High-carb diet – like SAD – is outright harmful and statistically it is proven, since the overall health of North American population deteriorates steadily since the 70s. Low-carb, high-fat diet is definitely less harmful; in my opinion it could be beneficial for the vast majority of humans. Whether one can plough through the addiction of sweets, that is totally different story.
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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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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I like the list of health benefits you talk about here. But I seriously reject most of the side effects you claim without any basis. The only real risk that all keto dieters face, is constipation. I never encountered it, as I drink ample water and ate ample vegetables until I got sick with the flu and dehydrated. But that’s easily manageable. As with any diet, you should have your doctor regularly monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol, and other blood panel stats.

Sustainable is Key. Thank you for the article, it explained so much! I have been inclined to follow this diet but what has worked for me before is a diet that’s called “The AntiDiet” and is simply starting your day with fruits, while strictly separating complex carbs and proteins during lunch and dinner, and still being opened to consume all kinds of food. I had been trying the Whole30 for so long and so many times and I simply can’t, does not make sense for me and so does Keto in the sense of overloading on fats and meat. Thank you!

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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.

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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.

Here are a few of the most common side effects that I come across when people first start keto. Frequently the issues relate to dehydration or lack of micronutrients (vitamins) in the body. Make sure that you’re drinking enough water (close to a gallon a day) and eating foods with good sources of micronutrients. To read more on micronutrients, click here >


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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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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Bulk buy and cook. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, this is the best of both worlds. Buying your food at bulk (specifically from wholesalers) can reduce the cost per pound tremendously. Plus, you can make ahead food (bulk cook chicken thighs for pre-made meat, or cook entire meals) that are used as leftovers, so you spend less time cooking.

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First of all, don't weigh yourself more than once a week. There are natural fluctuations related to water retention and hormonal balance. If you are a woman, you will notice these fluctuations more often. If you see no movement on the scales or even if your weight goes up, it doesn't mean you are not losing fat. If you exercise, you may even see a little increase in weight, as muscles are heavier than fat. The important thing here is to concentrate on losing body fat. Don’t rely just on scales, use body tape, calipers, belts or clothes to see any changes.

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When it comes to meat, there’s not much to avoid. You should always make sure to purchase meat with fat and void lean cuts, as this will not help you lose weight. Remember, fat is your friend. Fat is needed, so your body has fat to burn and not sugar. When you are on a low carb diet, you are not fueling your body with sugar, so make sure you eat plenty of fat. If you don’t have fat to burn, your body will start burning glucose (even if you have fat stores). Your body needs to know that it never has to worry about not having enough fat.

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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 “unlimited amounts of protein and fat” does NOT work, for me. Instead, I have to carefully restrict total daily calories and mix in “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 not-hydrogenated no-added-sugar seven-nut butter, walnuts, avocado and lots of water and soups, it helps me avoid constipation. The other benefit is that I have become a careful label reader and I am often surprised at how much sugar is added to packaged foods.

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The last book we’re looking at in this keto cookbook list is Simply Keto: A Practical Approach to Health & Weight Loss by Suzanne Ryan. What’s great about these recipes is that most of the recipes come from a personal place in Suzanne’s heart. This book details her transformation to the keto diet and how her body transformed as she lost over 100 pounds. This was solely due to the lifestyle choices she made as part of this transformation. The book offers a number of recipes which are ketogenic forward (more than 100). It also offers a number of supplementary additions. These additions include helpful tips and hints for those looking to kickstart their life in keto.

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?”

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Hi, I think Keto is a great starting point. I am almost 60 years old and finally feel good, no fogginess or sluggishness. For the first time I have no hippy handles and my tummy is flatter – no bloating or puffiness and I feel more energetic. I have only been doing Keto for about 4 weeks. I am so happy with the results!! I will continue for another 8 weeks or so then I will add more foods back in BUT moderation is key. I will slowly up my healthy carbs and find what is good for me. Happy days everyone!!! =)
Sustainable is Key. Thank you for the article, it explained so much! I have been inclined to follow this diet but what has worked for me before is a diet that’s called “The AntiDiet” and is simply starting your day with fruits, while strictly separating complex carbs and proteins during lunch and dinner, and still being opened to consume all kinds of food. I had been trying the Whole30 for so long and so many times and I simply can’t, does not make sense for me and so does Keto in the sense of overloading on fats and meat. Thank you!
The only difficulty with some of these studies is that they tend to have small sample sizes, like this one that only has five cyclist participants and the data was largely skewed by the fact that only ONE cyclist experienced a large enhancement of exercise capacity after the keto diet. Their studies also tend to be short term. Back in 2014, Phinney and scientist Tim Noakes wrote an editorial that stated that in the past 31 years, there have only been a handful of studies measuring sports performance and low carb diets. Out of a total of 11, only 3 found exercise improvements.
“Keto diets should only be used under clinical supervision and only for brief periods,” Francine Blinten, R.D., a certified clinical nutritionist and public health consultant in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, told Healthline. “They have worked successfully on some cancer patients in conjunction with chemotherapy to shrink tumors and to reduce seizures among people suffering from epilepsy.”

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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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Another great keto flu cure is bone broth! This is also a great healer when you are actually sick with a cold or flu or just want something comforting. Instead of its high carb alternative chicken noodle soup or even worse, store bought chicken broth (which is typically loaded with MSG and other preservative junk), bone broth is a delicious way to alleviate your flu symptoms. Bone broth is a great way to hydrate & it is also packed with electrolytes, good for you sodium and potassium.
Thank you for creating this list! I have an article from Bodybuilding.com to advise how to prepare and be successful before giving up on this plan but the food list was quite short. My trainer suggested this eating plan for me so I found your list so I can go purchase the foods now. I believe I have my macro counts right to start so wish me luck! And thanks again for sharing this !! Rebecca
The keto diet is amazing! I’ve been on it for 15 months now. I maintain 20 grams or less carbs a day. I lost 60 pounds in less than 3 months and have maintained that loss. My triglycerides and cholesterol numbers are far better than average. My blood pressure normalized within a month and I no longer take mesds. I have a heart condition called PVC and am off all meds for that as the symptoms are no longer a bother. Those symptoms, as well as blood glucose numbers, decreased considerably within 2 weeks. It is the most beneficial “diet” I’ve ever used. It is a lifestyle that I 100% support. It is sustainable long term. I go to the gym daily. I am now 50 and have better energy than ever and feel far better than I did in my 30s and 40s.
Next up is The Ketogenic Cookbook by Jimmy Moore and Maria Emmerich. This is another great resource for anyone on a keto diet. It has over 200 recipes, beautiful photography, and features good, simple food. The large number of recipes will ensure that you will never be stumped when deciding what to make. The Ketogenic Cookbook is a near encyclopedia from some of the best writers in the world of ketogenic diets. They understand the need to offer legible, understandable meal options for those who may not be too familiar with the diet. This is why it is such a great resource for beginners to the keto diet.

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Here’s why. All of these effects take time, but a reasonable explanation as to why the keto diet leads to rapid weight loss is due to the loss of water weight. One of the concerns with the keto diet is the loss of muscle mass and the depletion of glycogen stores. Glycogen, which stores our glucose, also stores water, so when stores are depleted, we flush out excess water. In other words, that rapid weight loss isn’t fat, it’s just water.
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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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. 

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No, you won’t need every single item on a keto grocery list at any time. Instead, a list is simply a guideline to help you to make the best food choices while you are shopping for keto foods. You don’t need to stock every single kind of nut butter, oils, sweeteners, etc. Pick the ones that you like the most, and stock those as needed. Then, you can build your keto pantry over time.

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