Ketogenic diet & LE: I've been following a keto diet for... - LSN


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Ketogenic diet & LE

River83 profile image

I've been following a keto diet for around 4 weeks and have noticed a significant reduction in the swelling on my affected leg. The change to a keto diet was not because of the LE, however it does seem to have made an unexpected difference.

It is still early days so will see if the improvements continue and update again soon.

Has anyone else tried keto and if so, did you note any changes to your LE as a result?

21 Replies

Hi, River 83.

That's very interesting. A few years ago, I was following the Paleo diet (which I quite enjoyed) and that worked somewhat for me. But, I was doing that in conjunction with high intensity exercise three times a week, which I still do. Are you following an exercise regime, too? I've not looked at the ketogenic diet but I'll do that, because anything to reduce the swelling, especially in hot weather, is a definite help.

Thank you for your post.

River83 profile image
River83 in reply to BuddhaBabe

Hi BuddhaBabe,

I've not altered the amount of exercise that that I am doing since starting the Keto diet but I plan to do so over the next few weeks, maybe this will improve the LE further based on your findings... fingers crossed.

I hope the Keto diet works for you too, if would be interesting to hear how you get on.

You are not alone in your findings! Loads of Lymphies in the US follow Keto eating because it reduces LE symptoms. There has also been clinical research recently undertaken (randomised study) to test the impact of Keto way of eating on LE. The webinar sponsored by the Lymphtatic Education and Research Network/LE&RN looking at the results of Keto was less than a fortnight ago. it will be up on their website in the symposiums section in the next few weeks. You don't have to be a member of LE&RN to view the symposium library. Also, If you search on Facebook there area few groups for lymphies and Keto diet and Keto way of eating. Anyone reading this post with Lipidema might find it useful to low Keto way of Living has also hugely reduced Lipidema symptoms in another clinical study completed in 2017.

Since Keto has not landed on our side of the pond as heavily as it is used in North America, it's not been discussed as much in the UK as a tool in the fight against LE symptoms. Keto is very disclplined so sticking with it in the long term is the key as a return to eating a non-Keto way will return the LE symptoms. You may find a video on Utube interesting it's about Keto and lymphatic diseases - look up Ketogenic Way of Eating 29 😊

River83 profile image
River83 in reply to CCT67

Very informative CCT67 - thanks!

You're right about the discipline needed, and there does seem to be a big difference between how popular the Keto diet is in the UK as opposed to the US. This is very noticeable when looking online at websites and blogs, the majority of information is from outside of the UK.

I'll definitely check out those videos.

That is very interesting. I thought I had read somewhere that it didn't help. I have a friend who has been on it for weight loss and the anti inflammatory effects she swears by it. I could imagine it could have an effect since part of lymphedema is the bodies inflammatory reaction to the blockage is the lymph vessels. Please keep us posted.

Hi, can I ask how long it took for you to see a difference in the swelling? I'm giving it a go after seeing your post but am only 8 days in, just wondering if I should have seen a difference by now if there was going to be one?

Also how many carbs are you eating a day to see a difference (hoping I don't have to maintain 20-30g forever to see an improvement!)

Thanks in advance 😄

River83 profile image
River83 in reply to Angelil

Hi Angelil,

I didn't start the Keto diet in order to reduce the LE so I wasn't really looking for a change, however I think I probably noticed it around a week before my original post, maybe 3 weeks after starting the diet. The reduction in size appears to be continuing and in general I feel a lot better for the change in diet - more energy, less hunger and a massive reduction in stress levels.

I'm limiting my carbs to 5% of my daily calorie intake, which usually means around 25g. You need to do this for your body to enter a Ketogenic state where it is burning fat and using ketones for energy rather than the glucose from carbs. If you are eating more carbs you will find it much more difficult to get into, or stay in Ketosis. Tracking your macros is the only way to do it and keeping your carbs as low as possible is an absolute must.

The craving for carbs passed very quickly for me and I'm sure you will get used to it soon.

Good luck - Please keep us updated on your progress! :-)

Angelil profile image
Angelil in reply to River83

Thanks for your reply. I am eating between 20-30g of carbs a day and think I have probably reached ketosis by the signs my body is giving but I'm finding it difficult as I am vegetarian too! I'm not really craving carbs, it's more about ideas of what to eat. I'm willing to keep it up as long as there is an improvement in swelling as that is the only reason for me doing it. I'm just desperate to see some improvement!!! Hopefully another couple of weeks will see a reduction in swelling for me too! 😄

River83 profile image
River83 in reply to Angelil

Where are you affected by LE, is it primary or secondary and if secondary, how long since you were diagnosed?

Mine is secondary, in my right leg following surgery / radiotherapy to remove a Sarcoma in 2011. I was diagnosed with LE mid 2012.

I wonder whether the results will differ between people with differing types and severity of LE?!

I find it fascinating that a change in diet (from an already supposedly healthy one) can have such an affect on so many things. The more I research the Ketogenic diet and its benefits, the more interesting it becomes. It seems that there are a huge number of applications for all sorts of medical conditions.

It must be really tricky as a vegetarian - maybe you could take supplements or use protein shakes.

Angelil profile image
Angelil in reply to River83

Mine is secondary in both thighs and groin following a radical hysterectomy and lymph node dissection April last year. My swelling started weeks after surgery and despite following all advice it is still getting worse in my right thigh so I'm happy to try anything. I had already cut out gluten as I had read that it may affect lymphoedema so I think that naturally lowered my carb intake so gave me a helping hand for the ketosis but almond flour is my saviour at the moment - shame it's quite pricy!

I have read today that beetroot and other red veg may help too but need to work out if I can fit it in to the keto diet first!!!

River83 profile image
River83 in reply to Angelil

Hi Angelil,

How is the Keto diet going? Have you noticed any reductions in the swelling yet?

Angelil profile image
Angelil in reply to River83

Yep, a few days after I messaged you, obviously just needed a bit more time! I'm not sure how much was due to fluid loss and how much weight loss though but will ask the nurse to moisture meter me when I see her to know for sure!

Thanks for asking!

Just a quick update:

The swelling has continued to reduce since I've been following the Keto diet and I've lost around 12lbs in overall weight since changing my diet.

I've noticed that the swelling has started to level out now and I don't think it will reduce too much more. The difference between my affected and unaffected leg is now not particularly noticeable. The area around the knee is a little bigger and so is my ankle, however I had ORIF surgery in November following a bad break and I suspect the swelling around my ankle can mainly be attributed to that.. hopefully it will reduce more as time goes on.

In general, my leg feels far more flexible and less cumbersome. I am planning to continue with the Keto diet for the foreseeable future and would definitely recommend it as an additional way to manage LE. :-)

alfie19 profile image
alfie19 in reply to River83

Can you recommend any keto diet books please

Angelil profile image
Angelil in reply to alfie19

Just search keto recipes online. There is a keto version of most things. I find planning ahead is crucial. I tend to make a keto quiche and a batch of soup each week and keep them in the fridge to heat up for lunch and then have a protein source with fresh vegetables or green salad most evenings.

Hope this helps x

Do you find using a portable aerobound trampoline works as I am unable to jump at all and my walking is limited using the trampoline helps can lose 25 calories per min

River83 profile image
River83 in reply to alfie19

Sorry, I’ve not had any experience of using a trampoline. I don’t think this would suit me as any impact (running for example) tends to increase swelling.

Yes I realise this I find the same with walking and struggle to run and can not jump but I keep hearing exercise is good for us so feeling confused how to exercise without causing further problems i do find deep breathing and mediation helps

River83 profile image
River83 in reply to alfie19

Have you tried cycling or swimming? Both have worked really well for me.

I would also strongly recommend looking at your diet, if you are eating a lot of carbs you will be regularly spiking insulin levels which is inflammatory, the more you do this, the more resistant to insulin you will become and the situation gets progressively worse from there. A low carb ketogenic diet has made a massive difference to the swelling in my leg.

I am on no carb or salt just started the ketogenic diet to see if it helps I have been suffering from depression for a few years trying to beat it everyday should I give in and just accept it?

River83 profile image
River83 in reply to alfie19

I’m no expert on depression but giving in is not an option you should be considering. Exercise and diet could make the world of difference, also salt is important when following the Keto diet so make sure you research it first. Book in with your GP and see what professional help is available. Good luck.

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