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?”
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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“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.

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The problem is the SAD diet (Standard American Diet) and eat less move more advice. Tell that to a baby boomer with a hi bmi. Keto if done properly allows over weight people a way to lose weight without having to do hours in a gym. It is recomended to do a 15 minute walk now and then to keep a level of fitness. The weight is coming off even if one doesnt excercise. No sugar highs and lows, no cravings of carbs. Easier to do intermittent fasting to break plateus. Having the control over food and not being a slave to it. Reduction in sugar levels. The chance of autophahy. No brain fog. The chance to reverse type 2 diabetes. We have an obesity problem world wide. Yes you do have bad breath. Yes you can get constipated. Shall I stop because of a couple of negatives. Both negatives are treatable. The keto wave is coming. Empowering people to take control of thier own bodies by controlling thier insulin levels by keeping all sugar derivied products to a low level. The food companies drug companies are worried.

I do want to point out an inaccuracy in your description of ketoacidosis. If a Type 1 diabetic “and/or does not eat enough carbohydrates,” they will not enter a state of ketoacidosis. It is the opposite. Ketoacidosis can occur if a diabetic consumes carbs without having enough insulin to allow the body to use glucose for energy. In contrast, not eating enough carbohydrates for insulin that was already injected causes hypoglycemia.

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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

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I’m very glad I found a common sense expert to help sort through some of this Keto fog. I watched “The Magic Pill” which got me curious about a few things. Does their argument that eating Keto is the way to go because our ancestors ate this way and were healthy have any validity? The Paleo diet seems to use this argument too but Paleo is not Keto – or so I read.

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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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So where did the ketogenic diet come from? Interestingly enough, this fad diet didn’t spark from a celebrity endorsement or some guy missing a medical license. There’s evidence of the keto diet being used back in the early 1920s to treat severe childhood epilepsy and it’s still being used today for that purpose. Research suggests that the production of ketones may influence neurotransmitter activity in neurons allowing for a reduction in seizure attacks. A recent Cochrane Review demonstrated a 30-40% reduction in seizures compared with non-keto diet controls. One thing to keep in mind, however (which is a theme when discussing the keto diet) is that it’s generally difficult to adhere to and difficult to tolerate for a lot of people. In other words, people go on it and then come off it pretty damn quick.

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!

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.

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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My favorite drink is: 1/3 glass of Spicy Low Sodium V8 + 1/3 water + 1/3 DIET Tonic Water + 1 rounded tsp Stevia. Outstanding !! After I plateaued out after 35 lb loss on keto I continued to drink this and had no difficulties losing 9 additional lbs. I simply do not believe the keto prohibitions on ANY sweeteners…. they have zero carbs & calories. Exactly HOW could they effect metabolism? IMHO THEY DON’T! I don’t believe that superstition, it’s biblical.
Don’t be afraid of a banana. Do be afraid of going over your carbs and calories. The same person that will write a hate comment about banans not being keto will sit and eat 10 handfuls of nuts. Guess what, just because you think nuts are a “keto food” you are eating waaaaaayyyyy more calories than you need and you will not lose weight. Keto is not a miracle diet. The laws of science still apply.  

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The ketogenic diet has recently become very popular, and many food companies want to cash in by putting a “ketogenic” or “low carb” label on a new product. Be very cautious of special “keto” or “low-carb” products, such as pastas, chocolate bars, energy bars, protein powders, snack foods, cakes, cookies and other “low carb” or “ketogenic” treats. Read all labels carefully for natural low carb ingredients. The fewer ingredients the better.

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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. 

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I tried the ketogenic diet and it really helped me even out my energy levels and I don’t grave sugar anymore. I had issues absorbing my B vitamins. I had high candida and l-acidophylis levels. I was also addicted to sugar. I started this 3 years ago, and since about a year ago, I’ve added fruit. Now I enjoy a little rice and potatoes as well. I even had a bite of chocolate cake and didn’t die. I started out at 112, lost 10 pounds within a month and have slowly gained most of it back. I am happy I did it, but I will be more confident to add more carbs, although it will mostly be in the form of more fruit and starchy veggies. Thanks for your article.

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This diet is perfect for everyone, but it is not a one-size-fits-all kind of plan. You can’t simply add the foods to your cart go home and eat all you like. You have to know your goals, macros, and have a menu plan. Thankfully, we can help you with all of that. This list was created to give you a starting point, but only you know what will work for you. If you have insulin resistance, you should wait until you reach your goals to incorporate fruits. If you eat 50 grams of carbs a day and are in maintenance mode, you can eat more than the person who is in induction. Please be thoughtful when commenting, especially on other people’s questions or comments. We are all in a different place, and we should be helping each other succeed.

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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.

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I’ve had many people ask for a Keto Grocery List. At first, I was hesitant because I am a picky eater and tend to stick to the same foods over and over. I know that most people eat a larger variety of foods than I do. At the same time, when I was researching Keto Grocery Lists, so many seemed overwhelming and included many foods that even after almost a year of following a Keto Diet I have never used.

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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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!
Total carbs is not a precise indicator of the carb content of a food. When you see “total carbs” on a food label, the number beside it represents the cumulative total of grams of dietary fiber, sugar, and sugar alcohol that are in that food item or beverage. Net carb content, on the other hand, relates to the carb content of the food that is digested at four calories per gram and impacts your ketones levels.

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