Is the Keto diet Safe? 10 Myth-Busting Arguments for the Safety of Ketosis

10 arguments that show the Keto diet is safe... despite what your Mom says

Is-keto-safe-riskIs ketosis safe?  The truth is that we can’t say for certain that it is 100% safe.  Humans don’t understand everything under the branch of nutritional science and probably won’t for a very long time.  As an individual, the only thing you can do is take a look at the research yourself and form your own conclusion. 

Personally, through the reading I’ve done and the experience I’ve had with the Keto diet, I’ve formed my own conclusion that ketosis is safe.  Could I be wrong?  Absolutely.  But I could also be right.  I’m willing to take that risk in order to follow a diet which could maximize longevity, well being and function.

My personal conclusion shouldn’t matter to you though.  You need to do your own research and come to your own conclusion.  I’ve put together this post to organize all of the issues surrounding the safety of ketosis so that you can make your own decision.

In trying to prove something to be safe there are two ways to go about it. 

  1. Disprove the claims of danger
  2. Show evidence which may be correlated with safety

This article will dispel the top 10 claims people make in an argument to label ketosis as dangerous.  

Like I said, the science on ketosis is still quite immature.  The following data is not meant to 100% prove or disprove the safety of ketosis.  It’s merely the information we have available today which can help us form a nutritional strategy we feel is best for ourselves.

 I’m not a doctor or a researcher.  The following information is material I’ve collected in my attempt to feel confident following a Keto diet indefinitely. 

Most of it is sourced from doctors or authors although I have also included anecdotal accounts from experiences posted on message boards and Reddit. I know, much of the information here isn’t sourced directly from science journals.  To be honest, the hard research on ketosis is currently lacking. 

The best information comes from reputable doctors and authors who have years of experience with the diet.  In the end, you will have to take a slight leap of faith in placing your trust on the anecdotal experience of thousands of people who have experienced, benefited, and shared their knowledge of this diet. 

Until hard research is funded and performed on the different aspects of ketosis I see no reason we cannot use the experience and results of others to assist us.  Those alive today may all be dead before science proves the 100% safety of the Keto diet. 

I’m not waiting for that day. 

Life is about risk and reward.  This is one risk I’m willing to take in order to reap the immense rewards of the Keto diet.

Claim: The brain runs on glucose and a Keto diet does not satisfy this demand

Reality:  The brain DOES need glucose but not very much;  About 30g-50g/day [1].  The body can synthesize this glucose from dietary protein through a process called gluconeogenesis [2].  Carbohydrate not required.

But what about the rest of the brain’s daily energy needs beyond this 30-50g glucose requirement?

Most people are aware that the brain is powered by glucose.  Very few are aware that it can also run on ketones and that ketones may actually burn more efficiently with less waste.

Once the body has become fully Keto adapted the brain gets up to 75% of its energy needs from ketones.  The remaining 25% is obtained from glucose which as mentioned can be synthesized from dietary protein.

The body can synthesize glucose from protein in a process called gluconeogenesis, therefore unlike protein and fat, a person can live without eating carbohydrates (3,6).

Nootropic Mind

“When I was taught about biochemical fuel-burning, I was taught that glucose was “clean” and ketones were “smokey.” That glucose was clearly the preferred fuel for our muscles for exercise and definitely the key fuel for the brain. Except here’s the dirty little secret about glucose – when you look at the amount of garbage leftover in the mitochondria, it is actually less efficient to make ATP from glucose than it is to make ATP from ketone bodies! A more efficient energy supply makes it easier to restore membranes in the brain to their normal states after a depolarizing electrical energy spike occurs, and means that energy is produced with fewer destructive free radicals leftover.”

 

If you’re on a very high fat, very low carb diet – like a traditional Inuit diet – your brain will eventually be able to use fat-derived ketones for about 50-75% of its energy requirements. Most ketones are produced in the liver, but astrocytes in the brain also generate ketones themselves for use by neurons. You think we’d have that kind of set up in our brains if ketones weren’t useful to have around? If all we could do was burn glucose up there, what would be the point of even having localized ketone factories? 

Mark Sisson
Mark’s Daily Apple

If someone tries to tell you that ketosis is dangerous because you’re starving your brain of glucose you can either stop listening to them or you can educate them. 

Claim: The keto diet is incomplete and will result in dangerous nutrient deficiencies

Reality:  When followed correctly, the Keto diet is one of the most complete and nutritious diets on the planet.

Here’s the thing, the Keto diet can be executed in many different ways.  The only requirement for achieving ketosis is to restrict carbs and limit protein so that the bodies glycogen reserves are depleted to the point that ketosis kicks in.  If you do that by eating hot dogs and margarine then I agree with this claim, you are on a dangerous nutrient-deficient diet.  However, if one chooses to achieve ketosis by eating fatty cuts of quality meat, dairy, nuts and plenty green leaves and fibrous vegetables-they are on a nutrient dense, complete diet.

What about the nutrients found in high carb grains, fruits and vegetables?  What are we missing out on?

The fact is that compared to many vegetables, fruit is actually a pretty poor source of vitamins and minerals.  And grains?  Not only can the trace vitamins and minerals in grains be found more richly in meats, dairy and other keto friendly foods–there is speculation that phytates and tannins found in grains can block absorption of some vitamins and minerals.

Schlemmer U1, Frølich W, Prieto RM, Grases F.
PubMed

In practice most people who begin following a Keto diet actually end up eating many more servings of nutritional low carb fruits and vegetables than they previously were.  Once you cut out all of the candy, chips and soda suddenly tomatoes, avocados, olives, spinach and broccoli start looking a lot more attractive.

Unlike proteins and fats, there’s no such thing as an essential carbohydrate.  There’s nothing a carbohydrate has to offer the body that couldn’t otherwise be obtained from fats and proteins.

In practice, you’ll probably consume more vitamins and minerals on a ketogenic diet than you did on a standard American diet (SAD), as long as you are eating whole foods (i.e., natural fats, meats, leafy green vegetables) and not packaged low carb junk food.

Ellen Davis
M.S. Applied Clinical Nutrition
Ketogenic Diet Resource

Meat is the only nutritionally complete food.  Animal foods (particularly when organ meats are included) contain all of the protein, fat, vitamins and minerals that humans need to function. They contain absolutely everything we need in just the right proportions. That makes sense, because for most of human history, these would have been the only foods available just about everywhere on the planet in all seasons.

Georgia Ede MD
Diagnose Diet

This should put things into perspective: gram for gram, broccoli, kale and cauliflower all have more vitamin C than an orange.  The high carb foods we famously believe to be the major sources of nutrients are often beat out by low carb meat, dairy or vegetable options.

Claim: Ketosis can develop into life threatening Keto-acidosis

Reality:  It is physiologically impossible for anyone with normal pancreas function to develop Keto-acidosis.

The fact that Keto-Acidosis is used as an argument against the safety of ketosis is really a grand revealer of just how ignorant and lazy some pundits are in attacking the diet.  I can’t help but cringe when I think that the logic displayed here might be as lazy as “well they both have ‘keto” as their root word, ketoacidosis must be the result of ketosis”.  Even more cringe worthy are the numerous cases of TRAINED MEDICAL DOCTORS advising against ketosis out of fear for ketoacidosis.  Com’on society, you can do better than that.

Unless you cannot produce any insulin from your pancreas (as is the case with type I diabetics, who do have to be much more careful with ketosis) you are at zero risk of keto-acidosis.

Here’s how Keto-acidosis occurs(or doesn’t) as explained by the venerable Peter Attia:

What is diabetic ketoacidosis? When a diabetic (usually a Type I diabetic, but sometimes this occurs in very late-stage, insulin-dependent, Type II diabetics) fails to receive enough insulin, they go into an effective state of starvation.  While they may have all the glucose in the world in their bloodstream, without insulin, they can’t get any into their cells.  Hence, they are effectively going into starvation.  The body does what it would do in anyone – it starts to make ketones out of fat and proteins.  Here’s the problem: the diabetic patient in this case can’t produce any insulin, so there is no feedback loop and they continue to produce more and more ketones without stopping.  By the time ketone levels (specifically, beta-hydroxybutyrate) approach 15 to 25 mM, the resulting pH imbalance leads to profound metabolic derangement and the patient is critically ill.

But this state of metabolic derangement is not actually possible in a person who can produce insulin, even in small amounts.  The reason is that a feedback loop prevents the ketone level from getting high enough to cause the change in pH that leads to the cascade of bad problems.  A person who is said to be “keto-adapted,” or in a state of nutritional ketosis, generally has beta-hydroxybutyrate levels between about 0.5 and 3.0 mM.  This is far less than the levels required to cause harm through acid-base abnormalities.

Keto-adaption is a state, achieved through significant reduction of carbohydrate intake (typically to less than 50 grams per day), where the body changes from relying on glycogen as its main source of energy to relying on fat.  Specifically, the brain shifts from being primarily dependent on glucose, to being primarily dependent on beta-hydroxybutyrate.  This has nothing to do with what a diabetic patient is experiencing in DKA, but does illustrate how poorly informed and quick to react the medical community is.   DKA and nutritional ketosis (or keto-adaptation) have as much in common as a house fire and a fireplace.

Peter Attia M.D.
Eating Academy

If you encounter anyone who uses the ketoacidosis argument against Keto you can throw their credibility out the window right there.

(btw, when I say something like “throw their credibility out the window” I don’t mean to berate them during discussion.  But you should know that once they use an argument like this, you are no longer in a debate.  Calmly take the opportunity to explain the facts.)

Claim: Ketosis can cause dangerous levels of dehydration and electrolyte deficiency

Reality:  Sort of true–although I would argue the use of the word ‘dangerous’ here.  It is true that ketosis promotes water and electrolyte loss but this can easily be mitigated by ensuring adequate water consumption while making sure to consume foods rich in the key electrolytes: sodium, potassium and magnesium. 

By switching to a ketogenic low-carb diet, you are essentially transitioning yourself from a water-retaining diet, to a water-flushing diet. There are a variety of reasons for this, including reduction of inflammation (water tends to be bound up in inflammation) and the depletion of glycogen stores (glycogen retains water) in your liver and muscles.

Because you are not eating a diet that causes you to retain water, you’re going to find yourself urinating quite frequently (maybe even once per hour or more when you start!). As a consequence of this, you’re going to lose electrolytes. You’ll want to replenish them.

Often time people know when they are low on electrolytes because of various accompanying symptoms that may include a range of things including muscle cramps, low energy, headaches, difficulty concentrating, and more.

Michael O’Neill
Ketopia

The affects felt due to this flushing–affectionately referred to ask the ‘Keto flu’ are no more dangerous than mild everyday dehydration.  The solution is the same, drink water!

Claim: A keto diet raises cholesterol and increases chance of heart disease

Reality:  Claims that diet has any affect on cholesterol levels is unfounded, obsolete and shows a lack of modern understanding.  Peter Attia will confirm this below.  Further, there’s burgeoning research for the argument that total cholesterol levels have little correlation with cardiovascular disease.

The history and continued study of diet, cholesterol and cholesterol’s relationship with disease is truly fascinating.  The whole thing plays out like a mystery novel that I just can’t put down.  If you’re interested in this topic and have an afternoon to spare I strongly urge you to check out Peter Attia’s series of cholesterol posts on his blog.

Most of the information I have here on cholesterol will be borrowed from Peter’s blog as I have zero credential in the area and I believe it’s only fair that you get the most up to date and accurate knowledge on this topic.

I’m going to attempt a layman’s description of the cholesterol story Peter has unfolded on his blog.  Hopefully I don’t butcher it too badly.

How Cholesterol Works

  1. Cholesterol is vital for life and it needs to be spread to different parts of the body in order to perform useful functions.
  2. The amount of cholesterol in the system is actually tightly regulated by the body and is affected very little by the foods we consume.  When the body needs cholesterol, it synthesizes it.  When it needs to get rid of it, it excretes it.
  3. Cholesterol itself doesn’t flow freely in the blood.
  4. Instead it needs to enter a vehicle which does flow in the bloodstream.
  5. There are two such types of vehicles: High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) and Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL).
  6. The two most relevant metrics of these cholesterol vehicles (lipoproteins) are the size of the vehicle and the number of vehicles.
  7. Triglycerides also enter these vehicles to ride with cholesterol through the bloodstream.
  8. When triglycerides increase, the total number of vehicles need to increase in order to transport the increased triglycerides.
  9. However, when just cholesterol goes up, the vehicles simply increase size to accommodate the increase in cholesterol.
  10. Here’s the kicker:  new research shows that it isn’t total cholesterol that correlates with heart disease, rather it’s the number of vehicles (lipoproteins, LDL-p) which carry this cholesterol that correlates with atherosclerosis heart disease. 
  11. So it’s not the size of the vehicle, it’s the number of vehicles present.
  12. It’s simple math, any given LDL particle is just as likely to stick to the artery wall regardless of its size or cholesterol content.  More particles = more chances for sticking.
  13. The higher your triglyceride count, the more particles needed to transport TG and cholesterol through the bloodstream.
  14. The more particles moving through the blood stream, the greater the chances for buildup.

Ok, so I might have butchered that.  Sorry Dr Attia. 

Anyways, the takeaway is that diet doesn’t affect total cholesterol levels but it does affect triglyceride levels.  The higher our triglyceride levels the greater our LDL particle count and the greater our risk of heart disease.

One of the biggest misconceptions out there (maybe second only to the idea that eating fat makes you fat) is that cholesterol is “bad.”  This could not be further from the truth.  Cholesterol is very good! 

Peter Attia M.D.
Eating Academy

Eating cholesterol has very little impact on the cholesterol levels in your body. This is a fact, not my opinion.  Anyone who tells you different is, at best, ignorant of this topic.  At worst, they are a deliberate charlatan. Years ago the Canadian Guidelines removed the limitation of dietary cholesterol. The rest of the world, especially the United States, needs to catch up.

Peter Attia M.D.
Eating Academy

Blood levels of triglycerides are a major risk factor for heart disease and are directly correlated to the amount of simple carbohydrates in the diet (56).

For that reason, it seems intuitive that low-carb diets would lead to a reduction in triglycerides, while low-fat diets should increase them.

This is indeed the case. Low-carb diets drastically reduce triglycerides, while low-fat diets either don’t improve them very much or literally make them worse (78).

Kris Gunnars BSc Medicine
Authority Nutrition

So the takeaway from all of this is that triglycerides seem to be the biggest culprit in increasing chance of heart disease.  What affects does the Keto diet have on triglyceride numbers?  Here are a couple of anecdotal experiences from members on /r/keto:

Two cases of massive triglyceride reduction with the Keto diet!  I know it’s just two cases but I can confidently tell you that these these results are typical.  The Keto diet (or any diet low in carbohydrate for that matter) is very effective at reducing your triglyceride numbers.

Claim: The Keto diet lacks fiber and causes constipation

Reality:  When followed correctly a Keto diet is actually very high in fiber. 

Sure, if you’re just gonna eat hot dogs, cheese and margarine then sure, bring on constipation and a host of other ill effects.  There’s no diet in which you can eat poor, low quality food and expect perfect health.

Many Keto’ers claim to consume much more vegetables and fiber than they did on a standard American diet.  After the effects of sugar overload wear off, your taste buds become reborn.  Suddenly tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers actually taste sweet.  Vegetables become your source of carbohydrate satisfaction (to the tune of about 20-50g/day).

Let’s also get one thing cleared up, there’s a difference between not pooping and constipation.  Constipation is obvious blockage and discomfort–there’s something there but it ain’t movin’.  Not pooping is well, not pooping.  There’s nothing there to come out.  When you  produce less waste, you poop less often–and on Keto, you’re going to poop less often.  The body is very efficient at extracting nutrients from meats and fatty foods.  The result is less waste.  So don’t mistake fewer bowel movements with constipation.

If you’re currently on Keto and having problems with constipation here are the top 3 reasons:

  1. You’re not eating enough fibrous vegetables.
  2. You’re not eating enough fat.  Load on the coconut oil.  For a real constipation weapon put a tablespoon of coconut oil into your morning coffee.
  3. You’re not consuming enough water and electrolytes.   Dehydration can lead to constipation.

Claim: The keto diet causes muscle wasting

Reality:  There’s no science which supports that a low carb diet causes muscle loss.  In fact, it might actually be the opposite.  As more and more people adopt a ketogenic lifestyle the amount of anecdotal evidence in favor of ketosis as a great body building diet is growing rapidly.

The basis of the muscle wasting argument stems from a misunderstanding of the brains glucose requirements.  If ketones didn’t exist the brain would require much more glucose than it does in the presence of ketones.  During a low carb diet the brain would be forced to break down protein to obtain this glucose.  It would do this through either dietary protein or in the absence of sufficient dietary protein, it would go after body muscle.  Fortunately, once ketosis kicks in the brain is able to obtain 70-75% of its energy requirements from ketones.  The remaining 25% is much more easily obtained from dietary protein and thus body muscle is spared.

If you want some real world evidence for the efficacy of ketosis as a body building diet, head over to Reddit and check out /r/ketogains.  This community is full of people dedicated to building muscle on a Keto diet.  They have nothing to sell you and no reason to lie about their results.

This general “muscle wasting” assertion often comes from trainers and dietitians who really have not studied the science on muscle preservation. They will tell you that the brain requires at least 100 grams of carb per day and if you don’t get those carbs in the diet, your body will break down your muscles to get it. This is true when one’s diet is high carb, and no ketone bodies are available as an alternative source of brain fuel.

But for a person who is adapted to a low carb, ketogenic diet, ketosis provides fuel in the form of ketone bodies for the brain, and the requirement for glucose drops to only about 40 grams per day. The body can easily make this amount from dietary protein and glycerol from the break down of fatty acids

But for a person who is adapted to a low carb, ketogenic diet, ketosis provides fuel in the form of ketone bodies for the brain, and the requirement for glucose drops to only about 40 grams per day. The body can easily make this amount from dietary protein and glycerol from the break down of fatty acids.

Ellen Davis
M.S. Applied Clinical Nutrition
Ketogenic Diet Resource

Claim: Ketosis damages the kidneys and can cause the formation of kidney stones

Reality:  The source of this claim comes from the misunderstanding that the Keto diet is high in protein.  In reality the Keto diet places a limit on protein in order to minimize the conversion of protein into sugar.  Furthermore, the claim that high protein consumption can damage kidneys and form kidney stones may also be unfounded.

If someone tries to tell you that the Keto diet is dangerous because of high protein consumption you can pretty much stop them right there.  The calling card of the keto diet is “Low carb, moderate protein, high fat” and the recommended protein dosage usually falls between 60-120g/protein per day depending on your weight and lean body mass.  This is not a high protein diet.  Anyone eating significantly more protein than they require is probably kicking themselves out of ketosis and is therefore not following a keto diet.

To further damage the strength of this claim, there’s no evidence that high protein consumption is the CAUSE of kidney damage and stones.  The only correlation is that in people who already have kidney issues and a history of kidney stones, protein seems to exacerbate the issue. [3,4]

Claim: High fat intake on a Keto diet causes gallstones

Reality: Gallstones are actually the result of an inactive gallbladder.  What increases gallbladder activity? Fat consumption!

When the gallbladder is active it will constantly be flushing out and replenishing its contents.  If it is inactive the contents will sit idle and be prone to stone formation.

But what about the cases of people on Keto diets dealing with gall stones?  They eat a lot of fat and so their gall bladder should be flushed clean often right?

Well… what are many people on a Keto diet trying to do? Lose weight right?  I would guess that prior to discovering the Keto diet many of these people were caught in the trap of low fat dieting.  This lead to months or years of low fat intake and consequentially low gallbladder activity.  The gallbladder wasn’t needed to digest fat and so it sat idle and stones were more likely to form.  Once they made the shift to a ketogenic lifestyle and their fat consumption increased upwards of 1000%, the gallbladder kicked into high gear.  If the previous period of low fat dieting had caused stone formation they are going to have to deal with flushing those stones out now while on a high fat Keto diet.

In a study of 51 obese people using an extremely low fat low calorie diet (just one gram of fat a day!) the gallbladder was examined by ultrasound before the diet and after one and two months. After one month four of the 51 participants had developed new gallstones. After two months more than one in four (13 people) had new gallstones! This on an almost fat free diet. Three participants needed to have their gallbladder removed during the study.

A third study compared an extremely low fat diet with a diet slightly higher in fat during 3 months. More than one in two (6 of 11 people) in the group eating extremely low fat developed new gallstones. Nobody in the group eating more fat did.

Conclusion: Do you want gallstones? Avoid fat.

Claim: My mom said that if I try the Keto diet, I could die.

Reality:  Ahh the fabled and legendary ‘Keto could kill you’ email from Mom.  Those of us on Keto know that this email is pretty much a rite of passage.  It’s only natural that mom worries about you, it’s what moms do.  But the fact is that there are zero reported deaths as a result of ketosis.  ZERO.

Let’s put that into perspective. 

100,000 die each year from pharmaceutical drugs.[5]

6 million each year from tobacco.

3.3 million each year from alcohol related deaths and an estimated 15-30 million each year from deaths related to excess sugar consumption such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity related disease. [6]

Surely the people who argue for the dangers of ketosis can better spend their time on issues which are actually dangerous to society?

Although we love them to death, our Mom’s typically have zero authority on the subject.  When Mom heard you were going on a ketosis diet the first thing she did was head to google hell bent on finding any information about the dangers of the diet.  Sure enough, 10 pages into google she found what she was looking for… Never mind the first 9 pages filled with information about the safety and merits of the diet.

Most of the information contained in those articles your Mom finds on google will inevitably be addressed by some of the issues addressed here.  Next time your mother or any of your family or friends to try tell you that ketosis is dangerous, link them over here and we’ll take care of them 🙂

Conclusion

Let’s leave off on this quote from Dr Eric Kossoff who was part of a 15 year study involving the long term safety of ketosis:

“Despite its temporary side effects, we have always suspected that the ketogenic diet is relatively safe long term, and we now have proof,” says senior investigator Eric Kossoff, M.D., a pediatric neurologist and director of the ketogenic diet program at Hopkins Children’s. “Our study should help put to rest some of the nagging doubts about the long-term safety of the ketogenic diet,” he adds. 

The evidence is based on a study of 101 patients ages 2 to 26 years treated with the ketogenic diet for a minimum of 16 months and for up to eight years at Hopkins Children’s between 1993 and 2008. At the time of the follow-up, patients were off the diet anywhere between eight months and 14 years.

Dr Eric Kossoff
Medical News Today

61 comments

Great article, bookmarked.

I totally appreciate your article. My son-in-law was just telling me a friend of his who is a bodybuilder told him that staying in ketosis for more than 4 months at a time will cause muscle atrophy in your body to eat its muscles. Well of course this concerned me, so running through the internet I ran across your article. I’m really glad to see these 10 myths that you’ve dispelled. I feel much more confident and comfortable staying in ketosis. Thank you.

I agree with the article above regarding the muscle loss myth, with that said, I think that a keto diet can become a problem with retaining muscle mass and here is why… many people who follow this diet tend to under eat. Keto is a great way to force your body to use fat as an energy source but you still need to get a certain amount of calories, and if you dont there is a good chance you will lose muscle mass eventually if not right away. To lose weight we have to be calorie deficient, but within reason, and I have found that many dieters (not just keto) follow the absurd 1200 calorie a day diet…that is just not good in my opinion and more importantly, not sustainable. The average 5’7″ 150 female between 20 and 60 years old has a BMR of between 1350 and 1550 calories a day, so 1200 calories is not wise. This is not the keto diet plan but the 1200 calorie figure is what many people are being told to do…over time your body will think it is starving and most certainly use muscle mass for energy. Keto is great, but you have to be smart about it. P.S. I am a personal trainer not an expert on nutrition, but like most trainers I study nutrition, nutrition and diet trends, and continually research to help my clients succeed…I have also followed the keto diet with success…but I cycle. My biggest issue with keto is getting enough calories..I’m always eating.

bsst article ive read in a long time. you managed to sum up my long term confusion in a single scentence ‘the best thing to do is form your own conclusion’. thankyou.

This was a good read! Very informative!

Very nice!

Fantastic! Sending to Mom!!!

I am a “Mom” and I have been well and truly rumbled here!
I have just sent the blog to my son and daughter-in-law.
I am still laughing – at the original blog and at/with all you wonderful young people who know us better than we know ourselves.
Thank you.

Cathy Bernier Myers

I’m currently in Remission from stage 3 breast cancer. I heard that the Ketogenic diet will help avoid a reoccurrence. That since cancer feeds off glucose this diet can literally starve cancer cells. I’m hoping this is true.

Cathy, I’m praying the keto lifestyle worked in your favor for your health! Any update?

Best,
Melanie

I am absolutely amazed at the depth of information in this article. I would gladly recommend it to any keto dieter in Nigeria .

Isn’t there natural diet high in tubers?

Good article. A friend at work is stating this diet and of course being new at it, he is quite the Zealot. I have been into nutrition and exercise for over 40 years (57 years old now). I have tried s few different eating philosophies (I never use the word the word diet. Negative connotation and dieting isn’t good the way most practice it.). Eating Keto style and the logic behind it aren’t too different than some others. And you pointed out many of the misconceptions about cholesterol and triglycerides ect. For about the last 20 plus years I have pretty much followed a “Zone” type diet. 40% carbs, 30% fat, 30% protein. And I always get weird looks at the 30% fat part. Well, I’m 57 with 7% body fat. Not bad for and old guy. I work out and I supplement with protein as I lift weights. It’s worked well. The ratios may be different, but the emphasis on vegetable carbs and good fats are the key to either way to eat. There were only a couple things that kinda struck me as something that made me go hmmmmm. Using the Inuit people isn’t a good example really. They have evolved some different physical features over hundreds of years than we have. And there is no evidence if ketosis occurring in examination. And somehow when you mention eating large amounts of animal fat, just hit me as counterintuitive. It’s a much different fat than an avocado. Finally, and this is just me, I love fruit. True it’s probably less efficient, but its good, sweet, and beats the hell outta donuts for your health. It fulfills the reward need many of us have. I also feel if God put it on the earth naturally, it’s got a place in our food source. I’ve had a philosophy about excersise that’s served me well. What’s the best exercise? The one that you’ll do regularly. Get up and move and find out what works for your own body. It applies to good too. If you feel deprived or for various reasons can’t stay on the supposed best food program, what good is it? But if you stay with more natural and Balanced foods that usually leads to more energy then more and regular excerise. Check in. It looks like it’s been 2 years since you wrote this. I’d live to hear how your doing.

I think you should give Keto a 3 month trial. You will notice that any inflammation you have will disappear. The best bonus for me is that I now only eat one meal per day. I’m 57 like you. I figure I save 1 hour per day in food prep, eating and shopping. By the time I’m 100 I will have spent 15,000 fewer hours messing with food. That’s like adding 3 years to your life!

This was a very well reasoned and concise article considering the number of points it addressed. Nicely done!

Such great info. Husband has been seizure free 11 months. Was having 2-3 per month. Learning new and great awesome recipes. There is one side affect, I have lost 40#, our daughter, has lost 70#. However, my husband has not lost any weight. His body was at the correct weight before we started. My goal is not weight loss, that’s just lagniappe, my goal is better health. This is such an awesome journey.

You made my day by using lagniappe in a sentence! Displaced New Orleanian here. Lagniappe was a way of life back then…

I love your reply…If it helps me get rid of my belly I am doing it…that is dangerous also….I tried everything…but was always hungry since starting this hungry has left.

I think you should give Keto a 3 month trial. You will notice that any inflammation you have will disappear. The best bonus for me is that I now only eat one meal per day. I’m 57 like you. I figure I save 1 hour per day in food prep, eating and shopping. By the time I’m 100 I will have spent 15,000 fewer hours messing with food. That’s like adding 3 years to your life!

It gets better. I started forgetting to eat, so now I just skip breakfast and lunch. Big dinner and call it good.

Sounds great. Is he still seizure free

Thanks for the info. Helped me a lot.

Shocked that there are not more comments on this. This is one of the best keto articles I’ve ever read. It has enough science to be convincing but doesn’t try to scare the audience away with fancy jargon. This is definitely something all people should read…keto or not. Thank you for sharing!

Completely agreed.

A friend of mine started on the Keto diet a few weeks ago, and he recommended it to me.

What others (many of them) out there provide is just incomplete knowledge, claims, and advises that are not backed by enough evidence. And they do it all for the sake of pioneering in the debate/argument. Just because someone else is wrong about something, doesn’t automatically make you right. I have spent the complete day searching for Keto, learning about it, the risks, and how to implement it. And my search ended right here on this article. I feel I am finally ready to adapt and take the benefits of it. Thank you, Jordan for providing us with such an informational piece of writing. 🙂

It’s very good info. Thanks. I have been doing Ketogenics for a few weeks and feel great. I really like the idea of adequate protein and not all you can eat. Now I have my husband on it and some relatives. I have been reading some good and bad articles cause now I feel responsible for all of them and what if I’m wrong and they have problems? But, I really liked your article and feel better. Thanks for busting some myths!

This a a great article, and answered some of the questions that I was looking for today. Well written and easy to understand. Thank you!

Omg. That mom thing is right on the money! My mom actually said that to me!!!!!😮 I’ll give her a break since I’m an only child!😜

Very informative. Answered many of my questions. As a healthy 76 year old male athlete I had concerns about Heart health. I have been a vegan for several years and was tired of being hungry all the time. Keto for a couple of weeks now and I am never hungry. Too soon to judge for sure, but so far so good. Thanks for this article.

Yes…I agree and I am 50

Well, the article was certainly enlightening. I have been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes and I was looking for a diet that can keep me away from medicine. After browsing through many internet sources I’m here.
Just a thought struck to me and I’m sharing it here.
Early humans probably were on an LCHF diet. But when did humans become the “intelligent” species that they are? Can that be related to invention of agriculture? When humans began settling down on river banks to grow their crop, be it rice or wheat or maize, may be the rich alluvium, elevated mineral contents and higher glucose levels associated with grains might have given them increased brain activity leading to their cultural and intellectual development. My only worry is, this”new found” ketogenic diet shouldn’t push us back to stone age, though on a positive note, that might save our planet from anthropogenic destruction!

The majority of scientists believe the exact opposite. They believe that it was our high fat content in our foods in the caveman days that caused the evolution of man intellectually. The human brain seems to thrive on fat, which might explain Keto’s potential when it comes to neurological impairments like epilepsy, and now studies are being done on patients with autism, and alzheimers. One of the most common side effects people seem to claim to experience is mental clarity and improved focus.

Good article, a little rude at times… I feel it may put off some people who aren’t “ignorant” they are just trying to learn

ig·no·rant
ˈiɡnərənt/Submit
adjective
lacking knowledge or awareness in general

The use of the word is spot on. This is why I read these articles to learn as I was ignorant. Geeze…sensitive people just need to get over this crap. This is straight forward information. Those who may be put off by the use of the word ignorant may want to perhaps look it up and be less ignorant. … chuckle

This is a wonderful article explaining the benefits of a ketogenic diet and the ludicrous myths that people conjure up or regurgitate from erroneous sources.

Sometimes I find that trying to explain ketosis and the ketogenic wellness lifestyle to is like trying to explain the theory of relativity to a cat. This article does a beautiful job of doing it clearly and concisely for all to understand. BRAVO!

How can I share this info? When I click on the facebook symbol, it only opens the same article in another window.

never mind …. found the button in the middle of the page, that worked 🙂

Thank you so much for this article! My husband and I have been following keto for a little over a month now and we love it! I did a lot of research before starting, and am still doing lots of research because I like to be armed with the best information I can have when friends question my choices. Just yesterday I had a friend tell me that our brains need carbs to function (more than what we get from veggies). I hadn’t heard that before so I didn’t know what to answer. Thanks to your article now I know, and I have lots more answers in case more points come up. 😉

Thanks Chantal! There is a ton of (mis)information out there and it can be really daunting to try and sift through it alone! I’m glad we were able to help you! Keto on 🙂

I’m 35 years old and in great health. I follow the low carb keto diet. I eat eggs, chicken is the only meat I eat half boneless skinless chicken breast, no red meat. I eat lots of veggies, Spinach, all types of lettuce yes even iceberg I enjoy it. I eat many types of leafy greens. I also eat zucchini, asparagus, broccoli, bell peppers, all types of onions, carrots, cabbage, avocado, lemon and limes and all types of non-starchy veggies. I also use fresh and dried herbs and spices. I don’t eat potatoes because too much carbs. I sometimes use cheese but no other dairy products. I try to avoid all grains. I don’t eat bread or wheat products. I don’t eat corn products either so no corn tortillas. I sometimes eat very small portions of brown rice or green lentil but never together and I probably only eat that few days a month so not very often. I avoid butter because it has high cholesterol. I use the following oils to cook: 1st choice virgin organic coconut oil. 2nd choice extra virgin olive oil and 3rd choice is peanut oil. I don’t deep fry anything. I don’t eat any sweet tasting fruits. I don’t eat or drink anything that taste sweet. I do drink mostly water and hot tea. Black and green teas made with water nothing added. If I make iced tea I’ll add some fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice. I eat 2 times a day. I have brunch around 10am, dinner at 6pm and then I don’t eat for 16 hours until the next day. I also eat small amounts of nuts and seeds. Walnuts, pecans, almonds, peanuts. I also eat raw sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, Chia seeds, Ground flaxseeds. In the morning I usually make my usual brunch which consists of a 3 egg omelet with a 1 tablespoon Chai seeds, 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds, handful of spinach, green onions, black pepper, salt, and some sriracha sauce. I eat it with some steamed broccoli and a side salad. For Dinner I will cook up a half boneless skinless chicken breast and make different meals with a good amount of fresh veggies. I don’t eat any type of processed foods or snacks. If I ever wanted a snack I usually eat some nuts and seeds and then drink some freshly brewed tea. I limit my daily carb intake to no more than 50grams per day mostly coming from veggies and some nuts and seeds. My daily calorie intake is about 1,000 – 1,200 a day from my (2) meals in total. I’m a thin person. Yes I follow a low carb and low calorie diet. My body creates ketones and burns fats instead of running on carbs. With low carb intake your body won’t have to deal with a large amount of insulin and Glycogen in the body and your body should function optimally. Hope this help somebody. Too many sick people in the United States due to poor eating habits and it doesn’t have to be this way hopefully this will improve someones health. Take my advice and try it! Eat right and live well. MAGA!

Good stuff – people, follow this food advice. ALL of this is excellent, as long as everything listed is eaten in moderation (especially things like carrots) then this is just perfect.

Great article. Now please do some research. I’m pro keto but long term use of a keto diet is akin to using a drug. There is plenty of research on long term negatives of keto including, yes, death. It’s great for about 6 months after that best to convert to a standard low card Paleo and carbo load weekly.

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I am a holistic health coach and focus on women and keto primarily. I have thought of checking out your box. After running across this article {which I shared with all my current keto groups I am coaching!} I am definitely going to sign up! AMAZING article! I am all about digging into as much good science and research as I can to help people better understand health in general and particularly keto. This article is right up my ally! Thank you, thank you, thank you! ❤️

I agree with most of this, but there has been a ton of new evidence proving that a high protein ketogenic diet is quite possible and even favourable for muscle preservation.
Ketoneogenisis is actually demand driven, not supply driven, so excess protein will not actually turn into sugar. It just doesn’t work that way.
Also, eating more fat doesn’t put you into ketosis. Eating low carb does. Protein and fat ratios are arbitrary.

All in all not a bad article. Not going to get into real specifics but like many “trendy diets” some of your claims, despite your applauding effort to site seemingly legitimate sources, are simply inaccurate. First of all MDs are not Nutritionist, they specialize in medicine. Holistic Health coaches specialize in Herbs and using the body to heal itself. Nutritionist/Dietitians focus on proven legitimate evidence to support claims of a basic diet consisting of all 5 food groups for living a healthy lifestyle. Can you live a healthy lifestyle outside of eating the 5 food groups, sure; but you better be well versed on preparation for attempting it. Truth is, any diet, and I mean any reputable diet, on the market can and will work if followed correctly. However, since the beginning of time, civilization has ate wheat as its primary food source and in fact it is still the primary food source worldwide. To eliminate it or complete-whole grains entirely is usually not wise for long term sustainable benefits. Coconut oil is terrible, period. Please never give that advice again. Saturated fat in any form causes arteriosclerosis, cite any heart health clinic or organization in the world for that evidence. Also through starvation, which can occur if the body consistently lacks its basal metabolic needs can and will develop ketoacidosis in a perfectly functioning pancreas. Basically meaning ketosis can develop into ketoacidosis. Again, just trying to provide some further information and clean up your claims. I feel you did a pretty good job touching on a lot of questions/concerns most people have with Keto diets. Like I said, I’m not selling my diet or anything for that matter. I simply want people to realize anything you do requires work, effort and discipline. All in all, it seems more people jumping on the Keto bandwagon are looking for quick results and should be well advised, as you mentioned, on the proper way to eat the right combination of food groups to prevent further deterioration. The right fats, greens and complementary proteins for BCAAs and so on. Truth is a long term Keto diet has not been studied enough to really know if the body is suffering damage long term. At the end of the day moderation, variety and a balanced lifestyle of diet and exercise in combination with the holistic approach (Physical, emotional, spiritual and societal well-being) is the key to long term vitality. Its your lifestyle, not diet that affects your health.

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Keto diet caused me to dehydrate, have an electrolyte imbalance, and ended me up in the hospital twice with heart arrhythmias. After three bags of IV fluids, and going off the diet, it stopped happening. Yes, this was whole I was drinking lots of water and making sure I had electrolytes.

The truth is, I could have drank all the water in the world, and it wouldn’t have solved the problem, because the diet kept me from holding it. I was on the diet approximately six months when it started happening, with warning signs, in retrospect, a month before. When I wrote my story on a blog, I was contacted by a law firm who wanted to investigate my story, because they had a few other clients with similar experiences. I declined their services.

Keto diets are great for losing weight. And everyone should be able to make their own decision AFTER being fairly apprised of the risks, which are too often glossed over. A balanced and honest discussion of the pros and cons, is what helps people make an informed decision, where they are aware and consenting of possible risks they may be exposing themselves to.

Sodum was your issue, I do believe. The more water you drink and the more you piss the more sodum is lost… and the more sodium that’s lost makes you thirstier… back and forth!

It wasn’t until my waist started pushing 35 inches that I decided I needed to do something. That something just happened to be a slight change in life style. I gave up eating processed carbs, i.e. cereals, bread, rice, pasta, pizza, beer (yes pizza And Beer!), and continued eating such things as meat, nuts, cheese, vegetables. Foregoing the processed carbs is really not that much of a loss when you consider the benefits. The impact of processed food industry didn’t hit America til the early part of the 20th century. And I dare say that it had anything to do with increasing longevity. I’ve been living a ketogenic life style for about six months and plan to continue. But for those of you thinking that its a quick fix, I’m inclined to say that, in my case, your wrong. This wasn’t exactly quick a fix. It took all of those six months to reduce my waist size to a leaner 33 inches. I’d like to think that I’m not done yet. I drink half my body weight in ounces of water (nothing to do with the ketogenic life style, but thought i’d mention it). I’m far from hungry, don’t see a down side to this, and I’m looking forward to my yearly physical and blood work results. I’m glad that I stepped outside the normal dieters box.

Thank you! What a brilliant article. I’ve been on a Keto eating plan for 3 weeks and I feel absolutely fantastic, so many people though keep telling me I can’t stay on it long term and it will be detrimental to my health, my gut feeling tells me that’s all rubbish so I’m going to stick with it. Your article has really helped with my decision

I had 3 medical stents inserted for clogged arteries 11 years ago and I currently take a statin to keep my cholesterol at a healthy level and I also take a low dose diuretic to help keep my blood pressure at a good level. I am very much interested in the Keto Diet but I have some fears that eating foods which are high in saturated fats such as animal fats, butter, heavy cream and cheeses which I believe raise triglyceride levels which I have heard are a major contributor to blockages in the arteries. I would like to see more input from those who share a similar health history as mine and are on a Keto Diet. I was wondering if I can be on a Keto Diet and limit my fats to Olive Oil, Avocados, and the oils we get from fish such as Salmon, Sardines etc. or is it just a myth about saturated fats from butted, cheese and animal fats being bad for you?

Isn’t it true that eating too many foods that are high in saturated or trans (bad) fats can raise cholesterol levels, and excess cholesterol gets deposited in the arteries, causing atherosclerosis”

People will believe anything. You’re losing weight and feeling better about yourself because you’re eliminating processed food from your
diet. To completely eliminate healthy sprouted grains and fruits from your diet is ridiculous.

Several studies have found that increasing fruit intake does not cause weight gain. And in one study, people who ate two or more servings a day lost just as much weight over 12 weeks as those who limited fruit intake.

The European Journal of Cancer linked fruits, not veggies, to a reduced risk of stomach cancer. Other studies have linked fruit, in particular, to reduced risk of bladder, urethral, and esophageal cancers—and both fruits and vegetables to reduced risk of lung and colorectal cancers.

Fresh fruits supply only a small fraction of the fructose Americans consume (the biggest source is sugary beverages). Sugar in fruit is accompanied by healthful nutrients and antioxidants, as well as fiber, which slows absorption of fructose so it’s highly unlikely that the fructose in even very sweet fruit could have any undesirable health effects.

Look up Annette Larkin’s, she’s in her 70s and is famous for looking decades younger, she was a vegetarian for over 50 years and now a vegan. She doesn’t eat meat or processed food, she eats lots of fruits, veggies and breads from sprouted grains, everything she grows from her garden. Her skin and body are youthful and glowing.

I’m not saying people shouldn’t eat meat, but to dismiss a food group because you’re afraid carbs are causing all of your problems is misleading. Why not skip the added sugar, skip processed food?

I have serious doubts that eliminating an entire food group is healthy. What’s not being considered is that perhaps there is something in the type of carbohydrates that many people consume in the U.S. that is unhealthy, and not necessarily that all carbohydrates are bad for you. Eliminating these bad carbohydrates might work because you’re actually eliminated a huge source of heavy metal poisoning. Research done by Renee Dufault of the Food Ingredient and Health Research institute strongly suggest that foods laden with preservatives and mercury-laced processed food additives have a strong causal effect on health conditions ranging from ADHD to diabetes. If you are eating processed foods in the U.S., you’re getting a steady diet of heavy metal poisoning from the preservatives, pesticides, and concentrations of mercury in the U.S. food supply. If “food” can sit on a shelf for long periods of time without spoiling, there’s some kind of preservative in it that just might eventually kill you by triggering whatever dis-ease you are genetically predisposed to acquiring. You can read more about her research in her book _Unsafe At Any Meal:What the FDA Does Not Want You To Know About the Foods You Eat_. There is a free tutorial to help you apply what you’ll learn in the book on this web site: http://www.foodingredient.info I wish someone with the money to do more research would find out if its the carbohydrates that are not good for you, or the chemically-laden carbohydrates and beverages that U.S. Americans ingest that are the real culprit.

Hi!
I found this article really helpful, thank you! I’ve read a keto cookbook a couple of days ago and it was helping me giving ideas, it is really cool. Here it is: https://bit.ly/2utGodS

1. I really, really wish the author would stop stating that “no one really knows” and that this is all “such a mystery”. It’s not a mystery – it’s biochemistry, and it’s actually really interesting to learn about if you took the time. 🙂

2. Gluconeogenesis occurs due to hunger, when your blood glucose levels are low. This process is when your liver breaks down glycogens (stored carbs) and turns them into glucose. This is a very ENERGY EXPENSIVE process. (You burn 3x the amount of ATP than you do during glycolysis and the branching of glycolysis, which is the process that turns glucose into things like ATP, CO2, RNA, NADPH, etc.) So yeah, gluconeogenesis does exist, but it’s to help keep us alive and keep glucose flowing to the brain.

3. Ketone bodies are NOT a better source of energy than glucose. Your body uses SO much more energy just to MAKE ketone bodies. Basically, your cells take in fats and turn these into Acetyl CoA in the mitochondria. In a NORMAL cell, this acetyl CoA would go through the Citric Acid Cycle and onto the Electron Transport Chain, making energy that can be used by ALL of your cells. ( In a cell that is in the state of Ketosis (AKA Starvation), the acetyl CoA is not used for the citric acid cycle, but is instead used to make the ketone bodies. The ketone bodies then make their way to the brain. Not to mention, gluconeogenesis is also occurring (at depleted rates at this point …. you know, because you’re running out of those scary glycogens.) And remember, gluconeogenesis is also energetically expensive, along with the production of ketone bodies. So all in all, you are losing energy by resorting to Ketosis.

Also, acetone is one of those ketone bodies that is made, and this one is simply exhaled… so it might be a good idea to stock up on breath mints to avoid smelling like a nail salon.

I’ve been on the keto diet for about 3 months now. When I first started, I read all that I could online and a lot of the information is conflicting. One of the biggest mistakes that people make on the keto diet is thinking that they can eat all the fat they want and still lose fat, and that just doesn’t happen. Another one is that you should keep your protein consumption low and that is not correct either. The proper way to a keto diet is to consume 1 gram of protein per lean body weight, and keep fat under 100 g per day if you’re looking to lose fat. Also a weight lifting program helps tremendously, and you will gain muscle and lose fat at the same time instead of losing all that fat and then becoming a flabby skinny person.

AWESOME read! Thanks dude! U put my mind at ease! I’m enjoying Keto so much and you made me feel better about doing it!

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