Ketogenic diet: The incredible benefits and what to watch out for

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Ketosis and ketogenic diet have been extensively studied and have been shown to have significant benefits for health and weight loss.

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate, and moderate-protein diet. This puts your body in a state of ketosis. When your diet lacks carbohydrates but is high in fat, your liver creates ketones. These are substances produced when the body breaks down fat for energy. The process of ketosis metabolizes fat to provide energy, which means you burn fat rather than carbohydrates to get energy. As a result, you may lose pounds from fat burning as your body is in fat-burning mode.

RELATED: What Vegans and Vegetarians need to know about Protein

Health Benefits of Ketogenic Diet

  • Weight loss: Several studies claim that the ketogenic diet leads to more weight loss than low-fat diets. A 2013 meta-analysis of clinical trials in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that people who applied the ketogenic diet lost more weight than those who followed a diet low in fat in the long run. However, the available research on the ketogenic diet for weight loss is still limited. Most of the studies so far had a small number of participants, were short-term (12 weeks or less) and did not include control groups.
  • Feeling hungry: One of the positive elements of the ketogenic diet is the saturation it causes. Reduced hunger and decreased appetite for extra food, due to ketosis, can contribute to weight loss.
  • Blood lipids: Some research suggests that the ketogenic diet helps to increase “good” HDL cholesterol and reduce “bad” LDL. Also, due to low carbohydrates, studies show that blood triglyceride levels decrease significantly. However, the available data are conflicting as other studies show that the ketogenic diet leads to an increase in LDL cholesterol.
  • Sugar & insulin regulation: There is growing interest in the use of low-carb diets, including the ketogenic diet, for type 2 diabetes. Some scientific data suggest that the ketogenic diet may act beneficially on blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.
  • Cognitive function: For several decades the ketogenic diet has been used as a therapeutic method in children with epilepsy, with remarkable results. Its potential beneficial effect is now being considered in people with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (SPO): SPO is an endocrine disorder that appears to be negatively affected by high-carbohydrate diets. Evidence shows that the ketogenic diet contributes to weight loss, hormonal balance, and improves insulin levels in women with SPO.
  • Acne: There is evidence of scientific studies that argue that adopting a ketogenic diet reduces the progression of acne.
  • Cancer: It is considered that low glucose availability and low insulin levels prevent anabolic processes and the growth of cancer cells.

Ketogenic Diet: What foods Are Allowed


  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Asparagus
  • bok choy
  • Celery
  • Eggplant
  • Herbs
  • Mushrooms
  • Radishes
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Artichokes
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Fennel
  • green beans
  • Peas

Meat, poultry and fish

  • Eggs
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Calf
  • Bacon
  • Hot Dogs
  • Liver, etc.)
  • Sausages
  • oily fish
  • white fish
  • Crabs
  • Lobsters
  • Mussels
  • Octopus
  • Oysters
  • Scallops
  • Shrimp
  • Squid
  • corn-beef
  • Ham
  • Pancetta
  • pastourmas
  • Prosciutto
  • Turkey
  • Chorizo
  • Pepperoni
  • Salami
  • mortadella


  • blue cheeses
  • Mozzarella
  • Brie
  • Camembert
  • Goat
  • Gouda
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Parmesan
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Slice
  • creamy cheeses
  • chicken cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Mascarpone
  • Ricotta

The Best Foods to Eat on a Ketogenic Diet

In this video, Dr David Jockers discusses some of the best foods to eat on a ketogenic diet.

Ketogenic diet: What to watch out

Ketosis is generally considered to be safe for most people. However, it can lead to some side effects, especially at first.

Ketosis is a natural part of metabolism. It happens either when your carbohydrate intake is very low (as in a diet), or when you haven’t eaten for a long time.

Both of these conditions lead to reduced levels of insulin in the blood, which “obliges” the body to release fat from your fat cells to find the energy it lacks from the diet. When this happens, the liver fills with fat, which turns much of it into ketones.

During ketosis, many parts of your body burn ketones for energy instead of carbohydrates. This includes a large part of the brain.

However, this is not the case immediately. The body and brain need time to “adapt” to the new state of pumping energy through fat and keto burning, instead of carbohydrates.

Ketogenic diet: Possible side effects

During this adjustment phase, you may experience some temporary side effects, such as:

Ketosis Flu

When ketosis first starts in the body, you may experience a number of negative symptoms. These are often described as “low-carb flu”, or “ketosis flu”, because they resemble the symptoms of the flu.

These may include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Increased hunger
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Nausea
  • Reduced physical performance

These problems may discourage people from continuing to follow the diet, even before they start seeing its benefits in the body and in their health. However, the “low-carb flu” usually passes within a few days.

Unpleasant breathing

One of the most common undesirable side effects in ketosis is unpleasant breathing. It is caused by a type of ketone called acetone, which is a byproduct of fat metabolism.

Acetone levels in the blood are elevated during ketosis. As a result, your body attempts to get rid of some of them through exhalation.

Occasionally, sweat and urine may also start to smell strange. Acetone has a characteristic smell, it is the chemical that gives the well-known “acetone” (polish remover), its strong odor.

As a rule, unpleasant breathing in ketosis subsides within a few weeks.

Muscle cramps in the legs

During ketosis, some people may experience leg cramps. These are usually associated with dehydration and loss of minerals because ketosis causes a decrease in the body’s water weight.

Glycogen, the form of glucose storage in the muscles and liver, binds water. This is eliminated from the body when carbohydrate intake decreases and is one of the main reasons why you lose weight quickly in the first week of a diet that is very low in carbohydrates.

Problems in digestion

Any dietary change can sometimes lead to digestive problems. This also applies to the ketogenic diet with constipation being the most common side effect at first.

The most likely explanation for this is that you do not consume enough fiber and do not drink enough fluids.

Some people may also have diarrhea, but this is less common.

If you have made drastic changes to your diet in order to put your body in a ketosis process, it is more likely that you will have similar digestive symptoms at first. However, these digestion problems usually pass within a few weeks.

Increased heart rate

Some people also experience increased heart rate as a side effect of ketosis. This can occur during the first few weeks on the ketogenic diet.

Dehydration is a common cause, as well as low salt intake and increased coffee consumption.

If the problem doesn’t stop, you may need to increase your carbohydrate intake.

Other side effects of a ketogenic diet

  • Ketoacidosis: There is little chance of developing ketoacidosis (a serious condition that occurs in uncontrolled diabetes) in breastfeeding women. This is most likely caused by a diet very low in carbohydrates. However, it is extremely rare.
  • Kidney stones: Although unusual, some children with epilepsy develop kidney stones on a ketogenic diet.
  • Increased cholesterol levels: In some people total and “bad” (LDL) cholesterol increases.

The 10 Biggest Ketogenic Diet Mistakes

In this video, Dr. Jockers explains the top 10 biggest ketogenic diet mistakes people make.

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