There are people who say that keto helps your athletic performance, and those who say it hurts it. "The literature is mixed on how an ultra low-carbohydrate diet like the keto diet affects athletic performance," says Grant Cox, C.S.C.S., head coach at Iron Tribe Fitness. But one thing is pretty clear: "A lot of it points to consistent decreases when athletes are looking for maximal power output (in weightlifting, vertical jumps, sprinting, etc.). Along the same lines, you'd be hard-pressed to put on weight and strength on such a low carbohydrate diet," he says.
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The truth is though, her reaction is part of the problem. “I can’t believe your numbers improved so drastically without taking the medication.” THAT is the main problem with our medical community. They have been taught, and most have bought into the lie, that everything is better with medication. Medication is the go to. That is why we have so many health issues in this country. Let’s eat a crappy diet because our government/medical community recommends it…and then when that diet leads to medical complications…let’s throw drugs/medication at it. Many, if not the majority, of the medical issues we have could be done away with if we actually ate as we should. But no…we want cake.
The key of these miraculous healing effects relies on the fact that fat metabolism and its generation of ketone bodies (beta-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate) by the liver can only occur within the mitochondrion, leaving chemicals within the cell but outside the mitochondria readily available to stimulate powerful anti-inflammatory antioxidants. The status of our mitochondria is the ultimate key for optimal health and while it is true that some of us might need extra support in the form of nutritional supplementation to heal these much needed energy factories, the diet still remains the ultimate key for a proper balance.”
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.
Now, there’s even evidence that a low-carb, high-fat regimen (as the keto diet is) helps you live longer, compared to a low-fat diet. In a study by the medical journal The Lancet that studied more than 135,000 adults from 18 countries, high carbohydrate intake was associated with higher risk of total mortality, whereas total fat and individual types of fat were related to lower total mortality. Total fat and types of fat were not associated with cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction or cardiovascular disease mortality.
In addition, recent papers within the last few years investigating the effect of ketogenic dieting on obesity conclude that it’s an extremely effective way to not only lose fat, but spare muscle loss while curbing many disorders related to obesity as well (many of which have been discussed above), including the set of symptoms and risk factors known as Metabolic Syndrome (i.e. abdominal obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and elevated cholesterol)
A recent pilot study put five patients on the ketogenic diet (less than 20 grams per day of carbohydrate). At the end of six months, the average weight loss was 28 pounds (but this wasn’t the most surprising finding). Each patient underwent a liver biopsy, and four of the five patients had a reduction in liver fat, inflammation, and fibrosis. However, this is a small pilot study that also used supplements, so the results are not conclusive. What does the rest of the research say?
Once the body gets used to manufacturing ketones as the main energy substrate, the body actually has more energy than it previously had, and you won't have to be fighting through all those low-blood-sugar crashes your high-carb meals previously gave you. Additionally, hydration should be an area of high priority, especially before, during, and after exercise.
"Muscle loss on the ketogenic diet is an ongoing area of research," Clark told Everyday Health. "Small studies suggest that people on the ketogenic diet lose muscle even when they continue resistance training. This may be related to the fact that protein alone is less effective for muscle building than protein and carbohydrates together after exercise."
Look for natural sources of electrolytes or take an over-the-counter supplement. “Avocados, leafy greens, asparagus, and cruciferous veggies are great for providing important electrolytes, says Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, a certified doctor of natural medicine and clinical nutritionist. Dr. Axe also suggests a magnesium supplement to help you sleep and avoid cramps or constipation.
Diabetes, whether type 1 or 2, are diseases extremely susceptible to the therapeutic level effects of diets that lower insulin. If those diets are also nutrient dense, evolutionarily matched to humans and produce a more generally preferable shift in metabolism, then all the better. This sort of dietary treatment for diabetes holds great promise in their potential for helping out in other diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
When you eat foods high in carbohydrates and fat, your body naturally produces glucose. Carbohydrates are the easiest thing for the body to process, and therefore it will use them first – resulting in the excess fats to be stored immediately. In turn, this causes weight gain and health problems that are associated with high fat, high carbohydrate diets (NOT keto).
In general, men tend to do better on a long term ketogenic diet than women do. From my own research and experimentation, women can follow a keto diet, but with some adaptions. Most women will do well with a cyclical ketogenic diet when they stay on ketogenic diet most of the time and eat starchy carbohydrates occasionally to spike calories and carbs.
The keto diet also appears to help induce autophagy, which helps clear damaged cells from the body, including senescent cells that serve no functional purpose but still linger inside tissues and organs. In animal studies when rats are put on the ketogenic diet, autophagic pathways are created that reduce brain injury during and after seizures. (21)
The ketogenic diet has emerged suddenly almost as a fad diet where people are showcasing their dramatic weight loss results all over social media. What is different about the ketogenic diet, however, is that it actually creates remarkable beneficial changes in the body that drastically improve wellbeing. There are foundational physiological changes that occur in the body that attribute for the benefits of a ketogenic diet. These benefits make this style of eating much more profound than any old fad diet.
Dr. Campos, it is so discouraging to see that you disparage the ketogenic diet based on your assumption that it is very heavy in poor quality processed meats. No diet that relies on processed foods can be viewed as “healthy”. Become better informed by getting up to speed with what Jeff Volek, RD, PhD, calls a “well-formulated ketogenic diet.” Also, learn more about the potential of the diet to slow cancer progression (my specialty). You owe it to your patients who are depending on you for advice. Present them with facts, not opinions.

Known primarily as a weight-loss diet, a ketogenic approach will allow your body to use higher-quality food sources for energy, and store less fat. When it comes to carbohydrates, any excess calories will be stored as fat for future use. This will only result in weight gain, and lower energy levels, particularly after the initial sugar rush of energy from simple carbohydrates. More protein in the body will also kickstart the metabolism, which will increase fat-burning potential, particularly if you are eating high-quality fats as a part of the ketogenic diet.


"Most people who wind up trying a ketogenic diet and then deciding not to continue do so because of the emotional and lifestyle consequences," Turoff says. To put it simply, people miss eating carbohydrates. "That doesn't mean that you should be eating pizza or cupcakes every day, but what about having a sweet potato with a meal, or beans in a chili? Or fresh watermelon in the summer?" Turoff asks. "Whether or not we want to admit it, food plays much more than just a physical role in our lives and having such restrictions on the types of foods you can and can't eat can really take a toll. It might be easy in the short-term to go for carb-free foods but at a certain point, the thought of not being able to eat your favorite foods again can become daunting." 

The keto diet may also be beneficial for adults with epilepsy, though the Epilepsy Foundation notes that it’s less frequently recommended for this group because it is so restrictive and difficult to stick with. (1) One study, published in May 2016 in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior, found the diet reduced the frequency of seizures for many study participants, 7 percent of whom were seizure-free at the four-year mark. (2) And though it wasn’t the goal for this study, nearly 20 percent of the participants lost weight while following the diet.

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.


As was described in a recent Diet Doctor post on using ketones for Alzheimer’s Disease, it has long been known that the brain can use two fuels for its energy needs: 1) glucose or 2) ketones. Glucose is the product of the breakdown of carbohydrates that we eat or is made via our liver by a process called gluconeogenesis (literally “new glucose making.”) Ketones are the product of the breakdown of fat to fatty acids, either from fat in our diet or fat stored in our adipose tissue.

However, this diet isn’t for everyone. If traditional bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and/or fruit are what you live for, then you might just be miserable on keto. However, if you’re open to exploring different tastes, then the good news is there are substitutes for many of these foods. Cauliflower pizza crust, rice, and even gnocchi; zoodles (noodles made from zucchini); almond flour bread and almond milk are all readily available from most stores now.  A small amount of berries is acceptable, but for the most part say goodbye to apples, melons, plums and peaches. Booze and sugar are also out, but if you’re living with diabetes, you likely already know how to manage these desires.
In a 2016 meta-analysis and systematic review, the researchers found that the low carbohydrate diet decreased fat in the liver significantly, but liver function tests did not improve significantly. When we look closely at the studies in the meta-analysis, they either found no effect on liver enzyme levels or a significant effect. In other words, the liver function of some people stayed the same on the low-carbohydrate diet while others improved significantly. Why the difference?
The keto diet restricts carbs so much that anyone who is on blood sugar lower medication or who has type 1 or type 2 diabetes must consult his or her doctor before making such a severe dietary change. As the body adapts to low-carb dieting, medication dosages and treatment plans will have to be revised, and blood sugar levels must be carefully monitored.
If you are pregnant or are nursing, you should not follow a Ketogenic diet. You will not receive enough of the recommended carbohydrates, vitamins and nutrients necessary for yourself and your growing baby on this diet. Your obstetrician will recommend how many carbohydrates you should consume per meal and for snacks during each phase of your pregnancy. They will likely refer you to a Certified Diabetes Educator for nutritional counseling as well. Please check out The Diabetes Council’s FAQ’ About Gestational Diabetes for all your gestational diabetes related questions.
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
The diet is extremely regimented and very difficult to stick to, as just one baked potato and one slice of bread could hold an entire day’s worth of carbohydrates. While this is a deterrent for many, Christy Brissette, RD, a private-practice dietitian in Chicago, notes that many of her patients like the diet because of its strictness. “Some of my clients feel that the keto diet works for them because it doesn't involve any calorie counting and the rules are simple to understand,” she says. “They feel they have strict parameters that can take the guesswork out of dieting.”

The most important thing that diabetics have to learn is that there is no reason to avoid fat, not even saturated fat. It is not saturated fat that causes arteriosclerosis and heart disease, but an excess of refined carbohydrates like sugar and flour. Seed oils are implicated in the disease although by other mechanisms that involve damaged lipids and mitochondrial toxins.


Unless you’ve already been eating a paleo or primal diet and are somewhat keto-adapted (burning ketones for fuel), it is a good idea “reset” the body in order to regain the metabolic flexibility to go into ketosis or even stay in ketosis despite eating some carbohydrates. Intermittent fasting is one efficient way to do this. During a water fast, ketosis can occur in days instead of weeks or months and often sustains for a while after the fast.

My son started the Keto Diet (not perfectly) with the ok of his Dr and a Different Oral Chemo at the same time. Last Tuesday an MRI indicated no new growth or no new tumors. We don’t know if the new Chemo, Keto diet, lots of prays or what has stopped the tumors from growing.I found your site after looking for possible adverse reactions to Keto Diets, and appreciate your research. His platelets are low now and never have been low before. This is stopping the next Chemo treatment. I understand that being on Chemo for 12 months could have created the low platelets and now the possibility that the Keto Diet could also be causing low platelets is frustrating. They will do a new blood test Tuesday to see if the platelets have increased. Any suggestions about how if possible to increase the platelets on the Keto Diet would be helpful.
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
Those with mental health conditions have higher rates of physical illness and premature mortality, with life spans shortened by 13 to 30 years. People with mental health conditions also have higher rates and worse outcomes for chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Years lived with disability for mental and substance use disorders increased 45% from 1990 to 2013 worldwide – during the same time that the incidence of obesity and the diabetes exploded.

It sounds as if you may have been following a very strict keto protocol. I’m not, and have not followed a ketogenic diet, but am interested in it. I’ve been reading up on it a bit on the blog called Mark’s Daily Apple.* I’ve been following it for several years now, even before Mark tried keto. Based on some of his blog post, both keto related and otherwise, it seems that women do better with slightly more carbs than men. He’s written several blog post specifically for women, including one called 7 Keto Tips for Women, which you may want to read. https://www.marksdailyapple.com/7-keto-tips-for-women/ Then there is this one Where I Part Ways with the Popular Keto Movement https://www.marksdailyapple.com/where-i-part-ways-with-the-popular-keto-movement/ Perhaps the problem wasn’t the keto diet in and of itself, but that you went too low carb for you. It’s worth considering. I’ve also found this site to be pretty interesting https://peterattiamd.com/ Here’s a link to his section on keto https://peterattiamd.com/category/ketosis/ He followed a ketogenic diet for a number of years, though as of 2016 was no longer ketogenic, but definitely eating lower carb than most. (That is under Articles, on the drop down menu, click on Personal.)

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I would just like to share with you that my patients are HORRIFIED if their physicians ask them to cut out “everything white” in their diet. This is what some doctors ask for…essentially asking for the Ketogenic diet and most of my patients are in shock! Not only would I never want to skip a year of my birthday cake, but I wouldn’t ask my patients to either! One slice of cake is certainly not going to harm anyone with diabetes and hopefully you know enough about carbohydrates and their short term effect on BG levels to know this too! I am not a Registered Dietitian, so I couldn’t speak to this diet in regard to children with epilepsy. Are you a Neuro RN? TheDiabetesCouncil did just post another article where 25 Registered Dieticians weighed in regarding the Ketogenic Diet, so I would encourage you all to check that out!
For some, ketosis can cause more negative than positive side effects. Dorena Rode, a 52-year-old author, and speaker from Occidental, California, tried the diet for a month and experienced heart palpitations and dizziness. Unlike Drew, Rode says her cholesterol increased from 192 to 250 mg/dL after she introduced more fat into her diet. (Less than 200 mg/dL is considered desirable, while anything over 240 mg/dL is considered high.)
On the flip side of the previously mentioned side effect, some people might experience minor issues with diarrhea in the first few days. This can simply be a result of your body adjusting to the macronutrient ratio change. In other cases, some people make the mistake of limiting their fat intake along with their carbs, which makes your intake of protein too high and can lead to diarrhea.

Considering these risks, people who have kidney damage (including those with type 2 diabetes), plus individuals with or at risk for heart disease, and pregnant or breastfeeding women, shouldn’t try the keto diet. Also, people with type 1 diabetes shouldn’t follow the plan because of the risk for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and anyone who has had their gallbladder removed should avoid it because the diet is so high in fat.
The end result of the “ketone diet” is staying fueled off of circulating high ketones (which are also sometimes called ketone bodies) — which is what’s responsible for altering your metabolism in a way that some people like to say turns you into a “fat-burning machine.” Both in terms of how it feels physically and mentally, along with the impact it has on the body, being in ketosis is very different than a “glycolytic state,” where blood glucose (sugar) serves as the body’s energy source.

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”.

Incidentally , there’s a very informative article on the bbc website about one of the last remaining hunter/gather societies left in the world, living in Tanzania. They have amazing gut health and no t2d. Would you like to guess at the type of diet they follow? This would be the caveman diet that the writer mentions, and yes these people might not live as long as us but the cause of death is never a lack of motivation to stay on a keto diet.
Look for natural sources of electrolytes or take an over-the-counter supplement. “Avocados, leafy greens, asparagus, and cruciferous veggies are great for providing important electrolytes, says Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, a certified doctor of natural medicine and clinical nutritionist. Dr. Axe also suggests a magnesium supplement to help you sleep and avoid cramps or constipation.
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself parched while you’re on the keto diet. Excreting all that extra water will likely cause a spike in thirst—so make it a point to drink up, Mancinelli advises. There’s no hard and fast recommendation for how much water you should be having on a keto diet. But in general, aim to drink enough so your urine is clear or pale yellow. If it’s any darker, bump your intake.

The good news here is no! All the evidence points to the fact that a low carbohydrate diet actually does lower blood glucose and A1c levels and does contribute to weight loss. The problem is we do not yet have enough large studies, over enough sustained years to support evidence that people with diabetes can remain on a highly restrictive Ketogenic Diet for the rest of their life and also not have other consequences to their health.
OK, so this is the one most people probably actually care about. The great thing about the keto diet is that most dieters report not feeling hungry at all, likely because ketosis tends to suppress the hunger hormone, ghrelin, which helps tame our hangry monster within. So when you combine a satiating diet with the fact that you’re just cutting out a lot of foods, it makes perfect sense then that you’ll lose weight. One meta-analysis found that participants lost more weight on a very low-carb diet (like keto) compared with those on a low-fat diet.
To be clear, most of the hype you’ll hear about how the ketogenic diet can ward off cancer is taking things too far. While there is a fair amount of research regarding cancer, studies have been limited to animals. One review published in Redox Biology highlighted some of them, indicating promising results for colon, gastric, and prostate cancers. Maybe more interesting are the few case studies involving human subjects. Bear in mind, we’re talking about a handful of people. In these cases, implementing a ketogenic diet seemed to halt disease progression.
Many people and even some doctors confuse nutritional ketosis with (diabetic) ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis occurs in uncontrolled diabetes when the pancreas cannot secrete enough insulin to exert its action in cells, so blood glucose levels and blood ketones both skyrocket to dangerously high levels. Ketoacidosis has nothing to do with nutritional ketosis which is when ketones are produced from all the dietary fat you’re relying on and can thus keep your blood sugar levels under control at low and stable levels.

This means that instead of generating tons of ketones from the very beginning, most people experience hypoglycemia for a period of time. With hypoglycemia comes a disruption in cortisol signaling which is what accounts for the HPA axis dysfunction. Finally, HPA axis dysfunction leads to an increase in secretion of minerals from the body in the urine.


Dr. Campos, it is unfortunate that you retain the medical community’s negative stance on the ketogenic diet, probably picked up in medical school when you studied ketoacidosis, in the midst of an obesity and type II diabetes epidemic that is growing every year, especially among populations who will never see the Harvard Health Letter. The medical community has failed in reversing this trend, especially among children, and the public is picking up the tab, in the form of higher health insurance premiums to treat chronic metabolic diseases which doctors cannot cure. The ketogenic diet does not bid its adherents to eat unhealthy processed meats, and the green leafy vegetables that it emphasizes are important in a number of nutritional deficiencies. People lose weight on the ketogenic diet, they lose their craving for sugar, they feel more satiety, they may become less depressed, their insulin receptors sensitivity is improved, and these are all the good outcomes you fail to mention. There is a growing body of research which demonstrates the neuroprotective effects of the ketogenic diet to slow cancer progression, as well as diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, for which there are no effective medical treatments. Please respect your patients by providing them with evidence-based medical outcomes, not opinions.
Holy smokes what a great article! Thank you for such a thorough read. I have been doing a “keto diet” (keeping carb’s under 40 g/day-I use a tracker) since the beginning of January and felt “fluish” at first like you state. That passed and this past week (It is now Feb 11)my weight loss has stalled so I am experimenting with even lower carb’s (15-20g/day). This change has really interrupted my sleep the past 3 nights, hence me typing this at 4:44 in the am after deciding to do some research the past hour. Will this too pass? Or is it time for a Mg supplement? And if so can I use a pill rather than a drink? Between all the water and the bone broth I am unsure how more I will want to drink ha! But if I have to then I will, just thought I would ask. Again, thank you for all you are doing and such a fantastic read!
2 days from grains my stomach bloat was gone and I knew at that point everything this article and American diet was a lie. I’ve been on keto for over 16 months. Down 50lbs. In 6 months. I am ripped. Haven’t lost any muscle mass. I eat greens protein and healthy fat. I whole juice to get macros and yes I add watermelon or berries fo palatability purposes. I still eat carbs just healthy choices. I’ve become carb tolerant.. your liver will produce all glucose without ever eating 1 carb. This is biased and poor representation of keto lifestyle. When your starving and no carbs to choke keto will still thrive on either or fuel.
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