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Is the ketogenic diet right for you?

Editor’s note: We’re inundated with promotions, ads and infomercials for weight loss. They tout the latest-greatest-fastest way to reach your goal but what’s right for you? In this occasional series for Shine365, Marshfield Clinic Health System Dietitian Chrisanne Urban takes a look at popular diets, weighs the pros and cons, and shares her thoughts.

Diets - What to know about the keto diet, or ketogenic diet
What should you know before starting the ketogenic diet?

Ketogenic diet

A popular choice right now, the ketogenic or “keto” diet is about cutting carbohydrates and eating fats and proteins. Fiber…not so much.

Originally, this diet was prescribed to treat severe epilepsy especially in children, Urban said.

Carbs – sugars or starches that are a major food source and form of energy – are cut to 10-15 grams daily with remaining calories coming from fat and some protein. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, 45-65 percent of daily caloric intake should be from carbs. If you follow a 1,500-calorie diet, that’s 168-240 grams of carbs.

Modified keto diets are “repackaged” or “rewrapped” diets, like Atkins and South Beach, Urban said, and call for consuming 20-50 grams of carbs.

So when we hear about keto today it’s really modified from the original diet with variations,” she said. “A distinct difference is the original keto diet was meant to be followed under direction of a physician and dietitian, with close attention paid to a person’s lab work.”

This diet’s goal is to keep you in ketosis, “a normal metabolic state or process that keeps the body working,” she said. “When you don’t get enough carbs for energy the body burns fat, switching from using glucose as energy to ketones from body fat.”

Besides burning fat you may feel less hungry, too.


A positive aspect of this diet, Urban said, is “you do lose weight and studies have shown this to be true. In the first year, you lose more weight and keep it off better than people following low-fat diets.”

It’s also good if you enjoy eating more protein and fats.


After the first year, overall weight loss is about the same as other diets, she said.

A significant disadvantage is that “it’s high fat, which leads potentially to high cholesterol and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” Urban said. “It’s also low in fiber so there is a chance of increased constipation because you’re cutting whole grains, too.”

Other side effects are bloating, bad breath and increased fatigue.

It’s not good or healthy in the long term and hard to maintain,” she said.

Also, U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 diet rankings show it’s not highly recommended. Many lose weight but most gain weight back once the diet is no longer followed.

“We want to focus on sustainable diets, things you can do long-term,” she said.

“Basically, this diet is not one of my favorites and we need to remind ourselves that there’s no miracle to achieving a healthy weight. If that were true, everyone would be thin and we wouldn’t have obesity.”

Compare diets

DASH eating plan

Mediterranean diet

9 responses to “Is the ketogenic diet right for you?”

  1. roann1968

    very nice indeed!

  2. Karrell

    If you want to ease into a "Keto" type diet, you could start out with just avoiding foods with refined sugar and flour. Then work your way to avoid white starches like white rice, white pasta, white bread, white potatoes, etc. Then go on to avoid products with corn (oil, syrup, ground, etc), sweetners except maybe honey and stevia), and sodium additives. Lastly you can just eat all fresh foods you prepare yourself and trimming fat from meat. So that means nothing from a box or can. Frozen only if it contains nothing but the real food, no other additives. But this is really tough. I know my biggest downfall is cheese. I just have to put cheese on everything!!!!!!!!!


    Nina Teicholz's Nutrition Coalition e-mail newsletter reports that "The Keto Diet was the #1 most googled diet in 2018. Also in the top five: the Carnivore and Mediterranean diets. Absent from the top five DASH, vegetarian and vegan" . Get on the band wagon, I did and lost 48# and am keeping it off effortlessly for better than 3 years.


    Ya, well, the upside of cholesterol is that modern research finds that those with higher cholesterol live longer than those with normal cholesterol. The upside to carbohydrate restriction is that your Type 2 Diabetes begins to reverse, resolve and under all cases Type 2 Diabetes is avoided. So those of you with Pre-Diabetes can fix all of your cardiac lab numbers with Keto-diets, a.k.a. low carb healthy fat. Your minimum daily requirement for carbohydrates is zero. Dr. Eric Berg, DC, leads the way with YouTube programs that are often less than 7 minutes each. Dr. Jason Fung, MD, Canadian nephrologist(kidney doctor), has longer presentations on YouTube, but are aimed at your friend with diabetes and pre-diabetes for complete cure. YouTube presence Dr. Sarah Hallberg, MD, an obesity clinician, fat doctor, has cured diabetics with carbohydrate restriction, Above 93% of her 4500 patients with no train wrecks or tragedies. For a longer look at why Lipophobia (fear of fats) is wrong, see the 2014 Economist Magazine Science Book of the Year "The Big Fat Surprise" by Nina Teicholz, leader of The Nutrition Coalition, which book shows the emptiness of the Cardiac Diet Hypothesis, or her YouTube presentation "Vegetable Oils", 36 minutes. If you are new to the field, try YouTube "Butter Makes Your pants Fall Off" by Bob Briggs, an accurate autodidact (self-taught person ). In a nutshell: eat all the meat, birds and fish you like and any vegetable that grows above the ground and you will become and stay slender. Appetite is carbohydrate driven, so get a gram scale and keep the carbohydrates under 25 or 30 grams and you metabolic disease will retreat. Down 48# and keeping it off greater than 3 years. A nickle weighs about 5 grams. Change comes slowly, person to person. Don't look for government leadership on these food questions.

  5. Barbara Harling

    Try out TOPS: ie., Take Off Pounds Sensibly. It is an international nonprofit started in the 50's by a Milwaukee woman. I have belonged for 11 years, lost 62 pounds and have kept it off for nearly 2 years. Weekly weigh-ins and support group (very important, even after you've lost the weight.) There are chapters in every bigger town and city across the nation. Best kept secret: it is VERY inexpensive to be a member. Check it out!

    1. Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor

      Thanks for sharing with our readers, Barbara! -Kirstie

  6. Cheri

    I'm with Ronda, The Atkins diet is the only way I have ever lost weight and kept it off with no side effects. To really lose the weight faster, 60 grams of carbs a day is the max. Slower weight loss, eat less than 100 grams a day. I have never been able to use a calorie counting diet as if I would eat 1000 grams calories, I gain weight. Of course, there are days I cheat and eat something that is higher in carbs just so in my mind I am not depriving myself of a food I really like. For me, eating lower carbs is the way to lose weight and keep it off.

  7. Ronda

    Ok, So I've been on the Ketogenic diet for almost two years, I have issues with this article. On this diet you are to eat 7 to 10 cups of veggies a DAY (mostly consisting of salads) So there's you fiber. I have NOT had any bloating at all. My inflammation on my joints has gone down considerably. I have increased in my energy exponentially, and the brain fog that I had when I was eating carbs has lifted at the same rate. As for the breath thing, that only smells like fruit when you are in true ketosis. And as for regularity of expelling waste, well that's even better too. You need to do more research on this before you tell people this isn't healthy. The fruits I eat are all the berries you can think of ie. strawberries, blueberries, cranberries(unsweetened) Blackberries, and so on. This diet is VERY SUSTAINABLE. The fatty foods that most people eat are usually covered in carbs and deep fried in a carb batter and cooked in substandard veggie oils. It's the carbs with the fat that makes you fat. Look up Dr. Berg on YouTube and you will get the best info on this diet. He is an accredited doctor and explains in great detail what this diet can do for all types of people. Then if you also look up " Ask Nurse Cindy" on YouTube along with "Thomas DeLauer" you will get very good scientific helpful proven researched info on this diet. These people have been on the Ketogenic diet for YEARS and healthier than they have ever been. Before you listen to someone like Jillian Michaels who hasn't really done any substantial research on this diet. She's trying to promote her expensive meal plans to keep her rich. This diet consists of the food you would buy when you go grocery shopping. You study up on the things you need to by and cut out the things you USED to buy. I promise anyone who reads this will have good success if they do their RESEARCH. The AMERICAN STANDARD Diet was what Jillian was using on the Biggest Looser show and a majority of those people who participated on that show have gained their weight back. That sounds to me like a very unsustainable diet if you ask me. With this diet you first let the diet help you shed the pounds and then in time incorporate exercise. Intermittent Fasting is also part of the diet. Dr. Berg and the others will explain what that does for you with this. You use the fat stored in your body as a source of energy while eating healthier when you do eat. You do this diet to get healthier and the weight loss is a byproduct of that. This diet is known to help people with Diabetes, Heart Disease, Dementia, and Cancer. All of which feed on the carbs and the high content of sugars found in just about all the foods ( especially junk and fast foods our country is full of). I have a friend who is in her Seventies and has been doing very well on this diet, as well as quite a few of my fellow co-workers and family members on this diet. They all like how they feel and look. So PLEASE do more research on this diet. There is SO MUCH info on this diet that has been proven to help with so many things. Books and videos, Pinterest is full of recipes on how to eat and sustain this WAY OF LIFE. Because that's what this diet really is. Good Health to you and all who read this.

    1. Nurse Deb

      Couldn't have said it any better!!!

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