Insulin allows sugar in our blood to enter our cells. When insulin attaches to the insulin receptor, it activates a series of enzymatic reactions, which ends with active glucose transport (a gateway for glucose to enter the cell). If our insulin receptors are covered in fat, we end up with high blood sugar, because insulin can’t enter our cells. This is called insulin resistance. This fat is called intramyocellular lipid, or fat inside our muscle cells (10).
I must tell you when looking at this link they say the American Diabetes Association Guidelines call for 60-75 carbohydrates per meal and that is simply not true. The ADA has recommended since 2013 we use our best clinical judgement in recommending a low carbohydrate diet for people with diabetes, recognizing it needs to be individualized. 60-75 grams is the carbohydrate amount I would give to a very tall, large boned man or perhaps an active teen or young adult. I would never recommend that many carbohydrates for an average size man who was trying to lose weight; he would get 45-60 grams of carbohydrates per meal and 15-30 grams for snacks. A women trying to lose weight would get 30-45 grams of carbohydrates per meal and 15 grams for snacks.

"Because cancer cells prefer to use glucose, diets that limit glucose may be beneficial," Barbara Gower, PhD, senior author and professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences, told Healthline. "Because they limit glucose and several growth factors, ketogenic diets will limit the ability of cancer to grow, which gives the patient's immune system time to respond."
Lorraine Turcotte,  a metabolism researcher at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, said that although it’s less trendy, long-term healthy eating is the tried-and-true solution. She’s not sure why people prefer “difficult dietary manipulations than to say ‘I’m just going to eat moderately — a well balanced diet, lots of fruits and vegetables.’”
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
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.
Dr. Cabeca came up with the concept of combining an alkaline diet with a keto diet after weighing the benefits of very low-carb eating on one hand, with some of the negative feedback she was receiving from clients on the other. Although many of her clients experienced weight loss quickly and reliably while reducing their intake of carbs, many also reported dealing with side effects like nausea, fatigue and constipation due to the keto diet.
When a person goes off the ketogenic diet and regains much of their original weight, it’s often not in the same proportions, says Kizer: Instead of regaining lean muscle, you’re likely to regain fat. “Now you’re back to your starting weight, but you no longer have the muscle mass to burn the calories that you did before,” she says. “That can have lasting effects on your resting metabolic rate, and on your weight long-term.”
In a recent study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, Weiss and his colleagues found that participants performed worse on high-intensity cycling and running tasks after four days on a ketogenic diet, compared to those who’d spent four days on a high-carb diet. Weiss says that the body is in a more acidic state when it’s in ketosis, which may limit its ability to perform at peak levels.

Hypothyroid Related Issues. Thyroid hormones and cholesterol levels are intimately linked. When our thyroid hormone levels are low, LDL receptors will be less active, leading to high cholesterol levels and an increased risk of heart disease. If you have a history of hypothyroid issues, you may be struggling with unhealthy cholesterol levels — and the keto diet can make them even worse. However, for those of you who are being treated for your hypothyroid condition or who have an autoimmune thyroid condition, you may be able to follow the keto diet without any problems. In fact, many keto dieters with autoimmune thyroid conditions have found that the keto way of eating improves their quality of life more than any other diet.
What is the ketogenic diet exactly? The classic ketogenic diet is a very low-carb diet plan that was originally designed in the 1920s for patients with epilepsy by researchers working at Johns Hopkins Medical Center. Researchers found that fasting — avoiding consumption of all foods for a brief period of time (such as with intermittent fasting), including those that provide carbohydrates — helped reduce the amount of seizures patients suffered, in addition to having other positive effects on body fat, blood sugar, cholesterol and hunger levels. (1)

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.
Even if you don't have a history with eating disorders, keto can still leave some people (although certainly not everyone!) with negative feelings around food. "For the vast majority of people, keto is not sustainable, meaning they don't stick with it for more than a few months," Brown says. "Not 'succeeding' with this diet and returning to one's usual eating habits can trigger feelings of guilt and failure." Those two feelings can actually trigger disordered eating in some people in the worst-case scenario, says Brown. (Also, We Seriously Need to Stop Thinking of Foods As "Good" and "Bad")
Fatty acid production in fat tissue is stimulated by epinephrine and glucagon, and inhibited by insulin. Insulin is one of the hormones the pancreas secretes in the presence of carbohydrates. Insulin's purpose is to keep blood glucose levels in check by acting like a driver, pushing the glucose into cells. If insulin were not to be secreted, blood glucose levels would get out of control.
Since the state of ketosis forces cells to rely on ketones and to use the mitochondria for energy, ketosis feeds healthy cells while starving cancer cells. This especially seems to be true against some of the most deadly and incurable cancers. Researchers like Dr. Dom D’Agostino are also researching the role of ketosis and fasting in improving the outcomes and reducing the side effects of existing cancer treatments.
Insulin resistance is caused by several mechanisms, one of which is chronically elevated insulin levels. So what increases insulin levels? Mainly sugar. A poor nights sleep can do it too, but sugar is a big one. This can be sugar that is part of our diet or carbohydrates that are broken down to glucose or other simple carbs. Proteins put together with fats can also be converted into sugar, a process called gluconeogenesis. However, it is really the effect of dietary refined sugars and starches (flour) causing blood sugar and insulin spikes (not protein). These insulin spikes from added sugars and flour are then often followed by a blood sugar crash, leading to a sense of discomfort, even sweating, and usually a craving for more high-carb foods.

Several comprehensive studies and meta-analyses have demonstrated that after a few months or even a year of a low carb diet versus a moderate/high carb diet, there are no significant differences in the amount of weight lost (2,3,4,5).  I will say, however, most of these diets are NOT keto and are simply lower carb (i.e. 20%).  Also, long-term effects (beyond 1 year) are not often studied due to budgetary constraints, so interpret results as you wish.


Tammy, just because someone follows a keto diet doesn’t mean they can’t have their sweet treats. There are dozens of websites with hundreds of keto sweet treats and “fat bombs” made with stevia or other natural non-caloric sweeteners which will not raise blood sugars. One of my favorites is Keto Mocha Mousse https://www.ruled.me/keto-mocha-mousse/ which has 5 g net carbs per servings. We don’t have to be deprived on keto.
Thank you for posting Julie Martin. Abbey, have you ever been forced to loose a significant amount of weight? It is unfair to minimize the challenges that come along with consistent weight loss over a long period of time. Please provide information about any diet that has high success statistics when it comes to significant weight loss. Julie I plan to join your Facebook group and would absolutely love to have someone with your positive outlook to support my weight loss challenges.
The low-carb, high-fat approach to the keto diet limits the types of foods you can have, and entire food groups are eliminated entirely. Beans, legumes, and whole grains are out, as are many fruits and vegetables. Many of these foods carry vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you can’t get from any other source, and without them, you may start to experience nutritional deficiencies.

The weight and body mass index of the patients decreased significantly (P<0.0001). The level of total cholesterol decreased from week 1 to week 24. HDL cholesterol levels significantly increased, whereas LDL cholesterol levels significantly decreased after treatment. The level of triglycerides decreased significantly following 24 weeks of treatment. The level of blood glucose significantly decreased. The changes in the level of urea and creatinine were not statistically significant.


I actually went on a ketogenic diet last year to see if it would help my migraines. I have a history of chronic migraines which would usually last 3 days, sometimes longer. Triptans help a lot but I don’t like having to take them. I stayed in ketosis for about 8 months and experienced a significant reduction in migraines, from feeling some type of headache (mild o r severe) almost everyday to 1 or 2x per month while in ketosis. Although I’m very healthy otherwise, I do think my migraines may have something to do with blood sugar fluctuations (despite previously eating a whole foods diet and no refined carbs), and keto totally stabilized this. I eventually came off of Keto because I’m not really a meat lover. When I came off, but remained low carb, my migraines stayed under control for the most part. When I increase carbs, they do return.
I had type 1 diabetes for 30+ yrs; CKD/ESRD x8 yrs and did peritoneal dialysis for 5 yrs before getting a kidney pancreas transplant nearly 5 years ago. Then had a below knee amputation and a rather sedentry life since-need to lose weight. Is this a safe diet for me? I am terrified of ketosis (DKA nearly killed me when i was 12 yrs old) so anything messing with stuff like that really makes me nervous. TIA!
Earlier this year Seattle family doctor Dr. Ted Naiman, who has been helping patients with low-carb or ketogenic diets for 20 years, described how his own obsessive compulsive disorder was resolved almost instantly — never returning — on a low-carb high-fat diet. Naiman over the years has seen dramatic mental health improvements in his patients who adopt low carb ketogenic diet. “Definitely bipolar, depression, anxiety, OCD, are all much, much better on a low-carb diet,” he says.
The level of total cholesterol showed a significant decrease from week 1 to week 24 (Figure 3). The level of HDL cholesterol significantly increased (Figure 4), whereas LDL cholesterol levels significantly decreased with treatment (Figure 5). The level of triglycerides decreased significantly after 24 weeks of treatment. The initial level of triglycerides was 2.75±0.23 mmol/L, whereas at week 24, the level decreased to 1.09±0.08 mmol/L (Figure 6). The level of blood glucose significantly decreased at week 24. The initial blood glucose level and its level at the eighth, 16th and 24th week were 7.26±0.38 mmol/L, 5.86±0.27 mmol/L, 5.56±0.19 mmol/L and 5.62±0.18 mmol/L, respectively (Figure 7). The changes in the levels of urea (Figure 8) and creatinine (Figure 9) were not statistically significant.
In regard to serum measurements, the mean fasting glucose decreased by 17% from 9.08 ± 4.09 mmol/L at baseline to 7.57 ± 2.63 mmol/L at week 16 (p = 0.04) (Table ​(Table4).4). Serum sodium and chloride levels increased significantly, but only by 1% and 3%, respectively. Uric acid level decreased by 10% (p = 0.01). Serum triglyceride decreased 42% from 2.69 ± 2.87 mmol/L to 1.57 ± 1.38 mmol/L (p = 0.001). Increases occurred in both high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (8%) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (10%) but these changes were of borderline statistical significance (p = 0.08 and p = 0.1, respectively). The following blood tests did not change significantly: total cholesterol, potassium, bicarbonate, urea nitrogen, creatinine, calcium, thyroid-stimulating hormone, and hemoglobin.

Still, research on the relationship between the keto diet and mental clarity, as well as anxiety and depression, is still in its early stages, and not all people who try the keto diet report noticeable changes in the ways they think. In fact, some people report an increase in brain fog after switching to the keto diet, though this might be explained by the "keto flu", which describes the flu-like symptoms people tend to experience in the first few weeks after beginning the keto diet.
Click here to join my newsletter and I’ll keep you posted when I get new articles up (FYI: as a heads up, I also write about entrepreneurship and web development. I started writing about fat metabolism and ketogenic dieting here at KetoSchool out of pure hobby interest, as there are relatively few resources out there that teach the underlying science).
The keto diet also appears to help induce autophagy, which helps clear damaged cells from the body, including senescent cells that serve no functional purpose but still linger inside tissues and organs. In animal studies when rats are put on the ketogenic diet, autophagic pathways are created that reduce brain injury during and after seizures. (21)
The ketogenic diet—also known as "keto"—has become the latest big thing in weight-loss plans, touted recently by celebs like Jenna Jameson, Mama June, and Halle Berry. The diet involves cutting way back on carbohydrates, to 50 grams a day or less, to help the body achieve a state of ketosis, in which it has to burn fat (rather than sugar) for energy.
In March 2018, our friend Vickie, who is a type 1 diabetic, told us about the keto way of life. She shared some interesting data Dr. Ken Berry puts out on YouTube. The things Dr. Berry said made total sense to us and we decided we needed to give keto a try. Both I and my girlfriend decided to give this Keto way of life a try. We officially started on March 5, 2018.
Cancer cells express an abnormal metabolism characterized by increased glucose consumption owing to genetic mutations and mitochondrial dysfunction. Previous studies indicate that unlike healthy tissues, cancer cells are unable to effectively use ketone bodies for energy. Furthermore, ketones inhibit the proliferation and viability of cultured tumor cells.
Thank you so much for this article! My husband and I have been following keto for a little over a month now and we love it! I did a lot of research before starting, and am still doing lots of research because I like to be armed with the best information I can have when friends question my choices. Just yesterday I had a friend tell me that our brains need carbs to function (more than what we get from veggies). I hadn’t heard that before so I didn’t know what to answer. Thanks to your article now I know, and I have lots more answers in case more points come up. 😉
If you want to use a ketogenic diet as a health tool, it would be wise to do so for no more than a few weeks at a time, as nobody knows how long is too long. And, of course, the period of time during which ketosis is safe can vary from individual to individual. Breaking ketosis is as easy as upping protein intake or having a glass of wine or whole piece of fruit.

The keto diet works by eliminating carbohydrates from the your daily intake and keeping the body’s carbohydrate stores almost empty, therefore preventing too much insulin from being released following food consumption and creating normal blood sugar levels. This can help reverse “insulin resistance,” which is the underlying problem contributing to diabetes symptoms. In studies, low-carb diets have shown benefits for improving blood pressure, postprandial glycemia and insulin secretion. (7)


There are a number of different causes of acne, and one may be related to diet and blood sugar. Eating a diet high in processed and refined carbohydrates can alter gut bacteria and cause more dramatic blood sugar fluctuations, both of which can have an influence on skin health. Therefore, by decreasing carb intake, it's not a surprise that a ketogenic diet could reduce some cases of acne.
“Keto diets should only be used under clinical supervision and only for brief periods,” Francine Blinten, R.D., a certified clinical nutritionist and public health consultant in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, told Healthline. “They have worked successfully on some cancer patients in conjunction with chemotherapy to shrink tumors and to reduce seizures among people suffering from epilepsy.”
Carbs are still the primary fuel for the body during high-intensity exercise. A ketogenic diet may be better suited to athletes performing endurance sports (like marathon running or cycling). Athletes engaged in more intense cardio (like sprinting, hockey, football) may perform better with a higher percentage of carbohydrates. These athletes may experience a decrease in high-intensity output while following a ketogenic diet, but ultimately, a lowered carbohydrate intake as isn’t “dangerous” for athletes.
He also told me that I was in horrible shape, that I would need a lot of medication, and that because I was T2, insulin would do nothing for me. I still remember walking out of the building after. I felt like shooting myself. My brother had just gone blind from retinopathy 2 months earlier. There was no hope for me. High numbers were inevitable. Complications were inevitable.
Mike, that’s exactly right! With T2, we no longer have the option of eating carbs, sugar and all the good stuff. Why can’t dieticians and the ADA recognize that and quit trying to shove all those carbs down our throats? I don’t get it… I seriously don’t. And I think the author of this article would do an about face is she actually had diabetes. It’s amazing the amount of people who claim to be experts that seriously don’t get it!! It I had Celiac Disease, I couldn’t eat gluten… at all. Why is the same not recognized for diabetics? Our meters show us when we are eating too many carbs. Its VERY clear as the number goes very high. What do the professionals not get about that? It’s been the most amazing thing about this whole process for me and I just can’t believe how biased people are against a very low carb diet for managing diabetes. You think that because people can’t maintain that kind of diet for long term makes it OK to go ahead and be against it? Did it ever occur to any of the professionals that by recommending a low carb diet it might actually encourage people to maintain it? Instead, you are giving them excuses and reasons to eat way too many carbs!! Last August 2016 I was diagnosed with T2, with an A1C of 12.7. My last blood test showed an A1C of 6.2 (July 2017) and I had reduced some of the meds I was originally on. I am still working on lowering my numbers. The whole process has been a slow progression to keto and I had to stumble on the whole thing myself through my own research. I tried vegan at first and quickly realized that I was eating too many carbs. Then I went low carb but knew I could do better. When I tried the Keto diet, my numbers went much lower. You get over the sweet addictions. You get over the bread addictions and you find suitable substitutions. You do what you have to do. But by not recommending an ultra low carb diet simply because you don’t think people can do it is ridiculous! It is basically telling people that they can’t possibly manage their own lives… they can’t possibly make their own, good choices. And then, because you are the authority, you are giving them reasons to not even try. You defeat them before they even begin. It just amazes me!
“Loss of muscle mass as we age has a number of serious consequences,” notes Clark. “Muscle is metabolically active and helps boost daily energy expenditure and mitigate age-related weight gain.” Losing muscle mass can also decrease functional strength and heighten the risk of falls, notes Clark. Falls are the top cause of death from injury in older populations, according to the Institute of Medicine Division of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.
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.
Researchers believe that the ketogenic diet can also help patients with schizophrenia to normalize the pathophysiological processes that are causing symptoms like delusions, hallucinations, lack of restraint and unpredictable behavior. One study found that the keto diet lead to elevated concentrations of kynurenic acid (KYNA) in the hippocampus and striatum, which promotes neuroactive activity. Some studies even point to the elimination of gluten as a possible reason for improved symptoms, as researchers observed that patients with schizophrenia tended to eat more carbohydrates immediately before a psychotic episode. (19)
so I won’t repeat it all here. The original study that claimed calcium supplements caused heart disease was widely publicized when it came out but unless you had a subscription to the British Medical Journal you wouldn’t be aware of the serious objections published in subsequent issues. In particular, Lappe & Heaney reported the complete opposite result – calcium supplementation REDUCED heart disease versus placebo.
When your body goes into ketosis, it will start to produce by-products called ketones. This includes acetone—yes, the same chemical found in nail polish remover, which your body actually naturally makes on its own, according to a 2015 review of research. Because acetone is a smaller molecule, it tends to make its way into your lungs. You’ll eventually exhale them out, resulting in “keto breath.” Your mouth might also have a metallic taste, but it won’t last forever as you adjust to the diet. Just be diligent about brushing your teeth!
The kidneys play an important role in metabolizing protein, and it’s possible that eating too much of the nutrient can have a negative impact on kidney function. While ketogenic diets are supposed to be much higher in fat than they are in protein, many keto eaters make the mistake of loading up on lots of meat, Mancinelli says. The result? You could end up eating way more protein than you actually need.
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.

Your body uses the carbohydrates you eat for energy, so if we restrict how many carbohydrates we eat, the body has to get its fuel source from fat. A byproduct of this fat burning state are ketones which are produced; this is called nutritional ketosis. You can determine if you are in this fat burning state by purchasing urine ketone testing strips from your local pharmacy.


John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.
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