Why is the keto diet good for you? A keto diet is one that prioritizes fats and proteins over carbohydrates. It can help reduce body weight, acne, and the risk of cancer. Find out about the mechanisms through which it achieves these benefits and the research that supports it. This MNT Knowledge Center article also discusses the risks of the diet. Read now


Prior to the advent of exogenous insulin for the treatment of diabetes mellitus in the 1920's, the mainstay of therapy was dietary modification. Diet recommendations in that era were aimed at controlling glycemia (actually, glycosuria) and were dramatically different from current low-fat, high-carbohydrate dietary recommendations for patients with diabetes [1,2]. For example, the Dr. Elliot Joslin Diabetic Diet in 1923 consisted of "meats, poultry, game, fish, clear soups, gelatin, eggs, butter, olive oil, coffee, tea" and contained approximately 5% of energy from carbohydrates, 20% from protein, and 75% from fat [3]. A similar diet was advocated by Dr. Frederick Allen of the same era [4].


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.)

^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Kossoff EH, Zupec-Kania BA, Amark PE, Ballaban-Gil KR, Bergqvist AG, Blackford R, et al. Optimal clinical management of children receiving the ketogenic diet: recommendations of the International Ketogenic Diet Study Group. Epilepsia. 2009 Feb;50(2):304–17. doi:10.1111/j.1528-1167.2008.01765.x. PMID 18823325
Body Fat Reduction. According to the current research literature, both visceral and subcutaneous fat play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. [22] To keep our fat cells from fighting against us, we must adopt a healthier lifestyle that prevents us from being in a calorie surplus and gaining weight. The keto diet is one lifestyle change that has been proven time and time again to help us lose fat and improve metabolic health.  [24]
“This is a great way of eating that I highly recommend to many clients, and I even model in my own life,” says Elizabeth Shaw, RDN, who is in private practice in San Diego and is the co-author of Fertility Foods Cookbook. “Since the premise of the diet is designed to help people who have high blood pressure, low-sodium foods are recommended. But considering that most Americans exceed their daily sodium levels anyway, it’s not surprising that dietitians recommend this style of eating for treating many different conditions, such as heart disease and obesity.”
What the expert says: ‘This is something that is used for athletes as part of their training. While it can lead to weight loss, carbohydrates are an energy source for the body, and restricting them can lead to headaches, fatigue and difficulty concentrating. You would be better to find the level of carbohydrates your body needs by eating normal portion sizes and a balance of all food groups.’
Yes!! Edward!! I am pre-diabetic myself and have IBS which many doctors have no explanation for many of my questions because IBS triggers everyone differently and with different foods. I have been keto for 6 weeks and have lost 14lbs and have not noticed any symptoms of IBS even when I eat trigger foods (onion/garlic) I am no means 100% keto yet because I have had slip ups here and there but I jump right back in. I can’t imagine not following this way of life moving forward. I immediately feel the difference if I indulge in anything more then I should. Im learning to listen to my body and now see carbs/sugar is what has been causing madness on my body. Keto-on Edward!
When in the hospital, glucose levels are checked several times daily and the patient is monitored for signs of symptomatic ketosis (which can be treated with a small quantity of orange juice). Lack of energy and lethargy are common but disappear within two weeks.[17] The parents attend classes over the first three full days, which cover nutrition, managing the diet, preparing meals, avoiding sugar and handling illness.[18] The level of parental education and commitment required is higher than with medication.[43]
The DASH Diet, which stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension, is promoted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to do exactly that: stop (or prevent) hypertension, aka high blood pressure. It emphasizes the foods you've always been told to eat (fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy), which are high in blood pressure-deflating nutrients like potassium, calcium, protein and fiber. DASH also discourages foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy foods and tropical oils, as well as sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets. Following DASH also means capping sodium at 2,300 milligrams a day, which followers will eventually lower to about 1,500 milligrams. DASH Diet is balanced and can be followed long term, which is a key reason nutrition experts rank it as U.S. News’ Best Overall Diet, tied with the Mediterranean Diet.

A: The amount of weight you lose is entirely dependent on you. Obviously adding exercise to your regimen will speed up your weight loss. Cutting out things that are common “stall” causes is also a good thing. Artificial sweeteners, dairy, wheat products and by-products (wheat gluten, wheat flours, and anything with an identifiable wheat product in it).
Hi Gigi, Low carb and keto is about the balance of macronutrients eaten (fat, protein and carbs), not specifically meat or lack thereof. Most people on keto do eat meat, though some people do vegetarian keto. Fat is actually necessary for many body processes. There is no issue for the kidneys with a high fat diet, but if you eat too much protein that isn’t great for the kidneys. It’s a common misconception that keto is high protein (it isn’t). Keto is great for diabetics as it naturally helps stabilize insulin. All of this being said, please know I’m not a doctor and you should consult your doctor on any medical questions or before starting any diet. If you have more questions that aren’t medical questions, I recommend our low carb & keto support group here.

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If you’re on the ketogenic diet, be sure to test blood sugar levels throughout the day to make sure they are within their target range. Also, consider testing ketone levels to make sure you’re not at risk for DKA. The American Diabetes Association recommends testing for ketones if your blood sugar is higher than 240 mg/dL. You can test at home with urine strips.
Don’t think that “Mediterranean diet” means gorging on pasta and pizza, though. People in Mediterranean countries traditionally eat small portions of grains – for example, a side dish of 1/2 to 1 cup of pasta, instead of the full platter of pasta Americans are used to. Fill the rest of your plate with vegetables to fill you up without many calories.

Children who discontinue the diet after achieving seizure freedom have about a 20% risk of seizures returning. The length of time until recurrence is highly variable but averages two years. This risk of recurrence compares with 10% for resective surgery (where part of the brain is removed) and 30–50% for anticonvulsant therapy. Of those that have a recurrence, just over half can regain freedom from seizures either with anticonvulsants or by returning to the ketogenic diet. Recurrence is more likely if, despite seizure freedom, an electroencephalogram (EEG) shows epileptiform spikes, which indicate epileptic activity in the brain but are below the level that will cause a seizure. Recurrence is also likely if an MRI scan shows focal abnormalities (for example, as in children with tuberous sclerosis). Such children may remain on the diet longer than average, and it has been suggested that children with tuberous sclerosis who achieve seizure freedom could remain on the ketogenic diet indefinitely.[45]

With fats being my main source of calories, my body and energy levels have never been better. When I educated myself on it and understood the science behind it, it was clear to see why my joints started feeling better, and ailments started to go away. I now have more “oil” lubricating my cells so they’re more receptive/flexible/malleable to the nutrients in my foods. People can loose weight very fast, but honestly the first 10lbs or so is a lot of water weight so that’s really nothing to write home about.
With any healthy diet in moderation, weight loss is an achievable goal, as long as you reduce caloric intake, eat a balanced selection of nutritious foods, and get ample exercise. The Mediterranean diet is comprised of a diverse set of delicious ingredients, making it an easy diet to stick to. As it's full of fiber and good fats, the Mediterranean diet supports satiety, which can help you reduce caloric intake, supporting weight loss and management.
While studies have demonstrated the weight-loss benefits of the diet, Grandl says, several recent studies that apply more rigorous research techniques to study insulin resistance have suggested detrimental effects. The new study, published in August 2018 in the Journal of Physiology, aimed to better understand the basic biological processes that contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes and the early effects of the ketogenic diet. What people eat impacts the release of glucose, or sugar, in the bloodstream. High glucose levels can, over time, cause insulin resistance. Insulin is the substance released in the body to help manage and regulate sugar in the blood at healthy levels.
This is a wealth of information. My husband and I are starting the keto diet tomorrow and I knew nothing about it. When I sat down to look up information about it, I found this. Thank you! This is everything I need to know in one place. We are not as healthy as we’d like to be and I am optimistic this will help us obtain our goals, along with an exercise plan.
A study with an intent-to-treat prospective design was published in 1998 by a team from the Johns Hopkins Hospital[19] and followed-up by a report published in 2001.[20] As with most studies of the ketogenic diet, there was no control group (patients who did not receive the treatment). The study enrolled 150 children. After three months, 83% of them were still on the diet, 26% had experienced a good reduction in seizures, 31% had had an excellent reduction and 3% were seizure-free.[Note 7] At twelve months, 55% were still on the diet, 23% had a good response, 20% had an excellent response and 7% were seizure-free. Those who had discontinued the diet by this stage did so because it was ineffective, too restrictive or due to illness, and most of those who remained were benefiting from it. The percentage of those still on the diet at two, three and four years was 39%, 20% and 12% respectively. During this period the most common reason for discontinuing the diet was because the children had become seizure-free or significantly better. At four years, 16% of the original 150 children had a good reduction in seizure frequency, 14% had an excellent reduction and 13% were seizure-free, though these figures include many who were no longer on the diet. Those remaining on the diet after this duration were typically not seizure-free but had had an excellent response.[20][21]

What the doctors never tell you is that you could also just eat completely different and take none of this crap. So that’s what I did. I stopped all of them all at once. Sure I don’t recommend that, but this damn disease and my disgusting visceral fat filled stomach ruined every aspect of my life-professional, relationships, sexual, mental. I am now 41 living back at home having to start from the bottom. I don’t want what the book recommends. I want every disgusting piece of fat off this body so I can excel again. If staying in ketosis every moment for the rest of my life will get me there then that’s what I’m going to do.
The ketogenic diet tries to bring carbohydrates down to less than 5 percent of a person’s daily caloric intake – which means eliminating most grains, fruit, starchy vegetables, legumes and sweets. Instead, it replaces those calories with fat. That fat is turned into ketone bodies, which are an alternative energy source: besides glucose derived from carbohydrates, ketones from fat are the only fuel the brain can use.
What a great post. I thought i would add about the selection of food you eat on keto and that everyone is different. Some food gives you energy and some doesnt, this varies person to person. I started and quit keto 3 times before i managed to find my balance. The first few times it made be poorly, from the shock of diet change. However, you can wean yourself into the diet which i did the last time when i had the most success.

We’ve now arrived at tip number 16. If you’re still having trouble losing weight, despite following the 15 pieces of advice listed above, it might be a good idea to bring out the heavy artillery: optimal ketosis. Many people stalling at weight plateaus while on a low-carb diet have found optimal ketosis helpful. It’s what can melt the fat off once again.


I am sorry you had this experience. I feel that this educator was not giving you good advice. All my women who want to lose weight are recommended to consume 30 grams of good carbohydrates at each meal, and 15 at each snack. If you were not trying to lose weight, I would have recommended 45. I find this is all it usually takes to begin to lose some weight as you start to get active. Patients set their own goals with motivational help from their Certified Diabetes Educator. Our intent is never to insult, and you should not have gone through that. It sounds that you have now found the right path. There are many CDEs who could help you, so see what tools and motivation others may offer. I wouldn’t let one bad apple spoil the whole bunch. Many CDEs are also diabetic.
WH verdict: It’s still a diet by any other name, but props to Weight Watchers for acknowledging that there’s more to being healthy than ‘weight’. The new platform really does consider all aspects of wellness. And with plans to partner with Alexa and Google Assistant to help track your progress, WW could be to 2019 what Weight Watchers was to the early noughties.
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.
One of the most important ingredients is abundant physical activity. The base of the Mediterranean diet is an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. Next, add in fish and seafood at least twice a week, followed by some poultry, eggs, and dairy, especially fermented dairy like yogurt and cheese. The very top of the pyramid is reserved for a small amount of red meat and sugary treats (in small portions and for special occasions).

Similar to Greek yogurt, research has shown eating eggs for breakfast can make you feel more full and help you eat fewer calories throughout the day, meaning they’re quite the secret weapon for weight loss. Nutritionally speaking, one large hard-boiled egg (about 50 grams) contains less than one gram of carbs and remains an excellent source of protein. Eggs are also loaded with amino acids, antioxidants, and healthy fats.
The problem is: it flies in the face of the way we have been taught. Our society (as an American), and our medical community, have preached for years that FAT is bad, and you should limit it. However, recent FACTS beg to differ. So many people rail against the keto diet because they just feel that it can’t be good…after all, you eat so much fat on it, it can’t be good for you! Facts are facts…they don’t care about your feelings. Fat is not the enemy. Sugar is.

If Doctor’s recommend Keto to their patients that less drugs and no kick back from pharmaceutical companies, they need to keep people medicated because pharmaceuticals run this entire country. I followed a strict diabetic diet when my husband was diagnosed with Type 2 NEVER could keep his blood sugars under control still would be 220 after a meal.. Keto has brought that down to 95-98 AFTER a meal.


Several comprehensive studies and meta-analyses have demonstrated that after a few months or even a year of a low carb diet versus a moderate/high carb diet, there are no significant differences in the amount of weight lost (2,3,4,5).  I will say, however, most of these diets are NOT keto and are simply lower carb (i.e. 20%).  Also, long-term effects (beyond 1 year) are not often studied due to budgetary constraints, so interpret results as you wish.
WH Verdict: Not all lectins are created equal and research into their impact on the body is ongoing. In fact, to date, there are no human studies linking the dietary lectins with a harmful immune response in healthy people. A lectin-free diet is also incredibly restrictive, with the list of foods you can’t eat reading like a typical shopping list for your average nutrition-conscious foodie, making it unsustainable and putting you at risk of nutritional deficiencies.

Finding keto-friendly foods can be difficult at social gatherings — so consider bringing your own snacks. “If I know the restaurant where I’m meeting my family or friends, I usually look through the menu in advance and see if there’s something I can eat,” says Lele. “Salads are generally safe, with ranch or another low-carb dressing and a non-marinated protein. There are a lot of hidden carbs in restaurant food!”
The ketogenic diet — or the “keto” diet for short — has been around for decades. Most popularly, doctors have assigned the keto diet to help control seizures in people with epilepsy, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. But in recent years, people have begun turning to the diet in hopes of losing weight and, in some cases, better managing type 2 diabetes. Studies show that metabolic processes are altered when people consume a diet high in fat, such as meat, and low in carbohydrates, such as bread and pasta. The body shifts into a natural metabolic state called ketosis, during which it burns fat rather than carbs for energy, according to a February 2014 review published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Although carb intake varies depending on which version of keto is at hand, people following the plan typically limit the intake of carbohydrates to less than 5 percent of their daily calories, notes the Chicago Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
While the ketogenic diet is straightforward, it does require careful monitoring. You should begin by having your doctor check your blood glucose and ketone levels. Once you’ve been on the diet for some time and your body has adjusted to using fat for fuel, it’s still a good idea to see your doctor once a month for testing and to determine if your medications need any adjustments. And, even though you will most likely see your symptoms improve on this diet, be sure to regularly monitor your blood glucose at home, ideally before and after meals.
Make things yourself. While it’s extremely convenient to buy most things pre-made or pre-cooked, it always adds to the price per pound on items. Try prepping veggies ahead of time instead of buying pre-cut ones. Try making your stew meat from a chuck roast. Or, simply try to make your mayo and salad dressings at home. The simplest of things can work to cut down on your overall grocery shopping.
“We have basically no evidence that this diet is consistent with human health over time,” says Dr. Katz. (Its heavy emphasis on animal protein isn’t ecologically sustainable, either, he adds.) “All of the evidence we have points toward a plant-predominant diet with an emphasis on vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and seeds—all of the very things that the ketogenic diet avoids.”
1. Lasting weight loss. How can a diet that features nuts, oils, pasta, bread, and wine help you lose weight? Because it makes you feel full and therefore holds hunger at bay. The healthy fats and protein in the Mediterranean diet keep your glucose (blood sugar) level on an even keel, which means you'll be less apt to hunt down chips, cookies, or fast food to get through the day.
The researchers agree that the diet itself isn’t inherently dangerous. But, cautions Weiss, “If you have any medical condition, if you take any medicine at all – there are lots of things that change how medicines work in our bodies, and nutrition is definitely one of them. If you’re making a real change in your nutrition, you really should talk to your doctor.”

Long-term use of the ketogenic diet in children increases the risk of slowed or stunted growth, bone fractures and kidney stones.[3] The diet reduces levels of insulin-like growth factor 1, which is important for childhood growth. Like many anticonvulsant drugs, the ketogenic diet has an adverse effect on bone health. Many factors may be involved such as acidosis and suppressed growth hormone.[37] About 1 in 20 children on the ketogenic diet will develop kidney stones (compared with one in several thousand for the general population). A class of anticonvulsants known as carbonic anhydrase inhibitors (topiramate, zonisamide) are known to increase the risk of kidney stones, but the combination of these anticonvulsants and the ketogenic diet does not appear to elevate the risk above that of the diet alone.[38] The stones are treatable and do not justify discontinuation of the diet.[38] Johns Hopkins Hospital now gives oral potassium citrate supplements to all ketogenic diet patients, resulting in a sevenfold decrease in the incidence of kidney stones.[39] However, this empiric usage has not been tested in a prospective controlled trial.[9] Kidney stone formation (nephrolithiasis) is associated with the diet for four reasons:[38]
Perhaps the biggest thing that holds people back from following DASH is approaching it with an “all-or-nothing” attitude. However, DASH does not fall under the common “diet” approach of following an eating plan for a few weeks and then returning to your old way of eating. After all, no one’s diet is perfect. Like the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH diet is best viewed as a healthy way of living and eating. Making small, gradual changes in your food choices—and food quality—can help you form healthier habits for life.
It is important to understand that the statement that carbohydrates are “nonessential” is not only factually inaccurate, it results in adopting a low-carbohydrate diet or ketogenic diet that increases your risk for a wide variety of chronic health conditions that may ultimately shorten lifespan, decrease your quality of life, and accelerate your risk for chronic disease.

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is sometimes prescribed by doctors to help treat high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the amount of pressure that blood places against the walls of arteries. It will normally vary throughout the day but if it remains too high, this is called high blood pressure or hypertension. Untreated high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, and blindness. [1]


A small, randomized crossover study published in the Journal of Diabetes Sciences and Technology found that after three months, people who followed a modified, low-carb paleo diet saw greater reductions in their A1C, their triglycerides, their diastolic blood pressure, and their weight than those who followed a traditional diabetes diet. (The approach also increased their levels of LDL, or "good” cholesterol.) The diabetes diet in the study involved consuming no more than 6 g of salt per day, reducing saturated fat and total fat intake, and upping intake of veggies, fiber, whole grains, fruits, and veggies. Compared with the diabetes diet, the paleo diet involved eating less dairy, beans, potatoes, and cereals, and more veggies, fruit, meat, and eggs.
The Mediterranean diet is rooted in an abundance of fresh plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes, with olive oil being the primary source of monounsaturated fat. Fish and seafood follow as a primary source of protein with moderate amounts of poultry, dairy, and eggs to follow. Red meat and sugary treats should be consumed relatively rarely and in moderate portions.

In nature, historically, there were very few ways to store carbs – which were available only for a short time seasonally. The solution to this is that when eating the available fruit in the autumn the sugars switch off the fat burning system and then use insulin to store the sugars as body fat. Carbs signal our body to go into fat storage mode. When the carbs run out then slowly the fat burning more resumes – first of all feeding ketones to the brain and other vital organs and then eventually to the muscles.
Those issues can be part of what's known as the “keto flu,” Warren says. Other side effects of the keto diet, all of which are tied to carb withdrawal, can include lightheadedness, nausea, mental fog, cramps, and headaches, in addition to tiredness. Luckily, the keto flu doesn't usually last more than a week—which is coincidentally about when people start to see the number on the scale go down, says Warren.
A study in the journal Metabolism found that eating half a grapefruit before meals may help reduce visceral fat and lower cholesterol levels. Participants in the 6-week study who ate a Rio Red grapefruit fifteen minutes before each meal saw their waists shrink by up to an inch, and LDL levels drop by 18 points. Though researchers don’t exactly know what makes grapefruit so good at burning fat, they attribute the effects to a combination of phytochemicals and vitamin C found in the tart treat.
With any healthy diet in moderation, weight loss is an achievable goal, as long as you reduce caloric intake, eat a balanced selection of nutritious foods, and get ample exercise. The Mediterranean diet is comprised of a diverse set of delicious ingredients, making it an easy diet to stick to. As it's full of fiber and good fats, the Mediterranean diet supports satiety, which can help you reduce caloric intake, supporting weight loss and management.
Dairy products such as cream and cheeses. They work well in cooking as they satisfy. The problem is if you’re munching a lot of cheese in front of the TV in the evening… without being hungry. Be careful with that. Or lots of cream with dessert, when you’re actually already full and just keep eating because it tastes good. Or another common culprit: loads of heavy cream in the coffee, many times per day.
During the 14 days of Phase 1, you will learn how to satisfy your hunger and, as a result, feel fuller longer. To regulate your blood sugar and help curb your cravings, avoid fruit and whole grains, which have a lot of natural sugar, and alcohol, which also contain sugars. That said, you can enjoy 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy per day. This would include 1 cup of skim milk or low-fat yogurt. Avoid regular or even fat-free cheese because they are often high in sodium.
We’ve now arrived at tip number 16. If you’re still having trouble losing weight, despite following the 15 pieces of advice listed above, it might be a good idea to bring out the heavy artillery: optimal ketosis. Many people stalling at weight plateaus while on a low-carb diet have found optimal ketosis helpful. It’s what can melt the fat off once again.
How many times have you heard a doctor specifically name a diet that fights heart disease and helps you lose weight? By name? We’re always told to eat healthy, maybe you are given a list of foods to add or avoid but from that point it’s on you to bring the meal plan together. Not with the Mediterranean diet. “This diet is for anyone but specifically for those with high blood pressure,” says Susan. “This is a low sodium, low fat, low cholesterol diet. It’s also ideal for those that are at risk for developing cardiovascular disease. It’s also great for weight loss or management, so if you are looking to shed a few pounds this is a great diet to embrace.”

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.)
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