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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I started Keto 100 days ago after seeing numerous family members losing a lot of weight and inches. They are getting good blood results from their doctors too. I did some research before I started and found many pro’s and con’s but decided the pro’s out weighed the con’s as long as my medical team approves. I have lost 22lbs but more important I’m down many percentage points in body fat (17.35% total now) during this time and have just received the most amazing blood work results I’ve had in years, I’m 60 years old. I told my nurse practictioner and my cardiologist how I’m eating and my N.P. said she doesn’t know enough about it but wants to know all I could tell her and my cardiologist said different diets work for different people but keep doing what I’m doing, they both just want to keep monitoring my progress with blood work and followups. I really feel the best I’ve been in a long while. When I reach a body fat percetage I’m comfortable with I might boost my carbs up to 50grams per day and decrease the fats a bit. My cardiologist says I don’t care what you eat on Friday night but the rest of the week be very mindful of your diet and blood work never lies. I can live with that.


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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Look, keto is simple. Please stop complicating it. You can honestly eat any food and stay in ketosis as long as you eat less than 25-50 grams of carbs a day. If you are an athlete you can eat up to 100 carbs per day. No food, I repeat NO FOOD is a keto food. Like hummus? Eat it! Like pineapple? Eat it! Unless you have a metabolic disease that causes your body to be super sensitive to sugar you can eat pretty much any whole food and remain in ketosis. 

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Two years ago, LeBron James famously lost 25 pounds and upped his late-game endurance by cutting carbs and sugars from his diet. Tim Ferriss, the author of the Four-Hour self-improvement book series, followed a strict keto diet to cure his Lyme disease, and performs a long multi-day fast every four months as a means, he says, of pushing ketosis further and starving incipient pre-cancerous cells of sugar (more on that later). Last summer, Sami Inkinen, the ultrafit co-founder of real estate juggernaut Trulia, rowed with his wife from California to Hawaii in record time on a keto diet, to promote high-fat eating and raise awareness about the dangers of too much sugar. The Keto Diet, say its ardent supporters, is a natural way to literally reprogram your metabolism and transition to an upgraded operating system. You’ll ultimately feel better and perform better, and your body fat will 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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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.

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I recently went to a walk in lab and found that I have high cholesterol and I am pre-diabetic. However, I am well on my way to healing my body with nutrition and supplements. I was able to reverse all my pre-diabetic symptoms in a few days (brain fog, blurry vision, thirst, frequent urination) and I have amazing energy and mental clarity now. I’m losing weight without hunger or counting calories. I eat low carb produce, poultry, fish, nuts and dairy. I believe that the key to avoid diabetes is to drastically reduce or eliminate grains, sugar and any type of processed food or cured meat from your diet. For cholesterol, I take plant sterols/stanols before meals and tumeric & black pepper, fish and flax oil. I believe that everyone who eats meat should take plant sterols (Try Minute Maid Heart Smart OJ!). It is the ultimate preventative, because it is not usually not possible to reduce your cholesterol enough with diet and exercise alone.
Since our body isn’t used to using ketones, we tend to feel flu-like when in ketosis. Lots of brain fog, fatigue, headaches, nausea and poor endurance. You also get bad smelling breath, sweat and pee from the acetone (a byproduct of fat metabolism). Sexy? Not so much. Thankfully, if you are in ketosis long enough, a lot of people report that most of these side effects start to go away.
The Keto craze has not worked for me. My favorite websites unfortunately are full of blogs and recipes that keep reminding me to eat more fat. Unfortunately I still eat carbs. This has led to weight gain. For example, I love avocados and bacon, but being encouraged to eat more avocados and bacon while I’m still giving in to a quick sandwitch for lunch several times a week means my calorie intake is too high.

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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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