Keto cycling is a way to cycle in and out of ketosis while enjoying a more balanced diet on your "days off." One keto cycling approach includes five days of traditional keto diet and two non-keto days per week. Some people choose to save their off days for special occasions holidays, birthdays, and vacations. For best results, eat wholesome carbohydrate-rich foods on your off days, including fruits, starchy veggies, dairy products, and whole grains (rather than added sugars or highly-processed fare).
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.
The upsides: While the precise mechanisms are unclear, ketosis is thought to have brain-protecting benefits: As many as half of young people with epilepsy had fewer seizures after following the diet. And some early research suggests it may have benefits for blood sugar control among people with diabetes. An upcoming study will look at the ketogenic diet as a weight maintenance strategy.
One of the most basic and most profound benefits of a ketogenic diet is that it drastically lowers inflammation (1). This is mainly due to the reduced amount of free radical production that occurs when burning ketones for energy instead of glucose. Less inflammation allows for more energy production and an overall more efficiently functioning body. This allows for a heightened ability of the body to heal in many different aspects.
Also, if you listen to Dr Bernstein talk about his childhood (he is well into his 80’s), the “original” recommended diet was only ketogenic in the sense that it was high-carb and caused keto-acidosis, which he describes as almost killing him as a teenager. He still considers the ADA recommendations as ketogenic for this reason (you only have to listen to him a short time to hear him railing against the ADA).
I have enough carbs in a day for all my needs. Just eating proteins alone raise the insuline level, enough for muscles preservation. And I top it with vegetables. I have more than enough. I just to be clear, I don’t think the human body is dumb enough to burn a lot of muscles when you have 100 pounds of stored fat. Why the body don’t store proteins, if it prefers that? Modern nutrition take our body – and us – for fools!
First – let’s admit that there are several different types of diets that produce dramatic improvements in weight loss and diabetes. The vegan diet is one of them (and one which also reduces risk in most other diseases better than the others) – but it is by unquestionably by far the very best diet for the environment and the survival of the planet. High protein (high meat and/or dairy) diets are absolutely TERRIBLE for the environment and are not sustainable in any way. A vegetable diet will END world hunger because we DO have enough earth to grow enough vegetables for everyone and we definitely do NOT have enough earth for meat eaters even at current levels.
As both study groups acknowledge, additional research is needed to tease out any and all of the factors that may be producing the weight loss and decrease in HbA1c, says Dr. Gonzalez-Campoy, for example  there may be other mechanisms of action that are helping these individuals to achieve weight loss, including changes in the gut microbiome, increased insulin sensitivity, enhanced leptin response, and decreased ghrelin levels, each of which contribute to weight loss.

Parkinson’s disease is another neurodegenerative disease that is on the rise in our country, with a rate of incidence between 2-4% in those over 60 years of age. Researchers have found that ketones may be able to bypass the defect in energy production characteristic of Parkinson’s disease. This means the ketogenic diet can interrupt the underlying cause in dysfunction in Parkinson’s patients, which results in an improvement of symptoms.
In addition, as the Harvard School of Public Health points out, “Carbohydrate metabolism plays a huge role in the development of type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the body can’t make enough insulin or can’t properly use the insulin it makes.” When a food containing carbohydrates is eaten, the digestive system has to process these carbs and turns them into sugar which then goes into the bloodstream. The ketogenic diet majorly minimizes carbohydrate intake so prediabetics, as well as type 1 and type 2 diabetics, aren’t challenging their bodies with carbohydrate breakdown that can raise blood sugar levels and create problematic insulin demands for the body.
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. 

There are different reasons people might want to achieve ketosis. For certain medical conditions, such as epilepsy, it might be necessary to see the benefits of the diet. For everyday dieters, it might be for the more anecdotal side effects, such as a clearer head. But it can be risky for certain folks, like those with kidney issues, according to experts at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
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.

Great article! Sustainability is key and Keto diet is extremely restrictive compared to others. Many of the comments I see don’t understand the importance of many years of research before stating something has a “significant difference” than the recommendations that are already in place. Also, understanding the pro/carb/fat balance in each meal instead of focusing on just carbohydrates. We have practiced the same modified Mediterranean diet at my practice where someone can enjoy life, eat complex carbohydrates and years later they are still successful and hundreds of pounds have been lost for good 🙂 Thank you for the reminder (and the comparison of Adkins supported research).
WOW. I guess I must be a very special, highly motivated patient then. I, of course, would never have said that about myself. My high motivation is trying to get over the hatred of food that being Diabetic gave me. I don’t feel that way anymore, and am finally happy cooking, again. (My doctor DID tell me exactly that, BTW. Even to the extent of telling me to not include the tsp of agave that I was having in my coffee once a day because sugar is sugar.)
Diets that focus on lowering carbohydrates and increasing fat have been associated with lower levels of “bad” cholesterol and higher levels of “good” cholesterol. Furthermore, lower triglyceride levels are typically seen in those on a ketogenic diet. A better cholesterol balance and fewer triglycerides can help to protect against plaque deposition in the arteries, which can lower your risk of atherosclerosis, heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke.
Does the Swank diet help with multiple sclerosis? The Swank diet is a low-fat diet based on findings of a study into the prevalence of multiple sclerosis (MS) in different regions, starting from the 1940s. Fruit, vegetables, and fish are recommended and supplements may be encouraged. While it may help, there are concerns that the diet is too restrictive. Read now
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.
Here’s why. All of these effects take time, but a reasonable explanation as to why the keto diet leads to rapid weight loss is due to the loss of water weight. One of the concerns with the keto diet is the loss of muscle mass and the depletion of glycogen stores. Glycogen, which stores our glucose, also stores water, so when stores are depleted, we flush out excess water. In other words, that rapid weight loss isn’t fat, it’s just water.
The trick to reaping the benefits of the keto diet is to stay in ketosis, which means keeping your carbs at 5% or less of your calories. The 5% can fall anywhere between 20-50 grams a day. However, if an insulin shot is missed while in deep ketosis, there’s a good chance you will find yourself quite sick, so it’s probably best to avoid the risk and keep carbs on the upper end of this spectrum.
“It’s unhealthy and unsustainable,” they say. “How can a high-fat diet help you lose weight? It’s dangerous for the heart, increases the risk of ketoacidosis, leads to poor mineral intake and electrolyte imbalance,” they say. But the ketogenic diet has a well-established history of aiding in disease treatment. It has been used to help people with epilepsy (especially children) since the early 1900’s, and more recently, it has been used to manage type-2 diabetes (since it lowers the need for insulin therapy).1
By cutting carbs, you’ll also cut sugar and simple, refined carbohydrates, which means a steadier supply of energy. (No more sugar highs and crashes!) Once their bodies are used to the diet, “The first thing people report is, ‘Oh my gosh, I have this steady energy and I don’t have the need to snack at 3 p.m. because my energy is waning,’” Nisevich Bede says. Research published in January 2015 in the journal Obesity Review showed that the keto diet may lead to fewer hunger pangs and a lower desire to eat. (3) 

Why is intermittent fasting beneficial for women, especially if they’re in perimenopause or menopause? Fasting allows the body to take a break from digestive functions and instead to focus on essential repair work and reaping the many other benefits of rest. In other words, when fasting, the body’s energy resources go towards restorative work (like repairing tissue and balancing hormones) rather than digestive processes like producing stomach acid to break down food. 
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Ketoacidosis most commonly arises with people with diabetes. Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs in response to a severe lack of proper insulin activity whereas alcoholic ketoacidosis is a harmful metabolic condition arising when someone consumes alcohol but no food, explains Michael J. Gonzalez-Campoy, MD, PhD, medical director and CEO of the Minnesota Center for Obesity, Metabolism, and Endocrinology, in Eagan, Minnesota. Either way, this is a dangerous situation.
Heart disease. The connection between the ketogenic diet and cardiovascular disease risk factors is complicated. Many studies have found that the keto diet can lead to significant reductions in total cholesterol, increases in HDL cholesterol levels, decreases in triglycerides levels, and reductions in LDL cholesterol levels, as well as potential improvements in blood pressure levels.

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.

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.


A huge concern with the keto diet is the maintenance and potential loss of muscle mass. Many people will just think: hey, dummy, then just eat more protein. However, some research has shown that even if your protein intake remains constant, a low carb diet may promote muscle loss. A study from the Netherlands confirmed these findings. In the study, participants were given three diets (high carb, moderate carb, low carb) and moderate protein. The study found that those following a low carb diet experienced increased muscle breakdown. This is because when we eat carbohydrates, we produce insulin which promotes muscle growth. This is why athletes depend on carbohydrates (along with protein) to fuel their performance. When we eat carbs, the insulin release “unlocks” our muscles to let the protein in so it can do its job at building our muscles. So, when we skip the carbs all together, muscle glycogen stores get depleted, we lose out on those muscle building opportunities. Forget about high intensity training. A depleted glycogen store also means our workouts will suffer because we just don’t have enough oil left in the tank. This was a again suggested in the recent review looking at many ketogenic studies. The studies found that there was greater lean body mass loss in the ketogenic groups compared to the other diets being studied.
Reynolds, AN. "Comment on 'An Online Intervention Comparing a Very Low-Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations Versus a Plate Method Diet in Overweight Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Controlled Trial." Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2018; 20(5):e180, May 2018. Available at: http://www.jmir.org/2018/5/e180/  Accessed May 4, 2018.
While body weight decreased significantly (-8.5 kg) in these 21 diabetic participants, the mean weight loss was less compared with what we observed in the LCKD participants of an earlier trial (-12.0 kg) [18]. Given that the diabetic participants had a higher baseline mean weight than the LCKD participants of our previous trial (131 kg vs. 97 kg), this translates into an even more dramatic disparity in percent change in body weight (-6.6% vs. -12.9%). This lesser weight loss might result from several factors. First, in the current study, most of the participants were taking insulin and/or oral hypoglycemic agents that are known to induce weight gain[20,21] Second, these same agents, particularly insulin, inhibit ketosis, which is strived for in the earliest phases of the LCKD; while it remains unclear whether ketones actually play a role in weight loss on the LCKD, previous research in non-diabetic patients has shown a positive correlation between level of ketonuria and weight loss success [22]. Lastly, compared with our previous study the participants in the current study had more comorbid illness, lower socioeconomic status, and a shorter duration of follow-up (16 weeks versus 24 weeks), all of which are associated with reduced success on any weight loss program [23].
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Thanks Dr. Jockers…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?
We have solid evidence showing that a ketogenic diet reduces seizures in children, sometimes as effectively as medication. Because of these neuroprotective effects, questions have been raised about the possible benefits for other brain disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, sleep disorders, autism, and even brain cancer. However, there are no human studies to support recommending ketosis to treat these conditions.
The side effects of extreme low-carb diets are still a mystery. "The first major drawback is the fact that we really don't have any long-term research about how keto followers fare 10, 20, 30 years down the line," Turoff says. "What will the results look like? Will they regain the weight? Will they suffer health consequences? We also thought smoking and diet pills were a good idea, until long-term studies showed us that we were wrong."
It’s also worth mentioning that if you have a history of irregular periods, any type of eating disorder, or a thyroid disorder than it may be best to begin this type of dietary program only while being guided by your doctor or a nutritionist. Pregnant women or those who are breastfeeding should not start the keto diet to be safe. A professional can help you ease into an alkaline keto diet in a moderate, safe way if you’re unsure of how to do this on your way, giving you feedback so the diet won’t negatively interfere with normal hormone production, appetite, sleep or mental focus.
Answer: No—unless you do it for more than a few months. After a few months, the upfront metabolic and weight benefits will begin to reverse and new health problems arise. We know this with confidence. I raise this question once again because more and more people are coming to me reporting problems. It may take months, even years, but the long-term consequences can be quite serious.
This general “muscle wasting” assertion often comes from trainers and dietitians who really have not studied the science on muscle preservation. They will tell you that the brain requires at least 100 grams of carb per day and if you don’t get those carbs in the diet, your body will break down your muscles to get it. This is true when one’s diet is high carb, and no ketone bodies are available as an alternative source of brain fuel.
Work towards cycling fasting days so you’re fasting on 2–3 nonconsecutive days per week (e.g. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday). Stick to only light exercise or yoga on fasting days to reduce feeling exhausted or hungry, keeping higher intensity activities for your non-fasting days. This approach allows for more dietary and lifestyle “moderation” because the goal isn’t to eat 100 percent “perfectly” all the time.
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