Ketogenic Diets for Weight Loss

Ketogenic Diets for Weight Loss

Is a ketogenic diet a miracle cure for obesity? Diabetes? Epilepsy?

Some people say so. And while it certainly can help some people with some health concerns, it’s considered a “medical diet” that can be risky for some people.

The ketogenic diet seems to be trending online lately, but in fact, it was first documented almost 100 years ago.

How do you know if it’s best for you? As a nutrition professional, let me help you better understand what it’s all about and some of the things to consider before diving into the ketogenic diet.

What is the ketogenic diet?

A ketogenic diet is a very low-carbohydrate way of eating that delivers moderate amounts of high-quality dietary protein and high amounts of healthy dietary fat. This reduction in carbohydrate intake helps the body shift toward a state that promotes the breakdown of fats (from the diet and your body) to produce ketone bodies and enter a state known as “ketosis.”

When following a ketogenic diet, your brain, as well as other organs, depends on ketones as an energy source. Ketones are produced in the body once you have reached a state of ketosis and can be measured in the blood and urine to ensure that you stay in ketosis during the keto diet.

Unlike popular diets that focus on the amount of protein or carbs you eat; the ketogenic diet focuses on fat. It’s a restrictive diet that is a very-low-carbohydrate and high-fat diet.

Yes, high-fat diet!

While fat had been demonized as the cause of obesity and contributor to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, new research in both people and animals suggests this is not the case. In fact, the high-fat ketogenic diet has been shown to help some people achieve weight loss pretty quickly (but keep reading before you dive into it). This new knowledge is partly because the health effects of sugars weren’t a big part of the research until recently. Evidence is growing to suggest that intake of sugar-sweetened foods and drinks are more closely associated with increased risks of obesity and diabetes.

What are the benefits of a ketogenic diet?

There are many benefits of a ketogenic diet listed below:

Mental focus—With a ketogenic diet, the brain utilizes ketone bodies instead of glucose as its primary fuel source. This switch can encourage more nerve growth factors and synaptic connections between brain cells3 and result in increased mental alertness, sharper focus, and improved cognitive capabilities.

Blood sugar management—Studies have shown that low-carbohydrate diets help support insulin metabolism in the body. This is because the absence of carbohydrates from the diet helps your body maintain blood glucose levels by breaking down fats and proteins.

Weight loss—A reduced calorie ketogenic diet encourages the utilization of body fat as fuel, and clinical studies support its use for weight management. Additionally, a ketogenic diet may help to suppress appetite and reduce cravings.

Increased energy—Carbohydrates only go so far to sustain energy throughout the day, and especially during a workout. In ketosis, your body uses fat as fuel instead of glucose, to provide the brain with a consistent supply of the ketone bodies necessary to sustain physical performance.

Cardiovascular and metabolic health—A ketogenic diet has been shown to help support blood lipid and fatty acid metabolism.

How ketosis works

The idea behind the ketogenic diet is to switch your body’s metabolism to a fat burning mode. Normally your body uses glucose (a carbohydrate) as its main fuel. Carbohydrates are sugars and starches found in many nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Glucose is the primary source of energy for your tissues and organs like your brain and muscles. But, because your brain is so important to your survival and humans evolved to live through periods of little access to food, you have a “backup” system to make sure your brain can still have the energy to help you survive.

That backup energy source is ketones.

Ketones are biochemicals naturally produced by your liver from fat in times of fasting when food is scarce. Your brain, heart, muscle, and kidneys can use them for fuel when you aren’t eating enough carbohydrates. It’s a survival mechanism that switches your metabolism from a glucose-based system to a ketone-based one. That ketone-based metabolic state is called “nutritional ketosis.”

The difference here is that you use the ketogenic diet to switch your metabolism into ketosis without fasting.

What does a healthy ketogenic meal look like?

A ketogenic meal is comprised of approximately 10% of calories coming from healthy carbohydrates such as leafy greens, non-starchy vegetables, and limited amounts of legumes and berries; 20% of calories coming from proteins such as omega-3-rich fish and grass-fed animal protein; and ~70% of calories coming from high-quality fats such as avocado, unsaturated and medium-chain triglyceride oils, nuts and seeds, and coconut.

This 10/20/70 ratio is a guideline for the macronutrient distribution for meals, snacks and beverages.


Breakfast: 1 egg cooked in olive oil, with ½ avocado, side of 15 almonds

Lunch: 1 scoop keto protein powder, ½ cup berries, almond milk, 1tbsp.peanut butter.

Snack: 15 nuts or 1 tbsp. of peanut butter on celery

Dinner: 3 oz. of tuna, 1 tbsp. of mayo, wrapped in lettuce, side salad with olive oil, vinegar.

Watch out for these side effects of the ketogenic diet

The long-term outcomes of maintaining a metabolic state of ketosis aren’t well-known right now. However, there are some well-documented short-term (<2-years) side effects to consider.

Some of the common short-term side effects, sometimes referred to as the “keto flu,” include:







Difficulty in exercise tolerance


These “keto flu” symptoms usually clear up within a few weeks and can be minimized by ensuring adequate intake of fluids and electrolytes.

There are also side effects such as muscle cramps, bad breath, and loss of energy. This is why some researchers recommend monitoring people on a ketogenic diet for blood glucose, and other parameters.

Some of the long-term side effects include issues with the kidneys (kidney stones) and liver (hepatic steatosis or “fatty liver”), as well as vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

There are additional cautions for those with diabetes and anyone taking medications for blood sugar control. See your doctor about adjusting your medications before starting a ketogenic diet as there is a risk of severe low blood sugar.

The ketogenic diet is not recommended if you have pancreatitis, liver failure, disorders of fat metabolism, carnitine deficiencies, porphyria, or pyruvate kinase deficiency. If you’re on a ketogenic diet, it’s recommended that your kidney function is regularly monitored by your healthcare professional.

It is also possible, but rare, for some people on a ketogenic diet to have a false positive breath alcohol test.

The ketogenic diet can be hard to maintain

As with any significant lifestyle change, sticking with a ketogenic diet can be tough. Sometimes the initial weight loss and blood sugar control is motivating, but often this can become boring.

Plus, if you start feeling side effects, this can be frustrating.

[If you are on or thinking about starting a ketogenic diet, book an appointment with me to see if my program/service can help you. Add your “book now” button]

Instead of experimenting on yourself, I highly recommend that you see a health professional before embarking on the ketogenic diet.

Research shows that people who are on a ketogenic diet are at risk for deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals. This is because many foods packed with vitamins and minerals, like fruits and vegetables, contain carbohydrates and are highly restricted on a ketogenic diet.

Some of the fruits and vegetables “allowed” on the ketogenic diet include small amounts of berries, leafy greens, brassicas (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts), asparagus, bell peppers, cucumber, celery, summer squashes, mushrooms, onions, and garlic.

Since the ketogenic diet is based on eating a lot of fat, I recommend choosing healthy sources like olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds.


Baked Eggs Cups

Makes 2 servings


335 kcal; 1402 kJ; 17 g protein; 5 g carbohydrates; 0 g dietary fiber; 5 g net carbs; 4 g sugar; 27 g fat; 6% carbs; 21% protein; 73% fat


½ cup organic pork sausage

4 eggs

2 green onions, chopped

½ cup organic almond milk plain or whole milk

Sea salt to taste, pepper to tast

2 tbsp. of butter


1.Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Brown the pork sausage.Remove from heat and set aside.

2.Crack eggs in a bowl. Whisk in milk, onions sausage and salt andpepper.

3.Grease a muffin tin with butter. Pour egg mixture into the pan, fillingfour holes.

4.Bake at 350F (175C) for 20 minutes or until cooked through, and serve.

Taco Salad Bowl

Makes 2 servings


610 kcal; 2552 kJ; 48 g protein; 10 g carbohydrates; 6 g dietary fiber; 4 g net carbs; 2 g sugar; 43 g fat; 7% carbs; 32% protein; 65% fat


1 Tbsp. of coconut oil

1 lb. grass fed beef ground

2 tsp. cumin

Sea salt and pepper to taste

½ head shredded iceberg lettuce

½ cup shredded cheese of choice

1 tomato diced

1 onion diced

1 avocado diced



1.Heat coconut oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Brown beef inpan for 8-10 minutes, add cumin, salt and pepper to taste.

2.Place shredded lettuce into a bowl. Add, beef, cheese, tomato, onion,and avocado. Toss until well mixed.

3.Serve and enjoy



Harvard Health Publishing. (2018, October). Should you try the keto diet? Retrieved from

Harvard Health Publishing. (2019, August). Can the keto diet help me lose weight? Retrieved from

Masood, W. & Uppaluri, K. R. (2019, March 21). Ketogenic Diet. Retrieved from

Shilpa, J., & Mohan, V. (2018). Ketogenic diets: Boon or bane?. The Indian journal of medical research, 148(3), 251–253. doi:10.4103/ijmr.IJMR_1666_18

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2015, December). Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, Eighth Edition. Retrieved from



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.