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.
d) Or does the entire question revert back to a classic calorie counting exercise? In this case, I’ll eat the minimum amount of protein that is needed to prevent my muscles from being cannibalized (for energy) and for the rest, I’ll limit my dietary fat intake per day to a level, where its energy + energy currently obtained from adipose tissue match my total energy need? (I’ll leave gluconeogenesis out of this equation for simplicity.) If this is the case, I’ll lose adipose tissue, i.e. lose weight, but the interesting question still remains: How much energy can my body extract from the adipose tissue at its best? How can I maximize the share of energy coming from adipose tissue instead of dietary fat?
Touting their discovery as “a great step forward in weight loss history,” the panel were quick to offer up their hard earned cash to back the entrepreneurial pair. “We were shocked. The most we were hoping for was some advice…we weren’t even sure that we would manage to get any investors,” explained Samantha. After outstanding offers from each panel member, the sisters burst into tears.
“I am a physician with type 1 diabetes. I have been using a low-carb, ketogenic diet to treat my own diabetes for the past 16 years. Evidence shows that low-carb diets are safe and effective. With the potential to reverse type 2 diabetes, control type 1 diabetes and even stop, slow down, or reverse complications, a low-carb diet can be life changing. Diet Doctor provides the most accurate and relevant materials for a healthy, easy and fun low-carb experience.”

It is possible to combine the results of several small studies to produce evidence that is stronger than that available from each study alone—a statistical method known as meta-analysis. One of four such analyses, conducted in 2006, looked at 19 studies on a total of 1,084 patients.[23] It concluded that a third achieved an excellent reduction in seizure frequency and half the patients achieved a good reduction.[18]
Gut health is extremely important for anyone looking to lose weight and increase overall health[*][*]. It is not uncommon for those who shift to a ketogenic diet to have a change in the production of bacteria in their colon (although not necessarily a bad thing – just a change)[*]. To help support this change and increase the healthy bacteria in your gut, try consuming more fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi or kefir and/or supplement with a high-quality probiotic[*][*].
Often caused by lymph node removal or damage due to cancer treatment, lymphedema occurs because there’s a blockage in the lymphatic system and results in the swelling in leg or arm. A 2017 study involved patients who suffered from obesity and lymphedema and who embarked on a 18-week ketogenic diet. Weight and limb volume was significantly reduced. (5)
When you’re on keto, you’re less hungry. Ketones help control hormones that influence appetite.[2] They suppress ghrelin, your “hunger hormone,” and at the same time they boost cholecystokinin (CCK) — the hormone that keeps you feeling full.[3] You won’t want to snack as regularly, making it easier to go longer without food. Your body will then reach into its fat stores for energy. The result? More weight loss. Learn more here about how the keto diet suppresses appetite.
In conclusion, this study exhaustively assessed body composition changes during the weight reduction process induced by a VLCK diet. This assessment was performed using 3 complementary techniques: DXA, MF-BIA, and ADP. The VLCK diet induced a marked weight loss that was achieved mainly at the expense of total FM, and also visceral fat, with a maximum conservation of muscle mass and muscle strength. Additionally, MF-BIA was demonstrated to be an effective and convenient alternative for measuring body composition in clinical practice due to its minimal burden for the patient, ease of operation, low cost, and high accuracy.
Gottfried recommends the keto diet (as it’s commonly called) to help with a range of brain and focus issues—she finds ketones to be “very efficient fuel for the brain”; she also says it works well for some patients (not all) who want to lose weight but have trouble kicking sugar cravings. We talked to her about who the keto diet is right for (and whom, or when, it isn’t); the nutritional ins and outs of mastering it; and which keto-friendly meals are healthy for practically everyone, regardless of what diet we do (or don’t) practice.
“I discovered the low-carb lifestyle after struggling myself with my obesity for many years. I was unsuccessful losing weight with the traditional low-fat diet plans that I used to recommend to patients. I researched and reviewed the studies of low-carb/keto eating and I lost weight, becoming a much healthier doctor. I am now passing on that experience onto my patients! When I counsel patients not familiar with low-carb living, I refer them to the Diet Doctor site for testimonials, recipes, and much more.”
a) Why do I need to eat dietary fat during the keto diet if I have plenty of adipose tissue (as is currently the case) that can equally well be used as a source of energy? In your article you simply say that dietary fat is necessary for the keto diet to work, by I can’t see any explanation for that. Eating fat while I already have plenty of it available seems a bit counterintuitive.

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.
Melinda – I’m afraid there’s no getting around the fact that one of the Keto requirements is to *calculate your macros,* based on the amount of calories you need to consume each day, in order to (a) maintain your current weight level, or (b) lose weight. Go to an online Keto macro calculator – there’s one linked to a good one on this site, further up the thread. They are generally very easy to use. Then stick to your calculated results, with trust and patience. It may be slow, but you will absolutely see results. I did – and I’ve tried absolutely everything. I barely have time to exercise, but I still lost at least a couple of dress sizes, and I feel absolutely amazing – no more brain fog, tons of energy – maybe too much energy! And best of all, I’m no longer miserable about food, because on Keto, everything is delicious! One final thing in the interest of full disclosure – I am an uber-clean-Keto advocate. I put in the work to eat only healthy fats and carbs from healthy sources. I’m pescatarian – no meats except seafood. I also carefully limit my saturated fat intake to 10% of total calories (the recommended daily allowance), to keep my genetically problematic cholesterol level from skyrocketing, as it did when I first began. This is all working well for me so far – I was able to cut 40 points from my abnormally high LDL (bad cholesterol) level within three months, And hope to get it down to normal levels in three more months. You do want to make sure you get your regular physical exams and monitor your blood work whenever you change your nutritional lifestyle. I wish you the best!
10. Crujeiras A.B., Morcillo S., Diaz-Lagares A., Sandoval J., Castellano-Castillo D., Torres E., Hervas D., Moran S., Esteller M., Macias-Gonzalez M., et al. Identification of an episignature of human colorectal cancer associated with obesity by genome-wide DNA methylation analysis. Int. J. Obes. (Lond.) 2018 doi: 10.1038/s41366-018-0065-6. [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]
Several studies have investigated the potential of LCD or KD on weight loss. For example, Brinkworth et al. (2) compared one year of low-fat (LF) vs. LCD diet in adults with abdominal obesity. Subjects were randomly assigned and diets were isocaloric, with moderate energy restriction. Both groups realized significant weight loss, however, there was no significant difference between groups, suggesting that a LCD was equally effective as a LF diet.
In theory, a ketogenic diet that increases carbohydrate loads for cardio exercise seems perfect. However, the side effects of a ketogenic diet can include dehydration, malnutrition and constipation. According to the Mayo Clinic website, ketogenic plans also can lead to kidney stones. In addition, the ketogenic diet does not give you the nutrition you need to be healthy. Instead, try cutting portion sizes and counting calories; this also can force your body to burn fat while still providing you with balanced nutrition, including proteins, carbohydrates, fiber and fat. As with any diet, you should discuss a ketogenic diet with your doctor.
If you can't see any ketones, be patient. It typically takes 2-3 days for your body to deplete glycogen stores, so don't expect to be in ketosis after just a day of low-carb. Remember, ketosis is a favourable condition and an indication that your body uses fat for fuel but you can lose weight even without being in ketosis. A diet high in fat, adequate in protein and low in carbohydrates is naturally sating, making you less hungry and, therefore, helps you lose weight.
All anthropometric measurements were undertaken after an overnight fast (8 to 10 hours), under resting conditions, in duplicate, and performed by well-trained health workers. Participants’ body weights were measured to the nearest 0.1 kg on the same calibrated electronic device (Seca 220 scale; Seca North America, Chino, CA), in underwear and without shoes. BMI was calculated by dividing body weight by the height squared [BMI = weight (kg)/height2 (m)]. Waist circumference was recorded with a standard flexible nonelastic metric tape at the middle point between the lower edge of the ribs and the iliac anterior spine. This measurement was made at the end of a normal expiration while the subject stood upright.
Instead of thinking about the total carbs you’re eating, assess what those carbs provide to you. Do the majority of your carbs come from fruit and vegetables, with a payload of fiber and disease-fighting antioxidants? Fantastic. Or are you consuming them in the form of added sugars (cookies, candy, soda) or refined flour? If you are, you know what to do.

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. 

The American Academy of Family Physicians defines low-carbohydrate diets as diets that restrict carbohydrate intake to 20 to 60 grams per day, typically less than 20% of caloric intake.[2] A 2016 review of low-carbohydrate diets classified diets with 50g of carbohydrate per day (less than 10% of total calories) as "very low" and diets with 40% of calories from carbohydrates as "mild" low-carbohydrate diets.[18] In a 2015 review Richard D. Feinman and colleagues proposed that a very low carbohydrate diet had less that 10% caloric intake from carbohydrate, a low carbohydrate diet less than 26%, a medium carbohydrate diet less than 45%, and a high carbohydrate diet more than 45%.[16]
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.
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.
The modified Atkins diet reduces seizure frequency by more than 50% in 43% of patients who try it and by more than 90% in 27% of patients.[18] Few adverse effects have been reported, though cholesterol is increased and the diet has not been studied long term.[48] Although based on a smaller data set (126 adults and children from 11 studies over five centres), these results from 2009 compare favourably with the traditional ketogenic diet.[18]
If any of your numbers are significantly different from what is listed, there may be deeper underlying health issues to be addressed. These are things that can be great to work on with a functional medicine or nutrition practitioner to find the root of your issues. You can get a comprehensive idea of your cholesterol and inflammation levels with our Complete Thyroid Report.
The keto diet works for such a high percentage of people because it targets several key, underlying causes of weight gain — including hormonal imbalances, especially insulin resistance coupled with high blood sugar levels, and the cycle of restricting and “binging” on empty calories due to hunger that so many dieters struggle with. In fact, these are some of the direct benefits of the keto diet.
The average daily goal for keto is 20 grams of net carbs. Net carbs are the total carbs in a given serving of food, minus the carbohydrates that are supplied by fiber. You’ll find carb grams quickly add up, even when you’re choosing the best low-carb foods, like spinach and avocado. Keeping your body in a quasi-keto state can be hard on you, warns Santo: “This will leave you feeling sluggish, foggy, and discouraged,” he says. “It will most likely cause a weight plateau, and maybe even weight gain.” Here’s what it’s really like to be on a keto diet.

There is evidence that the quality, rather than the quantity, of carbohydrate in a diet is important for health, and that high-fiber slow-digesting carbohydrate-rich foods are healthful while highly-refined and sugary foods are less so.[4] People choosing diet for health conditions should have their diet tailored to their individual requirements.[19] For people with metabolic conditions, in general a diet with approximately 40-50% high-quality carbohydrate is compatible with what is scientifically established to be a healthy diet.[19]
Thank you, Dr. Jockers. I really appreciate your reply. I was wondering if insulin resistance would make my cholesterol go up on the ketogenic diet from a total of 220 before I went on it to 378 after being on it for six months. I have always been in a healthy weight range for my height, but I have always been extremely hungry most of the time. I really got on the ketogenic diet hoping that this would be regulated after being on it for some time, but it hasn’t helped that much. Would this signify that insulin resistance may be the culprit for my sudden rise in cholesterol even though I am following the ketogenic diet perfectly?
Several recent studies indicate that a low-carbohydrate diet is effective at improving glycemia. A few studies have shown that in non-diabetic individuals, low-carbohydrate diets were more effective than higher carbohydrate diets at improving fasting serum glucose [13,14] and insulin [6,14-16], and at improving insulin sensitivity as measured by the homeostasis model [6]. One of these studies also included diabetic patients and noted a comparative improvement in hemoglobin A1c after 6 months (low fat diet: 0.0 ± 1.0%; low carbohydrate diet: -0.6 ± 1.2%, p = 0.06) [6] and 12 months (low fat diet: -0.1 ± 1.6%; low carbohydrate diet: -0.7 ± 1.0%, p = 0.019) duration [5]. In a 5-week crossover feeding study, 8 men with type 2 diabetes had greater improvement in fasting glucose, 24-hour glucose area-under-the-curve (AUC), 24-hour insulin AUC, and glycohemoglobin while on the low-carbohydrate diet than when on a eucaloric low-fat diet [7]. In a 14-day inpatient feeding study, 10 participants with type 2 diabetes experienced improvements in hemoglobin A1c and insulin sensitivity as measured by the euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp method [8]. Hemoglobin A1c also improved in an outpatient study of 16 participants who followed a 20% carbohydrate diet for 24 weeks [9].
Being constantly stressed keeps your sugar-boosting hormone cortisol jacked up, which not only elevates your blood sugar but also short-circuits fat loss. And let's be honest: When you're stressed out, you're more likely to nose-dive into keto-unfriendly foods, like comfort carbs. Find ways to dial down stress levels. I find even five minutes of shutting my eyes and taking deep, diaphragmatic breaths can give me a renewed focus and take stress down a few notches.

Changes in food craving during the very low-calorie-ketogenic diet treatment. (A) Food craving trait and state. (B) Food craving inventory. 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.
When your body burns its stores of fat, it can be hard on your kidneys. And starting a ketogenic diet -- or going back to a normal diet afterward -- can be tricky if you’re obese because of other health issues you’re likely to have, like diabetes, a heart condition, or high blood pressure. If you have any of these conditions, make diet changes slowly and only with the guidance of your doctor.
^ Freeman JM, Vining EP, Pillas DJ, Pyzik PL, Casey JC, Kelly LM. The efficacy of the ketogenic diet—1998: a prospective evaluation of intervention in 150 children. Pediatrics. 1998 Dec;102(6):1358–63. doi:10.1542/peds.102.6.1358. PMID 9832569. https://web.archive.org/web/20040629224858/http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/press/1998/DECEMBER/981207.HTM Lay summary]—JHMI Office of Communications and Public Affairs. Updated 7 December 1998. Cited 6 March 2008.

An important strength of this study was the use of 3 different techniques for determining body composition in different settings, i.e., obesity and no ketosis, marked reduction in body weight with high ketosis, and finally, substantial reduction in body weight without ketosis. The tight control of adherence by daily measurement of B-OHB is another relevant strength of this work. A potential limitation of our study could be the sample size; however, because each subject underwent 4 evaluations, enabling each individual subject’s own results to be compared, this adds statistical power to the study and a real difference between the experimental points.
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!!!!
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