Are you interested in trying a Low Carb-High Fat/Ketogenic lifestyle? If so, great.
Are you looking to your doctor for support in this diet? If so, tread gently.
The medical community has engrained false beliefs that LCHF lifestyle is dangerous to your health. We can blame it on Ancel Keys. We can blame it on an over emphasis on LDL-C. We can blame it on Big Pharma. We can even blame it on the rain! Whatever the reason, you may not get a warm and receptive response from your physician.
But there is hope. Here are my top 6 Tips on How to Talk to Your Doctor About The LCHF/Keto Lifestyle.
1. First, ask for your doctor's opinion about LCHF
Doctors are people too. How would your spouse react if you said, “I’m no longer taking out the trash/doing the dishes/making dinner. It doesn’t work with my personal philosophy of house chores and we are going to change this. Now.” I hope you have a comfortable couch, cause that’s where you will be sleeping.
Picture instead, “Hi Honey. I was thinking that we may want to reassign some of our house chores to help things get done better and more efficiently without putting too much strain on either of us. What do you think about that? Do you have any thoughts how you would like to change things?” That sounds better, right?
The same approach applies to your doctor. Just don’t start by calling your doctor honey. That’s just awkward. Don’t say, “Hey Doc, I’m going LCHF and need you to order x, y and z blood tests on me now and again in 6 months, and help me get off my meds.” Instead, try a kinder, gentler approach. “Hi Doc. I was thinking of ways to be more proactive about my health. What I have done thus far has not worked as well as I have liked. I have heard a lot about LCHF as a way to lose weight, reduce insulin levels, improve blood glucose control, and feel better. I was thinking of trying it. What do you think about that?” You may not immediately get the answer you want (for instance, I am still taking out the trash every week), but you have opened the lines of communication in a much less confrontational way, which can set you up for success as we discuss other tips below.
2. Measure the effects of Keto on your body with a medical trial
If your doctor is hesitant about you trying LCHF/Keto, suggest a 3- or 6- month trial. Establish what you want to monitor (here's an eBook I created to help you get started: 10+Medical Tests to Follow on the LCHF Diet). Check what you would like to monitor at baseline and then at the 3-6-month mark. Emphasize you want to experiment to see how your body responds, and that you want his/her expertise in helping analyze the labs to help you progress safely.
Also, if you are on medications for blood pressure, blood sugar or lipids, you will want their guidance with these. Emphasize how you want him or her on your team to help you on your journey and temporary experiment. It is hard to resist when someone genuinely wants your help and thinks you can play a role in their improvement!
3. Show them your results!
Don’t gloat, don’t brag, but make sure you follow up with your doctor and tell them everything you feel and have measured. Do you have more energy? Less stiffness or inflammation? Are your pants fitting looser? And of course, follow up on all the labs to look at the whole picture. You will be surprised how often your doctor will then turn to you and ask you what you have been doing. If they have the time, they will likely say “Tell me more about that.” Yes! This is your opportunity to teach them the power of LCHF/Keto. Then, when the next patient comes around, they won’t be as resistant, and may even start to suggest it themselves. The patient becomes the teacher!
4. Find a doctor who will listen
Our healthcare system is messy. No question. We don’t always have freedom to choose our own doctors. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible to change. Here is a hint: If your doctor isn’t open minded enough to try a self-directed experiment with you, what else are they close minded about? Maybe it is time for a change anyway.
It may not be easy to find a doctor with an open mind who takes your insurance, is geographically desirable, and who is accepting patients, but there are some tricks you can use. Look for a doctor who has been in practice more than seven years, but less than 20 years. In my experience, this is the critical “open minded” window. They have been in practice long enough to be confident in their own skills and are willing to stray from “what everyone else does.” On the other hand, they have not been in practice so long that “That’s the way I have always done it” becomes the reason for their care.
Look for doctors with interests in prevention, sports medicine, or integrative medicine. These suggest more interest in health and less interest in the standard “pill for every ill” medical practice. Lastly, people are developing lists of Keto-friendly doctors online. While these may be small at present, they are growing quickly and hopefully can help you find the right doctor for you.
5. Seek online Keto support
Numerous online sites exist to help you with you transition to a LCHF lifestyle. I have built my blog and Low Carb Cardiologist Podcast to provide information and support on those who are embarking on their healthy lifestyle journeys, with a lot of information about Keto and LCHF.
Some other sites I recommend are DietDoctor.com, 2KetoDudes podcast, and Ketovangelist podcast, to name a few.
6. Take control of your own healthcare journey
As nice as it is to have your physician on board with your health decisions, it is not always needed. As Brian Williamson from Ketovangelist said to me on his podcast, “If your doctor is more interested in your health than you are, then you are in trouble!” I agree with that sentiment, and I encourage everyone to be the driver in their own healthcare. You can still choose to try the LCHF lifestyle even without your doctor. Look for a reputable second opinion doc who is willing to help open lines of communication between you and your doc. That is one of the services I enjoy providing the most. Since I speak the same language, I can usually help someone start the conversation with their doctor.
In addition, online sites such as WellnessFx.com allow you to get your blood drawn and seek consultations with health care providers (Disclaimer: I am one of those providers and get paid for my services. Another disclaimer: I love doing it). If you go this route, I encourage you to then bring your results back to your doctor (See number 3 above). You can now become the teacher, young Jedi.
There you go. With these six simple tips and resources, you will be well on your way to safely adopting a Keto lifestyle. Doctors are people too. Just like everyone else, we like to be needed, we like to be helpful, and we don’t like being told what to do. I just need to remember that the next time my wife “needs” me to clean the toilet….
Thanks for reading.
Bret Scher, MD FACC
Founder, Boundless Health
11 thoughts on “How To Talk to Your Doctor About The LCHF and Keto Lifestyle”
Thanks. I'm 75 male have been LCHF for 3 years plus. I have great results.I'm forwarding your "How to talk .." to interested friends.
Thank you George! Glad to hear about your excellent results on LCHF. Keep up the great wrok
Could not find the password to allow me to read the blog. Please advise.
No password needed for the blog! It’s open access.
It is asking for a password, but I haven’t found the link to register for the free blog access.
Hi Pamela. This issue has been resolved. The blog has always been and will always be free for all. Sorry for the inconvenience.
My husband just had heart attack with stent placed in one artery with 100% blockage. Evidence of two other arteries that show plaque build-up. Total Cholesterol levels under 200 for few years, Trig. has been high, HDL lower than desired.. (ratios of 4&5%), BP has been managed with 4 mg. Doxazosin for few years (achieves about 120/80). Otherwise good health. SO! Doctors have put him on 80mg (max) Lipitor, Beta Blocker with current BP med and small dose ACE-inhibitor, and Brilenta. Talk like he needs statins & BP for life!! I’m QUITE concerned especially on the Statins…80 mg. for LIFE?? Have read much on nutrition/low carb. Would like to see meds reduced/eliminated …replaced by lifestyle changes, but afraid to ‘buck their advice’ at this point. Live in NC WA state….how to go about finding cardio doctor who might be more flexible on reducing drug therapy? Seems like most ‘anti-statin’ arguments are great for reducing risk, but perhaps less so if one is already at high risk, so need open-minded doctor to advise. Thank you.
Hi Dicksie. I am sorry to hear about your husband. While I am not able to comment on individual cases, I can say that the evidence in support of statins is far greater for secondary prevention (someone who already has had heart disease) than primary prevention, but I still believe it has to be done with careful monitoring for adverse effects specifically insulin resistance and cognitive function. While I do not know any specific docs in your area, DietDoctor.com lowcarbusa.org have a list of low carb friendly docs. If you cant find one, I would be happy to help with a health coaching consult. You can learn more about that through my website. I hope that helps!
Oh my lord, Ive seen/heard this story so many times and its really a simple one. To get off the meds is as easy as following the most unprocessed simple diet possible. This just happens to be low carb/no sugars/PUFA Oils and is likely to be Ketogenic.
Basically, If this were my condition, I would research as much as I can and not take advice from the machine that helped put you on the drugs to begin with. I would immediately look into intermittent fasting and ketogenic as healing options and supplementally Vitamin D3 and K2 as well as enough Real salt would be the base to start from.
PLEASE Talk to Dr Bret Scher…. but hes not the only one (give him a shot though first, since this is his website 🙂
OR Invest a couple hours and…
look up Either Dr Robert Cywes (The “carb addiction doc”) on YouTube, he is a PHd practicing MD that can give you advice – and is worth the 300.00 consult (He does Remote consults as well… IF insurance doesn’t cover it, but likely it will) if you choose to select him, Dr Cywes will review his history and give formal medical advise. it will save his life. Also on the east Coast is Dr Eric Westman or Dr Annette Bosworth, both have practices AND YouTube presence as well. I would be confident I’m in good hands!!