If you want to lose weight you should start by avoiding sugar and starch (like bread, pasta and potatoes). This is an old idea: For 150 years or more there have been a huge number of weight-loss diets based on eating fewer carbs. What’s new is that dozens of modern scientific studies have proven that, yes, low carb is the most effective way to lose weight.
My principal hope in this article is to provide journalists with a resource to do what basic journalism demands, namely to ensure that stories are scientifically balanced and accurate. At the end of this post I provide contacts for some of the credentialed experts who helped me compile this research. Reporters, please seek out these or other low-carb diet experts so you can provide accurate, up-to-date information for your readers.
The truth is though, her reaction is part of the problem. “I can’t believe your numbers improved so drastically without taking the medication.” THAT is the main problem with our medical community. They have been taught, and most have bought into the lie, that everything is better with medication. Medication is the go to. That is why we have so many health issues in this country. Let’s eat a crappy diet because our government/medical community recommends it…and then when that diet leads to medical complications…let’s throw drugs/medication at it. Many, if not the majority, of the medical issues we have could be done away with if we actually ate as we should. But no…we want cake.
That's certainly the case with the ketogenic diet—a very low-carb meal plan—based on the findings of two recently published studies.1,2  Dr. Saslow and her team report that the individuals with type 2 diabetes who followed the keto diet lost significantly more weight than those on the low-fat diet espoused by the American Diabetic Association.1 These dieters also were able to get their hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) below 6.5%, suggesting that some may have reversed their type 2 diabetes.1

Keto breath, on the other hand, is less of a side-effect and more of a harmless inconvenience (your breath literally smells like nail polish remover). Basically, when your body breaks down all that extra fat on the keto diet, it produces ketones—one of which is the chemical acetone, Keatley previously told WomensHealthMag.com. (Yes, the same stuff that's in nail polish remover.)
I believe that nature teaches us in wonderful ways about what works. Take the four seasons for example. I’ve adapted a ketogenic way of eating that is a cyclic method. I workout a lot, and a focus of mine is increasing muscle mass and strength. While I wouldn’t be able to maintain and/or increase those two factors with the amount of intense workouts I have, I don’t follow a strict ketogenic “diet”. I go about 3 weeks of being in keto, and then for a couple of days, I eat whatever I want. That means, I can eat cake, cookies, pies, whatever I want, for those two days. I even get to enjoy birthday cake ;). Then after that, I go back to keto. It’s work WONDERS. It’s EXTREMELY maintainable, I’m still loosing weight and achieving my goals. I’ve also been getting better at listening to my body and understanding how certain foods affect my body—which is something we’re not taught. It’s really amazing how we have such intelligent systems that are ALWAYS communicating with us. We just have to understand how to listen to them. Truly. The problem with a lot of our society, is that we are stuck in the high-end of the cyclic, or the feasting mode, and we think it’s normal! Hence the many ailments and medical conditions that keep increasing. The point is, there are many variations of following a ketogenic way of eating, and it DOES require a life-style change. Just like any other recommendation from a dietician or educator.
Use fat as a lever.  We’ve been taught to fear fat, but don’t! Both keto and low carb are high fat diets. Fat is our source of energy as well as satiety. The key to understand, though, is that fat is a lever on a low carb or keto diet. Carbs and protein stay constant, and fat is the one you increase or decrease (push the lever up or down) to gain or lose weight, respectively. So if your goal is weight loss, eat enough fat to be satisfied, but there’s no need to “get your fats in” once you’re satisfied.
If you ate a hearty breakfast, you won’t be hungry until lunch. It’s best to brown-bag it because you can control the ingredients and portions, but if you eat out, look for grilled fish and salad as a menu option. Don’t eat at your desk while writing a report, but go to the park with a friend or join your co-workers in the lunch room. Bringing leftovers is also a good lunch option.
There are numerous benefits that come with being on keto: from weight loss and increased energy levels to therapeutic medical applications. Most anyone can safely benefit from eating a low-carb, high-fat diet. Below, you’ll find a short list of the benefits you can receive from a ketogenic diet. For a more comprehensive list, you can also read our in-depth article here >
The study, which was conducted by ETH Zurich in conjunction with University Children's Hospital Zurich, involved feeding mice two different types of diet (a ketogenic diet and a high fat diet, which causes the liver to become resistant to insulin) and then performing standard metabolic tests on them. Using specialized procedures the researchers were able to determine the effects of internal sugar production from the animal (mostly the liver), and sugar uptake into tissues (mostly the muscle), during insulin action.
Numerous studies show wide-ranging health benefits of the DASH diet. A consistent body of research has found that DASH lowers blood pressure in people with high blood pressure but also normal blood pressure even without lowering sodium intake. [4] It can produce greater reductions in blood pressure if sodium is restricted to less than 2300 mg a day, and even more so with a 1500 mg sodium restriction. [5, 6] When compared with a standard American diet (e.g., high intake of red and processed meats, beverages sweetened with sugar, sweets, refined grains) DASH has also been found to lower serum uric acid levels in people with hyperuricemia, which places them at risk for a painful inflammatory condition called gout. [7] Because people with gout often also have high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases, DASH is optimal in improving all of these conditions.
The low glycaemic index treatment (LGIT)[48] is an attempt to achieve the stable blood glucose levels seen in children on the classic ketogenic diet while using a much less restrictive regimen. The hypothesis is that stable blood glucose may be one of the mechanisms of action involved in the ketogenic diet,[9] which occurs because the absorption of the limited carbohydrates is slowed by the high fat content.[5] Although it is also a high-fat diet (with approximately 60% calories from fat),[5] the LGIT allows more carbohydrate than either the classic ketogenic diet or the modified Atkins diet, approximately 40–60 g per day.[3] However, the types of carbohydrates consumed are restricted to those that have a glycaemic index lower than 50. Like the modified Atkins diet, the LGIT is initiated and maintained at outpatient clinics and does not require precise weighing of food or intensive dietitian support. Both are offered at most centres that run ketogenic diet programmes, and in some centres they are often the primary dietary therapy for adolescents.[9]
Chronic stress may increase levels of stress hormones such as cortisol in your body. This can cause increased hunger and result in weight gain. If you’re looking to lose weight, you should review possible ways to decrease or better handle excessive stress in your life. Although this often demands substantial changes, even altering small things – such as posture – may immediately affect your stress hormone levels, and perhaps your weight.

I have T2D and IBS and my blood sugar readings were degrading. I was going to have to take a second daily dose of Metformin and the first one already played havoc with the IBS. I started a low-carb diet because my T1D husband had been inspired by a podcast by Sam Harris with scientist Gary Taubes, author Why We Get Fat, Good Calories, Bad Calories and the Case Against Sugar, and started dumping the majority of his carbs a month previous. He had cut his insulin use literally in half and lost 15 pounds. He was feeling better and visibly had more energy. I was resistant to the diet and even the idea of it. I have been on Atkins and Sugar Busters and while I did fine on Sugar Busters back in the day, Atkins was too fat-based and that was the opposite of how I had been raised to think about dieting. I knew that the Diabetic diet given to me by the Diabetic Educator had never been enough and I get carby binge cravings even though it offers plenty of carbs and calories. I also knew that it’s a cycle for me-eat more carbs, want more carbs, and never really feel satisfied. On top of that, when my stomach hurts I seek carbs, and it hurts quite often. I did Weight Watchers and the Diabetic diets because they let me “cheat” and have my carbs while dieting. To be fair, just the act of tracking my food improved my outcome on either. But I got mad at WW when they upped the points for carbs on their system and made it so I couldn’t eat cake for lunch if I wanted to. Not that I made a practice of it, but it was principle of the thing. Long story short, I was pretty doubtful that I would be very successful on Atkins or Keto. To humor my husband I began a low-carb diet that started out as Atkins 20 or Keto and has morphed to more of an Atkins 30-40 for my personal comfort while using Keto, Atkins, and Paleo recipes and ultimately cutting all gluten. That means 30-40 net carbs per day, rather than per meal and a lot of natural non-processed foods. The first week was quite terrible. But even through the Keto Flu I recognized that my IBS symptoms felt better. I started to suspect that if I felt that bad just from quitting carbs that maybe there was more to the idea of sugar addiction than I wanted to believe. I’m six weeks in now and I’m losing a steady pound a week plus my sugars have dropped radically. A pound a week might not sound like much but it’s more than I’ve lost in 10 years. I have PCOS and insulin resistance so I’ve had a fasting blood sugar that ranged from 109-113 since my early twenties. It was flying high around 160-170 before the diet, now I’m reading between 119-139. Even more than that, my IBS symptoms stabilized. I’ve been tracking all my food using the free Atkins meal tracker so I started trying to narrow the foods that caused flare ups. I’m lactose intolerant but I knew that and used lactose free products or Lactaid for the cream based dishes. I had my gall bladder removed and so have always put down my symptoms to an inability to process dairy and fats. Big surprise to find that a higher fat, higher dairy diet was making my symptoms disappear. Gluten is the only common factor so far. Celiac? Just a food sensitivity? I don’t know, but that will be the next investigation. It is an investigation that I would never have thought to start on the Diabetic diet. Like the author, I’m very fond of cake and carbs. Luckily there are low-carb, no-gluten recipes for muffins and cakes. They aren’t exactly the same and some are definitely better than others, but they are out there. Plus, there is nothing wrong with having true birthday cake once a year if that is really what you need and if you don’t have a reason to avoid it, like binge symptoms or IBS flare ups. My husband let himself have a piece of cheesecake the other day and felt physically awful for two day after, plus he had to use a lot of insulin to counter the spike. It’s a pretty good deterrent. Just a side note but I had other symptoms of inflammation as well. My ankles were swelling to golf ball size and painful, it was difficult for me to stand and walk comfortably when this happened. While they haven’t stopped completely, the discomfort has gone way down as has the swelling and frequency. What’s my point? I’m not a salesman for a particular diet. Everyone is different and some people might respond very well to Keto and/or Atkins while others may not need anything that extreme. I’m not knocking the Diabetic diet. My dad lost 150 pounds 38 years ago on a very low calorie/low carb Diabetic diet that gradually increased and he has kept the weight off all this time and kept his blood sugar steady with medication, but has not had to go to insulin even at age 84. Also, he was a smoker, a diabetic, had hemochromatosis and was over 300 pounds with an apple body shape. He has had some fall out from this-he didn’t stop the smoking until a heart attack 20 years ago and that didn’t help. But he has made it to 84 and when he walked into his doctor’s office 40 years ago I’m guessing the doctor wouldn’t have put any money on that survival rate. Unfortunately, it looks like I need the lower carb version and will continue to need it to manage my symptoms. I didn’t want it, that’s for sure. But Diabetics are locked in a death struggle with Diabetes and it won’t give up just because we are tired or want our sugar. So for me, it has to be Very Low Carb for Life. Others may find they need this too and discouraging them from trying it is not doing them any favors. Hopefully I will continue to find this sustainable. I just need to keep reminding myself that I am more fond of my feet and my vision than my birthday cake.

Bonnie J. Brehm, Randy J. Seeley, Stephen R. Daniels, and David A. D’Alessio, “A Randomized Trial Comparing a Very Low Carbohydrate Diet and a Calorie-Restricted Low Fat Diet on Body Weight and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Healthy Women,” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism: Vol 88, No 4; January 14, 2009. http://press.endocrine.org/doi/full/10.1210/jc.2002-021480.
Hi Maya. I LOVE your site!! Interesting, informative with fab recipes and ideas. Hubby and I have just started eating low carb and I have to say, we are not finding it too difficult and I already feel sooo much better!! I find the hardest part is choosing low carb veg, I feel as if we are not eating enough. Any suggestions on how to get more veggies into our diet?
“A lot of people think the foundation of a paleo diet is high-fat meat, but I suggest that it’s vegetables,” says Hultin. The concept is to eat only foods — including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, fruits, and vegetables — that would have been available to our Paleolithic ancestors. This means grains, dairy, legumes, added sugar, and salt are all no-no’s.
A small Feb. 20, 2017, study looked at the impact of a six-week ketogenic diet on physical fitness and body composition in 42 healthy adults. The study, published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism, found a mildly negative impact on physical performance in terms of endurance capacity, peak power and faster exhaustion. Overall, researchers concluded, “Our findings lead us to assume that a [ketogenic diet] does not impact physical fitness in a clinically relevant manner that would impair activities of daily living and aerobic training.” The “significant” weight loss of about 4.4 pounds, on average, did not affect muscle mass or function.
Carbohydrate Restriction. To help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels, doctors will typically prescribe a diet that mostly consists of low glycemic index foods. [23] However, according to the research, restricting overall carb intake to the point of following a keto diet may be the best way to improve the many biomarkers relevant to diabetes. [24] In fact, this dietary strategy has been proven to be helpful for the management of type 2 diabetes and type 1 diabetes.
The 2019 rankings include 41 of today’s most popular diets. New to the list this year is the Nordic Diet, a plant-heavy eating plan that incorporates Scandinavian traditions and ranked 9th best overall. Here’s how the rest of the rankings shook out this year, and what experts have to say about the good, the bad, and the trendy. (Here’s a hint: They’re still not crazy about keto.)
But beyond that, experts aren't convinced that the keto diet has any other scientifically-proven health benefits. In fact, it may have some distinct downsides. If you follow the keto diet incorrectly, for example (like by eating lots of saturated fats, versus healthy unsaturated fats), you're at risk of raising your cholesterol levels. “The best strategy to keep your heart healthy is to get as much fat as possible from unsaturated sources such as olive, avocado and canola oils, nuts, seeds, avocados, and olives," says Ansel.
If you’ve decided to move forward in trying the keto diet, you will want to stick to the parameters of the eating plan. Roughly 60 to 80 percent of your calories will come from fats. That means you’ll eat meats, fats, and oils, and a very limited amount of nonstarchy vegetables, she says. (This is different from a traditional low-carb diet, as even fewer carbs are allowed on the keto diet.)
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