Some high-meat, high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets, like the Atkins, South
Beach, and Zone diets, are mistakenly referred to as ketogenic or “keto” diets. A
true ketogenic diet must be very low-carb, with no more than 20 to 50 grams of
carbohydrates a day, and up to 90% of daily food calories provided by fat. With
usual nutrition, the body converts consumed or stored carbohydrates into glucose,
the body’s main source of energy. In the absence of carbohydrates (because they
are restricted in the diet or during starvation), the liver makes ketone bodies from
fat. They become the primary source of energy, and fat loss leads to weight loss.
The body also converts some of the amino acids in protein into glucose—first from
recently consumed food but when needed from the protein in muscles.

Problems with keto eating include the potential loss of muscle mass, increased
LDL-C because they are likely to be high in saturated fat, nutrient deficiencies,
and liver and kidney problems. Keto diets are deficient in important healthy foods,
including fruits, legumes, and whole grains. Ketosis typically takes a few days to
occur. It is usually unpleasant, with fatigue, confusion, irritability, sleep disturbances,
muscle cramps, nausea, constipation, and other symptoms that are sometimes
called “keto flu.”

The keto diets advocated by their adherents are somewhat higher in carbs than true
ketogenic diets. Typically, they derive 5% to 10% of calories from carbohydrates,
70% to 75% of calories from fat, and 20% from protein. Keto diets are likely to
be low in calories, may suppress appetite, and undoubtedly help some people lose
weight but cannot be considered a healthy long-term diet. They should not be undertaken
except under medical supervision by individuals who are diabetic or so
obese that they need to lose more than 50 pounds. The expert panel advising
U.S. News & World Report ranked the Keto diet in the last place in the Best Diet
for Health category.

This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel,