Probably, and there are a few reasons why the keto diet usually equals weight-loss gold, says Keatley. For starters, people usually reduce their daily caloric intake to about 1,500 calories a day because healthy fats and lean proteins make you feel fuller sooner—and for a longer period of time. And then there’s the fact that it takes more energy to process and burn fat and protein than carbs, so you're burning slightly more calories than you did before. Over time, this can lead to weight loss.
"On a ketogenic diet, your intake of fruits and vegetables is extremely limited, and we all know how important the fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other compounds in fruits and veggies are," says Libby Parker, R.D., a dietitian who specializes in treatment and prevention of eating disorders. It's true: There are a lot of healthy but high-carb foods you can't eat on the ketogenic diet. That's one of the reasons keto is usually pretty low in fiber, which isn't so great long-term. "Fiber is not only protective against many gastrointestinal cancers, it is also a big factor in fullness and weight loss," Parker explains. "Furthermore, constipation is very common on low-fiber diets like the keto diet." (That said, These Healthy, High-Fat Foods Can Help You Feel Full Longer.)
Although studies have shown that the keto diet can reduce seizures for children with epilepsy, there is no evidence indicating that keto helps with other brain disorders or improves mental cognition, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Some studies show that keto may lower blood sugar for people with type 2 diabetes, but there is not enough long-term research to determine whether it’s safe and effective for diabetics.
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).
Something that makes the keto diet different from other low-carb diets is that it does not “protein-load.” Protein is not as big a part of the keto diet as fat is. Reason being: In small amounts, the body can change protein to glucose, which means if you eat too much of it, especially while in the beginning stages, it will slow down your body’s transition into ketosis.
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.
The relation between a high fat diet and cancer is not conclusive. Recent epidemiological studies (17,58–60) could not explain a specific causal relationship between dietary fat and cancer. It has been found that altered energy metabolism and substrate requirements of tumour cells provide a target for selective antineoplastic therapy. The supply of substrates for tumour energy metabolism can be reduced by dietary manipulation (eg, ketogenic diet) or by pharmacological means at the cellular level (eg, inhibitors of glycolysis or oxidative phosphorylation). Both of these techniques are nontoxic methods for controlling tumour growth in vivo (61). Sugar consumption is positively associated with cancer in humans and test animals (58–61). This observation is quite logical because tumours are known to be enormous sugar absorbers. It has also been found that the risk of breast cancer decreases with increases in total fat intake (16). Further studies on the role of a ketogenic diet in antineoplastic therapy are in progress in our laboratory.
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.
That’s why many health experts are concerned about people on the keto diet, especially those who try it without the guidance of a doctor or nutritionist. Doctors say that high-fat diets like this one may raise cholesterol levels, and some studies suggest that they increase the risk of diabetes. Some have even called it a “cardiologist’s nightmare.”
A keto diet has shown to improve triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels most associated with arterial buildup. More specifically low-carb, high-fat diets show a dramatic increase in HDL and decrease in LDL particle concentration compared to low-fat diets.3A study in the long-term effects of a ketogenic diet shows a significant reduction in cholesterol levels, body weight, and blood glucose. Read more on keto and cholesterol >
The struggle as a prescriber is that you have to follow the “standard of care,” lest you open yourself up to a lawsuit. So I talk to my patents about what “the” recommendations are, and then I talk to them bout what the evidence says and what my experience says. Plain and simple, patient’s trust the government’s recommendations and can’t wrap their head around the idea of not eating carbs because they have learned their entire lives that the body “needs” carbs to survive.
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.
I’ve been there and have tried the Ketogenic Diet. It’s very difficult even though I am a very determined and goal oriented person. When I set my mind up to do something, I will normally achieve it because I am just so stubborn about personal goals that I don’t give up until I do! Yes, you will lose a lot of weight quickly, but I am not interested in giving up bread, pasta and birthday cake for the rest of my life.
Ketosis, similarly to fasting or caloric restriction, turns on a group of genes called Sirtuins. When scientists activate Sirtuins in animals, they found that these animals live longer. In addition, Sirtuins can help keep you lean and energetic during the day and sleeping well at night. More research is needed to know if this effect is the same in humans, but evidence seems strong that spending some time in ketosis is beneficial.
Sleep enough – for most people at least seven hours per night on average – and keep stress under control. Sleep deprivation and stress hormones raise blood sugar levels, slowing ketosis and weight loss a bit. Plus they might make it harder to stick to a keto diet, and resist temptations. So while handling sleep and stress will not get you into ketosis on it’s own, it’s still worth thinking about.
It has been found that a sugary diet is the root cause of various chronic diseases of the body. A recent study (35) showed that sugar can accelerate aging. Several recent studies (36,37) have pointed to the fact that a diet with a high glycemic load is independently associated with the development of cardiovascular diseases, type II diabetes and certain forms of cancer. Glycemic load refers to a diet of different foods that have a high glycemic index. Glycemic index is a measure of the elevation of glucose levels following the ingestion of a carbohydrate. The classification of a carbohydrate based on its glycemic index provided a better predictor of risk for coronary artery diseases than the traditional method of classification of carbohydrate into simple or complex forms (38). In other studies (38–46), it was shown that the risk of dietary glycemic load from refined carbohydrates was independent of other known risk factors for coronary diseases.
The New York Times pieces also points out that studies are disproving this concern and making a case for both children and adults with type 1 diabetes to consider a ketogenic diet. Specifically, a 2018 study published in the journal, Pediatrics, which took a look at glycemic control among children and adults with type 1 diabetes who followed a very low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet. The researchers found that both the adults and children who consumed this diet along with smaller doses of insulin than typically required exhibited “exceptional” blood sugar control without high rates of complications. In addition, the study data did not show an adverse effect of a very low-carbohydrate diet on children’s growth, although more research may still be a good idea, according to researchers.
Some of us experience a rise in BG that’s hard to manage when trying Keto. This is one of the reasons why keto did not work out for me (plus weight gain and feeling lousy). That being said, there could be a lot of other reasons why he’s running high, so I’d highly recommend you work with a medical professional and dietitian if you decide to continue down this path. And if your doctor isn’t supporting you, find one that will.
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).
"Your brain runs on glucose (a simple form of carbohydrates)," notes Adrien Paczosa, R.D., L.D., a registered dietitian and eating disorder specialist. "When you cut out carbs, your body has to 'make' carbs from breaking down other parts of the body. This results in what I like to call a hungry brain. You experience slower cognition, memory loss, headaches, and confusion." That doesn't sound so great, right? "Also, those who suffer from depression and anxiety may have higher levels of those periods when not eating carbs on a regular basis." Because of this, keto might not be the best choice for those with mental health issues.
They focus on what to eat instead of what not to eat, according to Dr. J. Michael Gonzalez-Campoy, medical director and CEO of the Minnesota Center for Obesity, Metabolism, and Endocrinology, who worked on healthy eating guidelines with the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, the American College of Endocrinology, and The Obesity Society.
In the study, the researchers fed mice a ketogenic diet for several days and expected to find a favorable outcome — perhaps weight loss or another indication of improved health. Instead, they found that the liver began resisting insulin almost immediately and the mice were unable to regulate their blood sugar levels after only three days on the diet. (Insulin resistance, meaning that cells in the body don't respond to insulin, is a key characteristic of type 2 diabetes.)
Those with mental health conditions have higher rates of physical illness and premature mortality, with life spans shortened by 13 to 30 years. People with mental health conditions also have higher rates and worse outcomes for chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Years lived with disability for mental and substance use disorders increased 45% from 1990 to 2013 worldwide – during the same time that the incidence of obesity and the diabetes exploded.
The researchers hypothesized that the positive effects that the ketogenic diet has on migraines are due to how ketone bodies inhibit neural inflammation and enhance brain mitochondrial metabolism. The ketone bodies do this by blocking high concentrations of glutamate (commonly found in both migraine and epilepsy sufferers) and reducing oxidative stress.
You lose weight temporarily because “if you’re not hungry every five minutes and can work on your willpower,” you won’t eat as much, Nisevich Bede says. But while some research is promising — one study published in October 2013 in the British Journal of Nutrition found that the keto diet led to greater weight loss than a low-fat diet, for example (4) — there is a lack of long-term research (greater than two years) that suggests a highly restrictive diet like keto is superior for weight loss than others, and it’s certainly not right for everyone.
There is a reason why we store hundreds of thousands of calories in the form of fat in our body and only about 2000 calories in the form of glucose (with only a small amount of this useable by the brain). The reason is simple - The body prefers fat as its fuel source. Mark Sisson explains this in his article ‘A metabolic Paradigm Shift, or Why Fat is the Preferred Fuel for Human Consumption’.
Lele says that it’s important to remember that, while keto is a “high fat” diet, the goal is to use your body fat as an energy source, not the fat that’s on your plate. “You don’t need to necessarily add more fats to your diet to adhere to keto. For instance, if your dinner consists of avocado, bacon, and eggs, you really don’t need to add butter to that to make it ‘more keto’,” she says.
“Both alcoholic ketoacidosis and diabetic ketoacidosis create medical emergencies due to the rapid change in the body’s acid-base balance,” Dr. Gonzalez-Campoy says. “The rapid drop in the pH of the blood, which is called acidosis, can depress the nervous system and muscle function, causing a person to become unconsciousness due to vascular collapse.”
A recent pilot study put five patients on the ketogenic diet (less than 20 grams per day of carbohydrate). At the end of six months, the average weight loss was 28 pounds (but this wasn’t the most surprising finding). Each patient underwent a liver biopsy, and four of the five patients had a reduction in liver fat, inflammation, and fibrosis. However, this is a small pilot study that also used supplements, so the results are not conclusive. What does the rest of the research say?
Carbohydrate facts: Simple = bad, complex = good? Carbohydrates provide energy for the body, but the health benefits they offer depend on the type of carbs we consume. Complex carbs, found in brown rice, for example, contain more nutrients than simple carbs, such as white rice. Refined carbs, such as sugary drinks, are best avoided, as their nutritional value is low. Read now
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.
This concept was previously unthinkable as modern nutritional science was led to believe that the body’s metabolism relied on gluconeogenesis to create ATP as energy for the body’s metabolic processes. Glycogen derives from dietary carbohydrate intake, so by removing it from the diet, nutritionists expected devastating health results to emerge in practitioners of the diet.
Before the discovery of neuroplasticity, scientists believed that a damaged brain cannot regenerate. However, by improving mitochondria health, reducing inflammation, and stimulating cellular cleanup, ketogenic diets can help a damaged brain repair itself. Thus, the ketogenic diet is almost a miracle for many brain diseases that were thought of as incurable.
It should be noted that the concept that fat can be eaten ad libitum and still induce weight loss in obese subjects is not a recent one (13–33). Ketosis occurs as a result of the change in the body’s fuel from carbohydrate to fat. Incomplete oxidation of fatty acids by the liver results in the accumulation of ketone bodies in the body. A ketogenic diet maintains the body in a state of ketosis, which is characterized by an elevation of D-b-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate.
Ketosis has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties while also assisting with pain relief. Reducing glucose metabolism influences pain, so this could be one potential mechanism of action. In the review The Nervous System and Metabolic Dysregulation: Emerging Evidence Converges on Ketogenic Diet Therapy the authors look at numerous ways that a ketogenic diet can assist with pain and inflammation.
Although the exact role of the keto diet in mental and brain disorders is unclear, there has been proof of its efficacy in patients with schizophrenia. And, to boot, it works to reverse many conditions that develop as a side effect of conventional medications for brain disorders, like weight gain, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular risks. More research is needed to understand the role of the ketogenic diet in treating or improving schizophrenia, as the current available studies are either animal studies or case studies, but the benefits of a low carbohydrate, high-fat diet in neurology is promising.
Here are a few of the most common side effects that I come across when people first start keto. Frequently the issues relate to dehydration or lack of micronutrients (vitamins) in the body. Make sure that you’re drinking enough water (close to a gallon a day) and eating foods with good sources of micronutrients. To read more on micronutrients, click here >
Based on what we know from the available research, is the keto diet safe? The evidence is clear that the KD can reliably help to treat obesity and improve insulin resistance, but the long-term impact of the KD on cardiovascular risk factors, liver disease and glucose tolerance is more controversial. Experts agree that genetics seem to play a role in how different people respond to the KD, meaning some may be more likely to thrive on very low-carb diets, while others are more susceptible to developing side effects.
The keto diet may also be beneficial for adults with epilepsy, though the Epilepsy Foundation notes that it’s less frequently recommended for this group because it is so restrictive and difficult to stick with. (1) One study, published in May 2016 in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior, found the diet reduced the frequency of seizures for many study participants, 7 percent of whom were seizure-free at the four-year mark. (2) And though it wasn’t the goal for this study, nearly 20 percent of the participants lost weight while following the diet.
By cutting carbs, you’ll also cut sugar and simple, refined carbohydrates, which means a steadier supply of energy. (No more sugar highs and crashes!) Once their bodies are used to the diet, “The first thing people report is, ‘Oh my gosh, I have this steady energy and I don’t have the need to snack at 3 p.m. because my energy is waning,’” Nisevich Bede says. Research published in January 2015 in the journal Obesity Review showed that the keto diet may lead to fewer hunger pangs and a lower desire to eat. (3)
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I was diagnosed in 2004 with Brittle Type 1 diabetes, peripheral and autonomic neuropathy, and Hypothyroidism. A short time later with Gastroparesis due to the nerve damage from diabetes. Since then, I had followed every guideline and rule that the Endocrinologist and Primary Care Doctors had told me to follow. NOTHING WAS GETTING BETTER. In fact, I was gradually getting worse. So many ups and downs. Extreme highs (250-500 bgl ) to seizures from crashes (drop from 300 to 13 in no time). It was a constant battle with adjustments in insulin intake (and different insulins NPH, R, Novolog, Humalog, Lantus), carb intake, exercise and one contributing factor was the Gastroparesis. Meds were taken for the Gastroparesis but I always had side effects from meds. To my point. I was kicking a dead horse and I told them this. My sister and mom had come across the ketogenic way of eating and it dramatically improved thier lives. Mom was diagnosed way back with Type 2 and within a week or two she was off of her meds completely. I was totally interested. So, I decided to go for it on April 17, 2017. I did go through some rough patches of what they call Keto Flu. It did pass after a couple weeks. I was gaining so much energy like never before as well as mental focus. The even greater aspect of this all was, I had DRAMATICALLY LOWERED MY INSULIN INTAKE TO ALMOST NONE! My Lantus was always being adjusted from 30-40 units daily (and changed from AM to PM to splitting it to half AM, other half PM). I was on a sliding scale of Humalog or Novolog. From 4-6 units per meal and then there were the corrections throughout my day (some daily totals could be up to 40 UNITS)! Very exciting for me to only take 2 units of Lantus in the AM and daily totals of Humalog/Novolog….1.5-3 units! Other great things I began to notice, neuropathy pains were fading and finally GONE. No more nights up stinging, burning and RLS (restless leg syndrome). So, in my life, there are no questions or hardships on whether I can get off of this way of eating. It’s either do or die. If someone truly wants to have a better life, they can. The sad thing is, doctors and nutritionists aren’t being educated in the real facts. My primary care doctor isn’t willing to help me with all the labs I need nor listen. Always telling me “You need carbohydrates and insulin to live.” All that know me see the dramatic change for the better. I’m doing the Ketogenic way of eating with intermittent fasting for the rest of my life. The alternative IS NOT WORTH a lifetime of illnesses and suffering.
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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)?
The benefits of a ketogenic diet have been well documented for those living with Type 2 diabetes. Not only does the diet help manage blood sugar but it promotes weight loss as well. The results for those living with Type 1 are less conclusive. Many studies tend to address low carb diets like paleo and Atkins, which focus more on types of low carb food to eat, unlike a keto diet, which pays close attention to macronutrients and staying in ketosis. There seem to be fewer studies exploring the latter, but there is observational information that seems to indicate the diet offers a way to manage A1C levels and glycemic control. Many people with diabetes who abide by the keto diet have found that they significantly reduce their use of insulin.