Today, the ketogenic diet is the world’s fastest growing diet, and with good reason. When practiced correctly, it has been proven to burn fat, reduce inflammation, fight cancer, balance hormones and gut bacteria, improve neurological diseases, and even increase lifespan. Unfortunately, many people remain unaware of several key factors that are crucial to the diet’s success, setting them up for frustration, failure and relapse.
The problem is the SAD diet (Standard American Diet) and eat less move more advice. Tell that to a baby boomer with a hi bmi. Keto if done properly allows over weight people a way to lose weight without having to do hours in a gym. It is recomended to do a 15 minute walk now and then to keep a level of fitness. The weight is coming off even if one doesnt excercise. No sugar highs and lows, no cravings of carbs. Easier to do intermittent fasting to break plateus. Having the control over food and not being a slave to it. Reduction in sugar levels. The chance of autophahy. No brain fog. The chance to reverse type 2 diabetes. We have an obesity problem world wide. Yes you do have bad breath. Yes you can get constipated. Shall I stop because of a couple of negatives. Both negatives are treatable. The keto wave is coming. Empowering people to take control of thier own bodies by controlling thier insulin levels by keeping all sugar derivied products to a low level. The food companies drug companies are worried.
This was one of the most well researched and balances pieces on keto I’ve read. Nice work! However, your statement of “Carbohydrates make up the life blood of our body’s ability to function” is just not true. Carbs are not an essential nutrient. Since human bodies can convert fat to use as fuel, no amount of carbs are necessary. Also, the diet isn’t as restrictive as you make it out to be. I think that perception stems from the idea that everything we eat has to be amazing, delicious etc. Food is fuel, its health benefits should outweigh the temper tantrums of our tastebuds.
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.
I am also a proponent of the ketogenic lifestyle. I am a healthy eater and have studied nutrition and enjoy cooking. As a person managing hypothyroidism I found losing weight by calorie restriction very difficult and it suppressed my thyroid. I continued researching and found an online site that gave me sufficient medical videos to start to understand how to be ketogenic in a healthy way.

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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.


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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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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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 “unlimited amounts of protein and fat” does NOT work, for me. Instead, I have to carefully restrict total daily calories and mix in “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 not-hydrogenated no-added-sugar seven-nut butter, walnuts, avocado and lots of water and soups, it helps me avoid constipation. The other benefit is that I have become a careful label reader and I am often surprised at how much sugar is added to packaged foods.
Available research on the ketogenic diet for weight loss is still limited. Most of the studies so far have had a small number of participants, were short-term (12 weeks or less), and did not include control groups. A ketogenic diet has been shown to provide short-term benefits in some people including weight loss and improvements in total cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure. However, these effects after one year when compared with the effects of conventional weight loss diets are not significantly different. [10]

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Our dietary choices remain our most powerful ally in remaining healthy and combating disease. In Keto Diet, Dr. Josh Axe explores the emerging science that is converging around both the threat of carbohydrates and sugar as well as the powerfully salubrious benefits of a diet that augments our utilization of fat, and specifically ketones, to power our physiology. And beyond providing an in-depth exploration of this exciting science, Keto Diet provides the user-friendly tools that will allow every reader the chance to implement changes to regain and safeguard their health.

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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.
Skinfold Calipers: Skin calipers are affordable and easy to get on Amazon. Your local gym most likely has them too. A skinfold caliper works by pinching one area of your skin that folds easily (like your belly and back), in three to ten different areas of your body to measure your subcutaneous fat. That measurement is then used in a formula to calculate your body fat percentage. If you’ve never done this before, let a physician or coach do it first and teach you how to read the measurements accurately so you can do it at home next times.

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If you stick to g of carbs, g protein, and g fat, you will eat kcal and lose kg (lbs) in the first month. Keep in mind that your body weight can fluctuate by ±2kg (±4lbs) on any given day from water weight and what's in your stomach. Recalculate your macro ratio once a month! Changes in body composition have a large influence on the recommendations and weight loss.

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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.

This debate is pretty typical of most debates you see. The people who are fanatics for the diet will not accept any negative evidence or opinions about it. On the other hand, many critics of the diet clearly don’t have very much knowledge about it. I’m not referring to the author, who wrote a very well-informed and researched article, but some of the comments about Keto being a starvation diet and about glucose being the only energy source for the body.


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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Been doing keto since Dec. 26, 2018. I started for weight loss but got a few bonuses so far. Haven’t had a hotflash since starting, sleep so much better, brain fog gone and more energy! I’m perimenopause. I researched a lot before starting…realized the SAD way of eating is horrible. Carbs and sugar are not necessary. Dr. Phinny and Dr. Volek have the science behind this on YouTube (videos). Quite eye opening.


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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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)!

This book has a great variety of recipes and has some good info for beginners at the start. This book deals with recipes which are typically high in fat without being fattening. The book offers a number of cooking options which helps people maintain caloric intake while still burning fat. This is because the book focuses on food which is high in healthy fat and low in carbohydrates which are converted into unhealthy fat. The low-carbohydrate meals in this book are wonderful for those looking to enjoy delicious, yet healthy meals. As we know, food that is high in fat is often made out to be unhealthy and will typically not be included in weight-loss cookbooks.

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Not long after he got the news, he happened to receive an e-mail about a book title The New Atkins for a New You, and realized he recognized many of the authors’ names on the cover, which belonged to respected exercise experts Stephen Phinney, M.D., Ph.D; Jeff Volek, Ph.D., R.D.; and Eric Westman, M.D. They argued that the late Dr. Robert Atkins, who famously promoted a low-carb, high-fat diet in the 1980s—and was routinely lampooned for promoting eggs, bacon, and cheese as healthy foods that worked great for weight loss—had been right all along. The professors backed up their position with more than 50 new dietary studies and an action plan for getting lean and maintaining weight loss. Noakes says he learned more about nutrition that year than in his previous 42 years as a doctor.

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So one study looked at the long-term effects of a keto diet in obese patients and after 24 weeks, patients lost weight, reduced their total cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides and increased their HDL. Another study conducted on 132 obese patients found that the low carb (keto) group lost more weight than the low fat group while improving biomarkers like decreased triglycerides, improved insulin sensitivity, and decreased fasting glucose. This all was confirmed in a 2013 meta-analysis, 13 RCTs (1,569 participants) found that patients assigned to a very low carbohydrate diet resulted in greater weight loss compared to those assigned to a low-fat diet.
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!
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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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.

To start with you don’t really need to worry about macros. Just eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. An air fryer is awesome for keto! If you don’t like the juices toss them, you can always add butter or oil for more fat. If you find that you’re getting hungry or craving carbs add some type of healthy fat to your meals, otherwise keep doing what you’re doing. Thanks for stopping by!

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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.

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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.
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.
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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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.
I have never tried a keto diet (don’t like the idea myself) but I am what you could call moderately (or “liberal”) low carb. Around 125g max net per day, which as you likely know is half the RDA of 250g. I get most of the rest of my energy from protein and some for fat. The RDA of protein, around 50g, is only just enough to sustain muscle of a sedentary or low movement individual – and this is proven by the fact that a lot of people who hit the gym eat easily 2-3x the RDA of protein.

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Have been on low carb high fat diet for 5 months. Just had blood work done. Was prediabetic now normal. So lucky to have Dr. who supports lchf and Keto way of eating. Maybe Keto is not right for everyone but it certainly is for huge numbers of people. Personally, I have never felt better and I will keep promoting it to everyone wanting to listen. Pain in knees so much better. I haven’t taken a painkiller in 5 months.
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.
This was one of the most well researched and balances pieces on keto I’ve read. Nice work! However, your statement of “Carbohydrates make up the life blood of our body’s ability to function” is just not true. Carbs are not an essential nutrient. Since human bodies can convert fat to use as fuel, no amount of carbs are necessary. Also, the diet isn’t as restrictive as you make it out to be. I think that perception stems from the idea that everything we eat has to be amazing, delicious etc. Food is fuel, its health benefits should outweigh the temper tantrums of our tastebuds.
Even at what I now refer to my ignorant age of 20 years old — before Atkins became a household word— I remember a nutritionist telling me how the body works, and then telling me I needed to eat carbs and I recall thinking “wait a minute — if my body needs to use the carbs I consume before it begins to dip into my stored fat— why on earth is she TELLING me to eat so many carbs?”
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).

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Basically, in the context of dieting, dieters can either jack up dietary protein to cover the increased carbohydrate requirements of dieting or simply eat slightly more carbohydrates to provide them directly. Both have the same end-result. 15-50 grams per day limits the body’s need to break down protein and will allow protein requirements to be set lower than a diet providing essentially zero carbohydrates per day.

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.
Not long after he got the news, he happened to receive an e-mail about a book title The New Atkins for a New You, and realized he recognized many of the authors’ names on the cover, which belonged to respected exercise experts Stephen Phinney, M.D., Ph.D; Jeff Volek, Ph.D., R.D.; and Eric Westman, M.D. They argued that the late Dr. Robert Atkins, who famously promoted a low-carb, high-fat diet in the 1980s—and was routinely lampooned for promoting eggs, bacon, and cheese as healthy foods that worked great for weight loss—had been right all along. The professors backed up their position with more than 50 new dietary studies and an action plan for getting lean and maintaining weight loss. Noakes says he learned more about nutrition that year than in his previous 42 years as a doctor.

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There have been many attempts at studying the link between type 2 diabetes and the keto diet. In one study, a strict low-carbohydrate diet was administered in obese patients with type 2 diabetes. After 14 days of being on the diet, the glucose levels of participants normalized, their hemoglobin A1C decreased from 7.3% to 6.8% and insulin sensitivity improved by 75%. Some of this study’s limitations include the short duration, the small sample size and the weak control group. In another study, 84 obese patients with type 2 diabetes were randomized to either a low-carbohydrate keto diet or a low-glycemic reduced calorie diet. At the end of the study, both groups experienced improvements in glycemic control however the low carb keto group had greater improvements in hemoglobin A1c and higher HDL levels compared to the low-glycemic group. A more recent 2017 study in the journal of Nutrition and Diabetes found that a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet for 12 months led to greater reductions in HbA1c and body weight. These results suggest that low carbohydrate interventions may be effective at improving glucose control.
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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Basically, in the context of dieting, dieters can either jack up dietary protein to cover the increased carbohydrate requirements of dieting or simply eat slightly more carbohydrates to provide them directly. Both have the same end-result. 15-50 grams per day limits the body’s need to break down protein and will allow protein requirements to be set lower than a diet providing essentially zero carbohydrates per day.

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.
I have been on the ketogenic diet for a couple of months now. And feel amazing and have lost about 46Lbs. I am not sure where your information came from and the little video you posted about the ketogenic diet was way off. A proper keto diet which is also called Clean keto. Has lots of whole Foods such as meat and vegetables, berries, and some nuts. We just stay away from processed foods and refined carbohydrates. And some fruits. The ketogenic diet if done properly can do wonders. I am seen so many of my friends change there life around for the better because of Keto. A proper diet will have no processed foods like many grains and sugars that people in general consume way to much of.

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.

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