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.
"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.)
The problem comes when people remain ketotic for extended periods. We know with confidence that long-term ketosis poses substantial risk for health complications because thousands of children have followed ketogenic diets over the years as a means of suppressing intractable grand mal seizures unresponsive to drugs, seizures that can lead to irreversible brain damage if not stopped. A ketogenic diet reduces seizures by approximately 55%. Because seizures are a chronic problem, these kids maintain ketosis for months to years.
When we eat, we consume either protein, carbs, or fat. Carbs increase blood sugar levels. Protein and fat do not. So eating a low-carb diet IS healthy for diabetics because you eliminate a lot of what causes glucose to rise. I’m not referring to a no-carb way of eating, but a lower carb diet. I’m type 2 and have been eating keto for three weeks. My blood sugar levels are great. No swings — highs or super lows. I was injecting 60 units of insulin prior to each meal. Now I inject 5-10 units. I’m not losing weight, but I feel better and my sugar levels are under control. Most nutritionists and many doctors still haven’t caught up with the science. Low-carb/keto is the best way to eat for a diabetic.

In addition, on the day the diet was initiated, diabetes medications were reduced – generally, insulin doses were halved, and sulfonylurea doses were halved or discontinued. Due to the possible diuretic effects of the diet soon after initiation, diuretic medications were discontinued if of low dosage (up to 25 mg of hydrochlorothiazide or 20 mg of furosemide) or halved if of higher dosage. Participants were also instructed to take a standard multivitamin and drink 6–8 glasses of water daily, and were encouraged to exercise aerobically for 30 minutes at least three times per week.
In the mid-1990s, Hollywood producer Jim Abrahams, whose son's severe epilepsy was effectively controlled by the diet, created the Charlie Foundation to promote it. Publicity included an appearance on NBC's Dateline programme and ...First Do No Harm (1997), a made-for-television film starring Meryl Streep. The foundation sponsored a multicentre research study, the results of which—announced in 1996—marked the beginning of renewed scientific interest in the diet.[1]
While many of the problems that develop with prolonged ketosis may be addressed simply by minding intake of prebiotic fibers, not all are, such as selenium deficiency and stunted growth. (Note that the ideal intake of prebiotic fibers, the level we aim for in Wheat Belly and Undoctored programs, is 20 or more grams per day.) Some have argued that higher beta-hydroxybutyrate ketone levels that develop with a ketogenic diet is all you need to do to maintain healthy bowel flora, but this is a huge extrapolation that does not make sense in light of the newest insights into the microbiome and its metabolites. It ignores the role of hundreds of other microbial metabolites that are required and/or produced that are changed with prolonged deprivation of prebiotic fibers. Also, some have blamed the adverse long-term effects in kids on the seizure medications they take, but the side-effects of, say, drugs such as tegretol, valproic acid, or topiramate do not include the above phenomena.
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.
After reading that article I have to say that the “USC experts” are full of it. It’s the usual scare stuff that the mainstream docs and dietitians trot out to attempt to discredit LCHF and keto diets. There’s no reason why a keto diet should be any worse for bone health than any other diet provided it has adequate calcium, phosphate and Vit K2 and you have good Vit D levels. As for the recommendations of dietitians – eat lots of healthywholegrains and “vegetable” oils but no saturated fats – we know what the long-term results are of that: diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis.
Other causes of diarrhea on the keto diet include consuming a diet low in fiber (fiber helps ward off diarrhea by bulking up stool) and eating processed low-carb foods like shakes and bars that may contain sugar alcohols. These sugar alcohols can ferment in the gut and cause gastrointestinal discomfort. Yawitz suggests limiting foods labeled “sugar free” if you’re prone to gas or diarrhea when you eat them. And you may want to gradually adjust your carbs downward and your fats upward. “Also build your diet around [naturally] high-fiber, low-carb foods like avocado and nonstarchy vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus,” she says. Other keto-friendly ways to get more fiber include chia seeds, almonds, and coconut.
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 >
Most people already know about the keto flu, which can happen when you start the diet. It’s a result of the body adapting to the low-carb state. Lowering carb intake forces the body to burn ketones for energy instead of glucose. Once the body is in ketosis — burning fat instead of glucose — the keto diet is working. But you may not feel so great at first, hence the term keto flu.
Having said that, there are also studies suggesting that long term carbohydrate restriction diets (aka. the keto diet) may result in fast short term weight loss but people gain it all back in the long term. An RCT put 63 individuals on a low-fat diet or a low carb diet, and the study found the low carb dieters lost more weight compared to the low fat group by month 3 and 6, but that the weight loss evened out by month 12. This was confirmed by a Meta-analysis which found that while low-carbers lost more weight than low-fat dieters but the differences disappeared by the one year mark.
I totally appreciate your article. My son-in-law was just telling me a friend of his who is a bodybuilder told him that staying in ketosis for more than 4 months at a time will cause muscle atrophy in your body to eat its muscles. Well of course this concerned me, so running through the internet I ran across your article. I’m really glad to see these 10 myths that you’ve dispelled. I feel much more confident and comfortable staying in ketosis. Thank you.
Carbohydrates: Historically, a targeted keto diet consists of limiting carbohydrate intake to just 20–30 net grams per day. “Net carbs” is the amount of carbs remaining once dietary fiber is taken into account. Because fiber is indigestible once eaten, most people don’t count grams of fiber toward their daily carb allotment. In other words, total carbs – grams of fiber = net carbs. That’s the carb counts that matter most.
I am a 7 year stroke survivor that is partially paralyzed from the stroke. I work part time and while working I walk at least 2 miles at work three to five times per week, but I can only walk 1 mph if even that speed. Which I know average speed is 3 mph when walking. I am 40 pounds overweight due to not being to do cardio workouts. I take aspirin daily as a blood thinner. I have considered getting on the keto diet. I drink sweet tea and one dr pepper per day along with coffee and water. I talked to my dr about this diet all he could tell me was he hasn’t researched it enough but knew of someone that lost weight on it. For my health I need to maintain a healthy weight and not be overweight. I have a b12 deficiency along with folic acid. I have not been taking any supplements for either.
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-
🙌🙌 thank you for some great info! USC just had an article about Keto, saying they don’t know the impact on bone health. So I’m not sure why all these articles are written without the documentation to prove the claims. We all know too much calcium supplementation can cause problems but every Dr wants you to supplement calcium. Most people could do a lot worse than doing Keto! The SAD will cause more problems for you than eating whole, unprocessed Keto food! Sugar seems to be the real issue along with aspartame and stressful living.

Purnell JQ, Hokanson JE, Marcovina SM, Steffes MW, Cleary PA, Brunzell JD. Effect of excessive weight gain with intensive therapy of type 1 diabetes on lipid levels and blood pressure: results from the DCCT. Diabetes Control and Complications Trial. JAMA. 1998;280:140–146. doi: 10.1001/jama.280.2.140. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]
A ketogenic diet could be an interesting alternative to treat certain conditions, and may accelerate weight loss. But it is hard to follow and it can be heavy on red meat and other fatty, processed, and salty foods that are notoriously unhealthy. We also do not know much about its long-term effects, probably because it’s so hard to stick with that people can’t eat this way for a long time. It is also important to remember that “yo-yo diets” that lead to rapid weight loss fluctuation are associated with increased mortality. Instead of engaging in the next popular diet that would last only a few weeks to months (for most people that includes a ketogenic diet), try to embrace change that is sustainable over the long term. A balanced, unprocessed diet, rich in very colorful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and lots of water seems to have the best evidence for a long, healthier, vibrant life.
If you are seeking fat loss but do not want to follow a strict ketogenic diet, you will be pleased to know that this study found that the weight loss benefits came purely from a low carb diet – whether it was ketogenic or not. If you need help transiting to a lower carb diet, be sure to download my free diet plan or better yet, be sure to view the most effective way to lose fat and keep it off on this page. 
Vegan ketogenic diet or vegetarian diet: Yes, both are possible. Instead of animal products, plenty of low-carb, nutrient-dense vegan and/or vegetarian foods are included. Nuts, seeds, low-carb fruits and veggies, leafy greens, healthy fats and fermented foods are all excellent choices on a plant-based keto diet. There’s also a similar plan called ketotarian, which combines keto with vegetarian, vegan and/or pescatarian diets for supposedly greater health benefits.
The walking around part is not true in my experience, exercise alone will not help an obese person. I’ve been doing Keto and most things I’ve read have come true, I found this article to be unbiased. I will say this however, I agree I too have been eating many green veggies and the bad stuff I do use I use very little for flavor (like bacon) what I found that is utterly ridiculous on the part of the folks that did the diet rankings was saying Keto was unsustainable. The way I feel from being on Keto is insanely well. I want to keep eating this way! Unsustainable its the only diet I can do intermittent fasting on. I was type 2….
Protein: A typical recommended keto protein intake is between one and 1.5 grams per kilogram of your ideal body weight. To convert pounds to kilograms, divide your ideal weight by 2.2. It’s important to note that Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO) recommends that adults with diabetes limit their protein intake to less than one gram per kilogram of body weight each day and that adults with chronic kidney disease avoid protein intake greater than 1.3 grams per kilogram per day.

The primary outcome was the change from baseline to week 16 in hemoglobin A1c. Changes in all variables were analyzed by the paired t-test or Wilcoxon signed-ranks test, as appropriate. Linear regression analysis was used to examine predictors of change in hemoglobin A1c. A p value of 0.05 or less was considered statistically significant. Statistical analysis was performed using SAS version 8.02 (SAS Institute, Cary, NC).
Note: Are you a vegetarian or vegan and want to go on a ketogenic diet? It’s still possible! Just keep in mind that the dietary restrictions can sometimes be a little bit intense. Make sure to plan ahead and prepare to aid your success. To help out, we’ve published articles (with 7 day meal plans included) for both the vegetarian ketogenic diet and the vegan ketogenic diet.
This content is strictly the opinion of Dr. Josh Axe and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Axe nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.

Research shows there is a weak relationship between levels of dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol.6 The effect isn’t the same for everyone either. There are “responders” and “non-responders” to dietary cholesterol; some people experience higher fluctuations in blood cholesterol levels according to the amount of cholesterol they eat, while others are more stable regardless of diet.

While there have not been large studies that show the relationship between the ketogenic diet and cancer, we will be publishing a case study about that topic. The author failed to comment that pediatric patients with epilepsy are on the diet for usually about 2 years with no harmful effects. Before the false studies about heart disease and fat, the low carb diet was a respected way to lose weight. Studies into our metabolism show we can use both fat and carbohydrate as fuel. So stepping away from our high carb diet- I am sorry to say that we eat more carbs since the 70s with most of it processed and we now use high fructose corn syrup to sweeten products and we have a wide spread childhood obesity problem. If cholesterol is a concern try plant sterols and stenals to block cholesterol from the receptors in the body. So much more can be said about a keto diet than this article states
One way to find out if the keto diet is not be ideal for your cardiovascular health is by checking if your total-to-HDL cholesterol ratio is above 4 and/or your LDL-P remains high or increases after starting the keto diet. If this is the case for you, then you may fare better with a low to moderate fat diet with plenty of whole foods, fiber, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats (especially omega 3s), and limited saturated fats.

The keto diet is known for helping people lose a few pounds very quickly, says Becky Kerkenbush, RD, a clinical dietitian at Watertown Regional Medical Center. Carbs hold on to more water than protein or fat, so when you stop eating them, your body releases all that extra H2O by making you pee more. As a result, the scale might read a few pounds lower, and you may look a bit leaner.
If not treated or reversed, dehydration can lead to acute kidney injury, Dr. Rahnama says. That’s not the only way the keto diet can put your kidneys at risk, however. “Kidney stones or damage to the kidney may also be a side effect,” Grace Derocha, RD, a certified diabetes educator and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan says. High levels of nitrogen created by excess protein can also increase pressure in your kidneys. This can lead to the formation of more stones and damage your kidney cells.

If you decide to follow the diet, you’ll want to have an individualized meal plan, stresses Dr. Gonzalez-Campos. “The best possible clinical outcome is for each individual to meet her nutritional needs from well-balanced meals,” he says. “Ideally, we should all have the benefit of medical nutrition therapy and we should all avoid extremes in nutrient restrictions.” 


At the first visit, participants were instructed how to follow the LCKD as individuals or in small groups, with an initial goal of ≤20 g carbohydrate per day. Participants were taught the specific types and amounts of foods they could eat, as well as foods to avoid. Initially, participants were allowed unlimited amounts of meats, poultry, fish, shellfish, and eggs; 2 cups of salad vegetables per day; 1 cup of low-carbohydrate vegetables per day; 4 ounces of hard cheese; and limited amounts of cream, avocado, olives, and lemon juice. Fats and oils were not restricted except that intake of trans fats was to be minimized. Participants were provided a 3-page handout and a handbook [11] detailing these recommendations. Participants prepared or bought all of their own meals and snacks following these guidelines.

With more people enthusiastic about the ketogenic diet comes more talk about potential adverse side effects. Upon closer examination, almost all of the complaints can be traced to a flawed approach. Granted, if you are coming to the game with significant metabolic damage from decades of carbohydrate dependency, or not paying attention to some common sense best practices, such as choosing healthy foods instead of blindly focusing on macros, you will likely struggle with something as stringent as keto.
Recommendations: If you have high levels of LDL particles and VLDL particles, consider adopting a carbohydrate-restricted diet. To optimize your LDL cholesterol levels, consider adopting a diet high in healthy monounsaturated fats and low-carb vegetables. Some examples of keto-friendly foods that are high in monounsaturated fats are olive oil, avocado, and macadamia nuts.
Research shows there is a weak relationship between levels of dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol.6 The effect isn’t the same for everyone either. There are “responders” and “non-responders” to dietary cholesterol; some people experience higher fluctuations in blood cholesterol levels according to the amount of cholesterol they eat, while others are more stable regardless of diet.
Abbey, I appreciate all the work you put into this but there are a few things you missed. Not all oils are keto friendly. Vegetable oils are a huge no-no which was not mentioned. Regular mayo usually contains soybean oil which should be avoided. You also missed that foods with preservatives are a no-no which excludes some cheeses (you said enjoy all the cheese you like). Processed sliced cheese or pre-shredded cheese in a bag at the grocery store contains preservatives. Ever notice how shredded cheese in a bag never sticks to itself but when you shred your own cheese it sticks? Preservatives. Most nuts are okay but peanuts are a legume and should be consumed in very small amounts or avoided altogether. Don’t go crazy either, nuts do have carbs. I don’t eat more than a half cup a day of salted almonds. That said, you could have mentioned that getting salted nuts is ideal as you do excrete more salt and other minerals in your urine (eating keto is diuretic so attention must be paid to salt, potassium, magnesium, etc. as you did mention) so finding simple ways to add salt and other minerals is helpful. I also take a multi-vitamin daily. You mentioned you cannot do high intensity workouts. You are not supposed to do high intensity workouts as elevating your heart rate too high actually stops the fat burning process in your body. Your heart rate should be 180 beats minus your age +/- 5 beats depending on fitness level. A 40 year old obese person shouldn’t go over 135 beats/min during a workout as that is the optimal fat burning window. Higher than that and your body reverts to storing fat reserves thinking it will run out if it keeps this pace. Which bring me to metabolism. Its been long believed a high metabolism is good. A high metabolism leads to more hunger (because you’re burning glucose faster), ingesting more food, and typically gaining more weight. Slowing your metabolism down AND teaching your body to consume slow burning ketones instead of quick burning glucose puts less stress on your liver mainly and on your body in general. There’s a lot more but this is getting long so I’ll finish with this. You said this diet focuses on quantity of food and not quality. This is confusing to me….wouldn’t organic and grass-fed meats, be of better quality than non-organic and grain fed meat? (they feed animals grains to fatten them up….shouldn’t that be a huge warning sign for us?). Is food without preservatives not better quality than food with preservatives? Aren’t beverages with no sugar or artificial sweeteners of better quality than sugar/artificial sweetener-filled beverages? I’ve never seen any keto advocate advise ignoring quality foods, in fact its quite the opposite.

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 >

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