Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, is a doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using food as medicine. He’s the author of the books “Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be the Root Cause of Your Health Problems,” “Essential Oils: Ancient Medicine” and the upcoming “Keto Diet: Your 30-Day Plan to Lose Weight, Balance Hormones, Boost Brain Health, and Reverse Disease” (February 2019, published by Little, Brown Spark). He’s a co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, a health company where the mission is to restore health, strength and vitality by providing history’s healthiest whole food nutrients to the modern world.
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 >
But if your friends have gone #keto and you're curious about what that exactly entails, the basic premise is fairly simple. The diet focuses on eating mostly fat, limited amounts of protein, and almost no carbs at all. The "do" list includes: meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables that grow above ground, nuts and seeds, fats and oils, and some dairy products. In terms of drinks, most keto diet guides advise people to stick to water and skip diet soda, even though it's artificially sweetened. (No Diet Coke — sorry!)

In some ways, it’s similar to the Atkins diet, which similarly boosts the body’s fat-burning abilities through eating only low-carb foods, along with getting rid of foods high in carbs and sugar. Removing glucose from carbohydrate foods will cause the body to burn fat for energy instead. The major differences between the classic keto and the Atkins diet is the former emphasizes healthier keto fats, less overall protein and no processed meat (such as bacon) while having more research to back up its efficacy.

While macros will differ a little from person to person, the general rule of thumb for keto is to keep carbohydrates under 5% of your daily caloric intake. As long as you avoid the foods mentioned above, you should be fine. Google “TDEE calculator” if you need some additional guidance on how many calories to eat. I’ve had success following this way of eating as it allows me to eat foods that taste great. There are tons of resources online as well if you need additional guidance. A quick google search should turn up a ton of resources. Hope this helps!

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.
Mainly for health reasons, avoid soy products apart from a few non-GMO fermented products which are known for their health benefits. Also avoid wheat gluten which may be used in low-carb foods. When you give up bread, you shouldn't eat any part of it. Beware of BPA-lined cans. If possible, use naturally BPA-free packaging like glass jars or make your own ingredients such as ghee, ketchup, coconut milk or mayonnaise. BPA has been linked to many negative health effects such as impaired thyroid function and cancer. Other additives to avoid: carrageenan (e.g. almond milk products), MSG (e.g. in some whey protein products) and sulfites (e.g. in dried fruits, gelatin).
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.
Vegan ketogenic diet or vegetarian diet: Yes, both are possible. Instead of animal products, plenty of low-carb, nutrient-dense vegan and/or vegetarian foods are included. Nuts, seeds, low-carb fruits and veggies, leafy greens, healthy fats and fermented foods are all excellent choices on a plant-based keto diet. There’s also a similar plan called ketotarian, which combines keto with vegetarian, vegan and/or pescatarian diets for supposedly greater health benefits.
A keto diet has shown to improve triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels most associated with arterial buildup. More specifically low-carb, high-fat diets show a dramatic increase in HDL and decrease in LDL particle concentration compared to low-fat diets.3A study in the long-term effects of a ketogenic diet shows a significant reduction in cholesterol levels, body weight, and blood glucose. Read more on keto and cholesterol >
Maya, I think what you are doing is brilliant. I am a 70-year old professional woman, educator and coach. I’ve grown our family vegetables every summer since I can remember. However, health conscious 20 or 30 years ago is a far different scenario today. Until I started having digestive issues about 5 years ago, I figured I was in the “above average” category of healthy eating.
Some keto cookies or a keto brownie can certainly be delicious, but if you’re looking for a dessert that’s a little more interesting, then you have to try this chocolate chia pudding! I love chia seeds for a number of reasons. They’re high in antioxidants, vitamins such as calcium, potassium and magnesium, Omega-3 ALA, dietary fiber and even protein. So, while this dish feels like a dessert, you’re receiving plenty of necessary nutrients. Enjoy guilty-free!
If you’re new or just still learning the ropes for the keto diet food list, your biggest questions probably revolve around figuring out just what high-fat low-carb foods you can eat on such a low-carb, ketogenic diet. Overall, remember that the bulk of calories on the keto diet are from foods that are high in natural fats along with a moderate amount of foods with protein. Those that are severely restricted are all foods that provide lots of carbs, even kinds that are normally thought of as “healthy,” like whole grains, for example.
However, it is important to know that these aren’t the only health-promoting keto foods. There are plenty of other keto-friendly ingredients that can take your keto diet results to the next level. In my diet, for example, I’ve been experimenting a lot more with shirataki noodles and avocado lately. They have been providing a much-needed change of pace for my palate and my health.
You’re very welcome, Judy! I’m glad it’s helpful. If you are keto (as opposed to low carb), unfortunately peaches would not allow you to stay in ketosis. You can check my keto food list to help determine what is keto friendly. Of course, there are worse things than fresh fruit 🙂 but in the end our bodies still see the sugar. That being said, it doesn’t mean you sabotaged the whole day. Just pick up again – you got this!! (And for next time, try some fresh berries in moderation when you’re craving fruit.)
Thanks for the great article and helpful information about the Ketogenic diet .Since the last 4 years I’m on a keto diet I’m very happy,feeling a lot more healthy and I have lost a lot of weight.During that time I did quite few mistakes mainly due to misinformation so I highly recommend everyone who is really interested in keto diet to read this first
One assumption about the ketogenic diet is that you're strictly forbidden to eat any sources of sugar, including fruits. While keto meal plans limit fruit to an extent, there are plenty of low-sugar, and thus low-carb, fruits worth including to ensure a balanced diet. Berries, specifically, have the highest levels of antioxidants of all fruits and can even help stabilize blood sugar levels due to their high fiber content. Listed in order of lowest to highest carb content per 100 grams (typically, around a half-cup), keto-approved fruits include:
The modified Atkins diet reduces seizure frequency by more than 50% in 43% of patients who try it and by more than 90% in 27% of patients.[18] Few adverse effects have been reported, though cholesterol is increased and the diet has not been studied long term.[48] Although based on a smaller data set (126 adults and children from 11 studies over five centres), these results from 2009 compare favourably with the traditional ketogenic diet.[18]
Giving the ketogenic diet a try? We’ve rounded up some of the best low-carb breakfast, dinner and side dish recipes that are higher in fat than protein, which can help you follow a keto diet plan. If you’re tracking your keto diet ratios, each recipe has nutritional information at the bottom, and some include ketogenic serving suggestions in the notes. Related collections: Low carb recipes, refined sugar free recipes, paleo recipes
Over the past century, ketogenic diets have also been used as natural remedies to treat and even help reverse neurological disorders and cognitive impairments, including epilepsy, Alzheimer’s symptoms, manic depression and anxiety. Research shows that cutting off glucose levels with a very low-carb diet makes your body produce ketones for fuel. This change can help to reverse neurological disorders and cognitive impairment, including inducing seizure control. The brain is able to use this alternative source of energy instead of the cellular energy pathways that aren’t functioning normally in patients with brain disorders.
If you talk to keto aficionados, you’ll find many save leftovers from dinner for the next day’s lunch. Cook once, eat twice—your keto diet menu for lunch is solved. If you don’t like leftovers or if you’re craving something different for lunch, the mid-day meal can be as simple as a scoop of chicken salad. Or, hit the salad bar at a local grocery store and top a bowl of greens with some good-fat goodies. You can also try one of these simple keto lunches:
It usually takes three to four days for your body to go into ketosis because you have to use up your body's stores of glucose, i.e., sugar first, Keatley says. Any major diet change can give you some, uh, issues, and Keatley says he often sees patients who complain of IBS-like symptoms and feeling wiped out at the beginning of the diet. (The tiredness happens because you have less access to carbs, which give you quick energy, he explains.)
Giving the ketogenic diet a try? We’ve rounded up some of the best low-carb breakfast, dinner and side dish recipes that are higher in fat than protein, which can help you follow a keto diet plan. If you’re tracking your keto diet ratios, each recipe has nutritional information at the bottom, and some include ketogenic serving suggestions in the notes. Related collections: Low carb recipes, refined sugar free recipes, paleo recipes
Hi Patti, It’s up to you if you want to go by weight or by volume. I include both for convenience. Some people don’t want to weigh all their food, though weighing is definitely more accurate. The volumes listed are based on how a food is normally served, so for iceberg lettuce it would be chopped, not minced. It sounds like you’re weighing anyway, so in this case just use the weights instead (they are shown in grams in parentheses next to the volumes). Hope this helps!
Gary D. Foster, Ph.D., Holly R. Wyatt, M.D., James O. Hill, Ph.D., Brian G. McGuckin, Ed.M., Carrie Brill, B.S., B. Selma Mohammed, M.D., Ph.D., Philippe O. Szapary, M.D., Daniel J. Rader, M.D., Joel S. Edman, D.Sc., and Samuel Klein, M.D., “A Randomized Trial of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet for Obesity — NEJM,” N Engl J Med 2003; 348:2082- 2090. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa022207.
Eggs are a healthy, nutrient-dense food that has been incorrectly maligned for years. Cholesterol in food doesn’t increase cholesterol in your blood, so eat eggs liberally – they’re packed with protein and lutein, and they fill you up for hours. Make a healthy omelet with some cheddar, crumbled breakfast sausage, and shredded spinach and you’re already looking at over 30g of protein, just for breakfast! Spinach is a great source of magnesium and potassium, too. Add some sea salt and you’ve got a big dose of electrolytes that are so vital to maintaining energy and staving off headaches. Get the recipe and instructions
You’ll quickly find that salads are your friend when in ketosis, and for a good reason: they provide lots of food to fill you up, but they’re not going to bog you down. A bed of spinach with some red onion, bacon, a little tomato, and a hot sauce vinaigrette is quick and delicious. Add in some protein – perhaps that leftover salmon from day 1 – and you’ve got a complete, healthy lunch.

But even if you’re not trying to lose weight, the keto meal plans might appeal to you. By limiting sugars and processed grains, you lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. Eating an array of heart-healthy fats, like nuts, olive oil and fish, can decrease your risk of heart disease. And while some people stick to a super strict keto diet, with 75 percent of their diet coming from fat, 20 percent from protein and just five from carbs, even a less intense, modified version can help you reap the keto diet’s benefits.
What about fruits and vegetables? All fruits are rich in carbs, but you can have certain fruits (usually berries) in small portions. Vegetables (also rich in carbs) are restricted to leafy greens (such as kale, Swiss chard, spinach), cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, bell peppers, onions, garlic, mushrooms, cucumber, celery, and summer squashes. A cup of chopped broccoli has about six carbs.
I get many questions about intermittent fasting, the health benefits, the weight loss benefits, and the like. People normally use intermittent fasting for both the energy and mental clarity it can offer. But it’s not just good for that. It can offer breakthroughs of plateaus and even benefits in nutrient uptake in exercise. We go more in depth to intermittent fasting in Week 3 and 4, so keep your eyes peeled!

After about two to seven days of following the keto diet, you go into something called ketosis, or the state your body enters when it doesn't have enough carbs for your cells to use for energy. That's when you start making ketones, or organic compounds that your bod then uses in place of those missing carbs. At this point, your body also starts burning fat for more energy, says Beth Warren, R.D., founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Living A Real Life With Real Food.


In addition to burning fat reserves and super charging weight loss, ketosis produces a clean burning metabolic fuel that has many benefits. Ketones lower production of reactive oxygen species (ROS),1 enhance mitochondrial biogenesis,2 3 and induce positive epigenetic expression.4 Because of its neurological benefits, I went on a Keto Diet in 2014, and it has been helpful in moderating my MS symptoms.

Hi Debbie, Whole milk yogurt (whether cow milk or goat milk) is a person choice for a keto diet. It does contain some lactose, which is a sugar, but some people evidence suggests that there may be less than the label implies due to the beneficial bacteria in the yogurt. Either way, if you include it, be sure to get the plain kind without any added sugar.
Clinical improvement was observed in Alzheimer’s patients fed a ketogenic diet, and this was marked by improved mitochondrial function. (15) In fact, a European Journal of Clinical Nutrition study pointed to emerging data that suggested the therapeutic use of ketogenic diets for multiple neurological disorders beyond epilepsy and Alzheimer’s, including headaches, neurotrauma, Parkinson’s disease, sleep disorders, brain cancer, autism and multiple sclerosis. (16)
When you’ve eaten all of the crustless spinach quiche and keto frittata recipes that you can, these keto everything bagels are another great breakfast staple. With their help, you don’t have to cut out your favorite breakfast sandwiches. You can also try a bread-less keto breakfast sandwich with chicken sausage patties as the “buns” when you’re craving a keto-approved breakfast option.
Burns fat: You can drop a lot of weight — and quickly — on the keto diet.[3] Ketones suppress ghrelin — your hunger hormone — and increase cholecystokinin (CCK), which makes you feel full.[4] Reduced appetite means it’s easier to go for longer periods without eating, which encourages your body to dip into its fat stores for energy. Learn more here about the keto diet and weight loss. 
Hi Danielle, yes, most Keto Recipes I’ve seen on social media don’t look very appealing to me either. I have a Keto Breakfast Casserole and a Green Smoothie on the blog you can use the search bar in the menu, just enter “keto” and they’ll all appear. I am also working on a 21-Day Keto Challenge e-book at the moment. If you’re interested in being notified when it’s ready I recommend signing up for my newsletter, safest way to not miss it.

Here’s what we do know: The keto diet may be useful in treating symptoms of epilepsy, a seizure disorder. “The use of keto in treating epilepsy has the most evidence,” Angelone says. One study conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine, for example, followed epileptic patients on the keto diet and found that 36 percent of them had a 50 percent reduction in seizures after three months on the diet, and 16 percent were seizure-free. However, experts aren't entirely sure why the keto diet has this affect, she adds.
These affect your brain and spine, as well as the nerves that link them together. Epilepsy is one, but others may be helped by a ketogenic diet as well, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and sleep disorders. Scientists aren’t sure why, but it may be that the ketones your body makes when it breaks down fat for energy help protect your brain cells from damage.
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