Ketogenic Diet


The ketogenic diet originated in the 1920s as a way to treat difficult-to-control epilepsy in children, but with the introduction of effective anticonvulsant drugs in the 1930s, the diet approach fell to the wayside.  The-high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate diet approach remerged in the late 1980s with the popularity of low/no carbohydrate diet plans like the Atkins diet, which is a more moderate form of a ketogenic diet.


You can lose weight by severely restricting the number of calories from carbohydrates.  


In simplistic terms, the diet works to starve the body of carbohydrates and sugars, which helps produce insulin and prevents fat breakdown in the body.  By decreasing carbohydrates, you can lower insulin levels forcing the body to burn stored fat for energy.

Program Overview

Normally, the carbohydrates from foods when ingested are converted into glucose, which is then transported and used throughout the body.  Excess glucose is stored as fat.  If carbohydrate intake is severely restricted, the liver will move to convert stored fats into fatty acids and keotone bodies.  These keotone bodies then pass into the brain and replace glucose as the primary source of energy, helping to kick-start the body into a more dramatic fat-burning mode. In a nutshell, the process of ketosis will occur by following a high-fat diet and severely restricting carbohydrates and calories.  

The number of calories allowed on a ketogenic diet depends on the age and activity level of the participant, but generally, participants are expected to receive eighty percent of their calories from fatty foods like milk, cream, full-fat yogurt, and butter.  Commonly eaten foods on a ketogenic diet include egg, tuna, and chicken salads made with full-fat mayo, cheesecake, omelets, and shakes.   Foods to be avoided include sugar, grains, flour, cereals, rice, and pasta.  

Plan Strengths

Ketogenic diets do remain controversial in terms of their effectiveness; however, some studies have suggested that low-carbohydrate diets can be somewhat effective for achieving weight loss.  In the short term, participants following a ketogenic diet tend to produce faster weight loss in comparison to someone following a more traditional low-fat diet.  However, over the long term, i.e. six or more months, there are no significant differences between the two approaches.

Participants will likely feel fuller for longer periods on this diet because of the relatively high intake of fats and proteins, as fats and proteins take longer to digest.  

Plan Weaknesses

This is a very difficult diet to follow, and some reports suggest that a large percentage of participants tend to quit within the first 3 to 4 days because the diet is so restrictive in terms of carbohydrates, and the side effects are numerous.  Individuals on the diet have reported temporary dizziness, headache, lethargy, weakness, nausea, and more than half of the participants report mental fatigue and dullness.

The diet must be stringently followed to ensure participants are constantly eating the right ratio of foods (4:1 ratio of fats to protein and carbohydrates).  If under the supervision of a doctor and nutritionist, this may be easy to accomplish, but as most people tend to take on a diet without this type of professional support, getting the right ratio of food, all the time, might prove challenging.

Ketogenic diets are not suited for everyone.  The diet puts a strain on the liver and kidneys; therefore, pregnant women, individuals suffering from kidney or liver disease, and alcoholics should not attempt.  

A ketogenic diet is not a long-term weight loss solution.  By eliminating or severely restricting carbohydrates from your diet, you severely restrict your intake of several vital vitamins and minerals.  Furthermore, the diet is an approach to eating and does not make any recommendations for exercise.  However, given that the diet will likely cause fatigue and loss of energy, at least in the first few weeks, finding the energy to even consider working out may prove challenging.  


Eating foods such as eggs, omelets and shakes may sound appealing in a weight loss program, but it does have its notable drawbacks.  The diet’s strictness and potential medical complications should not be brushed aside.  Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that this is not a long-term weight loss solution.  It simply is not a sustainable way of life.  Even children who suffer from epilepsy, and who must follow the diet for medical reasons, do not generally stay on the diet for more than a year or two.  

Gentler versions of the ketogenic diet, such as the Atkins Diet, may prove more appealing and less stressful on the body.  However, if you are completely set on attempting this type of approach, then be sure to discuss it with your doctor beforehand.  

Consider this approach only as a short-term solution and have a longer-term sustainable plan in place for when you come off the diet.

The information provided here is for educational or informational purposes only.  Dave DePew does not endorse any of the programs/services reviewed here. Before starting a new exercise regime or weight loss plan, talk with your doctor.

Additional Resources

Low-carb diet, 

Wikepedia:  Ketogenic Diet,