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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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.

What is needed to start a keto diet


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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It’s important we distinguish between the process of ketoacidosis seen in type 1 diabetes and this ketosis that so many people on the keto diet are striving for. If someone with diabetes lacks enough insulin and/or does not eat enough carbohydrates, they risk entering a state known as ketoacidosis. For those with uncontrolled diabetes, this can increase the levels of ketones in the blood, increasing the acidity of the blood, and potentially leading to a coma or even death. In ketosis for a healthy individual, the level of ketones in the blood never reaches these crazy high levels so it’s generally safe for the average healthy individual.

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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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.

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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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!
When you eat foods high in carbohydrates and fat, your body naturally produces glucose. Carbohydrates are the easiest thing for the body to process, and therefore it will use them first – resulting in the excess fats to be stored immediately. In turn, this causes weight gain and health problems that are associated with high fat, high carbohydrate diets (NOT keto).

“Net carbs” and “impact carbs” are familiar phrases in ketogenic diets as well as diabetic diets. They are unregulated interchangeable terms invented by food manufacturers as a marketing strategy, appearing on some food labels to claim that the product contains less “usable” carbohydrate than is listed. [6] Net carbs or impact carbs are the amount of carbohydrate that are directly absorbed by the body and contribute calories. They are calculated by subtracting the amount of indigestible carbohydrates from the total carbohydrate amount. Indigestible (unabsorbed) carbohydrates include insoluble fibers from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables; and sugar alcohols, such as mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol commonly used in sugar-free diabetic food products. However, these calculations are not an exact or reliable science because the effect of sugar alcohols on absorption and blood sugar can vary. Some sugar alcohols may still contribute calories and raise blood sugar. The total calorie level also does not change despite the amount of net carbs, which is an important factor with weight loss. There is debate even within the ketogenic diet community about the value of using net carbs.

How do you test for ketosis


You didn’t convert grams to calories. You must convert the grams of fat and protein to calories and then calculate your macronutrient percentages. Calorie percentages, not gram percentages, are what the recommended keto percentages are based on. Usually, once you account for the fact that one gram of fat has five more calories than one gram of protein the calorie percentages will end up being what you expect from a typical keto diet.

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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Eliminating several food groups and the potential for unpleasant symptoms may make compliance difficult. An emphasis on foods high in saturated fat also counters recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Heart Association and may have adverse effects on blood LDL cholesterol. However, it is possible to modify the diet to emphasize foods low in saturated fat such as olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish.

What kind of fruit is Keto friendly


Hey Chantelle, I would avoid chewing gum because most of them (even the sugar free kind) use sugar alcohols that are not keto approved like malitol and sorbitol. Although it is a small amount, it would still be advised to avoid them. Also, a lot of people feel that the action of chewing leads your brain to think you are consuming food and if no food is coming in, it may lead to your brain thinking you are hungrier than you actually are.

Adequate protein intake and developing ketosis are both critical for maximising fat loss and sparing muscle mass during the ketogenic diet. However, it will take up to 3 weeks before your body gets keto-adapted (in some cases even more). During the initial phase of the ketogenic diet, nitrogen losses may occur if your daily net carbs intake is very low. When your carbohydrate intake goes down, your body converts body protein into glucose. Since about 16% of protein is nitrogen, you may lose muscle mass which will cause a decrease in your metabolic rate. This could have a negative impact on fat loss. For example, if your carbs intake is close to zero, you you may have to eat more protein (aka protein sparing modified fast). Keep in mind this applies to zero carbohydrate intake which means it does not affect most people following the ketogenic diet.
A huge concern with the keto diet is the maintenance and potential loss of muscle mass. Many people will just think: hey, dummy, then just eat more protein. However, some research has shown that even if your protein intake remains constant, a low carb diet may promote muscle loss. A study from the Netherlands confirmed these findings. In the study, participants were given three diets (high carb, moderate carb, low carb) and moderate protein. The study found that those following a low carb diet experienced increased muscle breakdown. This is because when we eat carbohydrates, we produce insulin which promotes muscle growth. This is why athletes depend on carbohydrates (along with protein) to fuel their performance. When we eat carbs, the insulin release “unlocks” our muscles to let the protein in so it can do its job at building our muscles. So, when we skip the carbs all together, muscle glycogen stores get depleted, we lose out on those muscle building opportunities. Forget about high intensity training. A depleted glycogen store also means our workouts will suffer because we just don’t have enough oil left in the tank. This was a again suggested in the recent review looking at many ketogenic studies. The studies found that there was greater lean body mass loss in the ketogenic groups compared to the other diets being studied.

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.


No one is trying to diminish your success, but it does not work for everyone, and studies show it can have long term negative effects on your overall health. If you look at the Meta-analysis it shows a calorie restricted diet and Keto for 12 weeks had the same weight loss. There are also many studies that suggest looking back at people after one year those on a calorie restricted diet kept more of their weight off. The only one it does better than is just a low fat diet, which Dieticians stopped suggesting long ago. And as Health Care professionals we read the “REAL SCIENCE” not the internet articles, You Tube, Blog, book writers. One of the books written about it by Dr. Jason Fung. Have you looked him up on PUBMED? He has not written one article published in a real medical journal to be such an expert. It is not magic, it is not a cure. If you like the diet and it does not mess up your cholesterol then so be it but promoting it to others not knowing their medical history can be dangerous. What people don’t realize is that for year’s we have known that if you lose 7-10% of your own body weight your blood sugars will improve, cholesterol, and blood pressure. But you don’t have to do the fasting and put more burden on your Liver or potentially increase your risk for cardiac problems eating such high fat. If you do high fat at least do plant fats and not animal fats. But of course everyone is happy with your success but just keep a tab on your lab work.
There is exciting research on the role of a keto diet as a form of treatment for cancer. In one study, the use of a keto diet on patients with advanced cancer was deemed safe, and some evidence suggested it played a role in stabilizing the disease or resulting partial remission. In another study, the keto diet was used as a form of therapy for patients with malignant brain cancer. The study found that the keto diet may carry anti-tumor effects when administered in experimental animal and human brain tumors. The researchers believe this may be due to the reduction in calories, which reduces the circulating glucose needed for tumor growth. It is still unsure whether a keto diet per se plays a role in this or simply calorie restriction. All of this is to say that the research is preliminary, however still promising.
NOTICE: The information contained or presented on this website is for educational purposes only. Information on this site is NOT intended to serve as a substitute for diagnosis, treatment, or advice from a qualified, licensed medical professional. The facts presented are offered as information only - not medical advice - and in no way should anyone infer that we or anyone appearing in any content on this website are practicing medicine. Any diet, health, or nutritional program you undertake should be discussed with your doctor or other licensed medical professional. Seek the advice of a medical professional for proper application of ANY material on this site to your specific situation.

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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.
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.
Louella you are absolutely wrong. It’s actually funny to me that this dietitian talks about the keto diet to such an extent but neither you nor her ever mention Gluconeogenesis. Yes your brain has specific areas that can only use glucose, but the human body is a wonderful thing and can use a few different substrates to synthesize glucose without you ever having to eat it yourself. Look up Gluconeogenesis. Your body has the ability to convert the amino acids you find in protein into usable glucose for your brain. The fact that you don’t know this shows me how uneducated you are about the ketogenic diet in general. Perhaps you should read up on the subject before you start trying to sound like a scientist who clearly has no idea what she is talking about. Thanks.
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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A keto diet has shown to improve triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels most associated with arterial buildup. More specifically low-carb, high-fat diets show a dramatic increase in HDL and decrease in LDL particle concentration compared to low-fat diets.3A study in the long-term effects of a ketogenic diet shows a significant reduction in cholesterol levels, body weight, and blood glucose. Read more on keto and cholesterol >

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Thank you for the information on the pros and cons of the keto diet. I have heard so much about it, a lot of people in my age group (55-65) are on it and have had success. I have NOT had the success that everyone else has had, I lose 7 gain back 2. Lose 3, gain back 4. I work out almost every day during my lunch break, which gives me only about 20 minutes of fast hard sweat. I have to wonder if this diet is NOT working for me because of this. I follow the dietary guidelines very strictly and I have experienced the effects of it, such as constipation, stinky pee and stinky breath. People tell me that by week 5 you should start to see a dramatic drop in weight. Not so for me, but then, I had the same issue when I was on weight watchers. The weight loss is so slow that I tend to just give up. I will stay with it for another month, but if I continue to see no real drop in weight, I am just going to assume that it is the wrong diet plan for me.

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The contents of this website are for educational purposes and are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The Nutrition Source does not recommend or endorse any products.

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A meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials following overweight and obese participants for 1-2 years on either low-fat diets or very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets found that the ketogenic diet produced a small but significantly greater reduction in weight, triglycerides, and blood pressure, and a greater increase in HDL and LDL cholesterol compared with the low-fat diet at one year. [10] The authors acknowledged the small weight loss difference between the two diets of about 2 pounds, and that compliance to the ketogenic diet declined over time, which may have explained the more significant difference at one year but not at two years (the authors did not provide additional data on this).
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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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.
On a ketogenic diet, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run mostly on fat, burning fat 24-7. When insulin levels become very low, fat burning can increase dramatically. It becomes easier to access your fat stores to burn them off. This is great if you’re trying to lose weight, but there are also other less obvious benefits, such as less hunger and a steady supply of energy. This may help keep you alert and focused.

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if this is true how did humans survive before agriculture? high carbohydrate foods simply didn’t exist in abundance before the agriculture age. Hundreds of thousands of years of evolution where humans would hunt for their food, and in between hunting eat whatever berries grew nearby….going days at a time or even weeks without food our bodies HAD to evolve into a state where they could conserve and store it’s energy then supply us with that energy burst for when that deer wandered by. Ketones are that energy source. Glucose simply doesn’t last long enough for us to survive and still have the energy to hunt. A little over 10,000 years of agriculture cannot undo hundreds of thousands of years of evolution.

Hi Danielle, it’s all about learning to read labels and the nutrition label before purchasing something! I also double heck the ingredients before I buy packaged products. I also have an ongoing list of approved veggies that I keep in my phone so that I know what I can buy and the variety I can buy so I don’t get in a food funk! Definitely let me know how I can help further! Like posting a label guide? Complete veggie list? Let me know!

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I think I would be better is you would talk about how people could make the keto diet better instead of dismissing it, more emphasis should be put on eat vegetables, fermented veggies and healthy sources of fat. Those studies that showed the negatives of the keto all used man made polyunsaturated seed oil, the worst possible type pf oil that people can eat.

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