I wasn’t planning on writing about the ketogenic diet but that all changed with my recent YouTube video. If you guys caught this video on my channel, my girl Abby Langer and I found a hilarious Reddit thread that shared some keto-followers favourite “strange but delicious” keto-friendly meals and snacks. Let’s just say, it was extreme. I was by no means under the impression that everyone (or even a large number of people) on the Keto diet ate that shit. But, I get why some viewers on youtube maybe thought that and they got PISSED. Like, viciously pissed.
I also want to add that I absolutely agree with your verdict! As a type 1 diabetic who has experienced the sickening feeling of ketones’ presence, and known about the dangers of ketoacidosis since childhood, the concept of this diet for weight loss has always rubbed me the wrong way and struck me as a bit off (although I know ketosis is a different thing and is alright for the body, its extreme form is ketoacidosis, after all). I also have seen the diet, used for weight loss, cause dramatic results that then rebounded afterwards. I understand it is an incredible revelation in treating some epileptic individuals, and I see how it makes sense and can be helpful for type 2 diabetics or pre-diabetics. But as for a weight-management diet, like with everything else in life, I think we should strive balance. And enjoying summer peaches!

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

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I think you should take some of your own advice…you are being judgmental and thinking your diet will work for everyone. Look at the scientific facts; your body’s life blood is carbohydrates, the bread of life. Simple carbohydrates are what is killer to American society. Any diet that cuts out junk food like greasy potato chips and ice cream and cake will make you lose weight, not rocket science. Where do you think your body is getting fuel from? Muscle mass! It has to use that because you are depriving it of fuel! Why go on extreme diets when all you need to do is practice portion control and get up off the couch and walk around?

Both states are normal to the human body, although many people live without experiencing a state of ketosis. In traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyles, people regularly cycled in and out of ketosis. Most of these cultures lacked consistent access to carbohydrates. In seasons where carbs were unavailable, or when food was very scarce, blood sugar levels would plummet. 

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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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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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The premise of the ketogenic diet for weight loss is that if you deprive the body of glucose—the main source of energy for all cells in the body, which is obtained by eating carbohydrate foods—an alternative fuel called ketones is produced from stored fat (thus, the term “keto”-genic). The brain demands the most glucose in a steady supply, about 120 grams daily, because it cannot store glucose. During fasting, or when very little carbohydrate is eaten, the body first pulls stored glucose from the liver and temporarily breaks down muscle to release glucose. If this continues for 3-4 days and stored glucose is fully depleted, blood levels of a hormone called insulin decrease, and the body begins to use fat as its primary fuel. The liver produces ketone bodies from fat, which can be used in the absence of glucose. [1]

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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.

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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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While I do appreciate the amount of research that went into this article, I need to weigh in here— no pun intended. I am a 44 year old woman who suddenly and inexplicably gained a lot of weight at about age 20 and pretty much (albeit a few bouts of massive dieting and exercising) have remained fat until the age of 42. I had always been thin without having to give my lifestyle much thought before my sudden weight gain — so I have spent the last 20+ years becoming pretty proficient on learning how the body uses fuel. I have had success losing great amounts of weight a few times in my life — twice reducing my calories the “nutritional counseling” way — using the old school and outdated food pyramid and tons of exercise. It took literally having to spend hours and hours at the gym — being miserably hungry all the time — only to achieve slow progress at the scale. Months and months I would spent this way only to gain the weight right back the minute that I let go of the reins. I’m always hearing about “sustainable lifestyle changes” from you nutritionists— an I believe in daily exercise — but that lifestyle was completely unsustainable in the long term which is why so many people are unsuccessful.

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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.
The findings below have been limited to research specific to the ketogenic diet: the studies listed contain about 70-80% fat, 10-20% protein, and 5-10% carbohydrate. Diets otherwise termed “low carbohydrate” may not include these specific ratios, allowing higher amounts of protein or carbohydrate. Therefore only diets that specified the terms “ketogenic” or “keto,” or followed the macronutrient ratios listed above were included in this list below. In addition, though extensive research exists on the use of the ketogenic diet for other medical conditions, only studies that examined ketogenic diets specific to obesity or overweight were included in this list. (This paragraph was added to provide additional clarity on 5.7.18.)
My submission is, that a healthy body – liver, pancreas, kidneys – know how to maintain the right balance and produce or dispose of fuel, either glycogen or ketones as needed. I disagree that glucose is the favorite fuel, it is only the easy fast fuel for the body, which has one great advantage – PERFORMANCE! Both muscle and brain, fast performance is fueled by carbs. But, for ENDURANCE, it is ketones which are the best fuel, and moreover, burning ketones leaves less waste to be disposed off. I think that for athletes, the challenge is how to find the right performance-endurance balance.

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A useful addition is that of a grocery shopping guide. This is great if you’re unsure as to where to begin when you get to the market. The 30-day meal plan is structured to ensure that you and your family can maintain a monthly rigor to your eating while not getting bored of your food. If you need any additional help from this wonderful author, check out her YouTube channel. She’ll convince you that her book is definitely worth picking up! Definitely one the best keto cookbooks we have read. 

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But this sort of “low-carbohydrate, high-fat” (LCHF) diet, as Noakes calls it, is still far from mainstream. It takes serious dedication to drop your daily total carb intake to below 50 grams (or 20–30g of net carbs, which are sans fiber), the equivalent of a single cup of brown rice. The USDA Dietary Guidelines were just changed in January to mention the need to limit intake of added sugars and refined carbs like bread, rice, pasta, cookies, and crackers, which spike blood sugar more rapidly than candy. Check the label of nearly any sports drink, and it’s most likely loaded with natural or added sugar. Go to the grocery store today and the labels are awash with the message of “low fat,” “no fat,” or “zero fat.”
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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In a pilot study, five out of seven patients trialed a keto diet for 28 days and showed marked reduction in physical symptoms. Parkinson’s attacks our human nervous system, partially as a result of an abnormal accumulation of a protein called alpha-synuclein. Research suggests that a ketogenic diet may reduce the associated cognitive and motor symptoms.Obviously, we need more research here but its an exciting finding.
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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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.

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

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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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Get Plenty of Sodium. This might sound counter to what you’ve been told before, but your body really needs sodium. It’s one of the ways that your cells transport nutrients in and out of cells. And when you stop eating processed grains and sugar, you often get much less sodium. So when you go keto, just be sure that you’re eating salt or sodium-rich foods. If not, you will often experience fatigue.
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.
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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Get Plenty of Sodium. This might sound counter to what you’ve been told before, but your body really needs sodium. It’s one of the ways that your cells transport nutrients in and out of cells. And when you stop eating processed grains and sugar, you often get much less sodium. So when you go keto, just be sure that you’re eating salt or sodium-rich foods. If not, you will often experience fatigue.

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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.
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]

Con: Results can vary depending on how much fluid you drink. By drinking more water, you dilute the concentration of ketones in the urine and thus a lower level of ketones will be detected on the strips. The strips don’t show a precise ketone level. Finally, and most importantly, as you become increasingly keto-adapted and your body reabsorbs ketones from the urine, urine strips may become unreliable, even if you’re in ketosis.
I’ve just spent two weeks on keto, joined a very popular Facebook group in the process and thought I’d finally found the answer! I feel like crap! I’ve lost 8 lbs. but am so bloated and constipated as well. The more I read the postings in the group, the more freaked out I became, guzzling pickle juice and drinking salt water to balance electrolytes, everything slathered in cheese and fat and heavy cream. The baking recipes are garbage! These people must be terrible cooks to begin with because the waffles and pancakes they are raving over taste like garbage, a waste of time and ingredients. They dole out advice on vitamin and mineral supplementation as if they are doctors. Very scary. My jaw dropped open at the posting about hair loss, and everyone saying oh don’t worry, it eventually goes away. So here I am, Monday morning of a brand new week trying to formulate a plan that will work for me. I think for many of us, we are so desperate to lose weight that it’s easy to get caught up into these diet plans.
Hi, I am trying to do as much research as I can for my daughter and myself. My 19 year old daughter has been diabetic for 13 years and I am quite nervous about altering our diets without the approval of her medical team but they are not always on board with alternative lifestyles. I would love to follow your journey so she can see all the benefits you have gotten since you started.
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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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