"Electrolyte imbalances can also be common if keto followers aren't aware of hydration needs," Turoff says. It's important to stay hydrated on keto, she says, especially in the beginning. "As you limit carbohydrates, your body produces less insulin, and glycogen stores (how carbs are stored) in the muscles and liver are depleted. For every 1 gram of glycogen that's depleted, you lose about 3 grams of water." This causes the kidneys to flush out more water, and along with it, electrolytes your body needs like magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potassium. "Imbalanced electrolytes can lead to muscle cramps, irregular heartbeat, fatigue, cognitive distortions, and lack of body temperature control," Turoff says. Some people may also be more likely to get kidney stones while on keto due to inadequate hydration, according to Turoff. (PS: These Are the Hydration Tips Every Fit Girl Needs.)
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 >
The fact is, the stress that you will bring on yourself from constantly restricting every single thing you put in your mouth is far more detrimental to your health. Remember, moderation is the key! You can count your carbohydrates and follow a sensible low carbohydrate diet to control your blood glucose and your weight. Exercise will always be the key component to add that contributes to added weight loss.
Casual chronic keto is at some risk of those same side effects. Sure, there are sporadic anecdotal cases where there appears (so far) to be no harm, but these are not large population RCTs. The KD-in-epilepsy data is closer to being RCT data. There being no ancestral case for chronic keto, we need to learn what we can from the formal studies (and sure, endeavor to separate the ailment, med and diet effects).
Insulin resistance is caused by several mechanisms, one of which is chronically elevated insulin levels. So what increases insulin levels? Mainly sugar. A poor nights sleep can do it too, but sugar is a big one. This can be sugar that is part of our diet or carbohydrates that are broken down to glucose or other simple carbs. Proteins put together with fats can also be converted into sugar, a process called gluconeogenesis. However, it is really the effect of dietary refined sugars and starches (flour) causing blood sugar and insulin spikes (not protein). These insulin spikes from added sugars and flour are then often followed by a blood sugar crash, leading to a sense of discomfort, even sweating, and usually a craving for more high-carb foods.
By going on a ketogenic diet, you are far more likely to increase your level of fiber intake, primarily through fruits and non-starchy vegetables. This increase in dietary fiber will help aid digestive health by promoting peristaltic motion and easing the passage of bowel movements. This can lower your risk of indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, cramping, gastric ulcers and even colorectal cancer.
If you can’t maintain any eating plan forever due to its level of restriction and burden, it can lead to weight cycling — the process by which you gain a lot of weight and lose a lot of weight when "dieting" versus when you’re off of a diet. That can lead to increased chronic disease risk, not to mention how it can make weight loss more difficult the more often you do it.
Eating a keto diet can have some short-term health perks. But in the long run, it also has the potential to create some serious health problems. That’s why many experts say you shouldn’t attempt it on your own. “In general, if a person follows a ketogenic diet, they should only do so for a brief time and under close medical supervision,” says Hultin.
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.
Although many people find that their energy and stamina improve on a keto lifestyle, trying to do too much in the early stages can worsen keto flu symptoms. Well-known ketogenic researcher Dr. Steve Phinney has conducted studies in endurance athletes as well as obese individuals demonstrating that physical performance decreases during the first week of very-low-carb eating. Fortunately, his research also shows that by week 4, people typically perform better than before they started keto.
Diarrhea can also be due to a lack of fiber in the diet, says Kizer, which can happen when someone cuts way back on carbs (like whole-grain bread and pasta) and doesn’t supplement with other fiber-rich foods, like vegetables. It can also be caused by an intolerance to dairy or artificial sweeteners—things you might be eating more of since switching to a high-fat, low-carb lifestyle.
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-
Ketogenic diet for diabetics is a highly controversial topic, but we will break down everything here for you! As a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), I have to tell you from the start I will have a biased view here. Sorry, but I feel that I need to be completely honest right up front! I will however, present all the evidence that is available currently on the subject.
The data presented in the present study showed that a ketogenic diet acted as a natural therapy for weight reduction in obese patients. This is a unique study monitoring the effect of a ketogenic diet for 24 weeks. There was a significant decrease in the level of triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and glucose, and a significant increase in the level of HDL cholesterol in the patients. The side effects of drugs commonly used for the reduction of body weight in such patients were not observed in patients who were on the ketogenic diet. Therefore, these results indicate that the administration of a ketogenic diet for a relatively long period of time is safe. Further studies elucidating the molecular mechanisms of a ketogenic diet are in progress in our laboratory. These studies will open new avenues into the potential therapeutic uses of a ketogenic diet and ketone bodies.
Yes!! Edward!! I am pre-diabetic myself and have IBS which many doctors have no explanation for many of my questions because IBS triggers everyone differently and with different foods. I have been keto for 6 weeks and have lost 14lbs and have not noticed any symptoms of IBS even when I eat trigger foods (onion/garlic) I am no means 100% keto yet because I have had slip ups here and there but I jump right back in. I can’t imagine not following this way of life moving forward. I immediately feel the difference if I indulge in anything more then I should. Im learning to listen to my body and now see carbs/sugar is what has been causing madness on my body. Keto-on Edward!
If you're healthy and eating a balanced diet, your body controls how much fat it burns, and you don't normally make or use ketones. But when you cut way back on your calories or carbs, your body will switch to ketosis for energy. It can also happen after exercising for a long time and during pregnancy. For people with uncontrolled diabetes, ketosis is a sign of not using enough insulin.
After seeing thousands of patients now for years and from personal experience, I still believe it comes down to staying away from processed foods and cooking at home whenever possible. Eating a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, proteins, and fiber. Also, cutting out any sugary liquid calories; staying away from sodas, juices and the infamous sweet tea! Keeping stress levels under control and incorporating exercise into your routine will also be key to breaking through challenging times when you are having trouble with continued weight loss.
"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.)
“When I was taught about biochemical fuel-burning, I was taught that glucose was “clean” and ketones were “smokey.” That glucose was clearly the preferred fuel for our muscles for exercise and definitely the key fuel for the brain. Except here’s the dirty little secret about glucose – when you look at the amount of garbage leftover in the mitochondria, it is actually less efficient to make ATP from glucose than it is to make ATP from ketone bodies! A more efficient energy supply makes it easier to restore membranes in the brain to their normal states after a depolarizing electrical energy spike occurs, and means that energy is produced with fewer destructive free radicals leftover.”
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.
The modified ketogenic diet emerged in the late nineties as a re-work of the original ketogenic diet. The original ketogenic diet was inspired by the Atkins diet of the early to mid-nineties that saw practitioners eliminate any form of carbohydrates from their food intake. These practitioners relied solely on fat and protein as their macro nutrients.
Practicing intermittent fasting. This works wonders to help patients get into ketosis. Ideally, you’ll go 13.5–15 hours between dinner and breakfast to help your body find energy reserves beyond stored glucose. (Your body can only store reserves for about 24 hours, so if you are eating much less, intermittent fasting will allow you to drop your storage levels way down, requiring your body to burn fat instead.)
One study from 2005 followed 22 people with Type 1 Diabetes for 12 months. The difference here however is they consumed 70-90 grams of carbohydrates per day versus the restrictive less than 20 grams per day on the Ketogenic Diet. Remember my motto? Moderation is the key! The results were positive; less hypoglycemia, insulin requirements were reduced and their A1c dropped from 7.5% to 6.4%.
Atherosclerosis starts with the weakening of arterial wall, to the point that it tears (this tear usually happens due to scurvy caused by high sugar consumption and the subsequent vitamin C deficiency). Once the integrity of the arterial wall is compromised cholesterol is used by human body to heal and patch the tear. That starts the process of numerous circulatory diseases including hypertension, atherosclerosis and heart disease.
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.
But all those studies were very small, and not all research on the keto diet is as promising. One American Society for Clinical Nutrition study of 20 participants found that those on the diet didn’t lose more weight than those on a non-keto diet. But they did have fouler moods and higher levels of inflammation, which has been linked to a variety of conditions, including heart disease and cancer.
I actually went on a ketogenic diet last year to see if it would help my migraines. I have a history of chronic migraines which would usually last 3 days, sometimes longer. Triptans help a lot but I don’t like having to take them. I stayed in ketosis for about 8 months and experienced a significant reduction in migraines, from feeling some type of headache (mild o r severe) almost everyday to 1 or 2x per month while in ketosis. Although I’m very healthy otherwise, I do think my migraines may have something to do with blood sugar fluctuations (despite previously eating a whole foods diet and no refined carbs), and keto totally stabilized this. I eventually came off of Keto because I’m not really a meat lover. When I came off, but remained low carb, my migraines stayed under control for the most part. When I increase carbs, they do return.
Thanks to a very-low carb eating plan, the keto diet is effective when it comes to quick weight loss and stabilizing blood sugar levels. However, carbs are not just pasta and bread, they are beans, legumes, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These foods contribute vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber to the diet that’s hard to get without them. If you’re planning on trying out the keto diet, focusing on plant-based fats like nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut and olive oil will help to get some of the micronutrient losses back in.
The same is true for meat. You’ve probably been told to avoid red meat when in fact you should not. Meat is an integral part of any diet including the ketogenic diet. There is no reason to avoid it (OK you’re excused if you’ve been bitten by a lone star tick!). The ketogenic diet reduces cardiovascular risk factors and improves the lipid profile by increasing HDL and lowering triglycerides [9,10].
ME: There is a sort of three-phase process the body goes through as it adapts to burning fat as its primary fuel. After two to three days, you will show elevated ketones [the buildup of chemicals created by the body when it burns fat for energy] in the blood. Energy will be low for the first week or two, but keeping electrolytes up such as sodium, magnesium, potassium [by using sea salt liberally and considering a supplement if necessary] and drinking water usually help. After about four to six weeks, the body actually makes more mitochondria [the powerhouses of our cells], and that is when your energy starts to soar. You also start seeing amazing mental clarity and focus, cravings go away more and more.
In a second study,2 a Harvard-led research team evaluated the benefit of a ketogenic diet in both children and adults with type 1 diabetes despite concerns about a possible negative effect on growth and development in children following such a restricted diet. These researchers report "exceptional" glucose control with little adverse effects. However, the participants were recruited from a closed Facebook group, TypeOneGrit, for people who follow a diet and diabetes program based on the recommendations in the Diabetes Solution,3 a book by Richard K Bernstein, MD, who devised this program to manage his own type 1 diabetes.
"Because cancer cells prefer to use glucose, diets that limit glucose may be beneficial," Barbara Gower, PhD, senior author and professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences, told Healthline. "Because they limit glucose and several growth factors, ketogenic diets will limit the ability of cancer to grow, which gives the patient's immune system time to respond."
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.)
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.
Cyrus Khambatta earned a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from UC Berkeley after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in his senior year of college at Stanford University in 2002. He is an internationally recognized nutrition and fitness coach for people living with type 1, type 1.5, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, and has helped hundreds of people around the world achieve exceptional insulin sensitivity by adopting low-fat, plant-based whole foods nutrition.
The relation between a high fat diet and cancer is not conclusive. Recent epidemiological studies (17,58–60) could not explain a specific causal relationship between dietary fat and cancer. It has been found that altered energy metabolism and substrate requirements of tumour cells provide a target for selective antineoplastic therapy. The supply of substrates for tumour energy metabolism can be reduced by dietary manipulation (eg, ketogenic diet) or by pharmacological means at the cellular level (eg, inhibitors of glycolysis or oxidative phosphorylation). Both of these techniques are nontoxic methods for controlling tumour growth in vivo (61). Sugar consumption is positively associated with cancer in humans and test animals (58–61). This observation is quite logical because tumours are known to be enormous sugar absorbers. It has also been found that the risk of breast cancer decreases with increases in total fat intake (16). Further studies on the role of a ketogenic diet in antineoplastic therapy are in progress in our laboratory.
That’s why the Bulletproof Diet uses cyclical nutritional ketosis, and why on days when I eat carbohydrates, I always have Brain Octane Oil so my cells have a steady supply of ketones. This builds metabolic flexibility: you can eat fat and carbs and your body will use them both, which is the goal. You want to be resilient and full of energy no matter what, and that means you want cells strong enough to burn whatever you give them.
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).
John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.