Researchers are divided over whether the keto diet is good for people who don’t need to follow it for medical reasons. Since it doesn’t differentiate between saturated and unsaturated fats, dieters are at risk of raising their cholesterol levels. And because the heavily restrictive diet cuts out most fruits and vegetables, it can also lead to nutrient deficiency. The Harvard Health Letter warned that with so much fat and protein to metabolize, keto practitioners may experience liver and kidney problems as well.
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.
When the body is first deprived of carbohydrates, usually felt at around 50 grams per day or less, the body starts with gluconeogenesis which is the body using stored glucose (glycogen) from the liver and muscles for energy. When the stored glucose can no longer keep up with energy demands, which will happen because there’s limited storage of glucose, the body turns to using ketone bodies for energy.
Once ketosis is established, most people experience more stable and lower blood sugar levels. Low-carb diets can be an effective way for people with type 2 diabetes to get a handle on glycemic control—and carb monitoring has long been thought to be an effective way to control blood sugar—though one study concluded low-carb diets are not necessarily a better long-term strategy than other diets. Anecdotal evidence abounds from people with type 2 diabetes who have used the keto diet to stabilize their blood sugar and were able to quit taking their diabetes medication. But it’s not recommended that people with diabetes begin the keto diet without first talking to their doctor.
Initial research has found that the diet can help maintain lean muscle mass in active women — even as they shed pounds — and may also lead to increased appetite suppression. "A keto diet is an option for people looking to lose overall weight, lower fat mass, and even build muscle. As a dietitian who focuses on sports nutrition and weight loss, I also recommend it for my clients who need a strong break from their sugar cravings, as it lessens blood sugar spikes and the cravings that can accompany high sugar intake," Nisevich Bede says.
The keto diet dates back to the 1920s, explains Michelle Hyman, MS, RD, CDN a registered dietitian at Simple Solutions Weight Loss. "The original keto diet was designed for patients with forms of epilepsy that were resistant to standard treatments. The macronutrient breakdown was designed to mimic the fasting state — which seemed to help with relieving seizures — yet provide energy and nutritions to function," Hyman says.
The keto diet has a massive fan base that has grown at least in part due to the popular Netflix documentary The Magic Pill, which touts a trove of promising keto health benefits. But the fact of the matter is that most of the studies on the keto diet are premature. Meaning: They’re in small populations of humans, or they’re in rats. (And you are very different from a rat.)
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)
Although this may repel people away, it also provides you with a clear sign that you are on your way to reaping all the benefits of keto and ketosis. As your body continues to produce ketones, it will become more efficient at creating and using the energy-shuttling ketone bodies, beta-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate, which will help reduce acetone levels and normalize your breath. In the meantime, while your body is adapting to ketosis, make sure you have breath-freshening gum or spray that you can use throughout the day to cover up keto breath (if you have it).
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.”
The same goes for people with type 2 diabetes. While some preliminary research suggests the keto diet may be safe and effective for certain people with type 2 diabetes, there’s still the risk for low blood sugar, especially for those on insulin, and the keto diet omits certain food groups known to benefit those with this disease. For example, a study published in September 2016 in the journal Nutrients highlights the importance of whole grains for helping to control weight as well as episodes of high blood sugar. Whole grains are off-limits on the ketogenic diet.
Ketogenic diet for diabetics is a highly controversial topic, but we will break down everything here for you! As a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), I have to tell you from the start I will have a biased view here. Sorry, but I feel that I need to be completely honest right up front! I will however, present all the evidence that is available currently on the subject.
The mean initial weight of the subjects was 101.03±2.33 kg. The weight decreased significantly during all stages of the treatment period. The body weights at the eighth, 16th and 24th week were 91.10±2.76 kg, 89.39±3.4 kg and 86.67±3.70 kg, respectively (Figure 1). Similar to the loss in body weight, a significant decrease was observed in the BMI of the patients following the administration of the ketogenic diet. The initial BMI, and the BMI after the eighth, 16th and 24th week were 37.77±0.79 kg/m2, 33.90±0.83 kg/m2, 33.24±1.00 kg/m2 and 32.06±1.13 kg/m2, respectively (Figure 2).
Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder resulting from many things, with the greatest risk factors being weight, lifestyle and dietary habits contributing to its onset. Since the disease typically starts with a sedentary lifestyle paired with a poor diet, it makes sense to approach treatment with lifestyle changes. One effective strategy is adopting a ketogenic diet, a diet that’s proven to stabilize blood glucose and promote weight loss.
He was wrong. Originally used for epilepsy, studies show that keto diets are far from dangerous. In fact, they benefit numerous conditions, including cancer, dementia, and overweight/obesity, and modern history only supports these claims. During the early 19th century, physicians had dramatic success implementing keto diets, yet they eventually found that prescribing drugs was much easier that than scrupulously monitoring what people ate. (1)
Kimberly is the reference editor for Live Science and Space.com. She has a bachelor's degree in marine biology from Texas A&M University, a master's degree in biology from Southeastern Louisiana University and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her favorite stories include animals and obscurities. A Texas native, Kim now lives in a California redwood forest. You can follow her on Twitter @kimdhickok.
Second point, I have never tried ketogenic dieting and also I did my calculations based on a 4:1 ratio and I was amazed at how much fat I would need to consume even at my size and the foods I would have to 1. Get rid of to achieve that and 2. Add in my diet to get there and , no thank you. My heart goes out to the families with children who do have to be on this diet.
"Most people who wind up trying a ketogenic diet and then deciding not to continue do so because of the emotional and lifestyle consequences," Turoff says. To put it simply, people miss eating carbohydrates. "That doesn't mean that you should be eating pizza or cupcakes every day, but what about having a sweet potato with a meal, or beans in a chili? Or fresh watermelon in the summer?" Turoff asks. "Whether or not we want to admit it, food plays much more than just a physical role in our lives and having such restrictions on the types of foods you can and can't eat can really take a toll. It might be easy in the short-term to go for carb-free foods but at a certain point, the thought of not being able to eat your favorite foods again can become daunting."
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.
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 keto diet has been shown to help people lose weight in the short term; however, the long-term benefits of the diet aren't as clear, according to the Mayo Clinic. The diet is named for ketosis, which is the condition the body goes into when following the plan. In ketosis, the body uses ketone bodies, or water-soluble molecules produced by the liver and the breakdown of fatty tissue for cellular energy as opposed to sugars from ingested carbohydrates. And in some people, this results in weight-loss.
The keto diet also has an impact on our hormonal levels. Many studies have looked at whether the state of ketosis suppresses our appetite through the actions of leptin and ghrelin. A 2013 study found that after patients lost weight on a keto diet, our hunger hormone (ghrelin) was altered and suppressed. A systematic review also concluded that the state of ketosis appears to be a plausible explanation for the suppression of appetite. So this the keto diet may be good for dieters who can’t stand the discomfort of hunger. Finally, the keto diet also may have an impact on our stress hormone, cortisol. This was demonstrated in a Harvard study where the keto diet resulted in an increase in cortisol in individuals following a very low carb keto diet. High levels of cortisol is associated with insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease and may promote fat accumulation.
Losing essential micronutrients is another concern raised by keto diet skeptics. People say eating a diet based on fat and protein from animal sources means losing those micronutrients found in higher-carb grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Some also claim low-carb diets contain too little fiber, and thus may cause long-term constipation. That’s inaccurate.
Luiza Petre, MD, a board-certified cardiologist and weight management specialist in New York City, suggests focusing on eating more low-carb, fiber-rich foods that can help beat this bowel issue. “Try fibrous vegetables, such as broccoli, asparagus, and cabbage, consume more fat like MCT oil, coconut oil, or ghee, and, as always, drink plenty of water,” she says.
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.
Traditionally, in the sports nutrition field, we talk about the importance of timing carbohydrate and fluid intake on improving sports performance. For some time now, research has been looking at the role of very low carbohydrate diets on sports performance. Trailblazers in keto and sports performance research like Dr. Stephen Phinney have been conducting studies in this area since the 80s. In one of his studies, the glycogen stores of cyclists on a keto diet were not completely depleted and lipid oxidation was increased. Researchers concluded that the body was able to adapt to the lack of carbohydrates and preserve what was needed to use the fat as fuel. However, based on the VO2 max breath test, since the body was attempting to preserve the carbohydrate during the exercise, it appears that the intensity of the exercise was limited. In a more recent study, off-road cyclists following a keto diet experienced small improvements, but still not significant enough to make strong conclusions.
Congratulations to you!! Keep up the good work. And, I have to say again, choosing the keto way of life as a type one diabetic is a lot easier than one would think, right?!. It is so rewarding, as you point out, and actually quite easy (lose the carb cravings and enjoy eating everything that you can!). I honestly feel more FREEDOM eating this way than I did eating the other way for 20 years and I love the normal sugars and better energy. Also the decrease in inflammation is awesome.
"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."
Since carbohydrates do increase insulin and insulin is a storage hormone many people have made large leaps of logic to point the finger at carbohydrates as the primary cause of fat gain and obesity as opposed to overall caloric intake. They also point out that in a keto diet, carbohydrates are not being used as fuel hardly at all whereas fats become the primary fuel.
The most obvious sign that your electrolyte/mineral balance is being affected is an increase in urination. On a low-carb diet, insulin levels drop which promotes the secretion of sodium in the urine. Sodium pulls more water into the urinary system which then is excreted as well. This is a very normal one of the keto side effects and a positive sign you are moving towards keto adaptation.
Type 2 diabetes is normally defined as a chronic and progressive condition resulting from the insufficient production of natural insulin, causing high blood sugar in many patients. Upon receiving an official diagnosis, most patients are told they will need to take medication for life and that there is no cure for diabetes. However, many scientists, clinicians and dieticians disagree with this prognosis, claiming that diets such as the ketogenic (keto) diet have the potential to support the reversal of Type 2 diabetes.
As per heartburn, studies done have shown that a ketogenic diet can have beneficial effects for those who have Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. A 2006 paper published in the Journal of Digestive Diseases and Sciences found that ‘Six months of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet led to significant weight loss and histologic improvement of fatty liver disease’
Because slimming down is the main reason most people consider altering their diet in the first place, it’s a good place to start. Because the ketogenic diet has been studied for so long, there’s actually a fair amount of research in this department. One 2013 meta-analysis compiled results from 13 different studies to determine how a diet featuring no more than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day stacked up against a low-fat diet. According to the researchers, those on the ketogenic diet lost more weight. It’s also important to note these studies occurred over a pretty lengthy amount of time, with a minimum follow-up of 12 months.
Here’s the thing, the Keto diet can be executed in many different ways. The only requirement for achieving ketosis is to restrict carbs and limit protein so that the bodies glycogen reserves are depleted to the point that ketosis kicks in. If you do that by eating hot dogs and margarine then I agree with this claim, you are on a dangerous nutrient-deficient diet. However, if one chooses to achieve ketosis by eating fatty cuts of quality meat, dairy, nuts and plenty green leaves and fibrous vegetables-they are on a nutrient dense, complete diet.
The original therapeutic diet for paediatric epilepsy provides just enough protein for body growth and repair, and sufficient calories[Note 1] to maintain the correct weight for age and height. The classic therapeutic ketogenic diet was developed for treatment of paediatric epilepsy in the 1920s and was widely used into the next decade, but its popularity waned with the introduction of effective anticonvulsant medications. This classic ketogenic diet contains a 4:1 ratio by weight of fat to combined protein and carbohydrate. This is achieved by excluding high-carbohydrate foods such as starchy fruits and vegetables, bread, pasta, grains, and sugar, while increasing the consumption of foods high in fat such as nuts, cream, and butter. Most dietary fat is made of molecules called long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). However, medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)—made from fatty acids with shorter carbon chains than LCTs—are more ketogenic. A variant of the classic diet known as the MCT ketogenic diet uses a form of coconut oil, which is rich in MCTs, to provide around half the calories. As less overall fat is needed in this variant of the diet, a greater proportion of carbohydrate and protein can be consumed, allowing a greater variety of food choices.
Hello, I’m Abbey! I'm a Registered Dietitian (RD), an avid food and recipe writer, a TV nutrition expert and spokesperson, a YouTube host and the founder of Abbey’s Kitchen Inc. Abbey's Kitchen is a multi- faceted food and nutrition media brand developed with the goal of celebrating the pleasurable eating experience. For more information about me, check out my bio here.
In order to reach true ketosis, you need to switch to a different metabolic state where you use body fat as a fuel source instead of glucose. Running out of glucose means nutritionally starving as far as your body is concerned, and ketosis is the response. While using excess adipose tissue is generally seen as a good thing, it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. In addition to breaking down fat cells, your body also breaks down muscle in the form of protein to create glucose. As a long-term side effect, this means that the keto diet eventually decreases lean body mass, which can make it harder to lose weight once the diet has ended.
If you experience symptoms like fatigue, intense hunger and cravings, light-headedness, or heart palpitations, this may be a sign your blood sugar has dropped too low. Use a blood glucose monitor to track your body’s response to the diet change and make sure your body is adapting properly. If necessary consult your physician for necessary medication changes.
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.
Hello, I am hoping someone can reach out to me and explain something. My son who is T1D just started the keto diet 4 days ago. At first we were doing great numbers were good, then out of nowhere we are having highs! He is correcting and it’s not bringing him down into normal range. I am going into a panic, I don’t know what to do, or who to ask for help. His doctor would be no help, and thinks the Standard American Diet is fine. I don’t see eye to eye with him. I hope someone can tell me why this might be happening. Thanks in advance for your time!
The keto diet is NOT what you seem to picture. I laughed at your description as I was eating lamb chops, cauliflower rice, broccoli, followed by cheesecake. How deprived I was! You should relook at what the diet really is. By the way, my cardiologist highly recommends keto. Most people see a drastic decrease in their triglyceride/HDL ratio. Looking at total cholesterol or LDL alone is 20 years out of date! Even the AHA has caught up, and now says that it’s NOT how heart health should be judged.
Diet Doctor has a number of videos and posts about positive impacts of the ketogenic diet for migraines, brain cancer, and traumatic brain injury. Recently, two psychiatrists reviewed the research base for psychiatric issues and noted that while promising, it is slim. Dr. Ede takes a more hopeful view. “My mantra is that the most powerful way to change your brain chemistry is by food, because that’s where brain chemicals come from in the first place,” she says.