thank you Dr. Jockers for the informative article. I have hypothyroidism from 3 parathyroid cysts being removed along with 80% of my thyroid. It is under control with Levothyroxine and liathyronine. I have been on the keto diet for almost 4 weeks and am still experiencing heart palpatations, dizzyness and low energy. I have been quite strict and feel disappointed. I have Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia and my oncologist was ok with me going on it. I feel like this diet would help me have more energy and help my overall health. Any advise would be appreciated. thank you, Inika
"There is still some debate on the effects of saturated fats and what constitutes a healthy dose.  There has been quite a bit of buzz around grass-fed cows producing cream, dairy, and butter.  Ghee has been popular on the market as well, as a clarified form of butter," Ms. Zarabi says.  "It's really the trans fats that I think people need to understand and the harmful effects on the heart and cholesterol."

Given all the buzz, adopting a ketogenic diet may be the perfect weight loss plan, especially if you have diabetes, or want to try this approach to lose those troublesome extra pounds. After all, it’s a very low-carb meal plan that promises effective weight loss while also lowering your blood sugar to the point where you could possibly stop taking medication. By all accounts, the “keto” diet, as it’s widely known, may even reverse type 2 diabetes, at least for some lucky individuals.
While the science of nerve signaling and genetic mutations is incredibly complex, it makes sense that a therapy, the ketogenic diet, that has been used successfully in epilepsy for 100 years might be helpful in conditions that share some similar features. Could changing the brain’s fuel, help change the malfunctions in its nerve cell firings and neuron excitability?
Researchers believe that genetics likely plays a role here, making some people more susceptible to liver problems when following low-carb, high-fat diets. Is the keto diet bad for your kidneys? According to an article released by Harvard Medical School, “Patients with kidney disease need to be cautious because this diet could worsen their condition.”

As a Certified Diabetes Educator, I was taught to educate my gestational diabetes and pregnant patients with diabetes to avoid fruits and dairy before noon. I know this is hard! That’s when you all are craving that glass of orange juice, but that’s the whole point here. We need you to give up that orange juice for the next six or so months for the sake of your baby. Instead, you can have a real orange with lunch; try it with a spinach salad with tuna salad and whole wheat pita. The nutritional value is pumped up by all those vitamins and the spike on your blood glucose will be reduced dramatically by the fiber in the real fruit combined with the protein you had in your lunch. You can even have a glass of milk; you’ve included all of your necessary food groups, and you are still only at 45 carbohydrates for the whole meal!

Also, be aware that, while diet can be an extremely powerful tool to regain control over many aspects of health, diet by itself remains insufficient for full health. Just as filling up the gas tank of your car with quality gasoline helps your car run well, but other aspects of your car need attention over time (change the oil, tune-ups, new tires on occasion, etc.), so it goes with diet. We must also pay attention to vitamin D and iodine status, the potential for common endocrine disruptions such as thyroid dysfunction, efforts to cultivate bowel flora, and other issues. Focus on diet as a start, not as an end.
Type 2 diabetes is normally defined as a chronic and progressive condition resulting from the insufficient production of natural insulin, causing high blood sugar in many patients. Upon receiving an official diagnosis, most patients are told they will need to take medication for life and that there is no cure for diabetes. However, many scientists, clinicians and dieticians disagree with this prognosis, claiming that diets such as the ketogenic (keto) diet have the potential to support the reversal of Type 2 diabetes.

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.

I was a Corpsman (not a corpse-man as some recent somewhat fanatical president would say), and I can tell you many stories of Marines and Sailors who maintained restrictive diets (aka picky eaters). Most obvious was lack of sustaining energy (hypoglycemia) at mile 15 (with 80lbs of gear including a 6.5lb rifle and 200 rnds of ammo, etc.) and depletion of essential vitamins, electrolyte imbalance. They were always the first to collapse and have to hear me scold “see I told you so.” An IV of D5W usually does the trick (D is for dextrose, OMG!)

Although the ketogenic diet has been a source of controversy and debate, one cannot dispute its astounding health benefits. Initially, it was created by specialists at John Hopkins Medical Center, particularly for individuals who have epilepsy. The researchers established that fasting enhanced the number of seizures the patients experienced. Nonetheless, since fasting isn’t an accomplishable purpose nowadays, a diet has been developed that would trick the body into believing it was in that process. 

In regard to serum measurements, the mean fasting glucose decreased by 17% from 9.08 ± 4.09 mmol/L at baseline to 7.57 ± 2.63 mmol/L at week 16 (p = 0.04) (Table ​(Table4).4). Serum sodium and chloride levels increased significantly, but only by 1% and 3%, respectively. Uric acid level decreased by 10% (p = 0.01). Serum triglyceride decreased 42% from 2.69 ± 2.87 mmol/L to 1.57 ± 1.38 mmol/L (p = 0.001). Increases occurred in both high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (8%) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (10%) but these changes were of borderline statistical significance (p = 0.08 and p = 0.1, respectively). The following blood tests did not change significantly: total cholesterol, potassium, bicarbonate, urea nitrogen, creatinine, calcium, thyroid-stimulating hormone, and hemoglobin.
What sort of negative health effects might an overly acidic pH level contribute to? A few include: bone loss, muscle loss, and higher susceptibility to frequent infections or illnesses. One way to track if your body is adapting well to an alkaline diet is testing your urine pH level. The pH scale ranges from 1–14, with seven being neutral and anything higher than seven beings alkaline. The goal is to ideally have a urine alkaline pH level between of 7.0–7.5 (a number that is slightly more alkaline than acidic).
The mean initial weight of the subjects was 101.03±2.33 kg. The weight decreased significantly during all stages of the treatment period. The body weights at the eighth, 16th and 24th week were 91.10±2.76 kg, 89.39±3.4 kg and 86.67±3.70 kg, respectively (Figure 1). Similar to the loss in body weight, a significant decrease was observed in the BMI of the patients following the administration of the ketogenic diet. The initial BMI, and the BMI after the eighth, 16th and 24th week were 37.77±0.79 kg/m2, 33.90±0.83 kg/m2, 33.24±1.00 kg/m2 and 32.06±1.13 kg/m2, respectively (Figure 2).

What is diabetic ketoacidosis? When a diabetic (usually a Type I diabetic, but sometimes this occurs in very late-stage, insulin-dependent, Type II diabetics) fails to receive enough insulin, they go into an effective state of starvation.  While they may have all the glucose in the world in their bloodstream, without insulin, they can’t get any into their cells.  Hence, they are effectively going into starvation.  The body does what it would do in anyone – it starts to make ketones out of fat and proteins.  Here’s the problem: the diabetic patient in this case can’t produce any insulin, so there is no feedback loop and they continue to produce more and more ketones without stopping.  By the time ketone levels (specifically, beta-hydroxybutyrate) approach 15 to 25 mM, the resulting pH imbalance leads to profound metabolic derangement and the patient is critically ill.

The keto diet involves getting up to 80 percent of daily calories from sources of healthy fat, a significant change for most of her patients who were accustomed to running on carbs, caffeine and sugar for energy. It became clear that something else had to be adjusted in order to prevent the side effects associated with the keto diet. This is when she came up with the idea to focus on restoring alkalinity first and foremost.
Statistical differences between body weight, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, level of fasting blood sugar, and urea and creatinine levels before and after the administration of the ketogenic diet were analyzed using a paired Student’s t test using the Stat-view version 4.02 (Abacus Concepts Inc, USA). Weight, BMI and all biochemical parameters are expressed as mean ± SEM.
Despite its explosive popularity, there’s a lot of confusion about what the ketogenic (keto) diet really is. “Many people think they’re following a keto diet when they’re really just consuming a low-carbohydrate diet,” says Patti Urbanski, MEd, RD, CDE, a certified diabetes educator with St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth, Minnesota. “So one person’s ‘keto diet’ may look very different than another’s.”
Certain Cancers Keto may be used in combination with chemotherapy and radiation, some studies have suggested, including one published in November 2018 in the journal Oncology. (12) But ultimately more studies are needed to determine if keto can play a role in cancer therapy, and patients should not use it as a stand-alone treatment or without a doctor’s consent.
Dr. Campos, it is unfortunate that you retain the medical community’s negative stance on the ketogenic diet, probably picked up in medical school when you studied ketoacidosis, in the midst of an obesity and type II diabetes epidemic that is growing every year, especially among populations who will never see the Harvard Health Letter. The medical community has failed in reversing this trend, especially among children, and the public is picking up the tab, in the form of higher health insurance premiums to treat chronic metabolic diseases which doctors cannot cure. The ketogenic diet does not bid its adherents to eat unhealthy processed meats, and the green leafy vegetables that it emphasizes are important in a number of nutritional deficiencies. People lose weight on the ketogenic diet, they lose their craving for sugar, they feel more satiety, they may become less depressed, their insulin receptors sensitivity is improved, and these are all the good outcomes you fail to mention. There is a growing body of research which demonstrates the neuroprotective effects of the ketogenic diet to slow cancer progression, as well as diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, for which there are no effective medical treatments. Please respect your patients by providing them with evidence-based medical outcomes, not opinions.
Casual chronic keto is at some risk of those same side effects. Sure, there are sporadic anecdotal cases where there appears (so far) to be no harm, but these are not large population RCTs. The KD-in-epilepsy data is closer to being RCT data. There being no ancestral case for chronic keto, we need to learn what we can from the formal studies (and sure, endeavor to separate the ailment, med and diet effects).

It’s only dangerous to not get enough carbs at each meal if one is taking too much meds or insulin for the amount of carbs they are eating! Restricting carbohydrates doesn’t lead to hypoglycemia unawareness, but having lots of lows and lots of highs will (and decreasing insulin and carbs leads to way fewer highs and fewer lows, or at least it can). On the other hand, being in ketosis does make low blood sugars less negative as an experience. I still feel my lows just fine, but they are less of an emergency because my brain still works (feeding on ketones) and by body doesn’t freak out and release tons of adrenaline that then makes me want to eat a house. Mind you, I still wake up and know immediately if I’m low, I know from experience and how it feels in my head and body but without the crazy shakes. This is not unawareness but it is less reactive.
What is more common throughout the history of the human race is fasting. Islamic Ramadan is a 28- to 30-day fast where food and drink are prohibited during the daylight hours. Christianity also has a strong fasting foundation, and in the Bible, Jesus fasted to have higher and clearer communication with God. Greek Orthodox Christians fast for a total of 150–200 days each year!
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.”

The keto diet has a massive fan base that has grown at least in part due to the popular Netflix documentary The Magic Pill, which touts a trove of promising keto health benefits. But the fact of the matter is that most of the studies on the keto diet are premature. Meaning: They’re in small populations of humans, or they’re in rats. (And you are very different from a rat.)
Constipation is a common side effect of low-carb eating plans, including the ketogenic diet. Severely curbing your carb intake means saying goodbye to high-fiber foods like whole grains, beans, and a large proportion of fruits and vegetables, says Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, Seattle-based nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate, and moderate-protein diet that has been proved to be an effective treatment among patients with epileptic conditions such as glucose transporter 1 deficiency, pyruvate dehydrogenase deficiency, tuberous sclerosis complex, Rett syndrome, Dravet syndrome, and specific mitochondrial disorders (1, 2).

It may be because all we have ever known is what we have been told by the FDA or who are the people in our country that tell you what you should eat. Do you realize how much money is in the grain , corn and sugar business in this country? A lot more than you can imagine. Bottom line I think its money telling people what they should eat. I’m gonna try the diet and see if it helps me. Thx for letting me voice my opinion.
A keto diet was/ is not just used for diabetics. It is a very useful tool for epilepsy. It is extremely successful in reducing the number of seizures per day, mainly in children but also in adults. I am sure that followers of the epilepsy diet, which has been used since the 1920s have not all starved to death. Iwould also think that the followers of this diet are also motivated to stay on it, not eat a slice of birthday cake and keep all thier brain cells.

Lower carbohydrate diets (varying amount of carbohydrates in each study) have shown promise in improving A1c and weight management in Type 2 diabetes, is shown to be better than low-fat diets in improving blood pressure and lipid levels, and more. Along with that, more ketosis studies on different disease states are out there and growing. Ketosis has also been explored for its promise, at least in the short term, for metabolic disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.
Fatty acid production in fat tissue is stimulated by epinephrine and glucagon, and inhibited by insulin. Insulin is one of the hormones the pancreas secretes in the presence of carbohydrates. Insulin's purpose is to keep blood glucose levels in check by acting like a driver, pushing the glucose into cells. If insulin were not to be secreted, blood glucose levels would get out of control.
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. 

Keto diets are great for losing weight. And everyone should be able to make their own decision AFTER being fairly apprised of the risks, which are too often glossed over. A balanced and honest discussion of the pros and cons, is what helps people make an informed decision, where they are aware and consenting of possible risks they may be exposing themselves to.
It may seem unusual that a diet filled with fats could be a positive for your heart, but that’s exactly what Dr. Phinney suggests. “In the one-year study, 22 of 26 cardiovascular risk factors significantly improved. Most notably, these patients experienced a mean fasting triglyceride reduction of 24 percent, an 18 percent increase in good HDL cholesterol, and significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.” For all of these findings, Dr. Phinney notes that research into the benefits of keto is still in its earliest stages. “The fact is, there is not yet any long-term, peer-reviewed data that connects some of these improvements to nutritional ketosis,” he says. Read more about the 11 hidden dangers of the keto diet.
Your article started off well when you began to explore the science behind the diet. However you missed the mark by saying that the reason to stay away is because it’s being done wrong and theorizing that people are doing it because their friends are. Rather you should have explored the proper way to adhere to the diet and then made an informed decision about its benefits or negatives. You cannot start and article with science and end with personal feelings or opinions

Dr. Campos, it is so discouraging to see that you disparage the ketogenic diet based on your assumption that it is very heavy in poor quality processed meats. No diet that relies on processed foods can be viewed as “healthy”. Become better informed by getting up to speed with what Jeff Volek, RD, PhD, calls a “well-formulated ketogenic diet.” Also, learn more about the potential of the diet to slow cancer progression (my specialty). You owe it to your patients who are depending on you for advice. Present them with facts, not opinions.

I agree with the article above regarding the muscle loss myth, with that said, I think that a keto diet can become a problem with retaining muscle mass and here is why… many people who follow this diet tend to under eat. Keto is a great way to force your body to use fat as an energy source but you still need to get a certain amount of calories, and if you dont there is a good chance you will lose muscle mass eventually if not right away. To lose weight we have to be calorie deficient, but within reason, and I have found that many dieters (not just keto) follow the absurd 1200 calorie a day diet…that is just not good in my opinion and more importantly, not sustainable. The average 5’7″ 150 female between 20 and 60 years old has a BMR of between 1350 and 1550 calories a day, so 1200 calories is not wise. This is not the keto diet plan but the 1200 calorie figure is what many people are being told to do…over time your body will think it is starving and most certainly use muscle mass for energy. Keto is great, but you have to be smart about it. P.S. I am a personal trainer not an expert on nutrition, but like most trainers I study nutrition, nutrition and diet trends, and continually research to help my clients succeed…I have also followed the keto diet with success…but I cycle. My biggest issue with keto is getting enough calories..I’m always eating.
And it’s not just this study, either. Several other studies have found  that keto leaves rodents unable to process carbs,[7] leads to insulin resistance,[8] and, more long-term, causes non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is when your liver accumulates lots of fat and begins to shut down.[9][10] Triglycerides and inflammation go way up, too.[11]
🙌🙌 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.
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.
A huge concern with the keto diet is the maintenance and potential loss of muscle mass. Many people will just think: hey, dummy, then just eat more protein. However, some research has shown that even if your protein intake remains constant, a low carb diet may promote muscle loss. A study from the Netherlands confirmed these findings. In the study, participants were given three diets (high carb, moderate carb, low carb) and moderate protein. The study found that those following a low carb diet experienced increased muscle breakdown. This is because when we eat carbohydrates, we produce insulin which promotes muscle growth. This is why athletes depend on carbohydrates (along with protein) to fuel their performance. When we eat carbs, the insulin release “unlocks” our muscles to let the protein in so it can do its job at building our muscles. So, when we skip the carbs all together, muscle glycogen stores get depleted, we lose out on those muscle building opportunities. Forget about high intensity training. A depleted glycogen store also means our workouts will suffer because we just don’t have enough oil left in the tank. This was a again suggested in the recent review looking at many ketogenic studies. The studies found that there was greater lean body mass loss in the ketogenic groups compared to the other diets being studied.
The ketogenic state in particular can increase the hormones that make you feel full and decrease the hormones that make you feel hungry. Sounds great, right? Well, once you’re off the keto diet, the appetite-suppressing hormones will increase significantly from your baseline. Meaning that you’ll likely feel even hungrier than you did before you started!
In compliance with the FTC guidelines, please assume the following about links and posts on this site: Many of the links on are affiliate links of which I receive a small commission from sales of certain items, but the price is the same for you. If I post an affiliate link to a product, it is something that I personally use, support and would recommend without an affiliate link. Learn More