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.
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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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.
I am Keto proponent. I have been through muscle cramps when missing greens while riding my bike for 100 km in 5.5 hours (and I am going on 64!) Getting kale and spinach and parsley is a must, getting the fruit whole is a must. Consumption of “good” fats like coco, olive, avocado oils definitely does not hurt. Consumption of meat – and of organs, yes, organs – is very important. And finally, monitoring the body reaction and measuring ketones and glucose helps; I am doing observations regularly. What about G=4.2 and K=.3 in the morning? It is not ketogenic state per se, but in the morning my muscles do not need much fuel, and my frontal cortex and red blood cells need only minimum glucose. What about G=5.4 and K=3.6 in the third hour of bike ride, with acetone in the breath high and ketone disposal in urine very low? What about post-exercise levels of G=4.4 and K=1.2, with almost no acetone in breath and urine levels going sky-high because the body needs not ketones any more?
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Cheese, if you can tolerate it, can also be purchased in bulk. Many stores offer store-brand cheese in large bricks. You’ll need to make sure to read the labels before you purchase any cheese. Make sure that when you eat cheese to eat some fiber (salad or raw veggies) as well. Having large blocks of your favorite cheeses on hand can make it easy to grab a quick snack between meals.
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A dirty keto diet also follows the standard keto diet but with disregard to the nutrient value or quality of the food consuming. For example, you could go to a fast food restaurant and order a bunless cheeseburger chased down with a diet soda and still be keto. This works if you’re traveling and really have no better options, but is not recommended in the long run because of a host of negative effects, such as the inflammation, cravings, increased blood pressure due to the high sodium, and bloating.
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I’m very glad I found a common sense expert to help sort through some of this Keto fog. I watched “The Magic Pill” which got me curious about a few things. Does their argument that eating Keto is the way to go because our ancestors ate this way and were healthy have any validity? The Paleo diet seems to use this argument too but Paleo is not Keto – or so I read.
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However, from personal experience, I can say that the diet is not optimal for athletes (as this article points out). I personally lost strength on all of my lifts at the gym and felt light headed and weak when I tried to do any physical activity. That’s why I think that is good for couch surfers and desk jockeys that don’t work out and need to lose weight.
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The aim is to find the level best suited for you. There are two ways to count carbs - you can either count total carbs or net carbs (net carbs are total carbs minus fibre). According to Volek and Phinney, you should not eat more than 50 grams of total carbs (25-30 grams of net carbs) on a ketogenic diet. If your aim is to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, eating 20-30 grams of net carbs (up to 50 grams of total carbs) is a great way to start. If you want to learn more about total vs net carbs, read this post.
The ketogenic diet has been shown to produce beneficial metabolic changes in the short-term. Along with weight loss, health parameters associated with carrying excess weight have improved, such as insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol and triglycerides. [2,7] There is also growing interest in the use of low-carbohydrate diets, including the ketogenic diet, for type 2 diabetes. Several theories exist as to why the ketogenic diet promotes weight loss, though they have not been consistently shown in research: [2,8,9]
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Next up is The Ketogenic Cookbook by Jimmy Moore and Maria Emmerich. This is another great resource for anyone on a keto diet. It has over 200 recipes, beautiful photography, and features good, simple food. The large number of recipes will ensure that you will never be stumped when deciding what to make. The Ketogenic Cookbook is a near encyclopedia from some of the best writers in the world of ketogenic diets. They understand the need to offer legible, understandable meal options for those who may not be too familiar with the diet. This is why it is such a great resource for beginners to the keto diet.
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Jeremy Hendon grew up in Georgia, studied at Emory and UC Berkeley, and practiced law for 6 years in LA and NYC. For much of his life, Jeremy was overweight and unable to consistently find a way to get healthy. That’s a big part of the reason why he co-founded Louise’s foods, 2 health magazines, KetoSummit.com, and now CoBionic.com. He’s also co-authored multiple books, had his products featured on national TV, and has lived in 9 different countries over the last 5 years. You can find him on Facebook or LinkedIn.
Another thing we know about diets and weight loss is that the results are not easily maintained. I’ve written about this in depth with regards to the participants on the Biggest Loser. This was evident in a study analyzing 31 long term studies on dieting, which found 2/3 of dieters put back the weight they lost. Other research has reported the failure rate may be as high as 95%. This isn’t specific to the keto diet but rather, any diet that is restrictive and unrealistic may be nearly impossible to sustain.
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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When I first started my keto experience, I didn’t have much fruit. I would occasionally have one strawberry or 1/4 cup of frozen fruit, but I kept it to a minimum. Now, the good news is that fruit sugar is different than white sugar. First of all, the fruit has fiber in it. Unlike eating white sugar which goes straight into the bloodstream and is combated with insulin spikes, the fiber in fruit is harder to digest, so it doesn’t cause your body to react in the same way. So a little fruit can be a good thing.
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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.
A ketogenic diet may be an option for some people who have had difficulty losing weight with other methods. The exact ratio of fat, carbohydrate, and protein that is needed to achieve health benefits will vary among individuals due to their genetic makeup and body composition. Therefore, if one chooses to start a ketogenic diet, it is recommended to consult with one’s physician and a dietitian to closely monitor any biochemical changes after starting the regimen, and to create a meal plan that is tailored to one’s existing health conditions and to prevent nutritional deficiencies or other health complications. A dietitian may also provide guidance on reintroducing carbohydrates once weight loss is achieved.
The ketogenic diet has recently become very popular, and many food companies want to cash in by putting a “ketogenic” or “low carb” label on a new product. Be very cautious of special “keto” or “low-carb” products, such as pastas, chocolate bars, energy bars, protein powders, snack foods, cakes, cookies and other “low carb” or “ketogenic” treats. Read all labels carefully for natural low carb ingredients. The fewer ingredients the better.
Thank you for creating this list! I have an article from Bodybuilding.com to advise how to prepare and be successful before giving up on this plan but the food list was quite short. My trainer suggested this eating plan for me so I found your list so I can go purchase the foods now. I believe I have my macro counts right to start so wish me luck! And thanks again for sharing this !! Rebecca
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Thanks for the great and helpful information about the Ketogenic diet .Since the last 4 years I’m on a keto diet I’m very happy,feeling a lot more healthy and I have lost a lot of weight.During that time I did quite few mistakes mainly due to misinformation so I highly recommend everyone who is really interested in keto diet to read this first https://tinyurl.com/y7xp7c6u
I do not think you are glad this diet was effective for this person. Your video recipe reviews are juvenile at best, and your overall review is extremely negative. My personal experience is wt loss of 60 lbs in 11 mos; three migraines in 11 mos vs minimum of three per month for over 53 years, and all I was trying to do by starting keto was delay type 2 genetic diabetes onset . I am no longer prediabetic and I have taken less sumatriptan in one year than I have historically taken in one month. I sincerely hope your review has not prevented one person from enjoying their life to the degree I have in the past 11 months as a direct result of the keto diet. Shame on you!
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I’ve had many people ask for a Keto Grocery List. At first, I was hesitant because I am a picky eater and tend to stick to the same foods over and over. I know that most people eat a larger variety of foods than I do. At the same time, when I was researching Keto Grocery Lists, so many seemed overwhelming and included many foods that even after almost a year of following a Keto Diet I have never used.
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.
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. 
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.
This whole post must have taken so much effort and I think it’s incredible that you do this. The issue with these diets is that people hear about it, think it sounds good and do it. No questions! We are so lucky to have dietitians like you actually laying out all the research, the good, the bad, and everything in between about these diets, so THANK YOU!
This article just goes to show that NOBODY knows wtf they are talking about… For example first saturated fat is bad… years later they “find out” it is healthy… but maybe not? How can there be 2 opposing sides (with intelligent minds on each), about something as simple as what a human should eat?! My doctor told me to try the keto diet to help weight loss and improve my blood lab results. I’m only 2 weeks in but this is the easiest diet ive ever had in my life! I love everything I eat! I doubt our ancestors thrived off pasta, soda, candy, and all the processed boxed garbage the American diet consists of today. Their bread was nothing like the crap bread in stores now either. Fruit and starchy veggies are ok to eat however only in moderation. I’m just fed up with how nutritionist and scientists cant make up their mind about what a healthy diet is.
The critics are right that people tend to buy in to certain things–a diet in this case–and then blindly defend it, exaggerate its benefits, etc. As someone on the Keto diet, I try to guard against doing that. Keto is not some magic snake oil that is going to cure all that ails mankind. But if you are going to criticize it, get your facts straight like the author did. Don’t be making ridiculous claims like Keto is a starvation diet.
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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His new way of eating, he says, also cured his migraines and acid reflux. On top of that, it eliminated spikes in blood sugar, kept his appetite in check, and allowed his body to burn its own fat as fuel. After Noakes’ diabetes had reversed course, he wrote about it for Discovery Health News; that triggered a national debate across South Africa, a country plagued by an epidemic of diabetes and its associated conditions. (Blacks and ethnic Indians, who make up much of South Africa’s population, are especially prone to the disease.)
While fat isn’t forbidden on keto – I also don’t think that it makes up 80% of my diet. I wouldn’t know because exact % because I don’t count fat – but I do know that I eat too much chicken, turkey, fish, and vegetables for that to be true. Contrary to the belief of some, not every person on keto is scarfing down a pound of bacon and slathering butter on everything.
I’m throwing in the towel but will continue working out as I LOVE it. I am going to eat sensible, keep up the weight training and see how it goes. I feel like I gave it a good run but if I haven’t seen results in 90 days I don’t feel this is the best way to eat for my body. I’m curious if anyone else has had lack luster results like mine while being diligent with a strick KETO diet.
Some shellfish like oysters and mussels contain some carbohydrates, so take that into consideration when eating out. The easiest thing to do is PLAN. Before you go out, find the restaurant’s menu and nutrition info if possible (if not just read the menu carefully and don’t be afraid to ask questions). This is just another reason to make sure you are using My Fitness Pal to calculate your meals, and if you have the app, you can add them while you wait for your food!
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Why not just rest on the opinion that it is not a fad diet and has been around for a long time as a diet that works for some people. Some of our youth on reddit may be doing it because they have diabetes (like my Son) Many of these kids are getting this from the poor American diet and low activity because of computers and phones. So if they can take a break from that and try to take an active and creative interest in this diet (which is a good diet for some) then why not just be respectful of that. My Sons doctor put him on this diet, we are doing it as a family and loving it! His blood sugar is normal after 1 1/2 months and we have all lost weight. BTW most if not all the foods you tried I would def eat! ???? There is def some concern about doing this way of eating carefully and making sure we are in balance with our nutrients. We have cheat meals once a week, so not feeling deprived at all!
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The walking around part is not true in my experience, exercise alone will not help an obese person. I’ve been doing Keto and most things I’ve read have come true, I found this article to be unbiased. I will say this however, I agree I too have been eating many green veggies and the bad stuff I do use I use very little for flavor (like bacon) what I found that is utterly ridiculous on the part of the folks that did the diet rankings was saying Keto was unsustainable. The way I feel from being on Keto is insanely well. I want to keep eating this way! Unsustainable its the only diet I can do intermittent fasting on. I was type 2….
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I went back to school for Medical Laboratory Science which involved a lot of chemistry and physiology. I pieced together what I had learned through dieting over the years and how the body works — and I have to say that I am really waiting for the medical community — doctors and nutritionists to finally get on board with lower carb diets. If dropping 80-100 pounds isn’t successful then I don’t know what is. I don’t really care how “unhealthy” you call it because of how rapid the weight loss is. How unhealthy is being obese in the first place?
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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In the first week, many people report headaches, mental fogginess, dizziness, and aggravation. Most of the time, this is the result of your electrolytes being flushed out, as ketosis has a diuretic effect. Make sure you drink plenty of water and keep your sodium intake up.6One of the fathers of keto, Dr. Phinney, shows that electrolyte levels (especially sodium) can become unbalanced with low carb intake.
While I admittedly struggled after going off the diet (they have some high protein, low carb,good tasting premade foods that I no longer had access to) with what to eat, I at least had better knowledges of HOW to eat and have been able to maintain my weight loss since. For the first time ever, I realized that I couldn’t eat the “food pyramid” suggested amount of carbs if I wanted to maintain a healthy weight. I even began running because I was thin enough to do so. What people who have never been fat before don’t understand is how much being fat holds us back from trying new things. If only there was a way to get people to quickly and easily lose the weight so they could be successful at dieting and discover such things (tongue in cheek).