A. When you first start a ketogenic diet, you may temporarily experience flu-like symptoms such as dizziness, brain fog, irritability, stomach trouble, insomnia, and more, as your body switches from burning glucose to burning fat. These symptoms can occur for a few days up to a few weeks and are a natural reaction that you’re encouraged to push through. You can alleviate symptoms by increasing hydration, electrolytes, and natural salt consumption. Get lots of rest and exercise gently. Lastly, consuming activated charcoal binds any toxins stored in the fat you’re shedding and can reduce nasty detox symptoms.
Done Keto diet for over a year now. I started it due to increased liver enzymes showing a start on a path towards low-level diabetes due to being about 30 lbs overweight (229 lbs, 5’10” endomorphic, muscular build). After a year, my Cholesterol is excellent, I dropped to 192 lbs (37 lbs lost), maintained muscle mass through maintenance workouts and cardio, resting heart rate is 50bpm, EKG shows perfect results, blood pressure is excellent, and full panel of bloodwork shows zero abnormal liver enzymes.

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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.
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When you consider what excessive consumption of carbohydrates (and I do consider the RDA of 250g excessive) do to the human body I find it kind of sad that nutritionists still by and large pedal carbs as a hugely necessary forerunner to being a functioning human. The sugar industry pedalled the “fat is bad” lie for decades and the introduction of low fat foods duped millions of people into becoming obese. A lot of people still don’t get, for instance, the difference between blood cholesterol and dietary cholesterol.

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To meet your macros most efficiently, try combining high protein with high-fat foods or have foods that are both high in protein and fat at every meal. For example, having a fatty fish or fatty cut of meat with high-protein cheese (and low carb vegetables) is a simple and easy way to have a keto-friendly meal that will help you meet your protein and fat needs. On the other hand, if you just want to increase your fat intake, then find ways to add oil, animal fats, butter, fat bombs, and/or high-fat cheeses to your meals or snacks.

Before I went into ketosis and before I cared anything about keto meals chicken was a staple in our home. While I do love all things chicken, I have found that going the boneless skinless route can sometimes get old, boring, and you lose some of the fat. Remember that you don’t have to choose lean meats anymore. Can you still eat it? Of course, but you need to try to dress it up with fat anytime you can. This low carb poultry list isn’t exhaustive, but I think it’s enough to get you started.

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Also, plan for modifications to the meals for other people in your home. You wonít be able to make totally different meals for yourself and your family for the long term. The best approach is to use the main meat dish for your meal for the entire family and then a carbohydrate side dish for your family. For example, if you are eating meatloaf you can add half a potato for the other members of your family. 

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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. 🙂
Our bodies are incredibly adaptive to what you put into it – when you overload it with fats and take away carbohydrates, it will begin to burn ketones as the primary energy source. Optimal ketone levels offer many health, weight loss, physical and mental performance benefits.1There are scientifically-backed studies that show the advantage of a low-carb, ketogenic diet over a low-fat diet. One meta-analysis of low-carbohydrate diets showed a large advantage in weight loss. The New England Journal of Medicine study resulted in almost double the weight loss in a long-term study on ketone inducing diets.
After increasing water intake and replacing electrolytes, it should relieve most all symptoms of Keto Flu. For an average person that is starting a ketogenic diet, eating 20-30g of net carbs a day, the entire adaptation process will take about 4-5 days. My advice is to cut your carbs to fewer than 15g to ensure that you are well on your way into ketosis within one week. If you are experiencing any more keto flu symptoms, double check your electrolyte intake and adjust.
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.
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.

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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Your glycogen stores can still be refilled while on a ketogenic diet. A keto diet is an excellent way to build muscle, but protein intake is crucial here. It’s suggested that if you are looking to gain mass, you should be taking in about 1.0 – 1.2g protein per lean pound of body mass. Putting muscle on may be slower on a ketogenic diet, but that’s because your total body fat is not increasing as much.5Note that in the beginning of a ketogenic diet, both endurance athletes and obese individuals see a physical performance for the first week of transition.

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DEXA (Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry): If you can afford it, a DEXA scan will give you the most accurate results. A DEXA is an X-ray treatment that measures body composition and can detect bone mineral density, lean body mass, and fat mass with great accuracy. However, they can only be done on a health facility and a comprehensive session can cost up to $160.

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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.
Also, plan for modifications to the meals for other people in your home. You wonít be able to make totally different meals for yourself and your family for the long term. The best approach is to use the main meat dish for your meal for the entire family and then a carbohydrate side dish for your family. For example, if you are eating meatloaf you can add half a potato for the other members of your family.

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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!
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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What I did: I didn’t count grams or calories, but rather estimated well. I have a history of anorexia, so there’s no way in hell I was going to start counting calories again. I didn’t want to trigger my dormant brain pathways for obsessive, exacting analysis about calories. I used a Ketonix breath analyzer or a blood meter (this one is recommended) to measure my ketone levels.
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!
Thanks for the info. Still so CONFUUUUSSED. There is so much info on both sides that sounds perfectly logical (and I am a total sucker for a logical argument.) I remember the not so delicious food change when my parents needed to cut out salt and other stuff for high blood pressure and cholesterol which is now totally wrong. The food pyramid, which is now totally wrong. I’ve been on diets before – Weight Watchers – lost weight (very very very slowly) but felt like I was starving ALL THE TIME; Carb Limiting – lost nothing; No processed foods – lost nothing; Counting calories and food journals – seriously, if you have a job who has time for that; Keto – losing about 2 lbs a week, but think I’d rather just fast than eat this food combo so this is probably not sustainable for me. Isn’t there just a logical, healthy way of eating that requires no counting, no weird food, no avocados (well that’s just me – I think they’re gross), that does all that good stuff like no inflammation, good gut biome, etc. and I can lose weight without feeling so hungry?
I do want to point out an inaccuracy in your description of ketoacidosis. If a Type 1 diabetic “and/or does not eat enough carbohydrates,” they will not enter a state of ketoacidosis. It is the opposite. Ketoacidosis can occur if a diabetic consumes carbs without having enough insulin to allow the body to use glucose for energy. In contrast, not eating enough carbohydrates for insulin that was already injected causes hypoglycemia.

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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.

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