The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used primarily to treat difficult-to-control (refractory) epilepsy in children. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose, which is then transported around the body and is particularly important in fueling brain function. However, if little carbohydrate remains in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies pass into the brain and replace glucose as an energy source. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood, a state known as ketosis, leads to a reduction in the frequency of epileptic seizures. Around half of children and young people with epilepsy who have tried some form of this diet saw the number of seizures drop by at least half, and the effect persists even after discontinuing the diet. Some evidence indicates that adults with epilepsy may benefit from the diet, and that a less strict regimen, such as a modified Atkins diet, is similarly effective. Potential side effects may include constipation, high cholesterol, growth slowing, acidosis, and kidney stones.
You can approach keto in a number of different ways. On some keto diets, like dirty keto, it doesn’t matter where your fats, protein, and carbs come from. So dinner could be a bunless cheeseburger with extra bacon. Eating bad fats like low-quality vegetable oils, packaged low-carb snacks, and processed cheese dials up inflammation, making weight loss more challenging.
GLUT1 deficiency is the technical term for what some medical practitioners are now calling diabetes 3. It’s the brain cell’s insulin resistance or a deficiency of glucose transport to brain cells. It impairs cellular metabolism in the brain, and is considered a source of Alzheimer’s disease, Multiple sclerosis, and epileptic seizures, among others.
But it has its share of critics as well. The keto diet is sometimes referred to as “the bacon and butter diet” because it calls for 75% of daily calories to come from fat. Keto followers are gobbling up bacon, steak, sausage, and chicken (skin and all). They’re adding butter to their morning coffee. They’re drowning their salads with ranch dressing.
Aude, Y., A. S, Agatston, F. Lopez-Jimenez, et al. “The National Cholesterol Education Program Diet vs a Diet Lower in Carbohydrates and Higher in Protein and Monounsaturated Fat: A Randomized Trial.” JAMA Internal Medicine 164, no. 19 (2004): 2141–46. doi: 10.1001/archinte.164.19.2141. jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/217514.
The average person's diet contain about 55% carbohydrates, 30% fat, and 15% protein. On the keto diet, you eat a whole lot more fat, and a lot less carbs: 80% of the diet is comprised of fat, 15% is protein, and a mere 5% of calories come from carbohydrates. For someone on a 1,500-calorie diet, that translates to 19 grams of carbohydrates per day, which is less than what you find in one medium-sized apple.
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.
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.
Twenty obese patients followed a VLCK diet for 4 months. Body composition assessment was performed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), multifrequency bioelectrical impedance (MF-BIA), and air displacement plethysmography (ADP) techniques. Muscular strength was also assessed. Measurements were performed at 4 points matched with the ketotic phases (basal, maximum ketosis, ketosis declining, and out of ketosis).
Hi Sara, it depends on if your husband eats cold food or not. The lunch suggested here is great to take to work, the chicken can be enjoyed cold, or he can reheat it in a pan if his office has a small kitchen. If he doesn’t like cold chicken and he has no option to reheat you could change the lunch and dinner options suggested in this meal plan. He can eat the egg and salad for lunch. It’s a great lunch to enjoy cold and then the chicken and baby spinach for dinner instead. Great cold lunches that are keto friendly in general are always hard-boiled eggs with veggies, or turkey/cheese roll-ups and raw veggies, or salad greens with shredded chicken or shredded pork with homemade mayo on the side to then mix up at the moment as a salad dressing.
I won't be staying with keto for the long term—I really can't eat that much bacon anymore—but I do expect I'll return to it several times a year. If nothing else, the strict diet works well for me as a reset after a long splurge (hello, holidays!), and my month-long experiment helped me break my dependency on some of my biggest food crutches (sugar, pasta, crackers).
Hi Courtney, I’m currently working on a 21-Day Keto Meal Plan. Unfortunately, it’s super time-consuming. And after buying a keto cookbook yesterday and returning it the same day because it wasn’t well researched and the recipes clearly not created specifically for the Keto diet you wouldn’t want me to rush this. I want to make sure the Meal Plan is SPOT on and the recipes complement each other and make eating Keto easy. Give me another month or two and I’ll hopefully have more news on progress. Currently working on a rough sketch but still have to test all recipes and photograph them, too. You definitely don’t need nuts to be able to eat Keto. For now, I recommend to keep it as simple as possible. You can eat my 1-day meal plan 4 days a week and find other recipes you like to build another similar day and then keep switching between mine and the other.
Long-term compliance is low and can be a big issue with a ketogenic diet, but this is the case with any lifestyle change. Even though the ketogenic diet is significantly superior in the induction of weight loss in otherwise healthy patients with obesity and the induced weight loss is rapid, intense, and sustained until at least 2 year, the understanding of the clinical impacts, safety, tolerability, efficacy, duration of treatment, and prognosis after discontinuation of the diet is challenging and requires further studies to understand the disease-specific mechanisms.
“I encourage my patients to do fasting coupled with a very-low-carbohydrate, whole-foods diet because of the astounding biochemical and clinical improvements these interventions provide, in terms of managing chronic metabolic illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. I invite my patients to go to Diet Doctor because it is a very reliable source of information for people following a low-carbohydrate diet.”
Hi Jenn, I would not recommend the medication as it is not going to address the root cause of any sort of dysfunction that may be leading to what we are seeing on the lab. When I see elevated cholesterol levels with good Triglyceride:HDL ratios, I most commonly see an underlying thyroid issue with low free T3 levels. I would want to test your thyroid in detail and you may need some additional thyroid hormone support. With very high HDL over 90, I will also see chronic infections and food sensitivities as an issue.
I have spent weeks reading and learning about the Keto diet plan, downloading random recipes that my husband might even try, and have been overwhelmed with all the information. I was pleased to find your system and how organized everything seems to be. The only question I have is will I be able to “temporarily suspend” my subscription if I find there are more recipes than I have time to prepare. I want to only do about 3 per week and repeat them as leftovers, since I have very little time after working a 12-hour shift, to do much cooking. Once I “catch up,” I would reinstate my subscription. Is that an option? Looking forward to trying out your program.
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.
When attempting to lose weight, getting a grip on your eating habit is an important angle when it comes to the effectiveness of your regime. Emotional eaters face a torrid spell in trying to curb their eating habits. This is where comes in. It helps to control your eating habits by stimulating the production of enzymes that suppress cravings for some specific types of foods. The chemical serotonin also helps to correct emotional imbalances that cause you to consume food due to escalating emotional situations.
In steps 4 or 5, the ketogenic phases were ended by the physician in charge of the patient based on the amount of weight lost, and the patient started a low-calorie diet (800–1500 kcal/day). At this point, the patients underwent a progressive incorporation of different food groups and participated in a program of alimentary re-education to guarantee the long-term maintenance of the weight loss. The maintenance diet consisted of an eating plan balanced in carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Depending on the individual, the calories consumed ranged between 1500 and 2000 kcal/day, and the target was to maintain the weight lost and promote a healthy lifestyle.
^ Ketogenic "eggnog" is used during induction and is a drink with the required ketogenic ratio. For example, a 4:1 ratio eggnog would contain 60 g of 36% heavy whipping cream, 25 g pasteurised raw egg, saccharin and vanilla flavour. This contains 245 kcal (1,025 kJ), 4 g protein, 2 g carbohydrate and 24 g fat (24:6 = 4:1). The eggnog may also be cooked to make a custard, or frozen to make ice cream.
Cutting back on protein is one of the largest challenges to the diet. Because high levels of protein in the diet can turn into glucose in a process called gluconeogenesis, the keto theory says too much protein in the diet can mean too much glucose, whisking you out of ketosis. That’s why bacon, which has a ton of fat but not a lot of protein is a preferred food over chicken breast, which is high in protein with very little fat.
During this study, the patients followed the different steps of the method until they reached the target weight or up to a maximum of 4 months of follow-up, although patients remained under medical supervision for the following months. Patients visited the research team every 15 ± 2 days to control adherence and evaluate potential side effects. Complete anthropometric, body composition, biochemical and phycological assessments were performed at four of the visits which were made according to the evolution of each patient through the steps of ketosis and weight loss: Visit 1 (baseline), visit 2 (maximum ketosis), visit 3 (reduced ketosis) and visit 4 (Endpoint).
If you like more veggies in your Keto Diet and are also concerned with a low calorie keto meal plan, then the IBIH 5 Day Keto Soup Diet may be for you! Featured in Woman’s Day magazine twice already, this Keto Soup Diet is is also Whole 30 friendly, so it’s super healthy and very effective. Be prepared for some detox symptoms, as this Keto Soup Diet Meal Plan does not include grains, dairy, sweeteners, or alcohol – which means it works very very well, but can cause headaches in the first couple of days. We have an exclusive Keto Soup Diet Facebook Group for this plan too – so feel free to join to get the support and help you need to succeed and tell everyone about your amazing results!
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.
For some, ketosis can cause more negative than positive side effects. Dorena Rode, a 52-year-old author, and speaker from Occidental, California, tried the diet for a month and experienced heart palpitations and dizziness. Unlike Drew, Rode says her cholesterol increased from 192 to 250 mg/dL after she introduced more fat into her diet. (Less than 200 mg/dL is considered desirable, while anything over 240 mg/dL is considered high.)
While there have not been large studies that show the relationship between the ketogenic diet and cancer, we will be publishing a case study about that topic. The author failed to comment that pediatric patients with epilepsy are on the diet for usually about 2 years with no harmful effects. Before the false studies about heart disease and fat, the low carb diet was a respected way to lose weight. Studies into our metabolism show we can use both fat and carbohydrate as fuel. So stepping away from our high carb diet- I am sorry to say that we eat more carbs since the 70s with most of it processed and we now use high fructose corn syrup to sweeten products and we have a wide spread childhood obesity problem. If cholesterol is a concern try plant sterols and stenals to block cholesterol from the receptors in the body. So much more can be said about a keto diet than this article states
According to one hypothesis, low-carb diets have a distinct “metabolic advantage” over diets with higher carbohydrate content when the amount of calories consumed are the same.3 This metabolic advantage is essentially an increase in the expenditure of energy (calories) on the low-carb diet. Factors that may account for this higher rate of calorie burning include:
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The ketogenic diet is not a benign, holistic, or natural treatment for epilepsy; as with any serious medical therapy, complications may result. These are generally less severe and less frequent than with anticonvulsant medication or surgery. Common but easily treatable short-term side effects include constipation, low-grade acidosis, and hypoglycaemia if an initial fast is undertaken. Raised levels of lipids in the blood affect up to 60% of children and cholesterol levels may increase by around 30%. This can be treated by changes to the fat content of the diet, such as from saturated fats towards polyunsaturated fats, and if persistent, by lowering the ketogenic ratio. Supplements are necessary to counter the dietary deficiency of many micronutrients.
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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:
“The totality of evidence is very clear: A low-carbohydrate dietary approach is the most effective way to manage the insulin resistance syndrome which is that single biggest driver of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Diet Doctor has been instrumental in providing extremely useful, clear and educational material to all who want to implement this dietary approach in to their lives. That’s why I recommend the website to all my at-risk patients.”
Everyone responds to different levels of carbs, fat, and protein differently. It’s not enough to just eat what you think is a low amount of carbohydrates. Your metabolic history, daily activities, or any other factor may mean you can only tolerate 25 grams of carbs per day before getting kicked out of ketosis whereas someone else can tolerate up to 100 grams of carbs per day.
If you talk to keto aficionados, you’ll find many save leftovers from dinner for the next day’s lunch. Cook once, eat twice—your keto diet menu for lunch is solved. If you don’t like leftovers or if you’re craving something different for lunch, the mid-day meal can be as simple as a scoop of chicken salad. Or, hit the salad bar at a local grocery store and top a bowl of greens with some good-fat goodies. You can also try one of these simple keto lunches:
Recently, four studies have re-examined the effect of carbohydrate restriction on type 2 diabetes. One outpatient study enrolled 54 participants with type 2 diabetes (out of 132 total participants) and found that hemoglobin A1c improved to a greater degree over one year with a low-carbohydrate diet compared with a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet [5,6]. Another study enrolled 8 men with type 2 diabetes in a 5-week crossover outpatient feeding study that tested similar diets . The participants had greater improvement in glycohemoglobin while on the low-carbohydrate diet than when on a eucaloric low-fat diet. The third study was an inpatient feeding study in 10 participants with type 2 diabetes . After only 14 days, hemoglobin A1c improved from 7.3% to 6.8%. In the fourth study, 16 participants with type 2 diabetes who followed a 20% carbohydrate diet had improvement of hemoglobin A1c from 8.0% to 6.6% over 24 weeks . Only these latter three studies targeted glycemic control as a goal, and two of these were intensely-monitored efficacy studies in which all food was provided to participants for the duration of the study [7,8]. Three of the studies [6,8,9] mentioned that diabetic medications were adjusted but only one of them provided detailed information regarding these adjustments . This information is critical for patients on medication for diabetes who initiate a low-carbohydrate diet because of the potential for adverse effects resulting from hypoglycemia.
Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, is a doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using food as medicine. He’s the author of the books “Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be the Root Cause of Your Health Problems,” “Essential Oils: Ancient Medicine” and the upcoming “Keto Diet: Your 30-Day Plan to Lose Weight, Balance Hormones, Boost Brain Health, and Reverse Disease” (February 2019, published by Little, Brown Spark). He’s a co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, a health company where the mission is to restore health, strength and vitality by providing history’s healthiest whole food nutrients to the modern world.
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  detailing these recommendations. Participants prepared or bought all of their own meals and snacks following these guidelines.