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.
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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And glucose is not the preferred fuel of the brain, because fat is. It is just super easy to get glucose from all the garbage carbs that are available 24/7. When you can eat a high fat diet and cause cancer to go into remission, then no it is not glucose that any part of the body prefers. It is fat. Sugar (carbs) feeds cancer and ill health. Fat improves health.
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.
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.

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.

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A ketogenic state can change consciousness and elevate intuition, hence its place in spiritual work. It offers profound potential to shift one’s nervous system, and alleviate chronic anxiety, and is also used to bring balance in psychological disorders like autism. It is one way, but not the only way, to experience heightened clarity of the body’s wisdom.

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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Great article! anything that the sh** bomb in the first paragraph has to be good! Plenty of scientific studies, we can click on if we choose to, but this was simple and easy to understand. Don’t let the wiener-heads, who want to pick out one little thing and go to town with it, drag you down. I was looking for some easy to understand pros and cons of Keto and that’s exactly what you gave me. The best thing is it supports what I’ve been telling clients and my fellow meatheads at the gym all along. Like anything else in life, nutrition, work, exercise, family, marriage (God forbid I ever do that again) and so on, sustainability and success require balance. Personally, I’m a 40-40-20 hardliner, but only because that is what works best for me.


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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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.
Note: Are you a vegetarian or vegan and want to go on a ketogenic diet? It’s still possible! Just keep in mind that the dietary restrictions can sometimes be a little bit intense. Make sure to plan ahead and prepare to aid your success. To help out, we’ve published articles (with 7 day meal plans included) for both the vegetarian ketogenic diet and the vegan ketogenic diet.

There are numerous benefits that come with being on keto: from weight loss and increased energy levels to therapeutic medical applications. Most anyone can safely benefit from eating a low-carb, high-fat diet. Below, you’ll find a short list of the benefits you can receive from a ketogenic diet. For a more comprehensive list, you can also read our in-depth article here >

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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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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.
Celebrity endorsements is the WORST reason to start a diet. And yes, it is a diet. Why? Because it’s not long term sustainable. Anyone can lose weight; ask an overweight person. They’ve lost weight hundreds of times. Keeping it off is a whole other ballgame and depriving yourself of carbs can lead to kidney damage. Educate yourself on the dangers of high protein diets that were largely debunked in the 70’s. Get with the program, girl!
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Fish are great for keto diets because they offer heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and you can dress them up in so many ways. While fish and seafood can be a great choice when dining out, make sure you order with no breading and try to find out exactly what they use to cook and season them. Did you know that black pepper has carbohydrates? It does indeed, which is why it is so important to make sure you know what’s being added to it.
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.
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.
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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