“What many diabetics aren’t aware of, is that it is the fat that is the problem when it comes to type 2 diabetes. Nearly 100 years ago, healthy volunteers were split into two groups – half were fed a fat-rich diet, and the other half on a carb-rich diet. Within just two days, the fatty diet groups’ glucose intolerance skyrocketed to amounts twice as high as those fed a carbohydrate-rich diet (9).
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.
Yes you can lose fat on a low carb because it’s just another low calorie diet. How do I know this? I’ve done low carb, (Atkins, etc) high carb, (Slimming Word) moderate carb etc and log my food and was shocked each time to see they were all low calorie. After the initial week or so the rate of fat loss is same as any other diet. It’s calories in calories out. Simple. It’s what some call indirect deficit diet placing silly restriction, rules can eat must eat etc. and of course you lose weight but nothing to do with low carb. It works because it’s a low calorie diet.
Your glycogen stores can still be refilled while on a ketogenic diet. A keto diet is an excellent way to build muscle, but protein intake is crucial here. It’s suggested that if you are looking to gain mass, you should be taking in about 1.0 – 1.2g protein per lean pound of body mass. Putting muscle on may be slower on a ketogenic diet, but that’s because your total body fat is not increasing as much.5Note that in the beginning of a ketogenic diet, both endurance athletes and obese individuals see a physical performance for the first week of transition.
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While body weight decreased significantly (-8.5 kg) in these 21 diabetic participants, the mean weight loss was less compared with what we observed in the LCKD participants of an earlier trial (-12.0 kg) [18]. Given that the diabetic participants had a higher baseline mean weight than the LCKD participants of our previous trial (131 kg vs. 97 kg), this translates into an even more dramatic disparity in percent change in body weight (-6.6% vs. -12.9%). This lesser weight loss might result from several factors. First, in the current study, most of the participants were taking insulin and/or oral hypoglycemic agents that are known to induce weight gain[20,21] Second, these same agents, particularly insulin, inhibit ketosis, which is strived for in the earliest phases of the LCKD; while it remains unclear whether ketones actually play a role in weight loss on the LCKD, previous research in non-diabetic patients has shown a positive correlation between level of ketonuria and weight loss success [22]. Lastly, compared with our previous study the participants in the current study had more comorbid illness, lower socioeconomic status, and a shorter duration of follow-up (16 weeks versus 24 weeks), all of which are associated with reduced success on any weight loss program [23].
Recently, many of my patients have been asking about a ketogenic diet. Is a ketogenic diet safe? Would you recommend it? Despite the recent hype, a ketogenic diet is not something new. In medicine, we have been using it for almost 100 years to treat drug-resistant epilepsy, especially in children. In the 1970s, Dr. Atkins popularized his very-low-carbohydrate diet for weight loss that began with a very strict two-week ketogenic phase. Over the years, other fad diets incorporated a similar approach for weight loss.
Some people have trouble with the concept of high-fat and a moderate amount of protein. I have to admit. It was hard for me to wrap my head around it at first. Now I have even given up artificial sugar substitutes and diet products of any kind. It's even hard for me to call this a diet. After researching this eating style, I've learned it's a way of life.
Abbey, I appreciate all the work you put into this but there are a few things you missed. Not all oils are keto friendly. Vegetable oils are a huge no-no which was not mentioned. Regular mayo usually contains soybean oil which should be avoided. You also missed that foods with preservatives are a no-no which excludes some cheeses (you said enjoy all the cheese you like). Processed sliced cheese or pre-shredded cheese in a bag at the grocery store contains preservatives. Ever notice how shredded cheese in a bag never sticks to itself but when you shred your own cheese it sticks? Preservatives. Most nuts are okay but peanuts are a legume and should be consumed in very small amounts or avoided altogether. Don’t go crazy either, nuts do have carbs. I don’t eat more than a half cup a day of salted almonds. That said, you could have mentioned that getting salted nuts is ideal as you do excrete more salt and other minerals in your urine (eating keto is diuretic so attention must be paid to salt, potassium, magnesium, etc. as you did mention) so finding simple ways to add salt and other minerals is helpful. I also take a multi-vitamin daily. You mentioned you cannot do high intensity workouts. You are not supposed to do high intensity workouts as elevating your heart rate too high actually stops the fat burning process in your body. Your heart rate should be 180 beats minus your age +/- 5 beats depending on fitness level. A 40 year old obese person shouldn’t go over 135 beats/min during a workout as that is the optimal fat burning window. Higher than that and your body reverts to storing fat reserves thinking it will run out if it keeps this pace. Which bring me to metabolism. Its been long believed a high metabolism is good. A high metabolism leads to more hunger (because you’re burning glucose faster), ingesting more food, and typically gaining more weight. Slowing your metabolism down AND teaching your body to consume slow burning ketones instead of quick burning glucose puts less stress on your liver mainly and on your body in general. There’s a lot more but this is getting long so I’ll finish with this. You said this diet focuses on quantity of food and not quality. This is confusing to me….wouldn’t organic and grass-fed meats, be of better quality than non-organic and grain fed meat? (they feed animals grains to fatten them up….shouldn’t that be a huge warning sign for us?). Is food without preservatives not better quality than food with preservatives? Aren’t beverages with no sugar or artificial sweeteners of better quality than sugar/artificial sweetener-filled beverages? I’ve never seen any keto advocate advise ignoring quality foods, in fact its quite the opposite.
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.
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.
All of our cells need fuel to function. This fuel comes from three sources: fat, carbohydrates and protein, called macronutrients. Too much protein without fat puts us at risk for a handful of complications, so protein can never healthily serve as a primary source of fuel. We are left then with fat and carbohydrates as the main providers of energy – the energy that allow us to do everything from breathing and blinking as we veg out on the couch to swimming the English Channel. Our cells’ preferred fuel comes from carbohydrates, which are easily converted to glucose, which, in turn, is readily converted to energy. This is why athletes “carb load” before they compete. Peak performance occurs when the body has plenty of glucose and glycogen stores available at hand. When glycogen runs out, that’s when the body turns to fat. When there is no more blood sugar for our cells to consume, they seek an alternative form of energy. This energy comes from ketones, which are compounds our body produces from stored fat. So a ketogenic diet is one that is high in fat and very low in carbohydrates, resulting in the production of ketones to be used for fuel instead of glucose.
Note that although the front label on a potassium supplement may list 595 mg as the dosage, each tablet only contains 99 mg of pure potassium, which can be verified on the detailed “Supplement Facts” label on the back of the container. Taking up to 1000 mg of supplemental potassium per day should be safe for most people who aren’t able to meet their needs through food alone.
The bottom line? If you’re thinking about trying the ketogenic diet, run it by your doctor first — regardless of any preexisting health conditions. And consult a registered dietitian nutritionist (find one at EatRight.org) to find a nutrition professional who can work with you to create a meal plan you can stick to. People with kidney disease or a history of disordered eating should avoid the diet, and people with type 1 diabetes may want to avoid it, as well. If you have risk factors for heart disease, you’ll want to speak with your doctor before considering the diet.
The low-carb diet induces ''nutritional ketosis," Dr. Saslow tells EndocrineWeb, which is not the same as ketoacidosis. Ketones are a chemical your body produces when you burn stored fat; if you are on a low-carb diet you may be ''in ketosis.'' Ketoacidosis is different; it is a life-threatening condition in which levels of ketones and blood sugar are dangerously high, which may occur in people who have poorly controlled diabetes.
Just this week, a 25,000-person study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Munich suggested that people on the lowest-carb diets had the highest risk of dying from cancer, cardiovascular conditions, and all other causes. Another study, published this month in the Lancet, also found that people who followed diets that were low in carbs and high in animal proteins had a higher risk of early death compared to those who consumed carbs in moderation. (The opposite was true, however, for low-carb dieters who opted for plant-based proteins over meat and dairy.)

Bingo!! It’s all about the $. The info graphic at the very beginning is labeled Keto-Paleo. And is misleading. Contrary to popular belief the Paleo diet is plant based. It restricts carbohydrate and dairy consumption based on foods that cause an inflammatory response in the body. Keto restricts foods that cause a blood sugar spike two very different purposes. American nutrition is very obviously broken and any recommendation tied to a money making association should be taken with a grain of salt because you can bet there are $$ strings attached. Usually big Pharma funding.


I started on a strict keto diet one year ago, and it has been the easiest diet I have ever been on. I was prediabetic before the diet, and now am not. My triglycerides are lower ( in normal range) and my good cholesterol is high. I am at lower than normal risk for heart disease because of my cholesterol ratios. I was not overweight to start with, am not now….and have not changed my weight at all. So the good effects are due solely to the diet change and not weight loss, which the author implies throughout the article that it is the weight loss that causes the good effects….not so. I am a veterinarian and believe in good medicine. This diet makes sense biochemically for those with diabetes or prediabetes.
The ketogenic diet has recently been investigated a great deal for how it may help prevent or even treat certain cancers. One study found that the ketogenic diet may be a suitable complementary treatment to chemotherapy and radiation in people with cancer. This is due to the fact that it would cause more oxidative stress in cancer cells than in normal cells.
I’ve been on the keto diet for about 3 months now. When I first started, I read all that I could online and a lot of the information is conflicting. One of the biggest mistakes that people make on the keto diet is thinking that they can eat all the fat they want and still lose fat, and that just doesn’t happen. Another one is that you should keep your protein consumption low and that is not correct either. The proper way to a keto diet is to consume 1 gram of protein per lean body weight, and keep fat under 100 g per day if you’re looking to lose fat. Also a weight lifting program helps tremendously, and you will gain muscle and lose fat at the same time instead of losing all that fat and then becoming a flabby skinny person.
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.
A ketogenic diet is clinically and experimentally effective in antiepileptic and antiobesity treatments; however, the molecular mechanisms of its action remain to be elucidated. In some cases, a ketogenic diet is far better than modern anticonvulsants (25). Recently, it has been shown that a ketogenic diet is a safe potential alternative to other existing therapies for infantile spasms (27). It was further shown that a ketogenic diet could act as a mood stabilizer in bipolar illness (28). Beneficial changes in the brain energy profile have been observed in subjects who are on a ketogenic diet (28). This is a significant observation because cerebral hypometabolism is a characteristic feature of those who suffer from depression or mania (28). It has also been found that a ketogenic diet affects signal transduction in neurons by inducing changes in the basal status of protein phosphorylation (29). In another study (30), it was shown that a ketogenic diet induced gene expression in the brain. These studies provide evidence to explain the actions of a ketogenic diet in the brain.

But this state of metabolic derangement is not actually possible in a person who can produce insulin, even in small amounts.  The reason is that a feedback loop prevents the ketone level from getting high enough to cause the change in pH that leads to the cascade of bad problems.  A person who is said to be “keto-adapted,” or in a state of nutritional ketosis, generally has beta-hydroxybutyrate levels between about 0.5 and 3.0 mM.  This is far less than the levels required to cause harm through acid-base abnormalities.
Participants completed take-home food records (4 consecutive days, including a weekend) collected at baseline and at weeks 2, 8, and 16 during the study. Participants were given handouts with examples of how to complete the records. A registered dietician analyzed the food records using a nutrition software program (Food Processor SQL, ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, OR).
Klein S, Sheard NF, Pi-Sunyer S, Daly A, Wylie-Rosett J, Kulkarni K, Clark NG. Weight management through lifestyle modification for the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes: rationale and strategies. A statement of the American Diabetes Association, the North American Association for the Study of Obesity, and the American Society for Clinical Nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;80:257–263. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
Keto flu symptoms and side effects can include feeling tired, having difficulty sleeping, digestive issues like constipation, weakness during workouts, being moody, losing libido and having bad breath. Fortunately, these side effects don’t affect everyone and often only last for 1–2 weeks. (And yes, you CAN build muscle on keto.) Overall, symptoms go away as your body adjusts to being in ketosis.

After about two to seven days of following the keto diet, you go into something called ketosis, or the state your body enters when it doesn't have enough carbs for your cells to use for energy. That's when you start making ketones, or organic compounds that your bod then uses in place of those missing carbs. At this point, your body also starts burning fat for more energy, says Beth Warren, R.D., founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Living A Real Life With Real Food.

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 author wrote this out of angst because she failed at the ketogenic diet. It’s not a “hard” diet and you don’t have to give up all forms of desserts. You just have to learn to cook using stevia, almond or coconut flour instead of the white refined flours the author is addicted to. The information presented is false as well. The ketogenic diet has great benefits for the type two diabetic or prediabetic specifically.
Regarding keto diets specifically, studies have proven this method to be more effective than moderate protein diets in lowering blood glucose, promoting weight loss and lowering HbA1c in patients with Type 2 diabetes. A growing number of clinicians now agree that low-carb diets can effectively treat this disease. The fact remains: these diets remain controversial and contradict dietary guidelines, so they are not very often discussed or recommended in the clinical setting.
Where is the science? And if insolin intolerance is a diabetic problem why keep trying to regulate insolin? The stuff isn’t working because your patients are not getting better just deteriorating slower while you make more money keeping them on drugs!!!!! Your hole point is ketosis is bad cause they don’t have to see you after they adjust off the medication that keeps them having to see people like you!!! I have been eating keto for 6 months and feel amazing!!! These people are twisting the truth to keep you sick for there own pockets!!!!!!

Also, as I believe is mentioned, this diet has been around for along time and was the only way to treat diabetes. And some people did die. However, people still end up dead from t2d even after all the diet advice from educators and with all that pharmacy has to offer. An industry which gains nothing if people just choose to eat less. But has lots to gain if we just keep taking the tablets.
I won’t comment on the diet itself but dietitians do not simply rely on guidelines handed to them, nor on anecdotal cases. This article refers to specific studies all throughout, some that support the diet and others that don’t. The goal of a dietitian is to help clients reach their optimal health while still enjoying a high quality of life. I’m sure Abbey is genuinely happy for those it has helped. That does not mean this diet is best for everyone regardless of their unique circumstances, goals and medical history. Sadly there is not enough high quality research that Keto promotes sustained weight loss in the general population. Maybe there will be in the near future, but right now it would be unethical to recommend such a restrictive diet to the broad audience of a blog. I am truly happy it has worked for some people and I wish them luck on their journey. Thank you Abbey for a great article!
For anyone who diets, one of the biggest concerns is how to deal with hunger. Luckily for a low carbohydrate diet, eating less carbohydrate will in fact lower your appetite. With this technique, you will essentially eat less and gain a better diet. This can lead to rapid weight lost in the first couple weeks. There have also been studies which has shown that low carbohydrate diets can lose 2 to 3 times the average amount of weight loss without leaving you hungry. Ketogenic diets designed to run on fatty acids so the body can function. Luckily, a keto diet takes away unhealthy fat that lines the organs, (visceral fat) which can cause unhealthy metabolic processes.
Great article! Sustainability is key and Keto diet is extremely restrictive compared to others. Many of the comments I see don’t understand the importance of many years of research before stating something has a “significant difference” than the recommendations that are already in place. Also, understanding the pro/carb/fat balance in each meal instead of focusing on just carbohydrates. We have practiced the same modified Mediterranean diet at my practice where someone can enjoy life, eat complex carbohydrates and years later they are still successful and hundreds of pounds have been lost for good 🙂 Thank you for the reminder (and the comparison of Adkins supported research).
Although many people find that their energy and stamina improve on a keto lifestyle, trying to do too much in the early stages can worsen keto flu symptoms. Well-known ketogenic researcher Dr. Steve Phinney has conducted studies in endurance athletes as well as obese individuals demonstrating that physical performance decreases during the first week of very-low-carb eating. Fortunately, his research also shows that by week 4, people typically perform better than before they started keto.
The data presented in the present study showed that a ketogenic diet acted as a natural therapy for weight reduction in obese patients. This is a unique study monitoring the effect of a ketogenic diet for 24 weeks. There was a significant decrease in the level of triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and glucose, and a significant increase in the level of HDL cholesterol in the patients. The side effects of drugs commonly used for the reduction of body weight in such patients were not observed in patients who were on the ketogenic diet. Therefore, these results indicate that the administration of a ketogenic diet for a relatively long period of time is safe. Further studies elucidating the molecular mechanisms of a ketogenic diet are in progress in our laboratory. These studies will open new avenues into the potential therapeutic uses of a ketogenic diet and ketone bodies.
“I’m no longer on insulin, and I have cut down my medications due to keto. I never had to deal with trying to find a spot to inject or having to deal with bruises on my belly,” she says. “I know this may sound silly, but I have a picture of my old insulin syringes in my wallet. I look at it to remind me of what I had to do before keto. It grounds me, and when I have days of self-doubt, I remind myself how far I’ve come.”
"Keto is not a great long-term diet, as it is not a balanced diet," Nancy Rahnama, M.D., M.S., an internal medicine and bariatric specialist, told Reader's Digest. "A diet that is devoid of fruit and vegetables will result in long-term micronutrient deficiencies that can have other consequences. The keto diet can be used for short-term fat loss, as long as it is under medical supervision."
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.
MCTs are natural sources of essential healthy fats for energy. They are easily digestible and absorbed by the body, providing instant but lasting energy. Including MCT oil in the keto diet can stabilize blood sugar levels and enhance the production of ketones. Since that is the goal of your keto diet, optimal blood ketone levels, MCT Oil is a no-brainer.
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