Lowers cholesterol. Studies show the keto diet can improve “good” cholesterol (HDL) and lower “bad” cholesterol (LDL). Eating fat increases blood levels of HDL. The higher your levels of HDL, the lower your risk of heart disease. But that’s not all. Eating low-carb can also change your LDL cholesterol, altering it from “bad” to “benign” cholesterol. It does this by turning LDL particles from small (high risk of heart disease) to large (low risk of heart disease) while also decreasing the number of LDL particles in the bloodstream [2, 3, 6, 9, 10, 11].
When you’re on a ketogenic diet, fatty acids are released from your body fat and insulin levels decrease. When insulin levels decrease, your kidneys will excrete more water (you’ll notice an increase in the frequency of trips to the bathroom), sodium and potassium. As a result, your blood pressure can plummet. Dizziness, fatigue and sudden weakness are symptoms of low blood pressure. Leg cramps may also occur from dehydration.
The biggest shifts in your daily habits will be how you food shop and how you cook, and recipes that are ketogenic need to be followed rather than just low-carb. You will require the healthy fats in order to get into ketosis and have enough energy without the carbs. And you will be considerably more energetic and healthier when cooking your own keto-friendly food rather than buying supposedly keto foods off the shelf.
To drill down further, there are some genetic enzyme defects that cause problems with ketosis. Here are a few of note: carnitine deficiency (primary), carnitine palmitoyltransferase (CPT) I or II deficiency, carnitine translocase deficiency, beta-oxidation defects—mitochondrial 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA synthase (mHMGS) deficiency, medium-chain acyl dehydrogenase deficiency (MCAD).
These are all keto related questions that a person looking into the ketogenic diet for the first time will have, and I’ve put together a comprehensive list of answers to these questions and more in my 3 Day Keto Kickstart Plan & Keto frequently asked questions linked to below. If you’re new to keto I recommend starting there, and if you use that Keto Kickstart meal plan as written, I am confident that you will get into ketosis and be losing weight within 3 days of starting. I’m excited for you!!!!
Animal proteins (meat, fish, etc.) have very little, if any, carbs. You can consume them in moderate amounts as needed to control hunger. Overall, choose fattier cuts of meat rather than leaner ones. For example, chicken thighs and legs are preferable to chicken breasts because they contain much more fat. We’ve got quick keto diet chicken recipes to help.
Published studies established the metabolic advantage of low-carb diets.4,3,15 A recent pilot study–though flawed and biased against low-carb eating–showed a significant increase in energy expenditure (100-150 calories/day) associated with a ketogenic diet.16 If sustained, this would lead to ~ 10 to 15 pounds of fat lost, or not gained, over a year.
Technically, you can eat any food and lose weight. The key to weight loss is not eating “fat burning foods,” the key to weight loss is a sustained calorie deficit. When you are in a calorie deficit (i.e., eating fewer calories than you need to maintain your weight), your body will be forced to use its energy stores, which includes glycogen (stored sugar) and body fat (stored triglycerides).
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.
When dietary CHO is of sufficient quantity the body has the ability to store small amounts for later use. Stored CHO is referred to as glycogen. Body reserves of glycogen, however, are limited, with relatively small amounts stored in the liver and skeletal muscle. As CHO is the “go to” energy source for the CNS, as well as an important energy source for other tissues, the body must maintain a stable supply of circulating blood glucose. While this is a complex process, the liver is primarily responsible for either breaking down stored glycogen or manufacturing small amounts of glucose in a process known as gluconeogenesis. In this manner the liver is able to maintain circulating blood glucose levels under most conditions. If the liver is unable to supply a sufficient amount of glucose, blood sugar levels will fall and result in hypoglycemia, a condition characterized by hunger, fatigue, headache, nausea and impairments in cognitive ability. In sporting terms hypoglycemia is referred to as “bonking” or “hitting the wall” and significantly affects athletic performance. Therefore, it is easy to understand the perceived need for dietary CHO; in the absence of sufficient blood glucose, physiological function is rapidly compromised.
Total body composition was first measured by iDXA (GE Healthcare Lunar, Madison, WI). Daily quality control scans were acquired during the study period. No hardware or software changes were made during the course of the trial. Subjects were scanned using standard imaging and positioning protocols, while wearing only light clothing. For the current study, bone mineral density, lean body mass, and FM values, which are directly measured by the GE Lunar Body Composition Software (GE Healthcare), were used. Some derivative values, such as bone mineral content, regional lean mass, ALM, FFM, and FM percentage (FM%), as well as android and gynoid fat (%), were also calculated. The android/gynoid ratio was automatically generated and analyzed using enCORE software, version 13.6 (GE Healthcare). For measuring android fat, a region of interest was automatically defined as the caudal limit placed at the top of the iliac crest, and its high was set to 20% of the distance from the top of the iliac crest to the base of the skull to define the cephalic limit of abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue. The scanner was calibrated daily against the calibration block supplied by the manufacturer.
When trying to shift from a high carb diet to a ketogenic diet, cravings can definitely get strong. It’s always best to try to clean house before you start so that you don’t have food around you that can lead to cravings. We recommend that when switching to keto, you restrict using sweeteners completely for the first 30 days. It normally leads to breaking sugar addiction and ultimately not having cravings.
Getting adequate amounts of vitamins is extremely important to support healthy weight loss and overall wellness. Taking a multivitamin with synthetic ingredients has been shown to be ineffective and a complete waste of money[*]. Alternatively, consuming a high-quality greens powder made from real, nutritious whole foods rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and phytonutrients is a much better way to optimize health and longevity. Check out this article for more information on supplementing with a high quality, effective greens powder.
Some negative side effects of a long-term ketogenic diet have been suggested, including increased risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis, and increased blood levels of uric acid (a risk factor for gout). Possible nutrient deficiencies may arise if a variety of recommended foods on the ketogenic diet are not included. It is important to not solely focus on eating high-fat foods, but to include a daily variety of the allowed meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds to ensure adequate intakes of fiber, B vitamins, and minerals (iron, magnesium, zinc)—nutrients typically found in foods like whole grains that are restricted from the diet. Because whole food groups are excluded, assistance from a registered dietitian may be beneficial in creating a ketogenic diet that minimizes nutrient deficiencies.
The ketogenic diet is indicated as an adjunctive (additional) treatment in children and young people with drug-resistant epilepsy. It is approved by national clinical guidelines in Scotland, England, and Wales and reimbursed by nearly all US insurance companies. Children with a focal lesion (a single point of brain abnormality causing the epilepsy) who would make suitable candidates for surgery are more likely to become seizure-free with surgery than with the ketogenic diet. About a third of epilepsy centres that offer the ketogenic diet also offer a dietary therapy to adults. Some clinicians consider the two less restrictive dietary variants—the low glycaemic index treatment and the modified Atkins diet—to be more appropriate for adolescents and adults. A liquid form of the ketogenic diet is particularly easy to prepare for, and well tolerated by, infants on formula and children who are tube-fed.
On a ketogenic diet, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run mostly on fat, burning fat 24-7. When insulin levels become very low, fat burning can increase dramatically. It becomes easier to access your fat stores to burn them off. This is great if you’re trying to lose weight, but there are also other less obvious benefits, such as less hunger and a steady supply of energy. This may help keep you alert and focused.
“I encounter many patients who are interested in LCHF and are finding benefit in weight reduction, better diabetes control, improved endurance and energy levels, and improved lipid profiles. There is a great deal of confusion out there about the diet, much of it based on outdated science or an incomplete understanding of the topic. I feel that I owe it to patients to be informed about LCHF so that I can advise them on the risks and benefits it could have for them.”
As a gut health doctor, this is my biggest pet peeve about keto diets: They sometimes overemphasize foods high in dietary fat like meat and full-fat dairy at the expense of gut-supporting plant foods. Knock your gut flora out of balance and you're almost sure to hit a plateau since gut health affects weight loss. Even on the strictest keto diet, you can incorporate fermented and cultured foods including sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir.
The keto diet is notorious for delivering a quick initial slim down. That’s because carbs hold on to more water than protein or fat, says Becky Kerkenbush, RD, a clinical dietitian at Watertown Regional Medical Center. So when you stop eating them, all that extra H2O gets released through urination. As a result, the scale might read a few pounds lower, and you may look a bit leaner.
Psychological well-being and hunger and food control are two relevant factors involved in the success of weight-loss therapy in treating obesity. Thus, this study aims to evaluate food and alcohol cravings, physical and sexual activity, sleep, and life quality (QoL) in obese patients following a very low-calorie ketogenic (VLCK) diet, as well as the role of weight lost and ketosis on these parameters. A battery of psychological test was performed in twenty obese patients (12 females, 47.2 ± 10.2 year and BMI of 35.5 ± 4.4) through the course of a 4-month VLCK diet on four subsequent visits: baseline, maximum ketosis, reduced ketosis, and endpoint. Each subject acted as their own control. Relevantly, the dietary-induced changes in body composition (7.7 units of BMI lost, 18 kg of fat mass (1.2 kg of visceral fat mass)) were associated with a statistically significant improvement in food craving scores, physical activity, sleepiness, and female sexual function. Overall, these results also translated in a notable enhancement in QoL of the treated obese patients. Therefore, the rapid and sustained weight and fat mass (FM) loss induced by the VLCK diet is associated with good food control and improvements in the psychological well-being parameters in obese subjects, which could contribute to the long-term success of this therapy.
MF-BIA (InBody 720; Biospace, Tokyo, Japan) was also used for determining body composition in terms of FM, FM%, FFM, total body water, intra- and extracellular water, skeletal muscle mass, and ASLM. This noninvasive technology employs 8 contact electrodes, which are positioned on the palm and thumb of each hand and on the front part of the feet and on the heels. In addition, MF-BIA uses the body’s electrical properties and the opposition to the flow of an electric current by different body tissues. The analyzer measured resistance at specific frequencies (1, 5, 50, 250, 500, and 1000 kHz) and reactance at specific frequencies (5, 50, and 250 kHz). The participants were examined while lightly dressed, and the examination took less than 2 minutes and required only a standing position. The validity of this technology has been documented in previous studies (21, 22). Visceral fat area values were also calculated in cm2 by MF-BiA. Importantly, these values are significantly correlated with those generated by computed tomography (22, 23). The calculation of the different body compartments was performed according to the instructions of the manufacturer (Biospace).
“Net carbs” and “impact carbs” are familiar phrases in ketogenic diets as well as diabetic diets. They are unregulated interchangeable terms invented by food manufacturers as a marketing strategy, appearing on some food labels to claim that the product contains less “usable” carbohydrate than is listed.  Net carbs or impact carbs are the amount of carbohydrate that are directly absorbed by the body and contribute calories. They are calculated by subtracting the amount of indigestible carbohydrates from the total carbohydrate amount. Indigestible (unabsorbed) carbohydrates include insoluble fibers from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables; and sugar alcohols, such as mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol commonly used in sugar-free diabetic food products. However, these calculations are not an exact or reliable science because the effect of sugar alcohols on absorption and blood sugar can vary. Some sugar alcohols may still contribute calories and raise blood sugar. The total calorie level also does not change despite the amount of net carbs, which is an important factor with weight loss. There is debate even within the ketogenic diet community about the value of using net carbs.
“For five years now, I’ve been changing my life and the life of my patients in a rural area of Delaware using the LCHF diet with intermittent fasting. My patients have been achieving not only their weight loss goals, but improving their medical conditions associated with obesity. It is very satisfying to explain the science behind the diet and see their faces light up at the possibility of finally improving their health and reducing their medications and medical costs. Diet Doctor, all this time, has been a valued resource with easy to navigate content and great science.”
Some fruits may contain relatively high concentrations of sugar, most are largely water and not particularly calorie-dense. Thus, in absolute terms, even sweet fruits and berries do not represent a significant source of carbohydrates in their natural form, and also typically contain a good deal of fiber which attenuates the absorption of sugar in the gut.
The popular belief that high-fat diets cause obesity and several other diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, and cancer has not been observed in recent epidemiological studies. Studies carried out in animals that were fed high-fat diets did not show a specific causal relationship between dietary fat and obesity. On the contrary, very-low-carbohydrate and high-fat diets such as the ketogenic diet have shown to beneficial to weight loss.