Keto for Cancer

This book is at the same time dramatic, technically and clinically demanding yet always authoritative. Miriam Kalamian’s son was dying from a brain tumour following surgery and chemotherapy. She ‘stumbled’ upon a research paper from Dr Thomas Seyfried’s laboratory in the USA reporting significant clinical regression in mice of the deadly tumour glioblastoma multiforme following a calorie-restricted ketogenic diet over an 8-week period. Starting from scratch and with help from others including The Charlie Foundation non-profit organization devoted to ketogenic diets for epilepsy, she exceptionally prolonged for 9 years her son Raffi’s life, and also professionally trained and qualified EdM - Master Education, MS- Master of Human Nutrition and CNS – Board Certified in Nutrition. Miriam now helps patients to develop and implement personalized nutritional and lifestyle programs for cancer patients as well as those with other conditions.

This book successfully presents a complete A to Z Guide to the Ketogenic Diet. Here is a brief synopsis of a few of the topics which are covered in great detail:

  • Scientific research explaining the paradigm dichotomies between viewing cancer as a genetic versus a metabolic disease. This includes a detailed, yet a fully understandable description of the biochemistry of aerobic respiration versus anaerobic fermentation, glycolysis, the Krebs Cycle, the electron transport chain, lactic acid overproduction and how cancer cells develop as a result of mitochondrial metabolic dysfunction leading to genetic errors, resulting in metastasis. The crucial fact hammered home is that cancer cells preferentially use glucose and glutamine as their fuel, and that starving cancer of glucose is the object and starting point of a ketogenic diet;
  • Detailed consideration of whether the ketogenic diet is appropriate for you, including commitments required, medical conditions or medications which might be contra-indicated in pursuing a ketogenic diet. There are detailed discussion about conditions such as cachexia;
  • Practical requirements to start the diet, including software – chronometer, and equipment – urine, blood and breath –testing devices, glucose and ketone strips and monitors required to monitor your clinical ketosis status. Also, scales to weigh out food portions;
  • How to deal with and communicate with your oncology team: shared decision making, how to respond to doctor’s and clinicians’ objections about the diet;
  • A ketogenic diet requires that you obtain about 80% of calories from fats. Miriam provides easy-to-follow examples and formulas so that you can calculate the correct amounts and arrive at your personal KI - Ketogenic Index. She discusses and defines terms such as Diet Ratios, Diet Macros, Personal Macros, calculations to arrive at the correct amount of Protein for an individual depending upon their weight. The Cronometer nutrient tracker, or alternatively the Ankerl KetoCalculator help you to calculate your protein target without having to perform all these calculations. Other subjects discussed in detail include Calorie Restriction, Intermittent Fasting and how to calculate your Glucose Ketone Index (GKI) a measure which assesses the clinical efficacy of the ketogenic diet;
  • Foods and provisions permitted – Keto friendly foods -  foods not permitted, how to organize your kitchen, recipes and menus. Dairy products, berries, nuts and seeds and myriad other subjects including the importance of homemade salted bone broth. How to travel and prepare and take ketogenic food with you;
  • Transition Side Effects including Hunger and Cravings, Keto Flu, Hypoglycaemia, Acidosis versus Diabetic Ketoacidosis, Dizziness, Constipation, Muscle Aches and Cramps, Headache, Heart Rate Changes;
  • There are Meal Templates provided with detailed meals for the 1st week and beyond. These are to help get you over the first few weeks which are often the most challenging;
  • Vitamin and Mineral Supplements including individual vitamins and minerals particularly different forms of calcium and magnesium, as well as other minerals including potassium, zinc, selenium manganese and other supplements such as CoQ10, Oxaloacetate, fish oil, L-Lysine;
  • Boosting Ketosis with ketone supplements including Coconut Oil, MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) Oil or caprylic (C8) oil. Importance of the gut microbiome, Prebiotics and probiotics, Digestive Enzyme, Herbs and Botanicals including Boswellia, Melatonin, turmeric Curcumin, Cannabinoids, Berberine;
  • Health challenges including poor appetite, impaired digestion, malabsorption, constipation, liver and pancreatic function, diarrhoea, gallbladder issues, gout, renal disease, diabetes, PCOS, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, food allergies and intolerances and sensitivities;
  • Evaluation and assessment of how the diet is working for you, laboratory and medical panel tests to order’
  • AntiCancer Lifestyle Guidelines: Sleep, Stress, Setting Limits on Screen Time, Spending Time in Nature, Sleep, Moderate Exercise.

As can be gauged from the above-abbreviated synopsis of the enormous breadth of content within Keto for Cancer, the author suggests, indeed recommends obtaining help from a qualified clinician, nutritionist or integrative oncologist to ease the transition to a successful ketosis. Thus, when compiling this review, I sought the input from Jonathan Orchard BSc(Hons) MBAcC, Acupuncturist who also works with functional approaches to health including Nutrition, Supplementation, Breath Work and Emotional Integration work. He adopted a Ketogenic diet following his diagnosis with Lyme Disease and has published the article Lyme Disease Tracking and Treatment in PH Online Issue 238 - May 2017. Here are his thoughts:

As one of the only people Dr Sandra Goodman knows that does the ketogenic diet, when she asked if I would be interested in reviewing Miriam Kalamian’s book Keto for Cancer I was delighted to accept.

My own ketogenic journey started about 1½ years ago in an effort turn my own health around. I was aching all over, very stiff, with fatigue and brain fog. At the time I did not realize I had chronic Lyme disease but within 1 week of being on the Ketogenic diet many of my symptoms had dramatically improved and I have been passionate about it ever since. The evidence supporting the tremendous benefits of the ketogenic diet for our health is growing daily, showing results for cancer, MS, Parkinson’s, lupus and many other conditions.

Miriam’s book is a lifeline to people with cancer and to their loved ones. What makes this book so powerful is that she is speaking as not just as an academic and a practitioner who has helped implement the ketogenic diet for many cancer patients, but most importantly and movingly as a mother learning the hard way how to help her son Raffi with his brain cancer. As a result, she is able to give the kind of invaluable advice, guidance and encouragement that can only come with having walked the path. How to avoid the pitfalls, communicating with doctors, precise details of how to calculate the amounts of each food group to consume, who should and should not do it, and a wealth of answers to the many unexpected questions that may arise along the way.

It says on the cover that this is “A comprehensive guide for patients and practitioners”;  make no mistake this book really is comprehensive. Some lay people may initially find it overwhelming as it contains an incredible amount of information about properly implementing a ketogenic diet for cancer, rather than just a ketogenic diet for health, but taken bit by bit it contains everything you need to know; just follow her recommendations and recipes step by step and it will soon become straightforward.

When I speak to patients and friends about the ketogenic diet, a common, if not universal response is about how difficult it is. This is a myth; it is very simple - just eat the foods you can in the correct ratios; that is all there is to it. Understanding the principles of the ketogenic diet and how it applies to you or your loved ones should only take a few days. Then it is a case of just doing it. All of the how’s are listed in her book.

Given that the lifetime chances of any one of us developing cancer is now at 38.5%, any strategy that can be effective in helping to combat cancer (and other degenerative diseases) is urgently needed. To me, this makes Miriam Kalamian’s Keto for Cancer essential reading for just about everyone.

For those of you considering the ketogenic approach I would also recommend Primal Fat Burner by Nora Gedgaudas and Jimmy Moore’s Keto Clarity, both are excellent all round additions for getting to grips with the diet and ideas for meals.

I previously thought that having worked professionally as a scientist and publisher in the fields of cancer and nutrition that I was fairly knowledgeable in many aspects of nutritional approaches to cancer treatment. However having thoroughly read Keto for Cancer, it slowly began to dawn upon me how little I actually know about the nuts and bolts of managing an effective dietary regime for cancer patients. The author is critical of many other cancer diets, including Gerson, Budwig, but she also includes a spectrum of ketone variation diets including a modified Atkins Diet. And I do not agree with her critique of Vitamin C and other antioxidant therapies in cancer treatment.

Testimonials and Input from Other Researchers

Dr Thomas Seyfried, author of Cancer is a Metabolic Disease is possibly the foremost authority regarding evidence and practice of the ketogenic approach to cancer. He is a passionate advocate, lambasting the medical and scientific professions for their narrow mindset regarding causes and treatments for cancer, despairing of the needless sacrifice of millions of people and animals with toxic and ineffective regimes. In this descriptive video, Dr Seyfried presented a top Veterinary School with an effective, non-toxic, simple cancer treatment for dogs.

“Keto for Cancer is an incredible guide for cancer patients and anyone attempting the ketogenic diet for the metabolic management of disease or just overall health benefits. This book addresses at least 95 percent of the questions I get on a daily basis. A must-read resource for anyone interested in ketogenic diets, cancer, exogenous ketones, and personalizing their nutritional ketosis strategy.”―Dominic D’Agostino, PhD, leading scientist on ketogenic metabolic therapies

There is much progress and clinical research required in order to scientifically and medically validate positive clinical effects upon cancer of a ketogenic diet. That proviso marks the beginning of the journey and hopefully the adoption of the paradigm of cancer as a metabolic rather than a genetic disease. Therefore, this book is a must-have comprehensive guide for all practitioners, cancer patients and their families.

Further Information

Available from the Publisher at

Available from Amazon 


Title: Keto for Cancer
Miriam Kalamian
Reviewer: Sandra Goodman PhD
Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
Year: 2017
Format: Softback
Price: £18.99 / $29.95
Isbn: 978-1603587013

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