By now, most of us have heard about the ketogenic diet. Whether it's because of the benefits of eating high-fat and low-carb, or because you can eat cheese all day long, it's officially become one of the hottest diets of the year. It may not be easy to cut out all the carbs, but emerging research suggests that eating fat can actually help burn fat. So, for anyone trying to lose weight, you may find it worth the carb cut. Beyond weight loss, recent research has found some other serious health benefits of keto that may impact your life later on. Let's take a look at what the research has to say.
“Despite its temporary side effects, we have always suspected that the ketogenic diet is relatively safe long term, and we now have proof,” says senior investigator Eric Kossoff, M.D., a pediatric neurologist and director of the ketogenic diet program at Hopkins Children’s. “Our study should help put to rest some of the nagging doubts about the long-term safety of the ketogenic diet,” he adds. 
Figuring out a diet that fuels our body’s needs and keeps us healthy without sacrificing taste is a daunting task for anyone. Factor in diabetes and this task can suddenly seem like an insurmountable obstacle overcome only by the most health-conscious fitness guru. Some diets are clearly fads, popping up into existence seemingly overnight, selling books and recipes and often food itself, only to fade into the twilight and be overtaken the next day by yet another set of guidelines by which we are to become, optimistically, the best self we can be.
The aim is far broader than suggested by the article here: It’s not just about what you put in your mouth – it’s also about timing and exercise. There are three ways to be in ketosis – which simply means that “fat burning” and not being dependent on sugars. Fasting puts a man into ketosis in 3 days and a woman by 2 days. Endurance exercise gets you there in a couple of hours. Eating a high fat diet will do it too. The goal however is hidden by the detail – it is to acquire a “Flexible Metabolism”. The aim is to switch on the full fat burning capacity and keep it running – which takes from between 4 to 12 weeks physical adaptation (for the muscles to fully be able to use ketones). The heart runs approximately 27% more efficiently on ketones than on glucose! The brain works better too – Alzheimer’s being referred to by researchers as “diabetes 3”. Once you have a Flexible Metabolism you can consume carbs during or after exercise without dropping out of ketosis – though this depends on your own bio-individuality. I can eat quite a lot of carbs – without losing ketosis – my partner cannot.

Ketosis is different, because, when in the state of ketosis, the brain will prefer ketones over glucose. For the dieter this is good! The body will not have to break down protein for energy. In turn the body will be forced to use its fat reserves, a.k.a. your love handles, for its energy. This is why a low-carb diet is such a good method of dieting.


Abbey, I appreciate all the work you put into this but there are a few things you missed. Not all oils are keto friendly. Vegetable oils are a huge no-no which was not mentioned. Regular mayo usually contains soybean oil which should be avoided. You also missed that foods with preservatives are a no-no which excludes some cheeses (you said enjoy all the cheese you like). Processed sliced cheese or pre-shredded cheese in a bag at the grocery store contains preservatives. Ever notice how shredded cheese in a bag never sticks to itself but when you shred your own cheese it sticks? Preservatives. Most nuts are okay but peanuts are a legume and should be consumed in very small amounts or avoided altogether. Don’t go crazy either, nuts do have carbs. I don’t eat more than a half cup a day of salted almonds. That said, you could have mentioned that getting salted nuts is ideal as you do excrete more salt and other minerals in your urine (eating keto is diuretic so attention must be paid to salt, potassium, magnesium, etc. as you did mention) so finding simple ways to add salt and other minerals is helpful. I also take a multi-vitamin daily. You mentioned you cannot do high intensity workouts. You are not supposed to do high intensity workouts as elevating your heart rate too high actually stops the fat burning process in your body. Your heart rate should be 180 beats minus your age +/- 5 beats depending on fitness level. A 40 year old obese person shouldn’t go over 135 beats/min during a workout as that is the optimal fat burning window. Higher than that and your body reverts to storing fat reserves thinking it will run out if it keeps this pace. Which bring me to metabolism. Its been long believed a high metabolism is good. A high metabolism leads to more hunger (because you’re burning glucose faster), ingesting more food, and typically gaining more weight. Slowing your metabolism down AND teaching your body to consume slow burning ketones instead of quick burning glucose puts less stress on your liver mainly and on your body in general. There’s a lot more but this is getting long so I’ll finish with this. You said this diet focuses on quantity of food and not quality. This is confusing to me….wouldn’t organic and grass-fed meats, be of better quality than non-organic and grain fed meat? (they feed animals grains to fatten them up….shouldn’t that be a huge warning sign for us?). Is food without preservatives not better quality than food with preservatives? Aren’t beverages with no sugar or artificial sweeteners of better quality than sugar/artificial sweetener-filled beverages? I’ve never seen any keto advocate advise ignoring quality foods, in fact its quite the opposite.
Author’s note: I want to stress again the importance of consulting with your doctor before you try ketogenic dieting. The more I study this area of science, the more I realize that every individual is extremely unique when it comes to health issues and there are a ton of reasons why you should NOT go full-on keto (especially if you are prone to kidney, heart, or gallbladder issues). That being said, for many people this form of eating is life changing, and the amount of scientific research supporting a ketogenic lifestyle is significantly increasing. Subscribe to my newsletter to stay posted when I publish new articles, and I’d appreciate any and all feedback/corrections on the content I’ve written above. Thanks! (Image credit)

WY conceived, designed, and coordinated the study; participated in data collection; performed statistical analysis; and drafted the manuscript. MF assisted with study design, performed data collection, and helped to draft the manuscript. AC analyzed the food records. MV assisted with study/intervention design and safety monitoring. EW participated in the conception and design of the study, and assisted with the statistical analysis. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


Kidney stones are mineral deposits in the kidneys. They can be caused by multiple things–including dehydration, high sodium intake, family history, and excessively high consumption of protein (> 200g per day). A true ketogenic diet is low-carb, moderate-protein, and high-fat. So there’s no solid evidence that protein consumption at levels seen in a typical ketogenic diet could cause kidney stones.
For my own children, I weighed them during this process and my two that were about 80 lbs both lost just under 3 pounds, and my 35-pounder lost 1.5 pounds the first 5 days. How do  I know it’s water weight? Because if it was fat, they would have lost the equivalent of over 5,000 calories (my little guy) or 17,500 for my olders.  There is no way they ran a calorie deficit in this amount in just 5 days ;)
WY conceived, designed, and coordinated the study; participated in data collection; performed statistical analysis; and drafted the manuscript. MF assisted with study design, performed data collection, and helped to draft the manuscript. AC analyzed the food records. MV assisted with study/intervention design and safety monitoring. EW participated in the conception and design of the study, and assisted with the statistical analysis. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
One reason it's hard to determine the exact health effects of diets is that it's often unclear whether any observed effects come from the diet or from a combination of other factors, like stress, environment or genetics. Still, that doesn't mean all the bold claims about the keto diet are wrong, but rather that you should approach them with a healthy degree of skepticism.
I, too, am finding the keto diet to be beneficial. My weight is moving down. My recent A1c was 5.7. I am consistently below 90 each morning when I check my blood. I am learning to adapt my cooking to the needs of maintaining this way of eating. I have incorporated walking because now I FEEL like it. I don’t feel deprived. I feel empowered. No medications for diabetes!
In the last 15 years, about two dozen studies have been conducted on low-carb diets and all of the studies came out with one conclusion – the Ketogenic diet works! It is a much healthier and more effective option for weight loss compared with any high-carb calorie restricted diet. This article explores the numerous health benefits of ketogenic diet in addition to weight loss.
While sugar may be a great quick form of energy, it doesn’t keep your brain at its best. “There is a lot of evidence coming out which suggests that the brain operates more efficiently on ketones than it does on blood sugar, but the research is all fairly new,” Olin says. “Ketones are made to fuel the brain in the absence of glucose,” says Kristen Mancinelli, a registered dietitian and author of The Ketogenic Diet. “On a normal diet, the brain gets 100 percent of its energy from glucose. On a ketogenic diet, up to two-thirds of the brain’s energy comes from ketones. It’s understandable that brain function would change drastically on a ketogenic diet.” Here are 13 things doctors want you to know about the keto diet.
Ketosis has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties while also assisting with pain relief. Reducing glucose metabolism influences pain, so this could be one potential mechanism of action. In the review The Nervous System and Metabolic Dysregulation: Emerging Evidence Converges on Ketogenic Diet Therapy the authors look at numerous ways that a ketogenic diet can assist with pain and inflammation.
Multiple sclerosis is a condition that affects the nervous system, and some people believe that a ketogenic diet may slow the progression of the disease or control its symptoms. The ketogenic diet is low in carbohydrate, moderate in protein, and high in fat. There is currently not enough evidence to recommend it for everyone with multiple sclerosis.
Type 1 diabetes causes the same blood sugar control issues as type 2 diabetes, but in an entirely different way. Type 1 diabetics cannot produce enough insulin or any insulin at all, which requires them to have insulin administered exogenously. On top of that, the perfect diet will not be able to reverse this disease as the ketogenic diet can for type 2 diabetes.
Hey there! I started on the keto diet fully a few days ago but have been slowly working my way into for a couple weeks; eliminating . I have unspecified/other specified bipolar and have already spoken with my doctor about starting this diet. She said she recommends it fully. Today, I feel tired, foggy and I’ve had a headache for two days in a row. My mood is lower than I would like but being bipolar, I can’t really tell if its that or keto. There really aren’t many articles for keto and bipolar and I was wondering if you know of anyone with this condition and doing keto?
🙌🙌 thank you for some great info! USC just had an article about Keto, saying they don’t know the impact on bone health. So I’m not sure why all these articles are written without the documentation to prove the claims. We all know too much calcium supplementation can cause problems but every Dr wants you to supplement calcium. Most people could do a lot worse than doing Keto! The SAD will cause more problems for you than eating whole, unprocessed Keto food! Sugar seems to be the real issue along with aspartame and stressful living.
Oh Mike, I just cried when I read this. Jesus…you are right on so many different levels. For you, this sacrifice is a total game changer. It’s changing every aspect of your life and yes I am very happy you were brave enough to divulge the erectile dysfunction (ED) issue also. It’s one of the biggest (no pun intended lol) issues for teens and men and the reason they get on board quickly with getting back on track! Once they learn their high blood sugars are the actual cause of the ED, they are extremely relieved and happy to learn any way to lower their blood glucose levels!
Answer: No—unless you do it for more than a few months. After a few months, the upfront metabolic and weight benefits will begin to reverse and new health problems arise. We know this with confidence. I raise this question once again because more and more people are coming to me reporting problems. It may take months, even years, but the long-term consequences can be quite serious.
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And that’s the kicker -- most people “going keto,” may not actually be following a true ketogenic diet since it’s hard to know for sure if your body’s in ketosis. Mancella explains that the only formal and valid method of determining if your body is in ketosis is if there are ketone bodies being excreted in your urine. “There are strips for purchase at local drug stores that are available to determine this,” she says. “Otherwise, we’re not actually sure if we’re in ketosis, and we’re just following a ‘low carbohydrate’ diet.”
I have T2D and IBS and my blood sugar readings were degrading. I was going to have to take a second daily dose of Metformin and the first one already played havoc with the IBS. I started a low-carb diet because my T1D husband had been inspired by a podcast by Sam Harris with scientist Gary Taubes, author Why We Get Fat, Good Calories, Bad Calories and the Case Against Sugar, and started dumping the majority of his carbs a month previous. He had cut his insulin use literally in half and lost 15 pounds. He was feeling better and visibly had more energy. I was resistant to the diet and even the idea of it. I have been on Atkins and Sugar Busters and while I did fine on Sugar Busters back in the day, Atkins was too fat-based and that was the opposite of how I had been raised to think about dieting. I knew that the Diabetic diet given to me by the Diabetic Educator had never been enough and I get carby binge cravings even though it offers plenty of carbs and calories. I also knew that it’s a cycle for me-eat more carbs, want more carbs, and never really feel satisfied. On top of that, when my stomach hurts I seek carbs, and it hurts quite often. I did Weight Watchers and the Diabetic diets because they let me “cheat” and have my carbs while dieting. To be fair, just the act of tracking my food improved my outcome on either. But I got mad at WW when they upped the points for carbs on their system and made it so I couldn’t eat cake for lunch if I wanted to. Not that I made a practice of it, but it was principle of the thing. Long story short, I was pretty doubtful that I would be very successful on Atkins or Keto. To humor my husband I began a low-carb diet that started out as Atkins 20 or Keto and has morphed to more of an Atkins 30-40 for my personal comfort while using Keto, Atkins, and Paleo recipes and ultimately cutting all gluten. That means 30-40 net carbs per day, rather than per meal and a lot of natural non-processed foods. The first week was quite terrible. But even through the Keto Flu I recognized that my IBS symptoms felt better. I started to suspect that if I felt that bad just from quitting carbs that maybe there was more to the idea of sugar addiction than I wanted to believe. I’m six weeks in now and I’m losing a steady pound a week plus my sugars have dropped radically. A pound a week might not sound like much but it’s more than I’ve lost in 10 years. I have PCOS and insulin resistance so I’ve had a fasting blood sugar that ranged from 109-113 since my early twenties. It was flying high around 160-170 before the diet, now I’m reading between 119-139. Even more than that, my IBS symptoms stabilized. I’ve been tracking all my food using the free Atkins meal tracker so I started trying to narrow the foods that caused flare ups. I’m lactose intolerant but I knew that and used lactose free products or Lactaid for the cream based dishes. I had my gall bladder removed and so have always put down my symptoms to an inability to process dairy and fats. Big surprise to find that a higher fat, higher dairy diet was making my symptoms disappear. Gluten is the only common factor so far. Celiac? Just a food sensitivity? I don’t know, but that will be the next investigation. It is an investigation that I would never have thought to start on the Diabetic diet. Like the author, I’m very fond of cake and carbs. Luckily there are low-carb, no-gluten recipes for muffins and cakes. They aren’t exactly the same and some are definitely better than others, but they are out there. Plus, there is nothing wrong with having true birthday cake once a year if that is really what you need and if you don’t have a reason to avoid it, like binge symptoms or IBS flare ups. My husband let himself have a piece of cheesecake the other day and felt physically awful for two day after, plus he had to use a lot of insulin to counter the spike. It’s a pretty good deterrent. Just a side note but I had other symptoms of inflammation as well. My ankles were swelling to golf ball size and painful, it was difficult for me to stand and walk comfortably when this happened. While they haven’t stopped completely, the discomfort has gone way down as has the swelling and frequency. What’s my point? I’m not a salesman for a particular diet. Everyone is different and some people might respond very well to Keto and/or Atkins while others may not need anything that extreme. I’m not knocking the Diabetic diet. My dad lost 150 pounds 38 years ago on a very low calorie/low carb Diabetic diet that gradually increased and he has kept the weight off all this time and kept his blood sugar steady with medication, but has not had to go to insulin even at age 84. Also, he was a smoker, a diabetic, had hemochromatosis and was over 300 pounds with an apple body shape. He has had some fall out from this-he didn’t stop the smoking until a heart attack 20 years ago and that didn’t help. But he has made it to 84 and when he walked into his doctor’s office 40 years ago I’m guessing the doctor wouldn’t have put any money on that survival rate. Unfortunately, it looks like I need the lower carb version and will continue to need it to manage my symptoms. I didn’t want it, that’s for sure. But Diabetics are locked in a death struggle with Diabetes and it won’t give up just because we are tired or want our sugar. So for me, it has to be Very Low Carb for Life. Others may find they need this too and discouraging them from trying it is not doing them any favors. Hopefully I will continue to find this sustainable. I just need to keep reminding myself that I am more fond of my feet and my vision than my birthday cake.

The targeted keto diet is popular among athletes and active individuals who live a keto lifestyle but need more carbs. It allots an additional 20-30 grams of carbs immediately before and after workouts to allow for higher-intensity exercise and enhanced recovery. (The total carb count comes to 70-80 grams per day.) The best options include fruit, dairy or grain-based foods, or sports nutrition products. Because the additional carbs are readily burned off, they don't get stored as body fat.
Technically speaking, you're in ketosis when your blood ketones are higher than 0.5 mmol/L, but the optimal level for fat-burning purposes is 1.5 to 3 mmol/L. Nisevich Bede says that seasoned keto dieters report that they can actually feel a difference in this state, citing that they're less hungry and experience mental clarity once they reach ketosis.
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