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.
There are numerous benefits that come with being on keto: from weight loss and increased energy levels to therapeutic medical applications. Most anyone can safely benefit from eating a low-carb, high-fat diet. Below, you’ll find a short list of the benefits you can receive from a ketogenic diet. For a more comprehensive list, you can also read our in-depth article here >
But there is evidence that low-carb diets may increase metabolism, according to a paper published November 14 in BMJ. Researchers found that overweight adults who lowered carbohydrates and added more fat into their diets burned about 250 calories more each day than people on high-carb, low-fat diets. The study is impressive because it's the largest, most expensive, and controlled study of its kind.

The ketogenic diet is not a benign, holistic, or natural treatment for epilepsy; as with any serious medical therapy, complications may result.[28] These are generally less severe and less frequent than with anticonvulsant medication or surgery.[28] 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[38] and cholesterol levels may increase by around 30%.[28] 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.[38] Supplements are necessary to counter the dietary deficiency of many micronutrients.[18]


Hence, the 2 main objectives of this study were to assess the changes in body composition and muscle strength promoted by a VLCK diet in the treatment of obese patients and to compare different methodologies used to evaluate body composition. To achieve this, body composition was evaluated by 3 potent and well-validated techniques: dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), multifrequency bioelectrical impedance analysis (MF-BIA), and air displacement plethysmography (ADP) at different stages during the weight reduction process induced by a VLCK diet.
Children who discontinue the diet after achieving seizure freedom have about a 20% risk of seizures returning. The length of time until recurrence is highly variable, but averages two years. This risk of recurrence compares with 10% for resective surgery (where part of the brain is removed) and 30–50% for anticonvulsant therapy. Of those who have a recurrence, just over half can regain freedom from seizures either with anticonvulsants or by returning to the ketogenic diet. Recurrence is more likely if, despite seizure freedom, an electroencephalogram shows epileptiform spikes, which indicate epileptic activity in the brain but are below the level that will cause a seizure. Recurrence is also likely if an MRI scan shows focal abnormalities (for example, as in children with tuberous sclerosis). Such children may remain on the diet longer than average, and children with tuberous sclerosis who achieve seizure freedom could remain on the ketogenic diet indefinitely.[46]
A recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial found that subjects who received 400 mg garlic powder tablets twice a day lost significantly more fat than the control group. Although there are many confounding variables in this trial, animal studies back up the human findings by providing us with evidence that garlic supplementation can have anti-obesogenic effects (i.e., garlic prevents weight gain) in mice.
Dr. Campos, it is unfortunate that you retain the medical community’s negative stance on the ketogenic diet, probably picked up in medical school when you studied ketoacidosis, in the midst of an obesity and type II diabetes epidemic that is growing every year, especially among populations who will never see the Harvard Health Letter. The medical community has failed in reversing this trend, especially among children, and the public is picking up the tab, in the form of higher health insurance premiums to treat chronic metabolic diseases which doctors cannot cure. The ketogenic diet does not bid its adherents to eat unhealthy processed meats, and the green leafy vegetables that it emphasizes are important in a number of nutritional deficiencies. People lose weight on the ketogenic diet, they lose their craving for sugar, they feel more satiety, they may become less depressed, their insulin receptors sensitivity is improved, and these are all the good outcomes you fail to mention. There is a growing body of research which demonstrates the neuroprotective effects of the ketogenic diet to slow cancer progression, as well as diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, for which there are no effective medical treatments. Please respect your patients by providing them with evidence-based medical outcomes, not opinions.
The observation that the VLCK diet severely reduced FM while preserving muscle mass was reinforced by the maintenance of its physiological action (i.e., muscle strength). Despite a slight reduction in ALM and ASLM, as determined by DXA and MF-BIA, respectively, crude HG remained unchanged during the study (Table 1). Moreover, HG/ALM and HG/ASLM showed a moderate increase in comparison with baseline [Fig. 3(C)].
“I discovered the ketogenic diet in 2017 and since then I have come to truly believe it is the metabolic and nutritional pathway to overall health. Hippocrates once stated, ‘All disease begins in the gut” and I now truly believe the right food can cure. I am now discouraging patients from undergoing bariatric surgery too soon and advising them to try the keto diet first. Diet Doctor gives people the knowledge they need. It is a place where everyone can go to learn and have fun with this nutritional approach.”
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).
–Make healthy breakfast fun with these little low carb blueberry pancake dippers. They're easy enough to make on a weekday morning! This post is sponsored by Wyman's. Do you get into a breakfast rut? You wake up, wander to the kitchen, grab a cup of coffee and think...same old same old. You could have eggs...again. Or you could have a low carb muffin...again. Maybe you have some low carb bread on hand for toast...again. Whatever your breakfast routine, you're sick of it and you want something different. Yep, this happens in my house too, with relative frequency.All Day I Dream About Food
Determining the diet that best suits you is a very individual choice, so it's hard to make a general recommendation for one type of diet. You can lose weight through a variety of eating styles, whether you choose a low-carb, low-fat, keto or Mediterranean diet, or another one. But in general, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains is going to help you lose weight and achieve a healthy lifestyle.

How it’s done: Warm up the LEVL or Ketonix meter by plugging it in. Blow into it and wait for the flashing light indicating it’s reading your acetone levels. The software or the color and speed of the flashing light would tell your reading: green for least acetone, red for most acetone, less flashing for less acetone per color, more flashing for more acetone per color.


“After a decade of watching patients with chronic disease get sicker with traditional medical advice, discovering the effectiveness of low-carb was a breath of fresh air! My practice now focuses entirely on patients wishing to follow low-carbohydrate and ketogenic diet treatment for diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, and other weight-related concerns. I also use ketogenic diets for the treatment of weight-loss surgery patients who regain weight. Diet Doctor is a terrific resource for patients and for the medical students I teach in my Obesity Medicine clerkship; it has nutritionally and scientifically sound information on ketogenic lifestyles and great recipes.”
Letting your blood sugar drop too low when following low-calorie diets -- often containing 1,000 to 1,200 calories daily for women and 1,200 to 1,600 calories a day for men -- can lead to headaches. Low blood sugar, which happens when too little glucose is in your bloodstream, can occur if you skip meals to reach your weight-loss calorie allotment. To help prevent headaches during weight loss, eat regular meals and snacks every few hours or so.
MCT oil powder is a unique form of dietary fat rapidly absorbed by the body and has a wide range of health benefits. Supplementation with MCT powder can help combat fatigue, suppress appetite[*], enhance thermogenesis (aka ‘fat burning’)[*] and help your body adapt to using ketones for fuel. A recent scientific review showed that MCTs can effectively decrease body weight, total body fat, hip circumference, waist circumference, total subcutaneous fat and visceral fat[*]. Check out this articlefor more information on how to supplement with MCTs.
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.
Here’s a nutritional list of some of the more commonly consumed vegetables on keto. Keep in mind that the weights are the same of everything listed so that it will impact the skew of the carb counts. For example, in a meal you may have 6 oz. of broccoli in the side, but you would not have 6 oz. worth of berries in the morning. You may mix 6 oz. of berries into a pudding with 4 servings.

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.
There is a lot of information out there on the ketogenic diet, and sometimes that abundance of information can be confusing!  Do you need to count macros? What are macros anyway?!?  How many carbs can I eat on the Keto Diet?  What is keto flu?  How do you get enough electrolytes in your Keto Diet to avoid cramps and other keto flu symptoms?  How much water should you drink?  Is diet soda ok on keto?  What foods are keto approved?  Will I gain the weight back after keto?  Is the Keto Diet safe?

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.
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.
24. Watson N.A., Dyer K.A., Buckley J.D., Brinkworth G.D., Coates A.M., Parfitt G., Howe P.R.C., Noakes M., Dye L., Chadwick H., et al. A randomised trial comparing low-fat diets differing in carbohydrate and protein ratio, combined with regular moderate intensity exercise, on glycaemic control, cardiometabolic risk factors, food cravings, cognitive function and psychological wellbeing in adults with type 2 diabetes: Study protocol. Contemp. Clin. Trials. 2015;45:217–225. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
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.
The ketogenic diet, or even just a higher-fat, low-carb diet, has now gained massive support as a modern-day healing strategy. In fact, our ideas about fats and cholesterol seem to have been almost completely reversed in recent years. That being said, many people see their cholesterol go up after beginning more of a ketogenic lifestyle. Some people get concerned when this happens, so in this article, I am going to address the phenomena of high cholesterol on a ketogenic diet.
My advice is to keep your food plan in balance—eat mostly vegetables (about 1-2 pounds per day), eat the minimum protein to preserve lean body mass, avoid processed foods and those that inflame you, and track your body composition over time. Extreme works for some people, but not for me, and not for all women. I prefer getting into ketosis via intermittent fasting, on a 16/8 protocol.
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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