If you’ve decided to move forward in trying the keto diet, you will want to stick to the parameters of the eating plan. Roughly 60 to 80 percent of your calories will come from fats. That means you’ll eat meats, fats, and oils, and a very limited amount of nonstarchy vegetables, she says. (This is different from a traditional low-carb diet, as even fewer carbs are allowed on the keto diet.)
Some negative side effects of a long-term ketogenic diet have been suggested, including increased risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis, and increased blood levels of uric acid (a risk factor for gout). Possible nutrient deficiencies may arise if a variety of recommended foods on the ketogenic diet are not included. It is important to not solely focus on eating high-fat foods, but to include a daily variety of the allowed meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds to ensure adequate intakes of fiber, B vitamins, and minerals (iron, magnesium, zinc)—nutrients typically found in foods like whole grains that are restricted from the diet. Because whole food groups are excluded, assistance from a registered dietitian may be beneficial in creating a ketogenic diet that minimizes nutrient deficiencies.
“I encounter many patients who are interested in LCHF and are finding benefit in weight reduction, better diabetes control, improved endurance and energy levels, and improved lipid profiles. There is a great deal of confusion out there about the diet, much of it based on outdated science or an incomplete understanding of the topic. I feel that I owe it to patients to be informed about LCHF so that I can advise them on the risks and benefits it could have for them.”
“Net carbs” and “impact carbs” are familiar phrases in ketogenic diets as well as diabetic diets. They are unregulated interchangeable terms invented by food manufacturers as a marketing strategy, appearing on some food labels to claim that the product contains less “usable” carbohydrate than is listed. [6] Net carbs or impact carbs are the amount of carbohydrate that are directly absorbed by the body and contribute calories. They are calculated by subtracting the amount of indigestible carbohydrates from the total carbohydrate amount. Indigestible (unabsorbed) carbohydrates include insoluble fibers from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables; and sugar alcohols, such as mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol commonly used in sugar-free diabetic food products. However, these calculations are not an exact or reliable science because the effect of sugar alcohols on absorption and blood sugar can vary. Some sugar alcohols may still contribute calories and raise blood sugar. The total calorie level also does not change despite the amount of net carbs, which is an important factor with weight loss. There is debate even within the ketogenic diet community about the value of using net carbs.
And good news for coffee addicts: you can still have your morning cup of joe. You’ll just need to adjust what you stir into it. Switch out flavored creamer for the real deal—full-fat heavy whipping cream, which has only 1 gram of carbs per tablespoon. If you want to give your java a jolt of sweet, stir in a low-carb sweetener that uses sugar alcohols. But if you can skip the sweet, even better. In time, you’ll retrain your palate to not crave a sugary start to the day. This is what everyone gets wrong about the keto diet.
Fat: Most of the calories in a ketogenic diet come from fat, which is used for energy. The exact amount of fat a person needs to eat will depend on carbohydrate and protein intake, how many calories they use during the day, and whether they are losing weight (using their body fat for energy). Depending on these factors, somewhere in the range of 60 to 80 percent of calories will come from fats on a ketogenic diet (even up to 90 percent on, for example, the Ketogenic Diet for Epilepsy). People tend not to overeat on diets this high in fat, so calorie counting is rarely necessary.
One thing many people love about keto diet meal plans is that tracking your food is optional. "One of the biggest benefits of the ketogenic diet is that there's no need to meticulously track your calories like you may in other diets," notes Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of DrAxe.com, best-selling author of Eat Dirt, and cofounder of Ancient Nutrition. "Because you're filling up on fat and protein, you're more likely to feel satisfied and energized all day long, which causes you to naturally eat less." This isn't to say that food tracking on keto is discouraged. "Some people may find calorie counting a useful tool to be more mindful and aware of what they're eating, but it's not necessary on the ketogenic diet," says Dr. Axe, but there's no need to get too stressed about hitting a certain caloric goal, especially if you're not trying to lose weight. (Related: The #1 Reason to Stop Counting Calories)
In this section you’ll find the original set of 12 weeks of Keto Menu Plans that thousands and thousands of people have used to lose up to 50 pounds or more on the Keto Diet!  Easy and delicious recipes, shopping lists and prep lists to make your transition into keto foolproof and effective!  You can use an app to input the data if you want to track your macros, but honestly if you’re following these plans closely you shouldn’t need to!

“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.”
If you need to eat more or fewer calories per day, you can adjust accordingly by simply taking out or adding a bit more of the ingredients already included in a recipe. For example, adding/removing a tablespoon of olive oil or butter will add/remove about 100 calories. If you like or dislike certain recipes, feel free to shift things around. Make sure to keep an eye on the calories so you’re still falling within an acceptable range of your daily goal.
Getting into ketosis is a critical component of the ketogenic diet. You can achieve ketosis by fasting, cutting carbs drastically (typically under 50 grams a day), and/or taking keto supplements, such as BHB (exogenous ketones) and MCT-based meal replacement shakes. After becoming fat-adapted, incorporating intermittent fasting (IF) can help boost weight loss or break weight loss plateaus. The most common method is 16:8 where you go 16 hours without eating, and consume all of your calories during an 8-hour eating window.
Carbohydrates have been linked to this skin condition, so cutting down on them may help. And the drop in insulin that a ketogenic diet can trigger may also help stop acne breakouts. (Insulin can cause your body to make other hormones that bring on outbreaks.) Still, more research is needed to determine exactly how much effect, if any, the diet actually has on acne. 
In essence, it is a diet that causes the body to release ketones into the bloodstream. Most cells prefer to use blood sugar, which comes from carbohydrates, as the body’s main source of energy. In the absence of circulating blood sugar from food, we start breaking down stored fat into molecules called ketone bodies (the process is called ketosis). Once you reach ketosis, most cells will use ketone bodies to generate energy until we start eating carbohydrates again. The shift, from using circulating glucose to breaking down stored fat as a source of energy, usually happens over two to four days of eating fewer than 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. Keep in mind that this is a highly individualized process, and some people need a more restricted diet to start producing enough ketones.
The ketogenic diet has been shown to produce beneficial metabolic changes in the short-term. Along with weight loss, health parameters associated with carrying excess weight have improved, such as insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol and triglycerides. [2,7] There is also growing interest in the use of low-carbohydrate diets, including the ketogenic diet, for type 2 diabetes. Several theories exist as to why the ketogenic diet promotes weight loss, though they have not been consistently shown in research: [2,8,9]

“I am a hospitalist/primary care doctor and also a specialist in obesity. As I see it, nutrition and other lifestyle factors are at the root of most of the diseases I treat. My own health issues corrected with LCHF. I went on to recommend LCHF to my patients, who have since experienced a wide variety of improved outcomes. Face-to-face time with patients is frustratingly short so simply writing “DietDoctor.com” on slip of paper and handing it to patients is a great way to set them in the direction of trustworthy diet information.”
Note: Are you a vegetarian or vegan and want to go on a ketogenic diet? It’s still possible! Just keep in mind that the dietary restrictions can sometimes be a little bit intense. Make sure to plan ahead and prepare to aid your success. To help out, we’ve published articles (with 7 day meal plans included) for both the vegetarian ketogenic diet and the vegan ketogenic diet.

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.
A survey in 2005 of 88 paediatric neurologists in the US found that 36% regularly prescribed the diet after three or more drugs had failed, 24% occasionally prescribed the diet as a last resort, 24% had only prescribed the diet in a few rare cases, and 16% had never prescribed the diet. Several possible explanations exist for this gap between evidence and clinical practice.[34] One major factor may be the lack of adequately trained dietitians, who are needed to administer a ketogenic diet programme.[31]

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.
Protein: When people first reduce carbohydrates in their diets, it doesn't seem as though the amount of protein they eat is as important to ketosis as it often becomes later on. For example, people on the Atkins diet often eat fairly large amounts of protein in the early stages and remain in ketosis. However, over time, some (perhaps most) people need to be more careful about the amount of protein they eat as (anecdotally) the bodies of many people seem to "get better" at converting protein into glucose (gluconeogenesis). At that point, each individual needs to experiment to see if too much protein is throwing them out of ketosis and adjust as necessary.
High-fat dairy also contains high-quality protein, vitamins, minerals, and conjugated linoleic acid (one of the few fatty acids that have been found to promote fat loss). The combination of these nutrients is essential for maintaining strength and function as we age. By adding just 7 ounces of ricotta cheese to their daily diet, for example, the older participants of a recent study were able to increase their muscle mass and muscle strength. In other words, ask for extra cheese, please.

My point here is that the warnings about the ketogenic principles are well taken and well documented. My concern is implications that this is a fad. I don’t use the word diet with my patients and I’m concerned that the principles behind the label and the real results that these readers have commented on might get minimized. I have found it best to encourage patients to read authors like: Stephen Phinney, Jeff Volek, Patricia Daly, and Charles Gant and the be partners with their doctors and check blood work as they move along. I am not for or against the article. If ketogenic principles offer people enduring, satisfying, and cohesive change then why not read about its potential and flexilbity?


“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.”
Conceptualization, A.I.C., A.B.C., P.L.-J., F.F.-A. and F.F.C.; Data curation, A.I.C. and D.G.-A.; Formal analysis, R.G., Z.A. and S.J.-M.; Investigation, A.I.C., D.G.-A., A.B.C. and F.F.C.; Methodology, A.B.C., I.S., F.F.-A. and F.F.C.; Supervision, F.F.C.; Writing—original draft, A.I.C., D.G.-A., A.B.C. and F.F.C.; Writing—review & editing, A.I.C., D.G.-A., A.B.C., R.G., Z.A., S.J.-M., I.S., P.L.-J., F.F.-A. and F.F.C.
Seasonings and sauces are a tricky part of ketogenic diet foods, but people use them on a regular basis to add flavor to their meals. The easiest way to remain strict here is to avoid processed foods. There are many low carb condiments and products on the market, and there’s no way to list them all. A handful of them are great, but the majority use high glycemic index sweeteners – which you want to avoid.
In most circles, ketosis refers to nutritional ketosis, an optimized state in which you burn fat instead of sugar. Nutritional ketosis has been used to treat epilepsy since the 1920’s and its popularity for mental acuity and weight loss has surged recently. More technically, ketosis refers to a metabolic state in which most of your body’s energy comes from ketones in the blood, as opposed to glycolysis, in which energy supply comes from blood glucose. Ketones are the energy source made by the body (in the liver) when there’s not enough carbohydrates to be burned for energy demand, so the body turns to fat for energy. The body enters ketosis when blood sugar levels are below a certain level, and liver glycogen is no longer available to produce glucose for energy.
You’re transitioning. Your body is equipped to process a high intake of carbs and a lower intake of fat. Your body needs to create enzymes to be able to do this. In the transitional period, the brain may run low on energy which can lead to grogginess, nausea, and headaches. If you’re having a large problem with this, you can choose to reduce carb intake gradually.
In most circles, ketosis refers to nutritional ketosis, an optimized state in which you burn fat instead of sugar. Nutritional ketosis has been used to treat epilepsy since the 1920’s and its popularity for mental acuity and weight loss has surged recently. More technically, ketosis refers to a metabolic state in which most of your body’s energy comes from ketones in the blood, as opposed to glycolysis, in which energy supply comes from blood glucose. Ketones are the energy source made by the body (in the liver) when there’s not enough carbohydrates to be burned for energy demand, so the body turns to fat for energy. The body enters ketosis when blood sugar levels are below a certain level, and liver glycogen is no longer available to produce glucose for energy.
While it may be new to you, the keto diet has actually been around since the 1920’s, when the Mayo Clinic reported its effectiveness for helping epilepsy (that is still the case). Since then, there’s strong evidence that the keto diet helps with weight loss as well as type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and metabolic syndrome, says Jeff Volek, Ph.D., RD, professor in the department of Human Sciences at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio and co-author of The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living.
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. 

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.
Drink lots of water. This is especially crucial on a low carb or keto diet. Why? When you eat carbohydrates, your body stores the extra as glycogen in the liver, where they are bound to water molecules. Eating low carb depletes this glycogen, which allows you to burn fat – but it also means you are storing less water, making it easier to get dehydrated. Instead of the traditional recommendation of 8 cups of water per day, aim for 16 cups when following a low carb lifestyle. 

During the 1920s and 1930s, when the only anticonvulsant drugs were the sedative bromides (discovered 1857) and phenobarbital (1912), the ketogenic diet was widely used and studied. This changed in 1938 when H. Houston Merritt, Jr. and Tracy Putnam discovered phenytoin (Dilantin), and the focus of research shifted to discovering new drugs. With the introduction of sodium valproate in the 1970s, drugs were available to neurologists that were effective across a broad range of epileptic syndromes and seizure types. The use of the ketogenic diet, by this time restricted to difficult cases such as Lennox–Gastaut syndrome, declined further.[10]
Hi Sylvie, thanks for the positive review! To answer your question about spaghetti squash – it could quite frankly go either way. It has about 7g total carbs per serving (1 cup) and 5.5 net carbs which could be considered a bit high for keto but still on the moderate/low range compared to all the other starchy veggies out there. I would just be mindful of this and consume in moderation 🙂
In 1967, Irwin Stillman published The Doctor's Quick Weight Loss Diet. The "Stillman diet" is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate, and low-fat diet. It is regarded as one of the first low-carbohydrate diets to become popular in the United States.[52] Other low-carbohydrate diets in the 1960s included the Air Force diet[53] and the Drinking Man's Diet.[54] Austrian physician Wolfgang Lutz published his book Leben Ohne Brot (Life Without Bread) in 1967.[55] However, it was not well known in the English-speaking world.
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?
The targeted keto diet follows the basic ketogenic plan until right before a workout. In a traditional ketogenic diet, you focus on proteins and fats in meals. Reducing carbohydrates reduces the energy available from foods. When your body cannot get energy from food sources, it turns to fat stores. It is unclear why this diet helps children with epilepsy, but for those who want to lose weight, the benefit is obvious. You burn off body fat on a ketogenic plan.
People suffering from diabetes and taking insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents suffer severe hypoglycemia if the medications are not appropriately adjusted before initiating this diet. The ketogenic diet is contraindicated in patients with pancreatitis, liver failure, disorders of fat metabolism, primary carnitine deficiency, carnitine palmitoyltransferase deficiency, carnitine translocase deficiency, porphyrias, or pyruvate kinase deficiency. People on a ketogenic diet rarely can have a false positive breath alcohol test. Due to ketonemia, acetone in the body can sometimes be reduced to isopropanol by hepatic alcohol dehydrogenase which can give a false positive alcohol breath test result. 

The ketogenic diet is a medical nutrition therapy that involves participants from various disciplines. Team members include a registered paediatric dietitian who coordinates the diet programme; a paediatric neurologist who is experienced in offering the ketogenic diet; and a registered nurse who is familiar with childhood epilepsy. Additional help may come from a medical social worker who works with the family and a pharmacist who can advise on the carbohydrate content of medicines. Lastly, the parents and other caregivers must be educated in many aspects of the diet for it to be safely implemented.[5]


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:
Collagen is a type of protein that has been shown to suppress appetite[*], provide fullness compared to other proteins like whey, casein, or soy[*], help retain muscle mass[*] and even help to reduce the appearance of cellulite due to it’s ability to improve skin elasticity and thickness[*]. Refer to this article for more information on the benefits of collagen and the best way to supplement it in your diet.
In many developing countries, the ketogenic diet is expensive because dairy fats and meat are more expensive than grain, fruit and vegetables. The modified Atkins diet has been proposed as a lower-cost alternative for those countries; the slightly more expensive food bill can be offset by a reduction in pharmaceutical costs if the diet is successful. The modified Atkins diet is less complex to explain and prepare and requires less support from a dietitian.[55]
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.

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When you’re eating the foods that get you there (more on that in a minute), your body can enter a state of ketosis in one to three days, she adds. During the diet, the majority of calories you consume come from fat, with a little protein and very little carbohydrates. Ketosis also happens if you eat a very low-calorie diet — think doctor-supervised, only when medically recommended diets of 600 to 800 total calories.
Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) – Not technically a ketone but a molecule. Its essential role in the ketogenic diet makes it count as the important ketone body. BHB is synthesized by your liver from acetoacetate. BHB is important because it can freely float throughout your body in your blood, crossing many tissues where other molecules can’t. It enters the mitochondria and gets turned into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the energy currency of your cells. BHB = ATP = energy!
I did Atkins way back and successfully lost 40 lbs and also my gallbladder. Today, I love being in ketosis. (Down 35 lbs so far). There is a learning curve, for sure, and yes, I “fell off the wagon” for a time (long enough to gain a couple pounds back and feel hungry all the time and lethargic) but I am now back in ketosis & love the mental clarity, the energy, weightloss & best of all, not being hungry all the time!
A ketogenic diet changes this. When you go keto, your body goes into ketosis, a glycogen-deprived state from the low carb intake. Instead, fat is oxidized to produce energy, resulting in ketones. Unlike glucose, which provides quick bursts of energy, the energy from fat burns slower. As a result, you may avoid sugar crashes right after a high-carb meal being on a keto diet.

You should then transition to a normalized set of macros. While keto dieting can be good for short term fat loss, it’s important that it not brainwash you into thinking that certain foods or macros are “bad”. Eating a balanced diet with an understanding of your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is the healthiest way to eat and the most sustainable way to lose weight long term.
“I discovered the low-carb, ketogenic diet some four years ago and saw huge improvements in my own health. After establishing that it is based on sound scientific principles I felt compelled to offer it to my patients. We recommend the Diet Doctor website as it offers an unbiased, contemporary source of reliable low-carb ketogenic advice. It is easy to use and you can rely on its integrity.”
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