“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.”
Ketosis improves certain forms of cellular healing, including mitochondrial biogenesis (the making of new, bigger, and higher energy-producing mitochondria), so that your cells are stronger and have more stamina, particularly when it comes to exercise. For example, some endurance and ultra-endurance athletes believe that their performance improves in nutritional ketosis compared to sugar burning, when they have more fat than carb reserves. But because of the limited data, and available data suggesting that athletes may actually perform worse on nutritional ketosis, I do not currently recommend it for elite athletes.
A lot of people on the keto diet tend to go absolutely overboard with the unhealthy food that they pack into their plan. Sure a bunch of cheese, mayonnaise and bacon will fit into a seventy-five percent fat allowance, however, for your health these foods are not always the best option. Your day to day seventy-five percent fat allowance is meant to be used for healthy sources of fat such as such avocados, coconut oil, whole eggs, nuts and fats found in unprocessed meats such as beef, salmon, chicken thighs, ground pork or turkey.

Most carbs you consume are broken down into sugar that enters the bloodstream. When you rein in carbohydrates on the keto diet, you have lower levels of blood glucose (high blood glucose can lead to diabetes). A study in the journal Nutrition reveals that a ketogenic diet improves blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetics more significantly than a low-calorie diet and can also decrease the dosage of your diabetes meds.

4. Gomez-Arbelaez D., Bellido D., Castro A.I., Ordonez-Mayan L., Carreira J., Galban C., Martinez-Olmos M.A., Crujeiras A.B., Sajoux I., Casanueva F.F. Body composition changes after very-low-calorie ketogenic diet in obesity evaluated by 3 standardized methods. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 2017;102:488–498. doi: 10.1210/jc.2016-2385. [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]
Stock up: Jet.com's new City Grocery service (available in select markets) makes it easy to ensure you always have keto-friendly veggies in the fridge. We love their delivery scheduling tool; simply fill your cart, then decide which day and timeframe you'd like your groceries delivered. One of our faves: Urban Roots Green Squash Veggie Noodles are great for whipping up low-carb "pasta" dishes.
“As a family physician in the most obese state in the USA, I see the devastation of type 2 diabetes and metabolic disease in almost every hospital patient I see. For six years, I have been using education and a low-carb lifestyle to help these patients get healthier, reduce meds, gain energy, and lose belly fat. They learn that this is a sustainable life plan filled with joy and good food. Every day I share the amazing resource of Diet Doctor in my practice. Together as a global community we can put these conditions in remission and prevent them all together.”
“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.”

In addition, on the day the diet was initiated, diabetes medications were reduced – generally, insulin doses were halved, and sulfonylurea doses were halved or discontinued. Due to the possible diuretic effects of the diet soon after initiation, diuretic medications were discontinued if of low dosage (up to 25 mg of hydrochlorothiazide or 20 mg of furosemide) or halved if of higher dosage. Participants were also instructed to take a standard multivitamin and drink 6–8 glasses of water daily, and were encouraged to exercise aerobically for 30 minutes at least three times per week.
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.
Hi Maya. I LOVE your site!! Interesting, informative with fab recipes and ideas. Hubby and I have just started eating low carb and I have to say, we are not finding it too difficult and I already feel sooo much better!! I find the hardest part is choosing low carb veg, I feel as if we are not eating enough. Any suggestions on how to get more veggies into our diet?
In terms of weight loss, you may be interested in trying the ketogenic diet because you’ve heard that it can make a big impact right away. And that’s true. “Ketogenic diets will cause you to lose weight within the first week,” says Mattinson. She explains that your body will first use up all of its glycogen stores (the storage form of carbohydrate). With depleted glycogen, you’ll drop water weight. While it can be motivating to see the number on the scale go down (often dramatically), do keep in mind that most of this is water loss initially.
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. 

Low-carbohydrate diets or carbohydrate-restricted diets (CRDs) are diets that restrict carbohydrate consumption. Foods high in carbohydrates (e.g., sugar, bread, pasta) are limited or replaced with foods containing a higher percentage of fats and moderate protein (e.g., meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, cheese, nuts, and seeds) and other foods low in carbohydrates (e.g., most salad vegetables such as spinach, kale, chard and collards), although other vegetables and fruits (especially berries) are often allowed.
“In my psychiatric practice, the high rate of obesity and metabolic disorders among my patients prompted me to develop an integrative therapeutic response, especially to address frequent patterns of impulsivity/compulsivity, low energy/lethargy, mood instability, mental fog, poor concentration and cognitive deterioration. A real-food, low-carb, healthy-fat, often ketogenic lifestyle, combined with intermittent fasting, stress management, rest, and movement — and appropriate pharmacotherapy as needed — results in improved general health, cognitive function, mood management, and quality of life. Diet Doctor, especially the new Spanish site, is a great tool for my patients.”
HDL is still low and stuck on 45 even after hoping strongly with more healthy saturated fats organic bone broth from lamb bones, etc. LDL way up 170 and triglycerides a a record high of 170, Non HDL choleseterol at 203. Kinda surprizd I cannot more that HDL number aftyer all the keto stuff. And unsure why the LDL has exploded since stress has always been with me these last 9 years.
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.
Eat fats with all your meals. Fats are the cornerstone of the ketogenic diet, and will encourage your body to burn fatty ketones for fuel. Typically, calories from fat should comprise 80 – 90% of your meals.[10] (However, you cannot eat unlimited fats on a ketogenic diet; the calories can still add up and cause weight gain.[11]) Examples of fatty foods include:
Table 2 contains the correlation matrix that assessed the association between the changes in the physical and psychological states. Many relevant R-coefficients were found, confirming that changes in body composition (BMI, FM, FFM, and weight) and ketosis were strongly related to the differences in food craving, alcohol craving, sleep patterns, physical activity, and sexual activity. These associations emerged when changes between baseline and maximum ketosis were assessed, and they remained quite similar for changes estimated between baseline and reduced ketosis or endpoint. Regarding the ketosis change levels, associations emerged with some subscales in all the psychological questionnaires, except for the FCI scales and the multidimensional alcohol craving measures.

Keep up electrolytes. The major electrolytes in our bodies are sodium, potassium and magnesium. Because a low carb diet (especially a keto diet!) reduces the amount of water you store, this can flush out electrolytes and make you feel sick (called “keto flu”). This is temporary, but you can avoid or eliminate it by salting your food liberally, drinking broth (especially bone broth), and eating pickled vegetables. Some people also choose to take supplements for electrolytes, but it’s best to first consult a doctor that understands and supports keto/low carb lifestyles.
Effect of the nutritional intervention on sexual activity in men (A) and women (B). Data represent mean ± standard error of changes from baseline. (ƚ) Denotes statistically significant differences through the intervention (p for trend < 0.05) evaluated by means of repeated-measures ANOVA. (*) Denotes statistically significant differences (p < 0.05) from baseline after post-hoc pairwise comparisons employing the Tukey’s adjustment for multiple comparisons.
Some previous studies have suggested that very-low-calorie ketogenic (VLCK) diets may be effective tools to manage overweight and obesity (10, 11, 13). VLCK diets are a nutritional intervention that emulate fasting by restricting carbohydrates and fat with a relative increase in protein intake (6). The increased protein content may be partially responsible for the muscle mass preservation (12–14). Importantly, the weight-reducing action of these diets is rapid, and despite the fact that the ketosis state lasts only 60 to 90 days at the start of treatment, the weight reduction remains for up to 2 years (13). Therefore, VLCK diets operate by potent mechanisms to induce weight loss, and various body compartments might be altered. To the best of our knowledge, no studies have exhaustively assessed the changes in body composition associated with this type of diet, and variations in muscle strength have been only assessed in athletes (15).

Over the past century, ketogenic diets have also been used as natural remedies to treat and even help reverse neurological disorders and cognitive impairments, including epilepsy, Alzheimer’s symptoms, manic depression and anxiety. Research shows that cutting off glucose levels with a very low-carb diet makes your body produce ketones for fuel. This change can help to reverse neurological disorders and cognitive impairment, including inducing seizure control. The brain is able to use this alternative source of energy instead of the cellular energy pathways that aren’t functioning normally in patients with brain disorders.

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.
On the ketogenic diet, you will find a lot of recipes that call for almond flour and flax meal, which are healthy low-carb flour alternatives. Make sure, however, that you are aware of how much of these low-carb flours you are using. An over-reliance on these nut and seed flours can unknowingly cause you to consume too many calories, carbs, and inflammatory fats.
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).
Dr. Jockers, thank you so much for this clear and detailed article! I began a keto-style diet around August 2019. By late November, I had fallen from 197 lbs. to under 175 lbs., dropped from 28% to 18% body fat, and anecdotally felt much better in all aspects of my health. All of this occurred exclusively due to diet, I believe– I had almost no exercise routine to speak of, and my desk-based job is pretty sedentary. My family practice doc was surprised and happy with the results as well when I met with him in January… until my blood work came back showing total cholesterol at 257, triglycerides at 236, LDL-C at 162, and HDL at 50.
Option 3: "Make your own keto 'lunchable' with cubes of grilled chicken, a slice of nitrate-free ham, cheese cubes, pickle slices, a hard-boiled egg, a few raw grape tomatoes, raw veggies like cauliflower or broccoli, a few almonds or walnuts, guacamole, and ranch dressing," says Stefanski. (Looking for something meat-free? Here are 29 Vegetarian Keto Recipes for Plant-Based Eaters.)
We’re going full on fats with breakfast, just like we did last week. This time we’ll double the amount of ketoproof coffee (or tea) we drink, meaning we double the amount of coconut oil, butter, and heavy cream. It should come to quite a lot of calories, and should definitely keep us full all the way to dinner. Remember to continue drinking water like a fiend to make sure you’re staying hydrated.
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