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.
Hello, I’m Abbey! I'm a Registered Dietitian (RD), an avid food and recipe writer, a TV nutrition expert and spokesperson, a YouTube host and the founder of Abbey’s Kitchen Inc. Abbey's Kitchen is a multi- faceted food and nutrition media brand developed with the goal of celebrating the pleasurable eating experience. For more information about me, check out my bio here.

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I’ve lost 30 pounds in 2 months, I feel better than I ever have, energy levels are up, my skin issues have cleared up, and I am training to run a 5k with my 14 year old. This is the only diet I’ve tried that has been easy to stick to. For me I could never do a diet if I didn’t like the food. Not a chance I could go vegan. Anyone reading this I strongly suggest you do your own research. No offense to the writer but nobody should only look to one opinion as the be all and end all on any topic. Mark Sisson is an amazing resource, has been eating keto for a long time and *gasp* is a marathon runner. On Netflix check out The Magic Pill for some eye opening stuff. Just do as much research as you can before either jumping in or dismissing it. There are some amazing and delicious foods that are keto-friendly, you just gotta put in the time to find them. Keto is not just a diet, it’s a lifestyle that includes proper exercise (to avoid loss of muscle mass among many other health benefits), stress management and proper sleep. Be informed.
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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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.

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Thanks for the great article! As a fellow dietitian I think its challenging to stay on top of the fads and weight loss trends. The way I see it is that there are two types of ketogenic diets – lifestyle (for weight loss) and therapeutic for some of the medical conditions you mentioned above. Bottom line, the ketogenic diet is not a “natural” diet and there are serious associated side effects. I believe that people following the diet need to be supported by a team of medical professionals to ensure adequate monitoring.

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I have to thank you for presenting a more rational view of keto than I have seen presented by other dietitians. However I am a Type 1 diabetic, and ahem, also a registered dietitian and since finding keto a year ago would not have any reservation in guiding a pt, especially a diabetic, to eat keto. I find the diet far less restrictive than a vegetarian or vegan diet, and food cravings have completely been eliminated. I’m far more satiated when I eat and I have no problem adhering to this way of eating. The fact that dietitians advise eating 45-60 g CHO per meal to a diabetic (someone who essentially has a carb intolerance) is absolutely ludicrous to me. As a T1D I’m off the blood sugar roller coaster, no longer have dangerous lows and have achieved an A1c of 5.1, which means no long-term complications. I think the main fear in the mainstream media comes from that F word–fat. With the dawn of the low-fat era in the 1960s, sugar and carb consumption skyrocketed, fat consumption plummeted and what happened as a result? Yes, that’s right, rates of overweight and obesity skyrocketed. Insulin is the body’s primary fat storage hormone and carb consumption triggers insulin. The reason a keto diet works for weight loss (more than just water weight from loss of glycogen stores) is because insulin levels stay low, which allows for the mobilization of fat.
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.”
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.

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Ketogenic Diet is another excellent resource, focused on beginners and newcomers to the ketogenic diet. Written by Jeremy Stone, this book features 60 really simple recipes, that even the most modest chef can put together. With some basic knowledge of keto dieting, this book offers simple recipes which are easy to put together. More often than not, starting out what may seem like a highly restrictive diet can be very intimidating. However, this book looks to address those nerves.
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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Meanwhile, military researchers are focused on keto diets as well, believing soldiers could operate optimally on fewer, denser meals. Currently, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Department of Defense, and NASA are all running ketogenic experiments. NASA believes the diet will be important in manned missions to Mars because it protects against higher levels of radiation in space by increasing the brain’s resilience to stress. Plus, “the energy density of a ketogenic diet is higher, so you have to carry less weight,” says D’Agostino.

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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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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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.
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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The keto diet also has an impact on our hormonal levels. Many studies have looked at whether the state of ketosis suppresses our appetite through the actions of leptin and ghrelin. A 2013 study found that after patients lost weight on a keto diet, our hunger hormone (ghrelin) was altered and suppressed. A systematic review also concluded that the state of ketosis appears to be a plausible explanation for the suppression of appetite. So this the keto diet may be good for dieters who can’t stand the discomfort of hunger. Finally, the keto diet also may have an impact on our stress hormone, cortisol. This was demonstrated in a Harvard study where the keto diet resulted in an increase in cortisol in individuals following a very low carb keto diet. High levels of cortisol is associated with insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease and may promote fat accumulation.

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The only time I wasn’t hungry was on ketosis. I ate meat, healthy fats, nuts, non carb-y veggies. Dropped the diabetes medicine, blood pressure med, and got rid of the brain fog. You didn’t mention the role of inflamation in cholesterol danger. I asked my doctor to test that instead of cholesterol, and when he saw the test results he said I did not need my cholesterol tested.


Dr. Jeff Volek performed a similar study in obese males that also looked at possible effects of resistance training in combination with the diet. In this study, Dr. Volek used a true ketogenic diet consisting of high fat and low carbohydrates. He found a comparable pattern and magnitude of change in body composition to the aforementioned study (6). He later performed another study including men and women. In this study (7) the participants were instructed to not change any physical activity behaviors and to continue with their daily lifestyle habits. The two diet intervention groups consisted of a very low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet (VLCD: 9%C: 63%F: 28%P) and a low-fat diet (58%C: 22%F: 20%P). The amount of calories that were restricted for both groups was based on the individuals’ resting metabolic rate (RMR). The women in the low-carbohydrate, ketogenic group responded much more favorably to the diet, especially in terms of trunk fat loss. Meanwhile, both men and women lost significantly more fat in the VLCD group than in the low- fat diet group. As expected, RMR decreased in both groups; however, the men in the VLCD group maintained a much higher RMR relative to their body mass than those the low-fat condition did. This has important practical applications, as most people who diet tend to have decreased metabolisms that make take a long time to recover back to baseline and in some cases may never fully return to normal.


I’ve lost 30 pounds in 2 months, I feel better than I ever have, energy levels are up, my skin issues have cleared up, and I am training to run a 5k with my 14 year old. This is the only diet I’ve tried that has been easy to stick to. For me I could never do a diet if I didn’t like the food. Not a chance I could go vegan. Anyone reading this I strongly suggest you do your own research. No offense to the writer but nobody should only look to one opinion as the be all and end all on any topic. Mark Sisson is an amazing resource, has been eating keto for a long time and *gasp* is a marathon runner. On Netflix check out The Magic Pill for some eye opening stuff. Just do as much research as you can before either jumping in or dismissing it. There are some amazing and delicious foods that are keto-friendly, you just gotta put in the time to find them. Keto is not just a diet, it’s a lifestyle that includes proper exercise (to avoid loss of muscle mass among many other health benefits), stress management and proper sleep. Be informed.

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Meat – Unprocessed meats are low carb and keto-friendly, and organic and grass-fed meat might be even healthier. But remember that keto is a high-fat diet, not high protein, so you don’t need huge amounts of meat. Excess protein (more than your body needs) is converted to glucose, making it harder to get into ketosis. A normal amount of meat is enough.
When ketone bodies accumulate in the blood, this is called ketosis. Healthy individuals naturally experience mild ketosis during periods of fasting (e.g., sleeping overnight) and very strenuous exercise. Proponents of the ketogenic diet state that if the diet is carefully followed, blood levels of ketones should not reach a harmful level (known as “ketoacidosis”) as the brain will use ketones for fuel, and healthy individuals will typically produce enough insulin to prevent excessive ketones from forming. [2] How soon ketosis happens and the number of ketone bodies that accumulate in the blood is variable from person to person and depends on factors such as body fat percentage and resting metabolic rate. [3]
First off, I will say the ketogenic diet is not for everyone for their individual health reasons. However, reading through many of the posts where it didn’t work for people I would be willing to bet 90% of the time there is an obvious reason and no offense to that person but maybe a little more research would have helped. Something as simple as consciously increasing salt intake, or taking a multi-vitamin to get the minerals you need could help. Everyone’s body is different and some people can’t eat as much cheese for example (like my wife), as others can. If you feel off, or just don’t feel right before abandoning the diet please look up your symptoms and see if there’s a simple fix. It can really be worth it.

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If you aren’t familiar with meal planning, check out my 5 Easy Steps to Meal Planning for simple steps to get started. I also post a Keto Meal Plan each Sunday afternoon for inspiration. Once you plan your meals for the week, it would be a good idea to compare the needed ingredients to what you already have in your pantry. Then, with this super easy printable keto grocery list in hand, eliminate any foods you already have in your pantry as well as items that you need for that week.
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?

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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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Once the medical community acknowledged the keto diet’s effectiveness in reducing seizure episodes, they decided to look further and study its impact on neurological diseases in general. Neurological diseases share a common problem – a deficiency in energy production. Ketones provide that energy for normal brain cell metabolism, and may even be a more efficient   when the body is in starvation mode. When patients were put on the keto diet, the number of mitochondria (energy powerhouse) in brain cells increased. Ketones may also act as an antioxidant by inhibiting the formation of reactive oxidant species, which is why they may have promising effects in the treatment of certain cancers in conjunction with chemotherapy.

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