A study of 89 obese adults who were placed on a two-phase diet regimen (6 months of a very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet and 6 months of a reintroduction phase on a normal calorie Mediterranean diet) showed a significant mean 10% weight loss with no weight regain at one year. The ketogenic diet provided about 980 calories with 12% carbohydrate, 36% protein, and 52% fat, while the Mediterranean diet provided about 1800 calories with 58% carbohydrate, 15% protein, and 27% fat. Eighty-eight percent of the participants were compliant with the entire regimen. [12] It is noted that the ketogenic diet used in this study was lower in fat and slightly higher in carbohydrate and protein than the average ketogenic diet that provides 70% or greater calories from fat and less than 20% protein.
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.
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.

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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There are loads of varieties, with books for beginners, slow cooker recipes, and fat bombs.  With these in mind, we have put together a list of our favorite 10 books here. These books cover a number of cooking levels and points of the ketogenic diet. The books below also cover everyone from the seasoned keto fanatic to someone with no experience. So, in no particular order, let’s get started!

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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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Having said that, there are also studies suggesting that long term carbohydrate restriction diets (aka. the keto diet) may result in fast short term weight loss but people gain it all back in the long term. An RCT put 63 individuals on a low-fat diet or a low carb diet, and the study found the low carb dieters lost more weight compared to the low fat group by month 3 and 6, but that the weight loss evened out by month 12. This was confirmed by a Meta-analysis which found that while low-carbers lost more weight than low-fat dieters but the differences disappeared by the one year mark.

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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People claiming huge benefits of these supplements – despite the lack of solid scientific support – may sometimes have a financial reason to believe in the supplements. Some of these products are sold under a multi-level marketing arrangement, where sales people are paid based on commission. For example, the company Prüvit sells drinkable ketones, called KETO//OS with a multi-level marketing structure.
It is now a mainstream dietary regime used wih the intent to reduce weight as it is safe for most people, but one should be especially aware of going ketogenic if one takes diabetes medicine, medication for high blood pressure or is breastfeeding. Typical foods include cheese, eggs, fish and seafood, natural fats, meet, vegetables that grow above ground. The key to maintaining the diet is low carb intake - usually with the goal of eating less than 50 grams or even less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day. The fewer the carbs, the better, usually. Things to avoid include: fruit, potatoes, pasta, beer, bread, soda, chocolate, candy, donuts, etc.
Excessive ketone bodies can produce a dangerously toxic level of acid in the blood, called ketoacidosis. During ketoacidosis, the kidneys begin to excrete ketone bodies along with body water in the urine, causing some fluid-related weight loss. Ketoacidosis most often occurs in individuals with type 1 diabetes because they do not produce insulin, a hormone that prevents the overproduction of ketones. However in a few rare cases, ketoacidosis has been reported to occur in nondiabetic individuals following a prolonged very low carbohydrate diet. [4,5]

This is of course just an overview of what you can eat, but these are things I’m most likely going to pick up from the grocery store. I also didn’t want to include crazy expensive specialty items like Erythritol for beginners. I think we all get excited about making our favorite junk foods in the style of our diets right away. This is fine…but it can be very expensive, time consuming and exhausting. Stick with the basics, especially when first starting out!
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)!

What snack foods have no carbs


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?”


Let's find out your body fat percentage. Based on your height and weight, your body fat percentage might be around %. The most accurate measurement would be a DEXA. Skin fold measurement with a good caliper is also pretty accurate. The easiest way is to just estimate it from some comparison pictures. More: 1, 2, 3, 4. You can also try this calculator but that can be inaccurate.
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. 🙂
Today makes 3 months since I started Keto and I have lost 43 lbs. The way it works for me is by using a meal logging App and sticking to it daily and trying to reach the macronutrient goal percentages as closely as possible. In addition, I have found that, for me, “unlimited amounts of protein and fat” does NOT work for me. I have to carefully restrict total daily calories and mix it “intermittent fasting” with lots of hydration to get the ketosis going. I also find that if I can eat low-carb high fiber greens like arugula, celery, non-peanut no-added-sugar seven-nut butter, walnuts, avocado and lots of water and soups, it helps me avoid constipation. I am feeling so much better without the weight, my sleep apnea is gone and edema in my legs is gone but I do have concerns about the saturated fat, my HDL/LDL and I do not like the “nail polish breath”. I have also read many articles on Keto and most are either “all in” or “no way” so I would like to thank you for the “balanced discussion” in this article. It must have taken lots of effort for a nutritionist to examine Keto in a balanced, objective style. Thanks again.

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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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