Obesity Compared with those on a typical low-calorie diet, obese individuals on a very-low-calorie ketogenic diet lost more weight and inflammatory visceral (belly) fat in one study, published in December 2016 in the journal Endocrine. (9) It may also help preserve lean body mass during weight loss, according to an article published in February 2018 in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism. (10)
If you're new to keto, watch out for hidden carbs. Generally, dairy products and nuts are a good way to meet your daily fat intake, but know that some of those items may contain more carbohydrates than you think. For example, yogurt topped with nuts may seem like a great keto-friendly snack, but a 5.3 ounce serving of plain yogurt has 12 grams of carbohydrates. Vanilla flavored yogurt has 24 grams of carbohydrates. Add an ounce of cashews, weighing in at nearly nine grams of carbs, and you’re up to 21 to 33 grams of carbs for that snack, which could knock you out of ketosis. Be sure to read nutrition labels carefully and pay careful attention to serving sizes. Track foods using a keto-specific app like Senza or KetoDiet can help you stay within your recommended daily carb intake.
In either case, think about that for a second: Mancella says a 4% carbohydrate consumption translates to roughly 20-50 grams of carbs per day. And given that a single cup of cooked pasta contains roughly 45-grams of carbs by itself, and a single English muffin has about 30-grams of carbs, a single, poorly-planned meal could undo your efforts to achieve and maintain ketosis in a hurry.
Increases in cholesterol levels need discussion too. We do see temporary increases in cholesterol levels often as individuals transition onto a ketogenic diet. However, when you examine lipid particle size (a more important way to look at the cardiovascular risks), the risk pattern doesn’t seem to increase with a ketogenic diet. Harvard Health has written about lipid particle size here before: http://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/should-you-seek-advanced-cholesterol-testing-
The side effects of extreme low-carb diets are still a mystery. "The first major drawback is the fact that we really don't have any long-term research about how keto followers fare 10, 20, 30 years down the line," Turoff says. "What will the results look like? Will they regain the weight? Will they suffer health consequences? We also thought smoking and diet pills were a good idea, until long-term studies showed us that we were wrong."
WY conceived, designed, and coordinated the study; participated in data collection; performed statistical analysis; and drafted the manuscript. MF assisted with study design, performed data collection, and helped to draft the manuscript. AC analyzed the food records. MV assisted with study/intervention design and safety monitoring. EW participated in the conception and design of the study, and assisted with the statistical analysis. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
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Some research suggests that ketogenic diets might help lower your risk of heart disease. Other studies show specific very-low-carb diets help people with metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. Researchers are also studying the effects of these diets on acne, cancer, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and nervous system diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Lou Gehrig's disease.
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.
Another possible nutrient deficiency: potassium, a mineral important for both electrolyte balance and blood pressure control, notes MedlinePlus. “Inadequate intake of potassium is likely when consumption of fruits and starchy vegetables are decreased,” says Asche. She recommends adding lower-carb sources of potassium to the diet, including avocado and spinach — as well as lower-carb sources of fiber, such as chia seeds and flaxseed (be sure to enjoy ground for the best health benefits).
One argument against the consumption of a high fat diet is that it causes obesity. The major concern in this regard is whether a high percentage of dietary fat promotes weight gain more than a low percentage of fat intake. Because fat has a higher caloric density than carbohydrate, it is thought that the consumption of a high fat diet will be accompanied by a higher energy intake (31). On the contrary, recent studies from our laboratory (12) and many other laboratories (24,32–34) have observed that a ketogenic diet can be used as a therapy for weight reduction in obese patients.
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.
The ketogenic diet may seem like the Jekyll to the Hyde-like low-fat craze of the 1990s. The bulk of current research finds that the middle ground between the two extremes is more beneficial for overall health. Make it easy for yourself: Eat at least two servings a week of fatty fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel) and cook with a variety of quality fats (olive oil, canola oil, avocado oil) throughout the week.
One reason it's hard to determine the exact health effects of diets is that it's often unclear whether any observed effects come from the diet or from a combination of other factors, like stress, environment or genetics. Still, that doesn't mean all the bold claims about the keto diet are wrong, but rather that you should approach them with a healthy degree of skepticism.
Nine healthy young males participated in this study, which appears in the journal Nutrients. The researchers asked them to follow a 7-day high fat, low-carbohydrate diet that was similar to the keto diet, consisting of 70 percent fat, 10 percent carbohydrates, and 20 percent protein. They also had to consume a 75-gram glucose drink before and after the diet.
The keto diet involves getting up to 80 percent of daily calories from sources of healthy fat, a significant change for most of her patients who were accustomed to running on carbs, caffeine and sugar for energy. It became clear that something else had to be adjusted in order to prevent the side effects associated with the keto diet. This is when she came up with the idea to focus on restoring alkalinity first and foremost.
For me, I chose to become a CDE because I had worked as a Registered Nurse first on a medical unit, then in a Medical ICU. These are the units where most of the people with diabetes are, so I had seen every horrific complication that diabetes can cause. When I had a chance to become a Diabetes Educator…to actually help PREVENT some of those horrible complications…I jumped at the chance!
Thanks Dr. Jockers…very informative article. Im into pure keto diet almost a week now but started illiminating sugar and carbs 3weeks ago and the side effects that i’ve encountered are frequently urinating and light headache only. Is it good or not? I’ve never consult a specialist before doing keto diet but i do my research, is it okay? As of now i’ve loose almost 11lbs. Im just curious how can i get the percentage of fats, protein etc in my meals? Do i need to measure it all? How can i measure the percentage of foods that i need to eat?is there any ways?
I agree!! I too..have /had Diabetes II..at age 66 and retired RN, we were taught for so long the WRONG way to eat and I taught that way, the high carb, grains, etc, way to eat. KETO saved me. Dropped my A1C and I feel great. The author of this page is wrong when saying 5-10 percent of our diet, carb eating, should be root veggies like ‘carrots”…so wrong. For goodness sakes, get KETO right by educating yourself, Tammy Shiflet~ Horribly wrong! There are so many studies and physicians, brain scientists, etc out here who understand what this diet is about. Read, and educate yourself….Please! Diabetes is a symptom of the Government’s education mistakes. Sugar, Wheat, Grains…horrible for us. Get with it, we live in 2018 and the information is out there; if you need a list, just ask.
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.”
“Certainly, the quality of fat counts,” says Yawitz. “There’s a big difference nutritionally between bacon and almonds. As much as possible, people set on the keto diet should emphasize plant-based, unsaturated fats like nuts, seeds, olive oil, and avocado, which have even been shown to protect the heart.” If you have high cholesterol or other risk factors for heart disease, you should speak with your doctor before beginning the keto diet. This is because the diet may — but doesn't have to — include large amounts of saturated fat. Some studies have shown increases in cholesterol and triglycerides in people following the diet, while other research reveals that the keto diet may actually decrease heart disease risk as well as saturated fat intake.
In the first few days of the keto diet, it’s not uncommon for people to experience the “keto flu,” a brief period in which you may have headaches, fatigue, confusion, and nausea. These symptoms are a sign that your body is making the switch from burning glucose (sugar from carbs) for energy to burning fat—a process called ketosis. The changeover can leave you feeling depleted for a day or two, but once you break through to the fat-burning phase, you may find you have much more energy and greater endurance. “You are able to do more without hitting ‘the wall,’ says Carrie Burrows, PhD, a health and fitness expert. “When we use fat as fuel, our endurance improves and is more sustainable.” That extra energy will carry over to your workouts, Dr. Burrows says. Here are more things you need to know before starting the keto diet.
Here’s to exciting beginnings in cancer research: While we don’t have a lot of human studies to draw on, early findings suggest that the keto diet may have anti-tumor effects by reducing the total energy for tumors to thrive. We’ve also seen animal models report successful reductions in tumor growth, gastric cancer, and prostate cancer by using a ketogenic diet.
Our bodies run well on glucose (carbs)–they give us the necessary energy we need to function on a daily basis. When our body doesn’t get enough glucose (either because we’re cutting carbs too low, OR we haven’t eaten in too long), our body kind of freaks out and looks for other forms of energy to satisfy that role. That’s where the fat comes in. Without carbs, our insulin levels drop and fat is released from our cells. The fat overwhelms the liver which turns it into ketones, our body’s second choice to carbs for energy.
“When you start the keto diet, you lose sodium and other electrolytes in the urine due to reductions in insulin,” says Yawitz. “This is a major contributor to symptoms of keto flu.” So it’s important to replenish sodium through the diet, especially if you exercise or sweat a lot. “This can help ward off more serious side effects that are seen with long-term sodium deficiencies,” says Yawitz. These include lethargy and confusion — and in extreme cases, seizures, coma, and death, according to the Mayo Clinic.
All of our cells need fuel to function. This fuel comes from three sources: fat, carbohydrates and protein, called macronutrients. Too much protein without fat puts us at risk for a handful of complications, so protein can never healthily serve as a primary source of fuel. We are left then with fat and carbohydrates as the main providers of energy – the energy that allow us to do everything from breathing and blinking as we veg out on the couch to swimming the English Channel. Our cells’ preferred fuel comes from carbohydrates, which are easily converted to glucose, which, in turn, is readily converted to energy. This is why athletes “carb load” before they compete. Peak performance occurs when the body has plenty of glucose and glycogen stores available at hand. When glycogen runs out, that’s when the body turns to fat. When there is no more blood sugar for our cells to consume, they seek an alternative form of energy. This energy comes from ketones, which are compounds our body produces from stored fat. So a ketogenic diet is one that is high in fat and very low in carbohydrates, resulting in the production of ketones to be used for fuel instead of glucose.
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!
Keto is often suggested for children who suffer from certain disorders (like Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Rett syndrome) and don’t respond to seizure medication, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. (1) They note that keto can decrease the number of seizures these children have by half, with 10 to 15 percent becoming seizure-free. In other cases, it may also help patients reduce the dose of their medication.