For the ketogenic eating plan, participants were instructed to reduce non-fiber-containing carbohydrates to between 20 and 50 grams a day, with no calorie restriction. The group following the plate method were told to eat their meals on a nine-inch plate, filling half of it with non-starchy vegetables (eg, greens, peppers, broccoli, carrots), ¼ of the plate with whole grains (eg, brown rice, sweet potatoes, whole wheat bread) and adding lean protein (eg, skinless chicken, turkey, fish, and seafood) to the last quarter of the plate.1

There are numerous benefits that come with being on keto: from weight loss and increased energy levels to therapeutic medical applications. Most anyone can safely benefit from eating a low-carb, high-fat diet. Below, you’ll find a short list of the benefits you can receive from a ketogenic diet. For a more comprehensive list, you can also read our in-depth article here >


A ketogenic diet puts the body in a state of ketosis, where the primary fuel for the body is a broken down product of fat called ketone bodies. Ketosis can occur through reduction of carbohydrates in the diet or through fasting (or through taking an external ketone-producing product). It is the liver that produces ketone bodies by breaking down fatty acids, either from body fat or the fat that we eat.
"We recommend against 'dieting', which is invariably a short-term solution," Dr. Gonzalez-Campoy, tells EndocrineWeb, "and since weight loss may be accomplished by a reduction in calories by any means, a ketogenic diet that restricts carbs is simply shifting the calories away from foods that typically demand insulin as in both of these studies.1,2  

Additionally, you may find it difficult to eat adequate calories on a daily basis because fat is so filling. Some people even opt to fast for several hours each day. While this may help with weight loss, your body needs those calories for proper maintenance. Without them, it may turn to burning muscle for energy, and that can accelerate muscle loss.

“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.
As for individuals with type 2 diabetes, Dr. Galati says, "a very low carbohydrate diet could be tolerated, albeit with extreme caution. Transitioning to a ketogenic diet will require several lifestyle changes as well as careful monitoring of both your food intake and glucose levels and adjustments to your medications. Also, you should increase your water consumption." 
Lots of apps and websites offer keto diet challenges—basically, a blueprint for the keto diet with a fixed starting and ending point (they typically last for a week to a month, though some may be longer). Speaking of apps, plenty of keto-centric ones are right at your fingertips (a.k.a., your smartphone), like the KetoDiet app, which can help you calculate your macros and track your keto diet effectively.
I have been on a low carb diet for over 2 years. I was diagnosed a diabetic with a blood glucose over 400 mg/dl and an A1C of 12. I tried my doctors recommendations for about a year and took all the medications they told me to take. not much changed. they wanted to put me on insulin after a year. I told my doctor that I thought I could control my condition with diet and he said, “you are to far gone for that”.

That's certainly the case with the ketogenic diet—a very low-carb meal plan—based on the findings of two recently published studies.1,2  Dr. Saslow and her team report that the individuals with type 2 diabetes who followed the keto diet lost significantly more weight than those on the low-fat diet espoused by the American Diabetic Association.1 These dieters also were able to get their hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) below 6.5%, suggesting that some may have reversed their type 2 diabetes.1
Despite its explosive popularity, there’s a lot of confusion about what the ketogenic (keto) diet really is. “Many people think they’re following a keto diet when they’re really just consuming a low-carbohydrate diet,” says Patti Urbanski, MEd, RD, CDE, a certified diabetes educator with St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth, Minnesota. “So one person’s ‘keto diet’ may look very different than another’s.”
The targeted keto diet is popular among athletes and active individuals who live a keto lifestyle but need more carbs. It allots an additional 20-30 grams of carbs immediately before and after workouts to allow for higher-intensity exercise and enhanced recovery. (The total carb count comes to 70-80 grams per day.) The best options include fruit, dairy or grain-based foods, or sports nutrition products. Because the additional carbs are readily burned off, they don't get stored as body fat.
The targeted keto diet is popular among athletes and active individuals who live a keto lifestyle but need more carbs. It allots an additional 20-30 grams of carbs immediately before and after workouts to allow for higher-intensity exercise and enhanced recovery. (The total carb count comes to 70-80 grams per day.) The best options include fruit, dairy or grain-based foods, or sports nutrition products. Because the additional carbs are readily burned off, they don't get stored as body fat. 

It builds mitochondria. Mitochondria are the power plants of our cells, transforming incoming nutrients into ATP. The more mitochondria we have, the more energy we can utilize and extract from the food we eat—and the more performance we can wring out of our bodies. Ketosis places new demands on our mitochondria, who adapt to the new energy environment by increasing in number.
thank you Dr. Jockers for the informative article. I have hypothyroidism from 3 parathyroid cysts being removed along with 80% of my thyroid. It is under control with Levothyroxine and liathyronine. I have been on the keto diet for almost 4 weeks and am still experiencing heart palpatations, dizzyness and low energy. I have been quite strict and feel disappointed. I have Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia and my oncologist was ok with me going on it. I feel like this diet would help me have more energy and help my overall health. Any advise would be appreciated. thank you, Inika

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.
Here’s the tricky part: There’s no definite answer for how much protein you’d have to eat before you run into trouble. “It really depends on how much protein a person is consuming versus how much they need, as well as the health of their kidneys at baseline,” Hultin says. That’s why it can be helpful to speak with a nutritionist or doctor who can help you tailor your diet before going keto.
When your brain uses ketones for fuel, you don’t experience the same energy slumps as you do when you’re eating a lot carbs. On keto, your brain won’t start to panic, wondering when it will get its next hit of energy. When your metabolism is in fat-burning mode, your body can simply tap into its readily available fat stores for energy. The result? No more energy crashes or brain fog.
Now, I know what you are going to say, “I can take a break from the diet anytime.” What do you think happens when you take that “break”? As soon as you start consuming a normal amount of carbohydrates again, you immediately go out of ketosis or the fat burning state, and your body starts storing fat again immediately. In other words, you immediately start gaining weight. So whatever weight you lost on the diet, you gain back right away. How healthy do you think it is for your body to be in a starvation mode, then in a feeding frenzy, making up for lost time?
Some of us experience a rise in BG that’s hard to manage when trying Keto. This is one of the reasons why keto did not work out for me (plus weight gain and feeling lousy). That being said, there could be a lot of other reasons why he’s running high, so I’d highly recommend you work with a medical professional and dietitian if you decide to continue down this path. And if your doctor isn’t supporting you, find one that will.
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 for such a high percentage of people because it targets several key, underlying causes of weight gain — including hormonal imbalances, especially insulin resistance coupled with high blood sugar levels, and the cycle of restricting and “binging” on empty calories due to hunger that so many dieters struggle with. In fact, these are some of the direct benefits of the keto diet.
Thanks Dr. Jockey…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?
All 83 subjects received the ketogenic diet consisting of 20 g to 30 g of carbohydrate in the form of green vegetables and salad, and 80 g to 100 g of protein in the form of meat, fish, fowl, eggs, shellfish and cheese. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats were also included in the diet. Twelve weeks later, an additional 20 g of carbohydrate were added to the meal of the patients to total 40 g to 50 g of carbohydrate. Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) were given to each subject in the form of one capsule per day (Table 2).
A number of studies suggest keto can disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in your GI tract (a condition called dysbiosis) due to high saturated fat intake and eating less fiber. Diets lacking in prebiotic fiber decrease probiotic, "friendly" bacteria as a result. Since the GI tract is considered the "bodyguard" of your immune system, this may impact your gut-brain connection, immune function, and chronic disease risk.
People claiming huge benefits of these supplements – despite the lack of solid scientific support – may sometimes have a financial reason to believe in the supplements. Some of these products are sold under a multi-level marketing arrangement, where sales people are paid based on commission. For example, the company Prüvit sells drinkable ketones, called KETO//OS with a multi-level marketing structure.

They have high likelihood of calcium oxalate and uric acid kidney stones–Kidney stones are uncommon in childhood, yet these kids commonly have kidney stones. The risk in an adult on a prolonged ketogenic effort is therefore high, also. Kidney stones are not benign–they are painful and can occasionally result in kidney damage (increased creatinine, urinary tract infections, etc.)
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.
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.
In this single-arm, 4-month diet intervention, an LCKD resulted in significant improvement of glycemia, as measured by fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1c, in patients with type 2 diabetes. More importantly, this improvement was observed while diabetes medications were reduced or discontinued in 17 of the 21 participants, and were not changed in the remaining 4 participants. Participants also experienced reductions in body weight, waist circumference, and percent body fat but these improvements were moderate and did not predict the change in hemoglobin A1c in regression analyses.
The primary drawback of keto for the general population is how restrictive the diet is. “It requires more thought than some other diets,” Santos-Prowse says. And whenever a diet requires too much thought or effort, the likelihood of effectively sticking with it becomes diminished. People just don’t like having to think about how, when, and where to get their next meal when they’re so used to grabbing something quick from the nearest fast food joint.
Finally, while it's something of an understudied phenomenon, some people who embark on a keto diet experience a bout of flu-like symptoms (often referred to colloquially as "keto flu"), as your body deals with the shift from crabs to fats as a primary fuel source.  “This has to do with fluid regulation when starting out. As your body adapts to running on fat, you excrete more sodium which makes you feel run down. Increasing fluid and salt intake generally help with this,” Fontaine says.

It should be noted that the concept that fat can be eaten ad libitum and still induce weight loss in obese subjects is not a recent one (13–33). Ketosis occurs as a result of the change in the body’s fuel from carbohydrate to fat. Incomplete oxidation of fatty acids by the liver results in the accumulation of ketone bodies in the body. A ketogenic diet maintains the body in a state of ketosis, which is characterized by an elevation of D-b-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate.
To minimize the risk of hypoglycemia, Yancy and his team decrease medication as soon as a patient starts the diet. While drugs like metformin and liraglutide (Victoza) are less of a concern, there are others that pose a substantial hypoglycemia threat. In addition to insulin, the sulfonylurea drugs glipizide and glyburide require a watchful eye, as they work by stimulating the pancreas to make more insulin, increasing the risk of dangerous lows in the face of insufficient carbohydrate intake. “People on this diet need to be prepared to check their blood glucose any time they feel like it could be getting too low,” says Urbanski. “I would say a minimum of twice a day, but ideally three to four times a day, at least in the beginning in order to see the effect of the diet on their blood glucose readings.”

The truth is, I could have drank all the water in the world, and it wouldn’t have solved the problem, because the diet kept me from holding it. I was on the diet approximately six months when it started happening, with warning signs, in retrospect, a month before. When I wrote my story on a blog, I was contacted by a law firm who wanted to investigate my story, because they had a few other clients with similar experiences. I declined their services.


Also, be aware that, while diet can be an extremely powerful tool to regain control over many aspects of health, diet by itself remains insufficient for full health. Just as filling up the gas tank of your car with quality gasoline helps your car run well, but other aspects of your car need attention over time (change the oil, tune-ups, new tires on occasion, etc.), so it goes with diet. We must also pay attention to vitamin D and iodine status, the potential for common endocrine disruptions such as thyroid dysfunction, efforts to cultivate bowel flora, and other issues. Focus on diet as a start, not as an end.
Studies are emerging that ketogenic diets (in conjunction with other treatments) can either reverse progressive brain disorders or help repair the damage. These include traumatic brain injuries and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The Wahl’s Protocol also utilizes this benefit of the ketogenic diet to help repair neurological damage from multiple sclerosis. 
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