I actually went on a ketogenic diet last year to see if it would help my migraines. I have a history of chronic migraines which would usually last 3 days, sometimes longer. Triptans help a lot but I don’t like having to take them. I stayed in ketosis for about 8 months and experienced a significant reduction in migraines, from feeling some type of headache (mild o r severe) almost everyday to 1 or 2x per month while in ketosis. Although I’m very healthy otherwise, I do think my migraines may have something to do with blood sugar fluctuations (despite previously eating a whole foods diet and no refined carbs), and keto totally stabilized this. I eventually came off of Keto because I’m not really a meat lover. When I came off, but remained low carb, my migraines stayed under control for the most part. When I increase carbs, they do return.
It is important to point out however, that type 2 diabetes also improves during any form of caloric restriction and it is likely that a keto diet is not unique in that aspect, rather it is causing a caloric deficit by severely restricting carbohydrate intake. We have helped numerous clients lose fat while on a moderate carb intake in a caloric deficit.
Our bodies are incredibly adaptive to what you put into it – when you overload it with fats and take away carbohydrates, it will begin to burn ketones as the primary energy source. Optimal ketone levels offer many health, weight loss, physical and mental performance benefits.1There are scientifically-backed studies that show the advantage of a low-carb, ketogenic diet over a low-fat diet. One meta-analysis of low-carbohydrate diets showed a large advantage in weight loss. The New England Journal of Medicine study resulted in almost double the weight loss in a long-term study on ketone inducing diets. 

Cutting out a whole food group (or in this case, more than one) is a dietitian’s worse nightmare. It not only makes it a really hard diet to follow, but also stresses the hell out of your body and makes it work a lot harder to keep up. In a US News & World Report’s review of 2018 diet, the ketogenic diet came in last place as a sustainable means to weight loss because of its restrictive nature.
It’s the same with a keto way of eating: there is a ton of research and studies out there, and we KNOW that it works. Sure, more studies will come, and the new information will help us refine it, and we will learn how it specifically affects certain individuals in different ways…but the truth about the basics of it are all there, in the open, for all to see.
The basis of the muscle wasting argument stems from a misunderstanding of the brains glucose requirements.  If ketones didn’t exist the brain would require much more glucose than it does in the presence of ketones.  During a low carb diet the brain would be forced to break down protein to obtain this glucose.  It would do this through either dietary protein or in the absence of sufficient dietary protein, it would go after body muscle.  Fortunately, once ketosis kicks in the brain is able to obtain 70-75% of its energy requirements from ketones.  The remaining 25% is much more easily obtained from dietary protein and thus body muscle is spared.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

In a March 2018 blog post, Dr. Ede provides a range of very helpful tips for anyone already on mood-altering or psychiatric medications who want to try a ketogenic diet, such as how to talk with your psychiatrist or mental-health provider and what laboratory metabolic tests the doctor should order to help monitor your response to the diet. Most importantly, she provides details about some specific medications — notably specific antipsychotic medications, anticonvulsant medications, and lithium — that should be carefully monitored.


This was a great read. I aim to restrict carbs always because I believe most are why the American population is obese. I would very much like to hear more about carb restriction excluding the discussion on processed meats and processed high salt content foods because I consume neither. I also don’t consume dairy or eggs. So can you provide some substance.
There are numerous benefits that come with being on keto: from weight loss and increased energy levels to therapeutic medical applications. Most anyone can safely benefit from eating a low-carb, high-fat diet. Below, you’ll find a short list of the benefits you can receive from a ketogenic diet. For a more comprehensive list, you can also read our in-depth article here >
The low-carb, high-fat approach to the keto diet limits the types of foods you can have, and entire food groups are eliminated entirely. Beans, legumes, and whole grains are out, as are many fruits and vegetables. Many of these foods carry vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you can’t get from any other source, and without them, you may start to experience nutritional deficiencies.
Note: Are you a vegetarian or vegan and want to go on a ketogenic diet? It’s still possible! Just keep in mind that the dietary restrictions can sometimes be a little bit intense. Make sure to plan ahead and prepare to aid your success. To help out, we’ve published articles (with 7 day meal plans included) for both the vegetarian ketogenic diet and the vegan ketogenic diet.
The keto diet restricts carbs so much that anyone who is on blood sugar lower medication or who has type 1 or type 2 diabetes must consult his or her doctor before making such a severe dietary change. As the body adapts to low-carb dieting, medication dosages and treatment plans will have to be revised, and blood sugar levels must be carefully monitored.

Use Fat Wisely Rather Than Excessively. While the keto diet means your food choices are geared to a low carb/high fat intake, it does not mean adding fat to everything you eat. You do not need to fall for one of the most trendy keto tricks— adding a pat of butter to your coffee. This might be useful at the very beginning as you transition away from a high carb diet but should not be continued once you are past the initial shift once your body has adapted to this new eating rhythm.  Instead, listen to your body for cues. If you are feeling hungry right after a meal, you probably didn’t have enough protein or fat. When followed correctly, a keto-based meal will leave you feeling full and satiated for hours.


Mild ketosis is a natural phenomenon that occurs in humans during fasting and lactation (19,20). Postexercise ketosis is a well-known phenomenon in mammals. Although most of the changes in the physiological parameters induced following exercise revert back to their normal values rapidly, the level of circulating ketone bodies increases for a few hours after muscular activity ceases (21). It has been found that in trained individuals, a low blood ketone level protects against the development of hypoglycemia during prolonged intermittent exercise (22). In addition, ketosis has a significant influence on suppressing hunger. Thus, a ketogenic diet is a good regulator of the body’s calorie intake and mimics the effect of starvation in the body.

Another benefit has to do with the low levels of insulin in the body, which causes greater lipolysis and free-glycerol release compared to a normal diet when insulin is around 80-120. Insulin has a lipolysis-blocking effect, which can inhibit the use of fatty acids as energy. Also, when insulin is brought to low levels, beneficial hormones are released in the body, such as growth hormone and other powerful growth factors.

So one study looked at the long-term effects of a keto diet in obese patients and after 24 weeks, patients lost weight, reduced their total cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides and increased their HDL. Another study conducted on 132 obese patients found that the low carb (keto) group lost more weight than the low fat group while improving biomarkers like decreased triglycerides, improved insulin sensitivity, and decreased fasting glucose. This all was confirmed in a 2013 meta-analysis, 13 RCTs (1,569 participants) found that patients assigned to a very low carbohydrate diet resulted in greater weight loss compared to those assigned to a low-fat diet.
You may need more water. Going keto causes an initial reduction in fluid retention in cells throughout your body. Your digestive tract requires water to keep the fecal matter soft and moist. As you aspire to consume more fluid, be sure to add a pinch of salt to each cup of water you drink, and to sip steadily throughout the day instead of binge chugging. These measures will help you better absorb additional fluids instead of excrete them.
“the mitochondria – work much better on a ketogenic diet as they are able to increase energy levels in a stable, long-burning, efficient, and steady way. Not only that, a ketogenic diet induces epigenetic changes[6] which increases the energetic output of our mitochondria, reduces the production of damaging free radicals, and favours the production of GABA”

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.”
Additionally, you may find it difficult to eat adequate calories on a daily basis because fat is so filling. Some people even opt to fast for several hours each day. While this may help with weight loss, your body needs those calories for proper maintenance. Without them, it may turn to burning muscle for energy, and that can accelerate muscle loss.
Unfortunately I think Dr. D has too much of a vested interest in distinguishing WB from Keto diet when they actually overlap quite a bit. Especially people practicing keto for overall health, not just weight loss. Having said that, more studies are needed to monitor side effects of keto diets in adults, and it is good to keep in mind that there could be unintended side effects from low carb diets. Fortunately most can be prevented by being aware of them, adjusting to have a well-rounded low carb diet, and taking supplements.

The good news here is no! All the evidence points to the fact that a low carbohydrate diet actually does lower blood glucose and A1c levels and does contribute to weight loss. The problem is we do not yet have enough large studies, over enough sustained years to support evidence that people with diabetes can remain on a highly restrictive Ketogenic Diet for the rest of their life and also not have other consequences to their health.
The basis of the muscle wasting argument stems from a misunderstanding of the brains glucose requirements.  If ketones didn’t exist the brain would require much more glucose than it does in the presence of ketones.  During a low carb diet the brain would be forced to break down protein to obtain this glucose.  It would do this through either dietary protein or in the absence of sufficient dietary protein, it would go after body muscle.  Fortunately, once ketosis kicks in the brain is able to obtain 70-75% of its energy requirements from ketones.  The remaining 25% is much more easily obtained from dietary protein and thus body muscle is spared.

Clinical trials that compare various diets’ outcomes among patients with mental health conditions are sorely lacking. For example, while currently there are 2822 clinical trials registered at Clincaltrials.gov for schizophrenia, none of them are examining the ketogenic diet’s impact on this debilitating chronic condition (three however, are examining gluten-free diets.) Likewise, there are NO ketogenic interventions among 1180 clinical trials for bipolar disorder, 2711 studies for anxiety, and 5370 for depression. (Although there are still a number of trials for these conditions that are looking at “low-fat healthy diets” or “Mediterranean diets” with plenty of fruits, grains and vegetables.)


The level of total cholesterol showed a significant decrease from week 1 to week 24 (Figure 3). The level of HDL cholesterol significantly increased (Figure 4), whereas LDL cholesterol levels significantly decreased with treatment (Figure 5). The level of triglycerides decreased significantly after 24 weeks of treatment. The initial level of triglycerides was 2.75±0.23 mmol/L, whereas at week 24, the level decreased to 1.09±0.08 mmol/L (Figure 6). The level of blood glucose significantly decreased at week 24. The initial blood glucose level and its level at the eighth, 16th and 24th week were 7.26±0.38 mmol/L, 5.86±0.27 mmol/L, 5.56±0.19 mmol/L and 5.62±0.18 mmol/L, respectively (Figure 7). The changes in the levels of urea (Figure 8) and creatinine (Figure 9) were not statistically significant.
The information you share, including that which might otherwise be Protected Health Information, to this site is by design open to the public and is not a private, secure service. You should think carefully before disclosing any personal information in any public forum. What you have written may be seen, disclosed to, or collected by third parties and may be used by others in ways we are unable to control or predict, including to contact you or otherwise be used for unauthorized or unlawful purposes. As with any public forum on any site, this information may also appear in third-party search engines like Google, MSN, Yahoo, etc. Your use of this site is governed by Harvard University and its affiliates Terms of Use located at www.health.harvard.edu/privacy-policy and may be amended from time to time.
The good news here is no! All the evidence points to the fact that a low carbohydrate diet actually does lower blood glucose and A1c levels and does contribute to weight loss. The problem is we do not yet have enough large studies, over enough sustained years to support evidence that people with diabetes can remain on a highly restrictive Ketogenic Diet for the rest of their life and also not have other consequences to their health.
Having said that, there are also studies suggesting that long term carbohydrate restriction diets (aka. the keto diet) may result in fast short term weight loss but people gain it all back in the long term. An RCT put 63 individuals on a low-fat diet or a low carb diet, and the study found the low carb dieters lost more weight compared to the low fat group by month 3 and 6, but that the weight loss evened out by month 12. This was confirmed by a Meta-analysis which found that while low-carbers lost more weight than low-fat dieters but the differences disappeared by the one year mark.

Keto has become synonymous with low carb, but as you have just read, reaching ketosis is much more complex than just eating fewer carbs. Healthy, young active people are taking up ‘the keto diet’ recreationally without any clinical reason in an attempt to lose weight, drop body fat, get a six-pack, or just to follow a trend their friends have taken up.

You’re transitioning. Your body is equipped to process a high intake of carbs and a lower intake of fat. Your body needs to create enzymes to be able to do this. In the transitional period, the brain may run low on energy which can lead to grogginess, nausea, and headaches. If you’re having a large problem with this, you can choose to reduce carb intake gradually.
"On a ketogenic diet, your intake of fruits and vegetables is extremely limited, and we all know how important the fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other compounds in fruits and veggies are," says Libby Parker, R.D., a dietitian who specializes in treatment and prevention of eating disorders. It's true: There are a lot of healthy but high-carb foods you can't eat on the ketogenic diet. That's one of the reasons keto is usually pretty low in fiber, which isn't so great long-term. "Fiber is not only protective against many gastrointestinal cancers, it is also a big factor in fullness and weight loss," Parker explains. "Furthermore, constipation is very common on low-fiber diets like the keto diet." (That said, These Healthy, High-Fat Foods Can Help You Feel Full Longer.)
To get into and stay in ketosis, you must restrict carbs and sugar – less than 50 grams per day. This initiates your body to burn the remaining carbohydrates present, after which it moves on to stored glucose (glycogen), and finally it taps into ketones. Ketones are produced by the liver and readily used by the body for potent energy production and critical brain-related functions.

In this single-arm, 4-month diet intervention, an LCKD resulted in significant improvement of glycemia, as measured by fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1c, in patients with type 2 diabetes. More importantly, this improvement was observed while diabetes medications were reduced or discontinued in 17 of the 21 participants, and were not changed in the remaining 4 participants. Participants also experienced reductions in body weight, waist circumference, and percent body fat but these improvements were moderate and did not predict the change in hemoglobin A1c in regression analyses.
Most people already know about the keto flu, which can happen when you start the diet. It’s a result of the body adapting to the low-carb state. Lowering carb intake forces the body to burn ketones for energy instead of glucose. Once the body is in ketosis — burning fat instead of glucose — the keto diet is working. But you may not feel so great at first, hence the term keto flu.
It’s best to approach this change in eating as a way to feel better and become healthier, rather than as a “fad diet” or weight loss quick-fix. Dr. Cabeca recommends giving it six months to test the effects, keeping in mind that some trial and error is expected along the way. The diet should ideally be approached in step-wise fashion, focusing on alkaline first before adding in fasting and the keto aspect.
You can receive the FULL benefit of the 3-Week Ketogenic Diet without adding any exercise during the 3-weeks you'll be following the plan. If you choose to incorporate at least an hour of metabolic exercise during the week using my personal-trainer guided exercise videos, you'll see up to THREE times the results. Exercise contributes to hormonal balance, blood sugar stability, and lean muscle growth.
Registered dietitian Julie Stefanski is based in York and has specialized in the ketogenic diet for more than a decade. She also advocates for anyone starting keto, especially individuals who have not seen a doctor in more than a year, to first see a physician and/or registered dietitian to have their lab work checked and monitored. She also notes there are certain medications that cannot be used while on a ketogenic diet.  

Lots of apps and websites offer keto diet challenges—basically, a blueprint for the keto diet with a fixed starting and ending point (they typically last for a week to a month, though some may be longer). Speaking of apps, plenty of keto-centric ones are right at your fingertips (a.k.a., your smartphone), like the KetoDiet app, which can help you calculate your macros and track your keto diet effectively.
More good news: Snacks are totally allowed (and I'm not just talking about carrot sticks). There are plenty of packaged options out there designed for keto fans. FATBAR is one of them. These snack bars have 200 calories, 16 grams of fat, and four grams of net carbs. They're also plant-based and are made with almond or cashew butter, cocoa butter, coconut, pea protein, sunflower seeds, and chia seeds.
In the present study, a control population on a low fat diet was not included due to the difficulties in recruiting subjects for a control group. However, several studies (63,64) with appropriate control groups that compared the effect of a low fat diet with a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet have recently been published. In this regard, these two recent studies are comparable with the present study. Brehm et al (23) showed that obese women on a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet lost 8.5 kg over six months compared with 4.2 kg lost by those in the low fat diet group (P<0.001). Twenty-two subjects from the low carbohydrate ketogenic diet and 20 subjects from the low fat diet completed the study, with both groups reducing their energy intake by approximately 450 kcal from the baseline level. In another study performed in 132 severely obese subjects for six months (24), there was greater weight loss in the low carbohydrate ketogenic diet group than in the low fat diet group (5.8 kg versus 1.9 kg, P=0.002). Both of these studies support the findings presented in the present paper.
In fact, the diet first gained popularity in the 1920s when it was discovered to have benefits for children suffering from extreme epilepsy. Now, researchers are conducting studies to determine whether it could have benefits for any number of disorders, including the treatment of ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, brain tumors, traumatic brain injury, diabetes, weight loss, polycystic ovary syndrome, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, narcolepsy, and some cancers.
Diets that focus on lowering carbohydrates and increasing fat have been associated with lower levels of “bad” cholesterol and higher levels of “good” cholesterol. Furthermore, lower triglyceride levels are typically seen in those on a ketogenic diet. A better cholesterol balance and fewer triglycerides can help to protect against plaque deposition in the arteries, which can lower your risk of atherosclerosis, heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke.

A well-balanced keto diet includes enough fat so that you are not hungry after a meal, can go for several hours without eating, and have ample energy. Make sure to increase your intake of fat at the start of your keto journey until your body adapts to using fat and ketones for most of its energy needs. Once you’re fat adapted, let your appetite guide you in cutting back on fat a bit until you reach the point where you can easily maintain the balance between hunger and satiety.
You can receive the FULL benefit of the 3-Week Ketogenic Diet without adding any exercise during the 3-weeks you'll be following the plan. If you choose to incorporate at least an hour of metabolic exercise during the week using my personal-trainer guided exercise videos, you'll see up to THREE times the results. Exercise contributes to hormonal balance, blood sugar stability, and lean muscle growth.
Starting on a ketogenic diet can influence your exercise performance in multiple ways, both positive and negative. During the first 1-2 weeks (the “adaption period,” which I will get back to later), you will most likely see a decrease in energy and athletic performance across the board while your body adjusts to the new diet. This is perfectly normal and should NOT be a cause for concern or make you abandon the diet.
Diet Doctor has a number of videos and posts about positive impacts of the ketogenic diet for migraines, brain cancer, and traumatic brain injury. Recently, two psychiatrists reviewed the research base for psychiatric issues and noted that while promising, it is slim. Dr. Ede takes a more hopeful view. “My mantra is that the most powerful way to change your brain chemistry is by food, because that’s where brain chemicals come from in the first place,” she says.
×