When ketone bodies accumulate in the blood, this is called ketosis. Healthy individuals naturally experience mild ketosis during periods of fasting (e.g., sleeping overnight) and very strenuous exercise. Proponents of the ketogenic diet state that if the diet is carefully followed, blood levels of ketones should not reach a harmful level (known as “ketoacidosis”) as the brain will use ketones for fuel, and healthy individuals will typically produce enough insulin to prevent excessive ketones from forming. [2] How soon ketosis happens and the number of ketone bodies that accumulate in the blood is variable from person to person and depends on factors such as body fat percentage and resting metabolic rate. [3]

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
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.”

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.
A systematic review of 26 short-term intervention trials (varying from 4-12 weeks) evaluated the appetites of overweight and obese individuals on either a very low calorie (~800 calories daily) or ketogenic diet (no calorie restriction but ≤50 gm carbohydrate daily) using a standardized and validated appetite scale. None of the studies compared the two diets with each other; rather, the participants’ appetites were compared at baseline before starting the diet and at the end. Despite losing a significant amount of weight on both diets, participants reported less hunger and a reduced desire to eat compared with baseline measures. The authors noted the lack of increased hunger despite extreme restrictions of both diets, which they theorized were due to changes in appetite hormones such as ghrelin and leptin, ketone bodies, and increased fat and protein intakes. The authors suggested further studies exploring a threshold of ketone levels needed to suppress appetite; in other words, can a higher amount of carbohydrate be eaten with a milder level of ketosis that might still produce a satiating effect? This could allow inclusion of healthful higher carbohydrate foods like whole grains, legumes, and fruit. [9]

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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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I appreciate your approach to the keto diet it is the most unbiased I’ve seen. I decided to take a more mindful approach to the keto diet. I took the allotted carbohydrates and decided to count the net carbohydrates. I researched the most healthy vegetables highest in nutrition value and antioxidants and use those for my net carbohydrate allowance. Then using my lean muscle mass calculated the necessary amount of protein using the healthiest options like lean chicken breast fish with no bacon and no fatty Meats. I decided to get my fat grams from avocado olive oil and coconut oil. Monitored my micronutrients and supplemented them as necessary to reach the daily requirement. Using a vegetables I attempt to get the highest fiber possible and supplement the rest. I’ve changed my concept of what is cheating on a diet to indulging in fresh pineapple and watermelon raspberries blueberries and blackberries. Grains have always caused problems with feeling bad gastric bloating and water gain for me. So it was not difficult to decide to leave those off research the nutrition and a tip to substitute. as far as gaining all the weight back if you return to the diet that got you overweight you can only expect to get it back. A calorie Surplus will put on weight. As I near my goal I will increase the carbohydrates using the healthy foods I have grown accustomed to to achieve the highest level of carbohydrates that does not have me regain the fat. Because remember my protein intake was based on my muscle mass. As I follow the diet I am mindful of the behavior changes choices that caused me to gain weight and there is no getting off the diet there is only bringing balance to the macronutrients. If dietitians everywhere find my Approach unhealthy that is their opinion they have a right to. I’m using this strict limited diet initially for the weight loss success as a positive reinforcer while modifying my behavior using the healthiest food choices. Which does not include heavy cream butter and fatty Meats.

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A: The amount of weight you lose is entirely dependent on you. Obviously adding exercise to your regimen will speed up your weight loss. Cutting out things that are common “stall” causes is also a good thing. Artificial sweeteners, dairy, wheat products and by-products (wheat gluten, wheat flours, and anything with an identifiable wheat product in it).


Early research into the topic of starvation and low-carbohydrate dieting found that as few as 15 grams of carbohydrates per day can limit nitrogen loss in the body. And raising carbohydrate intake to 50 grams per day severely limits the need for the body to use amino acids for gluoconeogenesis (which is why I suggested setting daily carbs on the low-carb days of The Ultimate Diet 2.0 at 50 grams). This occurs via at least two mechanisms:
Early research into the topic of starvation and low-carbohydrate dieting found that as few as 15 grams of carbohydrates per day can limit nitrogen loss in the body. And raising carbohydrate intake to 50 grams per day severely limits the need for the body to use amino acids for gluoconeogenesis (which is why I suggested setting daily carbs on the low-carb days of The Ultimate Diet 2.0 at 50 grams). This occurs via at least two mechanisms:
Sleep enough – for most people at least seven hours per night on average – and keep stress under control. Sleep deprivation and stress hormones raise blood sugar levels, slowing ketosis and weight loss a bit. Plus they might make it harder to stick to a keto diet, and resist temptations. So while handling sleep and stress will not get you into ketosis on it’s own, it’s still worth thinking about.
So if the diet you dietitian maintain so much is so amazing where are the studies about the SAD diet and why are there so many overweight people if everyone is following the SAD diet and overweight. Honestly keto is the most amazing thing that ever happened to me after trying the SAD diet for 15 years and constantly gaining weight with no weight loss at all. I find the review you did full of guess work and no actual research.
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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Thank you SO much for your blog post. My niece went into Ketoacidosis recently and I compared it to what a former RN in my neighborhood has been doing & recommending to everyone (& they believe her because she used to be a nurse, but definitely NOT a Dietitian). Anyway, after reading, I learned they are completely different, however if a healthy person does test for ketones in their blood, what are acceptable levels? (This same nurse tests for ketone levels). I appreciate how much work you put into this write-up and honest feedback! (I work with 2 RDs who agree with you!)

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Easy Low-Carb Slow Cooking by Robin Donovan does exactly what it says on the tin! Packed full of really simple really tasty recipes, that you can prepare in advance. Slow cooking is so useful when on the keto diet as it minimizes your effort spent prepping all your meals. For busy individuals whose days are spent in the workplace, this may be the book you are looking for. These recipes can be really useful for weekly meal plan cooking.
Our bodies run well on glucose (carbs)–they give us the necessary energy we need to function on a daily basis. When our body doesn’t get enough glucose (either because we’re cutting carbs too low, OR we haven’t eaten in too long), our body kind of freaks out and looks for other forms of energy to satisfy that role. That’s where the fat comes in. Without carbs, our insulin levels drop and fat is released from our cells. The fat overwhelms the liver which turns it into ketones, our body’s second choice to carbs for energy.
I think you should take some of your own advice…you are being judgmental and thinking your diet will work for everyone. Look at the scientific facts; your body’s life blood is carbohydrates, the bread of life. Simple carbohydrates are what is killer to American society. Any diet that cuts out junk food like greasy potato chips and ice cream and cake will make you lose weight, not rocket science. Where do you think your body is getting fuel from? Muscle mass! It has to use that because you are depriving it of fuel! Why go on extreme diets when all you need to do is practice portion control and get up off the couch and walk around?

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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.
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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It is now a mainstream dietary regime used wih the intent to reduce weight as it is safe for most people, but one should be especially aware of going ketogenic if one takes diabetes medicine, medication for high blood pressure or is breastfeeding. Typical foods include cheese, eggs, fish and seafood, natural fats, meet, vegetables that grow above ground. The key to maintaining the diet is low carb intake - usually with the goal of eating less than 50 grams or even less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day. The fewer the carbs, the better, usually. Things to avoid include: fruit, potatoes, pasta, beer, bread, soda, chocolate, candy, donuts, etc.

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Our bodies are incredibly adaptive to what you put into it – when you overload it with fats and take away carbohydrates, it will begin to burn ketones as the primary energy source. Optimal ketone levels offer many health, weight loss, physical and mental performance benefits.1There are scientifically-backed studies that show the advantage of a low-carb, ketogenic diet over a low-fat diet. One meta-analysis of low-carbohydrate diets showed a large advantage in weight loss. The New England Journal of Medicine study resulted in almost double the weight loss in a long-term study on ketone inducing diets.

Reduced Risk of High Cholesterol and Triglycerides. (8) Many doctors originally thought that a diet high in fat might increase cholesterol and triglycerides. However, the opposite has turned out to be the case. Most people see a significant drop in their LDL and triglycerides when on a keto diet, although a small percentage of people do see the opposite effect.


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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I’m a Registered Dietitian, and I greatly appreciate your overview. I will admit, I felt the exact same as yourself, but I decided to research it further, and then go on it to test it, and I have to admit, it has changed my view of it completely. I believe as dietitians, instead of telling our clients it’s a fad, educate them on how to do it successfully as a lifestyle and not as a fad. I believe that is the key. I highly recommend “What the Fat” book written by both a Registered Dietitian and professor. Great job going into the science and research. https://whatthefatbook.com/product/what-the-fat/
What about heart health and the keto diet? Previous older schools of nutrition would purport that a diet rich in fats (specifically saturated fats) would be detrimental for heart health, but more recent research suggests that saturated fat is not as bad as previously believed.  There is actually a tiny little bit of evidence that a keto diet may improve triglyceride, HDL and LDL levels. Like here and here. An even more recent study found that a keto diet improved triglyceride, HDL and LDL levels. We’ll definitely have to wait to see how that research unfolds because there is definitely a lot of competing elements at play.
This was one of the most well researched and balances pieces on keto I’ve read. Nice work! However, your statement of “Carbohydrates make up the life blood of our body’s ability to function” is just not true. Carbs are not an essential nutrient. Since human bodies can convert fat to use as fuel, no amount of carbs are necessary. Also, the diet isn’t as restrictive as you make it out to be. I think that perception stems from the idea that everything we eat has to be amazing, delicious etc. Food is fuel, its health benefits should outweigh the temper tantrums of our tastebuds.

Reduced hunger. Many people experience a marked reduction in hunger on a keto diet. This may be caused by an increased ability of the body to be fueled by its fat stores. Many people feel great when they eat just once or twice a day, and may automatically end up doing a form of intermittent fasting. This saves time and money, while also speeding up weight loss.
I have to thank you for presenting a more rational view of keto than I have seen presented by other dietitians. However I am a Type 1 diabetic, and ahem, also a registered dietitian and since finding keto a year ago would not have any reservation in guiding a pt, especially a diabetic, to eat keto. I find the diet far less restrictive than a vegetarian or vegan diet, and food cravings have completely been eliminated. I’m far more satiated when I eat and I have no problem adhering to this way of eating. The fact that dietitians advise eating 45-60 g CHO per meal to a diabetic (someone who essentially has a carb intolerance) is absolutely ludicrous to me. As a T1D I’m off the blood sugar roller coaster, no longer have dangerous lows and have achieved an A1c of 5.1, which means no long-term complications. I think the main fear in the mainstream media comes from that F word–fat. With the dawn of the low-fat era in the 1960s, sugar and carb consumption skyrocketed, fat consumption plummeted and what happened as a result? Yes, that’s right, rates of overweight and obesity skyrocketed. Insulin is the body’s primary fat storage hormone and carb consumption triggers insulin. The reason a keto diet works for weight loss (more than just water weight from loss of glycogen stores) is because insulin levels stay low, which allows for the mobilization of fat.
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.
This content is strictly the opinion of Dr. Josh Axe and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Axe nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.
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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What really killed it for me was the unrealistic restrictions of the entire day carbs count you should end up with – there is no f***ing way I can get by one full day with 20 grams of carbs and under. Just one of my meals ended up with at least 15 grams of carbs (half small onion-small red bell pepper-half cup chopped mushrooms-cup green beans), sometimes 20-25, times 4-5 meals (amature bodybuilder) and I end up with ~100 grams of carbs per day, at least.

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Our bodies run well on glucose (carbs)–they give us the necessary energy we need to function on a daily basis. When our body doesn’t get enough glucose (either because we’re cutting carbs too low, OR we haven’t eaten in too long), our body kind of freaks out and looks for other forms of energy to satisfy that role. That’s where the fat comes in. Without carbs, our insulin levels drop and fat is released from our cells. The fat overwhelms the liver which turns it into ketones, our body’s second choice to carbs for energy.
The low-carbohydrate diet options available in this book are also sugar-free, gluten-free, legume-free and in some cases dairy-free. While these may seem like restrictions on your diet, this book has so many delicious recipes to offer that you’ll not even miss carbohydrates or sugars, so often a major part of contemporary diets. This book also contains an in-depth list of foods which are suitable for eating when following keto. This ketogenic diet food list will help you stick to the diet while enjoying delicious food.

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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!

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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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Hopefully, this can bring some fun to the process of cooking which is often seen as laborious or tiring, especially considering the busy lives we lead on a day to day basis. Amanda C. Hughes offers some great high-fat, low-carbohydrate options with some delightfully devilish dessert options thrown in there, too! By offering both sugar-alternatives and sugar-free options, this book shows readers that they can enjoy tasty treats without breaking their diet. In addition, there is a good mix of high-end and budget recipe to suit your needs. It also has a nice breakdown of the macros so you never go off track.

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.


Available research on the ketogenic diet for weight loss is still limited. Most of the studies so far have had a small number of participants, were short-term (12 weeks or less), and did not include control groups. A ketogenic diet has been shown to provide short-term benefits in some people including weight loss and improvements in total cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure. However, these effects after one year when compared with the effects of conventional weight loss diets are not significantly different. [10]
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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