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.”
In another study on women, researchers confirmed that the ketogenic diet resulted in favorable changes in LDL particles consistent with lower cardiovascular disease risk. However, the total LDL cholesterol did not change. This is why it is important to test the levels of different LDL particles. Looking at the LDL number itself may be misleading, especially on the ketogenic diet.
The keto diet is often called a fad diet. Make no mistake: it is. But unlike other trendy diets, the keto diet is unique because it actually pushes the body into an alternate, natural metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, you can reliably expect a few negative side effects, notably those that come with the "keto flu." But other side effects emerge only when people implement the keto diet poorly, typically by failing to eat balanced, nutrient-rich foods as a part of a high-fat, low-carb diet.

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For children, fill up an adult-sized water cup with each meal and request they finish it before they leave the table. Usually they will be thirsty and this is not an issue. If you are concerned that they are not drinking enough, stevia flavor enhancers can encourage this, carb-free.  Ice chips are popular in my house as well, and an additional way to get liquids into children.  Don’t force or encourage excessive water consumption, but rather give children the down-time to drink to thirst rather than rushing back to play, ignoring their thirst.


Ketoacidosis, on the other hand, is a complication of poorly managed diabetes. It results in uncontrolled production of ketone bodies that can change the pH of the blood, which can prove fatal. Ketoacidosis is more common with Type 1 diabetes rather than Type 2. It’s also important to note that the keto diet cannot cause ketoacidosis – but rather puts the body into the beneficial state of ketosis.
Thank you for your wonderful comments Marcia. To share more about me personally with you all…I am not a completely non-diabetic Certified Diabetes Educator. I found out I had Prediabetes 15 years ago when I became a Diabetes Educator. I tested my own A1c and found it was 5.8%. The incredible news? There have been years when my A1c dropped to a normal level of 5.4%…out of the prediabetes range. My last A1c in May was 5.8%, so I still have Prediabetes 15 years later, but not diabetes, and without any medication, just the sensible diet I’ve discussed and exercise, so I really am living with this. I feel it everyday, I wonder what my A1c is going to be just like you every 6 months when I go to have it drawn.
In order to stay in ketosis, you have to limit carbs, but also to some extent protein. This is the predominant difference between keto and traditional lower-carb diets like Atkins. By relying on dietary fat for most of your calories per day, you limit fiber-rich sources (like fruit, veggies, and legumes) and sources of lean protein (like fatty fish) — some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.
In these cases, exogenous ketones can be powerful. Exogenous ketones are a supplement that can be used to supply the body with a source of ketones that require almost no processing by the digestive tract and liver. This makes them great not only for helping someone get into ketosis, but also as a quick energy source and performance enhancer for brain and body.
"The keto diet is primarily used to help reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in children. While it also has been tried for weight loss, only short-term results have been studied, and the results have been mixed. We don't know if it works in the long term, nor whether it's safe," warns registered dietitian Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.
Also recognizing what worked 6 months to 1 year ago may not work today. Our bodies change over time and we have to adapt to those changes. So many factors affect your blood glucose levels; you will face hormonal changes, stress related changes, and your pancreas may not be working as well today as it did a year ago and we wouldn’t expect it to. Just as the heart of an 18 year old person is much stronger than it will be at the age of 50 years of age, your pancreas’ function will decline with age with the normal aging process. Many of my patients throughout the years have came to me feeling so defeated because now they have to go on medication or insulin. They are so relieved to hear this may not be due to anything they have caused by overeating or weight gain, it may be just the unfortunate natural progression of diabetes. Until we discover cures for the different types of diabetes, this is what we face.
There is also exciting early research suggesting that ketosis may be beneficial for many other conditions, such as reducing the frequency and severity of migraine headaches, reversing PCOS, perhaps enhancing conventional brain cancer therapies, possibly slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, along with potentially helping people live longer, healthier lives.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition established that a low-carb approach is far more useful for weight loss than a high-protein diet which is also rich in carbohydrates. Moreover, a study developed in 2013 outlined that the ketogenic eating plan annihilates the function of the hunger hormones much more efficiently than other diets.

"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.)
What is the keto diet? Rather than relying on counting calories, limiting portion sizes, resorting to extreme exercise or requiring lots of willpower, this low-carb diet takes an entirely different approach to weight loss and health improvements. It works because it changes the very “fuel source” that the body uses to stay energized: namely, from burning glucose (or sugar) to dietary fat, courtesy of keto diet recipes and the keto diet food list items, including high-fat, low-carb foods.
Eat micronutrient dense foods every day. The most nutrient-rich foods are pasture-raised organ meat, wild-caught sardines and salmon, and low-carbohydrate vegetables like spinach, kale, and broccoli. During early pregnancy and prior to conception, foods higher in folate, such as liver and dark leafy greens, are essential. Vitamin D (high in beef liver and sardines), iodine (high in seaweed and raw cheeses), and DHA (high in sardines and fatty fish) are essential as well.
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.
“constant keto supposedly caused selenium deficiency and stunted growth in epileptic kids on keto diets. As I previously commented large areas of North America & Western Europe have Se-deficient soils with the notable exception of the NA grain-growing regions. Consequently the major source of Se in the SAD is grains and deficiency is a result of eliminating the grains on a Keto or WB diet. Opponents could just as easily use Se-deficiency as an argument against WB. The solution is not eating grains it’s taking a supplement.
The most obvious sign that your electrolyte/mineral balance is being affected is an increase in urination. On a low-carb diet, insulin levels drop which promotes the secretion of sodium in the urine. Sodium pulls more water into the urinary system which then is excreted as well.  This is a very normal one of the keto side effects and a positive sign you are moving towards keto adaptation.
I told the nurse that I would not take the medications, and I would manage it with diet. She looked at me skeptically, and said “I would not recommend that.”. They had me scheduled for a follow up in a month and a half, so I told her that I would do my own thing for that time, and if my numbers did not improve, we could discuss the medication further. 

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.

"Most of the work in this field is still pre-clinical, meaning it's been conducted in animal models," Angela Poff, a research associate in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of South Florida, told U.S. News & World Report. "It's been done in various cancer types, but most of the work has been done in brain cancer specifically. But there's very little clinical data all around. There's some case reports and very small preliminary clinical studies in small groups of patients, usually very late-stage patients with various types of cancers. So in the clinical realm, which is the most important in telling us whether this is going to be useful, we have a long way to go."
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Although the exact role of the keto diet in mental and brain disorders is unclear, there has been proof of its efficacy in patients with schizophrenia. And, to boot, it works to reverse many conditions that develop as a side effect of conventional medications for brain disorders, like weight gain, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular risks. More research is needed to understand the role of the ketogenic diet in treating or improving schizophrenia, as the current available studies are either animal studies or case studies, but the benefits of a low carbohydrate, high-fat diet in neurology is promising.

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The most obvious sign that your electrolyte/mineral balance is being affected is an increase in urination. On a low-carb diet, insulin levels drop which promotes the secretion of sodium in the urine. Sodium pulls more water into the urinary system which then is excreted as well.  This is a very normal one of the keto side effects and a positive sign you are moving towards keto adaptation.
Hello Dr. Jockers, in the past few months I have been working on cleaning up my diet. Eating gluten & dairy free as much as possible. I started taking exogenous ketones at the same time. I got a juicer for Christmas and about 3 weeks ago I added celery juice ( 1st thing in the AM) and a carrot, apple, turmeric juice in the afternoon. Some days I am fine and other days I have sudden diarrhea within an hour of drinking the celery juice. I’ve read so much about the benefits of drinking it but am wondering if the ketones are reacting to it adversely? Please let me know your thoughts on this.
Some athletes swear by the ketogenic diet, not just for weight loss but for improved performance in their sport, as well. But Edward Weiss, PhD, associate professor of nutrition and dietetics at Saint Louis University, doesn’t buy it. “I hear cyclists say all the time that they’re faster and better now that they’re on keto, and my first question is, 'Well, how much weight did you lose?'” he says.
Twenty-one of the 28 participants who were enrolled completed the study. Twenty participants were men; 13 were White, 8 were African-American. The mean [± SD] age was 56.0 ± 7.9 years and BMI was 42.2 ± 5.8 kg/m2. Hemoglobin A1c decreased by 16% from 7.5 ± 1.4% to 6.3 ± 1.0% (p < 0.001) from baseline to week 16. Diabetes medications were discontinued in 7 participants, reduced in 10 participants, and unchanged in 4 participants. The mean body weight decreased by 6.6% from 131.4 ± 18.3 kg to 122.7 ± 18.9 kg (p < 0.001). In linear regression analyses, weight change at 16 weeks did not predict change in hemoglobin A1c. Fasting serum triglyceride decreased 42% from 2.69 ± 2.87 mmol/L to 1.57 ± 1.38 mmol/L (p = 0.001) while other serum lipid measurements did not change significantly.
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