So for all the dangers you listed on this, my dietician prescribes this diet to everyone who comes into his office looking for weightloss, he has a stack of packets with standardized information regarding the specific diet. For what it’s worth, most of the side effects you listed, I did go through, although the sugar withdrawal was the worst, but after a couple weeks, that passed too. Now I’m on the same 1200 calorie, <20g carb, 0 sugar diet, and it feels VERY sustainable. The only thing I really miss is pizza, and even then, there are keto friendly chicken based crusts that really hit the spot. I guess one thing that sticks out to me is my doctor told me that the human body doesn't need any sugar to survive, and while he makes the distinction between simple and complex carbs, still cuts them out in a normal keto diet style (no potatoes, corn, most beans in larger quantities, etc). Should I be concerned about my doctor? He came as a referral and has a large track record of long term success with his patients.

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What really killed it for me was the unrealistic restrictions of the entire day carbs count you should end up with – there is no f***ing way I can get by one full day with 20 grams of carbs and under. Just one of my meals ended up with at least 15 grams of carbs (half small onion-small red bell pepper-half cup chopped mushrooms-cup green beans), sometimes 20-25, times 4-5 meals (amature bodybuilder) and I end up with ~100 grams of carbs per day, at least.

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First of all, don't weigh yourself more than once a week. There are natural fluctuations related to water retention and hormonal balance. If you are a woman, you will notice these fluctuations more often. If you see no movement on the scales or even if your weight goes up, it doesn't mean you are not losing fat. If you exercise, you may even see a little increase in weight, as muscles are heavier than fat. The important thing here is to concentrate on losing body fat. Don’t rely just on scales, use body tape, calipers, belts or clothes to see any changes.

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I wasn’t planning on writing about the ketogenic diet but that all changed with my recent YouTube video. If you guys caught this video on my channel, my girl Abby Langer and I found a hilarious Reddit thread that shared some keto-followers favourite “strange but delicious” keto-friendly meals and snacks. Let’s just say, it was extreme. I was by no means under the impression that everyone (or even a large number of people) on the Keto diet ate that shit. But, I get why some viewers on youtube maybe thought that and they got PISSED. Like, viciously pissed.
Once you know what you will be eating on keto, you will probably be wondering how much of you should eat for each meal. Since meal size depends on the individual and his/her goals, we recommend using a calorie tracking app and our carb tracking guide to help you figure out the macronutrient content of your meals. As you track your macros, you will be able to figure out what adjusts you need to make to your diet to reach your goals.

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I disagree with you. A calorie deficit leading to weight loss for YOU should be not accepted as a reasonable method for ALL. Also, a 5% weight loss is enough to show improvements in blood pressure, blood sugar and lipids. It doesn’t mean the ketosis caused it, but rather the reduction in weight which could just be from the calorie deficit. Additionally, if you enjoy carbs occasionally then you are not in ketosis and could be following a modified low carb diet. Using evidenced-based research findings is not spouting off guidelines- it is science. And when you’re dealing with hundreds, thousands and millions of different individuals each presenting with their own unique set of risks, genetics, behaviors and history -that must be taken into consideration for any weight management plan. It is more complicated than how you presented it above. Also, I don’t believe Abbey is calling it a “fad diet” but she is explaining that the specific ketogenic diet plan that is being described in mainstream media is a current trend, which is undeniable. It is such a trend that there is no long term research study yet because that is how new to the scene it is.

This diet is perfect for everyone, but it is not a one-size-fits-all kind of plan. You can’t simply add the foods to your cart go home and eat all you like. You have to know your goals, macros, and have a menu plan. Thankfully, we can help you with all of that. This list was created to give you a starting point, but only you know what will work for you. If you have insulin resistance, you should wait until you reach your goals to incorporate fruits. If you eat 50 grams of carbs a day and are in maintenance mode, you can eat more than the person who is in induction. Please be thoughtful when commenting, especially on other people’s questions or comments. We are all in a different place, and we should be helping each other succeed.
Today makes 3 months since I started Keto and I have lost 43 lbs. The way it works for me is by using a meal logging App and sticking to it daily and trying to reach the macronutrient goal percentages as closely as possible. In addition, I have found that, for me, “unlimited amounts of protein and fat” does NOT work for me. I have to carefully restrict total daily calories and mix it “intermittent fasting” with lots of hydration to get the ketosis going. I also find that if I can eat low-carb high fiber greens like arugula, celery, non-peanut no-added-sugar seven-nut butter, walnuts, avocado and lots of water and soups, it helps me avoid constipation. I am feeling so much better without the weight, my sleep apnea is gone and edema in my legs is gone but I do have concerns about the saturated fat, my HDL/LDL and I do not like the “nail polish breath”. I have also read many articles on Keto and most are either “all in” or “no way” so I would like to thank you for the “balanced discussion” in this article. It must have taken lots of effort for a nutritionist to examine Keto in a balanced, objective style. Thanks again.
Such an in-depth post (and I applaud you for remaining so professional throughout some of these comments)! I’ve heard a lot about the keto diet and am glad that it does seem to work for some, but am definitely more on board with a more balanced diet. Kudos to the people it does work for though (I’ve had several patients with epilepsy who follow a ketogenic diet and it does seem to be helpful for them)! 

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A meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials following overweight and obese participants for 1-2 years on either low-fat diets or very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets found that the ketogenic diet produced a small but significantly greater reduction in weight, triglycerides, and blood pressure, and a greater increase in HDL and LDL cholesterol compared with the low-fat diet at one year. [10] The authors acknowledged the small weight loss difference between the two diets of about 2 pounds, and that compliance to the ketogenic diet declined over time, which may have explained the more significant difference at one year but not at two years (the authors did not provide additional data on this).

Traditionally, in the sports nutrition field, we talk about the importance of timing carbohydrate and fluid intake on improving sports performance. For some time now, research has been looking at the role of very low carbohydrate diets on sports performance. Trailblazers in keto and sports performance research like Dr. Stephen Phinney have been conducting studies in this area since the 80s. In one of his studies, the glycogen stores of cyclists on a keto diet were not completely depleted and lipid oxidation was increased. Researchers concluded that the body was able to adapt to the lack of carbohydrates and preserve what was needed to use the fat as fuel.  However, based on the VO2 max breath test, since the body was attempting to preserve the carbohydrate during the exercise, it appears that the intensity of the exercise was limited. In a more recent study, off-road cyclists following a keto diet experienced small improvements, but still not significant enough to make strong conclusions. 

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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.

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.

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There is not one “standard” ketogenic diet with a specific ratio of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fat). The ketogenic diet typically reduces total carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams a day—less than the amount found in a medium plain bagel—and can be as low as 20 grams a day. Generally, popular ketogenic resources suggest an average of 70-80% fat from total daily calories, 5-10% carbohydrate, and 10-20% protein. For a 2000-calorie diet, this translates to about 165 grams fat, 40 grams carbohydrate, and 75 grams protein. The protein amount on the ketogenic diet is kept moderate in comparison with other low-carb high-protein diets, because eating too much protein can prevent ketosis. The amino acids in protein can be converted to glucose, so a ketogenic diet specifies enough protein to preserve lean body mass including muscle, but that will still cause ketosis.

Two years ago, LeBron James famously lost 25 pounds and upped his late-game endurance by cutting carbs and sugars from his diet. Tim Ferriss, the author of the Four-Hour self-improvement book series, followed a strict keto diet to cure his Lyme disease, and performs a long multi-day fast every four months as a means, he says, of pushing ketosis further and starving incipient pre-cancerous cells of sugar (more on that later). Last summer, Sami Inkinen, the ultrafit co-founder of real estate juggernaut Trulia, rowed with his wife from California to Hawaii in record time on a keto diet, to promote high-fat eating and raise awareness about the dangers of too much sugar. The Keto Diet, say its ardent supporters, is a natural way to literally reprogram your metabolism and transition to an upgraded operating system. You’ll ultimately feel better and perform better, and your body fat will plummet.

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Sustainable is Key. Thank you for the article, it explained so much! I have been inclined to follow this diet but what has worked for me before is a diet that’s called “The AntiDiet” and is simply starting your day with fruits, while strictly separating complex carbs and proteins during lunch and dinner, and still being opened to consume all kinds of food. I had been trying the Whole30 for so long and so many times and I simply can’t, does not make sense for me and so does Keto in the sense of overloading on fats and meat. Thank you!

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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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But for evidence of the Keto Diet’s more immediate effects, Noakes brings up South African athlete Bruce Fordyce, 60, who won the country’s biggest ultramarathon, the 56-mile Comrades, a record nine times. He ate high-carb his whole life, eventually putting on weight and becoming insulin resistant. Recently, though, he switched to a high-fat diet—and has regained his former waistline and dramatically improved his marathon times. Little by little, according to Noakes, we’re learning. “This is the single most important health intervention we can make as doctors,” he says. “And as nations.”

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Secondly, glucose is not the only source of energy for your body. The entire point of the Keto diet is that the body can use fat as a fuel source. Yes, you’ll still need glucose for certain things, but you eat protein and a minimal amount of carbs. The great majority of your energy needs are met by ketones. I don’t dismiss the concerns about accessing muscle for glucose, and I’d be interested in studies involving low intensity weight training on Keto to see if it helps with muscle retention. I think you’d probably have to carefully manage your protein levels as well.

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This way of eating is a lifestyle and it has never failed, because we are all the same. The only variations are peoples environments/ temperature and food availability. Of course if someone lives in Siberia they will not eat the same as someone who lives in Phillipines; and not everyone has access to the healthiest environment and the healthiest cleanest food.

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I’m new to all Keto…trying desperately to loose weight…besides giving up sweets (which completely understand) need to know if hummus is okay…and what I gather from the extensive info I’m guessing like everything in life, the key is balance… too much fat? Hi calories? Do we have to worry about cholesterol in nutritional labels? Again thanks for the great information

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Get Plenty of Sodium. This might sound counter to what you’ve been told before, but your body really needs sodium. It’s one of the ways that your cells transport nutrients in and out of cells. And when you stop eating processed grains and sugar, you often get much less sodium. So when you go keto, just be sure that you’re eating salt or sodium-rich foods. If not, you will often experience fatigue.
High-carb diet – like SAD – is outright harmful and statistically it is proven, since the overall health of North American population deteriorates steadily since the 70s. Low-carb, high-fat diet is definitely less harmful; in my opinion it could be beneficial for the vast majority of humans. Whether one can plough through the addiction of sweets, that is totally different story.
I wasn’t planning on writing about the ketogenic diet but that all changed with my recent YouTube video. If you guys caught this video on my channel, my girl Abby Langer and I found a hilarious Reddit thread that shared some keto-followers favourite “strange but delicious” keto-friendly meals and snacks. Let’s just say, it was extreme. I was by no means under the impression that everyone (or even a large number of people) on the Keto diet ate that shit. But, I get why some viewers on youtube maybe thought that and they got PISSED. Like, viciously pissed.
I am with you! I have been a WW member and been years without going outside of my suggested guidelines. I would lose weight, plateau, go on one of their plateau breaking diets for two weeks then have to go off and slowly gained weight again. I was teaching my body to live on less. I have been down as low as 800 kcal a day and not losing. Eat more fiber so you feel full was what I was told. Try eating 800 kcal, high fiber and see how balanced your diet is. I am eating between 1800 – 2000 kcal now and dropping 10 – 15 lbs a month on Keto. Long term diuretic user, I no longer have water retention. I am salting and using fat and I am off my blood pressure medicine. I am not hungry so I am wondering why is this not sustainable? I eat mostly carbs from vegetables, I eat a variety of meats, I eat a variety of vegetables, I feel great and my blood tests are better than they have been in 2 decades. I am starting to feel that the carb revolution is because we are told by the government what is good to eat. We all know that vegetables are good to eat but the government subsidizes corn, wheat and soy, not spinach, kale and cucumbers. Do your research, follow your hearts, do what works for you.
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.
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.

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