Variations on the Johns Hopkins protocol are common. The initiation can be performed using outpatient clinics rather than requiring a stay in hospital. Often there is no initial fast (fasting increases the risk of acidosis and hypoglycaemia and weight loss). Rather than increasing meal sizes over the three-day initiation, some institutions maintain meal size but alter the ketogenic ratio from 2:1 to 4:1.[9]

Keep a food diary. In it, record your current daily eating habits. Write down what you eat for every meal of the day, and take note if you skip a meal. If you regularly skip breakfast, jot this down as well. Also write down any snacks you eat, even if you do this mindlessly - say, while watching TV. This diary will allow you to see where you stand right now in terms of eating practices and where you can start to make changes.[2]
Grains and beans are high in lectins, and it’s no surprise that the top allergen foods also have a high lectin content. The lectins in nightshade vegetables can be troublesome for some people, while others handle them just fine. Cooking and peeling removes some of the lectin content in vegetables (but not grains, they’re pretty heat stable), but some super-sensitive people have to avoid them completely.
The classic ketogenic diet is not a balanced diet and only contains tiny portions of fresh fruit and vegetables, fortified cereals and calcium-rich foods. In particular, the B vitamins, calcium and vitamin D must be artificially supplemented. This is achieved by taking two sugar-free supplements designed for the patient's age: a multivitamin with minerals and calcium with vitamin D.[3] A typical day of food for a child on a 4:1 ratio, 1,500 kcal (6,300 kJ) ketogenic diet comprises:[27]
Milk is limited. There are no long-term risks to eating Mediterranean, says Cohen. But you may be put off if you’re big on eating a lot of milk and rely on it to get all the calcium you need. You’ll get to eat cheese and yogurt, but in smaller amounts. "To get enough calcium in the diet without milk, one would need to eat enough yogurt and cheese, or seek nondairy calcium sources," says Cohen. If needed, drink skim milk. Otherwise, nondairy calcium sources include fortified almond milk, sardines, kale, and tofu made with calcium sulfate. (30)
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
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, diet has been consistently ranked by US News & World Report as a top diet for heart health and weight loss, and it’s no surprise why. Unlike fad diets that call for extreme calorie or food-group restrictions without scientific evidence that supports their efficacy, the DASH diet involves making manageable dietary changes that are flexible and rooted in proven nutritional advice.
How would you like to take all the great weight-loss results you’ve just read about—and double them? That’s what happens when you supplement your diet with a combination of vitamin D and calcium, according to a Nutrition Journal study. Just four weeks into the 12-week experiment, subjects who had taken these two nutrients—found in abundance in some yogurts—lost two times more fat than the other group! To get similar results at home, start your day with one of these Best Brand-Name Yogurts for Weight Loss.
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]
What the diet guru says: ‘Every phase of the New Atkins plan is based on proven scientific principles and is a completely safe, natural way to lose weight,’ say Akins Nutritionals Inc. ‘Phase one is about transforming your body into a fat burning machine and kickstarting your weight loss. By limiting the amount of carbs you eat to around 20g a day, your body will switch its main fuel source from carbs to fat.’
Taub-Dix suggests slowing down and listening to your stomach, not your brain. “Believe it or not, your stomach is about the size of two of your fists. When you eat some bread and butter, a glass of wine, an appetizer, a main dish, and dessert and cappuccino—your mouth and mind will feel satisfied, but your stomach might have wanted to go home halfway through your meal!”
Cons: Eating this way perpetuates the outdated idea that dietary fat is the enemy of body fat. And it isn’t necessarily better than other diets: One study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared high-protein, normal protein, high-fat, and low-fat diets, and found no significant difference in fat loss among the groups at six months or two years (though all did result in some fat loss). What’s more, while the low-fat group was supposed to keep its intake of the macro at 20%, actual intake was closer to 26-28%, suggesting that sticking to a strict low-fat diet is rather difficult and potentially unrealistic for most.
"The eating plan focuses on reducing sodium intake and eating more fruits and vegetables," says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area. "It also emphasizes eating whole foods — such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils — and limits foods high in saturated fat. That includes fatty meats, full-fat dairy, and tropical oils like palm kernel oil, palm oil, and coconut oil. It also limits sugar-sweetened beverages and foods."
That’s why the Bulletproof Diet uses cyclical nutritional ketosis, and why on days when I eat carbohydrates, I always have Brain Octane Oil so my cells have a steady supply of ketones. This builds metabolic flexibility: you can eat fat and carbs and your body will use them both, which is the goal. You want to be resilient and full of energy no matter what, and that means you want cells strong enough to burn whatever you give them.
Pros: Technically a subtype of low-carb diet, the keto diet is unique: By depriving your body of carbohydrates, you not only force your body to become fat-adapted, but also, if you keep protein low as well, elevate your levels of ketone bodies, which is basically a sign your body is running on fat. The keto diet puts you in a unique metabolic state called ketosis wherein your brain burns ketones instead of glucose—and, in doing so, supposedly leads to clearer thinking. Physically, eating such a high amount of fat significantly increases your body’s ability to burn body fat, according to the study analysis. Research also shows keto athletes have a higher VO2 max, and are able to lose fat without losing strength or power.
There are three instances where there’s research to back up a ketogenic diet, including to help control type 2 diabetes, as part of epilepsy treatment, or for weight loss, says Mattinson. “In terms of diabetes, there is some promising research showing that the ketogenic diet may improve glycemic control. It may cause a reduction in A1C — a key test for diabetes that measures a person’s average blood sugar control over two to three months — something that may help you reduce medication use,” she says.
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