The ketogenic or “keto” diet is a low-carbohydrate, fat-rich eating plan that has been used for centuries to treat specific medical conditions. In the 19th century, the ketogenic diet was commonly used to help control diabetes. In 1920 it was introduced as an effective treatment for epilepsy in children in whom medication was ineffective. The ketogenic diet has also been tested and used in closely monitored settings for cancer, diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Anyways, I am feeling so much better without the weight, my sleep apnea is gone, my blood glucose is lower and the 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”. Once I reach my goal, I plan to transition to more of a Mediterranean style diet but still with logging and I hope to be able to keep the weight off.

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I have been doing the Keto diet for a little over 2 weeks now. I have lost about 9lbs…7.5 in the first week. However, I now find myself weak and unable to exercise. My heart pounds with any type of fast movement. I have dark circles and bags under my eyes and my face, neck and chest have been itching for over a week now. I have a rash on my neck that itches and burns. Enough is enough.. no weight loss is worth this torment. I am going to a more balanced diet starting today. Thanks for the article.
Having said that, there are also studies suggesting that long term carbohydrate restriction diets (aka. the keto diet) may result in fast short term weight loss but people gain it all back in the long term. An RCT put 63 individuals on a low-fat diet or a low carb diet, and the study found the low carb dieters lost more weight compared to the low fat group by month 3 and 6, but that the weight loss evened out by month 12. This was confirmed by a Meta-analysis which found that while low-carbers lost more weight than low-fat dieters but the differences disappeared by the one year mark.

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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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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.
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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I think every body responds to diets differently. What works for one person doesn’t work for another. There is not true, standard diet that’s one-size-fits-all. My sister eats a diet of mostly carbs and very little protein – and she functions just fine on this. Personally, even a moderate amount of carbs gives me brain fog, fatigue, irritability, and bloat.

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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This way of eating is a lifestyle and it has never failed, because we are all the same. The only variations are peoples environments/ temperature and food availability. Of course if someone lives in Siberia they will not eat the same as someone who lives in Phillipines; and not everyone has access to the healthiest environment and the healthiest cleanest food.

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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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Excessive ketone bodies can produce a dangerously toxic level of acid in the blood, called ketoacidosis. During ketoacidosis, the kidneys begin to excrete ketone bodies along with body water in the urine, causing some fluid-related weight loss. Ketoacidosis most often occurs in individuals with type 1 diabetes because they do not produce insulin, a hormone that prevents the overproduction of ketones. However in a few rare cases, ketoacidosis has been reported to occur in nondiabetic individuals following a prolonged very low carbohydrate diet. [4,5]
Why not just rest on the opinion that it is not a fad diet and has been around for a long time as a diet that works for some people. Some of our youth on reddit may be doing it because they have diabetes (like my Son) Many of these kids are getting this from the poor American diet and low activity because of computers and phones. So if they can take a break from that and try to take an active and creative interest in this diet (which is a good diet for some) then why not just be respectful of that. My Sons doctor put him on this diet, we are doing it as a family and loving it! His blood sugar is normal after 1 1/2 months and we have all lost weight. BTW most if not all the foods you tried I would def eat! ???? There is def some concern about doing this way of eating carefully and making sure we are in balance with our nutrients. We have cheat meals once a week, so not feeling deprived at all!
Here’s what you got wrong…Keto is about a balanced fat and protein diet with very low carbs and high nutritional content. No one on keto shoots for an 80% fat intake, that’s just impossible to achieve and isn’t what keto is about. I targeted 110g of protein and 90g of fat in a day … and under 20g of carbs. I ate a lot of leafy/dark green vegetables and got most of my carbs from other veggies and fruits like tomatoes, onions, and berries (with a high GI). This is what most people target, a 40/40/10 ratio of protein, fat, carbs … but the common misconception is that the fat amount is a goal, whereas it’s a limit. The protein is more important to a healthy body, but the fat teaches the body to release/produce the ketones in the bloodstream.
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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In 2014 — for the first time — I discovered a low carb diet called Ideal Protein. It’s different from Keto in that you also keep a low fat intake as well. I can’t speak for Keto as I’ve not done it personally, but I lost 80 pounds on Ideal Protein in 5 months. It fit into my life as a busy mom and returning college student because I didn’t have to spend hours at the gym. I just ate low carb and moderate protein.

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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.
As you walk around the store, stick to the outer edges. The outer aisles have the freshest food. Think about your neighborhood grocery store. Most often the deli, the meat counter, and the produce section are all along the sides of the store with the packaged items in the aisles. Once you add more carbohydrate grams to your daily limit, you can start to experiment with low-carb packaged foods.

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Hey Sherry, all of my recipes call for Whole Eggs. It looks like my recipe plugin is adding the word “White” because I use white eggs in my calculator. It’s just a title issue. I am updating them all to read Large Eggs. You are not the first person that thought it was supposed to be egg whites so I need to get these changed ASAP! I totally agree, the whole egg is best and that’s all we really use in the Keto Diet! Thank you so much for checking out our site and for letting me know about this. 

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Slow cooking is also great for those who aren’t comfortable using a stove or an oven as slow cookers typically need minimal preparation and food is all prepared in one pot. This is also a great alternative to other books which typically rely on standard cooking infrastructure such as a stovetop. So, if you are a fan of the crockpot or simply looking to expand your ketogenic cooking repertoire, this is one of the best keto cookbooks you will find.

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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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Cutting out a whole food group (or in this case, more than one) is a dietitian’s worse nightmare. It not only makes it a really hard diet to follow, but also stresses the hell out of your body and makes it work a lot harder to keep up. In a US News & World Report’s review of 2018 diet, the ketogenic diet came in last place as a sustainable means to weight loss because of its restrictive nature.

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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For example, if we told you to eat 50 total carbs rather than 20-30 grams of net carbs, you could be eating anywhere between 0 and 50 grams of net carbs. At 0 grams of net carbs, most people will get into ketosis within the first week and experience deeper levels of ketosis as the weeks progress. On the other hand, while eating 50 grams of net carbs per day, many people will struggle to get into ketosis and sustain higher ketone levels.
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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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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Let's find out your body fat percentage. Based on your height and weight, your body fat percentage might be around %. The most accurate measurement would be a DEXA. Skin fold measurement with a good caliper is also pretty accurate. The easiest way is to just estimate it from some comparison pictures. More: 1, 2, 3, 4. You can also try this calculator but that can be inaccurate.
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.

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To meet your macros most efficiently, try combining high protein with high-fat foods or have foods that are both high in protein and fat at every meal. For example, having a fatty fish or fatty cut of meat with high-protein cheese (and low carb vegetables) is a simple and easy way to have a keto-friendly meal that will help you meet your protein and fat needs. On the other hand, if you just want to increase your fat intake, then find ways to add oil, animal fats, butter, fat bombs, and/or high-fat cheeses to your meals or snacks.

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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.
Once you know what you will be eating on keto, you will probably be wondering how much of you should eat for each meal. Since meal size depends on the individual and his/her goals, we recommend using a calorie tracking app and our carb tracking guide to help you figure out the macronutrient content of your meals. As you track your macros, you will be able to figure out what adjusts you need to make to your diet to reach your goals.

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While I do appreciate the amount of research that went into this article, I need to weigh in here— no pun intended. I am a 44 year old woman who suddenly and inexplicably gained a lot of weight at about age 20 and pretty much (albeit a few bouts of massive dieting and exercising) have remained fat until the age of 42. I had always been thin without having to give my lifestyle much thought before my sudden weight gain — so I have spent the last 20+ years becoming pretty proficient on learning how the body uses fuel. I have had success losing great amounts of weight a few times in my life — twice reducing my calories the “nutritional counseling” way — using the old school and outdated food pyramid and tons of exercise. It took literally having to spend hours and hours at the gym — being miserably hungry all the time — only to achieve slow progress at the scale. Months and months I would spent this way only to gain the weight right back the minute that I let go of the reins. I’m always hearing about “sustainable lifestyle changes” from you nutritionists— an I believe in daily exercise — but that lifestyle was completely unsustainable in the long term which is why so many people are unsuccessful.

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