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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It’s important we distinguish between the process of ketoacidosis seen in type 1 diabetes and this ketosis that so many people on the keto diet are striving for. If someone with diabetes lacks enough insulin and/or does not eat enough carbohydrates, they risk entering a state known as ketoacidosis. For those with uncontrolled diabetes, this can increase the levels of ketones in the blood, increasing the acidity of the blood, and potentially leading to a coma or even death. In ketosis for a healthy individual, the level of ketones in the blood never reaches these crazy high levels so it’s generally safe for the average healthy individual.
There is not one “standard” ketogenic diet with a specific ratio of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fat). The ketogenic diet typically reduces total carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams a day—less than the amount found in a medium plain bagel—and can be as low as 20 grams a day. Generally, popular ketogenic resources suggest an average of 70-80% fat from total daily calories, 5-10% carbohydrate, and 10-20% protein. For a 2000-calorie diet, this translates to about 165 grams fat, 40 grams carbohydrate, and 75 grams protein. The protein amount on the ketogenic diet is kept moderate in comparison with other low-carb high-protein diets, because eating too much protein can prevent ketosis. The amino acids in protein can be converted to glucose, so a ketogenic diet specifies enough protein to preserve lean body mass including muscle, but that will still cause ketosis.
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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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Two years ago, LeBron James famously lost 25 pounds and upped his late-game endurance by cutting carbs and sugars from his diet. Tim Ferriss, the author of the Four-Hour self-improvement book series, followed a strict keto diet to cure his Lyme disease, and performs a long multi-day fast every four months as a means, he says, of pushing ketosis further and starving incipient pre-cancerous cells of sugar (more on that later). Last summer, Sami Inkinen, the ultrafit co-founder of real estate juggernaut Trulia, rowed with his wife from California to Hawaii in record time on a keto diet, to promote high-fat eating and raise awareness about the dangers of too much sugar. The Keto Diet, say its ardent supporters, is a natural way to literally reprogram your metabolism and transition to an upgraded operating system. You’ll ultimately feel better and perform better, and your body fat will plummet.
One of the latest trends in weight-loss diets, the ketogenic or “keto” diet is so effective for some of its devotees that it may be here to stay. So, what exactly is this diet that you’ve heard so much — or so little — about? Simply put, a keto diet drastically reduces the amount of carbs you eat and increases the amount of healthy fats you consume. A percentage of protein is allowed. This is supposed to put your body in the metabolic state of “ketosis” where it burns fat instead of carbs. Sounds simple enough until you try to eat that way 24/7!
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This whole post must have taken so much effort and I think it’s incredible that you do this. The issue with these diets is that people hear about it, think it sounds good and do it. No questions! We are so lucky to have dietitians like you actually laying out all the research, the good, the bad, and everything in between about these diets, so THANK YOU!
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.
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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.
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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.
My submission is, that a healthy body – liver, pancreas, kidneys – know how to maintain the right balance and produce or dispose of fuel, either glycogen or ketones as needed. I disagree that glucose is the favorite fuel, it is only the easy fast fuel for the body, which has one great advantage – PERFORMANCE! Both muscle and brain, fast performance is fueled by carbs. But, for ENDURANCE, it is ketones which are the best fuel, and moreover, burning ketones leaves less waste to be disposed off. I think that for athletes, the challenge is how to find the right performance-endurance balance.
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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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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Depending on the info that you enter into our keto calculator, you will get different ratios of fat, protein, and carbs. In general, carbs should remain low because they will prevent you from entering into ketosis and getting all of the benefits of the keto diet. By limiting carb consumption to this degree, many people will lose a considerable amount of water weight as well.
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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 is a great list of Keto foods. I also try to choose higher quality food sources when they are available and my budget permits, such as grass fed meats and Kerry Gold butter, wild caught seafood, cage free eggs, and organic produce and oils as much as possible. When I travel and eat out, these higher quality options are generally less accessible, if at all. So I don’t sweat it. I just go with the flow. We just have to do what we can when we can. 🙂 Best wishes to all on your personal wellness journey!
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. 
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I’ve lost lots of weight on the keto diet (over 100lbs) so the comment about the weight losses being water is just absurd. And I can sustain it quite easily as long as I have the right foods in the house – just like any dietary ha it you want to maintain. The Mediterranean diet was just ranked as the #1 diet, but I bet if there were Oreos in the house, I couldn’t maintain that diet either. The “low fat” diet that we’ve all been told is so good for us is not based on sound science. It’s based on the lipids theory from the 1930s and has since been denounced due to the researcher’s omittence of any data that didn’t fit his desired model. Also, the idea that somehow because you’re eliminating a macronutrient (carbs are not a food group), you’re also reducing food intake overall, and THAT’S the reason for weight loss, is utterly false. I eat WAY more on the keto diet than I ever did when I wasn’t paying attention. My brain, body, emotions, and weight all run better on ketones than they ever did on glycogen. I actually believe that ketosis is probably the way we were designed (or evolved) to operate. Think about it… agriculture (growing carbs for eating) is only something we’ve done in the last 10,000 years. Before that, we’d eat meat all fall, winter, spring, and early summer, then gorge ourselves on carbs in the late summer to store up fat, and then do it all over again in the fall. Just because we have access to an abundance of carbs doesn’t mean that’s how we are meant to live. And for hose who think that only eating meat is horribly bad for you, look at the Inuits, the aborigines, and other people groups around the world, who until the west interrupted with colonization and exploration, loved solely on high fat animal products. And guess what, they were healthier before we showed them how easy and tasty bread was.
When you start the keto diet, you are entering a new world of eating. And nowhere is that more apparent than at the supermarket. Suddenly, all of your stand-by foods like macaroni and cheese, pasta and bread are no longer on your shopping list. When you go shopping for the first few times you may feel like a fish out of water. However, with a bit of practice, you’ll feel just as comfortable as you were with your previous shopping lists.
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.
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.
I understand your reservations on this diet (I was once the same way), however I encourage you to take a deep look into the mechanisms of the diet, and maybe give it a try for yourself. Give it 90 days. Read any number of books on it with an open mind (Keto Clarity is a great one and is a quick read) and perhaps you may find it challenges you to second guess the dietitian dogma that is pushed by the AND.
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Thanks for the info. Still so CONFUUUUSSED. There is so much info on both sides that sounds perfectly logical (and I am a total sucker for a logical argument.) I remember the not so delicious food change when my parents needed to cut out salt and other stuff for high blood pressure and cholesterol which is now totally wrong. The food pyramid, which is now totally wrong. I’ve been on diets before – Weight Watchers – lost weight (very very very slowly) but felt like I was starving ALL THE TIME; Carb Limiting – lost nothing; No processed foods – lost nothing; Counting calories and food journals – seriously, if you have a job who has time for that; Keto – losing about 2 lbs a week, but think I’d rather just fast than eat this food combo so this is probably not sustainable for me. Isn’t there just a logical, healthy way of eating that requires no counting, no weird food, no avocados (well that’s just me – I think they’re gross), that does all that good stuff like no inflammation, good gut biome, etc. and I can lose weight without feeling so hungry?
A typical ketogenic diet is comprised of only 15-25% protein, yet some research indicates that even during a caloric deficit, being in a state of ketosis can preserve muscle mass. It is critical to understand that in some of the literature a low-carbohydrate diet may not actually be a true ketogenic diet. To illustrate, some studies have shown that a very low carbohydrate diet (C:4 F:61 P:35) has similar effects to a traditional low-fat diet (C:70 F:10 P:20) on weight loss. In other words, both groups demonstrated similar losses in fat AND muscle mass (10). However, Dr. Layman (5) performed a study comparing a high protein, moderate fat, and low carbohydrate diet to a high carbohydrate, moderate fat, and moderate protein in conjunction with resistance training. Fat and total calorie intake were equal between experimental groups. Average weight loss was the same between groups but the composition of the weight loss differed. Low-carbohydrate dieters lost more fat mass and less muscle compared to the high carbohydrate group. This data suggests that increasing protein intake during a caloric deficit can help mitigate some of the muscle wasting that often accompanies dieting.