What are the side effects of the ketogenic diet?  It’s not uncommon for people beginning the keto diet to experience “keto flu” symptoms, which can include: irritability, cravings, menstruation issues in women, constipation, fatigue, headaches and poor exercise performance. These side effects are due to the body going through major metabolic shifts and essentially withdrawing from carbs and sugar.
Although the ketogenic diet has been a source of controversy and debate, one cannot dispute its astounding health benefits. Initially, it was created by specialists at John Hopkins Medical Center, particularly for individuals who have epilepsy. The researchers established that fasting enhanced the number of seizures the patients experienced. Nonetheless, since fasting isn’t an accomplishable purpose nowadays, a diet has been developed that would trick the body into believing it was in that process.
Your article started off well when you began to explore the science behind the diet. However you missed the mark by saying that the reason to stay away is because it’s being done wrong and theorizing that people are doing it because their friends are. Rather you should have explored the proper way to adhere to the diet and then made an informed decision about its benefits or negatives. You cannot start and article with science and end with personal feelings or opinions
While people can argue back and forth about the role carbohydrates play in a healthy lifestyle, no one is going to say packaged snack foods are healthy. This is one of the areas where the ketogenic diet definitely succeeds because it eliminates the opportunity to eat highly processed foods, which are made almost entirely from sugar and other refined carbs. In a review published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the authors highlighted a number of studies showing a ketogenic diet can significantly improve insulin sensitivity for those with type 2 diabetes. They went so far as to say, “results have been nothing short of miraculous.”
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“Tremendous Results”….guess that’s why the diabetes nationwide gets worse every year, because of the stellar advice your kind is giving out. I’ve been on the virta clinic for two months and already went off insulin, Janumet and Jardiance, which I’ve been on for 10 years, with blood sugars between 80 and 150. The advice you give makes people get sick slower. The ketogenic approach deals with the real issue, carbohydrate intolerance. If you are lactose intolerant you stop ingesting lactose. Type two diabetes is simply carbohydrate intolerance. Stop eating the carbs and the symptoms go away. I think you meet to cite some of the other research out there I’ve read in other books and the work the Virta Clinic has done. In my opinion you’ve cherry picked data to suit your preconceived beliefs. 

Another benefit has to do with the low levels of insulin in the body, which causes greater lipolysis and free-glycerol release compared to a normal diet when insulin is around 80-120. Insulin has a lipolysis-blocking effect, which can inhibit the use of fatty acids as energy. Also, when insulin is brought to low levels, beneficial hormones are released in the body, such as growth hormone and other powerful growth factors.
Thank you so much for this article! My husband and I have been following keto for a little over a month now and we love it! I did a lot of research before starting, and am still doing lots of research because I like to be armed with the best information I can have when friends question my choices. Just yesterday I had a friend tell me that our brains need carbs to function (more than what we get from veggies). I hadn’t heard that before so I didn’t know what to answer. Thanks to your article now I know, and I have lots more answers in case more points come up. 😉
A ketone body (KB) is a byproduct formed during the conversion of fatty acids to fuel. Some fatty acids are oxidized by the liver for energy production. Others can be partially oxidized to form the substrate acetoacetate, which is then converted to beta-hydroxybutyric acid; collectively, these are termed ketone bodies. Ketones can be used by all tissue containing mitochondria, which includes muscle and the brain.

At the first visit, participants were instructed how to follow the LCKD as individuals or in small groups, with an initial goal of ≤20 g carbohydrate per day. Participants were taught the specific types and amounts of foods they could eat, as well as foods to avoid. Initially, participants were allowed unlimited amounts of meats, poultry, fish, shellfish, and eggs; 2 cups of salad vegetables per day; 1 cup of low-carbohydrate vegetables per day; 4 ounces of hard cheese; and limited amounts of cream, avocado, olives, and lemon juice. Fats and oils were not restricted except that intake of trans fats was to be minimized. Participants were provided a 3-page handout and a handbook [11] detailing these recommendations. Participants prepared or bought all of their own meals and snacks following these guidelines.
I’ve lost 30 pounds in 2 months, I feel better than I ever have, energy levels are up, my skin issues have cleared up, and I am training to run a 5k with my 14 year old. This is the only diet I’ve tried that has been easy to stick to. For me I could never do a diet if I didn’t like the food. Not a chance I could go vegan. Anyone reading this I strongly suggest you do your own research. No offense to the writer but nobody should only look to one opinion as the be all and end all on any topic. Mark Sisson is an amazing resource, has been eating keto for a long time and *gasp* is a marathon runner. On Netflix check out The Magic Pill for some eye opening stuff. Just do as much research as you can before either jumping in or dismissing it. There are some amazing and delicious foods that are keto-friendly, you just gotta put in the time to find them. Keto is not just a diet, it’s a lifestyle that includes proper exercise (to avoid loss of muscle mass among many other health benefits), stress management and proper sleep. Be informed.
Ok, let’s break this down. So with this study you have a decent number of participants…I would love to see 1000, but 105 is certainly better than 20. Many ages, races and socioeconomic backgrounds were represented. There were a closer number of males versus females included in the study. Lastly, they were followed for a longer period of time, a full year.
He also told me that I was in horrible shape, that I would need a lot of medication, and that because I was T2, insulin would do nothing for me. I still remember walking out of the building after. I felt like shooting myself. My brother had just gone blind from retinopathy 2 months earlier. There was no hope for me. High numbers were inevitable. Complications were inevitable.
The catch, of course, is that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And that’s exactly what hopeful dieters need to keep in mind when approaching the ketogenic diet (if we're calling it by its formal name). It’s not that this high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carbohydrate approach to eating can’t deliver weight loss in a delicious package, but it’s a restrictive, sometimes complicated affair that isn’t sustainable for most people.

Reduce daily net carb intake to less than 20 grams: Although it’s possible that you may not need to be this strict, eating fewer than 20 grams of net carbs every day virtually guarantees that you’ll achieve nutritional ketosis. What does 20 grams of carb look like? Use our visual guide to find out, or simply try our keto recipes and meal plans that limit carbs to less than 20 grams per day.

Multiple sclerosis diet tips Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic condition that can lead to weakness and memory loss, among other symptoms. Some studies suggest that making dietary changes may help boost a healthy gut flora, which could improve symptoms. Find out more about which foods to eat and which to avoid, and get some lifestyle tips, too. Read now
Still, research on the relationship between the keto diet and mental clarity, as well as anxiety and depression, is still in its early stages, and not all people who try the keto diet report noticeable changes in the ways they think. In fact, some people report an increase in brain fog after switching to the keto diet, though this might be explained by the "keto flu", which describes the flu-like symptoms people tend to experience in the first few weeks after beginning the keto diet.
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.

Nutritionists frequently advise clients to reach for more healthy fats and protein to stay full throughout the day. With this in mind, it makes perfect sense that a ketogenic diet would be about as good as it gets for staying satiated. One study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found this type of low-carb approach was more effective for weight loss and managing hunger than a similar high-protein diet with a greater percentage of carbohydrates. One 2013 study even suggested the eating plan may suppress hunger hormones more effectively than other weight-loss programs.
It may be because all we have ever known is what we have been told by the FDA or who are the people in our country that tell you what you should eat. Do you realize how much money is in the grain , corn and sugar business in this country? A lot more than you can imagine. Bottom line I think its money telling people what they should eat. I’m gonna try the diet and see if it helps me. Thx for letting me voice my opinion.
Overcoming multiple sclerosis: Tips for recovery from an MS attack Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive disease that involves increasing weakness and other symptoms. MS is not usually the same every day, but flares, or attacks, occur, with times of remission in between. Get some tips on how to cope with a flare, how to recover, and how to reduce the risk of symptoms worsening. Read now
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.
Thank you Dr Jockers! I recently came across your website and i absolutely love what you do. I am an advanced practice nurse and just started a part time keto coaching practice.I am already amazed by the changes i see in my clients. Do you have by chance a training program for keto coaches. If not, is there one out there that you recommend? Thank you in advance.
But wait, there’s one loophole. Have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)? Then the keto diet may help regulate your periods. “Women with PCOS have high insulin levels, which cause sex hormone imbalances,” notes Yawitz. In a small study published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism, subjects with PCOS following a ketogenic diet for six months noted improvements in their menstrual cycles — and a small number of women became pregnant, overcoming previous infertility obstacles. “This study was very small, so we can’t make recommendations for all women with PCOS based on its findings,” says Yawitz. “And really, any diet that leads to weight loss should help in PCOS.”
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, very-low-carb diet plan. The goal of the diet is to reach a “ketosis” state. The more restrictive you are on your carbohydrates (less than 15g per day), the faster you will enter ketosis. Once in this state, rapid weight loss begins. Research does indicate that the ketogenic diet is most effective in weight loss by reducing visceral (body) fat.
Hey Marcy! Simply have one higher carb day per week where you consume healthy carb sources like fresh fruit, sweet potatoes, or white rice cooked in coconut oil! Saturday is usually a great day for this! Start with just one higher carb meal on Saturday for about a month and see how that works! This article has more information: https://drjockers.com/follow-cyclic-ketogenic-diet/
Another one of my concerns long-term is that many people are being persuaded to remain on a ketogenic diet over a long period. In 3, 5, or 10 years, we are going to see a sharp rise in colon cancer cases. People in conventional dietary circles will then point fingers at all of us engaged in unconventional dietary advice and we will be lumped together and labeled as dangerous fads. The key is to be smarter and to view ketogenic dieting as the short-term tool/response it is, not as a solution to all health struggles.
Earlier in this article, I briefly mentioned how consuming too much sugar can impair brain function and cause plaque build up in the brain. Many studies on Alzheimer’s disease patients agree with the biochemistry as well. In fact, A group of scientists reviewed the literature and concluded that “high carbohydrate intake worsens cognitive performance and behavior in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.” This means that eating more carbohydrates cause more problems in the brain. Will the opposite (eating fewer carbs) improve brain function?
Ketogenic diets (learn how to get the most from the diet here) are diets that take the concept of low carb to the next level, and encourage people to consume a large amount of protein and a moderate amount of fat, but almost no carbohydrates, so that their bodies are forced to burn fat for energy, entering what is known as a ketogenic state, or ‘ketosis’ (get the full ketosis story here).
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.
After your body enters this carb-deficient state, it begins burning fat to provide energy, and this burning of fat causes a release of ketones. Ketones are dense sources of energy that can stimulate critical parts of the body, such as the brain. By drastically shifting your diet from carbohydrate dependence to fat dependence, you can enjoy a number of impressive health benefits, in addition to weight loss.

When your body goes into ketosis, it will start to produce by-products called ketones. This includes acetone—yes, the same chemical found in nail polish remover, which your body actually naturally makes on its own, according to a 2015 review of research. Because acetone is a smaller molecule, it tends to make its way into your lungs. You’ll eventually exhale them out, resulting in “keto breath.” Your mouth might also have a metallic taste, but it won’t last forever as you adjust to the diet. Just be diligent about brushing your teeth!

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This rule eliminates your ability to eat many fruits and vegetables, as many of them contain natural carbs. A diet low in fruits and vegetables can put you at risk for certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies. It can also lead to your body not getting enough fiber, a type of carbohydrate often found in fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Without adequate fiber intake, you might experience constipation and be at risk for certain diseases.
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.
Great post, Abbey!! Thank you for taking the time to write this and share it with us! This diet may work in some cases as you pointed out but i find it very dangerous, eventhouh i’m not a dietician. I tried it and i felt horrible. I felt depressed, constipated, pain in my right side which i think was my gallbladder. Couldn’t sleep, terrible breath. AWFUL!!
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.
Multiple sclerosis is a condition that affects the nervous system, and some people believe that a ketogenic diet may slow the progression of the disease or control its symptoms. The ketogenic diet is low in carbohydrate, moderate in protein, and high in fat. There is currently not enough evidence to recommend it for everyone with multiple sclerosis.

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-
That’s why many health experts are concerned about people on the keto diet, especially those who try it without the guidance of a doctor or nutritionist. Doctors say that high-fat diets like this one may raise cholesterol levels, and some studies suggest that they increase the risk of diabetes. Some have even called it a “cardiologist’s nightmare.”
Carbohydrates: Historically, a targeted keto diet consists of limiting carbohydrate intake to just 20–30 net grams per day. “Net carbs” is the amount of carbs remaining once dietary fiber is taken into account. Because fiber is indigestible once eaten, most people don’t count grams of fiber toward their daily carb allotment. In other words, total carbs – grams of fiber = net carbs. That’s the carb counts that matter most.
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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.
Sleep enough – for most people at least seven hours per night on average – and keep stress under control. Sleep deprivation and stress hormones raise blood sugar levels, slowing ketosis and weight loss a bit. Plus they might make it harder to stick to a keto diet, and resist temptations. So while handling sleep and stress will not get you into ketosis on it’s own, it’s still worth thinking about.
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).
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.
It’s the same with a keto way of eating: there is a ton of research and studies out there, and we KNOW that it works. Sure, more studies will come, and the new information will help us refine it, and we will learn how it specifically affects certain individuals in different ways…but the truth about the basics of it are all there, in the open, for all to see.

The possible benefits of the diet are impressive, but there are a few potential downsides to note. One is it’s tough to stick to. In fact, in a review of 11 studies involving adults on the keto diet, which was published in January 2015 in the Journal of Clinical Neurology, researchers calculated a 45 percent compliance rate among participants following the approach with the aim of controlling epilepsy. (13) “The diet is pretty hard to follow because it’s a complete shift from what you’re used to,” Nisevich Bede says. Slashing your intake of carbs can also make you feel hungrier than usual — a feeling that can last until you’re three weeks in.
A second counterintuitive approach to healing the gut for children who are having a hard time gaining is to encourage a nice long ‘fast’ over night.  When the gut is less full, and the body can digest the food that’s in there completely and then it can repair an inflamed or leaky gut better.   If the gut is inflamed, food may be passing right through without being absorbed.  In addition, growth hormone raises during periods of fasting.
The mean initial weight of the subjects was 101.03±2.33 kg. The weight decreased significantly during all stages of the treatment period. The body weights at the eighth, 16th and 24th week were 91.10±2.76 kg, 89.39±3.4 kg and 86.67±3.70 kg, respectively (Figure 1). Similar to the loss in body weight, a significant decrease was observed in the BMI of the patients following the administration of the ketogenic diet. The initial BMI, and the BMI after the eighth, 16th and 24th week were 37.77±0.79 kg/m2, 33.90±0.83 kg/m2, 33.24±1.00 kg/m2 and 32.06±1.13 kg/m2, respectively (Figure 2).
Because weight loss can have such a dramatic positive impact for those struggling with type 2 diabetes, most of the diets prescribed to diabetics focus on weight loss. The ketogenic diet is no exception, and often leads to substantial weight loss and improved body composition. It’s also interesting to note that the ketogenic diet may contribute to a greater preservation of muscle mass during weight loss than other diets.
Our body needs some time to get used to ketones being elevated in the blood stream to begin using them effectively and efficiently for cellular energy.  By consuming an exogenous ketone supplement, you get the body adapted to ketones faster and using them as an energy source before the body has built the metabolic machinery to produce its own ketones effectively.
“Muscle loss on the ketogenic diet is an ongoing area of research,” says Edwina Clark, RD, a dietitian in private practice in San Francisco. “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.” Meanwhile, according to a small study published in March 2018 in the journal Sports, people following the keto diet for three months lost about the same amount of body fat and had about the same muscle mass changes as people following normal diets. Yet the folks on keto did lose more leg muscle.
Ketoacidosis, on the other hand, is dangerous. But it’s usually limited to people with type 1 diabetes, striking when their glucose levels rise due to illness or a missed insulin dose. Without insulin, cells can’t take in glucose, so they burn fat for fuel instead, producing exceptionally high ketone levels—much higher than the amount generated by the keto diet. That, in combination with high blood glucose levels, essentially poisons the blood. “It’s very easy to tell the difference between nutritional ketosis, which has no negative symptoms [aside from ‘keto breath,’ which can smell like nail polish remover], and dietary ketoacidosis, which is an illness that requires hospitalization and causes lethargy, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing, and lack of appetite,” says William Yancy, MD, program director at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, North Carolina.
Keto Ultra Diet burns fat in the user’s body. It does so by two different ways. As mentioned above, the supplement plays a role in the mobilization of fats in the body. Consequently, the fats are burnt for energy. As long as these fats are kept in their stored form, they are not used up. Keto Ultra Diet removes excess fat from the body so that the user can be slim.
Hey there! I started on the keto diet fully a few days ago but have been slowly working my way into for a couple weeks; eliminating . I have unspecified/other specified bipolar and have already spoken with my doctor about starting this diet. She said she recommends it fully. Today, I feel tired, foggy and I’ve had a headache for two days in a row. My mood is lower than I would like but being bipolar, I can’t really tell if its that or keto. There really aren’t many articles for keto and bipolar and I was wondering if you know of anyone with this condition and doing keto?
Truly Dr. Colbert is also a reputable source for more thorough science and modification of previous Keto extremes. The statements about Keto diets with dairy everyday are not true…I am a 66 year old professional (University trained) and have found medical people often very unknowledgable or partially knowledgeable which may be worse. I ask you Abbey to dig deeper…meet Dr. Colbert-not a quack and more in depth than your overview. Personally I am finding switch to more green’s and low glycemic vegetables and fruits with healthy fats, occasional dairy and healthy protein; a way of life that is helping our whole family. Please watch The Magic Pill…the help for family’s caught in old thinking from poor science (ie. Alex Keys) and with autism etc. and so much modern disease is in itself, motivation to search out more truth.
The low-carb, high-fat approach to the keto diet limits the types of foods you can have, and entire food groups are eliminated entirely. Beans, legumes, and whole grains are out, as are many fruits and vegetables. Many of these foods carry vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you can’t get from any other source, and without them, you may start to experience nutritional deficiencies.
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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.
Type 2 diabetes is normally defined as a chronic and progressive condition resulting from the insufficient production of natural insulin, causing high blood sugar in many patients. Upon receiving an official diagnosis, most patients are told they will need to take medication for life and that there is no cure for diabetes. However, many scientists, clinicians and dieticians disagree with this prognosis, claiming that diets such as the ketogenic (keto) diet have the potential to support the reversal of Type 2 diabetes.
The keto diet also has an impact on our hormonal levels. Many studies have looked at whether the state of ketosis suppresses our appetite through the actions of leptin and ghrelin. A 2013 study found that after patients lost weight on a keto diet, our hunger hormone (ghrelin) was altered and suppressed. A systematic review also concluded that the state of ketosis appears to be a plausible explanation for the suppression of appetite. So this the keto diet may be good for dieters who can’t stand the discomfort of hunger. Finally, the keto diet also may have an impact on our stress hormone, cortisol. This was demonstrated in a Harvard study where the keto diet resulted in an increase in cortisol in individuals following a very low carb keto diet. High levels of cortisol is associated with insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease and may promote fat accumulation.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...
A ketogenic diet is very low in carbs, high in fat and moderate in protein. For a weight stable person, no more than 5% of calories should come from carbs, 70-80% from fat and 20-30% from protein. With this macronutrient-distribution, individuals do not rely on glucose as a major source of energy but use fat for fuel instead. Fat is used to produce ketone bodies, which are used for energy or to regulate certain genes. Two ketone bodies circulate in in your blood: Acetoacetate (AcAc) and Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB). A third ketone, acetone, is spontaneously created from Acetoacetate. It is not a source of energy but is useful for ketone measurement. Check our ketone measurement guide to learn more.

Obesity has become a serious chronic disease in both developing and developed countries. Furthermore, it is associated with a variety of chronic diseases (1–4). It is estimated that in the United States alone approximately 300,000 people die each year from obesity-related diseases (5,6). Different methods for reducing weight using reduced calorie and fat intake combined with exercise have failed to show sustained long-term effects (7–9). Recent studies from various laboratories (10,11), including our own (12), have shown that a high fat diet rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (ketogenic diet) is quite effective in reducing body weight and the risk factors for various chronic diseases. The ketogenic diet was originally introduced in 1920 (13). In this diet, the fat to carbohydrate ratio is 5:1. While there was a significant decrease in the weight of obese patients who were on a ketogenic diet (12), the reverse occurred when the diet changed to one high in carbohydrates (14).
Prior to the advent of exogenous insulin for the treatment of diabetes mellitus in the 1920's, the mainstay of therapy was dietary modification. Diet recommendations in that era were aimed at controlling glycemia (actually, glycosuria) and were dramatically different from current low-fat, high-carbohydrate dietary recommendations for patients with diabetes [1,2]. For example, the Dr. Elliot Joslin Diabetic Diet in 1923 consisted of "meats, poultry, game, fish, clear soups, gelatin, eggs, butter, olive oil, coffee, tea" and contained approximately 5% of energy from carbohydrates, 20% from protein, and 75% from fat [3]. A similar diet was advocated by Dr. Frederick Allen of the same era [4].
The one important caveat: Eating keto also ups the risk for diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition where fat gets broken down too fast and causes the blood to become acidic. It’s much more common in people with type 1 diabetes, but if you have type two and are eating keto, talk with your doctor about what you should be doing to diminish your risk.
Chelsea is the site editor and nutritionist for Ultimate Paleo Guide and Paleo Meal Plans. In 2016, Chelsea graduated from the National University of Natural Medicine with a Master’s degree in Nutrition. When she’s not working for Ultimate Paleo Guide or coaching CrossFit, Chelsea enjoys hiking, traveling, cooking, and eating. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @chelsbrinegar and LinkedIn.
We really do only want to try and share the knowledge we have through seeing thousands of different patients with complex issues over decades with all of you. Physicians jump at the chance to have a CDE see their patients in their practice or in the hospital because they know our value. They know how thorough we are when assessing their patients and often find issues that may have been overlooked for years. It’s all we do all day, so it’s our specialty…diabetes. We live and breathe it and are very passionate about helping people overcome their hurdles. I do hope sharing some of my personal experience with all of you will help, but I am here if you all have more questions anytime!
Type 1 diabetics, for now, nearly always need some insulin. How much they need and how effective the exogenous insulin is at controlling their blood sugars largely depends on how well they followed a well-formulated low-carb or ketogenic diet. What it comes down to is that the diet allows you to deal with the easier task: covering your basal insulin needs. Off the diet, people are faced with the harder task: covering basal insulin needs + those arising from carby foods.
Restricting carbohydrates.  Studies show that after three or four days without carbohydrate consumption, your body starts tapping its fat storage also known as ketosis. You’ll want to stay between 25–35 grams of carbs to get into ketosis, and that requires bucking mainstream, carb-heavy, and supposedly nutrient-rich foods like fruit and grains. There are good carbs you can eat that will help you stay in ketosis. Be sure to look over these more keto diet friendly fruit options.

Abbey, I appreciate all the work you put into this but there are a few things you missed. Not all oils are keto friendly. Vegetable oils are a huge no-no which was not mentioned. Regular mayo usually contains soybean oil which should be avoided. You also missed that foods with preservatives are a no-no which excludes some cheeses (you said enjoy all the cheese you like). Processed sliced cheese or pre-shredded cheese in a bag at the grocery store contains preservatives. Ever notice how shredded cheese in a bag never sticks to itself but when you shred your own cheese it sticks? Preservatives. Most nuts are okay but peanuts are a legume and should be consumed in very small amounts or avoided altogether. Don’t go crazy either, nuts do have carbs. I don’t eat more than a half cup a day of salted almonds. That said, you could have mentioned that getting salted nuts is ideal as you do excrete more salt and other minerals in your urine (eating keto is diuretic so attention must be paid to salt, potassium, magnesium, etc. as you did mention) so finding simple ways to add salt and other minerals is helpful. I also take a multi-vitamin daily. You mentioned you cannot do high intensity workouts. You are not supposed to do high intensity workouts as elevating your heart rate too high actually stops the fat burning process in your body. Your heart rate should be 180 beats minus your age +/- 5 beats depending on fitness level. A 40 year old obese person shouldn’t go over 135 beats/min during a workout as that is the optimal fat burning window. Higher than that and your body reverts to storing fat reserves thinking it will run out if it keeps this pace. Which bring me to metabolism. Its been long believed a high metabolism is good. A high metabolism leads to more hunger (because you’re burning glucose faster), ingesting more food, and typically gaining more weight. Slowing your metabolism down AND teaching your body to consume slow burning ketones instead of quick burning glucose puts less stress on your liver mainly and on your body in general. There’s a lot more but this is getting long so I’ll finish with this. You said this diet focuses on quantity of food and not quality. This is confusing to me….wouldn’t organic and grass-fed meats, be of better quality than non-organic and grain fed meat? (they feed animals grains to fatten them up….shouldn’t that be a huge warning sign for us?). Is food without preservatives not better quality than food with preservatives? Aren’t beverages with no sugar or artificial sweeteners of better quality than sugar/artificial sweetener-filled beverages? I’ve never seen any keto advocate advise ignoring quality foods, in fact its quite the opposite.


Ketosis and fasting also activates an anti-aging cellular cleanup process called autophagy (auto = self, phagy = eat). Autophagy is when a cell eats its own defective parts in order to recycle nutrients and keep the different parts functioning like new. In addition, autophagy can protect against neurodegenerative diseases, viral and bacteria infections, and cancers.
Hypothyroid Related Issues. Thyroid hormones and cholesterol levels are intimately linked. When our thyroid hormone levels are low, LDL receptors will be less active, leading to high cholesterol levels and an increased risk of heart disease. If you have a history of hypothyroid issues, you may be struggling with unhealthy cholesterol levels — and the keto diet can make them even worse. However, for those of you who are being treated for your hypothyroid condition or who have an autoimmune thyroid condition, you may be able to follow the keto diet without any problems. In fact, many keto dieters with autoimmune thyroid conditions have found that the keto way of eating improves their quality of life more than any other diet.

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.


There are several medical studies — such as two conducted by the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center for the University of Iowa, and the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, for example — that show the ketogenic diet is an effective treatment for cancer and other serious health problems. (12)

You sound weak I have given up all carbohydrates and fast acting insulin and had no issue with it ( real food is so delicious and satisfying)… and I don’t miss bread pasta and sugar at all… your mind is poisoned. It also has an added side effect , I now have no fat on my body. You uneducated money grubbing doctors and the sugar industry are the real problem here. My endocrinologist didn’t even bother to tell me about nutritional ketosis at all. I eat 80 to 85% good saturated fats out the 4000 calories I consume each day… not that difficult getting rid of crap sugar and carbs… these “doctors “ are lying to us and no one cares! It’s really disgusting …. I have no problem living without sugar…. and no studies done at all.. what the hell are these doctors doing, it seems pretty obvious to me$$$$.


In the study, the researchers fed mice a ketogenic diet for several days and expected to find a favorable outcome — perhaps weight loss or another indication of improved health. Instead, they found that the liver began resisting insulin almost immediately and the mice were unable to regulate their blood sugar levels after only three days on the diet. (Insulin resistance, meaning that cells in the body don't respond to insulin, is a key characteristic of type 2 diabetes.)
I’m following the ketogenic diet and I find it very easy, pleasant and varied. I can even say that my diet today is more varied than the previous one. I do not intend to leave this diet and I cannot really see why. My initial focus was not to lose weight, I’ve always been lean, but to feel better, well disposed. And I got it! I am very pleased, I have read a lot about it (including scientific literature) and I have influenced other people who need to lose weight or improve some aspects of their health. But from the beginning I went on my own way, without the help of a nutritionist because I did not want to suffer the influence of others’ ideas.

That makes a lot of sense. Keeping up insulin pathways when you aren’t eating carbs would be like keeping the lights on when it’s daytime outside — it’s a waste of energy. You aren’t using insulin on keto, so your body probably downregulates your insulin pathways. As a refresher, insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas that tells your cells to absorb glucose to use as fuel. When you eat carbs, insulin production begins. In the absence of carbs, there’s less need for insulin.
Keto is often suggested for children who suffer from certain disorders (like Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Rett syndrome) and don’t respond to seizure medication, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. (1) They note that keto can decrease the number of seizures these children have by half, with 10 to 15 percent becoming seizure-free. In other cases, it may also help patients reduce the dose of their medication.
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