A typical keto diet is comprised of 80 percent fat, 15 percent protein, and a mere 5 percent of calories from carbohydrates. If you consume 2,000 calories a day, that means just 100 of them are coming from carbs—including healthy carbs like fruits and vegetables. When you eat this way, it triggers ketosis, which means your body has burned through all its carbs and needs to begin burning fat for energy.
Weight loss is a common target for disease management, as well as health promotion. The prevalence of obesity remains high among U.S. adults (36.5%) (5), as well as children and adolescents (17%) (6). Importantly, obesity is a significant contributor to increased morbidity and mortality, as well as being a primary driver of increasing medical expenses (4). Despite much effort and cost, there has been little success on this front and obesity remains a public health crisis.
This process of burning fat provides more benefits than simply helping us to shed extra weight — it also helps control the release of hormones like insulin, which plays a role in development of diabetes and other health problems. When we eat carbohydrates, insulin is released as a reaction to elevated blood glucose (an increase in sugar circulating in our blood) and insulin levels rise. Insulin is a “storage hormone” that signals cells to store as much available energy as possible, initially as glycogen (aka stored carbohydrates in our muscles) and then as body fat.
Sharon M. Nickols-Richardson, PhD, RD, , Mary Dean Coleman, PhD, RD, Joanne J. Volpe, Kathy W. Hosig, PhD, MPH, RD, “Perceived Hunger Is Lower and Weight Loss Is Greater in Overweight Premenopausal Women Consuming a Low-Carbohydrate/High-Protein vs High-Carbohydrate/Low-Fat Diet,” The Journal of Pediatrics: Vol 105, Issue 9: 1433–1437; September 2005. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000282230501151X.
The most common and relatively minor short-term side effects of ketogenic diet include a collection of symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue, dizziness, insomnia, difficulty in exercise tolerance, and constipation, sometimes referred to as keto flu. These symptoms resolve in a few days to few weeks. Ensuring adequate fluid and electrolyte intake can help counter some of these symptoms. Long-term adverse effects include hepatic steatosis, hypoproteinemia, kidney stones, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
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.
A Cochrane systematic review in 2018 found and analysed eleven randomized controlled trials of ketogenic diet in people with epilepsy for whom drugs failed to control their seizures. Six of the trials compared a group assigned to a ketogenic diet with a group not assigned to one. The other trials compared types of diets or ways of introducing them to make them more tolerable. In the largest trial of the ketogenic diet with a non-diet control, nearly 38% of the children and young people had half or fewer seizures with the diet compared 6% with the group not assigned to the diet. Two large trials of the Modified Atkins Diet compared to a non-diet control had similar results, with over 50% of children having half or fewer seizures with the diet compared to around 10% in the control group.
While CHO is almost universally regarded as necessary for both health and athletic performance, many studies have called into question the absolute necessity of dietary CHO. As early as 1930 there was evidence demonstrating the efficacy of long-term CHO restriction (14). In an audacious attempt to demonstrate proof-of-concept, arctic explorers Dr. Viljalmur Stefansson and K. Anderson, agreed to participate in a study that involved one year of eating a diet that consisted solely of “meat.” The diet, which consisted of beef, pork, lamb, and chicken, also included significant portions of animal fat, as well as organ meat. This dietary regimen yielded a macronutrient distribution of approximately 81% fat, 18% protein and 1% CHO, over the course of 375 days. The subjects experienced a modest reduction in weight, which occurred during the first week; there were no restrictions on food portions, subjects ate to satisfy appetite. Interestingly, the researchers noted no vitamin deficiencies, no significant change in mental alertness or physical impairment, or any other deficit attributed to eating a high fat, all-meat diet.
A ketogenic diet could be an interesting alternative to treat certain conditions, and may accelerate weight loss. But it is hard to follow and it can be heavy on red meat and other fatty, processed, and salty foods that are notoriously unhealthy. We also do not know much about its long-term effects, probably because it’s so hard to stick with that people can’t eat this way for a long time. It is also important to remember that “yo-yo diets” that lead to rapid weight loss fluctuation are associated with increased mortality. Instead of engaging in the next popular diet that would last only a few weeks to months (for most people that includes a ketogenic diet), try to embrace change that is sustainable over the long term. A balanced, unprocessed diet, rich in very colorful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and lots of water seems to have the best evidence for a long, healthier, vibrant life.
The PSQI questionnaire is a clinical sleep-behavior questionnaire that has been validated for use in patients with insomnia, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and the general population . The questionnaire is designed to assess indexes of sleep during the preceding month and contains 19 questions that use Likert scales from 0–3. All questions are categorized into the following 7 subvariables: duration of sleep, sleep disturbance, sleep latency, day dysfunction because of sleepiness, sleep efficiency, subjective sleep quality, and use of a sleeping medication. Each of these 7 variables is scored between 0 and 3 arbitrary units (au), which generates a summed total score of 0–21 au. This total score is termed the global sleep score (GSS) with >5 au associated with a poor sleep condition and ≤5 au associated with a good sleep condition.
Katherine Arvesen, RDN, who in private practice in Plano, Texas, also notes that the study was not randomized and controlled, which is the gold standard for medical research to minimize error and bias. In this study, the patients were their own controls, meaning their results were compared with their own baseline (starting) measurements, not with the results of a control group.
“I recommend a ketogenic diet as a powerful tool to treat diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, metabolic syndrome and obesity in general. Oftentimes I am able to wean patients off most of their medications and have seen dramatic improvement in their health as a result of this diet. I recommend Diet Doctor to my patients on a regular basis as a resource to help them eat a ketogenic diet.”
In Asia, the normal diet includes rice and noodles as the main energy source, making their elimination difficult. Therefore, the MCT-oil form of the diet, which allows more carbohydrate, has proved useful. In India, religious beliefs commonly affect the diet: some patients are vegetarians, will not eat root vegetables or avoid beef. The Indian ketogenic diet is started without a fast due to cultural opposition towards fasting in children. The low-fat, high-carbohydrate nature of the normal Indian and Asian diet means that their ketogenic diets typically have a lower ketogenic ratio (1:1) than in America and Europe. However, they appear to be just as effective.
In order to transition and remain in this state, aiming for about 30–50 net grams is typically the recommended amount of total carbs to start with. This is considered a more moderate or flexible approach but can be less overwhelming to begin with. Once you’re more accustomed to “eating keto,” you can choose to lower carbs even more if you’d like (perhaps only from time to time), down to about 20 grams of net carbs daily. This is considered the standard, “strict” amount that many keto dieters aim to adhere to for best results, but remember that everyone is a bit different.
Typically you want to stay away from any brands that use filler ingredients like maltodextrin and dextrose, or high glycemic sweeteners like maltitol. Many low-carb products that claim low net carbs usually use these sugar alcohols. Many candies that are “sugar-free” also use these sweeteners. Avoid them where possible. These specific sweeteners respond in our body in a similar way sugar does.
Your glycogen stores can still be refilled while on a ketogenic diet. A keto diet is an excellent way to build muscle, but protein intake is crucial here. It’s suggested that if you are looking to gain mass, you should be taking in about 1.0 – 1.2g protein per lean pound of body mass. Putting muscle on may be slower on a ketogenic diet, but that’s because your total body fat is not increasing as much.5Note that in the beginning of a ketogenic diet, both endurance athletes and obese individuals see a physical performance for the first week of transition.
Research indicates that diets that are high in fat, like the keto diet, do not have a negative impact on cholesterol and triglycerides as long as the carbohydrate intake remains very low. In fact, your cholesterol and triglycerides might actually improve, if you're focusing on eating healthy fats like avocado, olive oil and nuts, not loading up on bacon and burgers.
Dr. Vincent M. Pedre, medical director of Pedre Integrative Health and president of Dr. Pedre Wellness, is a board-certified internist in private practice in New York City since 2004. His philosophy and practices are a blend of both Western and Eastern medical traditions. He is a clinical instructor in medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and is certified in yoga and medical acupuncture. His unique methodology is best described as integrative or defined by a functional, systems-based approach to health. With his holistic understanding of both sides of the equation, he can help each patient choose the best course of action for their ailments to provide both immediate and long-term relief. His holistic approach incorporates positive, preventive health and wellness lifestyle choices. Dr. Pedre Wellness is a growing wellness platform offering health-enhancing programs along with informative social media and lifestyle products, such as dietary supplements, books, and weight-loss programs.
I’ve been trying this keto diet that my dr.and daughter recommended, it’s been close to a week. I’ve changed my food intake, no bad carbs that I know of, was a huge chip addict stopped all that with no cravings. I’m not seeing any results I’m getting discouraged and everything sounds so complicated watching this, measuring that, I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. just that I stopped bread,pasta,poratoes,rice all those kind of carbs.I’m drinking more water eating green vegetables and trying to increase my fat intake. I don’t feel motivated to exercise which probably doesn’t help and have 100-130 to lose. I need help I don’t understand or have the time create a lot of meals and measure my fat,protein and carb intake.
When you eat a ketogenic diet, you switch your body’s fuel source to fat rather than the body’s usual source, glucose (1). From this fuel source switch, the hunger hormone, Ghrelin, is reduced which causes your appetite to decrease (1). Because of the reduction in appetite, it is easier to adopt an intermittent fasting approach or an approach that lessons unwanted eating behavior outside your desired hours (AKA curbs the late night munchies). Therefore, I recommend eating 4 bigger meals rather than 6 small meals on a Ketogenic Meal Plan.
The way that being on the keto diet makes you lose weight is by keeping insulin levels low. Insulin is a fat storage hormone that is released to help shuttle energy from the food you eat into your cells. This diet is known to be one of the best ways, besides fasting of course, to drop your insulin levels and low insulin is what is usually associated with fat loss. However, there is a misconception out there that your insulin will only go up with carbs. Protein can also spike your insulin levels and if you eat enough fats in one sitting, especially the wrong type of fats like trans fats, then that can spike your insulin levels as well.
High levels of triglycerides in the blood are thought to be a sign of poor metabolism. Poor metabolism, or metabolic disorders, are associated with obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Often times, elevated triglycerides are a byproduct of insulin resistance. In these cases, a ketogenic diet is an excellent strategy to improve those numbers.
35. Crujeiras A.B., Gomez-Arbelaez D., Zulet M.A., Carreira M.C., Sajoux I., de Luis D., Castro A.I., Baltar J., Baamonde I., Sueiro A., et al. Plasma FGF21 levels in obese patients undergoing energy-restricted diets or bariatric surgery: A marker of metabolic stress? Int. J. Obes. (Lond.) 2017;41:1570–1578. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2017.138. [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]
White sugar, honey, and most traditional sugars are out when you’re eating keto because of the high carb counts. While many artificial sweeteners deliver sweetness sans a single carb, that doesn’t mean you should eat them, Crandall says. “We have demonized sugar—rightly so—for causing unneeded insulin spikes,” Crandall says, but “many artificial sweeteners do the exact same thing.” One study found that eating artificial sweeteners may increase cravings—especially for sweet things. This can stymie your weight-loss intentions. Discover how one woman totally kicked her sugar habit by trying the keto diet.
As the popularity of the Keto Diet has exploded in recent years the true nature of Ketogenic weight loss has gotten blurred. So what is Keto? Very simply Keto refers to Ketosis, the state into which your body enters when it shifts to burning fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. As carbohydrates and sugar intake is restricted, your body begins to break down its fat stores to use as a source of energy. Therefore, the very basics of a Ketogenic Diet are:
Try and aim to keep your protein the same at one gram per pound of body weight and then take in 10-12 grams of carbohydrates for every kilogram of body weight. Start taking these carbohydrates (usually the first bit in liquid form) right after your last workout on Friday night. This is when your body is primed and ready to uptake the carbohydrates and it will be most beneficial for you.
Although many proponents recommend this high fat version of Keto for weight loss, it first gained notoriety as a treatment method for Epilepsy. Going as far back as the 1920’s, medical professionals have recommended high fat Keto Diets as a treatment method for difficult to control seizure disorders. However, a diet that includes a high percentage of fats as part of its eating program increases the daily caloric intake. More calories means slower fat loss. Therefore, the higher calorie count is why this Ketogenic Diet type is considered a slower weight loss model for dieters and is why the Ideal Protein Protocol is a more effective Keto Diet for weight loss.
The severe reduction in body weight was mainly a result of FM reduction, as assessed by DXA scan; the −20.2 kg of weight reduction at the end of the study was in large part due to the −16.5 kg reduction in FM. When the FM compartment was assessed by MF-BIA, the result was very similar (−18.2 kg) and was further corroborated by the ADP analysis [−17.7 kg; Fig. 2(A)], without statistical differences among the results. It was remarkable that 3 methods of evaluating body composition, which operate through different principles, yielded such similar results. FM loss represents nearly 85% of the total weight loss achieved across the study.
Still, there are limitations to the keto diet. The first few weeks on the diet can be rough, and cause what’s known as the keto flu. And some people may experience side effects like thyroid or hormone imbalance, adrenal fatigue, poor sleep quality, and extremely dry eyes. It’s also true that permanent ketosis may not suit everyone. However, there is a way to build a sustainable keto diet which utilizes intermittent, cyclical ketosis as opposed to long-term ketosis…
.. it can be heavy on red meat and other fatty, processed, and salty foods that are notoriously unhealthy. What is unhealthy about red meat. We should know that acrilamides, pyrroles in burnt meat (and veges) from BBQ and over-heated cooking inflames the colon. According to Clark H R, PhD ND an inflamed part allows easy entry for the cancer nucleus and cancer complex, to start and fuel a malignancy at that location.
On a high-fat ketogenic diet, you can easily eat 3,000 calories or more daily with high-calorie foods like cheese and nuts. Sure, your body will shift into ketosis on a high-fat diet, but eating too many calories means your body will utilize dietary fat instead of body fat. A food journal can help you pinpoint high-calorie foods that might sabotage your weight loss. You don't need to be on an old Atkins diet plan to lose weight the keto way.
WY conceived, designed, and coordinated the study; participated in data collection; performed statistical analysis; and drafted the manuscript. MF assisted with study design, performed data collection, and helped to draft the manuscript. AC analyzed the food records. MV assisted with study/intervention design and safety monitoring. EW participated in the conception and design of the study, and assisted with the statistical analysis. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
“I follow and recommend a low-carb or keto lifestyle, with and without intermittent fasting, to all of my patients whether or not they have lifestyle-related chronic conditions. I do this because of the health benefits to anyone who follows them, but also because of the science behind them and the impressive clinical results I have seen in my patients. I have recommended the Diet Doctor website for the past 5-6 years as a first-stop to find completely trustworthy information, delicious recipes, great visuals and excellent videos.”
Weight loss is the primary reason my patients use the ketogenic diet. Previous research shows good evidence of a faster weight loss when patients go on a ketogenic or very low carbohydrate diet compared to participants on a more traditional low-fat diet, or even a Mediterranean diet. However, that difference in weight loss seems to disappear over time.