What the diet advocate says: Controversial Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson is a fan, crediting the diet for curing his daughter’s various ailments, from juvenile arthritis to depression. But it was popularised by Shawn Baker, author of the aptly titled ‘The Carnivore Diet’ – in which he describes the diet as ‘a revolutionary, paradigm-breaking nutritional strategy that takes contemporary dietary theory and dumps it on its head’.
While the American Diabetes Association notes that many individuals with the disease or its precursor, prediabetes, employ carb counting to control their blood sugar on a regular basis, others have turned to ultra-low-carb diets as a way to manage their symptoms. These diets are highly restrictive and often limit followers to consuming no more than 20 grams (g) of carbs per day, usually with no added sugar, and, depending on the diet, increased protein and fat. Experts say they rarely have patients who ask about following a ketogenic diet or a modified paleo diet long term, but they can be useful for short-term weight loss if done properly.
But people who started following the keto diet noticed weight loss for a few reasons: When you eat carbs, your body retains fluid in order to store carbs for energy (you know, in case it needs it). But when you’re not having much in the carb department, you lose this water weight, says Warren. Also, it's easy to go overboard on carbohydrates—but if you're loading up on fat, it may help curb cravings since it keeps you satisfied.
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used primarily to treat difficult-to-control (refractory) epilepsy in children. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose, which is then transported around the body and is particularly important in fueling brain function. However, if there is little carbohydrate in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies pass into the brain and replace glucose as an energy source. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood, a state known as ketosis, leads to a reduction in the frequency of epileptic seizures. Almost half of children and young people with epilepsy who have tried some form of this diet saw the number of seizures drop by at least half, and the effect persists even after discontinuing the diet. There is some evidence that adults with epilepsy may benefit from the diet, and that a less strict regimen, such as a modified Atkins diet, is similarly effective. The most common adverse effect is constipation, affecting about 30% of patients—this was due to fluid restriction, which was once a feature of the diet, but this led to increased risk of kidney stones and is no longer considered beneficial.
Your body needs a certain amount of essential vitamins and minerals to function properly. What happens when you don’t get enough of them? What happens when you eat too little food, or when the food you eat isn’t sufficiently nutritious? Perhaps our bodies catch on and reply by increasing hunger levels. After all – if we eat more, we increase the chances of consuming enough of whatever nutrient we are lacking.
I read the book while sitting by the pool that Sunday afternoon and informed my girlfriend that we were going to be starting a new diet on Monday. “Oh really,” she asked. “What is so good about this diet?” I told her about the salads, fresh fruit and vegetable dishes, and her favorite part, how we would be replacing steak night with chicken and much more fish. “This is the perfect diet for summer!”
One meta-analysis18 incorporating data from 447 participants found that low-carbohydrate diets not only helped individuals lose weight, but also improved their cholesterol. And another meta-analysis,19 citing 17 clinical trials, found that low-carb diets protected against major cardiovascular risk factors. A third study20 including 119 participants found that low-carbohydrate dieters had lower cholesterol than low-fat dieters after one year.
You’ve enjoyed hearty eating during the 28 days of your meal plan, but you may need an occasional snack to get you through a long afternoon of work or school. Choose an ounce of nuts or dried apricots; a cup of low-fat cottage cheese sprinkled with black pepper and a dash of salt; or an ounce of herbed goat cheese with a handful of whole-grain crackers. If you need something sweet after dinner, have a piece of fruit or 1/2 cup of fresh-fruit sorbet.
I suffered through a year on 20 grams of carbs per day and it was the worst year of my life. Yep, I lost weight, but at my current weight of 130 lbs and eating 30 carbs per meal and remaining in a prediabetes state for 15 years, I am healthy AND happy now. None of us know the long term effects of most of what is offered to us…medications, diet drinks, processed foods, restrictive diets. The point I was trying to make was eating healthier, more natural foods will be better in the long run, I believe we all have the common sense to agree on that, even if we can’t agree on how many carbs we will eat!
The fact is, the stress that you will bring on yourself from constantly restricting every single thing you put in your mouth is far more detrimental to your health. Remember, moderation is the key! You can count your carbohydrates and follow a sensible low carbohydrate diet to control your blood glucose and your weight. Exercise will always be the key component to add that contributes to added weight loss.
^ Freeman JM, Vining EP, Pillas DJ, Pyzik PL, Casey JC, Kelly LM. The efficacy of the ketogenic diet—1998: a prospective evaluation of intervention in 150 children. Pediatrics. 1998 Dec;102(6):1358–63. doi:10.1542/peds.102.6.1358. PMID 9832569. https://web.archive.org/web/20040629224858/http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/press/1998/DECEMBER/981207.HTM Lay summary]—JHMI Office of Communications and Public Affairs. Updated 7 December 1998. Cited 6 March 2008.
Ketogenic diet (“keto” diet for short) is a catch-all term for any diet that pushes your body into the natural metabolic state of ketosis, which means burning fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. Though there’s no set formula for keto, generally, the diet works by cutting back on carbohydrates, to about 20 g of net carbs to start, and replacing those with mostly fat and a moderate amount of protein, according to the popular website Keto Connect. Net carbs are the total number of carbs minus the fiber and sugar alcohols, according to the Atkins website. (More on this diet later.)
Lectins are another way plants defend themselves. Food naturally wears and tears your gut lining as it passes through. The normal repair process is part of the digestion program. Lectins interfere with the repair by binding to the lining of your gut and blocking healing. This leaves microscopic holes in the gut, which allows undigested food particles to pass through, and then you find yourself constantly afflicted with low-level inflammation.
While it’s true that low-carb diets do raise the so-called bad LDL-cholesterol in some people, it’s important to note that LDL-C, when influenced by diet, has never been shown to have any effect on cardiovascular risk. Large clinical trials and observational studies show that one’s level of LDL-C and the lowering of LDL-C through diet is not reliably linked to cardiovascular outcomes.21, 22, 23
When you’re eating the foods that get you there (more on that in a minute), your body can enter a state of ketosis in one to three days, she adds. During the diet, the majority of calories you consume come from fat, with a little protein and very little carbohydrates. Ketosis also happens if you eat a very low-calorie diet — think doctor-supervised, only when medically recommended diets of 600 to 800 total calories.