But more than that, people just don’t like giving up carbs. Dr. Kevin Fontaine, a Professor of Health Behavior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health and an expert on the ketogenic diet points to this as one of the main drawbacks of the diet. “Many people find it very difficult to give up carbs, and may be unwilling to do it. Plus, if you’re on the diet and eat a few carbs, you feel physically terrible. It’s hard to stick with this diet, especially while traveling.”

You’re transitioning. Your body is equipped to process a high intake of carbs and a lower intake of fat. Your body needs to create enzymes to be able to do this. In the transitional period, the brain may run low on energy which can lead to grogginess, nausea, and headaches. If you’re having a large problem with this, you can choose to reduce carb intake gradually.
“Despite its temporary side effects, we have always suspected that the ketogenic diet is relatively safe long term, and we now have proof,” says senior investigator Eric Kossoff, M.D., a pediatric neurologist and director of the ketogenic diet program at Hopkins Children’s. “Our study should help put to rest some of the nagging doubts about the long-term safety of the ketogenic diet,” he adds. 

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.
Chelsea is the site editor and nutritionist for Ultimate Paleo Guide and Paleo Meal Plans. In 2016, Chelsea graduated from the National University of Natural Medicine with a Master’s degree in Nutrition. When she’s not working for Ultimate Paleo Guide or coaching CrossFit, Chelsea enjoys hiking, traveling, cooking, and eating. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @chelsbrinegar and LinkedIn.
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.)
I see several inconsistencies, one being a strict 20 grams or less of carbs, most Keto followers I see aim for closer to 30, and even as high as 40 per day. I also see several times in this article her opinion that you cannot get all of your essential vitamins and minerals without eating fruits, and I’m no nutritionist, but this is far from the truth. The writers hatred for this w.o.e. Presents itself early and often in this article, and because they weren’t able to successfully stay away from sweets, and other carbs, they’re attempting to scare others away as well, especially pregnant women. She admits that she’s been taught to follow the ADA’s dietary guidelines which has been proven to fail. It sadly isn’t working. She recommends consulting your physician before attempting this w.o.e., I tried that and was instructed to follow the clean eating that I had followed for the first 15 years with type 1. The 60 grams of complex carbs in meals, and 20 or so with snacks. That way allowed me to ride a dangerous daily rollercoaster, with damaging highs, and very dangerous lows. Yet my Endo was pleased with my sub 7 a1c, even though I was always tired. I’ve practiced a very healthy way of eating long before being dxd with type 1, which probably makes it easier for me to continue living this way. Ultimately, the info is out there, and those able to avoid certain foods will be rewarded with non diabetic numbers… some say big food/pharmaceutical are doing all they can to end this “fad” I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but the simple fact that there will always be those that lack enough discipline to remain in ketosis should still present them with enough clientele.

Another organ that plays an essential role in blood sugar regulation is the liver. It stores excess glucose as glycogen, and when glucose levels are low, glycogen is broken down to provide glucose [6]. This process is regulated by two hormones: insulin and glucagon. Insulin normally promotes glycogen synthesis and interferes with glucose release from the liver.
One of the keto side effects people may complain about is keto breath.  Although this is not quite related to the three major causes we’ve discussed so far, keto breath is something that many people experience in the early stages of keto adaptation. When you begin producing ketones, you produce them in several different forms. The ketone that is released through the breath is acetone and is responsible for the keto breath that some people experience.
The present study shows the beneficial effects of a long-term ketogenic diet. It significantly reduced the body weight and body mass index of the patients. Furthermore, it decreased the level of triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and blood glucose, and increased the level of HDL cholesterol. Administering a ketogenic diet for a relatively longer period of time did not produce any significant side effects in the patients. Therefore, the present study confirms that it is safe to use a ketogenic diet for a longer period of time than previously demonstrated.
I was hypoglycemic as a teen because I avoided eating most carbs because obesity and diabetes runs in my family. When I got pregnant the dietician scared the he’ll out of me by telling me I was going to starve my baby if I continued to eat like I was. I immediately added good carbs into my diet and developed grata Iona’s diabetes and had a hell of a time controlling it. After I had my baby I went back to avoiding carbs and got back from yo where I was before my pregnancy. My brother died from complications due to his diabetes and at my mothers urging I went to a dietician and talked about food and what’s healthy and what’s not. I was once again scared that I was making a grave mistake and added in the carbs, I never should have. I developed diabetes and 80+ pound weight gain. After trying like hell to control my diabetes their way I’m back to my way. I’m tired of beating myself up for not being able to “apply” their recommendations correctly and the condescending attitude of the dietician when I tried asking about my old way of eating. I know me best and that’s it.
Balance your fat. Saturated fat has received a terrible rap in the literature, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only fat you should consume. Look to the fatty acid ratios of ruminants like beef and lamb—or your own adipose tissue—for guidance. They have about equal amounts of saturated and monounsaturated fat with a small amount of PUFA. Mix up the butter and cream with olive oil and avocado oil.
There’s many suggested interventions for these short-term keto side effects on the internet, but know that there are potential pitfalls of these dietary supplements. While there are benefits for some specific cases, many of us will experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation as a result. Plus, unless they’re prescribed to you by a physician, dietary supplements come with their own safety gamble.
The counter-argument is that diabetes is not reversed because it will come back soon after starting to eat lots of sugar and refined carbs. How much time is soon? It is difficult to say how “soon” diabetes will come back, and the time it takes depends on many factors. It is, however, true that the ketogenic diet does not set the body back to zero and allows for another few decades of unhealthy eating. On the other hand: every adult with a high sugar/high carb history has a high risk of becoming diabetic. It is just a matter of time.
Use Exogenous Ketones: Exogenous ketones are a fantastic way to train the body to use ketones for fuel before our body is good at creating ketones.  They also buffer hypoglycemic responses by providing ketones the body can use for energy rather than having a significant stress response when blood sugar drops.  A great exogenous ketone product that also has adaptogens and electrolytes is Keto Edge
The keto diet also calls for an increased amount of fat intake. The diet suggests by cutting carb and increasing fat, the body will begin to burn the fat. However, when the body begins to burn fat, it also begins to burn the muscle tissue as well. For those participating in the diet who have a risk of heart disease or stoke, the fat increase could be put their lives at risk.

Those issues can be part of what's known as the “keto flu,” Warren says. Other side effects of the keto diet, all of which are tied to carb withdrawal, can include lightheadedness, nausea, mental fog, cramps, and headaches, in addition to tiredness. Luckily, the keto flu doesn't usually last more than a week—which is coincidentally about when people start to see the number on the scale go down, says Warren.
What about fruits and vegetables? All fruits are rich in carbs, but you can have certain fruits (usually berries) in small portions. Vegetables (also rich in carbs) are restricted to leafy greens (such as kale, Swiss chard, spinach), cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, bell peppers, onions, garlic, mushrooms, cucumber, celery, and summer squashes. A cup of chopped broccoli has about six carbs.
I, too, am finding the keto diet to be beneficial. My weight is moving down. My recent A1c was 5.7. I am consistently below 90 each morning when I check my blood. I am learning to adapt my cooking to the needs of maintaining this way of eating. I have incorporated walking because now I FEEL like it. I don’t feel deprived. I feel empowered. No medications for diabetes!
By switching to a ketogenic low-carb diet, you are essentially transitioning yourself from a water-retaining diet, to a water-flushing diet. There are a variety of reasons for this, including reduction of inflammation (water tends to be bound up in inflammation) and the depletion of glycogen stores (glycogen retains water) in your liver and muscles.

From baseline to week 16, the mean body weight decreased significantly from 131.4 ± 18.3 kg to 122.7 ± 18.9 kg, BMI decreased from 42.2 ± 5.8 kg/m2 to 39.4 ± 6.0 kg/m2, and waist circumference from 130.0 ± 10.5 cm to 123.3 ± 11.3 cm (Table ​(Table3).3). The percent change in body weight was -6.6%. The mean percent body fat decreased from 40.4 ± 5.8% to 37.0 ± 6.0%. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures did not change significantly over the 16 weeks. The mean heart rate decreased from 81.2 ± 12.9 beats per minute to 74.6 ± 14.0 beats per minute (p = 0.01).
I am curious about what has been referred to as “keto rash”. I decided to shift from a GAPS Diet to a ketogenic one. I wasn’t tracking my carbs specifically and was doing well. Then I developed this rash on various parts of my body. I originally thought it might have been either pecan or MCT (C8) that I started having, but I have eliminated both of those. Then I did some research and realized that others have also experienced this rash after starting a strict Ketogenic Diet. There are a few solutions running about–most of which include introducing carbs at higher levels. Antibiotics were also listed. Anyway, I was wondering if you have run across this type of rash as it relates to starting a low-carb diet? Any thoughts, Dr. Jockers?
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

Glucose is stored in your liver and released as needed for energy. However, after carb intake has been extremely low for one to two days, these glucose stores become depleted. Your liver can make some glucose from amino acids in the protein you eat via a process known as gluconeogenesis, but not nearly enough to meet the needs of your brain, which requires a constant fuel supply.


ME: It is not essential. You can be fully ketogenic without any intermittent fasting. However, most people find it natural to do intermittent fasting as their hunger is reduced to where they don’t need a third meal. Keeping feeding time reduced to a smaller window during the day enables the body to use stored body fat for fuel longer, which benefits weight loss. My husband Craig and I still do intermittent fasting every day as maintenance. It just makes life easier only having to make two meals a day instead of three. 

To see where you stand on the ketosis scale, you can test your ketone levels with a blood meter or with urine strips, the latter of which works similar to a pregnancy test and generally costs less than a dime a piece. Recent research shared in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, however, found that breath monitors (typically $200 to $300) provide the most accurate readings. Dozens of meters of all three formats are currently available on Amazon.
It is generally believed that high fat diets may lead to the development of obesity and several other diseases such as coronary artery disease, diabetes and cancer. This view, however, is based on studies carried out in animals that were given a high fat diet rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. In contrast, our laboratory has recently shown that a ketogenic diet modified the risk factors for heart disease in obese patients (12).
Parkinson’s Disease Because these patients are at a higher risk for dementia, researchers like Robert Krikorian, PhD, professor of clinical psychiatry and the director of the division of psychology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Ohio, are studying how inducing nutritional ketosis may be used to preserve cognitive functioning.

In the last 15 years, about two dozen studies have been conducted on low-carb diets and all of the studies came out with one conclusion – the Ketogenic diet works! It is a much healthier and more effective option for weight loss compared with any high-carb calorie restricted diet. This article explores the numerous health benefits of ketogenic diet in addition to weight loss.


Lower carbohydrate diets (varying amount of carbohydrates in each study) have shown promise in improving A1c and weight management in Type 2 diabetes, is shown to be better than low-fat diets in improving blood pressure and lipid levels, and more. Along with that, more ketosis studies on different disease states are out there and growing. Ketosis has also been explored for its promise, at least in the short term, for metabolic disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.
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. 😉
A ketogenic diet – due to its extremely low carb intake – can help address insulin resistance and in turn help with suffers of PCOS. In fact, a pilot study has concluded that a ketogenic diet led to a significant improvement in body weight, fasting insulin, testosterone markets and LH/FSH ratio in woman with PCOS. Two woman even became pregnant during the study.
Glucagon is on the other side of the spectrum; it is insulin's antagonistic hormone. Glucagon is also secreted by the pancreas when glucose levels fall too low. This usually happens when a person skips meals, or does not consume adequate amounts of carbohydrates for an extended period of time. When this happens, glucagon is secreted by the pancreas to break down stored glycogen in the liver into a more usable form, glucose.
If you’re science oriented, you can also try his 2008 book “Good Calories, Bad Calories”. For a more journalistic view on the events that led to fat phobia starting in the 1950’s (as well as the joke that is the Mediterranean Diet), there is also Nina Teicholz’s 2014 book “The Big Fat Surprise.” Be sure to check out youtube for some of these folks’ lectures and discussions. They are not advocating whacky stuff.

Through experimentation, I have found that the best way to get into the metabolic state of ketosis is by starting off using a fairly high-fat intake with smaller amounts of protein. After your body gets into ketosis, the fat intake can be reduced and the protein intake can be increased. Keep in mind that keto-adapation takes about three weeks, so be patient!


People in the early stages of the keto diet are prone to dehydration issues. “A ketogenic diet is known as a water flushing diet, due to a lessening of inflammation and a reduction of glycogen stores in your muscles and liver,” Dr. Petre says. Dr. Petre suggests preventing dehydration by drinking more water—at least 2.5 liters per day—and starting as soon as you begin cutting carbs in preparation for the diet. For inspiration, find out how this woman lost 15 pounds on the keto diet in just six weeks.
In a survey of both children and adults, researchers found that a very low carbohydrate diet promotes “exceptional glycemic control” in those with type 1 diabetes mellitus. When it comes to type 2 diabetes, the Journal of American Medical Association recently published a review examining the effective use of the ketogenic diet in those with type 2 diabetes.
×