“Keto diets should only be used under clinical supervision and only for brief periods,” Francine Blinten, R.D., a certified clinical nutritionist and public health consultant in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, told Healthline. “They have worked successfully on some cancer patients in conjunction with chemotherapy to shrink tumors and to reduce seizures among people suffering from epilepsy.”
If you do try the diet outside of medical supervision, Kizer says it’s important to test your urine with urinalysis ketone test strips to ensure your ketone levels don’t become dangerously high. Ketone urine test strips are also used by people with diabetes to determine if they’re at risk for ketoacidosis (DKA), a life-threatening complication that occurs when an individual doesn’t have enough insulin in their body. (Healthy ketosis is considered 0.5 to 3.0 mM blood ketones.)
Other experts say the long-term accumulation of ketones could be harmful. “Those ketones are emergency fuel sources, and we’re not meant to run on them long-term,” says Kristen Kizer, a registered dietitian at Houston Methodist Hospital. “Ketones are negatively-charged molecules, which means they’re acidic. When you build up ketone bodies in your system, you’re building up acid. One of the ways your body buffers acid is by pulling calcium from your bones.” Kizer also notes that the diet isn't very balanced and involves a very high intake of animal products, which generally do not protect against cancer, diabetes, or other diseases.
Based on what we know from the available research, is the keto diet safe? The evidence is clear that the KD can reliably help to treat obesity and improve insulin resistance, but the long-term impact of the KD on cardiovascular risk factors, liver disease and glucose tolerance is more controversial. Experts agree that genetics seem to play a role in how different people respond to the KD, meaning some may be more likely to thrive on very low-carb diets, while others are more susceptible to developing side effects.
You’ve lost weight. By far the most common cause of unexplained hair loss is simply rapid weight loss or dietary change. This disrupts the normal growth and decline cycle of your hair follicles, shunting a greater proportion of them into the “rest” phase to be pushed out by incoming hairs. Even though you may see extra hair in the shower or on the brush, your actual hair thickness shouldn’t change much.
What makes the the ketogenic diet unique among low-carb diets is that it’s characterized by a drastic reduction in carbohydrates (usually less than 30–50 grams per day, depending on individual goals) and also a significant increase in fats, as opposed to protein. The goal of the KD is to enter the metabolic state of ketosis, which happens after a few days of strict carbohydrate restriction.
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.
This high fat/low carb diet may also help improve certain other neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease,3 according to the Epilepsy Foundation. More than half the children with epilepsy who were put on the diet experienced half as many seizures, while 10 to 15 percent of the patients who followed this diet became seizure-free.  
The keto diet is known for helping people lose a few pounds very quickly, says Becky Kerkenbush, RD, a clinical dietitian at Watertown Regional Medical Center. Carbs hold on to more water than protein or fat, so when you stop eating them, your body releases all that extra H2O by making you pee more. As a result, the scale might read a few pounds lower, and you may look a bit leaner.

Of course, there are over 160 research papers currently on Pubmed with the words “diabetes” and “ketosis” or “ketogenic” in the title alone. It’s beyond clear that ketogenic dieting is extremely effective for many people with both type I and type II diabetes for all the reasons discussed above related to keeping blood sugar levels and insulin in check.

Several comprehensive studies and meta-analyses have demonstrated that after a few months or even a year of a low carb diet versus a moderate/high carb diet, there are no significant differences in the amount of weight lost (2,3,4,5).  I will say, however, most of these diets are NOT keto and are simply lower carb (i.e. 20%).  Also, long-term effects (beyond 1 year) are not often studied due to budgetary constraints, so interpret results as you wish. 

But when you consume a high-carbohydrate diet, your brain often can't convert enough glutamate into GABA because it's using glutamate as an energy source. This imbalance can lead to neurotoxicity, and this impaired functioning could potentially lead to brain fog. For reasons not completely understood, ketosis seems to favor an increased production of GABA, which can lead to reductions in neurotoxicity and, therefore, brain fog.
Until recently, ketosis was viewed with apprehension in the medical world; however, current advances in nutritional research have discounted this apprehension and increased public awareness about its favourable effects. In humans, ketone bodies are the only additional source of brain energy after glucose (23,24). Thus, the use of ketone bodies by the brain could be a significant evolutionary development that occurred in parallel with brain development in humans. Hepatic generation of ketone bodies during fasting is essential to provide an alternate fuel to glucose. This is necessary to spare the destruction of muscle from glucose synthesis.
In some ways, it’s similar to the Atkins diet, which similarly boosts the body’s fat-burning abilities through eating only low-carb foods, along with getting rid of foods high in carbs and sugar. Removing glucose from carbohydrate foods will cause the body to burn fat for energy instead. The major differences between the classic keto and the Atkins diet is the former emphasizes healthier keto fats, less overall protein and no processed meat (such as bacon) while having more research to back up its efficacy.
The main electrolytes affected by this process are sodium, potassium and magnesium. There are other electrolytes in your bloodstream, such as calcium and phosphorus, but their levels don’t change much on a keto diet. However, getting sodium, magnesium, and potassium in balance can help prevent against symptoms of keto flu and fix some of the side effects you may have long term. Read on to find out more about them.
The keto diet also calls for an increased amount of fat intake. The diet suggests by cutting carb and increasing fat, the body will begin to burn the fat. However, when the body begins to burn fat, it also begins to burn the muscle tissue as well. For those participating in the diet who have a risk of heart disease or stoke, the fat increase could be put their lives at risk.
That’s why the Bulletproof Diet uses cyclical nutritional ketosis, and why on days when I eat carbohydrates, I always have Brain Octane Oil so my cells have a steady supply of ketones. This builds metabolic flexibility: you can eat fat and carbs and your body will use them both, which is the goal. You want to be resilient and full of energy no matter what, and that means you want cells strong enough to burn whatever you give them.
Also, if you listen to Dr Bernstein talk about his childhood (he is well into his 80’s), the “original” recommended diet was only ketogenic in the sense that it was high-carb and caused keto-acidosis, which he describes as almost killing him as a teenager. He still considers the ADA recommendations as ketogenic for this reason (you only have to listen to him a short time to hear him railing against the ADA).
Cost. At the grocery store, your shopping cart can take on a whole new look (and price tag) thanks to high-ticket items such as beef, fish, poultry, pork, and cheese, which are replacing budget-friendly pasta, potatoes, rice, and bread. And chronic constipation may require fiber supplements or stool softeners. Before beginning a keto diet, determine whether it’ll fit within your budget.
Dehydration. With fewer water-binding carbohydrates in the diet, the body is less able to hold onto fluids, which can lead to dehydration. Eating more salt can help offset this, but it can also raise blood pressure, creating a whole new set of issues. If you plan to follow a keto diet, hydration is key. To know how many ounces of fluid you need each day, Yancy recommends dividing your body weight in half. Then think of the resulting number as your daily fluid goal in ounces. So if you weigh 200 pounds, strive for 100 ounces of water a day.

On a low-carb ketogenic diet, your largest dietary food source should be healthy fats. Make sure to choose fats from a variety of sources, including oil, butter, fish, nuts, and seeds. Your body needs the different nutrients each type supplies. No more low-fat or non-fat foods! Remember: Not all fat is bad. Healthy fats are non-hydrogenated, cold-pressed, and plant- or seed-based.

Although many proponents recommend this high fat version of Keto for weight loss, it first gained notoriety as a treatment method for Epilepsy. Going as far back as the 1920’s, medical professionals have recommended high fat Keto Diets as a treatment method for difficult to control seizure disorders. However, a diet that includes a high percentage of fats as part of its eating program increases the daily caloric intake. More calories means slower fat loss. Therefore, the higher calorie count is why this Ketogenic Diet type is considered a slower weight loss model for dieters and is why the Ideal Protein Protocol is a more effective Keto Diet for weight loss.


Combine that with the fact that your body is excreting more water, and you have a potential recipe for clogged pipes. You can keep things moving by getting some fiber from keto-friendly foods like avocado, nuts, and limited portions of non-starchy vegetables and berries, says David Nico, PhD, author of Diet Diagnosis. Upping your water intake helps, too.

Thank you for your objective review of the Keto Diet. I am not overweight but decided to try the Keto lifestyle because I have a lot of inflammation issues, including asthma and osteoarthritis. I had also been experiencing uncomfortable intestinal issues. I have been following the Keto lifestyle for 4 1/2 weeks, and I feel so much better- especially my stomach! I am eating a ton of leafy greens, broccoli and cauliflower. I am also enjoying Brussel sprouts, whole avacados and zucchini. I think the reason this is working well for me is because my body chemistry loves all the vegetables, good fats and protein. I also think that taking away sugar has had a big impact on how I feel. I’m just not eating grains and sugar. lots more veggies, berries, and consciously incorporating healthy fat. My stomach is flat again, and I have no more bloating or constipation. I have only lost 5 pounds, but I think my system is clean and operating better than it has in years. My point is that every person’s body chemistry is different. The Keto lifestyle seems to be what My body needed to feel my best. I did experience “the Keto flu” about a week into it, but it was short lived. I think that to be successful it is really important to eat a wide variety of veggies and good fats every day.


Disagree. I’ve been eating like this for ten months. I still enjoy carbs on the rare occasion but stick to a ketogenic diet most of the time. Ive lost 94lbs. I understand people lose weight in other ways but for me this worked. I eat 10x as many green vegetables as I ever have (at least 2 meals a day). My blood pressure dropped drastically in the first month. My cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar all normalized within the first 90 days. I don’t see any reason not to continue. I find this way of eating empowering and not restrictive. Before you call something a fad, because you obviously don’t fully understand this, you ought to read something from people other than the people you agree with. This is the problem I have with dieticians and most doctors. You don’t think for yourselves. You follow whatever the accepted guidelines are and spout them off without ever asking if they are right. It’s easier to stand with the crowd. I get that. But do not use your expertise as a means to criticize real progress. I would think as an expert your would be a proponent of what works! Have you ever been morbidly obese? Do you know what it is like to think your going to die from a heart attack at a young age? Do you know what it’s like to know your going to get type 2 if you can’t overcome your weight? Eating this way got me out of all of that and gave me my life back. Come down from the Ivory tower… Just maybe a little less judgement, a little more open minded
Eating cholesterol has very little impact on the cholesterol levels in your body. This is a fact, not my opinion.  Anyone who tells you different is, at best, ignorant of this topic.  At worst, they are a deliberate charlatan. Years ago the Canadian Guidelines removed the limitation of dietary cholesterol. The rest of the world, especially the United States, needs to catch up.

Diets require discipline, and it is not always easy for people to follow them without indulging in a "cheat day." One day may not make a big difference in the long-term, but a recent study from the University of British Columbia in Okanagan, Canada (UBCO), found that when it comes to the keto diet, a single dose of carbohydrates may have dangerous side effects.
Reduced hunger. Many people experience a marked reduction in hunger on a keto diet. This may be caused by an increased ability of the body to be fueled by its fat stores. Many people feel great when they eat just once or twice a day, and may automatically end up doing a form of intermittent fasting. This saves time and money, while also speeding up weight loss.
Another possible nutrient deficiency: potassium, a mineral important for both electrolyte balance and blood pressure control, notes MedlinePlus. “Inadequate intake of potassium is likely when consumption of fruits and starchy vegetables are decreased,” says Asche. She recommends adding lower-carb sources of potassium to the diet, including avocado and spinach — as well as lower-carb sources of fiber, such as chia seeds and flaxseed (be sure to enjoy ground for the best health benefits).
Thanks for this article. I just started a Keto diet so found it appropriate to my current lifestyle. Though I don’t believe your bottom line is strong enough since you simply stating that the diet is “hard to follow” and food is “notoriously unhealthy” without evidence going deeper into why those “notoriously unhealthy” foods are worse than keeping carbohydrate-heavy food that are addictive and give the body a quick sugar high for energy. I believe “hard to follow” is your opinion only, since acceptable Keto foods are found at all restaurants easily and also all grocery stores. All the foods you mention: “rich in very colorful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and lots of water” are all Keto-friendly. Many people have been on a Keto-diet for years. A healthy lifestyle is a healthy mindset change and making right choices – it’s not going to be easy.

The truth is though, her reaction is part of the problem. “I can’t believe your numbers improved so drastically without taking the medication.” THAT is the main problem with our medical community. They have been taught, and most have bought into the lie, that everything is better with medication. Medication is the go to. That is why we have so many health issues in this country. Let’s eat a crappy diet because our government/medical community recommends it…and then when that diet leads to medical complications…let’s throw drugs/medication at it. Many, if not the majority, of the medical issues we have could be done away with if we actually ate as we should. But no…we want cake.
The typical American consumes about 52% of calories from carbs, 33% from fat, and 16% from protein, according to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This macronutrient breakdown is fairly close to current dietary recommendations from the United States Department of Agriculture, which recommend 55 to 60% complex carbs, 30 percent fat and 15% protein to help prevent cardiovascular disease.
In addition, recent papers within the last few years investigating the effect of ketogenic dieting on obesity conclude that it’s an extremely effective way to not only lose fat, but spare muscle loss while curbing many disorders related to obesity as well (many of which have been discussed above), including the set of symptoms and risk factors known as Metabolic Syndrome (i.e. abdominal obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and elevated cholesterol)

Lorraine Turcotte,  a metabolism researcher at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, said that although it’s less trendy, long-term healthy eating is the tried-and-true solution. She’s not sure why people prefer “difficult dietary manipulations than to say ‘I’m just going to eat moderately — a well balanced diet, lots of fruits and vegetables.’”


I’ve said many times before that keto dieters tend to eat less produce, either because they don’t like it and see keto as a free pass for near-carnivory, they worry about the carbs in produce throwing them out of ketosis, or they somehow think plants are restricted on keto. These are mistakes. Common ones. You can eat plenty of produce on keto. You should eat plenty of produce on keto. Mushrooms of all kinds. Leafy greens. Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy. Low-carb fruits like berries. Anything fibrous.
Diabetes is said to be a ‘progressive, chronic’ disease – incurable, in other words. Recently, case reports and clinical studies have accumulated claiming diabetes reversal with a low-carb or ketogenic diet. Many will debate if ‘reversal’ is the right term since adding in sugar and flour will bring their diabetes back. Nevertheless, there remains no doubt that people with diabetes benefit from these kinds of diets [1]. For diabetics, both type 1’s and type 2’s, a well-formulated low-carb or ketogenic diet should be the first line of lifestyle treatment.

To understand what the keto diet is, you have to understand a little about how your body generates and uses energy for daily activity. All day, every day, your body undertakes a series of chemical processes (together referred to as metabolism) to break down and use a combination of carbohydrates and fats to produce energy. The energy produced is used for everything -- from breathing to brushing your teeth to running to catch a taxi. Your body is burning fuel constantly just to sustain basic life function. And while your body is always burning a combination of fats and carbohydrates, your brain’s primary fuel source is carbohydrates… and your brain requires a surprising amount of energy to get you through each day.


Here’s to exciting beginnings in cancer research: While we don’t have a lot of human studies to draw on, early findings suggest that the keto diet may have anti-tumor effects by reducing the total energy for tumors to thrive. We’ve also seen animal models report successful reductions in tumor growth, gastric cancer, and prostate cancer by using a ketogenic diet.


I actually clicked on the story just to see if they included anything about it’s use in managing chronic migraine. I have chronic migraine, basically intractable. Nothing has helped. I’ve tried medications, meditations, and everything in between including a bunch of dietary changes. Keto is my next consideration. I’m happy to hear it helped you! Thanks for sharing
In 2009, Drs. Eric Westman and Bryan Kraft published a case study and a review of the literature for a 70-year-old woman with life-long schizophrenia. Diagnosed at age 17, she had experienced daily visual and auditory hallucinations (skeletons that urged her to hurt herself) since the age of 7. She also had obesity, sleep apnea, hypertension, and gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) among a number of other health issues. After only 8 days on the ketogenic diet, the voices and hallucinations stopped. At the time of publication she had continued the ketogenic diet for more than a year, with no return of hallucinations, and had lost more than 10 kilograms (22 lbs).
Hi, I’m Bhuboy. Nutrition became my biggest passion after getting my blood chemical result showing my LDL cholesterol level over 481. I wanted to create a site where I could help you, my readers live a healthy and nutritious life. I believe we control our destiny, and we can choose to live a long and healthy life by eating right and treating our bodies with respect.
If you want to successfully lose weight with a Ketogenic weight loss program…successful meaning you lose weight and learn how to keep it off…then a Keto Diet is NOT another do-it-yourself, magazine of the month yo-yo diet trend. Ketogenic Diets are based on the science of weight loss and how human physiology responds to sugar, carbohydrates, insulin and fat storage.
"The keto diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, and very low-carb way of eating that leads to ketosis, which is a metabolic process that shifts the body to utilize a different power source," says Pamela M. Nisevich Bede, MS, RD, a registered dietitian at Abbott who specializes in sports nutrition, weight loss, and diet trends. It's similar to the Atkins diet, but is even lower in protein and higher in fat. In short: "Your body turns fat into fuel instead of running on easy-to-access carbs, which are its energy fuel source," says Nisevich Bede.

The keto diet works by eliminating carbohydrates from the your daily intake and keeping the body’s carbohydrate stores almost empty, therefore preventing too much insulin from being released following food consumption and creating normal blood sugar levels. This can help reverse “insulin resistance,” which is the underlying problem contributing to diabetes symptoms. In studies, low-carb diets have shown benefits for improving blood pressure, postprandial glycemia and insulin secretion. (7)
I have been on a low carb keto diet for more than a year. As T2DM my A1C dropped from 9% to 5.4% & I discontinued meds. All my lipids improved even with ample healthy saturated fat. More than a year now so I wonder why this would be a short term improvement when its obvious that I will not go back to a high A1C and taking 3 diabetes medications including sulphonylureas. It is clear from this article that you lack the necessary experience that would be gained from wholeheartedly trying the diet or monitoring patients doing it properly like me. I would be probably be facing my first amputation if I believed the negativity in your article. So for people with diabetes who may be dissuaded by your article. Ignore it and take back your health by restricting carbs (<25 g a day) or as low as you reasonably can below 130g while being satisfied that you are getting adequate nutrition.
At this point, I’m searching for the secret sauce that will allow me to follow Wheatbelly or Keto or any other low carb diet, but not develop any health problems. When you have 80 lbs to lose, it’s discouraging to be told that you can’t be on the only diet that has ever worked for more than a few months. I’ll need a year or more just to get to goal weight.

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, very-low-carb diet plan. The goal of the diet is to reach a “ketosis” state. The more restrictive you are on your carbohydrates (less than 15g per day), the faster you will enter ketosis. Once in this state, rapid weight loss begins. Research does indicate that the ketogenic diet is most effective in weight loss by reducing visceral (body) fat.
If you’re on a very high fat, very low carb diet – like a traditional Inuit diet – your brain will eventually be able to use fat-derived ketones for about 50-75% of its energy requirements. Most ketones are produced in the liver, but astrocytes in the brain also generate ketones themselves for use by neurons. You think we’d have that kind of set up in our brains if ketones weren’t useful to have around? If all we could do was burn glucose up there, what would be the point of even having localized ketone factories? 

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

×