to Peter Attia's blog - he's been on the diet a very long time, is an athlete, and doesn't seem to have any problem with it. Again, YMMV, but it's impossible to tell what the effect will be without actually doing it.

I think you can get most of the benefits you're looking for by cutting out certain culprits - like wheat and sugar - without going extremely low-carb or going into ketosis.


It would be great to keep the thread practical.

Can you share your personal experiences with this? How would you compare your experiences meditating high carb (above 200 grams/day), low carb (below 100), and on a ketogenic diet (below 30)? Did you find that your mental clarity and recall were equivalent at all those levels? At which point did you notice a significant difference? How did the amount of dietary protein per day impact your mental state? In general, people seem to perform better with a moderate amount of protein on this diet - do you agree?

My own experience eating around 70-80 g/day (in the form of legumes) was mixed. My best shot at meditating was first thing in the morning, before I ate anything. Odds of dozing off were greater the later in the day I did it. (Meditating in the afternoon on a HIGH-carb diet - like what they serve on retreat - was impossible. I'd need a nap and a large cup of coffee.) But there was a drastic transition in my mental acuity once I transitioned into ketosis, where it didn't matter what time it was, I could meditate when I wanted. My protein intake has been around 130 grams/day, which is neither high nor low. I get most of my calories from fat.

It's doubtful everyone has the same sensitivity to carbohydrates I do, but I'd be grateful to hear about other people's experiences with same. In my opinion that would provide better balance than anything since this is not a topic I've seen addressed elsewhere.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
5/29/13 12:45 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Also, if you're interested specifically in the issue of sport on a low-carb diet, check out Mat Lalonde's experiment doing CrossFit on a low-carb (50g/day, "borderline-ketogenic") diet. This is from a few years ago, and Mat eats starches now, but the experiment does seem to prove the point that at least some strength athletes can thrive on this diet. The problem is that it seems to take a relatively long time to adapt. In my experience the mental adaptation is a lot quicker, so you wouldn't have to be on the diet for several months before reaping the benefits. The mental benefits were obvious to me after about a week, even as my physical performance was slacking (which is normal).

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
5/31/13 7:19 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
The point of view I put forward is based on reading about research. Since the topic is related to health I think that's important. Also a standard place to begin when considering *doing* research.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
5/30/13 9:30 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Some Guy:
katy steger:
Vegetarians can do fine with ketogenic diet egg and dairy ketosis. I've done this a few times.


Any good resources for guidance on this?


Check out maybe the Drs Eades' cookbook, but basically think tofu and eggs where there would be meat (we're talking vegetarian here, versus vegan, but if a vegan gets eggs from a five-star, kill-free, backyard pet chickens' chalet without a rooster, then it's probably vegan enough for the vegan). Then just add all the other KD foods. If vegetarian, keep a whey shake on had for the first few days. If vegan keep some non-dairy, low carb protein drink on hand, like almond/soy milk + stevia + touch o'vanilla.

Having done all three a few times (meat, vegetarian and vegan ketogenic eating) each do pass equally through the first few days of relentless craving. The brain can fire off a desire many times per second all day long. If a person is eating dairy and/or meat ketogenically, they will very, very likely deal with the exact same relentless craving, craving, craving.


By day four or five, the body gets very efficient, satiety starts to change --- it's becoming easier to feel content with the KD food --- because the brain's moved almost completely to ketone body fuel.

By day six people often say how nice and refreshed the person looks.

By day seven, one actually feels great: aches and pains largely gone, brain is making all sorts of sharp moves --- "Hey, let's build that dog-poop fueled engine today and put it in the old VW 'cause I really see how to tweak the pistols firing on poo and would love to just clean up the side walks and build tiny houses and straw bale cars..." And a person starts shedding fat. The brain has gone from a relatively low use of fat for its fuel to a really high fat usage.

Hey, some people advocate a two-week transition diet first: just take all the white and starchy stuff out of your diet and don't worry about ketosis. A true KD consumes less than 20g of carbs a day. A couple cups of collard greens blow the 20g-carbs limit. Thems low carbs.

Somewhere else on the DhO I've listed a bunch of recent studies or academic reports of the KD: Duke University --- full abatement of 53 years of schizophrenia in 70-yo patient after 21 days in ketosis, University of Virginia --- KD and brain trauma (hey, military veterans), Mary Newport, MD, KD and reversal in Alzheimers; Columbia and Oxford, trials in Parkinson's Disease; some hospital in Italy --- remission of glioblastoma multiforma post-surgery... It is an amazing mood lifter, too: so all ya'll depressed people who do not have diabetes Type I, maybe look into it!

Any good resources for guidance on this?
Also, the internets. ;) Vegan ketogenic folk are out there. And they'll both probably respond to you.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
5/31/13 7:40 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
Some Guy:
The point of view I put forward is based on reading about research.


No it wasn't - at least not the content in the link you provided. That's why I responded with the request to keep things practical.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
5/31/13 7:46 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Check out maybe the Drs Eades' cookbook, but basically think tofu and eggs where there would be meat....


Thanks, I'll check that out. Sounds gross, but I'll check it out. emoticon

Somewhere else on the DhO I've listed a bunch of recent studies or academic reports of the KD: Duke University --- full abatement of 53 years of schizophrenia in 70-yo patient after 21 days in ketosis, University of Virginia --- KD and brain trauma (hey, military veterans), Mary Newport, MD, KD and reversal in Alzheimers; Columbia and Oxford, trials in Parkinson's Disease; some hospital in Italy --- remission of glioblastoma multiforma post-surgery... It is an amazing mood lifter, too: so all ya'll depressed people who do not have diabetes Type I, maybe look into it!


Yeah, that's wonderful and amazing. And it was originally designed to control epilepsy, right? Incredible. It also suggests this diet is powerful medicine with powerful effects, hence my concern about side effects. I'm all for people finding their own answers and experimenting, I just caution against underestimating the complexity. Folks like Chris Kresser and Paul Jaminet (from my link above) bring clinical experience to the table, which gives a unique view on how many different directions a therapy can go.

Here's another useful post from Jaminet about the effects of ultra-low carb on mucus production, which he connects to possible cancer development and other intestinal problems. Please note, he's not slamming the keto diet (nor am I). In fact, he recommends it in some cases - with caution. Since we're toeing the line with medical advice in this thread, I hope caution is welcome:

Fasting and low-carb ketogenic diets are therapeutic for various conditions. But anyone on a fast or ketogenic diet should carefully monitor eyes and mouth for signs of decreased saliva or tear production. If there is a sign of dry eyes or dry mouth, the fast should be interrupted to eat some glucose/starch. Rice is a good source. The concern is not only cancer in 15 years; a healthy mucosal barrier is also essential to protect the gut and airways against pathogens.


The idea of "safe starches" may be practical to consider in this light.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
5/31/13 11:47 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
Simon T.:
I switched to a quasi-primal diet about one year ago and eliminated grain entirely from my diet. I recommend anyone that want to improve his diet to read The Primal Blueprint. The primal diet doesn't goes as far a a keto diet and recommend about 150 grams of carbs a day which is still much lower than the 400-600 grams you get if you follow the USDA food pyramid. There is no way I go back on a diet based on grain. Now I can spend more than 24 hours without eating and not feel a drop in energy. I had that drowsiness problem on retreats because of the ridiculous amount of rice served. drowsiness is also no longer a problem at work.


I'm familiar with Mark Sisson; I read his blog sometimes.

I adopted the plan Robb Wolf laid out: did a 30-day pure Paleo introduction and have since reintroduced some cheat meals here and there, mostly so I can occasionally go out and eat with other people. I have a lot more experimenting to do yet. Starches seem to pose very little problem for me in terms of energy crashes or fat gain - unlike sugar or wheat which seem to wreak all kinds of havoc.

Have you tried a ketogenic diet? I ate relatively low carb (~70-80g/day) for a few years, but the difference between that and < 30g/day was drastic. It's like what you describe in terms of being able to go a long time without eating or fogginess, except there's a high degree of extremely crisp mental clarity. It's that enhance concentration and memory recall that I think would be a great mix with hardcore meditation in a retreat setting.


There was probably some periods when I was close to keto but not quite it. 30 grams of carbs is not a lot. This is one banana. Going keto basically mean no fruit at all. I'm going to try going keto for a few weeks.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
5/31/13 4:41 PM as a reply to Simon T..
There was probably some periods when I was close to keto but not quite it. 30 grams of carbs is not a lot. This is one banana. Going keto basically mean no fruit at all. I'm going to try going keto for a few weeks.
Whoa, whoa, whoa there fella. 30g? ho ho ho! That's like in a month, kemosabe. Read my t-e-x-t: less than 20g/per day for the first few weeks. That's like not a banana. Bonne chance, skinny. (You may want to read KD warnings, too).

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/1/13 3:51 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
I didn't get a chance to read all the forum yet, but I have an observation from reading that article posted on the last line of the initial post...

It seems that being in a kestosis state means the body would require less oxygen to create energy, due to kestone bodies (about 84% of the previously required amount of oxygen).

I'm sure this helps with Jhana or other states when the breath slows to a minimum.

Also, since people with kundalini development or advanced meditators have on occasion reported not needing as much air, it makes me wonder if there is some biological change that increases kestones in developed meditators... The increased clarity described in the opening post due to the ketogenic diet also mirrors a lot of the side effects of "enlightenment" states people frequently report!

Is their brain functioning better with a higher supply of kestone bodies?

I am VERY amateur with this stuff, so someone with knowledge would be helpful. Any doctors around?

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/1/13 2:15 AM as a reply to Lara D.
Lara D:

One aspect that I've been curious about is whether concentration practices in particularly are just different physiological reactions to hypoxia (low oxygen). For example, divers will often report a period of higher mental awareness just before slipping into a more peaceful low energy state. This may be compared with the transition from the 2nd jhana to the 3rd.


Daniel Ingram said something very similar in this thread:

Daniel Ingram:
interesting aside: when laying there in the hospital bed getting fluids i was on the monitors and i kept trying to get into something jhanic, as i find them healing, and the alarm on the bed kept going off, as my respriratory rate would go below 3/minute at times and generally stayed around 7, and when it went the lowest was when i was able to get something passable as perhaps weak 3rd jhana, and then the O2 sat monitor would go off as my oxygen sat kept dropping to the high 80% range, which correlated well with the better mindstates, so one more question for the scientific journal: is hypoxia and/or hypercarbia part of the jhanic buzz?


Lara D:
Though probably unrelated, it made me wonder if perhaps that is one perk to having Zen temples up in the mountains. And a corollary would be as to why athletes often experience a sense of euphoria or calmness when in highly anaerobic states.


That must be why all the hermit wise men live on mountains, haha

APYsite.org is a spiritual yoga site and it mentions holding breath in a certain way as a way to purifying spiritual practice in the right circumstances. I wouldn't want anyone to overdo this tho, as I don't think that would do much good.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/1/13 8:53 AM as a reply to Oliver Myth.
Oliver Myth:
The increased clarity described in the opening post due to the ketogenic diet also mirrors a lot of the side effects of "enlightenment" states people frequently report!


Well, I'm not making THAT claim. I just think it grants an advantage when doing mental work (and in a relatively short period of time) that no other diet can grant. It's certainly a lot better for that kind of work than a vegetarian high-carb diet.

Is their brain functioning better with a higher supply of kestone bodies?


I read that the ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate is an isomer of gamma-hydroxybutyrate, which is a GABA(emoticon agonist. This is possibly the pathway by means of which the ketogenic diet affects cognition and mood. (No, I have not managed to date rape myself on this diet ... yet.)

That should be a letter B after GABA up there.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/2/13 8:06 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Diet and meditation makes for a very interesting research subject.

I have been going through a gut disease of some kind (maybe IBS, maybe something else, still doing tests on that) for the last couple of years, though only recently I have concluded that it was a gut disease and started doing medical exams and changing my diet and so on.

After about 9 months of experimenting with different things, I have been feeling much better for a month or so, in fact better than I have felt in years! It seems mostly due to changing my diet: I currently eat roughly 700-1000g of meat/fish, 300-600g of high-carb vegetables such as potatoes and squash, and 400g+ of low-carb vegetables such as salads and zucchini, plus plenty of (good) fat. I don't eat grains or sugars or legumes and a few other things which I seem to be intolerant to (there were many such things to discover, and this is why it took me so long).

The difference that a reasonably-working gut makes in my meditative ability is dramatic. I used to have great difficulty in concentrating, including disturbing fight-or-flight thoughts, mild anxiety, fatigue, restlessness, belly pain, back pain, etc, etc, etc, which has now been mostly gone for 5-6 weeks. But all it takes is for me to eat the wrong kind of thing and for a couple of days my condition regresses to the mess it was before.

And, looking back, I can see that many of my difficulties and anguishes in the distant past could well have been made worst by the kinds of food I was eating back then. And it is fascinating to see how something as common as sugar can be so powerfully addictive!



Sometimes the hardcore attitude and culture made it seem, to me, that all it takes is enough persistence and willpower to successfully progress along the path. Perhaps this is true, but it is besides the point. There are many factors that influence how my mind works, such as what I eat and whether I am sick or healthy. Willpower and persistence themselves are dependent on these factors, and are eroded by bad health, so they are not root causes of good progress, but instead they are brought about and nourished by the right conditions.

Funny how that suddenly sounds a bit like dependent origination. If I knew all along how good an influence a proper diet would be, I would have applied it promptly and maybe suffered much less over the past few years... so one could say I was ignorant. Not sure I'm not over-stretching the reach of DO, at this point, so I'll just shut up.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/2/13 9:59 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
Some Guy:
The point of view I put forward is based on reading about research.


No it wasn't - at least not the content in the link you provided. That's why I responded with the request to keep things practical.


See the references in Jaminet's post.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/3/13 7:04 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
Some Guy:
Fitter Stoke:
Some Guy:
The point of view I put forward is based on reading about research.


No it wasn't - at least not the content in the link you provided. That's why I responded with the request to keep things practical.


See the references in Jaminet's post.


Sorry, Jason, but I did look over those, and I just don't see the relevance. Perhaps when you said "benefits you're looking for" you meant benefits other than the concentration ones I described in the OP. But unless you condescend and explain to this poor, ignorant yogi what you mean, I'll only be left guessing at what could have been the justification for that statement. Ketosis doesn't make me psychic after all. ;-)

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/3/13 7:14 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
The relevance is about side-effects. The research is in the footnotes. I'm not sure what you mean about condescending, or why you feel insulted as an ignorant yogi. This isn't personal. Not everything has to be a tit for tat. If it's not relevant to you, ignore it.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/3/13 7:41 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
Diet and meditation makes for a very interesting research subject.

I have been going through a gut disease of some kind (maybe IBS, maybe something else, still doing tests on that) for the last couple of years, though only recently I have concluded that it was a gut disease and started doing medical exams and changing my diet and so on.

After about 9 months of experimenting with different things, I have been feeling much better for a month or so, in fact better than I have felt in years! It seems mostly due to changing my diet: I currently eat roughly 700-1000g of meat/fish, 300-600g of high-carb vegetables such as potatoes and squash, and 400g+ of low-carb vegetables such as salads and zucchini, plus plenty of (good) fat. I don't eat grains or sugars or legumes and a few other things which I seem to be intolerant to (there were many such things to discover, and this is why it took me so long).

The difference that a reasonably-working gut makes in my meditative ability is dramatic. I used to have great difficulty in concentrating, including disturbing fight-or-flight thoughts, mild anxiety, fatigue, restlessness, belly pain, back pain, etc, etc, etc, which has now been mostly gone for 5-6 weeks. But all it takes is for me to eat the wrong kind of thing and for a couple of days my condition regresses to the mess it was before.

And, looking back, I can see that many of my difficulties and anguishes in the distant past could well have been made worst by the kinds of food I was eating back then. And it is fascinating to see how something as common as sugar can be so powerfully addictive!



Sometimes the hardcore attitude and culture made it seem, to me, that all it takes is enough persistence and willpower to successfully progress along the path. Perhaps this is true, but it is besides the point. There are many factors that influence how my mind works, such as what I eat and whether I am sick or healthy. Willpower and persistence themselves are dependent on these factors, and are eroded by bad health, so they are not root causes of good progress, but instead they are brought about and nourished by the right conditions.

Funny how that suddenly sounds a bit like dependent origination. If I knew all along how good an influence a proper diet would be, I would have applied it promptly and maybe suffered much less over the past few years... so one could say I was ignorant. Not sure I'm not over-stretching the reach of DO, at this point, so I'll just shut up.


This is something I've developed a lot of interest in over the past year. I had started meditating awhile after I switched to the Slow Carb Diet, so I was surprised at how I felt for those 9 days on retreat with the energy fluctuations. And once again I was surprised by how much things changed when I meditated during my ketosis experiment.

Hormones make a big difference to this practice. At the very least, you don't want to have to work against them. But could they be optimized for even better meditation? For even more rapid progress in concentration and insight? It's a tantalizing possibility.

I'm really glad to hear about your success treating IBS. It seems like people sometimes go longer with it than you did before discovering that prolamins are the culprits. I don't have any particular digestive issues that I know about, but even I was surprised by how differently I felt doing Robb Wolf's 30 day paleo challenge, which is very similar to what you describe, and how suddenly that went away when I ate a sandwich after the challenge was over.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/3/13 7:52 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
Some Guy:
The relevance is about side-effects. The research is in the footnotes. I'm not sure what you mean about condescending, or why you feel insulted as an ignorant yogi. This isn't personal. Not everything has to be a tit for tat. If it's not relevant to you, ignore it.


Chill, dude

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/7/13 7:12 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
HI Fitter,

I'd like to add if you run this experiment that a group might also just follow the Theravadan precept on eating before noon.

Having done several ketogenic cycles (including vegetarian and vegan versions) I find in daily life that just not eating solid food after even as late as 4 p.m. has great bodily and mental effects-- clean skin, happier mind/joints, calmer state. It did take me a few days to lose mental craving/nagging around eating in the evening.

On retreat, keeping to one meal a day I've found to be very useful.

Between a) ketogenic diet and b) simply eating whatever is available (carbs are usually cheap and abundant) but with giving the stomach plenty of empty time per day, the eating restraint is my preferred as it allows for a full range of whatever is available to eat and the reduction in eating frequency causes a calmer mind and body (I get plenty of physical work done, too). It also helps cultivate understanding of others and, generally, action arising from mental craving.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/7/13 11:26 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:

Between a) ketogenic diet and b) simply eating whatever is available (carbs are usually cheap and abundant) but with giving the stomach plenty of empty time per day, the eating restraint is my preferred as it allows for a full range of whatever is available to eat and the reduction in eating frequency causes a calmer mind and body (I get plenty of physical work done, too). It also helps cultivate understanding of others and, generally, action arising from mental craving.


How do (a) and (b) compare, in your experience, in terms of benefits (and side effects, if any)?

I have been trying to eat all my meals within 6 hours, but I find the night cravings to be a bit difficult to ignore (I have about 25% success ratio so far). You say your (b) regime is you don't eat solid stuff after 4pm, does that mean you eat, say, soup, or yoghurt?

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/8/13 12:50 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
The scheme I outlined -- lots of fat and protein before the carbs -- slows the digestion enough that night cravings simply aren't an issue. Sometimes (about once a week) I just haven't been able to pack enough food into the morning meal and get actually hungry. Then I have a small second meal.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/8/13 7:51 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:
HI Fitter,

I'd like to add if you run this experiment that a group might also just follow the Theravadan precept on eating before noon.

Having done several ketogenic cycles (including vegetarian and vegan versions) I find in daily life that just not eating solid food after even as late as 4 p.m. has great bodily and mental effects-- clean skin, happier mind/joints, calmer state. It did take me a few days to lose mental craving/nagging around eating in the evening.

On retreat, keeping to one meal a day I've found to be very useful.

Between a) ketogenic diet and b) simply eating whatever is available (carbs are usually cheap and abundant) but with giving the stomach plenty of empty time per day, the eating restraint is my preferred as it allows for a full range of whatever is available to eat and the reduction in eating frequency causes a calmer mind and body (I get plenty of physical work done, too). It also helps cultivate understanding of others and, generally, action arising from mental craving.


Katy,

It would be interesting to compare performance between the following two scenarios:

1. Not eating after 12.

2. Not eating before 12.

The situations are the same in that you're eating in an 8 hr window (assuming you're up around 5 in the first case), but in my experience, the second situation is a lot easier to adapt to. It's easier to not eat than to stop eating. Right?

I might do a retreat at a monastery this summer. Not sure what the eating schedule for retreatants is like yet, but perhaps I'll have a chance to experiment with no eating after 12 and can report something.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/8/13 7:53 AM as a reply to fivebells ..
fivebells .:
The scheme I outlined -- lots of fat and protein before the carbs -- slows the digestion enough that night cravings simply aren't an issue. Sometimes (about once a week) I just haven't been able to pack enough food into the morning meal and get actually hungry. Then I have a small second meal.


Yeah that's what concerns me, at least in a retreat setting. It's easy to eat less frequently when you're eating tons of fat, but that's not what they serve on retreat.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/8/13 10:48 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
[temporarily removed: let me see if I can't edit this down. I totally agree with some of C C C's points about succinctness in another thread.... so una momenta por favor...]

Okay, Bruno,

Part of my answer to what you've asked is in reply to "Fitter Stroke" and regards an outcome of meditative practices.

The basic answer to your question about what is the difference between a ketogenic diet (including vegetarian and vegan ketogenic plans) is that there's a clear, rapid shift in KD (a few days) when the brain goes from nagging/craving sugar fuels and when the brain switches its source of energy to fat burning. It takes about seven days for the process to become calm and the sugar craving to complete.

Both diets clear the skin (well, I noticed that a meat ketogenic diet created acne and kind of a strong urine smell, maybe ammonia-like) and seem to reduce fat --- that is when the time-restrained eating happens well before bedtime. See below post to "Fitter".

If I have any sense that I'm getting sick I usually switch to vegan or ovo-ketogenic diet.

There are lots of studies or reports on ketogenic diet: Alzheimer's (Newport, MD), Parkinson's (Oxford), brain trauma (UVA), seizure (Johns Hopkins), schizophrenia (Duke), glioblastoma multiforma (Arcispedale Santa Maria Nuova). Doing a ketogenic diet is one of the first things I think of now with sickness. And when I see a person with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or some mania/mental struggle, I'm nearly certain I'm going to see someone with a bit of a gut (even if they are fit-ish) and some edema or puffiness in face or ankles; the KD dietary change can work wonders. It can be done in cycles. It can be done once then never done again, just re-set the diet thereafter --- lower the sugar, lower the brain's need to constantly surge in mini-pleasure cycles triggered by carbs. See Lyle McDonald's work, a biochemist turned bodybuilder, I think.

Anyway, Bruno, it's worth an experiment if you are not Diabetes Type I (and then it still may be worth a medically monitored experiement. I don't know.)

Be aware that the brain will look for other surges of pleasure during the transition time from sugar to fat-burned fuel; pleasure is often whatever the brain has experienced as pleasing before, so just know to anticipate that the urge for sexual feeling may go up, or something else. Plan a lot of workouts and keep some protein shake (three flavors even) on hand always.

This is where second jhana (joy) is useful --- and how much one has really trained with it.

Both diets, in a meditative/observational context show a lot about what is sensation, what is craving and how my perception is changing perceived outcomes. Both diets afford a relative freedom of mind because one starts to see what one is/does in the context of craving.

Neither diet shows what is painful fasting, wasting, starvation. To be clear, this whole thread contains the option of food choice which is a luxury in some lives. So we don't talk much on the DhO about our individual efforts to alleviate physical pain in the world in beings, but I'd like to acknowledge that even a simple dietary food modfication and seeing how we are getting pleasure in our moment to moment, can increase one's action to support well-being in other beings.

(C C C: I think I failed the succinct test in both places! You're most welcome to help me here)

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/8/13 10:53 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Hi Fitter:



It would be interesting to compare performance between the following two scenarios:

1. Not eating after 12.

2. Not eating before 12.
The situations are the same in that you're eating in an 8 hr window (assuming you're up around 5 in the first case), but in my experience, the second situation is a lot easier to adapt to. It's easier to not eat than to stop eating. Right?


In my experience, they are very different, these two times of eating. Sleeping on an empty stomach has a huge effect on the body and mind. Clear skin and flattening stomach/released gut are two effects that become obvious in about 1-2 days. In a few days, it is obvious to others that something helpful is occurring in you.

Another effect of not eating before bed/afternoon is that blood sugars are quite different in the body, quite even, after a night of empty stomach and with regular daily meals. (Obviously diabetes type II need to really consider these changes carefully if they want to do this and I'm not sure Type I can do this without a problem. I don't know.)

I'm like other people in that going to sleep without food was fortunately unfamiliar to me and I would think and perceive how hard that was to do. That was kind of silly and a conflation of my personality (arising naturally from a certain continuity and environment) and created negative perception when there was no actual physical pain to be grumpy over.

This negative "loss" perception about not eating before bedtime/after noon can easily be remedied with basic exposure to the four jhanas --- even just the second jhana --- or just taking in non-painful actuality with friendliness.

If one is getting the benefits of a meditation practice one has eventually got to learn the difference between actual pain/painfulness, neutrality and pleasure/pleasantness: where those are occurring and where those are being synthesized by personality/personal "need", arising from an individual's sense of continuity/manipulation of continuity (personality).

But if one adds all all kinds of aversion then one is going to find all sorts of reasons to support the particular aversion.

[edit: to be clear: I am not telling anyone a best practice or what to do for themselves. I am saying that if I am investigating what I am, learning to see how thoughts, feelings, actions arise in the brain I will see a tremendous amount of pleasure recruitment being done by the brain for a chemical reward --- to the point that if I deem taking a test unpleasant then just looking at the pencil for a moment will give a slight pleasure reaction--- and I'm not even daydreaming yet, which fantasies are a huge source of chemical satisfaction). If I'm not clear about how that is happening and how that feels, it's not hard to get to the point that even dissatisfaction is created in order to create an opportunity for pleasure creation. (How different is this from the psychopath who gets pleasure directly from causing suffering? It is different, but it has proximity to a, this mind seeking pleasure without understanding it and the causes). Any developing meditation practice should be uncovering causes of pleasure and dissatification, coming to know what is actual pain, and how to make sensible choices for oneself in one's moment, how to experience great pleasure or evenness in simple sources, that freedom, that existence.]

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/8/13 11:24 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Oops, misread, delete please.

Hooray for bacon!
Answer
6/8/13 1:05 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Coming in a bit late, but wanted to add my +1 for Paleo

Im mostly very low carb, maybe under 50g. I don't really count it up, but basically have no carbs at all before dinner time and thus spend the majority of my time in ketosis (you can taste it..) and it's a brilliant. Consistent, plentiful energy for the most part except for when I very occasionally fall off the wagon and drink too much or eat a bag of fudge!

As for its effects on meditation: put it this way --my retreats this year will be at home and by myself in a rented cottage. My last one at Gaia House was horrendous. I had to sneak down the pub and have steak twice! I've never seen such watery lentils and so much strawberry jam and wholewheat toast! I honestly don't know how those people have the energy to even get out of bed... it made me quite ill..

RE: Hooray for bacon!
Answer
6/8/13 1:19 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
[quote=Nick W (aka Bagpuss)]Coming in a bit late, but wanted to add my +1 for Paleo

Im mostly very low carb, maybe under 50g. I don't really count it up, but basically have no carbs at all before dinner time and thus spend the majority of my time in ketosis (you can taste it..) and it's a brilliant. Consistent, plentiful energy for the most part except for when I very occasionally fall off the wagon and drink too much or eat a bag of fudge!

As for its effects on meditation: put it this way --my retreats this year will be at home and by myself in a rented cottage. My last one at Gaia House was horrendous. I had to sneak down the pub and have steak twice! I've never seen such watery lentils and so much strawberry jam and wholewheat toast! I honestly don't know how those people have the energy to even get out of bed... it made me quite ill..

Dude, I'm laughing my ass off. Didn't sneak a drink ... Didn't sneak a wank ... Didn't whisper to another yogi. Ran off for a ribeye, though. LOL!

Enjoy the cottage retreat. Sounds like a vast improvement. Will you be mindfully grilling while there?

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/8/13 1:57 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Katy, looks like I'll put this to the test this summer. The place I want to do the retreat only serves breakfast and lunch.

If I were inclined that way, I'd fret over this, dreading the period of adjustment as I get used to whole grains and blood sugar swings, but since I'm a good Buddhist, I won't allow myself to have expectations either way. ;-)

Edit: How funny would it be if I grilled steaks in the parking lot while there?

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/8/13 1:46 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
I've been on vacation the past week, staying with a friend of mine at his farm with his wife and small child. I didn't see my friend much the first three days I was here, and his wife has not been well. Each evening I would finish dinner and sit outside by myself, quietly watching the sunset, maybe reading some Dharma. It was like a retreat in a way, not in the sense that I was meditating a lot, but in the sense that I was starting to get into the habit of paying close attention to things. I was experiencing spiritual clarity despite not working very hard at it.

However, my friend has been around a lot in the past three days. So we spend each night sitting on the porch, drinking beer, and chewing the fat. Drinking promotes heedlessness – both heedless thought and heedless action – which makes one a lot less careful about what one is drinking and eating, so it forms a strong feedback loop. We have both been a lot less careful with our diets than we normally are. It's to be expected, since we're both on vacation, but it's interesting how quickly these things snowball and reinforce one another. I think we're going out for pizza later. ;-)

Anyway, it's clear to me why the Buddha set down rules for eating and speaking. I can perceive the impact they have on both concentration and mindfulness. I'm eager to run more experiments of this kind – once vacation is over!

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/8/13 4:28 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Anyway, it's clear to me why the Buddha set down rules for eating and speaking. I can perceive the impact they have on both concentration and mindfulness. I'm eager to run more experiments of this kind – once vacation is over!


So if we're talking about Buddha Dharma and what gets us this far with our minds, apparent staged releases from our own minds' troubles ("paths"), then I want to quote the below about meat ketogenic diets (which I have also done and which can easily be switched to vegan ketogenic meals as well as show and dispel further seeds of craving):

Dharmapada: The Rod
Translated by Venerable Ananda Maitreya, edited by Rose Kramer
(excerpt)
(...)
If one, pursuing happiness, strikes
Living Beings who also strive to live happily
With a rod or other instrument,
He will reap an unwholesome harvest.

If one pursues his own happiness,
While causing no harm to other living beings
Who also strive to live happily,
He will reap a wholesome harvest.
(...)


There is nothing prophetic or doomy here, mere causality that any sotapanna who seeks to continue can consider directly for themselves. There's quite a bit of great working material in the fetters of second and third releases ("paths"). I go at this somewhat gently knowing that it can take me months to make a change.

But anyone who's going to teach others, i.e., lead a retreat, perhaps be cautioned. The failure to be quite thorough in one's teaching (this dharma, this mirror (darshuna)) can corrupt it and send people rightly to a better teaching/teacher. If a person really thinks Dharma is great, it's worth not stopping the satipatthana at a steak.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/9/13 7:48 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
So, Fitter, I don't want to create an affront to you on this point, so please feel free to help me re-word anything in a manner that would be friendlier or more useful, if the content is considered useful at all.

I've added my comments about ketogenic diet (meat, vegetarian, vegan) for a few reasons:

1 -- I, too, came across the standard ketogenic diet and it immediately improved my health (and availed me to steady Equanimity, pre-SE),

2 -- Too much of it (meat version) seemed not great for my health and the amount of buying/eating animals wore on me, wore on how I "used" the dharma (selectively ignoring some of it, and I think this is natural and one works on these points as time goes on or right away if one is monastic)

3 -- Over time and gentle effort, I started to practice the dharma guidelines already in place for food (eat what's offered without much discrimination & eating before noon), whereas I was not mentally ready to voluntarily try these Theravadan guidelines a few years ago nor did I have the jhana trainings to apply when cravings arose (to help smooth the study of cravings).
(This transition has probably taken very nearly three years and I've taken up those changes gently, without force --- and I'm not rigid about this either or finished, I still eat most often after noon, usually till 3 or 4pm depending on my sense of/creation of other stresses --- there's lot of room for my own application of training here).

and

4 -- Because this thread proposes to take people on retreat and it would bode well for students that the teacher/guide could model at least the Theravadan dharma prescription for eating in a Thervadan-based retreat while also having the ability to coach ketogenic practitioners from a authentic and experiential place, if the teacher likes/sees merit to it (and I have often sympathized with carb-loading retreatants, but realize if they can sit through it their practice is probably more competent than mine).

I want to be clear that my responses are about how we may follow dharma guidelines where it's rewarding (jhana training, SE, etc), but then avoid dharma guidelines that are challenging. My responses are not promoting a particular diet. Eat person will see for themselves cause-and-effect in action in their well-being.


And I do want to clearly say without being insulting to your effort and intention to teach and help others, that to follow and advocate dharma for jhana, sattipathana and to speak of the many benefits of one's stream-entry/paths/training and yet to be silent/averse/negligent/ignorant on the dharma in regards to meals and one's own cravings would raise red flags, possibly for you, too. A teacher's own self-study and its reflection (dharma) can ultimately sour people's trust in that same dharma of jhanas and paths and stages of freedom by teaching before one has passed through at least gross craving. (2nd "path")


So while I relate to much of the thrill expressed in this thread about finding beneficial changes in diet having worked the ketogenic diet in several ways and several times myself, I do want to put in my two cents for any retreat teacher following/honoring the Theravadan system, to also know well and be comfy in that eating framework. There are many benefits to it and eating that way very much helps one improve the jhanas in part because one needs them to get through cravings.


Thanks for the thread.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/9/13 8:48 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
There really was no intention to "avoid" or "be silent" to your reply. I was traveling all day. :-) Nonetheless, I have no interest in veganism or the ethical debate about eating animals. Perhaps start another thread and see if anyone bites? (no pun intended)

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/9/13 8:59 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
There really was no intention to "avoid" or "be silent" to your reply. I was traveling all day. :-)
I am not referring to me. I am referring to avoiding clear instructions about eating in the dharma. That if one is guiding a retreat related to jhanas and anapanasati, vipassna --- these Theravadan practices --- it starts to show where a teacher has stopped short of the dharma trainings and promoted themselves to the a role of teaching retreat a bit early. Second path deals with, in part, gross cravings.


Nonetheless, I have no interest in veganism or the ethical debate about eating animals. Perhaps start another thread and see if anyone bites? (no pun intended)
Exactly as I have already said; I do not enter your thread to promote a diet.

What is being pointed out here is that while in your current practice you may love a meat-ketogenic diet, there are other prescriptions in the Theravadan system around eating. If you are not presently well at ease in that very basic, daily function (eating) and within that guideline (Theravadan, before noon and with the 5-precepts) should you be teaching in that system at present, preparing to guide others, or is there reason for patience with the practice until at least gross cravings are worked through as the path system provides?

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/10/13 6:46 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:
What is being pointed out here is that while in your current practice you may love a meat-ketogenic diet, there are other prescriptions in the Theravadan system around eating. If you are not presently well at ease in that very basic, daily function (eating) and within that guideline (Theravadan, before noon and with the 5-precepts) should you be teaching in that system at present, preparing to guide others, or is there reason for patience with the practice until at least gross cravings are worked through as the path system provides


But I don't care about that, either. If you do, that's fine. But just because someone's interested in meditation or experimenting with diet and meditation but doesn't want to practice exactly as an Iron Age contemplative would doesn't make them inconsistent, especially when they never expressed a desire or interest in practicing within the rules of a religious system in the first place.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
2/7/14 3:36 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Bearded avatar, "Fitter Stroke" alias,

That your immediate reply last night was removed and re-considered is appreciated.

When one is writing things like, "Chill, dude" as in reply to "Some Dude", the instinct of untamed hostility and impulsiveness is telegraphing.

A teacher is known by whatever is authentically them, day in and day out; what they do sincerely becomes known and mimicked by their students (naive and hungry aspirants are as abundant as the condition of dukkha), or these same untamed impulses become the target for people who can identify a teacher who makes themselves immature to the rigor of self-study.

So your actions create what you'd like mirrored by the world Dharma, etymology dharsuna, meaning mirror. (edit: I was told this by a friend, but have since looked into it and I do not think dharsuna is an etymological root of dharma, but the point of cause-and-effect is still being made here without the etymology)Do you want "Chill, dude" hostility and convenient interpretation of this rigorously studious practice mirrored in your world?

Or do you want to mirror and spread rigorous training because you would know for yourself, by exacting self-study, what is sensuality in its free, harmless and discerning form (and you would then know what is unchecked sensuality constantly becoming into being as as manipulation of lives and circumstances in order to obtain sensual gratifications, to satisfy ignorant craving)?

Bearded avatar, "Fitter Stroke" alias:
Anyway, it's clear to me why the Buddha set down rules for eating and speaking. I can perceive the impact they have on both concentration and mindfulness. I'm eager to run more experiments of this kind – once vacation is over!
It is this quote that calls up what is the focus of your sincerity: easy convenience or rigor with self-study through meditation?

When is a rule in dharma something you welcome as having perceptible impact on your concentration and mindfulness, to use your words, and when is a rule in dharma something you "never expressed a desire or interest in practicing within the rules of a religious system in the first place"?

"Fitter stroke", announcing yourself to be "a good buddhist" perhaps you are familiar with the Quail Simile that deals so easily with this issue of food and when sensuality are functioning as fetters, with students who are making a mountain out of a molehill in regards to the training in sensuality?

In the Quail simile apparent aspirant recoil from the training around meal timing and other five restraints on sensuality:
"In the same way, Udayin, there are some clansmen who, when I tell them, 'Abandon this,' say: 'Why does the Blessed One have us abandon this? Why does the One Well-gone have us relinquish this petty, elementary thing?' But they abandon it and are not rude to me or to the monks keen on training. Having abandoned it, they live unconcerned, unruffled, their wants satisfied, with their mind like a wild deer. For them that's a weak snare, a feeble snare, a rotting snare, an insubstantial snare.

This sutta goes on to speak of the jhana training and discernment around sensuality.

Sensuality is half of the material to be studied for those interested in second and third paths. Hostility the other half.

When sensuality is tethered to craving, it loses its luster and phenomena become just the stumps for addiction and gratification of craving. When sensuality arises without the fetter of craving, all things that come to the senses have vibrancy and brilliance on the senses. The senses are then free birds, not in cooped and tense and needy.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/10/13 8:33 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Katy, it seems that you're reading an intention into what I said that wasn't there.

While I appreciate your passion and sincerity, this just isn't a topic I'm interested to discuss as much as you are.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/10/13 10:25 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
While I appreciate your passion and sincerity, this just isn't a topic I'm interested to discuss as much as you are.

You might discuss the topic a little then. Not as much.

Katy, it seems that you're reading an intention into what I said that wasn't there.


What I have read is that you'd like
:The experiment I'd like to do is to take two groups on retreat, feed one of them the usual vegetarian slop and feed the other ones steak and eggs and then see how easily they're able to access and remain in jhana based upon their self-reports and the evaluations of the teachers.


and
If anyone would like to try an N of 1 experiment on this, please let me know your results.


and your introduction as "a good buddhist", and your appreciation for your teacher:
Anyway, it's clear to me why the Buddha set down rules for eating and speaking. I can perceive the impact they have on both concentration and mindfulness.


and your recoil from your teacher's own guidelines on food:
But just because someone's interested in meditation or experimenting with diet and meditation but doesn't want to practice exactly as an Iron Age contemplative would doesn't make them inconsistent, especially when they never expressed a desire or interest in practicing within the rules of a religious system in the first place.


So in this thread you present your desire to take on retreatants and advocate the methods of your teacher while dismissing his instructions on meals as something archaic despite the commentary (Quail Simile, MN 66) attributed to him on just this kind of student who stops their investigation when the study involves craving. This dismissal is natural behavior of an addict.

This is what craving-gratification (addiction) does: its protect its interests with anything including coy dismissal and diversions as well as open hostility.

It is why ill-will and sensual craving are paired in the path model: they come together, one protecting the other.

That is okay for a practitioner working through the path models for themselves, totally natural even. It is not the material of an authentically, naturally inspiring teacher or care-taker of retreatants.
[edit: The dietary experiment is a great start though and can encourage others to explore that same. As I said, I regularly mention some version of ketogenic diet to people who are ill and not diabetic Type I. Such modifications (as with juicing, raw foods, and other reduced dietary plans) help a person start to see the body and the mind interactions, a tangled yarn of influences, and to take up their own study of this. Tthe knowledge you obtain in this is practical and is practical for others to know and consider for themselves. However, to resist your teacher's own instructions on meals points to the practitioner's mind and has consequences in terms of their ability to develop their goal, if the so-called paths are their goal --- especially in terms of the work of 2nd and 3rd paths and their focus on craving and hostility (hostility protects craving and manipulative use of the senses).]

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/10/13 12:31 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
This is also the sort of conversation that would probably do much better in person. Here words can cauterize too much of what is naturally exchanged and fluid in person.


So if I could leave it at one point, Fitter, is that the ketogenic diet is not new (people even call it "paleo" in reference to its potential long history). You might trust that your teacher, the buddha, probably knew much about dietary modifications, and learned another way, and what are said to be his prescriptions were written down. You might consider then your teacher's guidelines with your retreatants.


Also, from experience I know that while carbs can cause sluggishness, a ketogenic diet can cause excitability/excess zeal/hubris. It has benefits that arise and pass away leaving one still dealing with mental struggles, old age, sickness, death. It does quickly and clearly show craving and reveal the addict mind of a "normal" person. That was my experience. It was useful to run these ketogenic trials (meat, vegetarian, vegan-style).

One meal midday is also excellent, plenty. Has excellent benefits in life and meditative practice/hobby in regards to fetters associated with what's called second and third path in the Theravadan model.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/10/13 12:39 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
I know Katy's obsession with sensuality and ill-will is a bit peculiar and counter-productive in this context, but I really appreciate the emphasis she's been putting on it lately. It has been a useful guide in my own practice.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/10/13 1:05 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
Hi Fivebells,

How's your sangha going? I was in your area recently but couldn't get the DhOmessaging system to work (lacked patience to wait a day...) and so I could not look you and yours up to drop by.

Anyway, what you call obsession is what I'd call focus on the fetters of the paths. Second and third path work hostility and craving through a person; jhana skill becomes an excellent friend.

It takes new forms of discipline to come through to having free, harmless (indeed excellent) sensuality without the ugliness of craving, to enjoy sensuality safely without harming/using others.

"Fitter Stroke" claimed in December to have entered all four third path*** (RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
12/21/12 2:12 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.)
; that is okay to for him to say, but in this thread Fitter's reactivity to being queried (not just to me) and his resistance to his teacher's own eating prescriptions (referring to it as apt for an Iron Age contemplative versus what his own accomplished teacher is attributed therein) suggests that there is a good bit of the second path work outstanding: hostility and sensual/sense-based craving. Both untamed. Both bound. Senses not free nor harmless.

I say this also reflecting on myself, my own efforts and how we help each other through candor and sharing here.

Many people drop into these post. "Dharma" is said to come from "mirror" -- we are literally creating our worlds like mirrors of our selves at every thought and feeling. One has to see the causality of choices and addiction. If Fitter's teacher, the buddha, did not prescribe a flesh-ketogenic diet, why not? Why did he prescribe what he did?

I think it is very apt to challenge/query a third path claimant on his actual life. As it is, using a alias raises the possibility that one is talking online differently than one is living. ***So we may read our posts carefully to see what one is saying and doing.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/10/13 1:41 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
fivebells .:
I know Katy's obsession with sensuality and ill-will is a bit peculiar and counter-productive in this context, but I really appreciate the emphasis she's been putting on it lately. It has been a useful guide in my own practice.


Yeah.

I'll be the first to admit that I sometimes fail to express myself the way I should, but I'm not sure ranting and quoting scripture at people on the internet is what I'd consider a viable alternative.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/10/13 1:59 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
So Fitter, are you waiting for retreat support to apply your skills to your teacher's own recommendations on eating (there are many benefits to see in the first day and night), or do you have this skill now to see what is the mind, the senses and craving by following your teacher even here?


When you write:
Anyway, it's clear to me why the Buddha set down rules for eating and speaking. I can perceive the impact they have on both concentration and mindfulness. I'm eager to run more experiments of this kind – once vacation is over!

and
but I'm not sure ranting and quoting scripture at people on the internet is what I'd consider a viable alternative.
who is ranting? Do you consider being reminded of your teacher's own stories (Quail Simile, MN 66) off mark? This sutta of your teacher's deals well with the personal loss associated arising with craving and craving's impact on concentration and mindfulness, nibbana. These are your teacher's ideas. Does he rant?

Without passing through craving, the senses spread untempered neediness manipulating circumstances and others for their satisfaction (such as becoming addicted to/zealous a diet fad) and constructing hostility to protect the gratification of craving.

There is a great deal to actually enjoy in the senses, harmless and rich, when they are not so gummed up and using others.

This doesn't take jhana, but for one who is averse to dealing with craving, jhana helps, because one can flood the brain with pleasure on the breath alone in order to temper the study of and passing through of craving. A second path thing.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/10/13 2:09 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:
Anyway, what you call obsession is what I'd call focus on the fetters of the paths. Second and third path work hostility and craving through a person; jhana skill becomes an excellent friend.


Yes, and I am obviously still struggling with this myself, and I appreciate your recent focus on it. It has informed my practice in useful ways. Somehow sensuality is less of a threat to my practice than ill-will. I am a hell-realm being from way back so it ought to come as no surprise, but it is annoyingly perverse.

katy steger:
How's your sangha going? I was in your area recently but couldn't get the DhOmessaging system to work (lacked patience to wait a day...) and so I could not look you and yours up to drop by.


I think the class went very well. My wife and I left the area for a few months to help out some in-laws, and we are moving back to the vicinity in late June. I got a gentle reproof from the leader of the Binghamton Buddhist group for not working with them more while I was away so I will have to get in touch with them, this time. Probably teach another class or two, it was a blast.

Yes, the messaging system is terribly slow and annoying. I'm pretty sure the javascript for it was not designed for such a large membership list. The repeated calls to addUserToList cause the startup time for the messaging page to increase quadratically with the number of users, because addUserToList scans the existing list for duplicates for some reason. Not sure why it works this way.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/11/13 11:31 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Sorry katy, your post, despite clearly written, did not answer my questions very clearly. Let me number them out:

1) As I understand it, you have tried two different diets, (a) being a ketogenic diet, and (b) a non-ketogenic diet where you have no food past 4pm, and maybe (c) a ketogenic diet where you had no food after 4pm. Is this correct?

2) You claim that (a, b) and (c) benefit your meditation practice, correct? How so, in what ways? Is your concentration better? How about your energy, strength, endurance, fatigue, amount of sleep required, mindfulness, etc?

3) Besides the benefits, do these diets suffer any disadvantages?

4) How does (a) compare to (b) in terms of which benefits and disadvantages you get? Do you feel that (a) is more powerful/beneficial, or is (b) just as good? Is (c) better than either (a) and (b) done in isolation, or are there diminished returns?

Thanks :-)

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/12/13 4:44 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Hi Bruno,

1) As I understand it, you have tried two different diets, (a) being a ketogenic diet, and (b) a non-ketogenic diet where you have no food past 4pm, and maybe (c) a ketogenic diet where you had no food after 4pm. Is this correct?

The dietary modifications I have done are a little different than your a, b and c delineations.

I've done the following a few times in the past three years:
a) three forms of ketogenic diet (KD): meat, vegetarian and vegan
b) one-meal-at-midday (not KD)
c) meals before 4pm (not KD)

b) and c) have I think grossly the same effect. I'll call that early-meal-timing (EMT, let's say)

I think if I combined KD and EMT, I think there might be some muscle wasting. KD needs to have a lot of regular, little doses of protein in my experience. So I haven't really done your "c", except for here and there.

I apply dietary shifts (KD, EMT) and carb loading at different times of the month now. It's become very natural and fluid. Some shift are predictable; like a little carb-loading around female cycle and KD after the cycle. That seems very natural.

4) How does (a) compare to (b) in terms of which benefits and disadvantages you get? Do you feel that (a) is more powerful/beneficial, or is (b) just as good? Is (c) better than either (a) and (b) done in isolation, or are there diminished returns?
I always share the effects of the KD with people I know and I'm enthusiastic about KD because it can completely uncover an upbeat happy personality and acheless body (or ache-reduced body) that's been swamped by too many carbs for too many years. For me years of Lyme infection and treatment were brought to an end when I used the KD; so I have a strong appreciation for it. There are lots of medical reports of its application and benefit beyond the seizure control for which it was established 100 years ago.

I also recommend people consider it because it is a form of elimination diet: a person can really see how their body fares without some foods and what happens with the reintroduction of those foods. This is very useful.

Ketogenic diets need to be done in isolation for at least a week and I think one gets to see their complete merit in about a month. The change can be drastic. Like Nick and Fitter noted, lunch coma goes away and this has a huge effect on work and study life.

After four weeks, I think one will not see new improvements, but may have some vitamin deficiencies. That's an area of debate. Me, I just take a vitamin supplement.


3) Besides the benefits, do these diets suffer any disadvantages?
A ketogenic diet is replacing one source of craving (sugars) with another (proteins).

So an early-meal-timing diet (EMT) works directly on one's issues with craving and cultivating self-discipline and contentment, and a KD plan can't really do that: if one ignores protein cravings on the KD one can set themselves up for wasting.

2) You claim that (a, b) and (c) benefit your meditation practice, correct? How so, in what ways? Is your concentration better? How about your energy, strength, endurance, fatigue, amount of sleep required, mindfulness, etc?
So any dietary change develops concentration because one has to deliberately counteract the relentless firing of the brain that is firing signals to ask for past chemical set-points. In inducing the KD and in EMT diet, the brain is firing off lots and lots of "requests" per second to ask that its blood sugar set-points be met. It takes lots and lots of counter thoughts to not act on those "requests" for a few days as blood sugar set-points lower, establish a new (lower) normal. So that's concentration: one is just applying constant counter-thoughts to brain firings until a new normal is achieved. That's my perception of it.

While setting a new normal in relation to food and the brain's set-points, one becomes really, really aware that there are many, many, many little ways (distractions) by which the brain gets cycles of pleasure to buffer its sense of stress.

Now taking this to cushion one gets very interesting results. The first two days of a retreat the brain is deprived of thousands of little pleasure tweaks it makes all day long and on top of it the brain is re-setting its blood sugar due to EMT retreat diet and further the person...well, it's normal to have a stress narrative around that whole package. So the first days of retreat seem like hell for the brain.

So sitting on the cushion the first few days is a lesson in brain's ability to recruit pleasure in a form of triage. First, there's day dreaming. A good day-dreaming mind can make a person look like a "good" meditator because one can get so enveloped in a story and sit still due to that story envelopment.

So then we might limit the day dreaming. What will the brain do now in a boring old seated posture hour after hour with no apparent way to recruit pleasure till lunch? Well, aha, energy starts to collect in the groin. That's not the effect of posture or we'd never teach sitting cross-legged to grade schoolers --- cross-legged sitting would have pornographic status, if it were inherently sexual; that arousal is just one result of the brain on a very systematic hunt for its getting pleasure chemistry no matter what situation it's in. So, hey, the hands are only a few inches above the groin... and voila, sexual craving is coming up. If there's only physical reaction, one can move one's hands to one's knees and this will help reduce the focus in conjunction with mental effort to go back to anapanasati (or whatever is the object). But if the brain is allowed a daydreaming component to the sexual arousal: what happens is fascinating --- the brain creates a hunger to be touched and then creates a sense of outer energy in the cloak of daydream form --- say the cute guy across the meditation hall or something --- and then the mind keeps bringing that sense of outer energy up to one's own body (the classic vipassana make-out daydream) and, voila, the body is just alert, aroused, upright and sort of heightening its sense of sexual pleasure everywhere all because the mind knows full well it can make some pleasure circuitry happen out of thin air, like creating a sense of separate and outer energy, cloaking it in a sexual form, and then imagining that imagery approaching oneself again and again. So the mind can create these states of yearning, dissatisfaction and gratification in thin air.

Hence 2nd jhana. One creates pleasure and saturates the brain out of thin air (on the breath)).

It's amazing and it's the same thing that happens in what one learns in mindfulness of diet. It's just that the sexual component offers the brain a much bigger pleasure cycle than just cleaning one's desk at work as a diversion.

When the brain can't get any fantastical pleasures it will hone in on sleep as the body gets achy and the subjective stress of sitting for an hour creates an aversion to which the brain wants to respond with some pleasure. So drowsiness happens.

If the jhanas are applied the brain automatically starts with a pleasure chemistry (2nd jhana) and then we wean the brain to equanimity -- where the brain is alert and neutral. If something "interesting" happens in fourth jhana, it can seem like nothing special until what pleasure hunting organ in the brain gets wind of it and starts saying, "let's have that experience again" and the brain assigns that experience a value and teaches itself that that event is a source of pleasure. So then we have to deal with an arising and passing away loop again, re-flood the brain with 2nd jhana and, again, slowly let the mind go to fourth jhana. When we just let the brain's sense of "That's a source of pleasure! What's that!!!" pass, the brain naturally diminishes the pleasure chemistry and fourth jhana naturally extends and becomes a more stable place, free of mental gradients induced by "I". This is my perception of what's happening, anyway.

That's how I sense it anyway. And so food modification is amazing for affecting meditation, by training alone.
KD will make sitting more alert, but remain food-vigilant; EMT will pass through lunch coma but help a person develop contentment and understand what is "defeating" craving-mind.

SLEEP: EMT and KD are sort of equal. Less sleep is needed, sleep is more restful. If I go to bed by 10. then I might naturally wake up at 2 or 3 and sit and that's a nice loose time for the mind.

Strength, endurance, stamina: On KD diet I have very little explosive energy and my stamina and strength are directly related to last intake of protein. Carbs on the other hand provide a powerful source of fuel for many hours. So I can eat EMT-style and still do heavy yard work in the evening. KD provides even energy but depends on very regular KD food intake.

Social: carbs have a calming effect (too many can be depressive) so eating carby meals with friends (like pizza and beer), it's just clear everyone is satisified and mellow. Eating KD with friends, there's just a constant tension/alertnes...even after steak and eggs or tofu and avacados. KD has kind of a jittery effect. So that lo-carb beer takes on the status of a god.


I re-wrote this several times and from several ways. It's hard to avoid a long answer. I recommend people consider a KD diet (meat or vegetarian or vegan versions) so that they can see for themselves how huge a difference it makes in who they think they are: personality and body make big shifts in a mere week. For meditative retreatants, it'd be fine to do, but I highly recommend the teacher/guide also know well why the EMT eating is used: this directly shows and treats craving, which KD can't really resolve because there's a wasting effect to pass through craving without satisfying it.


What do you think, Bruno? Does that help? Make sense?


[edit: typos because I continue to be unmindful of words; should really train that now...]

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/13/13 8:28 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
(As aside for people curious in the ketogenic diet:

One thing people ask me is "Will this interact with by XYZ drug? My cholesterol... my anti-XYZ?"

This is a challenging question. I don't know. Not many people do. We're still kind of in early years with "simple" things like CYP450 and other CYP metabolizers, how the blood brain barrier is affected by yadayadayada.. and so on. And animals are usually used and thrown away to discover the answers (actually, limited parameters and freak-out warnings) to this. Not cool.

But there's an easy answer:
Before starting a ketogenic diet, I'd consider the evidence of the TV show "The Biggest Loser" and just start to really exercise. Also yank bread and rice from the diet. That's huge already. Get a check up and see if your meds are still needed... see what well-being one feels from just that. Consider that the ketogenic diet is kind of extreme and the only people who really adhere to it long-term are folks with seizures that don't resolve with anti-convulsive meds.

That said, all you DhO doctors and health care providers, just as Fitter would love to see it applied to a retreat trial (and I think his would be useful experiment in conjunction with good leadership in the midday eating Theravadan standard and clear, experiential and repeated understanding of the effects of both), I'd love to see it applied to a war-PTSD trial and head trauma and violent personality disorder/phases. UVA seems to have the most data there so far. Thread hijacked emoticon (kinda...))

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/16/13 12:01 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Yes Katy, thank you, I am experiencing with "EMT" right now, will report later.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
6/16/13 1:07 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Okay, well, best luck with it. emoticon Again, there are values in "both" eating modifications, in my opinion and experience.

The Theravadan model focuses a person directly on craving-aversion and the ketogenic diet (meat, vegetarian and vegan) shows one a real physical component to personality and change in wellness but has some limitation to dealing with craving-aversion due to its switch from one craving (carbs) to another (proteins) and its dependency on responding to feeding craving to prevent wasting. The early meal timed modification (Theravadan: finish eating at noon) does not risk wasting if one ignores craving and eats one's good midday or before-midday meal(s).

For me, it's easy to forget that what gets a person into meditation and associated studies (either the Vedic disciplines or the theistic disciplines or the secular/health disciplines) is one's personal "dark night of the soul"/dukkha and how it dominates one's life. So one gets to the point of sincerely applying a discipline because one is so fed up with the alternative of doing more of the same.

But if the brain experiences as a result of the discipline a release such that life has some wonderful, durable changes then at some point, the urge and need to test and locate one's limits arises again. In the Theravadan model, I like (and need and benefit from) that the next training disciplines involve metta in order to examine closely sources of craving and hostility and how this can manipulate thoughts and actions (thus affecting/creating my world as some reflection of that ignorance in action).

But there's relaxing a little bit with all this striving, too, just working, visiting, having a laugh, too ;) without all the heavy training.

Good luck, Bruno. I look forward to reading you. For me, I had to do all of these several times each before I had a sense of what happens to "me" in each of them. I have no doubt that there's as much for me to learn in these as there is life left.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
4/3/14 2:59 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
this conversation is a bit old in the tooth, but I would like to add that I have been following a Keto-type diet over the last 6 weeks+ and found great improvements in a nascent concentration practice.

- I limited my carb intake to between 40-80 grams per day, and sometimes as little as 30g. I also added MCT oil to a daily coffee/green tea, which also has a ketogenic effect as far as I know.

- I am intermediate middle-age meditator who has done three retreats lasting 7-10days apiece over the last three years.

- these retreats were of the Goenka & Shinzen Young mindfulness school but I am now interested by Jhana practice.

- over the period in question, I worked full-time professional job and meditated 1-2hrs daily. I have two young girls and a wife at home but this did interfere with my practice.

- I found it relatively easy to reach a level of nimitta similar to peak retreat levels and often had experiences I can only describe as ekagatta and suka. At one lunchtime yoga class I noticed being gently bathed in white lights when I closed my eyes.

- After six weeks I have raised my carb levels. This has made me quite happy in my everyday life but my concentration appears to have suffered.

- I have not finished my investigation but am ready to conclude that low-carb is good for meditation (and mental clarity). I am back on low-carbs today, ready to convert to a low-carb lifestyle and reap the benefits!

Alex

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
4/3/14 3:02 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
hi Fitter,

to let you know I just posted on the Keto message that you began in 2013. Are you interested in continuing the convo?

Alex

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
4/6/14 9:37 AM as a reply to Rednaxela.
Alex L.:
this conversation is a bit old in the tooth, but I would like to add that I have been following a Keto-type diet over the last 6 weeks+ and found great improvements in a nascent concentration practice.

- I limited my carb intake to between 40-80 grams per day, and sometimes as little as 30g. I also added MCT oil to a daily coffee/green tea, which also has a ketogenic effect as far as I know.

- I am intermediate middle-age meditator who has done three retreats lasting 7-10days apiece over the last three years.

- these retreats were of the Goenka & Shinzen Young mindfulness school but I am now interested by Jhana practice.

- over the period in question, I worked full-time professional job and meditated 1-2hrs daily. I have two young girls and a wife at home but this did interfere with my practice.

- I found it relatively easy to reach a level of nimitta similar to peak retreat levels and often had experiences I can only describe as ekagatta and suka. At one lunchtime yoga class I noticed being gently bathed in white lights when I closed my eyes.

- After six weeks I have raised my carb levels. This has made me quite happy in my everyday life but my concentration appears to have suffered.

- I have not finished my investigation but am ready to conclude that low-carb is good for meditation (and mental clarity). I am back on low-carbs today, ready to convert to a low-carb lifestyle and reap the benefits!

Alex


Hi Alex,

I think it's useful you had some good experiences with the practice of meditative stabilization and mental unification while on the ketogenic diet (KD). Concentration is not at all dependent on the KD, and little by little, with practice, the mind will learn to find those conditioned mental states again. Concentration training just takes practice; it can be hard to see its benefits and hard to sustain a practice where the benefits take time to know. The KD, however, has immediate effects. Good luck with your practices. I respect that you're finding time to do this amid work and family.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
4/6/14 11:18 AM as a reply to Rednaxela.
Alex L.:
this conversation is a bit old in the tooth, but I would like to add that I have been following a Keto-type diet over the last 6 weeks+ and found great improvements in a nascent concentration practice. ..... I have not finished my investigation but am ready to conclude that low-carb is good for meditation (and mental clarity). I am back on low-carbs today, ready to convert to a low-carb lifestyle and reap the benefits!


Yep, that's my experience too for the last three months. Recently I included more carbs meals per week, with no significant impact on concentration (and aversion/clinging too!). Maybe it's just a matter of how long you stay with the diet. And probably there could be more changes if keeping it long enough.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
4/7/14 3:03 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Katy,

Thanks for your reply. This is my first conversation on the Dharmaoverground!

I guess I agree that KD is not necessary for good concentration, just different. In some ways I find that I feel a lot bouncier and happier when I have a more carbs so meditating can be a lot of fun then.

Right now I'm a bit frustrated as I felt I was in access concentration and had good nimita showing up regularly, and felt like I was on the verge of the first jhana. And waited for it to appear. Even gave a little nudge of volition (I think). I waited some more but nothing happened and now I feel like I've fallen back a bit. My nimitta is definitely less brilliant. I had a few heavy carb days--maybe that's why?

and thanks for saying the bit about being a family guy and doing this but I actually find a lot of time to meditate with my wife taking care of our newborn and me with a 2yr old who requires a lot of sleep.

Alex

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
4/7/14 3:09 PM as a reply to PP.
Pablo,

thanks for your reply too! i'm torn between wanting to go keto again (seems healthier) and higher-carb (easier to live). I also find it interesting that men seem to do better on a ketogenic diet than women and that that my best meditations are in the morning before any carb intake.

Alex

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
4/7/14 8:28 PM as a reply to Rednaxela.
Hi Alex,

Alex
Right now I'm a bit frustrated as I felt I was in access concentration and had good nimita showing up regularly, and felt like I was on the verge of the first jhana. And waited for it to appear. Even gave a little nudge of volition (I think). I waited some more but nothing happened and now I feel like I've fallen back a bit. My nimitta is definitely less brilliant. I had a few heavy carb days--maybe that's why?


I think so. So meditating on the ketogenic diet can make for much clearer/stronger mental processes (this is not necessarily a good thing, sometimes too intense and can inflate conceit fetter, as with calorie restriction and long fasts; people may naturally feel superior when they have voluntarily overcome food craving) but also airy, restless, lost, jittery. I read that Daniel told a friend here to eat pizza after that friend ramped up his meditative stabilization effort. The pizza -- the carbs, the heavy food-- brought him back to earth. Also, as you know, nimitta (which can be very energetic) will exhaust itself and cease into counter-nimitta (which can be very slow/deep/soft or lost...)

Anywhoo, good luck. A few of us here are doing spring-KD this week emoticon and starting another plain home online retreat 4/15 together just by logging on. Drop in if it suits you: peer sentient practitioners sharing effort. Somebody will probably put up a link soon.

and thanks for saying the bit about being a family guy and doing this but I actually find a lot of time to meditate with my wife taking care of our newborn and me with a 2yr old who requires a lot of sleep.
Nice. These little ones make great anapanasati colleagues, too.

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
4/8/14 4:47 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
thanks again Katy. I would like to join you on the retreat but if not at work I am usually busy taking a 2yr to gym and goofing off. Though I hear that I may be raking dead leaves and picking up branches in the backyard after our winter ice storms here in Toronto.

I may do that Pizza thing - my wife warned me to expect a pizza afternoon near Easter. I'm actually getting hungry just thinking about it!

--> And right now i'm wondering where I can go visit some actual corpses in various stages of decay (which Wisdom Wide and Deep recommends). I guess I will have to find the right spot to post that q.

and I think I got my daughter to do her first 1 minute meditation this morning!

Best

Alex

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
4/14/14 4:06 PM as a reply to Rednaxela.
and I think I got my daughter to do her first 1 minute meditation this morning!
Sweet! With no exaggeration, I'm sure she does this better than I. little kids often don't hold on to anything, whereas older folk (me =) tend to look for stuff to happen even very subtly. Cool!

--> And right now i'm wondering where I can go visit some actual corpses in various stages of decay (which Wisdom Wide and Deep recommends). I guess I will have to find the right spot to post that q.
So a friend from this site, vijay!, just sent the our little DhO meditator group (not the only one, i think) this resource: http://keto-calculator.ankerl.com
And I got 5 more grams of carbs out of it per day. Whoohoo!

So for people doing meat, vegetarian or vegan ketogenic diet, here is the link again: http://keto-calculator.ankerl.com I've spent about 5 minutes on the site so far, enough to learn I can eat more carbs, but otherwise haven't vetted it. So if you get mad carb-free cookies and big bready carbware attacks on your computer... sorry ;)

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
4/16/14 3:53 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Katy,

my older daughter is interested amazingly but still a bit too fidgety. I will tell her stories about how we used to meditate together. Hopefully she'll grow up to enjoy meditating but I guess we'll see ...

interesting website. Thanks for sharing!

Keto is definitely the way to go. I am currently interested in the bulletproof executive website if anyone wants to discuss his high fat/low carb diet. I haven't mastered it yet but low mycotoxins from mold seems to be one of its important facets.

Alex

RE: Meditating on a Ketogenic Diet
Answer
9/19/17 2:19 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Hello there! I might be a bit late but was surfing on the internet and found this discusion to be appealing for my interests, so I hope someone will catch up. I've struggled a lot till I reached the balance with keto diet and vegetarianism - in the end I stayed on shrimps, squids and fish as "meat" input and to be honest, it works for me. Plus avocado, as I am like an addict emoticon Even started growing mine! Also, if of any help, I have been using keto calculator to balance my diet - it is perfect as I can see the numbers, calculate and manage my nutrition income. Maybe you can find something similar, I reccomend it for vegans and vegetarians! Hope I'll spark up more discussions. Martha.