Traditional ketogenic diets neglect alkalinity, but combine the two and BAM

Traditional ketogenic diets neglect alkalinity, but combine the two and BAM
In recent months, more and more Hypothyroid Mom readers have been writing to me about their experience with the ketogenic diet. And it has really caught my attention. Many have raved about KETO helping them dramatically reduce weight and feel more energetic. Others have even reported an improvement in their thyroid lab tests that has resulted in a reduction in their thyroid hormone replacement medication dosage. wow!
A Hypothyroid Mom reader named Pat started following my Hypothyroid Mom Facebook page in the early days when I had only a few hundred followers (we’re up to 1 million now!). I’ve been blessed to become good friends with many of my followers over the last 5 years. She wrote to me about her experience with the ketogenic diet:

“I lost inches almost immediately. I don’t weigh myself but I’m down 1 1/2 to 2 sizes. My heartburn is significantly less and gas is almost gone.”

However I’ve also heard from a few readers experiencing side effects including fatigue, headaches,muscle cramps, anxiety, nausea, and flu-like symptoms.

I’ve been digging around the internet. It seems that some health experts caution that the ketogenic diet can disturb a woman’s hormones. However I’ve heard from enough women with hypothyroidism of all ages raving about the benefits, to know there must be more to it. According to this double board-certified OB-GYN and Regenerative and Anti-Aging Medicine expert, an ALKALINE ketogenic diet may be the most powerful lifestyle change that women and men can make.

Written by Dr. Anna Cabeca, OB/GYN

“Nausea and fatigue overrode any benefits like weight loss or improved health,” 47-year-old Liz told me about her massive misfire trying a ketogenic diet for three months.

While research studies overwhelmingly showed benefits to a ketogenic diet, I had found a lot of patients and clients had side effects.

Traditional ketogenic diets neglect alkalinity.

Over the years guiding patients through ketogenic diets, I eventually discovered the missing component creating many of these roadblocks and negative reactions. Traditional ketogenic diets neglect alkalinity, which for women this can especially become disastrous.

After years combining research with empirical evidence from hundreds of patients, I juxtaposed a ketogenic diet and alkalinity with my Keto-Green® Diet, which becomes the perfect plan for fat loss and optimal health by allowing your body to use fat for fuel while staying alkaline.

Ketogenic proponents got it partly right by utilizing fat as fuel. So did alkaline-diet folks by recognizing how crucial staying alkaline becomes to stay lean and healthy.

But combine the two and bam, you’ve got a really powerful plan.

When you stay in ketosis too long – this especially becomes true for women – your body becomes acidic, creating chronic inflammation that forces your body to hold onto its fat stores.

I’ve seen this play out numerous times among female patents: The very diet that supposedly helps you lose weight and get healthy actually makes you fat and sick!

That’s where the alkaline part comes in: You create a win-win dialing down inflammation and other problems while maintaining a fat-as-fuel state.

Getting alkaline before going keto stacks the fat-loss and health benefits in your favor.

Acidic or alkaline?

We’ll need to flash back to high school biochemistry, where you’ll probably remember studying pH and acid versus base (alkalinity). If you can’t recall, or would rather not go back mentally, let me provide a brief refresher course. (I promise to be painless and brief.)

The pH scale ranges from one to 14. Seven is neutral. Anything higher than seven becomes alkaline (base); anything lower than seven is acidic (acid).

Using that scale, human blood is quite stable at about 7.4, making it alkaline. The ocean has a pH of about 8.1. The optimal pH for a pool is 7.4, about the same pH as human eyes and your mucous membrane.

Growing research show an alkaline state is healthier for your body,  and most tissues and cells maintain an alkaline pH balance.

Your blood pH doesn’t change, and even slight deviations above or below that 7.4 ideal become extremely life threatening.

On the other hand, things like food can make your urine and salivary pH more or less alkaline. Measuring those fluctuations reveals cellular health.

Traditional ketogenic diets neglect alkalinity, but combine the two and BAM

When we measure the body’s acid-alkaline state, we’re not talking about blood pH (remember, that remains steady at about 7.4 unless you are extremely ill or near dying).

The rest of your body, however, carries different pH levels. Your stomach, which must be very acidic to break down food and kill ingested pathogens, maintains a pH less than 3.0. The vagina’s pH is 3.8 – 4.4.  Your skin has a pH below 5. From that understanding, every system’s pH becomes very finely tuned to optimize its functions.

When experts talk about maintaining optimal pH, they’re referring to urinary – not blood – pH. Checking your urine pH can provide clues to cellular health, mineral status, and lifestyle consequences. You can find inexpensive urine test strips online to make it super simple to test your own pH.

Food pH – what is an alkaline diet?

What you eat plays a tremendous role in your urine alkalinity. One study in The British Journal of Nutrition found a more alkaline diet with copious amounts of fruits and vegetables and lower meat intake helped create a more alkaline urine pH.

That brings us to food pH. In the 1960’s, scientists began analyzing the chemical components of foods. From that research, they labeled foods as acid or base.

Assigning pH values to particular foods can be confusing for several reasons. Some foods have a different pH outside the body. So, for instance, while acidic with a pH of two outside the body, lemon actually creates an alkalizing effect inside the body.

A general rule of thumb is that because of their mineral content, fruits and vegetables are most alkaline. Meat, poultry, dairy, sugar, processed foods, grains, and caffeine are acidic. As if you needed another reason to ditch it, soda has a pH of 2.5.

Traditional ketogenic diets neglect alkalinity, but combine the two and BAM

Designing the right pH diet – neither too acidic nor alkaline – ultimately becomes about balance.

Rather than aiming for a completely alkaline diet, consider your diet’s net effect. I utilize the 80/20 rule among patients: Eat about 80 percent alkaline foods (with a ton of veggies) and 20 percent acidic with protein-and-health-fat-rich meats.

So you might combine grass-fed beef with lots of vegetables like broccoli and spinach. Always choose foods with higher mineral content and fewer (acid-forming) toxins.

Whenever possible, choose organic since conventional foods often grow in mineral-depleted, toxin-loaded soil.

Ready to add in Keto?

A Ketogenic diet puts you in a fat-burning state called ketosis. (don’t you just love the sound of “fat-burning state”?)
Ketosis is all about what your body uses as fuel.

Eating high carbs = high blood glucose (sugar), high insulin, stored fat… and low fat burning, low metabolism and belly fat. Your body’s fuel source is glucose, not fat.

Let me explain.

When you eat carbs your body’s blood glucose increases and spikes your blood sugar. Your body releases more insulin as a reaction to elevated blood glucose levels. Insulin is produced to get the glucose from your body and into the cells. There it gets converted to energy. Your body burns the glucose to make its energy and then insulin tells the cells to store their energy as carbs or fat (the unhealthy and dreaded belly fat).

When you eat a lot of carbs on an ongoing basis (like many Americans do, eating a lot of processed foods, sugar, alcohol, soda and such!) insulin is continually stimulated. This can lead to a health condition called insulin resistance, where the cells start to resist the insulin. When this happens, your blood sugar just continues to rise and you can become diabetic. Along with diabetes, many other health issues including heart disease and even dementia have been associated with insulin resistance.

We were just not designed to consume cereals for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and breads with dinner.
But what happens if you don’t eat carbs?  If you don’t eat carbs, you eliminate the production of glucose – and the production of insulin – so your body looks around for something other than glucose to burn for energy…and what does it burn? Stored fat!

The ketogenic diet works by keeping the body’s carbohydrate stores almost empty. Your body starts burning its own body fat for energy, helping you lose weight quickly. It will also burn fat that you’re consuming through your diet, assuming you are eating healthy fats (not Trans fats, etc.).

What do I eat?

Secret Hacks

  1. Be aware of underlying issues. Difficulties getting alkaline – which as I said, you should do before you go into ketosis – could signal numerous problems including toxicity, inflammation, high sugar, toxins, too little or much cortisol, or mineral insufficiencies. Some of these are easy to remedy; for others, a functional practitioner can pinpoint these and other underlying issues.
  2. Test, don’t guess. Rather than guessing, you can check your urine pH and ketones. Dark green signifies you are alkaline. Use Keto alkaline test stripsblank to easily measure your alkalinity and ketone levels. While not perfect, they are the only way to really know whether you are in ketosis. For clients like Liz, these strips provided a tremendous clarity to know exactly whether she was alkaline and keto – and to troubleshoot if she wasn’t.
  3. Upgrade alkaline. The few times Liz didn’t hit her mark with test strips, bumping up alkaline foods usually did the job. Great foods to maintain alkalinity include greens, bone broth, apple cider vinegar, and my favorite, maca. Cook your greens more to absorb them better and get alkaline more quickly. Taking a teaspoon to a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before your meals will help digestion and alkalinity. If you want to step things up, try my Alkaline Elixir recipe: six ounces of water, 1 teaspoon Bragg’s Apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon Lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Add maca to get added alkalizing and detoxifying benefits.
  4. Always buy quality. Especially when it comes to fat, buying free-range, grass-fed, non-genetically modified (GMO) foods becomes crucial. Whenever possible, choose organic since conventional foods often grow in mineral-depleted, toxin-loaded soil.
  5. Do modified intermittent fasting. I have patients go 13.5 to 15 hours between dinner and breakfast – really easy if you’ve eaten a substantial dinner high in quality fats – to force their body to find energy reserves beyond stored glucose, burning fat instead. Think of intermittent fasting as turning up the dial a few notches with an already-amazing plan. Additionally, research shows that intermittent fasting can significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence (JAMAoncol 2016).
  6. Don’t try to be perfect. “I had some red wine last night and, OK, some dark chocolate,” Liz emailed me one morning, confessing testing showed she definitely wasn’t in ketosis or alkaline. I told her “Me too!” and not to worry and get right back on track. Real life happens, and to stay keto-alkaline completely is rare. Do your best but give yourself a little leeway. The principles work!  Keep at it.
  7. Look beyond diet. Hydration becomes crucial. So does sleeping well. Stress, exercise, healthy bowel movements, and healthy relationships all contribute. Oxytocin, a hormone released when you hug, love someone, or have an orgasm, also creates alkalizing benefits. So many of us suffer from hormone effects as we age that impact our feminine parts and our happiness (and there are many things you can do to address these issues such as vaginal atrophy, dryness and the like…so that you will be able to have a happier life and relationship) The Keto-Alkaline principles also temper cortisol and improve insulin sensitivity – this is key to healthy longevity.

About Dr. Anna Cabeca

Dr. Anna Cabeca is an Emory University trained gynecologist and obstetrician, a menopause and sexual health expert, international speaker and educator.

READ NEXT: Is everyday stress causing havoc with your hormones?

Take Back Your Thyroid Health! Sign up and never miss a post - it's FREE

I appreciate every share! Thank you.

About Dana Trentini

Dana Trentini founded Hypothyroid Mom October 2012 in memory of the unborn baby she lost to hypothyroidism. This is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for consulting your physician regarding medical advice pertaining to your health. Hypothyroid Mom includes affiliate links including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.


  1. Thanks, a very inspiring approach!

  2. Rebecca Geis says

    Do you offer any hands on for someone new who is wanting to try this?

  3. Hello,
    I am in my 60’s and have been on the keto diet since July 2019 along with my husband. I am down 30 pounds and my husband 45 pounds. I stopped losing any weight the last one and a half and I’m hurting and sluggish. I take thyroid and estrogen. My arthritis in my back and neck are so painful it goes down to my fingers. I also have a rash on my back I am considering reducing my protein and eating more greens. Thank you for the information

  4. I was on keto-diet about nine years ago. I lost 16kg in four weeks and more after that. I didnt have hypothyroidism at the time.
    But! After beeing on keto-diet for couple of years, I started having issues with my hormones, and then I was diagnosed hypothyroidism. So Im kind of sceptical about leaving almost all carbs🤔

  5. Clairetta says

    Two things. Financial support is a concern for some and having insufficient biting power is another.

    I see it suggested to eat grain fed and organic foods here without regards to those who, simply, cannot afford it. There are the elderly and disabled, who are on an extremely low income by social means. There has to be some consideration as to how we should be able to implement this diet.

    Then there are those of us, who have full dentures, which do not allow us to eat some foods. And some of the foods, posted here are in that category. Corn is one of them, and, for me, with Diverculi, I’m not allowed it hardly at all.

    I feel this blog is for people who can afford the diets and who have healthy teeth or implants.

    I would, especially, love to see my husband eat like this, but it’s grab a sandwich at every opportunity is his way of getting his supplementation. He is overweight, has Diabetes Type 2, has high blood pressure and cholesterol. Recently, he was also diagnosed with Polycythemia.

    What is a diet we can afford and can eat with what we are given in place of normal teeth?

    • Lindsey. A very passive agressive answer there, I would suggest to delete.

      • Prentis Richey says

        Lol there is lot of food options here for you to choose just because you cant eat corn choose something else on the list or keep doing research on what you can eat to reach the goals you are trying to achieve

    • Hi. I agree that, when you’re living on a budget with physical obstacles, it can be very challenging to implement what’s being recommended. As a layman who’s read a lot of material, it’s generally suggested that you do what you can….if you can’t afford organic, buy your regular veg that you can eat and wash well……any small step is a positive step, including for your husband – a sandwich filled with salad, cheese and meat has less overall calories than one with just ham and cheese. Fussy eaters are hard to change habits of, especially if they’re also busy….. small steps are a start…..

  6. Hi! Do you have a printed guideline I can follow?

  7. Melissa L Long says

    I’m concerned about how this would effect my Adrenal Insufficiency. Would I need to constantly adjust my steriod dose? I need to look into this more.

  8. I’m starting to feel that many of the articles that have been posted are actually advertisements for the products the writer’s are selling.

  9. I’d love to do a ketogenic diet, but I’m nursing & worried it will affect my supply, which always tanks on lower carb days. Ah well. I guess it can wait.

    • I hear your concern Michele and I would be cautious while nursing too.

    • I lost 25 lbs on Keto while nursing my 6mo th old baby. I am 2.5 months in and she is almost 9 months old but I started at 280 and am 255 now. I made sure I eat all of the healthiest fats: extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, homemade bone broth and grass fed butter. I have not limited calories when hungry so that I stay satisfied. I have never had low supply and I did not experience the Keto flu probably because I have done Atkins years ago and the GAPS diet(similar to paleo) a few years ago. I have also kept my carbs between 20 and 45g and stayed in Ketosis. I also have a cheat day every couple of weeks and hydration is a must! Breastmilk is 80% water! I also make sure I am not losing too fast. If you decide it is safe and healthy for you, I hope it goes well!

  10. Caroline Maloney says

    Thank you so much, Dana, for this review and pertinent info for all us hypothyroid people! I have been trying Keto since last summer (July 2017) but only got to Keto a few times, mostly because I wasn’t really calculating the small amounts of carbs, and my T3 was low…so my energy was not what it normally is either. Anyway, it’s all a learning experience, but a journey that has been much easier to understand, thanks to your informative newsletter! Thanks so much, again, Dana!

  11. The body is incredible. We take in acids, e.g., apple vinegar, and out comes alkaline. As mentioned in the article, you don’t want to change things (if you could) like stomach acid levels (e.g., from taking PPIs, Prilosec, et al.) or blood levels. When either one of those gets messed up, the body gets out of kilter.

    Love your blog and refer folks to it.


  12. Roxann Perry says

    I know you this all the time but you are a blessing to all of us! Thank You for putting
    all this information on the web!!!

  13. I find this very interesting, I’ve been reading about this Keto diet and I believe it can help me out with my weigh lost problem having Hypothyroidism. I work out 4-5 times a week plus wear a FitBit. Also interested if you know anything about TRUVISIONHEALTH.COM ? You take 2 tablets at breakfast and 2 at lunch then your done for the day, a TruControl and a TruFix supplement capsule. Thank you

Speak Your Mind