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What is the Ketogenic Diet and Is Ketosis Safe?

Any diet, by definition, is a group of foods consumed for a certain period of time. A “diet” can be as simple as an average daily meal or it can also be part of a treatment program for specific medical conditions. The ketogenic diet, which allows someone to enter a state of nutritional “ketosis”, has long been used in the treatment of epilepsy in children – but its benefits go way beyond this.

Everything you need to know about the Ketogenic diet! What it is, what foods to eat, and if Ketosis is really safe or not.

As you’ll learn, recent studies show that a ketogenic diet can have many uses and benefits – including weight loss, reduced inflammation, cancer-prevention, as more.

History of Ketogenic Diets

The ketogenic diet was first introduced in 1924 at the Mayo clinic by Dr. Russel Wilder who started the diet to treat epileptic patients. He put his patients on a “fast” and found that epileptic symptoms became less frequent. The popularity of this diet as a means of controlling epilepsy has decreased since this time since powerful anticonvulsant drugs have been invented, but this doesn’t mean that ketogenic diets are not promoted for better health any longer.

Since its introduction in the 1920s, the ketogenic diet and entering ketosis remains controversial until today. Although it has many benefits and is a natural approach to controlling disease in some cases, many doctors and patients often find it easier to administer pills than to adhere to a ketogenic diet that they find “strict’ and restrictive. The exact mechanism by which the ketogenic diet works still isn’t 100% known, but the results of ketosis that have been researched for years are staggering.

What is A Ketogenic Diet?

Today ketogenic diets get the most attention when it comes to weight loss and blood sugar control. “Burn fat by eating more fat” is one simple way to describe the approach that allows someone to enter and maintain in ketosis.

The classic ketogenic diet incorporates a very high fat ratio compared to carbohydrates, with a moderate to small amount of protein. In fact carbohydrates are kept extremely low, while fats are eaten in much larger quantities than most people are used to. As high-carbohydrate food sources are eliminated from the diet, natural fat sources take their place. The ratio of food is aimed at inducing and maintaining a ketosis state. Why more fat and moderate proteins in ketogenic diet? Fats do not affect the hormone called insulin since they have no effect on raising blood sugar levels (more about this to come). (1)

ketogenic principles

During ketosis, fat becomes the “fuel” that the body runs off instead of glucose (or sugar molecules) which are found in carbs and normally burned for energy during a standard diet. At the same time, protein levels are kept within a moderate range which supports weight loss and metabolic function. Daily meals provide protein in amounts just enough to allow for healthy growth and repair. Someone’s calories are usually kept in sufficient amounts which supports the maintenance of a healthy weight and prevents a dip in metabolic function due to the body thinking it’s “starving”.

So in other words, just remember that this is how the ketogenic diet and ketosis is summarized: a diet of adequate protein intake, very high fat intake and very low carbohydrate consumption which allows for fat to be burned for energy instead of carbs.

How Does Ketosis Work?

Calories during ketosis are balanced based on fat consumption. So the higher the fat intake, the lower carbs and protein will need to be.

Calorie breakdown during ketosis typically follows these proportions:

o 70-75% of daily calories come from fat

o 20-25% come from protein sources

o 5-10% come from carbohydrates in food

ketogenic diet foods

This ratio of food is best at inducing and maintaining a ketosis state because fats do not affect insulin and blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates do dramatically effect and control blood sugar, which is the primary reason that nearly all carbohydrates are kept low.

Why do carbs control blood sugar? They are the first source of “energy” that the body uses. This is because carbohydrates are the easiest to digest and absorb. In a regular average meal, carbohydrates make up most of the calories. The body is inclined to use up the carbohydrates as energy and to store the other nutrients from food (fats and proteins) to be used later. Extra carbs and proteins are stored as fat. In a ketogenic diet, most of the calories are from the fats rather than carbohydrates and although carbohydrates at very low levels are still present (from vegetables), they are immediately used up by the body for quick energy.

When the body runs out of carbohydrates, it shifts to using fats and proteins for energy instead. In essence, the body uses energy in a sort of hierarchal way. First, the body uses carbohydrates from foods while they’re available. The body moves on to fats as a next alternative source when not enough glucose (another name for sugar) is present. (2)

Proteins can affect insulin and blood sugar if consumed in large quantities, which is why they are also kept to moderate or small amounts (about 56% of excess protein eaten is converted to sugar which can stall ketosis by stopping fat burning). The body will react to the glucose released from protein breakdown if protein levels are kept high (which is usually the case during a typical low-carb diet like Atkin’s for example).

Protein conversion into energy is the last stage, which usually occurs in extreme deprivation of carbohydrates and only when fat stores are already used up. Protein digestion leads to muscle wasting, as the body digests the proteins in the muscles in order to keep enough energy going to survive.

What Are Ketones?

As you’ve learned, a ketogenic diet is specially designed to induce ketosis in the body. The central nervous system cannot use fat as an energy source, so it normally utilizes glucose. But after 3–4 days without carbohydrate consumption, the nervous system is ‘forced’ to find alternative energy sources.

High-fat/low-carbohydrate diets lead to the production of higher-than-normal levels of so-called ketone bodies (KBs) that are produced within the liver. So in the other words, ketones are the result of ketosis when glucose in the body drops to very low levels and the body switches to fat as a source of energy. The body burns the stored fat it has and converts it into energy (which results in rapid weight loss). The fat metabolism produces molecules called ketones.

ketonesKetones are compounds composed of 2 groups of atoms linked together by a carbonyl functional group. They can be used by the body’s cells within the mitochondria as a source of energy, especially brain cells. The brain in particular, which is largely made up of fat and requires a lot of energy for ongoing maintenance and function, can use ketones for about 70 to 75% of its energy requirements.

The more the body burns fat for energy instead of glucose, the more “ketone bodies” the body produces. At the same time that ketone bodies increase in the blood, blood sugar levels drop; these two have an inverse relationship with one another. As blood sugar drops and simultaneously ketone body levels rise, the body experiences what is called “ketosis”, or “nutritional ketosis”. During ketosis, most people will experience rapid weight loss as all of their fat stores become depleted.

What’s It Like Entering Ketosis?

Ketosis can be induced either purposefully or somewhat accidentally due to some health conditions. How long does ketosis take? The desired effects of ketosis usually take longer to be achieved but subtle effects are seen between 6 and 8 weeks. Most people are able to adjust by the end of the first week after starting on a ketogenic diet. Others may take up to 2 weeks. It may take up to 12 weeks for the body to adapt 100% to fat burning.

Ketosis can be induced in the following conditions:

Unintentionally, starvation is one way in which people have entered ketosis. Starvation and fasting states results in inadequate or no intake of food that the body can digest and convert into glucose. The body normally enters starvation mode during sleep, skipping meals or when fasting. The lack of food intake results in a drop in blood glucose levels. Glycogen (stored glucose) stores are mobilized. They are converted into glucose for the body to use as energy ketones as sources of energy.

Another way to purposefully enter ketosis is by carefully managing your diet. More directions for entering ketosis are found below, but keep in mind that this can take up to several months and during the transition phase, side effects can occur, mostly due to the very low levels of carbohydrates someone is consuming.

Some side effects of entering ketosis include:

• Weakness
• Light-headedness
• Fatigue
• Cravings for carbohydrates
• Headaches
• Mild irritability
• Mood changes
• Loss of appetite
• Trouble sleeping
• High cholesterol (if too much unhealthy fats)
• Vomiting
• Ketoacidosis

Ketogenic Diet Benefits

The body becomes more of a fat-burner than a carbohydrate-dependent machine as ketosis goes on. Research shows that a diet high in carbohydrates is linked to the development of several disorders such as insulin resistance and diabetes, since fluctuating blood sugar levels can lead to inflammation and many problems, so ketosis can provide benefits to many people.

Since high levels of processed carbohydrates and sugary foods have been linked to insulin imbalance and an increased risk for developing diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, a ketogenic diet can greatly help someone to improve their condition. One of the things that ketogenic dieters love is that there is no calorie-counting, measuring food portions, or strange meal replacements required. They also like the feeling of never “going hungry”, since low-carb/moderate-protein/high-fat foods tend to be very filling.

The biggest benefits of ketosis come from the ability to control weight gain (or to lose weight, even rapidly) and to control insulin. For many physicians, obesity is one of the most challenging problems confronted in daily practice and often it’s accompanied by diabetes. Despite the efforts of both patients and physicians, both disorders are increasing in prevalence throughout many parts of the world.

ketogenic diet benefits

As researchers describes the benefits of ketosis for weight loss: ”For many years, nutritional intervention studies have been focused on reducing dietary fat with little positive results over the long-term. One of the most studied strategies in the recent years for weight loss is the ketogenic diet. Many studies have shown that this kind of nutritional approach has a solid physiological and biochemical basis and is able to induce effective weight loss along with improvement in several cardiovascular risk parameters.” (3)

Someone is a lot more likely to over consume calories when they eat low protein, low fat, high-carb foods that leave them feeling hungry. Foods that spike insulin levels- like sugary treats and processed grains- tend to make us hungry and not satisfied for very long, so we look for more food quickly after eating them. This creates a cycle of eating high-carb foods and then consequently wanting even more high-carb foods. This ultimately leads to consuming too many calories and therefore usually to weight gain.

Ketosis also does a great job of controlling insulin. Insulin is the primary hormone that the pancreas release to control glucose (sugar) in the blood. Every time we eat carb or sugar-containing foods, insulin is released.

Carbohydrate are easily absorbed and stored and digestion starts in the mouth. As soon as the food is chewed, amylase (enzymes that digest carbohydrates) in the saliva are already acting on the carbohydrates. In the stomach, carbohydrates are further broken down and are immediately absorbed once it enters the small intestines. In the blood, carbohydrates immediately increase the blood sugar levels.

This stimulates the immediate release of insulin. High blood sugar levels trigger a release of high levels of insulin, and this cycle continues on every time we eat more sugar or carbs. This hormone causes the sugars to be stored immediately in the body tissues to lower the blood levels. The tissues can develop resistance to insulin when it is constantly exposed to it at high levels. The body tries to solve this problem by becoming resistant or unresponsive to insulin, or “insulin-resistant”, which is another name for type 2 diabetes. Obesity occurs at the same time, as the body tends to rapidly store the carbohydrates as fat. Diabetes and cardiovascular disease can result from this cycle. 

Foods that are considered low-carb almost all have low scores on the “glycemic index”, which is another way of saying that the foods are absorbed into the blood stream more slowly and won’t result in a sudden surge of sugar in the blood- which can lead to health problems and weight gain. Foods that are not considered low-carb are those that have high levels of sugar, starch, and are lacking protein and healthy fats.

A ketogenic diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates has been found to play a role in reducing and improving certain medical conditions including:

• Alzheimer’s disease

Research shows that memory function improves when a patient with Alzheimer’s disease follows a ketogenic diet. They regain a few of their thought and memory functions.

• Other neurological disorders

Parkinson’s disease and ALS (amyotropic lateral sclerosis) are some of the neurological disorders that benefits from ketogenic diet. The diet provides mitochondrial support in affected nerves. As such, the symptoms improve. Some studies have even found that ketosis can improve general thought-processing and cognitive function. One study found that diet-induced ketosis improved behavioral performance in rats when their cognitive function was measured using a maze test. Results showed that a ketogenic diet significantly increased blood ketone levels in both young and old rats which improved their ability to problem solve. (4)

• Diabetes

Carbohydrates are the main culprit in diabetes. By cutting back on the consumption in ketogenic diet, there is better blood sugar control. Other diabetes treatment plans work better in conjunction with this diet.

• Gluten allergy

A lot of people are undiagnosed with gluten allergy. Following a ketogenic diet showed improvement in related symptoms like bloating and digestive discomforts. Gluten is high in most carbohydrate-rich foods. By eliminating a large variety of carbohydrates foods in the diet, gluten intake is also kept at a very minimum. Hence, gluten symptoms are also eliminated.

• Weight loss

Ketogenic diet has found a niche in mainstream dieting trend. It is now part of many dieting regimen, due to its observed side effect of promoting weight loss. At first, the idea of losing weight with a high fat diet raised many eyebrows.

Finally, one of the fields getting the most attention when it comes to ketogenic diet benefits is brain health. There is evidence from some clinical trials and animal studies that a ketogenic diet can provide symptomatic and disease-modifying activity in a broad range of neurodegenerative disorders. These include Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, as well as traumatic brain injuries and strokes. (5) How exactly ketosis affects the brain isn’t totally understood, but plausible explanations revolve around “neuroprotection from enhanced neuronal energy reserves”. This basically means that ketosis can improve the ability of neurons to resist metabolic challenges, and also might have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

How Does Ketosis Compare to the Paleo Diet?

Both ketogenic diets and the paleo diet have similar goals of controlling blood sugar and weight, promoting better health, getting rid of processed foods altogether and focusing on natural nutrient-dense foods that are filling. However they do have some substantial differences and following the paleo diet won’t result in ketosis without some changes.

Ketogenic diets promote eating high amounts of fats even more so than high amounts of protein; this is how a ketogenic diet differs from the paleo diet, or any standard low-carb diet like The Atkins Diet for example. For most people, switching to a ketogenic diet means they are eating much less carbs, less protein and much more fat than they normally would on the paleo diet.

A typical ketogenic meal would include a moderately small amount of protein (not an unlimited amount) from a source like beef, eggs, or chicken, plus a generous serving of natural fat (for example oil, butter, or natural saturated fat from meat), plus some non-starchy vegetables (meaning no potatoes or squash, but vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, peppers, or tomatoes instead).

In contrast, the paleo diet doesn’t limit the amount of protein someone can eat to small quantities and also usually allows for unlimited, or at least large amounts, of vegetables. Paleo diets also allow for fruit while most ketogenic diets do not. Although all ketogenic diets limit carbohydrate foods severely, the exact amount of carbs encouraged on a ketogenic diet really depends on the specific kind that is being followed and how quickly someone wants to see results. All in all, since it’s ideal to get about 85% of calories from fat when on a ketogenic diet, plus some of the remainder from protein, so there is not much more room for consuming carbs.

There are a range of ketogenic, paleo and low-carb diets that are promoted today, all of which vary in terms of foods allowed, severity and duration. Generally speaking all ketogenic diets however (and all very low-carb diets in general) will have these characteristics in common when compared to the paleo diet:

• Higher fat intake

• Smaller protein intake (higher on the paleo diet or a standard low-carb diet)

• Very low carbohydrate intake and lower glycemic index score

• Very low sugar, low starch (no fruit allowed and vegetables limited to small quantities)

• Usually a high intake of, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plant phytochemicals through fresh non-starchy vegetables on the paleo diet

How to Enter Ketosis

If you’re already following the paleo diet or a low carb diet, the transition into ketosis shouldn’t be so extreme. But if you eat a standard American diet, it will require more time and adjustment. Follow the proportions described above when it comes to how much fats, versus proteins, versus carbohydrates that you’re eating (remember about 75% of your calories come from fat sources). Most people entering ketosis will require about 70-75% of calories coming from fat, 20-25% coming from protein foods, and 5-10% from carbohydrate foods.

You will want to continue consuming around 20-25 grams of carbohydrates each day, even when on a low carb diet, because this amount is required for the body to function properly. This is still considered very “low carb” and ketogenic, but ensures you are maintaining your health at the same time as losing weight.

In order to allow your body to enter ketosis and for you to see the most benefits, It’s best to limit or keep your eye on your overall calorie intake as well as your carb intake (especially if you want to see fast weight loss results). It’s also extremely beneficial to eat real, unprocessed foods and not packaged foods claiming to be “low-carb”. The amount of calories that you need really depends on your unique composition and lifestyle. If you are someone who exercises often, you can afford to add more calories to your meal plan each day because you use up more energy, so aim to include 200-300 more calories to avoid becoming overly hungry.

You will likely experience a very rapid decline in appetite while on the ketogenic diet. As some studies have found, “in the short term, high-protein, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets reduce hunger and lower food intake significantly more than do high-protein, medium-carbohydrate non-ketogenic diets.” (6)

To understand which foods you should include in a ketogenic diet and which to avoid, refer to the list below:

Foods to Include on Ketogenic Diet:

• Meats: Any type. This can include beef, pork, game meat, chicken, etc. It’s best to choose organic or grass fed meat.

• Fish and Shellfish: Any type. This can include salmon, mackerel, shrimp, lobster, scallops, etc.

• Eggs: They can be cooked anyway. It’s best to choose organic eggs.

• Fats: This can include oils like coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil, or butter, nuts, seeds, and avocado.

• Non-Starchy Vegetables: All kinds. This can include any leafy greens, all cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, zucchini, eggplant, spinach, mushrooms, cucumber, lettuce, avocado, onions, peppers, tomatoes etc.

• Dairy Foods: Always select full-fat options like real butter, cream (40% fat), sour cream, Greek/Turkish yogurt and high-fat cheeses. Avoid low fat or flavored kinds.

• Nuts: all kinds. This can include almonds, cashews, peanuts, etc.

• Drinks: only water, seltzer, unsweetened coffee, unsweetened tea.

• * some ketogenic diets allow for berries: These are the only fruit allowed and are okay in very small amounts if following some protocols

Foods to Avoid on Ketogenic Diet:

• Foods with High Sugar Levels: soda, candy, juice, cookies, cake, sports drinks, ice cream, etc. Also avoid using added cane sugar or anything very sweet like honey and maple syrup.

• Carbohydrate Foods: Breads, pastas, rice, potatoes, any grains. This even includes products that say they are “whole grain”.

• Starchy Vegetables: All vegetable “tubers”- a family of vegetables that grow under the ground- including potatoes, carrots, radishes, and beets, turnips, and parsnips.

• Alcohol: All kinds should ideally be avoided, or only had in very small amounts

• Fruit: All fruit is off limits except sometimes for berries on occasion in small amounts

• Drinks: Anything with sugar added like soda, juice, or sweetened coffee and tea

foods to avoid

Is Ketosis Dangerous?

Each person reacts differently to a ketogenic diet; some take to it very easily and find that they feel better almost immediately, while others struggle a bit more. Normally the more dependent someone is on carbohydrate foods prior to starting the diet, the more difficult it will be for them to give these foods up. However, most negative feelings resulting from a ketogenic diet usually go away with some time.

It’s also important to realize that many of the potential cons of eating very low carb diets are actually psychological affects and not physiological ones that can harm your safety, meaning you may need to deal with having food cravings or feelings of deprivation. These feelings usually will go away with time, as the person becomes more comfortable eating in a low-carb, ketogenic way. Ongoing motivation is usually discovered because ketogenic diets quickly produce fast results, making the person want to stay on track.

The body actually normally enters a ketosis phase. This happens during the fasting state. An example of which is during sleep. The body tends to burn fats for energy as the body repairs and grows during sleep.

Can you exercise during ketosis? According to studies, yes you safely can. (7) Studies have found that aerobic endurance exercise by well-trained athletes is not compromised by four weeks of ketosis. The athletes’ bodies accomplish a dramatic physiologic adaptation that conserves limited carbohydrate stores (both glucose and muscle glycogen) and makes fat the predominant source of energy.

Although ketosis is usually safe, there are some side effects. In some cases a severe lack of insulin allows the ketone levels to increase to the point that they can be toxic to the body. This condition is called ketoacidosis. However, ketosis induced by diet is not enough to cause this condition. This effect can only occur when the body’s control mechanism fails.

The following are some of the reported side effects of the ketogenic diet and trying to enter ketosis: (8)

• Constipation

• Dehydration

• Kidney or gall stones

• Slowed or poor growth

• Drowsiness

• Exacerbation of gastro-oesophageal reflux”

• Increased bruising

• Increased risk of fractures

• Excess ketosis and acidosis

• Psychosocial food refusal

Women with epilepsy using the ketogenic diet can experience:

• Menstrual irregularities

• Eye problems

• Decreased bone density

• Pancreatitis

• Needing to avoid many common foods at restaurants, parties, etc. can be overwhelming and cause stress since it can be hard to stick with low carb offerings

• Possible feelings of deprivation since many carbs like bread and pasta tend to be some of people’s favorites

• Potentially spending more money on groceries since protein foods can be expensive at times

Micronutrient deficiencies can also result from the restrictions as well. Most carbohydrate-rich foods are also rich in vitamins and minerals. The severe restrictions on carbohydrate intake may cause deficiencies of these essential nutrients. It is very important to also consider the micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) intake along with the macronutrient (fats, proteins and carbohydrates) counting and proportioning in meals. Supplementation may also be necessary to avoid deficiency states.”

The Bottom Line on Ketosis and Ketogenic Diets

Ketosis has some definite benefits, especially when it comes to weight loss and appetite control. At the same time, it’s not easy for everyone to adhere to considering the strict restrictions is places on some “favorite foods”, like carbs, starchy veggies, fruit and sweet snacks.

If you’re looking to give ketosis a try in order to increase your fat-burning abilities and general health, you’re not alone – this type of diet is growing in popularity as more people switch to paleo diets (or other grain-free, no-sugar, low-carb diets) and then decide to take the ketosis-plunge. Although it might have a bad reputation and seem a bit extreme, ketosis can have therapeutic abilities’ for the right people. Just take your time getting used to the lifestyle change and inducing ketosis if you plan to try it out, this way you keep side effects to a minimum and don’t love motivation too quickly.

59 Comments

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  1. Thanks Jess, this is a very clear and concise summary! I need to go back onto Paleo, but may just up the ante and see how much I can lose this time!

  2. For anyone considering, this is the best diet/ lifestyle ever. I an anxious to see my LDL, triglicerides, and A1C #’s, but my blood gluclose readings are absolutely perfect, mt arthritis pain in my finger is gone and the weight is disappearing

    • For people who want to eat in a more healthful manner and lose weight eating this way does cut out most of the ‘bad’ foods. However, I personally can vouch for the fact that a severely restricted diet like this with high animal protein foods is not good for the functioning of your body. It is very hard on your kidneys to process so much animal protein or protein from other sources as well. Also, fatigue and too much weight loss are definite side affects. Eating a balanced diet as much as possible is always the better plan. Yes I realize the idea of paleo is eating according to our basic biological makeup but remember cave people didn’t live very long and had a different environment in which they lived.

      • I have been on a Ketogenic diet for a year. I feel you have been a bit dismissive here and have missed the bit that said “moderate” protein. I agree over dependence on animal fats alone could be bad but it is perfectly possible to have a keto diet with high fats from a mix of sources – vegetable oils, avocado, eggs, some nuts and seeds and small amounts of animal meat/fish protein. I have not found fatigue to be an issue and I lose weight very slowly! I eat more veg than I ever have, don’t feel hungry and feel great. My bad cholesterol has cut in half. For me this IS a balanced diet in comparison to all the carb filled diets of people I see around me. I feel like I’ve freed myself from a sugar addiction and ultimately an obsession with food. Even though I still love my food which is tasty and filling I only eat two meals a day and it suits me well. I know its not for everyone but I would not describe it as a “severely restricted diet” since I can eat so many foods I could not on a low fat diet. It is quite a liberating diet!

      • Janet,

        You bring up a good point, restrictive diets can be harmful for health, and I agree that eating a varied diet is better for health. In my experience, ketogenic and paleo diet plans can be very varied diets and include more different types of foods that traditional diets. Its when we fall into the routine of eating the same foods, all the time, that we are at risk for getting into trouble. It is so important to pay attention to your body and to really take notice of what you eat and drink and how you feel.

        While the ketogenic diet, limits carbs, it does not eliminate them and the diet includes both protein and fat, with an emphasis on healthy fats. When you experience fatigue and too much weight loss, you’ll need to look at your overall calorie intake and make sure that you are eating enough and taking care of your body. Paleo does not regulate macros the same way that the ketogenic diet does, but it does limit modern foods that are notoriously associated with the rising obesity epidemic and so many serious health issues.

        When considering your protein intake, you need to determine how much protein you need each day based on your age, sex, activity level and goals. While animals are a good source of protein, they aren’t the only source of protein, a well balanced diet, paleo or otherwise should include proteins from plant based foods and organic, grass-fed animals, healthy fats, and plenty of leafy greens.

    • Lena,

      I am beyond thrilled that you are pain free with perfect blood glucose and that your body is loosing extra weight. You are really seeing your commitment to your health paying off in a big way.

      Keep me posted on your journey and progress.

  3. Hi there Jess. I’ve had a bad habit of going to Atkins type diets when I see the scale creep up. I am now 47. When I was in my early 30s, I could get into Ketosis within a couple of days and the diet was great for me because I LOVE sour cream and cheese and I do not eat sweet or breads and very rarely had pasta. I usually lost weight in the double digits in just a few weeks. The older I got, the longer it took to get into Ketosis and the weight doesn’t come off. I found every time I tried it, I got weak, had headaches and my memory was effected…even today, my memory is getting to the point I have to write things down. I’ve been working my way into Paleo, but I will have a hard time without cheese and sour cream and I love Greek yogurt and usually put blueberries and raspberries in it…I will miss that. Otherwise, I have tried cauliflower and spaghetti squash for the first time and LOVE them. Thanks for the article and wish me luck on Paleo.

  4. I’ve been on ketogenic diet for 2.5 yrs and am feeling MUCH better now. Lost 85 pounds, am off ALL diabetic meds and have more energy, more clear-minded.
    One question though – I’m married to a man who has been a biologist for over 40 yrs (immunologist, virologist, microbiologist). He says ketosis is when the body doesn’t have enough carbs, it goes into ketosis and that is NOT good for you, your body begins eating away at muscle. Last fall, I didn’t realize I no longer needed to take metformin so kept taking it and had no sugar/carbs in my body. At night, I smelled like fruit, classic ketosis and I was very gaunt. This is NOT a healthy state and isn’t desirable. I keep seeing “ketosis” as a desired state on ketogenic diet but this isn’t correct. I get that you want to produce ketones but too much and not enough carbs and you get malnutrition. Can we find another word to use instead of ketosis? I think it’s misleading and many people may misunderstand and it could harm them.

    • I’m with your hubby on this acidotic ketoidosis is an urgent life threatening critical condition. That’s why i started reading.

    • You’ve made some remarkable changes in the last 2.5 years and its wonderful that you are regulating body weight and feeling so healthy.

      You bring up 2 very important, yet different terms and states in the body, ketosis and ketoacidosis.

      Nutritional ketosis is a mild release of fatty acids and ketone bodies in response to either a fast from food, or a reduction in carbohydrate intake.

      Ketoacidosis occurs in people with diabetes and is caused by a lack of insulin in the body. Insulin levels must be so low that there is no regulation of blood sugar and fatty acids in the blood. Without insulin to regulate, blood sugar and fatty acid levels soar. This excess amount of fat metabolism results in an abnormal quantities of ketones. The combination of high blood sugar and high ketone levels can upset the normal acid/base balance in the blood and become dangerous.

      It can be easy to confuse ketoacidosis, an extremely abnormal form of ketosis, with benign nutritional ketosis that is associated with ketogenic diets and fasting states in the body. During ketosis the body is burning stored fat to be used as energy, not muscle. The body only begins to burn muscle in what is called the starvation response, which can occur when all stored fat has been used and there is low to no caloric intake.

      While a ketogenic diet can aid in weight-loss, once you meet your goals, you can still eat a ketogenic diet long-term and maintain your weight. Your description of being gaunt and being ketosis, indicates that your caloric intake might not have been high enough for your basal metabolic rate and your activity level. It is always important to keep track of your intake during these times to get a clear idea of what is going on. Eating a ketogenic diet should not cause mal-nutrition as you are able to eat food from all food groups, limiting carbs on a ketogenic is not the same as not eating any carbs. The idea on keto is to eat complex carbohydrates from whole foods and to avoid the unhealthy refined and sugary carbs that wreak havoc on our blood sugar levels and overall health.

  5. Hi Jess,

    Very informative article. Thank you. I see you are from the US. Interestingly, this ‘diet’ has become very popular in South Africa, where I am from originally. A sports nutritionist called Tim Noakes started on the path of a ketogenic diet after having diabetes. He found it was similar to something a gp here in the UK had explored about 100 years ago. He was called Banting and the diet in SA is now called Banting. I have bought his book called the Real Meal Revolution. My gp is not happy with me because she said high fat is dangerous. Anyway, I just thought you may want to know about the South Africa connection. If you already know this, apologies. Kind regards, Sue.

    • Hi Sue,

      Thanks for the note. It’s wonderful to know that people all over the planet are experiencing and sharing their success about eating healthy, unrefined, unprocessed whole foods.

      Keep me posted on how your journey continues!

  6. Thank You- Thank You- Thank You! This is the best article ever on Keto for information!! I am a Grandma, I’ve done Atkins since the late 70s after I was married. Yes I agree with Lynn, the older you get the less it works the way you want it to. Plus Induction (phase 1) has side effects I never originally had. However it is in my mind is less restrictive than todays “Keto diet”.
    I do eat dairy- so does that make me Primal instead of Paleo! :o)
    I was really going to give Keto my all but I just couldn’t do it longer than a week.
    My main goal is real, unprocessed, grass fed, farm raised, no GMO (well you get the idea! :o)

    • Eliz,

      Thank you, I am so happy you found the article informative and helpful. As we age, our needs change so it’s important to do what you are doing…what makes sense and works for you. I think you’ve got a great goal and the way you define it, sounds very paleo to me.

  7. Ketogenic diets are used as medical treatments for specific conditions. And… they do not always get the desired results. Post-menopausal women (like myself) can actually gain weight on a ketogenic diet, not lose weight – which was the opposite of what I had hoped for when I did a ketogenic diet and the opposite of what participants of the few ketogenic diet studies experienced. Been there done that. Please realize that individual response to a ketogenic diet can vary greatly depending on gender, health background, and age. It’s not a cure-all. Unlike a Paleo diet, ketogenic diets are not a tool that everyone can use.

    • Jean,

      Thank you for your smart observation. Often people feel very frustrated when they do not experience the outcomes that are highly associated with a diet. And you are not alone in having this experience. It’s very important to tailor any diet to your specific needs and to adjust so that you can reach your goals.

      And it is also important to remember that diet, while a large piece, is only one piece of the puzzle, as we have to include exercise and make sure we are making healthy lifestyle decisions, like getting adequate rest, and reducing or eliminating caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.

  8. Hi jess,
    My son have epilepsy and is on anti-epileptic medication since six years old and he is now twenty seven, I think I must try the ketogeniic diet, because we are large around the tummy area and from what i see in the pictures I hope we can lose some weight with this diet.Do you think this is a good idea?
    Well thanks for your article on this diet did not know about it.

    • Hi Noleen,

      Thank you for sharing your story and for reading. The ketogenic diet was developed as a diet to treat epileptic seizures in the 1920’s, and is a well known treatment that can potentially reduce the severity and the number of epileptic seizures.

      If you are interested in trying the diet, you should co-ordinate your efforts with your sons physician to measure his seizures and to monitor/adjust any medications he may currently be taking.

      Keep me posted on how things go.

    • I’ve been told about this and kept expecting it to happen but I don’t think you get it or constipation if you drink plenty of water. Add a pinch of Hamalayan salt too. I have not had this and have beet Ketogenic for a year.

    • Barbara,

      The bad breath that you are experiencing is a sign that your body is in ketosis, however not everyone experiences it. The bad breath can range from sickly sweet, to vinegary/alcoholic or in your case ammonia like. It can be unpleasant to experience and embarrassing, but the good news is that it will go away.

      When you experience ketosis it is important to stay properly hydrated by drinking at least half of your ody weight in ounces of water each and every day. You can add lemon juice or Apple cider vinegar and a pinch of sea salt to add some flavor, which will help your body to deal with the overflow of ketone bodies (which are causing the bad breath). While keto breath is not typically associated with dental hygiene, make sure you aree flossing/brushing and tongue scraping regularly. You can also consider adding oil pulling, which is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that has incredible benefits and will help to relieve the unpleasantness of keto breath, you can read more about it here:

      http://paleogrubs.com/coconut-oil-benefits#more-5902

  9. My concern is the lack of fiber in this diet.

    I’m in the process of losing weight and lowering my pre-diabetes level blood sugar and have been mostly adhering to a paleo diet to do so (and exercising), however, in the beginning I had a hard time getting my numbers to go down (I was also somewhat constipated). I was eating a lot of meat, eggs, and greens and green veggies. My doctor suggested that I wasn’t getting enough fiber, so I added in a little brown rice and other gluten-free whole grains and the weight and glucose levels have been dropping ever since. I believe the added fiber was the key for my weight loss and helped with my blood sugar too, in addition to helping with digestion.

    • Everything! I tend to keep “hard” carbs down to 20g -things like wine, bread, rice and eat lots of “soft” carbs like green veg as I wish. Complex carbohydrates have a lower carb value and this ensures I keep a low carb diet. So, I’ll have a great big leafy salad with lots of oil some nuts, seeds perhaps avocado and a bit of goats cheese. Then I’ll have a couple of oat biscuits (with butter on -of course!) and no more.

    • June,

      Great question and the answer is yes. You want to count all fats, carbs and proteins, no matter the type of food or drink they come from.

  10. Hello Jess,
    I too have basically been on a Keto diet & got off all Meds as they made me sick & did everything I knew how to do no carbs at all except what’s in veggies & chose the low starch ones, Oh i lost all the weight down to 118 and been working out at the nifty after fifty center for 3 years now & walk every day. My problem when I stayed in ketosis a long time was loose stools 2 & 3 times a day, I had to stay near bathrooms. My Dr. sent me for special stool samples to lab every other day & ordered a cholostomy which I didn’t do, I started added psyllium once a day & got normalized somewhat. They found no bad bacteria or infection of any kind, but didn’t like that I was doing the ketosis diet, I am type 2 DB and have always known that carbs had to be the culprit, but right now I’ve been experiencing higher than ever readings & don’t want to lose anymore weight, I’m gaunt now as it is. I do eat eat the good fats & cut back some now, and if I do eat anything wrong but healthy my numbers shoot up. I do not crave carbs, haven’t since I went on the Keto diet. I just want to look better and fill out some, but afraid to do much & spike my numbers more. I eat fullfat cottage cheese etc. buy organic adhere to all as much as I can, but need to get these numbers down before I see Dr. again, I was 6.6 until 2 months ago was in a car accident, since new a1c I am now 8.4 I’m frustrated & at times feel hopeless, got any suggestions? I read read read, thats how i got to where I am, some say you may be changing into an insulen dependant. OMG I hope not. Please send me some suggestions. Joy

  11. This article seems to discuss the pros and cons of ketosis but it fails to mention the impacts to the metabolism. Ketosis forces the metabolism to slow down after about 10-14 days. This is why many people gain the weight back after they return to eating carbs again. They practically have to starve to keep the weight off due to their very slow metabolism, and the only way to get the metabolism to speed up again is to eat a bunch of carbs! It’s a roller coaster ride. My husband received his degree in the fitness and nutrition field in December and we have talked about this. Many years ago, he was in ketosis for about 8 months and lost 45 pounds but put almost all of it back on when he went off of it. He has since discovered the best way to do the ketosis diet is to have a reset day every 7-10 days. On this reset day, a person eats a ridiculous amount of calories. This tricks the metabolism into staying at its current rate. I highly recommend you do some research on this and include it in your articles. People should know that they are messing with their metabolism on this diet, which makes it hard to lose weight downline. He totally regrets the ketosis diet and now that he has completed his education, he fully supports the paleo life.

    • That is very interesting. However, don’t you think that most diets do this? I’ve struggled with weight most of my adult life and now feel that the thing that has most mucked up my metabolism is low fat diets and lack of exercise of course. Now that I’m on the ketogenic diet (for just over a year I maintain a steady but slow weight loss, I feel great and importantly I don’t feel deprived or hungry. I visit my elderly parents once a month and eat what I’m given – it is NOT ketogenic! I find I lose about a pound a week and then can put on 2-3 pounds over the weekend! While this is a little soul destroying I am maintaining my weight and I would never wish to miss seeing my parents while I can. I think the odd break is good and actually makes me realise how well I feel on this protocol and how unwell carbs actually make me feel. When I started this diet I thought I might just kill myself eating fat – I had been so brainwashed to eat low fat diets. Remarkably my bad cholesterol has been cut in half. For me the paleo life is great but when I eat sugars -any sort – I cant stop -it makes me want more. So its Keto for me with the occasional lapse to be sociable!

      • Mary,

        It has been so hard for you and for so many other to overcome the fear of eating fat, and I congratulate you on your success and your weight-loss.

        I think I, and so many others can relate to your decision to ‘eat what I’m given’ when we visit or dine with family. It can be very emotional nad can lead to conflict when we do different things than our families are used to. However my experience has taught me to try to include the foods that I need in order to be healthy. When I share with family and friends the new foods and the amazing transformation I have experienced I find they are mostly supportive. I also don’t expect anyone to provide my foods for me. I know it isn’t always easy, but packing snacks or offering to make a meal or taking a dish, can go along way to helping you from not meeting your own goals. And what you said about eating sugar and wanting to eat more and more, is so true.

        I think you have a remarkable attitude and I commend you for finding a healthy balance that works for you.

    • Richelle,

      You bring to light a very good discussion point. There is so much information on metabolic speed, and every article I read on the topic promises to help ‘speed’ up metabolism, but this concept is confusing. Our bodies follow a complicated process to break down and digest food, which we can’t speed up and slow down, as if we had a remote control. While we need to be very aware of what we are eating vs. our energy output, we also have to be aware that our digestive system is functioning properly, which means eliminating regularly and consistently, aka, a daily poop, which we often find embarrassing to talk about but which is actually very important to note when on a ketogenic diet as it can be challenging to get enough fiber in your diet, as well as water. Staying properly hydrated is an essential piece of the success of the ketogenic diet.

      We really learn the most about our caloric and nutritional needs when we approach nutrition and calorie intake from the viewpoint of our basal metabolic rate, which is different for everyone. Our basal metabolic rate is based on our weight, height, and body composition, ie; how many calories we need to exist and then we need to factor in how many calories we need based on our age, activity level and goals. For instance, fat tissue has a lower metabolic activity than muscle tissue, so when the goal is to lose body fat, we also have to build lean muscle, aka exercise. As our lean muscle mass and activity level increases, our metabolic rate increases. As you can see, metabolic rate, is based on body composition and activity.

      Ketogenic diets actually don’t slow down the metabolism, what is actually happening is that you are eating higher fat foods, that take longer to break down and metabolize. This is very different than slowing down your metabolism. In effect higher fat diets make you feel full for longer, and people can stall their weight-loss when they eat to much, even though the right foods will help you maintain health, when you eat too many calories, your body will store the extra energy. The longer we maintain a diet, the more important it becomes to adjust what we eat on a regular and consistent basis to ensure that we are healthy and that we meet our goals.

    • Richelle,

      You have brought up the topic that so many people struggle with due to a wealth of mis-information, speed of the metabolism. Almost every article on the topic promises to seep up the metabolism as though we can control it with a remote control. But it isn’t that simple. Maintaining our health while following a ‘diet,’ means that we have to be able to adjust what we eat and drink nad work to make changes that promote our health and help us meet our goals.

      Metabolism is often thought of as how fast or slow someone burns calories. But, there are actually two main components:

      Catabolism, is the process of breaking down chemical bonds in food to release energy, and is the most well known process, as it releases energy in the form of calories.

      Anabolism, the storage of excess energy in the body that leads to body fat.

      While there is precious little we can do to speed up the actual process of breaking down food and converting it to useful energy, we can influence factors that affect our basal metabolic rate.

      Basal metabolic rate is determined by weight, height and most importantly body composition, and is also affected by age and sex. Basal metabolic rate is the amount of energy or calories we need to exist, we then adjust, based on activity level and goals. When a person eats a keto diet with the goal of weight loss, they will hit plateaus if they don’t adjust their diet as they continue the diet and if they don’t build muscle in addition to burning fat, as an increase in muscle will affect basal metabolic rate.

      Ketogenic diets are often associated with slowing down the metabolism for two reasons:

      1) Ketogenic diets are low in fiber. When you eat a diet low in fiber you can experience constipation. It is vital that you eliminate daily, so with a ketogenic or any diet you have to assess your daily fiber intake and make sure you are getting enough that you have a bowel movement each and everyday.

      2) Keto diets are higher in fat. Fat is an incredible energy source that takes longer to metabolize, break down and absorb, than protein or carbs. However this should not be confused with slowing down your metabolism. And this is where you have to keep track of how many calories you are eating everyday and how many macros you are getting. Remember your body will store excess energy as fat.

      When you experience plateaus with a ketogenic diet or any diet you have to look at 4 variables:

      Overall Caloric Intake
      % of Macros
      Fiber
      Hydration

      How many calories are you eating each day? Does that number align with your goals?

      Are you eating the right proportion of macros for your goals?

      Then you have to consider the actual foods you are eating, ketogenic diets are highly associated with meats, eggs and cheese…while these foods are healthy to eat, if you are not including nuts, seeds, leafy greens and vegetables you going to experience digestive distress and miss essential fiber and micro nutrients.

      Maintaining adequate hydration is also essential in keeping your digestive system regular, everyday you should be drinking at least half of your body weight in ounces of water.

  12. Is there anything I may or may not be doing correctly here, I just don’t know anymore. I certainly have no elimination problems haven’t even thought about it. Just trying to get some more info here to get a clearer picture as to keeping up with Keto/Paleo etc.?
    Thank you
    joy

  13. I am taking GcMaf and the instructions are to follow a Paleo type diet to prevent the formation of nagalese which interferes with the immune system. But I was not overweight and have cholesterol and thyroid issues. After 4 months on the diet, I am miserable. I went from 105 lbs. to 100 lbs. and I am tired all the time because my body thinks I’m starving and is producing too much Reverse T3 which blocks T3 receptors and make me functionally hypothyroid. But I have to prevent the formation of nagalese to allow the GcMaf to work. And I can’t have a high fat diet. I tried that and my cholesterol went from normal to high. So what do I do? Give up on the diet and the GcMaf (which was very expensive and I need because of low immune function and CFS) or continue to lose weight I can’t afford to lose and be exhausted all the time because I’m producing too much Reverse T3? I am stumped and don’t know what to do.

    • Donna,

      I am so sorry you are tired and struggling. This is not how the paleo diet is supposed to make you feel.

      While paleo is not typically associated with counting calories, I would recommend that you make sure you are eating enough calories each and everyday for your height/weight/age/sex/activity level. With paleo it is normal to see weight loss, however your body should not feel as though it is starving, on paleo you eat when you feel hungry. You may want to schedule a check-up with your Dr. and make sure there isn’t something else going on.

  14. This is really interesting. I had heard of a ketogenic diet but never paid any attention to it until I started taking a ketone supplement. (I would love to know your opinion on that subject)

    I have trouble staying in nutritional ketosis because I’m not strict enough and found that it’s not realistic for me to be, so supplementing has turned out to be a viable model.

    I will attest to the benefits of ketosis though. I have lost some weight, but most profoundly is the inflammation that’s gone, lack of sugar cravings, clarity of thought, strength gain, AND (I have hashimodo’s hypothyroidism) without meds my TSH went from 103 to 5. These are my personal results, but they certainly make me a believer that this is the right way to go.

  15. I found the article informative but I believe there needs to be a differentiation when referring to diabetes control. No one seems to differentiate between T1D and T2D.
    I have had it suggested that my 13 year old son follow a ketogenuc diet. He has T1D and therefore has no insulin of his own but needs to inject it. Can you explain how this would work for him?

    • Thanks for the great question Nic,

      Many people with T1D have found remarkable success with a low-carb or ketogenic diet. Over time some people have been able to reduce the amount of insulin they need, while also experiencing weight regulation and improved health and energy.

      As you are considering this diet for your son, you should work closely with his physician to work out a dietary plan that meets his needs and to make sure he is getting the right amount of insulin.

      Keep me posted if you decide to try this diet for your son.

  16. Thanks Jess. A very informative read. I’ve been wondering about the difference between Paleo and ketosis. Do you know if this has been used for people with fibromyalgia? Im wondering if it would help my daughter.

    • Thank you Geri!

      The ketogenic diet has been used for fibromyalgia. Keto diets have a remarkable ability to reduce inflammation in the body, which is associated with fibromyalgia and the debilitating pain that fibromyalgia causes.

      Keep me posted if you try it.

  17. I have been doing low carb diet for two weeks. I have only lost 800gram. But one amazing thing I have noted is that my arthritis has backed off substantially…it’s fantastic to be pain free in my knees and hips. So even if I don’t lose much weight I intend to persist with this way of eating so I remain pain free.

    Has anyone else noticed this wonderful side effect?

    • Anita,

      That is such a wonderful side effect and I am so happy to hear this. Healthy eating helps our bodies regulate weight (overtime) and has so many positive benefits, as your experience proves.

  18. Unfortunately this diet didn’t work for me. I have diabetes and I almost died from ketoacidosis and dehydration. I followed keto diet plan for about five months and I think my metabolism stopped working. I recommend, mostly diabetic patients, to be careful with low carb diet.

    • Xara,

      I am sorry to hear that you had such a life threatening experience. It is always important with any dietary change to be careful. Any diet that we eat should meet our nutritional needs which includes macro and micro nutrients as well as adequate and proper hydration, and especially on keto as the body has so much detox work to do.

      Are you following a particular diet now?

  19. Thank you for the very informative article. My question is: What is your recommendation for fiber? My family uses cereal, like frosted mini wheats for fiber. What do you recommend instead of the cereal.

    • Paula,

      Thank you for reading. You ask such a great question. Getting enough fiber can be a challenge, but it can be done with healthy whole foods. Cereals contain refined and processed grains as well as starches and sugars, so I don’t recommend them as a good source of fiber. Including lots of vegetables and leafy greens can provide a good foundation for adding more fiber to your diet as well as adding chia seeds. Chia seeds are little powerhouses of nutrition they make a great breakfast as they are packed with protein and fiber and are fun to eat

  20. I started the paleo diet 6 days ago and I can feel the difference already the only thing I haven’t quit completely is drinking my Coke Zero iam down to drinking 2 cans an day which is good for me , I’ve started drinking water and lemon which I actually like . I’ve tried other diets over the years but never felt much difference. With the paleo diet I don’t have the bloating that made me feel so uncomfortable and have strangers asking me when are you expecting.I never thought that cutting out diary and grains would make such an difference in my life I’ve lost 6lbs this is one happy 46 year old women. Thank you paleo diet

    • Susan,

      It’s wonderful that you’ve found so much health with paleo! I commend you, both for owning up to your vice and working so hard to reduce your Coke Zero intake. Drinking water and water with lemon is a great start, and to help you find other healthy tasty drinks, check out my drinks page and make sure to let me know your favorites.

      http://paleogrubs.com/?s=drinks

  21. I am a breast cancer survivor and also type 2 diabetic not wanting to be on the meds. I met a fellow cancer survivor who told me about the keto diet at our exercise class. I studied it and ordered a book with recipes and started the diet. Followed it for 2 months confidant my numbers would be down at my next Doc Apt. I was stunned to see this was not true. My Glucose fasting did go down a tad from 132 to 125 which I though was a small number as I only ate below 20 net carbs a day. enjoyed eggs and bacon every morning with no toast. Other than eggs what else can you eat that is not a carb. I was feeling full and satisfied and had dropped 10 lbs but my test numbers stunned me. My good cholesterol went down and was already below what they want. And my Triglycerides which were already high at 248 sored up to 325. And to make matters worse my kidney function went from normal last test to a 1.48 well above the normal and they listed on my test papers Chronic Kidney Disease because of it. My kidney function was normal on the test 3 months ago and just since going on Keto has it sored. Now the kidneys and liver have to filter all the additional fat I am eating even though it is mostly good fats. Avocado etc. So my question is: Is the keto diet making my kidney function sore and why did my numbers go up instead of down. I have gone off the diet in fear. Please send me a comment.

    • Lynn,

      Congrats for kicking cancer! And thank you for sharing your story. Your concerns about how a ketogenic diet affects your body are so important. Kidney Disease is not typically related to a ketogenic diet, however it is related to elevated blood glucose levels. If you haven’t already, speak to your Dr. and see if there is something else going on. In the meantime take a close look at your daily food choices. It is important to consider not only your ratios of fat, protein and carbs, but also your intake of vitamins, minerals, fiber and hydration (aka, drink lots of water). While bacon and eggs is a standard keto breakfast, you need to make sure that you are getting a varied diet to meet all of your micro-nutrients needs. There are many keto breakfasts that you can enjoy, for some inspiration check out our recipes page,

      http://paleogrubs.com/?s=breakfast

  22. My 10YO Daughter has been on a ketogenic diet for 2 years now, as a treatment for her epilepsy. I’d have to be totally honest and say that the benefits have been incredible. From being med-resistant and having lots of seizures, we have reduced meds by over 2/3rds and now have a much happier seizure free child. Side effects have been pretty much non-existent. She has regular blood tests which always show she is an exceptionally healthy young lady! Constipation can be an issue, as she’s not in to green veg in a big way, but we overcome this with chia seeds. 1 teaspoon of chia seeds in a drink of choice – leave in fridge overnight – the seeds absorb the liquid and become soft and “gelled”. Flavour and texture is hardly noticable. If my daughter likes it I’m guessing most adults would!

    I also went Ketogenic for several months before my daughter started her diet. This was mostly to increase my awareness of how the diet worked and greatly helped me to support her when it was her turn. The benefits for me were outstanding – zero PMS symptoms, clear skin (something I have struggled with all my life), no mood swings, weight loss, boundless energy, no bloating, etc.

    I would definitely recommend this way of eating.

    • Thank you for sharing your positive experiences with the ketogenic diet. It can be challenging to get enough fiber with keto foods, but the chia seeds are an excellent solution, and staying hydrated with water also helps.

  23. I’m getting ready to start the Ketogenic Diet and plan on incorporating some of the Paleo recipes and am wondering if I can eat the following: Sweet potatoes, mayonnaise,80 calorie greek yogurt, squash and peas?

  24. Hi Cynthia,

    Great question. A ketogenic diet is about moderating your macros: 70-75% of daily calories come from fat, 20-25% come from protein sources, 5-10% come from carbohydrates. So it’s possible to eat all the foods you mentioned, you’ll just want to monitor your overall carbohydrate intake to ensure you don’t exceed the 5-10% of calories from carbs. It’s helpful to know the nutritional information of the foods that you are eating, for instance, one cup of sweet potato contains 27 grams or 108 calories of carbs, while 1 tablespoon of mayo has 0.1 grams or 0.04 calories, an 80 calorie Greek yogurt averages 8 grams or 24 calories of carbs, while peas have 21grams or 84 calories per cup and squash has 6 grams of carbs or 24 calories per cup. If you are eating 1800 calories a day, you will be eating between 90 and 180 calories from carbs a day, so it’s important to chose your foods and your portions carefully.

  25. I am supportive of a ketogenic diet, especially for neurodegenerative problems. HOWEVER, it is possible to have problems on the diet, specifically going TOO low carb. That happened to me. I began having unusual symptoms and eventually found out I had developed a yeast problem. After doing some research (and confirming with my functional doctor), I learned that going too low carb can cause the body to feed on the ketones themselves, thus creating an increase in yeast. Do a search on “effect of ketosis on yeast” to learn more. Chris Kresser is one who speaks of this, among others. You need starchy carbs in this case. I began to eat sweet potatoes and some berries daily, started treating the yeast and began to feel better. One should be eating a minimum of 50g of carbs/day.

    • Kathy,

      Very happy that you were able to moderate your diet to work for your body and your needs. As I have mentioned before, ketogenic does not and should not have to eliminate carbs. It’s important to know the nutritional content of foods and eat adequate macros everyday.

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