Keto and Your Kidneys: The Bizarre Truth

Keto and Your Kidneys: The Bizarre Truth

Keto and Your Kidneys: The Bizarre Truth

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is the ketogenic or low-carb diet going to wreak havoc on your kidneys alright let’s address this in this video because there’s some clear-cut science that will give us the solid answer so throughout the entirety of this video I’ll be explaining how the kidneys work how blood flow to the kidneys works and how the low-carb diets and ketogenic diets actually affect us on a genetic level that could really change how we look at its overall effect on the kidneys you are tuned in to the Internet’s leading performance nutrition and fat loss channel and the occasional general health video like this one so make sure that you keep it locked in every single Tuesday Friday and Sunday when we have new videos coming out at 7 a.m. Pacific time also I want to make sure you hit that little Bell button so you can turn on notifications whenever I go live so let’s go ahead and let’s dive right into this before we talk about how the ketogenic diet actually affects the kidneys we have to talk about what the actual issue is and what people are concerned with see they’re usually concerned with one of two things okay it’s gonna be either kidney stones they think the ketogenic diet is gonna lead them to produce kidney stones and have a clogged up kidding right the other thing is they think that it’s going to change their body’s ph for the point where their urine is so acidic that’s causing all these issues and then there’s some people out there that think that you’re gonna end up with actual lesions on your kidneys because the ketogenic diet simply because of the straining of the protein so I’m gonna address all these and talk about how it works and hopefully ease your mind a little bit so that you can talk to people and explain that the ketogenic diet really isn’t harming your kidneys in fact I might even be able to give you some science that proves that it’s actually helping your kidneys so first off what is a kidney stone like what the heck is going on there see people think the kidney stones are just like the big calcification or excess protein and that’s globbing up the thing is is we all have crystals in our urine okay so every time that we use the restroom we’re flushing out a good degree of urine crystals okay these crystals that are formed in our kidneys and these crystals are formed just from different minerals the thing is these crystals never become a problem unless they end up getting consolidated and end up of course clogging us up right now in our bodies in our kidneys we have minerals and things that promote the crystallization and we have things that inhibit the crystallization and it’s always a delicate balance and when our body is in balance they cancel each other out just enough along with the dilution of enough fluid and they just pass through as crystals so crystals can only be formed in large deposits when we are either super super dehydrated and we don’t have high urine volume or we have too much in the way of crystal promoters or not enough in the way of the crystal inhibitors so this doesn’t really have a whole lot to do with keto or protein really for that matter it’s more about just making sure that you’re just getting your balance minerals in and a lot of this point honestly is determined at the genetic level more than anything else now the only link that we could potentially make with the ketogenic diet is that you can get a little bit more dehydrated when you’re on a ketogenic diet simply because the body is being told to expel water but here’s the caveat to that right okay so yeah you could be more dehydrated on a ketogenic state but the reality is you’re dehydrated because low levels of insulin tell your kidneys to expel more water so sure you’re dehydrated throughout the body but you’re actually getting more urine flow because the low levels of insulin are demanding that your kidneys flush out extra water so that’s kind of dunked right then and there now when we actually look at the protein side of things two people think that too much protein is gonna harm the kidneys not necessarily the case there’s actually some studies out there that show that protein could be good for the kidneys but we’ll save that for another day the simple fact is on a ketogenic diet you’re not eating a lot of protein you’re eating a 20% protein somewhere in that ballpark which quite honestly is usually less than what you’d eat if you weren’t on a ketogenic diet so that one’s kind of debunked so let’s go ahead and talk about what’s actually happening at a genetic level and how the ketogenic diet actually changes what are called cert genes to actually improve the life of your kidneys so there’s a study that was published in the journal kidney international took a look at nephropathy okay that’s basically where the kidney is starting to die from different causes okay and what they found is that when the kidney was dying there is usually a down regulation of certain genes okay I’m gonna summarize this and make it simple but the fact is when you’re on a ketogenic diet on a lower carb diet they found that there was an elevation in what is called the sirt1 gene okay these cert genes there’s different classifications of them cert once or 3 etc etc these are genes that dictate certain things in the function of proteins within our body so in this case the increase insert 1 genes ended up decreasing the genes that would promote the death of the kidneys so what happens in the body especially if someone that’s doing a low-carb diet is this elevation or gene expression of the cert 1 cert 3 ends up telling the body to preserve the proteins okay so basically what’s happening is the body says okay he’s deprived of glucose or he’s fasting so he’s deprived of food or deprived of glucose so it needs to start moving things from your stored tissue your stored fat tissue to be used as fuel well this signals a pathway for your body to start protecting the proteins in it so it actually allows a barrier of protection around the protein in your kidneys to preserve them because it says wait a minute this guy’s starving or wait a minute this guy doesn’t have glucose we need to do what we can to preserve the proteins so it literally activates a genetic process that saves your kidneys more and that’s what we’re finding with low-carb ketogenic diet it’s actually good for the kidneys simply at the genetic level the other thing that we have to look at is the filtering process of the kidneys okay the kidneys have a lot of little capillaries okay and they go through this filtration process it’s their job now it’s been hypothesized that when we have high levels of glucose in the blood it increases sort of the force volume increases the flow of the blood which sounds like a good thing but not when it’s in this case right we’re flowing a lot of blood through small capillaries that cause the capillaries to ultimately collapse and when they collapse they scar and this is how lesions can form within the kidneys so of course when you’re on a ketogenic diet low levels of insulin lower levels of blood glucose you’re putting yourself in an optimal state to be able to control the blood flow that’s going through this filtration part of the kidney so a very very good thing obviously now lastly I want to lean on one massive study was a meta-analysis that was published in the British Journal of nutrition okay this one took a look at over a thousand participants that were doing a low carb or ketogenic diet and what they found is that there was no link with the ketogenic diet any kind of renal function or renal impairment right there was this no issue good bad or ugly it didn’t seem to change anything and this was a made analysis that was comprised of a lot of different studies so at the end of the day stay hydrated get your sodium in get your magnesium in magnesium is sort of an anti anti Christel former and then you’re gonna be in good shape the biggest issue that’s ever going to arise is the fact that you could get dehydrated when you’re on a ketogenic diet but even then it’s not really going to affect your kidneys and as long as your minerals are at play you’re gonna be in perfect shape so as always make sure you’re keeping it locked in here on my channel and make sure you comment if you have any ideas for future videos

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Keto and Your Kidneys: The Bizarre Truth – Thomas DeLauer

Keto & Gene Expression

A study published in the journal Kidney International looked at nephropathy (term used when the kidneys start to incur damage, which can ultimately lead to kidney failure) in diabetic mice (3)

The researchers found the genes responsible for nephropathy (nephrin, ZO-1 and podocin) were reversed – this helped restore the mice’s kidneys back to healthy functioning

Specifically, the study found that keto increased the expression of SIRT1, which led to a reduction in the genes responsible for nephropathy

In indications of energy surplus, such as glycogen and insulin, inhibit activation of AMPK – ketosis decreases these factors that inhibit AMPK

Through a very long process ketosis is able to activate SIRT1 indirectly through activation of AMPK


SIRT1 is a protein or vehicle that requires NAD+ to function – SIRT1 takes acetyl groups off of proteins

SIRT enzymes “turn off” certain genes that promote aging, such as those involved in inflammation, in fat synthesis and storage, and in blood sugar management
When proteins are undergoing stress, acetyl groups are added to proteins as a response to changes induced by inflammation and oxidation.
Sirtuins (like SIRT1) remove these acetyl groups to keep the protein in service longer than usual, while simultaneously stabilizing the charge state of the carbon backbone in protein to resist any further changes in their shape

This allows your cellular proteins to live longer and you can save energy on other processes

Keto & Glomerular Lesions

Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is a test to measure how well the kidneys filter blood and remove waste

Glomeruli, the small units within the kidney where blood is filtered – they act as tiny filters within the kidneys and each kidney contains millions of glomeruli

If the glomeruli become damaged, the kidney can no longer remove waste and excess fluids efficiently – blood and protein cannot be filtered and are excreted in the urine

Too much glucose may cause glomerular lesions in patients with poor glucose control, leading to impairment of the kidneys

Glomerulonephritis, a group of diseases that cause inflammation and damage to the kidney’s filtering units – glomerulonephritis refers to a range of inflammatory kidney conditions of the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys

High glucose levels are thought to make the blood flow into the kidney at a higher speed, putting a strain on the filtering process and raising blood pressure

The capillaries in the glomerulus collapse and can leave the glomeruli with scarring

Meta Analysis – British Journal of Nutrition

The review measured the impact of low carb diet on renal function taking into account 1000 people from nine randomised controlled trials found that:

“a low carbohydrate diet and the corresponding high-protein diet was not harmful for renal function in overweight and obese individuals without renal dysfunction.”

Furthermore, it concluded that a low carb diet may even improve renal function thanks to its weight loss effects


1) Impact of low-carbohydrate diet on renal function: a meta-analysis of over 1000 individuals from nine randomised controlled trials. (2016, August 28). Retrieved from

2) University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. (2010, June 24). How Do Kidney Stones Form? Retrieved from

3) Nesbitt, H. (n.d.). Kidney Week. Retrieved from

4) Hong Q , et al. (n.d.). Increased podocyte Sirtuin-1 function attenuates diabetic kidney injury. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from

5) Nutritional Ketosis and Mitohormesis: Potential Implications for Mitochondrial Function and Human Health. (2018, February 11). Retrieved from /

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