Weight loss is the primary reason my patients use the ketogenic diet. Previous research shows good evidence of a faster weight loss when patients go on a ketogenic or very low carbohydrate diet compared to participants on a more traditional low-fat diet, or even a Mediterranean diet. However, that difference in weight loss seems to disappear over time.
Reynolds, AN. "Comment on 'An Online Intervention Comparing a Very Low-Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations Versus a Plate Method Diet in Overweight Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Controlled Trial." Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2018; 20(5):e180, May 2018. Available at: http://www.jmir.org/2018/5/e180/  Accessed May 4, 2018.
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.”
Dirty keto diet: “Dirty” is the apt term, as these version of keto follows the same strict percentages (75/20/5 of fat/protein/carbs) but rather than focusing on healthy versions of fat like coconut oil and wild salmon, you’re free to eat naughty but still keto friendly foods like bacon, sausage, pork rinds, diet sodas and even keto fast food. I do NOT recommend this.

At the core of the classic keto diet is severely restricting intake of all or most foods with sugar and starch (carbohydrates). These foods are broken down into sugar (insulin and glucose) in our blood once we eat them, and if these levels become too high, extra calories are much more easily stored as body fat and results in unwanted weight gain. However, when glucose levels are cut off due to low-carb intake, the body starts to burn fat instead and produces ketones that can be measured in the blood (using urine strips, for example).
Josh Axe, a doctor of natural medicine and clinical nutritionist, estimates that about 25% of people who try a ketogenic diet experience these symptoms, with fatigue being the most common. “That happens because your body runs out of sugar to burn for energy, and it has to start using fat,” he says. “That transition alone is enough to make your body feel tired for a few days.”

Twenty-one of the 28 participants who were enrolled completed the study. Twenty participants were men; 13 were White, 8 were African-American. The mean [± SD] age was 56.0 ± 7.9 years and BMI was 42.2 ± 5.8 kg/m2. Hemoglobin A1c decreased by 16% from 7.5 ± 1.4% to 6.3 ± 1.0% (p < 0.001) from baseline to week 16. Diabetes medications were discontinued in 7 participants, reduced in 10 participants, and unchanged in 4 participants. The mean body weight decreased by 6.6% from 131.4 ± 18.3 kg to 122.7 ± 18.9 kg (p < 0.001). In linear regression analyses, weight change at 16 weeks did not predict change in hemoglobin A1c. Fasting serum triglyceride decreased 42% from 2.69 ± 2.87 mmol/L to 1.57 ± 1.38 mmol/L (p = 0.001) while other serum lipid measurements did not change significantly.
The keto diet is also extremely low in certain fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes that are generally thought of as healthy. Without these foods, people on the diet can miss out on fiber, certain vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that only come in these foods. That has significant human health impacts over the long term such as bone loss and increased risk of chronic diseases.
The keto diet is an extremely effective way to lose weight over a short period of time—even better, according to some research, than low-calorie and low-fat diets. There a few reasons for this: When you’re in ketosis, your body stores less fat. Dieters feel fuller for longer, partly because of the rich food they’re eating, and partly because ketosis changes your hunger hormone levels.
The ketogenic (or keto) diet was initially designed to treat severe epilepsy in infants and children. As an intervention diet, it was intended to be administered for short periods of time under the supervision of a medical team. Now popular for it’s rapid weight-loss side effects, the diet has moved to the mainstream public as an alternative low-carb diet.
In this study, researchers compared the impact of a low-carbohydrate diet and three other diets on blood pressure and other measures of cardiovascular fitness in women. After the 12 month trial, all subjects who successfully completed their respective diet experienced notable reductions in body mass, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol. Those in the low-carbohydrate diet group, however, had the best results.

“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.
But your heart health might depend on what you actually eat. Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that low-carb diets based mostly on plant sources of fat and protein (like avocados or nuts) can lower heart disease risk by 30 percent. But those benefits didn’t hold for people who ate mostly animal-based proteins and fats. (Think: bacon, butter, and steak.)
In addition, on the day the diet was initiated, diabetes medications were reduced – generally, insulin doses were halved, and sulfonylurea doses were halved or discontinued. Due to the possible diuretic effects of the diet soon after initiation, diuretic medications were discontinued if of low dosage (up to 25 mg of hydrochlorothiazide or 20 mg of furosemide) or halved if of higher dosage. Participants were also instructed to take a standard multivitamin and drink 6–8 glasses of water daily, and were encouraged to exercise aerobically for 30 minutes at least three times per week.
But Jini’s doctor — intelligent though I’m sure he was — fell victim to the common confusion between nutritional ketosis and diabetic ketoacidosis, the latter of which being a life-threatening complication of Type 1 diabetes, where ketones are produced rapidly, overwhelming the body’s acid-base buffering system. This is a common misconception or myth about keto diets that I seek to dispel.  

The following measurements were made every other week: anthropometric and vital sign measurements; urine testing for ketones; and assessment for hypoglycemic episodes and other symptomatic side effects. Weight was measured on a standardized digital scale while the participant was wearing light clothes and shoes were removed. Skinfold thickness was measured at 4 sites – the average of 2 measurements at each site was entered into an equation to calculate percent body fat [12]. Waist circumference was measured at the midpoint between the inferior rib and the iliac crest using an inelastic tape; 2 measurements were averaged in the analysis. Blood pressure and heart rate were measured after the participant had been seated quietly without talking for 3 minutes. Certified laboratory technicians assessed urine ketones from a fresh specimen using the following semi-quantitative scale: none, trace (up to 0.9 mmol/L [5 mg/dL]), small (0.9–6.9 mmol/L [5–40 mg/dL]), moderate (6.9–13.8 mmol/L [40–80 mg/dL]), large80 (13.8–27.5 mmol/L [80–160 mg/dL]), large160 (>27.5 mmol/L [160 mg/dL]). Hypoglycemic episodes and symptomatic side effects were assessed by direct questioning of the participant and by self-administered questionnaires.

First – let’s admit that there are several different types of diets that produce dramatic improvements in weight loss and diabetes. The vegan diet is one of them (and one which also reduces risk in most other diseases better than the others) – but it is by unquestionably by far the very best diet for the environment and the survival of the planet. High protein (high meat and/or dairy) diets are absolutely TERRIBLE for the environment and are not sustainable in any way. A vegetable diet will END world hunger because we DO have enough earth to grow enough vegetables for everyone and we definitely do NOT have enough earth for meat eaters even at current levels.
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.
Cancer cells express an abnormal metabolism characterized by increased glucose consumption owing to genetic mutations and mitochondrial dysfunction. Previous studies indicate that unlike healthy tissues, cancer cells are unable to effectively use ketone bodies for energy. Furthermore, ketones inhibit the proliferation and viability of cultured tumor cells.
While it’s an extremely important factor, your diet is not the only variable that affects your pH level and hormones. Other factors that influence alkalinity, aside from the foods you eat, include: the level of stress you deal with on a daily basis, how much sleep you get nightly, the amount of sunlight exposure you get and the level of environmental toxicity you’re exposed to.

I have been a type 1 diabetic for most of my life. I live a very active lifestyle of long distance running and hiking. I’ve always had a very healthy diet, but would still have those after meal blood sugar spikes that would leave me feeling unwell. I decided to try the keto diet to see how my blood sugar did It’s been amazing. I’ve cut my insulin in half and my head is clear. I no longer have the brain fog. I sleep better and have more energy. I have been doing it for a year and have no desire to go off of it.


It’s also worth mentioning that if you have a history of irregular periods, any type of eating disorder, or a thyroid disorder than it may be best to begin this type of dietary program only while being guided by your doctor or a nutritionist. Pregnant women or those who are breastfeeding should not start the keto diet to be safe. A professional can help you ease into an alkaline keto diet in a moderate, safe way if you’re unsure of how to do this on your way, giving you feedback so the diet won’t negatively interfere with normal hormone production, appetite, sleep or mental focus.
Parkinson’s disease is another neurodegenerative disease that is on the rise in our country, with a rate of incidence between 2-4% in those over 60 years of age. Researchers have found that ketones may be able to bypass the defect in energy production characteristic of Parkinson’s disease. This means the ketogenic diet can interrupt the underlying cause in dysfunction in Parkinson’s patients, which results in an improvement of symptoms.

Every day, you will notice how simple my methods are and how the secret fat burning meal plans will speed up the fat burning process even while you rest at night. Not everyone is the same, but after the first week with the 3-Week Ketogenic Diet, most people experience one or more of the following… more energy, 5lbs lighter, joint relief, self-motivation, happiness, and a positive change in their physiological states. After 3-weeks many people have anywhere from 3-9 pounds weight loss and 7-17 inches off their waist, hips, chest, and triceps.
Often caused by lymph node removal or damage due to cancer treatment, lymphedema occurs because there’s a blockage in the lymphatic system and results in the swelling in leg or arm. A 2017 study involved patients who suffered from obesity and lymphedema and who embarked on a 18-week ketogenic diet. Weight and limb volume was significantly reduced. (5)
Anecdotally speaking, people do lose weight on the keto diet. Heather Wharton, a 35-year-old business relationship manager from Tampa, Florida, lost 140 pounds since starting the keto diet in January 2016: “I plan on being on the keto diet for the rest of my life,” says Wharton. “My husband and I consider ourselves to be food addicts, and the keto diet is what we use as a form of abstinence from trigger foods that have sugar and other carbohydrates." A typical day of eating for Wharton includes coffee with a protein supplement, a cup of unsweetened cashew milk, cauliflower rice with ground turkey and liquid aminos (a carb-free substitute for soy sauce), spinach, six slices of turkey bacon, six eggs, and a little salsa.
2. Raygan, F., Bahmani, F., Kouchaki, E., Aghadavod, E., Sharifi, S., Akbari, E., . . . Asemi, Z. (2016). Comparative effects of carbohydrate versus fat restriction on metabolic profiles, biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress in overweight patients with Type 2 diabetic and coronary heart disease: A randomized clinical trial. PMID: 28607566
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.
The longer you’re in ketosis, the more fat you burn. Unfortunately, you may also start to lose muscle tissue, too. While protein is considered the powerhouse muscle builder, your muscles need carbs for adequate formation and maintenance. Without those carbs, your body may start breaking down muscle. “Since your body starts to eat away at muscles as it enters ketosis, your heart, being a muscle, may also be damaged in the process,” Derocha says.

Why is the keto diet good for you? A keto diet is one that prioritizes fats and proteins over carbohydrates. It can help reduce body weight, acne, and the risk of cancer. Find out about the mechanisms through which it achieves these benefits and the research that supports it. This MNT Knowledge Center article also discusses the risks of the diet. Read now


"Electrolyte imbalances can also be common if keto followers aren't aware of hydration needs," Turoff says. It's important to stay hydrated on keto, she says, especially in the beginning. "As you limit carbohydrates, your body produces less insulin, and glycogen stores (how carbs are stored) in the muscles and liver are depleted. For every 1 gram of glycogen that's depleted, you lose about 3 grams of water." This causes the kidneys to flush out more water, and along with it, electrolytes your body needs like magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potassium. "Imbalanced electrolytes can lead to muscle cramps, irregular heartbeat, fatigue, cognitive distortions, and lack of body temperature control," Turoff says. Some people may also be more likely to get kidney stones while on keto due to inadequate hydration, according to Turoff. (PS: These Are the Hydration Tips Every Fit Girl Needs.)

I have great respect for Harvard Medical School. I notice that they support their readers posting comments and I am most appreciative of the article and all the many thoughtful comments by the readers. The readers seem to have the most expertise here and I hope that the doctor who wrote the article will think long and hard about the comments by readers. After 35 years of clinical practice in mental health, I notice that all issues of emotion involve medical issues, nutrition, and the gut bacteria. I would say that these issues and all of the executive brain functions seem to improve with ketogenic principles. For those that apply it in a flexible and smart manner, it appears to improve every area of their lives. I strongly encourage the author of the article to take one class via The Institute for Functional Medicine. If he is open to more learning he can take more classes and get certified. I’m sure a fine doctor, he will be an even better doctor and personally healthier, if he gets more training. Are we all open to new learning(especially us healthcare providers)?
Thanks Dr. Jockey…very informative article. Im into pure keto diet almost a week now but started illiminating sugar and carbs 3weeks ago and the side effects that i’ve encountered are frequently urinating and light headache only. Is it good or not? I’ve never consult a specialist before doing keto diet but i do my research, is it okay? As of now i’ve loose almost 11lbs. Im just curious how can i get the percentage of fats, protein etc in my meals? Do i need to measure it all? How can i measure the percentage of foods that i need to eat?is there any ways?

Ultimately, we understand that there’s no magical diet and that some prefer to eat more fat while dieting. We have dealt with over 15k clients, many of which have medical restrictions and require different parameters while in a caloric restricted state. No matter what your limitations, preferences or needs are while on a diet plan. We can build you a Macro Blueprint that will help you lose unwanted fat.
However, the ketogenic principles can absolutely be abused. I’ve seen many people use this way of eating as an excuse to fill their plates almost entirely with bacon and butter from conventionally raised cattle. So make no mistake, an ideal ketogenic diet is a predominantly plant-based diet with healthy fats at its core. Eating a variety of whole foods that are high in healthy fats is essential to “doing keto” the right way.
As for individuals with type 2 diabetes, Dr. Galati says, "a very low carbohydrate diet could be tolerated, albeit with extreme caution. Transitioning to a ketogenic diet will require several lifestyle changes as well as careful monitoring of both your food intake and glucose levels and adjustments to your medications. Also, you should increase your water consumption." 
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