Experts are split on whether the keto diet is a good idea. On the one hand, Lori Chang, registered dietitian and a supervisor at the Center for Healthy Living at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles, says using a “cleaner” source of energy—ketones rather than quick-burning carbohydrates—can improve mood and energy levels. When you eat refined carbohydrates or just too many carbs in general, the blood is flooded with excess insulin, Chang says. "This can lead to a blood sugar rollercoaster that stresses the body and negatively impacts energy levels and mood. When you’re in a state of ketosis, however, ketone bodies don’t require insulin to cross the blood-brain barrier, which wards off unfavorable blood sugar levels."
Circulating ketone bodies make the blood too acidic, which will draw calcium from the bones as a buffer response. While there are relatively few studies on long-term (more than 6 months) effects of a non-therapeutic keto diet, studies of children on the diet show high calcium levels in the blood, increased bone demineralization and increased risk of kidney stones.
"The diet was introduced in the 1920s as a way to treat epilepsy and then sort of fell out of popularity with the introduction of anti-seizure drugs," Turoff says. What's more, ketosis (the goal of keto, a state where the body uses fat for energy instead of carbs) is something seen in people during periods of starvation—including in people with anorexia nervosa. "The body is deprived of carbohydrates and thus has to turn to ketone bodies as a fuel source," Turoff explains. "People really need to understand that it's not just a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet—it actually changes the way your body uses fuel."
Achieving ketosis is a pretty straightforward, but it can seem complicated and confusing with all of the information out there.4If you want to learn more about ketosis and the scientific process around it, you can visit a very in-depth discussion about on Dr. Peter Attia’s website. Here’s the bottom line on what you need to do, ordered in levels of importance:
In the mid-1990s, Hollywood producer Jim Abrahams, whose son's severe epilepsy was effectively controlled by the diet, created the Charlie Foundation to promote it. Publicity included an appearance on NBC's Dateline programme and ...First Do No Harm (1997), a made-for-television film starring Meryl Streep. The foundation sponsored a multicentre research study, the results of which—announced in 1996—marked the beginning of renewed scientific interest in the diet.
“If you’re going to do keto, there’s a better and a worse way to do it,” says Yawitz. “Loading your plate with meats, and especially processed meats, may increase your risk for kidney stones and gout,” which is a painful type of arthritis. “High intake of animal proteins makes your urine more acidic and increases calcium and uric acid levels. This combination makes you more susceptible to kidney stones, while high uric acid can increase your risk for gout,” adds Yawitz.
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But wait, there’s one loophole. Have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)? Then the keto diet may help regulate your periods. “Women with PCOS have high insulin levels, which cause sex hormone imbalances,” notes Yawitz. In a small study published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism, subjects with PCOS following a ketogenic diet for six months noted improvements in their menstrual cycles — and a small number of women became pregnant, overcoming previous infertility obstacles. “This study was very small, so we can’t make recommendations for all women with PCOS based on its findings,” says Yawitz. “And really, any diet that leads to weight loss should help in PCOS.”
First off, make sure that you’re eating real and organic foods. It’s best to steer clear of processed products and foods that contain excessive amounts of sugar, starch and trans fat, since they obviously won’t do your health any good. You should also avoid foods that contain high amounts of carbohydrates, such as milk, as they may cause you to consume more than the allotted amount of carbs that you need for a day.
I’m in ketogenesis now – 3 weeks in. Lost over 10kg. Protein shakes. Great. But what I wanted to add was that i’m Diabetic (2) and quite badly so. I was Injecting insulin twice a day – Novomix (part immediate, part slow acting). But since I went into keto, my blood sugar has been steady between 5-9, normal range. No injections needed. And no hypo attacks either – that occurs below a reading of 4, for me. This is NOT a cure of course – it’s directly related to low carb intake. But I do wonder if discontinuing insulin is partly responsible for my improvement in alertness, activity level and so on. Magnesium tabs, 1000 units twice a day, have also been helpful – I suffer leg and foot cramps due to spinal arthritis – but they had worsened until I upped the dose.
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.
One notable clinical trial of the ketogenic diet for schizophrenia occurred in 1965. Back then, one of the authors noted that in some of his schizophrenic patients a carbohydrate binge preceded eruption of their hallucinations and paranoia. The study put 10 women with schizophrenia on a ketogenic diet for two weeks. The diet was added to their standard treatment of medication and ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) and resulted in a significant decrease in symptoms. A week after the women resumed a standard diet, symptoms returned. Despite this preliminary, positive outcome, few researchers in the intervening 50 years have investigated the promising potential of the ketogenic diet in schizophrenia.
Examples include non-starchy fruits and vegetables such as leafy greens, mushrooms, bell peppers, and berries. The trace minerals and vitamins found in grains can also be obtained at higher percentages in good-quality meats and dairy products. Moreover, compounds such as phytates and tannins in grains hinder the bioavailability of several minerals.13
🙌🙌 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.
You eat less than 50 grams of net carbs a day on keto. Cutting down on carbs increases your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. HDL is known as the “good” cholesterol — it turns on anti-inflammatory pathways and protects your heart from disease. The keto diet also lowers blood triglycerides — fat molecules in your bloodstream. High levels of blood triglycerides are linked to coronary heart disease.
Regarding metabolism: one study found when men on either the ketogenic diet or the low-fat diet were compared, their resting metabolic rates were not different despite lowered T3 on the ketogenic diet.21 Of the several studies done on the ketogenic diet, none have reported significant cases of hypothyroidism–essentially, the thyroid can function fine while following a ketogenic diet.
so I won’t repeat it all here. The original study that claimed calcium supplements caused heart disease was widely publicized when it came out but unless you had a subscription to the British Medical Journal you wouldn’t be aware of the serious objections published in subsequent issues. In particular, Lappe & Heaney reported the complete opposite result – calcium supplementation REDUCED heart disease versus placebo.
There are a number of different causes of acne, and one may be related to diet and blood sugar. Eating a diet high in processed and refined carbohydrates can alter gut bacteria and cause more dramatic blood sugar fluctuations, both of which can have an influence on skin health. Therefore, by decreasing carb intake, it's not a surprise that a ketogenic diet could reduce some cases of acne.
If you’re wondering why iron is at risk on a meat-based diet, hear me out. Many grain foods provide a considerable amount of iron, because wholegrains naturally contain iron in their inner layer called the ‘germ’. Another reason is that some grain products can have iron added to them during manufacturing. So, once you cut grains out, your iron status could suffer, which can lead to unpleasant symptoms like tiredness and lethargy. It can even compromise your immune system.
What about fruits and vegetables? All fruits are rich in carbs, but you can have certain fruits (usually berries) in small portions. Vegetables (also rich in carbs) are restricted to leafy greens (such as kale, Swiss chard, spinach), cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, bell peppers, onions, garlic, mushrooms, cucumber, celery, and summer squashes. A cup of chopped broccoli has about six carbs.
Test ketones in the late morning or afternoon. Blood and urine ketones are usually lowest right after waking up. Try testing later on, preferably a few hours after eating. Even if you’re only in ketosis for a portion of the day, you’re still getting some benefits, as discussed in this talk by Dr. Steve Phinney: Achieving and maintaining nutritional ketosis.
Instead of thinking about the total carbs you’re eating, assess what those carbs provide to you. Do the majority of your carbs come from fruit and vegetables, with a payload of fiber and disease-fighting antioxidants? Fantastic. Or are you consuming them in the form of added sugars (cookies, candy, soda) or refined flour? If you are, you know what to do.
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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.
Tammy, just because someone follows a keto diet doesn’t mean they can’t have their sweet treats. There are dozens of websites with hundreds of keto sweet treats and “fat bombs” made with stevia or other natural non-caloric sweeteners which will not raise blood sugars. One of my favorites is Keto Mocha Mousse https://www.ruled.me/keto-mocha-mousse/ which has 5 g net carbs per servings. We don’t have to be deprived on keto.
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Note: Because you'll be excluding some major food groups on the keto diet (grains, many fruits) you should definitely think about taking a multivitamin—especially one that contains folic acid, which helps your body make new cells and is often found in enriched breads, cereals, and other grain products, says Julie Upton, R.D., cofounder of nutrition website Appetite for Health.
Nonetheless, Fung told Live Science that she thinks the study clearly demonstrates the potential for a ketogenic diet to have a detrimental effect in humans. And, until researchers better understand the risks of those detrimental effects, she suggested that people consider other ways of accomplishing their health goals, such as trying a less-restrictive diet.
From an outpatient clinic, we recruited 28 overweight participants with type 2 diabetes for a 16-week single-arm pilot diet intervention trial. We provided LCKD counseling, with an initial goal of <20 g carbohydrate/day, while reducing diabetes medication dosages at diet initiation. Participants returned every other week for measurements, counseling, and further medication adjustment. The primary outcome was hemoglobin A1c.
Ketones are more beneficial to the brain than glucose is. This is great news for patients with Type 1 Diabetes, because it will not affect the brain function when you are running low in glucose. Ketosis prevent raising blood glucose levels, since you are not introducing large amounts of carbs into your system. They help in stimulating the growth of healthy brain cells.
Thank you for this comment. It is truth! I keep telling people about this diet. It is literally the best diet I have ever been on. I can eat good food, I feel full, my weight is dropping, I feel better and I can actually feel the difference. While it is great for a professional to be skeptical of emerging diet trends (and lets face it, most diet trends are garbage peddled by snake oil salesmen), this one actually has science from some prestigious institutions behind it, not a marketing scheme.
Ketoacidosis occurs when the level of ketones in the blood gets out of control, which poses a severe health risk for diabetics. When massive quantities of ketones are produced, the pH level of the blood drops, creating a high-acidic environment. Nondiabetics need not fear, as the regulated and controlled production of ketone bodies allows the blood pH to remain within normal limits.
Wondering how many carb foods you can eat and still be “in ketosis”? The traditional ketogenic diet, created for those with epilepsy consisted of getting about 75 percent of calories from sources of fat (such as oils or fattier cuts of meat), 5 percent from carbohydrates and 20 percent from protein. For most people a less strict version (what I call a “modified keto diet”) can still help promote weight loss in a safe, and often very fast, way.
Eat micronutrient dense foods every day. The most nutrient-rich foods are pasture-raised organ meat, wild-caught sardines and salmon, and low-carbohydrate vegetables like spinach, kale, and broccoli. During early pregnancy and prior to conception, foods higher in folate, such as liver and dark leafy greens, are essential. Vitamin D (high in beef liver and sardines), iodine (high in seaweed and raw cheeses), and DHA (high in sardines and fatty fish) are essential as well.
It has been known for more than a decade that bipolar disorder shares a number of clinical, biochemical and physiologic features with epilepsy and that a similar neurobiology may underpin both disorders. Both conditions cycle, both are risk factors for each other, and anticonvulsant drugs used in epilepsy have been found to be effective in helping manage bipolar illness.
I have patients that have lost tons of weight on keto. They do go off some meds. I also have people who eat a moderate amount of good carbohydrates, and they have lost tons of weight, and been taken off meds, had improved markers, even reversal. I think both approaches work, as I have seen in practice. Many people cannot stay on a keto diet forever. I for one, prefer to have some carbohydrates. I try to pick the right ones. If this works for you, then just be sure to have some medical supervision, which it sounds as though you are doing.
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.
All 83 subjects received the ketogenic diet consisting of 20 g to 30 g of carbohydrate in the form of green vegetables and salad, and 80 g to 100 g of protein in the form of meat, fish, fowl, eggs, shellfish and cheese. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats were also included in the diet. Twelve weeks later, an additional 20 g of carbohydrate were added to the meal of the patients to total 40 g to 50 g of carbohydrate. Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) were given to each subject in the form of one capsule per day (Table 2).
In the first week, many people report headaches, mental fogginess, dizziness, and aggravation. Most of the time, this is the result of your electrolytes being flushed out, as ketosis has a diuretic effect. Make sure you drink plenty of water and keep your sodium intake up.6One of the fathers of keto, Dr. Phinney, shows that electrolyte levels (especially sodium) can become unbalanced with low carb intake.
A: The most common ways to track your carbs is through MyFitnessPal and their mobile app. You cannot track net carbs on the app, although you can track your total carb intake and your total fiber intake. To get your net carbs, just subtract your total fiber intake from your total carb intake. I have written an article on How to Track Carbs on MyFitnessPal.
Parkinson’s Disease Because these patients are at a higher risk for dementia, researchers like Robert Krikorian, PhD, professor of clinical psychiatry and the director of the division of psychology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Ohio, are studying how inducing nutritional ketosis may be used to preserve cognitive functioning.
Insulin allows sugar in our blood to enter our cells. When insulin attaches to the insulin receptor, it activates a series of enzymatic reactions, which ends with active glucose transport (a gateway for glucose to enter the cell). If our insulin receptors are covered in fat, we end up with high blood sugar, because insulin can’t enter our cells. This is called insulin resistance. This fat is called intramyocellular lipid, or fat inside our muscle cells (10).
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.
An extensive review published in 2013 looked at the research and evidence of ketogenic diets enhancing fertility (long story short, it looks promising). Studies also show that Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) can be treated effectively with low-carb dieting, which reduces or eliminates symptoms such as infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods, acne, and obesity.
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