Ketogenic Diet

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

ketogenic-dietA ketogenic diet is a diet high in fat and protein, and virtually no carbohydrate. This will force the body into a state of ketosis whereby ketones are used as a fuel source – rather than glucose.

Ketogenic diets have been used to treat epilepsy and for weight loss. Many body builders also use a ketogenic diet during their ‘cutting’ phase (attempting to burn as much fat as possible while retaining muscle mass). Ketogenic diets have gained some popularity due to the extensive media coverage of low/no carb diets such as Atkins.

Is a Ketogenic Diet Healthy?

A ketogenic diet is suitable for some people – but most definitely not all. Depriving the body of carbohydrates can place significant strain on the body – particularly liver and kidney function. Many people will feel considerably fatigued during the first few weeks of ketosis – the body is trying to adapt to using ketones as a fuel source. Ketones are a byproduct of fat metabolism (fat burning).

There are many opposite schools of thought regarding the safety of a ketogenic diet – however the fact that many epilepsy sufferers have successfully been using ketosis for years – certainly gives the diet some credence.

However, it must be done carefully. Many who start the diet stop it within a few days due to the fatigue and difficulty encountered.

See Also

Fat: The Weight Loss Secret

The Ketogenic Diet: A Complete Guide for the Dieter and Practitioner which retails for $29.95.

Children’s Hospital of Chicago’s Ketogenic Diet – Information on the ketogenic diet from Epilepsy Action UK.

Other Ketogenic diets – Lindora, Atkins

Look for high protein recipes here.

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
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  • John I.

    Since doing a lot of research, we found the ketogenic diet one important means of fighting cancer, primarily to starve cancer cells much of the sugar (carbs) they need.

    Been following since March and previously eliminated all sugar-laden beverages for six months… yes, even my beloved coffee is black or with just a splash of Half&Half. It has helped and there’s been weight loss too, though that was not main objective.

    Overall, feeling good with this; agree with postings that keeping hydrated is also essential!
    Also, eliminating much of the ‘junk’ food & processed is part of this plan, as well as including more organic where possible. Best to all in their quest for better health :)

  • Stacey

    Ketogenic dieting .. everyone thinks its bad or unhealthy. But think back to what our ancestors ate, they lived off the land .. fishing and hunting… eating what they could hunt or farm.. Veggie that they farmed ,and berries when in season! Nature gives us everything we need to survive, its the crap stuffed into boxes, processed foods, with god awful chemicals in them that is the Enemy!

  • Debbie

    I had read some of the comments made and I have to say I don’t disagree or agree. To be honest whatever works for people. We are all different hence our choices to what “diet” works will be different as well. I do however think that most people should just have 3 healthy meals a day and exercise exercise and exercise. It’s all very well cutting certain things out of our normal daily foods but do you really want to be unhappy eating for example meat all the time. I know I wouldn’t want that. The golden rule is to be happy and do what works for you. Be realistic in your choice. I love love love my pasta and potatoes and he’ll would freeze over before I stopped eating them but I don’t need to because I eat everything in moderation and exercise every day. People just be happy and enjoy your life. I do not by any means wish to insult anybody and if I have I apologise now. Live well and remember the saying …. You are what you eat

  • Edward Labno

    Need Advice: Went on Ketosis diet 4 weeks ago I dropped 8 lbs in the first few days, then 2 more and I am now at a standstill. I drink 120oz of water each day plus limit the carbs. I also take whey isolate drinks to boost the protien.I weigh once a week and am getting discouraged. I weigh 234now.I am on cholesterlol med.due to past heart surgery. (mitral Valve repl). Any help greatly appreciated. Thank You Edward

    • Kate

      Edward, what is your protein intake like? Sometimes too much protein slows down weight loss. Bump up your fat intake, continue to control carbs, and take the protein down. It’s very individual — we are all so different, so you will need to keep notes of your food intake including the whey drinks, and see what you’re taking in. Try dropping the protein down by maybe 10% at first (and boosting your fat intake a bit) then see what results you have, if any, in a week or two. If needed, drop it by another 10% and give the results a chance to show.

    • Fran

      Edward please try intermittent fasting, or perhaps consider lapband surgery, it really helps change metabolism in a more sustainable manner.

  • Rodi

    As a temporary approach,it’s ok. One can not possibly eat fats and protein only forever….regardless one’s willpower. The body craves carbs for a reason.

    • BD

      You SR. are miss informed.

      • frank g

        thank you

    • Nina

      And what reason is that?

    • Sherri

      My body doesn’t crave carbs for some reason. I didn’t realize that can do harm to your liver if you eat that way too long. Tonight I just happened to have some pasta which I am not a fan of. I do not like bread, I like my sandwhich rolled in the meat. But, I do love the smell of home baked bread and pita bread. I guess I am going to have to make it so the smell will entice me.

  • Joe

    Help- i am trying the ketogenic diet approach. I am lost and crabby. I am afraid I am eating to much meat.

    • Joy

      For Joe: When I started eating low carb some years ago, I got very angry after about a month! I literally thought I was crazy until I did a little research and discovered that some people don’t make enough serotonin for their brain when they eat low carb. I cured this by taking 5HTP. This is amazing stuff! Over the counter, not too expensive, all natural, raises serotonin in your brain if it’s low, and there are no side effects if you don’t take it (except crabbiness!). You can’t take it if you’re on depression meds from your doctor though.

    • amcken3

      Make sure you are adding coconut oil to your daily intake. I hear when you are having problems eat some coconut oil. Most of our diet should be fresh and cooked veggies. Eat wildcaught fish, organic chicken CLEAN meats.

  • J.A.

    I would recommend Honey instead of Stevia or any other sugar substitute.
    Drinking water is very important, and remember to output is as important as input.
    Exercise, even moderate is important.
    Diet anything has those sugar substitutes, which are cancer causing.

    • donny

      Honey is loaded with carbs. It may be natural but that does not make it a good thing to have.

  • devo caps

    Ketoacidosis is the one that’s dangerous. Being in ketosis from lowcarb dieting is not the same so there is no liver or other organ damage. Dont be ignorant, read mayoclinic and other reputable medical organizations before assuming. There is a fundamental difference between the two conditions.

  • CJ

    Seriously? People use this diet for weight loss? You do realize how seriously ill a person must be with irretractable seizures before it’s even considered, in hopes of avoiding surgery that may or may not result in alarge portion of one’s brain being excised? As the parent of a child who has been on the brink of requiring this diet, all I can say is WOW. I hope you’re being monitored by a physician as the diet generally required periodic bloodwork to make sure you’re not frying your liver, kidneys, and are getting adequate nutrition.

    • ted

      There are different versions of the ketogenic diet and what you are describing is the very strict/ medical version.

  • Frankie

    This is the same as the atkins diet. Tried and true. I lost 65 lbs on it.

  • Terra Runyan

    I have been doing this for a few months. What I have done is do the ketogenic diet for a full month, then for two weeks I will slowly introduce carbs back into my system, then start the diet again. I also exercise on an almost daily basis. I feel great! Lovin the truvia and stevia! My fave thing to make is a salmon filet with mashed cauliflower! Mmmmmm

    • Terra Runyan

      OH! And if you are a soda drinker, in MODERATION, diet sodas don’t have carbs :) I have a glass once a week of diet dr. pepper, and my body remains in ketosis!

  • Mary

    I’ve been on the diet for 5 weeks exactly (with a ‘fat day’ or two thrown in when I couldn’t resist a binge) and I feel great!
    Water intake is very important. Drink as though you’re always thirsty (protein leaves a very strange taste in your mouth).
    I’ve lost weight and I feel so much better than I was when I was eating 8 tonnes of pasta and bread a day.

    I eat protein bars and shakes that are specifically low carb, when I am 100% over eggs and meat (which, let’s face it, is all you’re gonna be eating).

    I’ve also started going to the gym. If you are doing regular and intense exercise, I recommend upping your calorie intake unless you want to pass out on a cross-trainer.

    Finally, if you’re a sugar junkie, like me, make sweetener (eg Equal etc) your best friend.
    It’s probably the worst thing known to man, but it has tricked my brain (quite poorly at the beginning) into thinking I’m eating SUGAR. MMMM WHOLESOME SUGAR. But no. You’re eating a disgustingly inadequate substitute. So make that shit your bff, and you’ll do well.

    • Sergio

      I was thinking about trying this! You think you can give me some tips on stuff I can eat? Like whats good to eat throughout the day?

      • Clarissa Lakusta

        Please, please try stevia!!! It’s so much better for you than artificial sweeteners and tasted great too! It comes in liquid and powder formulas and you can even get it in a convenient purse pack like little breath-mints for travel or your hot tea on the go. I would totally suggest cutting out chemical sweeteners and going with the healthy natural sweetener STEVIA!!!

  • beatrizr

    I really want to start this diet, but don’t know what steps I should take, any suggestions?

  • TorqueMcFearson

    I just started on Keto recently and am not much a diet person. (Only 139 pounds, fast metabolism, just simply supporting my girlfriend’s weight loss.)

    In the 2 weeks since I’ve started I do feel the benefits implied by the comments: higher alertness, overall healthier feeling, positivity. I’m losing a pound every couple of days.

    However, If you believe in something you should admit it’s faults confidently. The water intake is important. Something I ignored and in the middle of work my kidneys attacked me. 2 liters of Dasani later, I felt fine. I now find I am addicted to 3 or so liters of water daily.

    Also, in contrast to most, I’m tons more hungry now that my calorie and carb intake is down. Sadly, I miss bread and pasta like a lost lover; most song on the radio feel like they’re written about them.

    Girlfriend develop the flu like symptoms the first week. *Warning* Do not binge on pizza as a final farewell, before dropping carbs like a hot rock the next day. When you sneak up on your body like that its combat reflexes punch you directly in the stomach.

    Don’t forget sodium and supplements just incase. Conclusively, in the most amateur of opinions, I think it a great diet!

  • Dirk Diggler

    @Kenyatta yeah most doctors wont recommend a diet to fix any issue even if they know it will work because its free. Doctors dont want people well, they want us all sick and worried all the time so that we keep coming back to them and they keep prescribing medicine we do not need. There are so many health issues that are only a matter of incorrect diet yet most wont even consider that as a problem. Kids hyperactive and has ADD put em on meds…..god forbid they recommend the parents STOP feeding them nothing but carbs and sugar for a diet. Gastrointestinal disorders…..95% of all of them have to do with a diet that doesnt agree with you but you think doctors ask you what you eat? Nope they just put you on meds for the issues. They never fix the problem they only hand out meds to mask the symptoms.

  • Laura

    I’ve been on the keto diet for a week.

    1. Sleeping better
    2. No more “brain-fog” and I’m off my ADD medication!
    3. No more random fatigue through the day
    4. No more sleepiness after meals
    5. Decreased appetite
    6. Increased thirst. I drink about a gallon of water a day.
    7. Lost 8 pounds without exercise (I can not exercise due to a foot injury)
    8. Anxiety and depression have disappeared: I have a constant feeling of contentedness

    This is the first diet I’ve tried that has been very easy to follow and has led to such great side effects.

    I tried Atkins a long time ago and did not enjoy it. Not ALL ketogenic diets are the same. Find one that works for you!

    • Alex

      I have had the same experience. I find it especially remarkable how my attitude and mindset has changed since going low carb. I just feel a general sense of well being and have markedly less anxiety.

  • Kat

    The ketogenic diet is not “vurtually no carbs” you start off with 25g of carbs (from vegtables, leafy greens) and so far on this diet i have lost 20 lbs! Its amazing and i believe how our bodues should be working.

    • shi

      Actually it IS virtually no carbs, a KD should be 90% fat (especially saturated fat which despite what the food illumanti pyramid says is actually human beings preferred food thats why butter tastes so good!) then 8% protein and 2% carbs. Thats is virtually no carbs.

      • Laura

        Ketogenic diets can range in ratio.

        As long as carbs are under 100grams a day your body will go into a state of ketosis.

        I am on 65% fat, 30% protein, 5% carbs.

        Carbs are natures way of storing fat. They lead to diabetes too. Booooo! Carbs blow!

      • Peasles

        Actually that’s virtually 2% carbs.

  • George W.

    Interesting thread. I went on the Atkins diet about 20 years ago. I started on and slowly increased my exercise routine until I was climbing the 55 floors of my condo and doing weight work for 45 minutes almost every day. I dropped 65 pounds in 5 1/2 months. I followed a very high fat diet; omelets, bacon, sausage, cheese. My incentive for losing weight was having my doctor order me to double the meds for my type II diabetes. With him monitoring, my cholesterol dropped from being medicated to 210 down to 125 (still on Lipitor). My A1C dropped from a medicated 7.8 to an unmedicated 5.4. Triglycerides went from over 200 to 125 (on a high fat diet!!).

    When I reached my weight loss goal, I switched over completely. I didn’t much like the low vegetable and fruit aspect of the Atkins, so I shot for low glycemic index foods. I rarely have pasta or bread, eat a lot of fish and beans and brown basmati rice (which has a low glycemic index). I don’t exercise quite as much as I used to (I’m 70 and retired now), but still more than 90% of my peers.

    Recently, I had a series of surgeries that kept me off my feet for 9 months. I gained weight and lost muscle tone. I tried to go back on Atkins to drop 12 pounds, but found that it made me light headed and dizzy (I am blonde, though, so that might be part of the problem). Now I’m just struggling to knock 800 or so calories a day from my (admittedly high) food consumption.

    The point is that our bodies are all different. What works for one may not work for another; in fact, what works for one at one point may not work at another point. The nutritionists seem to believe that we are all the same and that one system will work for all. It won’t.

    There was an interesting comment in an earlier post in August, that 2 or 3 million years ago man was on a ketogenic diet. Two or 3 million years ago man wasn’t around: we arrived some time less than 50,000 years ago. Early man was also almost completely vegetarian. Until he learned to make tools, probably less than 25,000 years ago, he had no way of obtaining meat other than the offal left behind by other predators. Finally, the major differences in metabolism when comparing races, and especially those that had been isolated, like the Maori and indigenous Americans, makes it obvious that we can evolve a great deal in our history on earth.

    • Jeff

      We’re gonna need to see some citations for your last paragraph there. It seems to go against established archaeological and anthropological records.

      • Laura

        A Paleo diet and a Ketogenic diet are very similar…
        Sounds pretty accurate to me.

        Processed sugars and starches….simple carbs….yeah, early cilivizations didn’t really have those. If they did it was considered a luxury….

        ALSO, being FAT was a luxury. Only the rich could afford to get fat….bet they were also the only ones with sugar in their diets.

    • Rayme Pasieka

      You make an excellent point George when you say that what works for one may not work for another or if it works in one part of our lives it may not work at another time. Our bodies have so much insight to offer us if we just will listen to how we are feeling! Well done on your past endeavours and I truly wish you find the right healthy lifestyle for you that will keep you enjoying life and Restor your body and being to wellness! For me it’s whole foods, Real unprocessed and Superfoods that really make me feel great… and when we live in a state of feeling great (and hopefully keep feeling better) everything just works!

  • Louise

    would love to hear from others on maybe a weekly plan, i have been doing this for a few years now, and can’t tell you how different i feel, all my life i had been overweight, now 58k’s and healthy as ever. on a day my meals consist of cheese, tuna, ham, snags. lots and lots of water, and black tea or coffee. whats your thoughts.

    • Laura

      Sounds ketogenic to me!

      You can add heavy cream to your tea or coffee instead of milk if you like. Just don’t add sugar.

  • Louise

    I have learnt so much about this, absolutely fabulous, thank you so much

  • Dan

    I successfully used a ketogenic diet to lose 70 lbs (from 260 lbs to 190 lbs) in seven months, combined with daily cardio and some weight-lifting. At the end of the diet, my Lean Body Mass was unchanged from when I started… in other words, I lost no muscle. However, my body fat percentage dropped from nearly 40% to around 15%. It was a remarkable transformation.

    Realize that a ketogenic diet doesn’t have to be loaded with saturated fat… it simply comes down to the food choices you make. I never ate a strip of bacon or an egg on my ketogenic diet, preferring a more “Mediterranean Diet” approach in this regard: fish, avocado, olive oil, etc.

    Since that time I upped my carbs a bit to go into more of a maintenance mode, and intensified my weight-training. In this way I managed to gain some muscle mass while losing a bit more body fat. Currently I’m around 200 lbs and my Body Fat is approximately 12%. This is the main problem with a standard ketogenic or low-carb diet: it is very difficult to gain muscle mass on it. Until I started adding some carbs back into my diet, my weight-training wasn’t doing very much. Once I did so, my gains improved significantly.

    A ketogenic diet does require some discipline, but what diet doesn’t? However, when you see the fat shedding from your body, week after week, it’s very reinforcing.

    • Sophie

      totally agree with this, the weight loss is great totally helps when you are craving chocolate etc!

  • Tim

    I am 6’0″ tall and weighed 211 pounds on January 3, 2012. I began a Keto diet on January 4th and I now weigh 188 lbs. I couldn’t be more happy with this diet! Listed below is my daily eating routine. Keep in mind that I am not exercising at all!

    8:30 AM- 1 high protein shake with zero or minimal carbs

    Noon- 2 cups spinach salad, sliced cucumbers and home made dressing made from dijon mustard, light olive oil and apple cider vinegar. I also eat one high protein bar.

    5:00- 1 8oz. cut of steak, chicken or pork. 2 cups of spinach cooked in lemon juice and 1 tbsp of light olive oil and sea salt.

    8:00- Protein shake smoothie in blender.

    Both protein shakes are made with water….no milk or dairy.

    I plan to get down to 165 pounds and hope to be there by April 1st. So far so good1

    • Barbara

      What about Designer Whey Protein powder. Is that what u use?? How do you make your shakes and with what? Thanks much

    • amcken3

      I’m not a fan of protein bars and shakes…those pre-made packages foods are full of unhealthy binders like soy lecithin (there is NOTHING healthy about soy see Dr. Mercola’s articles on soy) and multiple other unhealthy ingredients…I hope you are at least making your own. Also whey is only healthy if its from a A2 casein producing cow AND raw (or a processing where the whey is not pasteurized at a temperature greater than the body temp of the animal). I really would eat whole foods rather than these fake foods if you want good health. I wish I would have been more conscientious about these things throughout my life.

    • Ben Dover

      Good on you for losing the weight, but from what you’ve listed the only fat sources visible is the mustard and the olive oil.
      My knowledge isn’t that extensive but I do understand that your routine for that day at least is just a very low carb diet rather than a ketogenic diet. Also I don’t know the volume of lemon juice in the spinach but if the spinach is cooked in it, I would recommend a slight drizzle rather than saturating your spinach in lemon juice

      • Fredsas12

        It’s the olive oil that is the best source of fat. 1 table spoon of the stuff (15g) has 15 grams of fat. but more importantly, 11 grams of Mono-Unsaturated to only 1.2 grams of Polyunsaturates. (Tesco’s standard Olive oil).

        This is simply the best source of fat you can get. Sunflower oil is basically the opposite and (high Polyunsaturates) is very poor for one’s health. (Vegetable oil tends to be about 50/50% mono to poly)

        I myself use something similar to Tim. I mix 2 table spoons of olive oil into my (4g carb and 17g protein) protein shake and basically this is what I “eat” 3 times a day. Have lost 10 kgs in 3 weeks already. And that is with lots of water and a higher salt uptake to prevent dehydration. It’s incredible!

    • Jack

      Hey, gratz on your loss. I was in Ketosis in May but dropped it to try a few other things. I’m getting back to lose my last 20-30 pounds and curious as to what brand protein shake and bars you eat??? When I did it, I lost about 15 pounds in 2-3 weeks. One I was in ketosis, I lost a solid pound a day, but want to include more protein this time around. Also, what was your total carb intake daily? My goal is 20 or less.

  • Erin

    I have two tips for you all.

    First: those who are worried they aren’t losing much weight – take measurements instead of looking at the scales. I have lost an average 1/2 centimetre a day off my waist and hips. Regular diets encourage the body to strip muscle and lose water so it LOOKS like you are losing weight. This doesn’t happen (as much) on a keto diet, so don’t be discouraged by stubborn scales.

    Second: It is hard to get enough fibre since we can’t eat grains. But, excessive consumption of no-sugar lollies has a laxative effect ;-) (although, cravings for sugar should disappear on a keto diet, so if you are doing it long term, stay away from them otherwise the cravings will persist)

  • strive2bfit

    to A.Goodwin – you’re a real QUACK and FOOL. Please get your facts straightened out and stop providing FALSE and MISLEADING information to others. Not all Ketogenic diets are high in fats. Atkins definitely is, but there are others that promote foods with low glycemic index and lower fats. Goodwin, your ideas are very narrow-minded and you have limited information. Obviously, your source of information is from one source only, as you seem to believe that there is only ONE REAL Ketogenic diet out there. There are many ketogenic diets our there. Atkins is one of them, and unfortunately it is high in fats. There are many low fat ketogenic diets that are medically supervised and the doctors check your bloodwork to ensure you’re not deficient in any areas. Obviously, the only ketogenic diets you have some knowledge on is Atkins and a ketogenic diet for epileptics. That, however, doesn’t make you an expert. So please STOP MISLEADING people with incorrect information based on your very limited twisted knowledge.

    • Dirk Diggler

      Actually there arent “many different keto diets”. Its either a ketogenic diet or it isnt. By definition a ketogenic diet IS HIGH FAT LOW PROTEIN and the carbs from fruit and veggies can vary depending upon the person. And Atkins has nothing to do with anything, The ketogenic diet has been around since the early 1900’s and was created to treat seizures. The weight loss from being on such a diet was nothing more than a side effect, and people thought hey I can do this and loose weight. All Atkins did was take a medically prescribed diet for epillepsy in children and made money off of it, he didnt know anything or create anything thats wasnt already known. what made him famous were lazy fat people who want to lose weight fast and not have to work for it. Also you may want to try not being such a DICK.

    • LC

      Relax! That helps EVERYTHING.

    • jon

      actually a keto diet is defined by having a ratio of 60% fat 30% protein and 10% carb, pref 5% and 35% protein. The whole point of a keto diet is to force your body to consume its fat resources and use dietary fat as a fuel source also. The by product of fat brak down are ketone bodies which the brain must switch over to using after using up all available glucose. If protein intake is too high the body will straight away switch to gluconeogenesis to create glucose from protein as a fuel source for your brain. This is counterproductive of the keto diet which is designed to make the body run on fat and dietary protein is there to support and preserve lean tissue. A keto diet MUST be high in fat to be termed a true keto diet. Diets with high protein, low fats and low carbs are NOT keto, they are purely low carb. Before you try to shoot down what I have said i am an MSc in Sports and Exercise Medicine and my research looks at energy substrate utllization through breath by breath gas analysis

      • Elizabeth

        I am a CPT, a struggling hypoglycemic, and have seen fantastic improvement of my blood sugar levels using a Keto diet. HIGH FAT, moderate protein, and carbs ONLY for fiber. Jon, what you wrote was VERY well said and is VERY accurate!!! Thank you for setting the record straight regarding that post.

  • katie

    I’m responding to kenyatta above. I live in MI and am currently in the process of starting my child on the ketogenic diet through his neurologist and nutritionist at the University of MI hospital you may want to contact them they have already been so great and seem to really know what thry’re doing

  • Jasmin

    Can i eat Fritos and Chimichangas ?

  • matthew

    I’ve lost 130 since the begain of this year on the ketogenic diet

    • amcken3


  • Mark

    Does anyone have thoughts on drinking protein shakes to replace meals? I just started drinking no carb, low fat, 50g protein/serving shakes twice a day. I still try to eat at least one meal of solid food each day. Comments/concerns?

    • Dirk Diggler

      @Mark, ALL protein shakes have sugar or some sort of sweetener, so if you are trying a keto diet, DO NOT USE protein shakes please.

      • ted

        Actually, all natural hemp protein has virtually no sugar per serving.

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