Abbey, I appreciate all the work you put into this but there are a few things you missed. Not all oils are keto friendly. Vegetable oils are a huge no-no which was not mentioned. Regular mayo usually contains soybean oil which should be avoided. You also missed that foods with preservatives are a no-no which excludes some cheeses (you said enjoy all the cheese you like). Processed sliced cheese or pre-shredded cheese in a bag at the grocery store contains preservatives. Ever notice how shredded cheese in a bag never sticks to itself but when you shred your own cheese it sticks? Preservatives. Most nuts are okay but peanuts are a legume and should be consumed in very small amounts or avoided altogether. Don’t go crazy either, nuts do have carbs. I don’t eat more than a half cup a day of salted almonds. That said, you could have mentioned that getting salted nuts is ideal as you do excrete more salt and other minerals in your urine (eating keto is diuretic so attention must be paid to salt, potassium, magnesium, etc. as you did mention) so finding simple ways to add salt and other minerals is helpful. I also take a multi-vitamin daily. You mentioned you cannot do high intensity workouts. You are not supposed to do high intensity workouts as elevating your heart rate too high actually stops the fat burning process in your body. Your heart rate should be 180 beats minus your age +/- 5 beats depending on fitness level. A 40 year old obese person shouldn’t go over 135 beats/min during a workout as that is the optimal fat burning window. Higher than that and your body reverts to storing fat reserves thinking it will run out if it keeps this pace. Which bring me to metabolism. Its been long believed a high metabolism is good. A high metabolism leads to more hunger (because you’re burning glucose faster), ingesting more food, and typically gaining more weight. Slowing your metabolism down AND teaching your body to consume slow burning ketones instead of quick burning glucose puts less stress on your liver mainly and on your body in general. There’s a lot more but this is getting long so I’ll finish with this. You said this diet focuses on quantity of food and not quality. This is confusing to me….wouldn’t organic and grass-fed meats, be of better quality than non-organic and grain fed meat? (they feed animals grains to fatten them up….shouldn’t that be a huge warning sign for us?). Is food without preservatives not better quality than food with preservatives? Aren’t beverages with no sugar or artificial sweeteners of better quality than sugar/artificial sweetener-filled beverages? I’ve never seen any keto advocate advise ignoring quality foods, in fact its quite the opposite. 

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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.

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Ketogenic Diet is another excellent resource, focused on beginners and newcomers to the ketogenic diet. Written by Jeremy Stone, this book features 60 really simple recipes, that even the most modest chef can put together. With some basic knowledge of keto dieting, this book offers simple recipes which are easy to put together. More often than not, starting out what may seem like a highly restrictive diet can be very intimidating. However, this book looks to address those nerves.

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Reduced Risk of High Cholesterol and Triglycerides. (8) Many doctors originally thought that a diet high in fat might increase cholesterol and triglycerides. However, the opposite has turned out to be the case. Most people see a significant drop in their LDL and triglycerides when on a keto diet, although a small percentage of people do see the opposite effect.

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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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The keto diet is high in fat, moderate protein, and low in carbs. You will avoid foods that are high in carbs, including some fruits and vegetables, most vegetable oils (like canola and corn oil) sugar, and grains, to name a few. Instead of going over all the foods to avoid, it is easier to print the keto grocery list pdf at the bottom of this post and stick to those keto foods for simplicity.

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I like the list of health benefits you talk about here. But I seriously reject most of the side effects you claim without any basis. The only real risk that all keto dieters face, is constipation. I never encountered it, as I drink ample water and ate ample vegetables until I got sick with the flu and dehydrated. But that’s easily manageable. As with any diet, you should have your doctor regularly monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol, and other blood panel stats.
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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A typical ketogenic diet is comprised of only 15-25% protein, yet some research indicates that even during a caloric deficit, being in a state of ketosis can preserve muscle mass. It is critical to understand that in some of the literature a low-carbohydrate diet may not actually be a true ketogenic diet. To illustrate, some studies have shown that a very low carbohydrate diet (C:4 F:61 P:35) has similar effects to a traditional low-fat diet (C:70 F:10 P:20) on weight loss. In other words, both groups demonstrated similar losses in fat AND muscle mass (10). However, Dr. Layman (5) performed a study comparing a high protein, moderate fat, and low carbohydrate diet to a high carbohydrate, moderate fat, and moderate protein in conjunction with resistance training. Fat and total calorie intake were equal between experimental groups. Average weight loss was the same between groups but the composition of the weight loss differed. Low-carbohydrate dieters lost more fat mass and less muscle compared to the high carbohydrate group. This data suggests that increasing protein intake during a caloric deficit can help mitigate some of the muscle wasting that often accompanies dieting.

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The ketogenic or “keto” diet is a low-carbohydrate, fat-rich eating plan that has been used for centuries to treat specific medical conditions. In the 19th century, the ketogenic diet was commonly used to help control diabetes. In 1920 it was introduced as an effective treatment for epilepsy in children in whom medication was ineffective. The ketogenic diet has also been tested and used in closely monitored settings for cancer, diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease.
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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There is exciting research on the role of a keto diet as a form of treatment for cancer. In one study, the use of a keto diet on patients with advanced cancer was deemed safe, and some evidence suggested it played a role in stabilizing the disease or resulting partial remission. In another study, the keto diet was used as a form of therapy for patients with malignant brain cancer. The study found that the keto diet may carry anti-tumor effects when administered in experimental animal and human brain tumors. The researchers believe this may be due to the reduction in calories, which reduces the circulating glucose needed for tumor growth. It is still unsure whether a keto diet per se plays a role in this or simply calorie restriction. All of this is to say that the research is preliminary, however still promising.
Second point, I have never tried ketogenic dieting and also I did my calculations based on a 4:1 ratio and I was amazed at how much fat I would need to consume even at my size and the foods I would have to 1. Get rid of to achieve that and 2. Add in my diet to get there and , no thank you. My heart goes out to the families with children who do have to be on this diet.
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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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.

Noakes’s war on sugar goes back a generation, to when his father developed type-2 diabetes. Type-2 is a disease in which the body gradually loses its ability to regulate blood sugar through the production of the hormone insulin. It’s linked to genetics, but also to diet—particularly sugar and refined carbs—as well as obesity and inactivity. Diabetes experts estimate that the disease speeds up the aging process by roughly a third, damaging the body from the inside out. Too much blood sugar slowly destroys blood vessels, with results ranging from mild—early wrinkling of skin—to catastrophic: heart disease, blindness, stroke, amputations due to poor circulation, and even Alzheimer’s disease (more on that later).

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Abbey, I appreciate the article, it’s helped me come to a decision on KETO. I’ve been on KETO for over 3 months, I’m a woman of 55 and post menopausal with a good 40 lbs of fat to lose. I work out 3-5 per week at an intense level doing cardio, HIIT and weight training and I have NOT lost any weight (ok, a single pound). I am in Ketosis most of the time (testing often) and I’ve been eating 1,200 to 1,300 cals per day. My carb intake around 15-20 grams per day, Fat around 90 grams and protein was about 45 grams until I increased it after learning I had lost muscle mass confirmed on a SECA scale.

Truly Dr. Colbert is also a reputable source for more thorough science and modification of previous Keto extremes. The statements about Keto diets with dairy everyday are not true…I am a 66 year old professional (University trained) and have found medical people often very unknowledgable or partially knowledgeable which may be worse. I ask you Abbey to dig deeper…meet Dr. Colbert-not a quack and more in depth than your overview. Personally I am finding switch to more green’s and low glycemic vegetables and fruits with healthy fats, occasional dairy and healthy protein; a way of life that is helping our whole family. Please watch The Magic Pill…the help for family’s caught in old thinking from poor science (ie. Alex Keys) and with autism etc. and so much modern disease is in itself, motivation to search out more truth.
And people can talk about how people who eat keto gain the weight back – show me a diet where that doesn’t happen. There isn’t a lot of reputable research about long-term weight loss, but the little that does exist isn’t great. Most people who lose a significant amount of weight will gain at least some of the weight back – if not all of it. It’s just about finding what works best for your balance and life style.
Achieving ketosis is a pretty straightforward, but it can seem complicated and confusing with all of the information out there.4If you want to learn more about ketosis and the scientific process around it, you can visit a very in-depth discussion about on Dr. Peter Attia’s website. Here’s the bottom line on what you need to do, ordered in levels of importance:
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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I started Keto 100 days ago after seeing numerous family members losing a lot of weight and inches. They are getting good blood results from their doctors too. I did some research before I started and found many pro’s and con’s but decided the pro’s out weighed the con’s as long as my medical team approves. I have lost 22lbs but more important I’m down many percentage points in body fat (17.35% total now) during this time and have just received the most amazing blood work results I’ve had in years, I’m 60 years old. I told my nurse practictioner and my cardiologist how I’m eating and my N.P. said she doesn’t know enough about it but wants to know all I could tell her and my cardiologist said different diets work for different people but keep doing what I’m doing, they both just want to keep monitoring my progress with blood work and followups. I really feel the best I’ve been in a long while. When I reach a body fat percetage I’m comfortable with I might boost my carbs up to 50grams per day and decrease the fats a bit. My cardiologist says I don’t care what you eat on Friday night but the rest of the week be very mindful of your diet and blood work never lies. I can live with that.

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The 30-Day Ketogenic Cleanse offers a step-by-step guide to approaching what some may see as a lifestyle change. The day by day guide is highly informative as each day’s diet is broken into its constituent parts. This further informs readers as to how their day-to-day diet is working to nourish and improve their body. The book breaks down what it takes to go into a ketogenic state while staying healthy and enjoying truly delectable food. From our standpoint, this really is a great resource and truly one of the best keto cookbooks out there.
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.
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.

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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. 🙂

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So where did the ketogenic diet come from? Interestingly enough, this fad diet didn’t spark from a celebrity endorsement or some guy missing a medical license. There’s evidence of the keto diet being used back in the early 1920s to treat severe childhood epilepsy and it’s still being used today for that purpose. Research suggests that the production of ketones may influence neurotransmitter activity in neurons allowing for a reduction in seizure attacks. A recent Cochrane Review demonstrated a 30-40% reduction in seizures compared with non-keto diet controls. One thing to keep in mind, however (which is a theme when discussing the keto diet) is that it’s generally difficult to adhere to and difficult to tolerate for a lot of people. In other words, people go on it and then come off it pretty damn quick.


Besides healthy fats like chicken thighs, olive oil, avocado oil, and high-quality bone broth, there are several specialty ingredients that you will find in many keto recipes such as keto friendly sweeteners, flours, and chocolates. There are several different sweeteners on the list, but purchasing all of them isn’t necessary. I’ve listed some of my favorite Keto Grocery List items below that you’ll need for baking, low carb bread, and keto desserts.

Over 8–10 mmol/l: It’s normally impossible to get to this level just by eating a keto diet. It means that something is wrong. The most common cause by far is type 1 diabetes, with severe lack of insulin. Symptoms include feeling very sick with nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and confusion. The possible end result, ketoacidosis, may be fatal and requires immediate medical care. Learn more
All I know is that by cutting out foods like bread, that have arguably no nutritional value whatsoever, I’ve lost fat weight and have been able to retain (and grow) muscle through workouts. Not only that, but I am markedly stronger, and I don’t suffer any effects of malnutrition. I don’t want to be one of these people that despite eating a “balanced diet” simply gets fatter as they get older, because of how carbs screw up your insulin resistance levels and cause your body to store fat (particularly visceral fat in men) where it isn’t needed.
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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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.
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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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.

Great article! anything that the sh** bomb in the first paragraph has to be good! Plenty of scientific studies, we can click on if we choose to, but this was simple and easy to understand. Don’t let the wiener-heads, who want to pick out one little thing and go to town with it, drag you down. I was looking for some easy to understand pros and cons of Keto and that’s exactly what you gave me. The best thing is it supports what I’ve been telling clients and my fellow meatheads at the gym all along. Like anything else in life, nutrition, work, exercise, family, marriage (God forbid I ever do that again) and so on, sustainability and success require balance. Personally, I’m a 40-40-20 hardliner, but only because that is what works best for me.
A huge concern with the keto diet is the maintenance and potential loss of muscle mass. Many people will just think: hey, dummy, then just eat more protein. However, some research has shown that even if your protein intake remains constant, a low carb diet may promote muscle loss. A study from the Netherlands confirmed these findings. In the study, participants were given three diets (high carb, moderate carb, low carb) and moderate protein. The study found that those following a low carb diet experienced increased muscle breakdown. This is because when we eat carbohydrates, we produce insulin which promotes muscle growth. This is why athletes depend on carbohydrates (along with protein) to fuel their performance. When we eat carbs, the insulin release “unlocks” our muscles to let the protein in so it can do its job at building our muscles. So, when we skip the carbs all together, muscle glycogen stores get depleted, we lose out on those muscle building opportunities. Forget about high intensity training. A depleted glycogen store also means our workouts will suffer because we just don’t have enough oil left in the tank. This was a again suggested in the recent review looking at many ketogenic studies. The studies found that there was greater lean body mass loss in the ketogenic groups compared to the other diets being studied.

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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.

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A systematic review of 26 short-term intervention trials (varying from 4-12 weeks) evaluated the appetites of overweight and obese individuals on either a very low calorie (~800 calories daily) or ketogenic diet (no calorie restriction but ≤50 gm carbohydrate daily) using a standardized and validated appetite scale. None of the studies compared the two diets with each other; rather, the participants’ appetites were compared at baseline before starting the diet and at the end. Despite losing a significant amount of weight on both diets, participants reported less hunger and a reduced desire to eat compared with baseline measures. The authors noted the lack of increased hunger despite extreme restrictions of both diets, which they theorized were due to changes in appetite hormones such as ghrelin and leptin, ketone bodies, and increased fat and protein intakes. The authors suggested further studies exploring a threshold of ketone levels needed to suppress appetite; in other words, can a higher amount of carbohydrate be eaten with a milder level of ketosis that might still produce a satiating effect? This could allow inclusion of healthful higher carbohydrate foods like whole grains, legumes, and fruit. [9]

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