To lower your heart risks while following a keto diet, be mindful of the types of fats you’re eating. “Most nutritionists encourage people to get their fat from heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats,” Urbanski says. So even though going keto may sound like a license to load up on bacon and butter, reach for unsaturated fats from foods such as olives, nuts, seeds, and avocados, and olive, canola, and nut oils.
The problem is the SAD diet (Standard American Diet) and eat less move more advice. Tell that to a baby boomer with a hi bmi. Keto if done properly allows over weight people a way to lose weight without having to do hours in a gym. It is recomended to do a 15 minute walk now and then to keep a level of fitness. The weight is coming off even if one doesnt excercise. No sugar highs and lows, no cravings of carbs. Easier to do intermittent fasting to break plateus. Having the control over food and not being a slave to it. Reduction in sugar levels. The chance of autophahy. No brain fog. The chance to reverse type 2 diabetes. We have an obesity problem world wide. Yes you do have bad breath. Yes you can get constipated. Shall I stop because of a couple of negatives. Both negatives are treatable. The keto wave is coming. Empowering people to take control of thier own bodies by controlling thier insulin levels by keeping all sugar derivied products to a low level. The food companies drug companies are worried.
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.”
Keto cycling is a way to cycle in and out of ketosis while enjoying a more balanced diet on your "days off." One keto cycling approach includes five days of traditional keto diet and two non-keto days per week. Some people choose to save their off days for special occasions holidays, birthdays, and vacations. For best results, eat wholesome carbohydrate-rich foods on your off days, including fruits, starchy veggies, dairy products, and whole grains (rather than added sugars or highly-processed fare).
A related clinical diet for drug-resistant epilepsy is called the medium-chain triglyceride ketogenic diet, in which MCT oil is extensively used because it’s more ketogenic than long-chain triglycerides. (13) Another dietary therapy for epilepsy called Low Glycemic Index Treatment (LGIT) was developed in 2002 as an alternative to the keto diet. LGIT monitors the total amount of carbohydrates consumed daily, and focuses on carbohydrates that have a low glycemic index.) (14)
We really do only want to try and share the knowledge we have through seeing thousands of different patients with complex issues over decades with all of you. Physicians jump at the chance to have a CDE see their patients in their practice or in the hospital because they know our value. They know how thorough we are when assessing their patients and often find issues that may have been overlooked for years. It’s all we do all day, so it’s our specialty…diabetes. We live and breathe it and are very passionate about helping people overcome their hurdles. I do hope sharing some of my personal experience with all of you will help, but I am here if you all have more questions anytime!
“If someone with diabetes is [taking insulin or oral type 2 meds in the sulfonylurea or meglitinide class and is] following this diet, they need to know that their blood sugar can drop really quickly, so it’s critical that they check it more frequently,” says Toby Smithson, MS, RDN, CDE, author of Diabetes Meal Planning & Nutrition for Dummies. “Don’t wait for it to happen. Meet with your doctor or diabetes educator in advance so that you can troubleshoot exactly what to do if your blood sugar drops.” If it’s an infrequent occurrence, you may be advised to treat with fast-acting glucose. But frequent lows may require medication adjustments or the addition of more carbs to your eating plan.
Adding salt to food might be new to you, since most people are used to being told to limit salt intake. However, when you’re eating a ketogenic diet of less than 60 carbohydrates each day, you’ll need to make up for this loss of salt. That being said, those with high blood pressure who take medication should check with their doctors before making a change.
One of the most basic and most profound benefits of a ketogenic diet is that it drastically lowers inflammation (1). This is mainly due to the reduced amount of free radical production that occurs when burning ketones for energy instead of glucose. Less inflammation allows for more energy production and an overall more efficiently functioning body. This allows for a heightened ability of the body to heal in many different aspects.
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.
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.
Practicing intermittent fasting. This works wonders to help patients get into ketosis. Ideally, you’ll go 13.5–15 hours between dinner and breakfast to help your body find energy reserves beyond stored glucose. (Your body can only store reserves for about 24 hours, so if you are eating much less, intermittent fasting will allow you to drop your storage levels way down, requiring your body to burn fat instead.)
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.”
Great article Doc! Question: One of the world top experts in high fat low carb diet, Dr Tim Noakes has stated that top level athletes actually perform better on keto, as himself an extreme marathoner , cured his type 2 diabetes by going keto. In the light of what we know today about keto, would you still assert that athletes shouldn’t adopt ketosis as their desired state?
The problem is: it flies in the face of the way we have been taught. Our society (as an American), and our medical community, have preached for years that FAT is bad, and you should limit it. However, recent FACTS beg to differ. So many people rail against the keto diet because they just feel that it can’t be good…after all, you eat so much fat on it, it can’t be good for you! Facts are facts…they don’t care about your feelings. Fat is not the enemy. Sugar is.
Unless you’ve already been eating a paleo or primal diet and are somewhat keto-adapted (burning ketones for fuel), it is a good idea “reset” the body in order to regain the metabolic flexibility to go into ketosis or even stay in ketosis despite eating some carbohydrates. Intermittent fasting is one efficient way to do this. During a water fast, ketosis can occur in days instead of weeks or months and often sustains for a while after the fast.
Keto Diet is NOT strictly 20 grams of carbs per day. Not only are you biased but you are not being truthful. 20 grams per day is just the recommended guideline for maintaining ketosis. Many people can consume 40, 50 even 60 and 70 grams of carbs per day and stay in ketosis. It depends on the person. Age, size lifestyle and exercise all factor into how many carbs can be allowed and maintain ketosis. It is ok to not recommend a diet but when you leave out important aspects you do both your readers and yourself an injustice. Don’t base your article on one or two 3 page leaflets you read on ketosis written 20 years ago.
“As soon as you start consuming a normal amount of carbohydrates again, you immediately go out of ketoacidosis or the fat burning state”. I am sure you know the difference between nutritional ketosis and ketoacidosis yes? One is the natural fat burning state, and the other is toxic. Right now i am in ketosis but not ketoacidosis. One has a natural balance of Ph level, the other not. Once you make that statement, i have a sick feeling i am not getting the right information here.
One of the mechanisms of a ketogenic diet in epilepsy may be related to increased availability of beta-hydroxybutyrate, a ketone body readily transported through the blood-brain barrier. In support of this hypothesis, it was found that a ketogenic diet was the treatment of choice for glucose transporter protein syndrome and pyruvate dehydrogenase deficiency, which are both associated with cerebral energy failure and seizures (26).
Studies since shown that the accumulation of fat droplets, and not carbohydrate stores in the liver and muscle cells, contributes to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. These droplets result from raising levels of saturated animal fats in the blood, like those found in chicken, beef, cheese, dairy and fish. One hit of saturated animal fat can start causing insulin resistance, inhibiting glucose uptake after just 160 minutes (11).
With the high intake of fat, are we concerned about the high intake of cholesterol? YEP. A study using the keto diet as a form of treatment for epileptic seizures in children found that after 6 months of administering the diet, triglyceride levels increased, total cholesterol levels increased, and HDL and LDL increased. These results suggest that over time, a keto diet may lead to an increased risk of hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyceridemia. In the same ten-year study, 40% of patients developed hypertriglyceridemia and 29% of patients experienced hypercholesterolemia. So, if heart disease runs in your family, you may want to bow out now.
I suffered through a year on 20 grams of carbs per day and it was the worst year of my life. Yep, I lost weight, but at my current weight of 130 lbs and eating 30 carbs per meal and remaining in a prediabetes state for 15 years, I am healthy AND happy now. None of us know the long term effects of most of what is offered to us…medications, diet drinks, processed foods, restrictive diets. The point I was trying to make was eating healthier, more natural foods will be better in the long run, I believe we all have the common sense to agree on that, even if we can’t agree on how many carbs we will eat!
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!
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.
Adequate food records were available for analysis in a proportion of participants at each of the 4 timepoints (Table (Table2).2). Participants completed food records at a mean of 2.5 and a median of 3 timepoints. In general, comparing baseline to subsequent timepoints, mean carbohydrate intake decreased substantially and energy intake decreased moderately while protein and fat intake remained fairly constant.
If you are pregnant or are nursing, you should not follow a Ketogenic diet. You will not receive enough of the recommended carbohydrates, vitamins and nutrients necessary for yourself and your growing baby on this diet. Your obstetrician will recommend how many carbohydrates you should consume per meal and for snacks during each phase of your pregnancy. They will likely refer you to a Certified Diabetes Educator for nutritional counseling as well. Please check out The Diabetes Council’s FAQ’ About Gestational Diabetes for all your gestational diabetes related questions.
Therefore, when you’re following a ketogenic diet plan for beginners, your body is burning fat for energy rather than carbohydrates, so in the process most people lose weight and excess body fat rapidly, even when consuming lots of fat and adequate calories through their daily food intake. Another major benefit of the keto diet is that there’s no need to count calories, feel hungry or attempt to burn loads of calories through hours of intense exercise.
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.
The basis of the muscle wasting argument stems from a misunderstanding of the brains glucose requirements. If ketones didn’t exist the brain would require much more glucose than it does in the presence of ketones. During a low carb diet the brain would be forced to break down protein to obtain this glucose. It would do this through either dietary protein or in the absence of sufficient dietary protein, it would go after body muscle. Fortunately, once ketosis kicks in the brain is able to obtain 70-75% of its energy requirements from ketones. The remaining 25% is much more easily obtained from dietary protein and thus body muscle is spared.
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.
For some, ketosis can cause more negative than positive side effects. Dorena Rode, a 52-year-old author, and speaker from Occidental, California, tried the diet for a month and experienced heart palpitations and dizziness. Unlike Drew, Rode says her cholesterol increased from 192 to 250 mg/dL after she introduced more fat into her diet. (Less than 200 mg/dL is considered desirable, while anything over 240 mg/dL is considered high.)
Since our body isn’t used to using ketones, we tend to feel flu-like when in ketosis. Lots of brain fog, fatigue, headaches, nausea and poor endurance. You also get bad smelling breath, sweat and pee from the acetone (a byproduct of fat metabolism). Sexy? Not so much. Thankfully, if you are in ketosis long enough, a lot of people report that most of these side effects start to go away.
Another thing we know about diets and weight loss is that the results are not easily maintained. I’ve written about this in depth with regards to the participants on the Biggest Loser. This was evident in a study analyzing 31 long term studies on dieting, which found 2/3 of dieters put back the weight they lost. Other research has reported the failure rate may be as high as 95%. This isn’t specific to the keto diet but rather, any diet that is restrictive and unrealistic may be nearly impossible to sustain.
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.
Compared to other diets, the keto diet actually has positive effects on appetite control. A major reason that people tend to lose weight and reduce their risk for certain diseases on the KD is because ketosis causes a decreased appetite, thanks to lowering hunger hormones such as ghrelin. It does this even while not negatively affecting levels of leptin, another hormone that regulates appetite, food intake and body weight. Having adequate leptin levels signals to the body that its energy needs are being met and makes weight loss possible.
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.
In a 2016 meta-analysis and systematic review, the researchers found that the low carbohydrate diet decreased fat in the liver significantly, but liver function tests did not improve significantly. When we look closely at the studies in the meta-analysis, they either found no effect on liver enzyme levels or a significant effect. In other words, the liver function of some people stayed the same on the low-carbohydrate diet while others improved significantly. Why the difference?
Of the many benefits of a keto diet, weight loss is often considered No. 1., as it can often be substantial and happen quickly (especially for those who start out very overweight or obese). The 2013 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that those following a keto diet “achieved better long-term body weight and cardiovascular risk factor management when compared with individuals assigned to a conventional low-fat diet (i.e. a restricted-energy diet with less than 30 percent of energy from fat).” (2)
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)?
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.