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.

Basically, carbohydrates are the primary source of energy production in body tissues. When the body is deprived of carbohydrates due to reducing intake to less than 50g per day, insulin secretion is significantly reduced and the body enters a catabolic state. Glycogen stores deplete, forcing the body to go through certain metabolic changes. Two metabolic processes come into action when there is low carbohydrate availability in body tissues: gluconeogenesis and ketogenesis.[4][5]

Obesity is a preventable disease that plagues all the countries of the world, affecting 650 million of its habitants [1,2,3]. In the fight against obesity, a very low-calorie ketogenic (VLCK) diet has consistently been shown to be a useful tool [4,5,6]. Indeed, recent studies from our research group demonstrated that a VLCK diet induces more weight loss than a standard low-calorie diet after 1 and 2 years of follow-up [6]. Among the beneficial effects, the VLCK diet was able to preserve muscle mass, muscle strength [4] and resting metabolic rate [7] and the weight loss was due to fat mass and visceral fat mass [4]. However, obesity is more than an excess body-weight problem [8]. This metabolic disorder is associated with several co-diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular and neurological disorders, and cancer [9,10,11]. Moreover, overweight/obese subjects usually experience a strong desire to eat coupled with a lack of control over eating [12] and suffer from emotional distress and a decrease in quality of life (QoL) and sleep and sexual function [11]. In this regard, few studies have evaluated the effect of weight-loss therapy on the food craving and well-being parameters in overweight/obese subjects.

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. 
Initially, 23 participants were recruited into the study, but 3 dropped out voluntarily during the first week of the intervention for reasons unrelated to diet, and therefore were excluded from analysis. The 20 patients who completed the study exhibited the following baseline characteristics: mean age, 47.2 ± 10.2 years; BMI, 35.5 ± 4.4; and waist circumference, 109.4 ± 12.8 cm; 12 (60%) were women (Supplemental Table 1). Other baseline characteristics and their corresponding changes during the study are presented in Table 1.
Participants returned every other week for 16 weeks for further diet counseling and medication adjustment. When a participant neared half the weight loss goal or experienced cravings, he or she was advised to increase carbohydrate intake by approximately 5 g per day each week as long as weight loss continued. Participants could choose 5 g carbohydrate portions from one of the following foods each week: salad vegetables, low-carbohydrate vegetables, hard or soft cheese, nuts, or low-carbohydrate snacks. Diabetes medication adjustment was based on twice daily glucometer readings and hypoglycemic episodes, while diuretic and other anti-hypertensive medication adjustments were based on orthostatic symptoms, blood pressure, and lower extremity edema.
Physicians of ancient Greece treated diseases, including epilepsy, by altering their patients' diet. An early treatise in the Hippocratic Corpus, On the Sacred Disease, covers the disease; it dates from c. 400 BC. Its author argued against the prevailing view that epilepsy was supernatural in origin and cure, and proposed that dietary therapy had a rational and physical basis.[Note 3] In the same collection, the author of Epidemics describes the case of a man whose epilepsy is cured as quickly as it had appeared, through complete abstinence of food and drink.[Note 4] The royal physician Erasistratus declared, "One inclining to epilepsy should be made to fast without mercy and be put on short rations."[Note 5] Galen believed an "attenuating diet"[Note 6] might afford a cure in mild cases and be helpful in others.[11]
Technically, you can eat any food and lose weight. The key to weight loss is not eating “fat burning foods,” the key to weight loss is a sustained calorie deficit. When you are in a calorie deficit (i.e., eating fewer calories than you need to maintain your weight), your body will be forced to use its energy stores, which includes glycogen (stored sugar) and body fat (stored triglycerides).
Muscular strength was measured with a Jamar handgrip dynamometer (Lafayette Instruments, Lafayette, IN). After a brief demonstration and verbal instructions, the test was performed in the standing position with the wrist in the neutral position and the elbow flexed to 90 degrees. Patients were given verbal encouragement to squeeze as hard as possible and to apply maximal effort for at least 3 seconds. Two trials were allowed in the dominant limb, and the highest score was recorded as peak grip strength (kg). Considering possible influences on the muscular strength of changes in body composition, handgrip strength (HG) was divided by appendicular lean mass (ALM) determined by DXA (HG/ALM) and by appendicular soft lean mass (ASLM) determined by MF-BIA (HG/ASLM).
The Johns Hopkins Hospital protocol for initiating the ketogenic diet has been widely adopted.[43] It involves a consultation with the patient and their caregivers and, later, a short hospital admission.[19] Because of the risk of complications during ketogenic diet initiation, most centres begin the diet under close medical supervision in the hospital.[9]
Klein S, Sheard NF, Pi-Sunyer S, Daly A, Wylie-Rosett J, Kulkarni K, Clark NG. Weight management through lifestyle modification for the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes: rationale and strategies. A statement of the American Diabetes Association, the North American Association for the Study of Obesity, and the American Society for Clinical Nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;80:257–263. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
With funding from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, in 2012 Taubes co-founded the Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI), with the aim of raising over $200 million to undertake a "Manhattan Project for nutrition" and validate the hypothesis.[29][30] Intermediate results, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition did not provide convincing evidence of any advantage to a low-carbohydrate diet as compared to diets of other composition – ultimately a very low-calorie, ketogenic diet (of 5% carbohydrate) "was not associated with significant loss of fat mass" compared to a non-specialized diet with the same calories; there was no useful "metabolic advantage".[6][8] In 2017 Kevin Hall, a NIH researcher hired to assist with the project, wrote that the carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis had been falsified by experiment.[28][8] Hall wrote "the rise in obesity prevalence may be primarily due to increased consumption of refined carbohydrates, but the mechanisms are likely to be quite different from those proposed by the carbohydrate–insulin model".[8]
Yancy WS Jr, Westman EC, McDuffie JR, Grambow SC, Jeffreys AS, Bolton J, Chalecki A, Oddone EZ, “A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet vs orlistat plus a lowfat diet for weight loss,” Arch Intern Med. 2010 Jan 25;170(2):136-45. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20101008?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&ordinalpos=2.

Initially, 23 participants were recruited into the study, but 3 dropped out voluntarily during the first week of the intervention for reasons unrelated to diet, and therefore were excluded from analysis. The 20 patients who completed the study exhibited the following baseline characteristics: mean age, 47.2 ± 10.2 years; BMI, 35.5 ± 4.4; and waist circumference, 109.4 ± 12.8 cm; 12 (60%) were women (Supplemental Table 1). Other baseline characteristics and their corresponding changes during the study are presented in Table 1.
Check the nutrition labels on all your products to see if they’re high in carbs. There are hidden carbs in the unlikeliest of places (like ketchup and canned soups). Try to avoid buying products with dozens of incomprehensible ingredients. Less is usually healthier.Always check the serving sizes against the carb counts. Manufacturers can sometimes recommend inconceivably small serving sizes to seemingly reduce calorie and carb numbers.

Studies are needed to investigate whether the diet can specifically inhibit cancer cells, but the ketogenic diet is shown to reduce levels of insulin and IGF-1. For example, a 2017 study in which participants fasted, omitting carbohydrates during their fasting times, reduced their blood pressure, levels of inflammation, fasting blood glucose and levels of IGF-1.
The keto diet is made up of 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. This combination enables your body to enter a state of ketosis, where the body switches from burning carbs for fuel, to burning fat for fuel. Fat, protein, and carbohydrates are called macronutrients – “macros” for short. To achieve a keto macro breakdown of 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs, you first need to know that:
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.
As the popularity of the Keto Diet has exploded in recent years the true nature of Ketogenic weight loss has gotten blurred. So what is Keto? Very simply Keto refers to Ketosis, the state into which your body enters when it shifts to burning fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. As carbohydrates and sugar intake is restricted, your body begins to break down its fat stores to use as a source of energy. Therefore, the very basics of a Ketogenic Diet are:
“As an interventional cardiologist for 30 years —and an avid runner and active person — I realized as I aged that eating less and moving more did not work for me or for my patients. The ketogenic diet resulted in a 30-pound weight loss and a dramatic increase in energy. As a past president of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, I have been urged by medical colleagues to share my ketogenic knowledge widely. With my wife, a certified health coach, I have established a cardiometabolic clinic for obesity and insulin resistance syndromes. One of the resources we recommend is Diet Doctor.”

I also asked a friend to join me as an accountability partner. She had tried the keto diet before with good success, so having a guide for my myriad questions was a big help. It was also nice to have someone to message at 10 p.m. when I really wanted a cookie so she could commiserate with me. (We agreed the cookie would be delicious, and then ate a cheese stick.)


Dinner: In a small sauce pan bring 2-3 cups of water to the boil. Cook a large egg in rolling boil for 5 minutes, then transfer to ice bath (a bowl with cold water and ice cubes in it). Wash and spin dry butter lettuce, top with sliced avocado and hemp seed. Serve soft boiled egg with cherry tomatoes, butter lettuce salad and mayonnaise as dressing.
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 classic ketogenic, or “keto,” diet calls for consuming a low amount of carbs, a high amount of fat, and a moderate amount of protein. But in the current study, participants induced ketosis by getting the majority of their calories from protein, a small amount from fat, and a low amount from carbs. One of the side effects of very low-calorie diets is loss of lean muscle mass, but on the adjusted keto diet in the study, participants preserved lean muscle mass. Researchers attributed the preservation of lean muscle mass to participants’ sustained RMR, and their results support those of a prior study, published in February 2017 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
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)!

In order to transition and remain in this state, aiming for about 30–50 net grams is typically the recommended amount of total carbs to start with. This is considered a more moderate or flexible approach but can be less overwhelming to begin with. Once you’re more accustomed to “eating keto,” you can choose to lower carbs even more if you’d like (perhaps only from time to time), down to about 20 grams of net carbs daily. This is considered the standard, “strict” amount that many keto dieters aim to adhere to for best results, but remember that everyone is a bit different.
Since this is my full-time job, donations really help me keep afloat and allow me to post as much to the website as I do. I really appreciate any donation you want to give, but you can change the price yourself. I’ve added in $15 as the suggested price. I think that’s a very fair price considering other websites are charging in the hundreds of dollars, and I’ve seen what they are like on the inside.
Various mechanisms may explain the variations in body water. For example, glycogen depletion induced by VLCK diets could cause a marked increase in diuresis, given that glycogen is usually stored together with water (39, 40). Water loss might also be associated with ketonuria, because ketone bodies increase the renal sodium and water loss as a result (39, 41). These assumptions seem reasonable considering that the peak water loss coincides with the phase of maximum ketosis. However, the mechanisms explaining the diuresis observed with VLCK and with most hypocaloric diets are not known at present (30). Contrary to previous observations (42, 43), DXA analysis evidenced a maintenance in bone mineral density in the current study.
^ St Jeor ST, Howard BV, Prewitt TE, Bovee V, Bazzarre T, Eckel RH (October 2001). "Dietary protein and weight reduction: a statement for healthcare professionals from the Nutrition Committee of the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism of the American Heart Association". Circulation. 104 (15): 1869–74. doi:10.1161/circ.104.15.1869 (inactive 15 February 2019). PMID 11591629. These diets are generally associated with higher intakes of total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol because the protein is provided mainly by animal sources. ... Beneficial effects on blood lipids and insulin resistance are due to the weight loss, not to the change in caloric composition. ... High-protein diets may also be associated with increased risk for coronary heart disease due to intakes of saturated fat, cholesterol, and other associated dietary factors.
If there’s any excess glucose, it’s converted to glycogen and stored in either our muscles or liver. If we already have enough stored glycogen, excess glucose is converted and stored as fat. This is why when our hand reaches down into a biscuit tin that was full just hours before only to meet its cold steel bottom, we have not successfully fueled our bodies. We have successfully fueled our waistlines.
In general, people on ketogenic diets tend to consume a lot of foods high in monounsaturated and saturated fats such as olive oil, butter (often butter from grass-fed cows is recommended), avocado, and cheeses. The high oleic types of safflower and sunflower oils (but not the regular forms of these oils) are also good choices, as they are high in monounsaturated fats and low in polyunsaturated fats.
Keto is not hard to follow at all. See, this is why I took my diet and nutrition into my own hands. I have PCOS and the ketogenic diet has worked wonders for me. I’m finally pregnant at the age of 32 and after 11 years of marriage because the ketogenic diet made me lose over 100 lbs and brought my insulin resistance under control. I feel better than I’ve ever felt. Sometimes doctors don’t seem to know as much as they should, or as much as they assume they do, and that’s pretty disturbing. Just like they’re still using the old school and very inaccurate BMI charts that are just pure bs. I’ll just take care of myself outside of certain situations involving illness or injury. I’m doing great on my own.

At this point, we don’t know how long is safe to remain in ketosis. Based on the clinical trials, I recommend a trial of ketosis for up to 6 months, under the care of a knowledgeable functional medicine physician. There are some clinical trials up to 12 months, so that would be the maximum I would recommend under the watchful eyes of a collaborative professional and expert.
While keto diets minimize sugar and other food sensitivities, they often allow full-fat dairy such as yogurt that, for some people, can stall fat loss. And some packaged keto-friendly foods (yes, there's a whole industry of keto-friendly cookies, candy, and other junk food!) can contain gluten, artificial sweeteners, and other reactive ingredients. These foods and additives cause dysbiosis (an imbalance between good and bad bugs), leaky gut syndrome, and increase insulin resistance, which raises blood sugar levels—stalling weight loss. Read your labels carefully: Food sensitivities can be sneaky and hide in foods that you would never suspect, like mustard.
One of the absolute worst things conventional medicine does is treat type 2 diabetics with insulin. This only exacerbates the problem. The key to treating and reversing type 2 diabetes is to cut down on net carbs, replacing them with high amounts of healthy fats and moderate amounts of protein. Dr. Tim Noakes has researched reversal of type 2 diabetes in South Africans, coming to the same conclusion.
What a great post. I thought i would add about the selection of food you eat on keto and that everyone is different. Some food gives you energy and some doesnt, this varies person to person. I started and quit keto 3 times before i managed to find my balance. The first few times it made be poorly, from the shock of diet change. However, you can wean yourself into the diet which i did the last time when i had the most success.
Taken together, these results demonstrate a positive effect of LCD/KD on body composition. While KD may not be superior to other dietary strategies aimed at weight reduction, the evidence does suggest that it may be equally effective. Nevertheless, the International Society of Sports Nutritionists, in their Position Stand on the effects of diets on body composition, suggest the KD holds little benefit over higher CHO diets, with one notable exception; KD may enhance appetite control (1).
People use a ketogenic diet most often to lose weight, but it can help manage certain medical conditions, like epilepsy, too. It also may help people with heart disease, certain brain diseases, and even acne, but there needs to be more research in those areas. Talk with your doctor first to find out if it’s safe for you to try a ketogenic diet, especially if you have type 1 diabetes.
Maintain adequate protein intake. Too little protein and you lose muscle mass and starve the few parts of your body that can’t use ketones as an energy source, like portions of your red blood cells, kidneys and brain. Too much protein and you inhibit ketone production. Make sure you consume enough protein to support your vital functions, but not too much that protein becomes your alternate glycogen source.
The other big factor in deciding to do Keto for 60 days was noticing how I felt doing Trim Healthy Mama (some people call it carb cycling).  When I ate lots of healthy fats, especially in the morning I felt amazing.  My mental focus was amazing and I felt bulletproof.  Often, I would eat an E lunch with carbs and very little fat, which, while perfectly in line with THM guidelines, left me feeling mentally foggy, tired, and lethargic.
^ Hu T, Mills KT, Yao L, Demanelis K, Eloustaz M, Yancy WS, Kelly TN, He J, Bazzano LA (October 2012). "Effects of low-carbohydrate diets versus low-fat diets on metabolic risk factors: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials". American Journal of Epidemiology. 176 Suppl 7 (Suppl 7): S44–54. doi:10.1093/aje/kws264. PMC 3530364. PMID 23035144.
Weight loss is the primary reason my patients use the ketogenic diet. Previous research shows good evidence of a faster weight loss when patients go on a ketogenic or very low carbohydrate diet compared to participants on a more traditional low-fat diet, or even a Mediterranean diet. However, that difference in weight loss seems to disappear over time.
×