The premise of the ketogenic diet for weight loss is that if you deprive the body of glucose—the main source of energy for all cells in the body, which is obtained by eating carbohydrate foods—an alternative fuel called ketones is produced from stored fat (thus, the term “keto”-genic). The brain demands the most glucose in a steady supply, about 120 grams daily, because it cannot store glucose. During fasting, or when very little carbohydrate is eaten, the body first pulls stored glucose from the liver and temporarily breaks down muscle to release glucose. If this continues for 3-4 days and stored glucose is fully depleted, blood levels of a hormone called insulin decrease, and the body begins to use fat as its primary fuel. The liver produces ketone bodies from fat, which can be used in the absence of glucose. [1]
Hello, I’m Abbey! I'm a Registered Dietitian (RD), an avid food and recipe writer, a TV nutrition expert and spokesperson, a YouTube host and the founder of Abbey’s Kitchen Inc. Abbey's Kitchen is a multi- faceted food and nutrition media brand developed with the goal of celebrating the pleasurable eating experience. For more information about me, check out my bio here.
Thanks for the great article! As a fellow dietitian I think its challenging to stay on top of the fads and weight loss trends. The way I see it is that there are two types of ketogenic diets – lifestyle (for weight loss) and therapeutic for some of the medical conditions you mentioned above. Bottom line, the ketogenic diet is not a “natural” diet and there are serious associated side effects. I believe that people following the diet need to be supported by a team of medical professionals to ensure adequate monitoring.
Wow..Keto is the hardest diet in the history of diets to follow. Lets just mention the fact you need to be a mathmatician to follow the macro…or is it micro…of eating 20 g…oh wait is it 50g of carbs…which is it? And what does 75 percent fat intake entail? Can i drink a cup of olive oil and thats a percent of fats for the day? And how many cal. A day are you allowed? Nowhere is that ever discussed.

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It may be because all we have ever known is what we have been told by the FDA or who are the people in our country that tell you what you should eat. Do you realize how much money is in the grain , corn and sugar business in this country? A lot more than you can imagine. Bottom line I think its money telling people what they should eat. I’m gonna try the diet and see if it helps me. Thx for letting me voice my opinion.

To calculate your calorie needs, you need to enter your age, gender, height, weight and activity level which includes exercise and other physical activity. Finally, select your chosen stringency of the diet from the drop down: ketonic, moderate and liberal, with C/P/F representing the percentages of carbs, proteins and fats in the dietary mix. The ketogenic calculator will display the amount (in ounces or grams) and caloric equivalence of the carbs, proteins and fats (lipids) you need to consume per day. You should try to eat according to the macronutrients given and to spread your meals out during the day, but you should not be overly worried about getting the exact numbers each and every day and meal as small fluctuation should be OK as long as you are close to the estimate.

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No, you won’t need every single item on a keto grocery list at any time. Instead, a list is simply a guideline to help you to make the best food choices while you are shopping for keto foods. You don’t need to stock every single kind of nut butter, oils, sweeteners, etc. Pick the ones that you like the most, and stock those as needed. Then, you can build your keto pantry over time.
The keto diet is amazing! I’ve been on it for 15 months now. I maintain 20 grams or less carbs a day. I lost 60 pounds in less than 3 months and have maintained that loss. My triglycerides and cholesterol numbers are far better than average. My blood pressure normalized within a month and I no longer take mesds. I have a heart condition called PVC and am off all meds for that as the symptoms are no longer a bother. Those symptoms, as well as blood glucose numbers, decreased considerably within 2 weeks. It is the most beneficial “diet” I’ve ever used. It is a lifestyle that I 100% support. It is sustainable long term. I go to the gym daily. I am now 50 and have better energy than ever and feel far better than I did in my 30s and 40s.

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Thank you SO much for your blog post. My niece went into Ketoacidosis recently and I compared it to what a former RN in my neighborhood has been doing & recommending to everyone (& they believe her because she used to be a nurse, but definitely NOT a Dietitian). Anyway, after reading, I learned they are completely different, however if a healthy person does test for ketones in their blood, what are acceptable levels? (This same nurse tests for ketone levels). I appreciate how much work you put into this write-up and honest feedback! (I work with 2 RDs who agree with you!)

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Many versions of ketogenic diets exist, but all ban carb-rich foods. Some of these foods may be obvious: starches from both refined and whole grains like breads, cereals, pasta, rice, and cookies; potatoes, corn, and other starchy vegetables; and fruit juices. Some that may not be so obvious are beans, legumes, and most fruits. Most ketogenic plans allow foods high in saturated fat, such as fatty cuts of meat, processed meats, lard, and butter, as well as sources of unsaturated fats, such as nuts, seeds, avocados, plant oils, and oily fish. Depending on your source of information, ketogenic food lists may vary and even conflict.
What about heart health and the keto diet? Previous older schools of nutrition would purport that a diet rich in fats (specifically saturated fats) would be detrimental for heart health, but more recent research suggests that saturated fat is not as bad as previously believed.  There is actually a tiny little bit of evidence that a keto diet may improve triglyceride, HDL and LDL levels. Like here and here. An even more recent study found that a keto diet improved triglyceride, HDL and LDL levels. We’ll definitely have to wait to see how that research unfolds because there is definitely a lot of competing elements at play.
Since the ideal protein intake is fixed based on your lean mass and activity level and your net carbs intake is specified by you, the only macronutrient that needs adjusting is the fat intake. Your fat intake is used to adjust the calorie intake. The more fat, the more calories. Typically, you adjust fat so that you reach but not exceed your target calories.

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I have found eating low-carb, high-fat to be easier than other diets because I feel satiated, and I have good energy and feel warm (I usually feel cold in the winter). I can also skip snacking because I don’t get “hangry”. I totally understand if it’s not for everyone; people are different with different genetic expressions, and their bodies will respond in different ways. But if you’re going to give it a try, it make take a couple of weeks before your body is adapted to burning fat instead of glucose. Make sure to get enough salt, and eat lots of vegetables (if you don’t like spinach salad, roasted cauliflower or fired mushrooms, this diet may not be for you).

This is of course just an overview of what you can eat, but these are things I’m most likely going to pick up from the grocery store. I also didn’t want to include crazy expensive specialty items like Erythritol for beginners. I think we all get excited about making our favorite junk foods in the style of our diets right away. This is fine…but it can be very expensive, time consuming and exhausting. Stick with the basics, especially when first starting out!
One of the latest trends in weight-loss diets, the ketogenic or “keto” diet is so effective for some of its devotees that it may be here to stay. So, what exactly is this diet that you’ve heard so much — or so little — about? Simply put, a keto diet drastically reduces the amount of carbs you eat and increases the amount of healthy fats you consume. A percentage of protein is allowed. This is supposed to put your body in the metabolic state of “ketosis” where it burns fat instead of carbs. Sounds simple enough until you try to eat that way 24/7!
My husband has been on keto for 4 months since being diagnosed with Type II diabetes, and it seems to be working very well for his blood sugar issue, his levels have all improved drastically and he has lost so much weight I’m starting to worry about his liver. In the spirit of not making his life hell, I joined him on a modified version. My version still includes fruit and milk, I just gave up added sugars, liquor, and grain flour. Mostly. I definitely haven’t lost weight the same way he has, but I am slowly and steadily losing weight, and eating potatoes or apples doesn’t seem to change that. The biggest thing is that, for the ONLY time in all the many, many times I have tried to change my eating habits, I’m not STARVING. I don’t feel horribly deprived and ready to kill a man for a cookie.
Natural fat, high-fat sauces – Most of the calories on a keto diet should come from fat. You’ll likely get much of it from natural sources like meat, fish, eggs etc. But also use fat in cooking, like butter or coconut fat, and add plenty of olive oil to salads etc. You can also eat delicious high-fat sauces including Bearnaise sauce etc., or garlic butter (recipes).

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If you haven’t already jumped on the keto diet bandwagon, I’ll give you a brief introduction. Basically, the ketogenic diet is a super high in fat (65-75% of your diet is fat), a super low carbohydrate (<5% of your diet) and moderate in protein (15-20% of your diet). Surely, not the most balanced of diets considering Health Canada   your diet should contain 10-35% of protein, 45-65% of carbohydrate and 20-35% of fat. So how to you meet that skewed macronutrient distribution? Well, you load up on keto diet staples like meat, fish, butter eggs, cheese, heavy cream, oils, nuts, avocados, seeds and low carb green vegetables. And you cut out all your go-to carb sources like grains, rice, beans, potatoes, sweets, milk, cereals, and fruits. These kinds of restrictive diets tend to make nutrition professionals like dietitians run for the hills but I’m going to give it my honest unbiased account.

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Here’s what you got wrong…Keto is about a balanced fat and protein diet with very low carbs and high nutritional content. No one on keto shoots for an 80% fat intake, that’s just impossible to achieve and isn’t what keto is about. I targeted 110g of protein and 90g of fat in a day … and under 20g of carbs. I ate a lot of leafy/dark green vegetables and got most of my carbs from other veggies and fruits like tomatoes, onions, and berries (with a high GI). This is what most people target, a 40/40/10 ratio of protein, fat, carbs … but the common misconception is that the fat amount is a goal, whereas it’s a limit. The protein is more important to a healthy body, but the fat teaches the body to release/produce the ketones in the bloodstream.
Here’s why. All of these effects take time, but a reasonable explanation as to why the keto diet leads to rapid weight loss is due to the loss of water weight. One of the concerns with the keto diet is the loss of muscle mass and the depletion of glycogen stores. Glycogen, which stores our glucose, also stores water, so when stores are depleted, we flush out excess water. In other words, that rapid weight loss isn’t fat, it’s just water.
Slow cooking is also great for those who aren’t comfortable using a stove or an oven as slow cookers typically need minimal preparation and food is all prepared in one pot. This is also a great alternative to other books which typically rely on standard cooking infrastructure such as a stovetop. So, if you are a fan of the crockpot or simply looking to expand your ketogenic cooking repertoire, this is one of the best keto cookbooks you will find. 

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The 30 Day Ketogenic Cleanse is another book by Keto veteran Maria Emmerich. The book is aimed at a 30 induction into the ketogenic diet, for beginners or those who have stopped and want to restart keto. This step by step guide looks at what’s the best way to jump into a diet which some people may find challenging or hard to follow. Maria Emmerich is someone with a great deal of knowledge in this field. This gives her the ability to help even the most fearful potential participants to approach this great, energizing diet.


I won’t comment on the diet itself but dietitians do not simply rely on guidelines handed to them, nor on anecdotal cases. This article refers to specific studies all throughout, some that support the diet and others that don’t. The goal of a dietitian is to help clients reach their optimal health while still enjoying a high quality of life. I’m sure Abbey is genuinely happy for those it has helped. That does not mean this diet is best for everyone regardless of their unique circumstances, goals and medical history. Sadly there is not enough high quality research that Keto promotes sustained weight loss in the general population. Maybe there will be in the near future, but right now it would be unethical to recommend such a restrictive diet to the broad audience of a blog. I am truly happy it has worked for some people and I wish them luck on their journey. Thank you Abbey for a great article!
A useful addition is that of a grocery shopping guide. This is great if you’re unsure as to where to begin when you get to the market. The 30-day meal plan is structured to ensure that you and your family can maintain a monthly rigor to your eating while not getting bored of your food. If you need any additional help from this wonderful author, check out her YouTube channel. She’ll convince you that her book is definitely worth picking up! Definitely one the best keto cookbooks we have read. 

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Who are the healthiest people on the planet? Not those on Atkins diets, Keto diets, Paleo diets, Weight watcher diets or soup diets. As mentioned above, plants rule, and this is evident with communities who eat ‘carb dense’ foods, 90 -95% plants. They are often disease free, disability free and drug free. This is basedvon living an entire life this way – never dieting like we do.


I now eat healthy organic 8-10 cups of greens daily, small amounts of grass fed or organic protein and healthy fats and oils as recommended. My cravings disappeared within a few days of cutting out carbohydrates. My sugar intake was already very low. I do intermittent fasting daily without any hunger pangs. I am happily eating a main midday meal and then having a kale shake around 4pm. I am losing a healthy 1kg a week. This diet is a mood stabiliser because there are fewer insulin spikes. I do not snack and am loving the increased clarity of my mind.
But this sort of “low-carbohydrate, high-fat” (LCHF) diet, as Noakes calls it, is still far from mainstream. It takes serious dedication to drop your daily total carb intake to below 50 grams (or 20–30g of net carbs, which are sans fiber), the equivalent of a single cup of brown rice. The USDA Dietary Guidelines were just changed in January to mention the need to limit intake of added sugars and refined carbs like bread, rice, pasta, cookies, and crackers, which spike blood sugar more rapidly than candy. Check the label of nearly any sports drink, and it’s most likely loaded with natural or added sugar. Go to the grocery store today and the labels are awash with the message of “low fat,” “no fat,” or “zero fat.”
It is now a mainstream dietary regime used wih the intent to reduce weight as it is safe for most people, but one should be especially aware of going ketogenic if one takes diabetes medicine, medication for high blood pressure or is breastfeeding. Typical foods include cheese, eggs, fish and seafood, natural fats, meet, vegetables that grow above ground. The key to maintaining the diet is low carb intake - usually with the goal of eating less than 50 grams or even less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day. The fewer the carbs, the better, usually. Things to avoid include: fruit, potatoes, pasta, beer, bread, soda, chocolate, candy, donuts, etc.
Wow..Keto is the hardest diet in the history of diets to follow. Lets just mention the fact you need to be a mathmatician to follow the macro…or is it micro…of eating 20 g…oh wait is it 50g of carbs…which is it? And what does 75 percent fat intake entail? Can i drink a cup of olive oil and thats a percent of fats for the day? And how many cal. A day are you allowed? Nowhere is that ever discussed.
I won’t comment on the diet itself but dietitians do not simply rely on guidelines handed to them, nor on anecdotal cases. This article refers to specific studies all throughout, some that support the diet and others that don’t. The goal of a dietitian is to help clients reach their optimal health while still enjoying a high quality of life. I’m sure Abbey is genuinely happy for those it has helped. That does not mean this diet is best for everyone regardless of their unique circumstances, goals and medical history. Sadly there is not enough high quality research that Keto promotes sustained weight loss in the general population. Maybe there will be in the near future, but right now it would be unethical to recommend such a restrictive diet to the broad audience of a blog. I am truly happy it has worked for some people and I wish them luck on their journey. Thank you Abbey for a great article!
Thermal Effect of Activity, also known as Activity Level, determines additional energy expenditure due to moving around and exercising. According to Lyle McDonald, broadly speaking, there are 5 categories / activity levels. We readjusted the multipliers from Lyle McDonald's book to better reflect different activity levels that work for most people.

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I tried the ketogenic diet and it really helped me even out my energy levels and I don’t grave sugar anymore. I had issues absorbing my B vitamins. I had high candida and l-acidophylis levels. I was also addicted to sugar. I started this 3 years ago, and since about a year ago, I’ve added fruit. Now I enjoy a little rice and potatoes as well. I even had a bite of chocolate cake and didn’t die. I started out at 112, lost 10 pounds within a month and have slowly gained most of it back. I am happy I did it, but I will be more confident to add more carbs, although it will mostly be in the form of more fruit and starchy veggies. Thanks for your article.

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Shopping for the keto diet will take some time to get used to. You’ll be navigating parts of the grocery store that you may not be familiar with. You’ll also be purchasing items you’ve never cooked before. However, with planning and dedication, low carb shopping will become easier. Just remember to make a list before you visit the store and stay toward the outer aisles of the grocery store. In no time, you’ll be an experienced low carb shopper.

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The biggest thing I’m trying to find out more about is the state of Ketosis. Is being in Ketosis a good thing? Does the brain need Ketones? If so would supplements help? Some studies such as: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19664276/ seem to say maybe. Would you take Ketone supplements or put yourself into Ketosis as a way to increase your brain health – prevent from developing horrible diseases such as Alzheimers?
I say thank you, Abby, for the time you spent on your research of the KETO diet. I have been wondering what all that fat intake of the KETO diet would do to your liver. It can’t be healthy! But hey, it’s a matter of preference I guess. I prefer to be healthy. Okay, I’m not obese, I’m 5’1″ with 38 lbs. According to what I’ve read online and what my health insurance says, I need to lose about 15 lbs. I’m 60 years old — so, nah– probably not happening. I may be old, but active (walking 5 miles each day, doing one workout video on Grokker daily, gardening, hiking, kayaking). I want to lose enough weight to feel better (less arthritic) when I roll my butt out of bed in the morning, but I don’t want to deprive myself from the fun of eating. I don’t do fast or fat foods. I love cooking and eating healthy (like greens and everything veggie and beans and healthy grains like quinoa, freekeh, farro, black rice) and I like my beer of and on. I can do without sweets, but I do crave cheese. Take the “likes” away, and I get grouchy. I was trying to go with a low carb diet years ago, but the brain farts that came with it where just too pronounced. My body needs carbs! As long as they’re healthy carbs, I’ll be ok. I stay away from white bread and packaged, processed foods. I cook mostly low sodium and going out to eat is a special occasion. But I do count calories overall. I started logging my food intake on http://www.cronometer.com and that has helped a lot. I can create my own recipes, incorporate them into other recipes, and it gives me an overview of all the nutrients I consumed – both for the whole day or by each food item. I can tell how many calories or sodium is in each of my recipes. When I first started logging stuff on their website, I ran across the setting for “KETO diet”, but after I saw that it required to only eat 100 mg of carbs, I clicked off that one really fast. You get more than that from 1 glass of Porter! I love dark beer and good food. Real food, not pre-packaged powders or bla-tasting boxed food. I want fresh garlic, sumac, harissa. I want spice and texture. And low fat in most foods. If I want fat, I eat real cheese like goat cheddar. But that’s a treat. As long as I stick to my rule of eating at least 500 cal less than I burn, I’m ok with losing weight slowly. I want to be healthy first. So yeah, it’s a matter of preference. And patience. 🙂 To those of you who love Keto, cause it’s fast and it works for you, by all means: stay on it! It’s your body. My body runs better with a balanced diet. And that’s my 5 cents worth. 🙂
Having said that, there are also studies suggesting that long term carbohydrate restriction diets (aka. the keto diet) may result in fast short term weight loss but people gain it all back in the long term. An RCT put 63 individuals on a low-fat diet or a low carb diet, and the study found the low carb dieters lost more weight compared to the low fat group by month 3 and 6, but that the weight loss evened out by month 12. This was confirmed by a Meta-analysis which found that while low-carbers lost more weight than low-fat dieters but the differences disappeared by the one year mark.
Hi. I have been on the keto diet for 6 weeks and have not lost any weight but even more concerning, my gerd is much worse. I’m taking ppi’s just to stay on the diet. Constipation which has always been an issue for me is now much worse, hello laxatives! For these reasons, I have decided to go back to a more balanced diet leaning towards vegetarian. Keto works for some, I’m not one of them. I appreciate your info.

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Hi. I have been on the keto diet for 6 weeks and have not lost any weight but even more concerning, my gerd is much worse. I’m taking ppi’s just to stay on the diet. Constipation which has always been an issue for me is now much worse, hello laxatives! For these reasons, I have decided to go back to a more balanced diet leaning towards vegetarian. Keto works for some, I’m not one of them. I appreciate your info.
This is a great list of Keto foods. I also try to choose higher quality food sources when they are available and my budget permits, such as grass fed meats and Kerry Gold butter, wild caught seafood, cage free eggs, and organic produce and oils as much as possible. When I travel and eat out, these higher quality options are generally less accessible, if at all. So I don’t sweat it. I just go with the flow. We just have to do what we can when we can. 🙂 Best wishes to all on your personal wellness journey!
Some shellfish like oysters and mussels contain some carbohydrates, so take that into consideration when eating out. The easiest thing to do is PLAN. Before you go out, find the restaurant’s menu and nutrition info if possible (if not just read the menu carefully and don’t be afraid to ask questions). This is just another reason to make sure you are using My Fitness Pal to calculate your meals, and if you have the app, you can add them while you wait for your food!

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Fats are an important staple of any keto diet. But it’s the quality of your dietary fat that matters.Saturated fats like coconut oil and grass-fed butter are excellent options for cooking. Oils like extra virgin oil are best reserved for unheated uses, like homemade salad dressings. Nuts and seeds make great snacks, or your can sprinkle them on salads and other veggie dishes. Just watch your nut intake. While they’re high in many healthy fats, some of them also contain a lot of carbs.
The low-carbohydrate diet options available in this book are also sugar-free, gluten-free, legume-free and in some cases dairy-free. While these may seem like restrictions on your diet, this book has so many delicious recipes to offer that you’ll not even miss carbohydrates or sugars, so often a major part of contemporary diets. This book also contains an in-depth list of foods which are suitable for eating when following keto. This ketogenic diet food list will help you stick to the diet while enjoying delicious food.

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[…] “ANY diet, especially one that is as devastatingly restrictive as the keto diet, is likely to encourages disordered eating behaviors. I’ve written about my own experience with, and this is a pretty scary reminder of how UNHEALTHY that world can be. I’m a big believer that everything – especially carbs – can be enjoyed in moderation and the best diet is just whatever eating pattern you find most pleasurable that also meets your body’s unique needs.” [12]  […]
This said, I do prefer low-carb balance compared to SAD. I can speculate a lot about SAD and about the non-discrimination of different carbs – like, lactose vs. fructose. It is only my opinion, that fructose has its value in the nutrition (black bears get body fat for hibernation eating fruits) yet somehow we miss to notice that naturally fructose had been available in humans’ diet only seasonally, while nowadays juices of all kinds are available year-round; not to mention fructose additives to sugar-rich products. And yes, fructose is addictive, and yes, this is part of the evolution for 200 thousand years of humans.

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Since the ideal protein intake is fixed based on your lean mass and activity level and your net carbs intake is specified by you, the only macronutrient that needs adjusting is the fat intake. Your fat intake is used to adjust the calorie intake. The more fat, the more calories. Typically, you adjust fat so that you reach but not exceed your target calories.

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While I do appreciate the amount of research that went into this article, I need to weigh in here— no pun intended. I am a 44 year old woman who suddenly and inexplicably gained a lot of weight at about age 20 and pretty much (albeit a few bouts of massive dieting and exercising) have remained fat until the age of 42. I had always been thin without having to give my lifestyle much thought before my sudden weight gain — so I have spent the last 20+ years becoming pretty proficient on learning how the body uses fuel. I have had success losing great amounts of weight a few times in my life — twice reducing my calories the “nutritional counseling” way — using the old school and outdated food pyramid and tons of exercise. It took literally having to spend hours and hours at the gym — being miserably hungry all the time — only to achieve slow progress at the scale. Months and months I would spent this way only to gain the weight right back the minute that I let go of the reins. I’m always hearing about “sustainable lifestyle changes” from you nutritionists— an I believe in daily exercise — but that lifestyle was completely unsustainable in the long term which is why so many people are unsuccessful.

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