CBD oil and the keto diet: what you need to know

CBD oil and the keto diet: what you need to know
Luke Sumpter

Following a keto diet can offer a wide array of health benefits, but it's not always easy to stick to. You'll need all the help you can get, and CBD oil may be an ideal companion in your effort to maintain ketosis. Let's carefully consider the benefits of the keto diet, and see exactly how CBD oil can fit in and potentially enhance the results.

The keto diet may just seem like another passing health trend, but its benefits often surpass what many would expect. As it turns out, CBD oil has a similar position in the wellness world. While the current body of research hasn’t led to hard proof, we learn more about the cannabinoid every day, and each new study points in an increasingly positive direction.

Having the same sort of reputation, it’s especially interesting to think about how CBD oil could pair with a keto diet. It appears they can work in distinct and complementary ways to support each other's effects, and ultimately benefit overall wellness.


How the ketogenic diet works

To understand how CBD oil could work with the keto diet, you first have to fully understand the diet itself. Essentially, it involves trading in carbs for healthy fats, along with cutting out sweets and alcohol, unhealthy fats, almost all fruits, and even root vegetables like potatoes and carrots.

“Wait”, you might be thinking, “Aren’t potatoes and carrots healthy? Why would you cut those out?”. Well, they’re usually good for you, but they, along with the other no-go foods, interrupt a vital part of what makes the diet work: ketosis.

See, most cells in your body prefer gaining energy from glucose, also known as blood sugar, which we normally get from carbs. When you eat fewer than 50 grams of carbs per day, though, your natural insulin levels decrease as fatty acids are released into the liver and turned into ketones. Those resulting compounds step in for glucose and give cells the energy they need.

Once your cells regularly tap into ketones for energy, your body becomes engaged in a state of ketosis.


What are the benefits of keto?

So, what exactly are the benefits of changing how your cells get their energy? Well, consider what ketones are formed from: fatty acids. Normally, excess fat just sits in our bodies—all potential energy with nowhere to go. When our body is driven to convert this into ketones, those fat stores deplete far quicker than they normally would. That, in turn, means you get to enjoy far more of the healthy fatty foods you love than usual.

For many, the benefits go far beyond even that. Many children who suffer from seizures, for instance, find their symptoms arise far less often when on the keto diet. A 2015 study also showed how the keto diet has anti-inflammatory properties, even having the potential to change how we perceive pain.


Is CBD oil keto-friendly?

So, considering the proposed benefits it offers, it’s worth stopping and thinking about whether CBD oil is keto-friendly. After all, even potatoes can interrupt ketosis, so what could CBD oil do? Well, thankfully, CBD oil doesn’t interrupt ketosis in any way. In fact, certain CBD oils are made with coconut oil and MCT, both of which are very popular in the keto community for their healthy fats and slew of other benefits.


Zamnesia's CBD oil carrier is olive oilCibdol uses olive, hemp seed, and black cumin seed oil as carriersRoyal Queen Seeds uses olive oil as a carrier



How does CBD oil support a keto diet?

Okay, so it can fit into the keto diet, but how does CBD oil support the diet? Along with having some benefits in common, CBD may support with other issues associated with the diet.


Starting off, CBD oil could come in handy by enhancing ketosis and weight loss in general. Specifically, a study released in 2016 found that CBD increased markers associated with fat browning, a process in which unhealthy "white" fat is converted to healthy "brown" fat. The study also found that CBD may increase lipid (fat cell) metabolism. But, like the fat browning finding, this was only observed in vitro, meaning no human test subjects were involved in the process.


Out of all the potential properties of CBD, its immunomodulatory effect is one of the more well-researched. In fact, as recently as 2019, researchers made a point to highlight the body of work detailing how CBD oil could lessen inflammation via mediation of the immune response.

To be more specific, one study observed CBD having an anti-inflammatory effect on human sebocytes (skin cells), while another tested a viral model of multiple sclerosis (MS), finding CBD to display long-lasting protection against the damage induced by MS-related inflammation.

Although these outcomes haven’t been translated to large-scale clinical trials yet, CBD’s potential to mediate the immune response is something researchers are very eagerly exploring. The same can be said for the keto diet's anti-inflammatory prowess.


CBD oil has also been increasingly researched for its potential to quell certain types of seizures. A 2017 research review makes that clear, detailing three placebo-controlled studies that showed cannabidiol to ameliorate epilepsy symptoms.

It should be noted, however, that these studies focused specifically on two rare types of epilepsy mostly affecting children. One found that CBD outperformed a placebo in reducing convulsive seizures associated with Dravet syndrome, while another found it to decrease the frequency of drop seizures in those with Lennox–Gastaut syndrome.

Although this doesn’t confirm whether CBD has general anti-seizure potential, the above clinical results, among others, point toward case-specific potential.


Now, aside from directly synergising with the keto diet, CBD oil also brings its own unique benefits to the table. For example, CBD can help limit one of the main conflicts people encounter on a keto diet—stress.

The pressure of having to keep up a certain diet can build over time. The desire to have some tasty ice cream or cake can get stronger the more time you spend away from them. In turn, when some other aspect of life stresses us out, we may turn to food to cope with it. This is where CBD oil can come in.

For example, a 2016 case study found doses of CBD to help ease some symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. It should be noted, however, that the study only focused on one young girl in particularly rough circumstances. In turn, it's hard to tell what issue was truly lessened, and thus clinical studies with multiple participants are needed.

Along with that, one year prior, a study noted that CBD could be used to lessen symptoms of anxiety. In particular, they found CBD to lessen anticipatory anxiety in people undergoing a specific medical imaging test. Yet another study found CBD to decrease anxiety associated with public speaking.


Besides occasional stress, the keto diet also causes a hormone production shift that can lead to troubled sleep. Thankfully, CBD has been studied for its potential to benefit the sleep-wake cycle.

For instance, a 2019 study found that 103 adult patients were able to get closer to achieving regular, full sleep than they would otherwise. It is important to note, however, that the data was collected in retrospect, not during the administration of CBD. With that in mind, it's entirely possible that other factors could have very well interfered.

Even the authors note that controlled clinical studies are necessary to verify the extent of these results. This shouldn’t be touted as outright proof of CBD's potential, but it’s enough to make it safe to try out for yourself.


Should you take CBD oil on a keto diet?

Speaking of, trying it out is the only way you’ll know if combining a keto diet with CBD oil works for you. Keto itself may not be for everyone, as it involves a major change to most people's diets and requires consistent upkeep. That said, it's not inherently unsafe.

As far as CBD's safety, you’re pretty much in the clear, as backed up by the World Health Organisation. Do ask your doctor to confirm, though, as CBD oil can interact with certain medications.

In terms of whether it’ll help you achieve your keto-related goals, that’ll be up to your individual experience. Find some CBD oil, perhaps made with MCT or coconut oil, and give it a try!



Luke Sumpter
Luke Sumpter

Luke has worked as a cannabis journalist and health science researcher for the past seven years. Over this time, he’s developed an advanced understanding of endocannabinoid system science, cannabis phytochemistry, and cultivation techniques.