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June 11, 2019

Pentagon Ponders Ketogenic Diet to Make Soldiers Stronger, More Lethal

Oh boy. Sorry about this. It just worked out this way.

I've had this post in the queue since this morning.

And having talked up keto all day in the comments, now I spring this on you.

But I swear, I just forgot I'd written this up earlier.

I'm not trying to do keto NXIVM, swearsies.

Carbs are the enemy, and the US military must terminate them with extreme prejudice.

Ditching carbs may be the key to military success in America's future wars.

Top Pentagon officials say research has shown that human bodies in ketosis -- the goal of the popular and controversial ketogenic diet -- can stay underwater for longer periods, making the fat- and protein-heavy eating plan a potential benefit to military divers. It is one example of a rapidly growing trend as military researchers zero in on how nutrition and certain drugs can enhance how fighting men and women perform in battle.

But U.S. defense officials say they lack the legal authorities to dictate to soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines what they can and cannot eat. Critics of the entire concept warn that the military is entering a danger-filled world if it begins ordering diets and drug protocols solely to build more lethal warriors.


An Ohio State University study this year followed 29 people -- most members of the campus ROTC -- and had roughly half of them follow the keto diet. The study found that the 15 participants on the diet were able "to maintain ketosis for 12 weeks" by eating just 30 to 50 grams of carbohydrates each day.

Those participants lost an average of 17 pounds and 5% of their body fat, researchers say, while those in the group who followed a more carb-heavy diet experienced little change to their bodies.


"We showed that a group of people with military affiliation could accept a ketogenic diet and successfully lose weight, including visceral adipose tissue, a type of fat strongly associated with chronic disease," said Jeff Volek, a professor in the department of human science at Ohio State and a co-author of the report. "This could be the first step toward a bigger study looking at the potential benefits of ketogenic eating in the armed forces."

A doctor named Dominic D'Agostino is the main guy studying the effects of ketosis on divers, working with the Navy SEALs.

I think D'Agostino is mostly researching exogenous ketones -- ketones you eat as supplements, rather than endogenous ketones produced in the body via carbohydrate restriction -- but the end results are similar.

For the first time, ketone esters--oral supplements useful in epilepsy treatment--are being studied to fight seizures caused by hyperbaric oxygen toxicity, a life-threatening byproduct of breathing too much oxygen that impacts deep-water divers.

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is sponsoring this research.


Dr. Dominic D’Agostino, a professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, is conducting the ONR-supported research.


Special Operations divers such as Navy SEALs are especially at risk. Divers can encounter dangerous levels of nitrogen and carbon dioxide gasses when breathing underwater, requiring a rebreather to mitigate the toxicity. But Special Operations divers use a closed-circuit rebreather that filters out the gasses in such a way that bubbles don't appear on the water’s surface--useful when trying to avoid detection by enemy combatants.

However, this additional stealth increases how much oxygen the divers breathe and, combined with mission stress and physical exertion, can lead to seizures, convulsions, nausea, dizziness and even coma or death--all symptoms of oxygen toxicity.

Currently, anti-seizure sedatives are the only treatment for oxygen toxicity, said D'Agostino. But these drugs must be administered in high doses that could impair warfighters' mental and physical performance. D'Agostino sees a possible solution in ketone esters, which are supplements engineered to raise blood ketones--powerful energy sources the body produces naturally that act as a super fuel.

If you're interested in his work, there are dozens of YouTube interviews with him, including on Joe Rogan. Here's one of him discussing his research into using ketones/ketosis to reduce neurological impairments like epilepsy with Rhonda Patrick, who's a little nerd cutie.

In the first section of this interview, he talks about DARPA's interest in ketone supplementation. (The military doesn't like the full ketogenic diet, because they're worried about reduced performance without carbohydrates and they've got an entire sub-industry of food preparation already in place which includes a lot of carbs, so they'd prefer to just add ketones in pill form.)

He talks about his work with SEALs here as well.

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posted by Ace of Spades at 07:31 PM

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