Cancer Diet: How Keto and the G/K Index Helped Us


In this post I will share how a cancer diet of eating ketogenic and tracking progress using the glucose-ketone index helped my husband gain back a sense of control of his body and health.

Our lives were turned upside down when my husband was diagnosed with cancer at the end of 2014. The future looked bleak and we didn’t know where to turn to for hope, for help. My husband sat me down and showed me the passwords to all things financial. We hired an attorney to help us with a will. Then we drove to the beach in Pacifica with our 10-year-old son to watch the ocean waves crash against the sand. I sat, shivering from the cold wind, wondering how many more times we would be able to do this as a family.

After the initial shock, we decided to confront this problem together, one day at a time.

Our desperation turned into action. We decided on a multi-pronged approach to fighting his cancer. 

Cancer diet – discovering keto

A good friend suggested we look into the ketogenic diet, as it might help starve the cancer cells and possibly shrink tumors. My husband was diagnosed with Stage 2B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma; the size of his tumor was 8 cm. Could his tumor possibly shrink with the addition of the keto diet? That very night after our friend left, we both began to cram, like hyper-diligent grad students. We absorbed everything we could find online about how to eat keto. What was ketosis? How did one eat this way?

At the time, there wasn’t an abundance of information about the ketogenic diet. But we were happy to discover e-books by Miriam Kalamian, Ellen Davis and Patricia Daly, with keto recipes and information for people with cancer. A short while later, my sister told me about Jimmy Moore’s Keto Clarity book, a tremendous resource, which opened our eyes even more.  

In Miriam Kalamian’s book, she asserted that “the diet alone is not a cure…instead it’s intended to slow down the progression of disease while offering you a better quality of life.”

Armed with this knowledge, we decided to use keto in conjunction with chemo and radiation treatments. 

And we wanted to do this right.

We ordered the Precision Xtra device to measure blood glucose and ketones. To measure the amount of protein, carbs, and fat entering my husband’s body, we purchased a kitchen scale. MyFitnessPal helped us track these macronutrients and ensure his carbs were limited to 12 net grams. Borrowing from the Paleo/Primal template, we sought to buy the highest quality whole foods, avoiding processed and fast food, grains, and sugar.

Since I also had some weight to lose around my midsection, I decided to join my husband in eating keto.

Miriam’s book introduced us to Dr. Thomas Seyfried’s GK (Glucose/Ketones) Index as a way to monitor progress with the keto diet. The GKI measures the ratio between blood glucose and ketones. Dr. Seyfried says the optimal GKI for cancer patients is between 1 and 2.

At the time, my husband couldn’t find a better way to track his GKI other than recording it in a paper notebook and Evernote. But tracking the data was worth it. In his words: Eating keto and tracking my progress helped me gain back a sense of control of my body and health.” 

Looking back, a tool like Heads Up Health would have made this much easier and informative–especially with the ability to graph and correlate GKI and other health metrics.

Cancer diet - tracking the Glucose-Ketone Index (GKI)

Cancer diet – tracking the Glucose-Ketone Index (GKI)

Physically and mentally, we both began to look and feel better. After a year of eating strict keto, along with conventional treatments, his tumor shrunk from 8 cm to 1 cm! The oncologist and nurses were awed by how fast he improved and that he didn’t experience the normal side effects of nausea and hair loss. Encouraged by PET scans showing the tumor shrinking, we felt motivated to keep on keto-eating.

Also a nice surprise: as the one cooking, I also ate this way, delighted to discover that my pre-diabetes blood glucose levels went down so much that I’m no longer pre-diabetic (per my last A1C test results). And another nice bonus: no longer was I using multiple inhalers daily for my asthma…and I lost some weight, especially around my waist!

Now two full years in remission, my husband remains focused on keto-eating as a way to maintain good health. His goals are different, but the need to monitor and see trends remain. As a self-professed data nerd, he enjoys finding new ways to use data about his health and life to make small improvements.

Tracking and monitoring our health markers is now a regular part of our lives. We use Heads Up Health to track our GK Index, fasting glucose, ketones, weight, and more. Recently, we added fasting to our health regimen. To stay motivated, we use the Heads Up Health Fasting Timer. Fasting, we’ve learned, is also a cool therapeutic tool that has a host of benefits, including anti-aging, cancer-prevention, and help with insulin resistance. But that’s a whole other blog post.

Cancer diet - tracking metrics with Heads Up Health

Cancer diet – tracking metrics with Heads Up Health

Now past this cancer scare, we’re excited about the life ahead for ourselves and our family. We feel empowered to have the ability to transform our health.

About Heads Up Health

Heads Up Health is a powerful tool designed to help individuals take control of their health data. The web-based software can integrate medical records, wearables, apps and any other health metrics that are important to track. The software provides dashboards, trends, alerts and other tools to help individuals take a data-driven and self-directed approach to managing their health. Additionally, the product has been optimized for those following low-carb and ketogenic diets. Sign up for a free trial at www.headsuphealth.com.

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About the Author

Lily is a writer and virtual assistant. She is encouraged by how eating keto via the paleo template, as well as fasting, is transforming her own health, and that of her husband (who battled cancer and is now in remission). With better health and more energy, she is hoping to finally finish the novel she had started over a decade ago, and travel with her family around the world in a RV. For writing and virtual assistant help, she can be found at virtual-lil.com. She writes and posts photos about cooking and eating keto on Instagram at @hellbentonbliss and her blog hellbentonbliss.com.
3 Responses to "Cancer Diet: How Keto and the G/K Index Helped Us"
  1. Ashley says:

    Hey There. I found your blog just now. This is a really well presented. I will make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information.

  2. Cancer cells have much higher levels of insulin receptor sites than healthy cells, to increase glucose uptake and this avarice is known by oncologists who use PET scans involving a radiological dye combined with sugar, to pinpoint cancers in the body.

  3. Kylian Gibbs says:

    I’d like to say thanks for sharing this useful knowledge regarding cancer diet. I think Vitamin K is very much needed for a person who suffers from cancer. It is needed by the body for blood clotting.

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