Wondering how many carb foods you can eat and still be “in ketosis”? The traditional ketogenic diet, created for those with epilepsy consisted of getting about 75 percent of calories from sources of fat (such as oils or fattier cuts of meat), 5 percent from carbohydrates and 20 percent from protein. For most people a less strict version (what I call a “modified keto diet”) can still help promote weight loss in a safe, and often very fast, way.
“I am determined to shatter the chiding “eat less, exercise more” obesity medicine paradigm. Obesity is not a personal failure, but a chronic health condition unfolding in our country and around the world. It is a result of the “carboholic” society we live in. Through a holistic approach, I arm patients with knowledge, tools, and skills to manage their weight as well as their overall health.”

“Eating a significant amount of butter has some of the worst effects on your health compared with other fats,” says Keatley. It’s okay to use butter in your fat rotation, but best not to make it your go-to fat; instead opt for more unsaturated sources. Per the USDA, 1 tbsp of butter has 102 calories, 12 g of fat (7 g of which are saturated fat), and 0 carbohydrates.

The keto diet works by eliminating carbohydrates from the your daily intake and keeping the body’s carbohydrate stores almost empty, therefore preventing too much insulin from being released following food consumption and creating normal blood sugar levels. This can help reverse “insulin resistance,” which is the underlying problem contributing to diabetes symptoms. In studies, low-carb diets have shown benefits for improving blood pressure, postprandial glycemia and insulin secretion. (7)


A related clinical diet for drug-resistant epilepsy is called the medium-chain triglyceride ketogenic diet, in which MCT oil is extensively used because it’s more ketogenic than long-chain triglycerides. (13) Another dietary therapy for epilepsy called Low Glycemic Index Treatment (LGIT) was developed in 2002 as an alternative to the keto diet. LGIT monitors the total amount of carbohydrates consumed daily, and focuses on carbohydrates that have a low glycemic index.) (14)
The keto diet also appears to help induce autophagy, which helps clear damaged cells from the body, including senescent cells that serve no functional purpose but still linger inside tissues and organs. In animal studies when rats are put on the ketogenic diet, autophagic pathways are created that reduce brain injury during and after seizures. (21)
A popular keto supplement are exogenous ketones (popularly called “keto diet pills”) that may help you achieve results earlier as well as remain in that state. (Don’t confuse exogenous ketones with raspberry ketones, as the latter don’t raise ketone levels in the body or mimic endogenous ketones, so you wouldn’t use raspberry ketones in your regimen.)

If you’re looking to get a jump start on your health and fitness goals this year, you may be thinking about trying the ketogenic diet. Maybe you’ve heard the phrase before — it’s a huge diet buzzword — but aren’t sure what it means. Here’s a primer: The ketogenic diet is an eating plan that drives your body into ketosis, a state where the body uses fat as a primary fuel source (instead of carbohydrates), says Stacey Mattinson, RDN, who is based in Austin, Texas.
It’s also currently as trendy to the fitness world as kale and açaí are to the pseudo-hipsters who wear beanies, even in the dead-heat of summer. If you haven’t tried keto on for size, maybe give it a go (unless you’re a complete and utter carb bitch, and cramming yourself full of bagels and pancakes just makes your abs really pop - in which case, the rest of us hate you on the inside. Just a little.)
Instead of making your own cereal, you can always have a low-carb alternative. Try out chia seed pudding, flax granola sprinkled into coconut or almond milk, salted caramel pork rind cereal, or just mix together toasted nuts that are crushed and crispy. It’s quite easy to find a crunchy alternative to cereal (or just a low-carb replacement in general) so keep on the lookout and experiment for yourself to see which you like best.
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).
Purnell JQ, Hokanson JE, Marcovina SM, Steffes MW, Cleary PA, Brunzell JD. Effect of excessive weight gain with intensive therapy of type 1 diabetes on lipid levels and blood pressure: results from the DCCT. Diabetes Control and Complications Trial. JAMA. 1998;280:140–146. doi: 10.1001/jama.280.2.140. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]
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#TRANSFORMATION STORY PLEASE READ: I used to be severely overweight for a period of my life (probably considered obese). Some people have known me a long time and have seen my #progress, but some only know me now and don't know what I used to be. There are a few years of my life with zero to very few pictures of me because I hated the way I looked. After getting out of a toxic relationship (when I ate my feelings out of depression), I was able to lose a little bit on my own by focusing on #me and getting back into activities I loved (musical theater) and overall being happy again. But I was still overweight and sort of hit a plateau, so I gave up on trying because nothing seemed to be working. It wasn't until October of 2016 that I learned about the #ketogenic lifestyle and started that way of eating and was able to lose 10 pounds in 2 months, just from making better food choices. In January of 2017, I began a fitness regime, going to the #gym about 4-5 days a week doing a mix of weight lifting and cardio. My plan was to hit my #goal weight within one year. (To be honest, I didn't think I was going to do it, but told myself I'd be happy if I got close.) It's been one year since I did my first #workout on my own and I am so excited to say that I did it...I HIT MY GOAL WEIGHT!!! From June 2015 to now, I have lost about 76 pounds/7 dress sizes and I'm a happier, healthier, and stronger version of myself than I ever was before! It's not just about the number and how I look, but I've learned that I need to take care of my body from the inside out for #health reasons too. I now have more energy and I feel absolutely amazing. I finally feel like the version of myself that I always envisioned in my head. This has been a long and hard #journey and there were many times I thought I might give up. I'm sharing these pictures not out of vanity, but because I'm just so #happy that I did it and I want people to know that you can do whatever you set your mind to!! 💪🏼💪🏼💪🏼 #follow
The ketogenic diet is the go-to diet for people who are looking to lose weight, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, lower their risk of metabolic disorders like type-2 diabetes, and even boost brain health (1, 2, 3, 4). But, if you are a beginner, the thought of completely turning your kitchen upside down and training your body to eat in a completely different way may seem overwhelming.  

“I started gaining weight in college. Too Much Beer. And it didn't stop, sitting at a desk job all day, going out to dinner ever night. I packed on the pounds. I knew something had to change. My friend recommened to me. I suddenly had energy again! I started taking the stairs at work. Biking on the weekend. I've been using it for 18 months now - and let me tell you - I'm back baby! ” - Carlos Thomas


Julie Hand is a certified holistic health and nutrition counselor (Institute for Integrative Nutrition), personal fitness trainer (National Personal Training Institute), and yoga teacher (Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health). Though she can’t resist trying every science-backed health tip, she also has a penchant for crystals and astrology (don’t judge). You can find her walking the beach (coffee in hand, of course) and practicing the ukulele on weekends.
Dear Martina, I wasn’t sure how to contact you. I am a final year undergraduate Human Nutrition student. I was also a keto diet follower and your app and blogs were a great help. For my final year project I‘ve chosen to study the present awareness of the ketogenic diet. I would like to ask if you would be interested to present my questionnaire to your followers. I will of course send you the questionnaire personally first for your approval. Please let me know if you are interested. Thank you for your hard work. You are a great help for many of us.
Cholesterol serves a number of important roles in the body. First of all, cholesterol is a critical structural element in certain tissues such as our brain and nervous system. In fact, it is estimated that around 25% of our cholesterol can be found in the brain. Just to highlight our failed fat philosophy over the years, higher saturated fat intake and high cholesterol levels are associated with better mental function in old age (1)!
Other experts say the long-term accumulation of ketones could be harmful. “Those ketones are emergency fuel sources, and we’re not meant to run on them long-term,” says Kristen Kizer, a registered dietitian at Houston Methodist Hospital. “Ketones are negatively-charged molecules, which means they’re acidic. When you build up ketone bodies in your system, you’re building up acid. One of the ways your body buffers acid is by pulling calcium from your bones.” Kizer also notes that the diet isn't very balanced and involves a very high intake of animal products, which generally do not protect against cancer, diabetes, or other diseases.
Cholesterol serves a number of important roles in the body. First of all, cholesterol is a critical structural element in certain tissues such as our brain and nervous system. In fact, it is estimated that around 25% of our cholesterol can be found in the brain. Just to highlight our failed fat philosophy over the years, higher saturated fat intake and high cholesterol levels are associated with better mental function in old age (1)!
However, maintaining muscle mass and its functionality (i.e., muscle strength) has an important role in preventing weight regain, maintaining physical functionality, improving cardiometabolic risk factors, and reducing cardiovascular outcomes (5, 7–9, 32, 33). It is commonly assumed, and stated in several textbooks on obesity, that weight loss is associated with an important loss of muscle mass that evolves in parallel with the fat reduction. Some dietary guidelines have even suggested that diets that induce rapid weight loss, such as VLCK diets, create a greater energy deficit and contain lower amounts of protein, and therefore increase the risk of reductions in muscle mass compared with other interventions with more gradual weight loss (34, 35). In this article it was shown that the reductions observed in lean mass were mostly a result of body water loss, both intra- and extracellular. The combined information from the DXA and MF-BIA methods allows for such differentiation (28, 36–38). The loss attributable to muscle mass was minimal (∼1 kg), and an absolute preservation of HG strength was observed, a remarkable fact considering that the patients have experienced a weight reduction of ∼20 kg.
The keto diet is known for helping people lose a few pounds very quickly, says Becky Kerkenbush, RD, a clinical dietitian at Watertown Regional Medical Center. Carbs hold on to more water than protein or fat, so when you stop eating them, your body releases all that extra H2O by making you pee more. As a result, the scale might read a few pounds lower, and you may look a bit leaner.
Although fat is the centerpiece of any keto diet, that doesn't mean you should be subsisting on butter-topped steaks, says Kristen Mancinelli, RD, author of The Ketogenic Diet. “A big misconception is that you should just put meat at the center of your plate and add more fat on top,” she says. You also shouldn't be relying on fatty meats to hit your fat quota, she adds.
There's a lot of exciting buzz around keto these days, and there's plenty of good reason for it.Ketosis is a natural process the body initiates to help us survive when food intake is low. During this state, your body is actually burning fat for energy instead of carbs. Ketosis is typically extremely hard to obtain on your own and takes weeks to accomplish.
Sleep quality was evaluated by determining sleep propensity and quality by means of the PSS and PSQI, respectively. Overall, participants showed a poor sleep condition with a total score >5 au (Table S1). Thus, a significant improvement in sleepiness (PSS) was observed when comparing the visit of reduced ketosis with baseline, a point that coincided with maximum loss of fat mass (Figure 3B). By contrast, no statistically significant effect was observed on sleep quality and duration (PSQI; Figure 3B). Accordingly, plasma levels of dopamine showed no statistically significant changes (data not shown).
In general, you want to eat the minimum amount of protein to preserve lean body mass and not overtax your kidneys. If you eat too much protein, the excess converts to glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis. You don’t want that to occur in ketosis. Instead, eat anti-inflammatory protein—at the minimum amount to preserve or build lean body mass. My favorite sources are wild-caught fish, grass-fed and -finished beef and wild meats (elk, bison, etc.), pasture-raised poultry, nuts, and seeds. Make sure fish has more selenium (which helps protect the brain) than mercury, to mitigate heavy metal toxicity. Good sources that have a safe selenium/mercury ratio include: tuna, opah, wahoo, spearfish, swordfish.
In 1972, Robert Atkins published Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution, which advocated the low-carbohydrate diet he had successfully used in treating patients in the 1960s (having developed the diet from a 1963 article published in JAMA).[56] The book met with some success, but, was widely criticized by the mainstream medical community as being dangerous and misleading, thereby limiting its appeal at the time.[57]
Ketones are a very effective fuel for the brain—often a more efficient fuel than glucose. Your body is like a hybrid car when it comes to fuel. When you run out of carbohydrates to burn for fuel—say you’re fasting before a surgery or a religious holiday—your body seeks an alternative way to get more fuel. (If your body didn’t do this, you would die after a short fast.) So the body kicks into burning fat, which is the metabolic state of ketosis, or “keto.” Technically, your liver takes long-chain and medium-chain fatty acids from your fat tissue, and produces a major ketone called beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB). BHB provides more energy per unit oxygen used than glucose, which benefits the brain.

HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein and its primary role in the body is actually to sweep up LDL particles and return them to the liver for recycling. This is because LDL is actually very susceptible to oxidation so it must be cleared from the blood efficiently. This means when LDL is exposed to chronic inflammation, it becomes damaged. The longer LDL remains in the blood stream and the higher your inflammation levels are, the higher your risk of heart disease.

The weight-loss program has five steps and adheres to the most recent guidelines of the 2015 EFSA on total carbohydrate intake [22]. The first three steps consist of a VLCK diet (600–800 kcal/day), low in carbohydrates (<50 g daily from vegetables), and lipids (only 10 g of olive oil per day). The amount of high biological-value proteins ranged between 0.8 and 1.2 g per each kg of ideal body weight to ensure that patients were meeting their minimum body requirements and to prevent the loss of lean mass. In step 1, the patients ate high-biological-value protein preparations five times a day and vegetables with low glycemic indexes. In step 2, one of the protein servings was substituted with a natural protein (e.g., meat or fish) either at lunch or at dinner. In step 3, a second serving of low-fat natural protein was substituted for the second serving of biological protein preparation. Throughout these ketogenic phases, supplements of vitamins and minerals, such as K, Na, Mg, Ca, and omega-3 fatty acids, were provided in accordance with international recommendations [23]. These three steps were maintained until the patient lost the target amount of weight, ideally 80%. Hence, the ketogenic steps were variable in time depending on the individual and the weight-loss target. The total ketosis state lasted for 60–90 days only.

You can have a completely smooth transition into ketosis, or…not. While your body is adapting to using ketones as your new fuel source, you may experience a range of uncomfortable short-term symptoms. These symptoms are referred to as “the keto flu.” Low-sodium levels are often to blame for symptoms keto flu, since the kidneys secrete more sodium when you’re in ketosis, says Volek. A few side effects:
Adding heavy cream or half-and-half to your coffee is one way to get an additional source of fat into your day, says Keatley. Just realize that it is a source of saturated fat — and, given the small serving size, it’s easy to go overboard. According to the USDA, 1 tbsp has 51 calories, 5 g of fat (3.5 g saturated fat), and is just shy of ½ g of carbohydrate.
In the 1990s, Atkins published an update from his 1972 book, Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution, and other doctors began to publish books based on the same principles. This has been said to be the beginning of what the mass media call the "low carb craze" in the United States.[59] During the late 1990s and early 2000s, low-carbohydrate diets became some of the most popular diets in the US. By some accounts, up to 18% of the population was using one type of low-carbohydrate diet or another at the peak of their popularity.[60] Food manufacturers and restaurant chains like Krispy Kreme noted the trend, as it affected their businesses.[61] Parts of the mainstream medical community have denounced low-carbohydrate diets as being dangerous to health, such as the AHA in 2001[62] and the American Kidney Fund in 2002[63] Low-carbohydrate advocates did some adjustments of their own, increasingly advocating controlling fat and eliminating trans fat.[64]
An extreme form of low-carbohydrate diet – the ketogenic diet – is established as a medical diet for treating epilepsy.[14] Through celebrity endorsement it has become a popular weight-loss fad diet, but there is no evidence of any distinctive benefit for this purpose, and it had a number of side effects.[14] The British Dietetic Association named it one of the "top 5 worst celeb diets to avoid in 2018".[14]
Recently, many of my patients have been asking about a ketogenic diet. Is a ketogenic diet safe? Would you recommend it? Despite the recent hype, a ketogenic diet is not something new. In medicine, we have been using it for almost 100 years to treat drug-resistant epilepsy, especially in children. In the 1970s, Dr. Atkins popularized his very-low-carbohydrate diet for weight loss that began with a very strict two-week ketogenic phase. Over the years, other fad diets incorporated a similar approach for weight loss.
Doing a 1:1 substitution would probably change the macros too much but that doesn’t mean that you have to eat dairy to eat a ketogenic diet. If you want to use the meal plan you’d have to adjust it with other sources of fat so that you match the macros. It will require a little work (I recommend using an online diary like MyFitnessPal for support) but you’ll end up with a plan that works for you and your needs
(Note that ketosis should not be confused with diabetic ketoacidosis, a dangerous state that occurs primarily in Type 1 and sometimes in Type 2 diabetics, when high levels of ketones build up because there’s not enough insulin to metabolize blood glucose—so the diabetes becomes out of control. This is sometimes due to an infection or other severe stress. But for healthy individuals without Type 1 diabetes, ketones are used as an alternative energy source and rarely poison or acidify the body.)

“As a full-spectrum family physician since 2004, luckily I stumbled on the wonderful low-carb community two years ago after my amazing wife was forced to make dietary changes after surgery. I’ve never looked back! After transforming my own health, with help from resources like Diet Doctor, Jimmy Moore, and Dr. Jason Fung, I’ve committed to bettering the lives of my patients with intensive dietary management through LCHF and intermittent fasting. Empowering patients to make these lifestyle changes has truly brought back the joy of medicine for me. I am so thankful to all who have inspired me along the way.”
Next month I celebrate one year since I started Keto. I don't even know who the person is in the yellow top. Feels like a lifetime ago. Love this journey I've been on and even though I'm not 100% Keto all the time, love the Keto way! #keto #ketoweightloss #ketosuccess #ketosis #ketofam #ketodiet #ketogenicdiet #ketogeniclife #ketogenicliving #weightloss #weightlossjourney #weightlosstransformation #weightlossinspo #ketogenicweightloss #lowcarb #lowcarbweightloss
Note that women with thyroid or adrenal dysregulation require more healthy carbs. In general, the optimal carbohydrate level for you can vary over the years, such as when you’re more active physically or breastfeeding or stressed. Chronically eating low carb may increase your risk of mood disorders, so I urge caution and that you work with your healthcare professional. To be safe, eat the most carbs that you can tolerate while staying in ketosis.
Depending on how you choose your fats, the keto diet can contain an abundance of saturated fat, which raises levels of dangerous LDL cholesterol and causes atherosclerosis, the buildup of fats and cholesterol in the arteries. If you decide to go keto, have a doctor monitor your cholesterol levels monthly to ensure you remain within a healthy range.
In the first week, many people report headaches, mental fogginess, dizziness, and aggravation. Most of the time, this is the result of your electrolytes being flushed out, as ketosis has a diuretic effect. Make sure you drink plenty of water and keep your sodium intake up.6One of the fathers of keto, Dr. Phinney, shows that electrolyte levels (especially sodium) can become unbalanced with low carb intake.
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