First reported in 2003, the idea of using a form of the Atkins diet to treat epilepsy came about after parents and patients discovered that the induction phase of the Atkins diet controlled seizures. The ketogenic diet team at Johns Hopkins Hospital modified the Atkins diet by removing the aim of achieving weight loss, extending the induction phase indefinitely, and specifically encouraging fat consumption. Compared with the ketogenic diet, the modified Atkins diet (MAD) places no limit on calories or protein, and the lower overall ketogenic ratio (approximately 1:1) does not need to be consistently maintained by all meals of the day. The MAD does not begin with a fast or with a stay in hospital and requires less dietitian support than the ketogenic diet. Carbohydrates are initially limited to 10 g per day in children or 20 g per day in adults, and are increased to 20–30 g per day after a month or so, depending on the effect on seizure control or tolerance of the restrictions. Like the ketogenic diet, the MAD requires vitamin and mineral supplements and children are carefully and periodically monitored at outpatient clinics.[47]
Make things yourself. While it’s extremely convenient to buy most things pre-made or pre-cooked, it always adds to the price per pound on items. Try prepping veggies ahead of time instead of buying pre-cut ones. Try making your stew meat from a chuck roast. Or, simply try to make your mayo and salad dressings at home. The simplest of things can work to cut down on your overall grocery shopping.
So you’ve decided you want to try out the high-fat, low-carb diet, better-known as the fat-burning ketogenic diet. Whether it’s to lose weight, have more energy, or fuel workouts differently, going keto is a popular choice right now. But figuring out a keto meal plan on your own is no easy feat, especially since eating a diet super high in fats doesn’t come naturally to many people who are accustomed to the traditionally carb-heavy American diet. (It’s especially hard if you’re vegan and want to try keto.) But this should help: Keto experts explain how to set yourself up for success, plus provide ideas for exactly what keto foods to eat when you’re first getting started. (While you’re at it, check out these low-carb keto drinks that will keep you in ketosis.)
The brain can only use two types of nutrients for fuel: glucose, and ketones (14). This is why, despite information that states a certain amount of glucose is needed per day for optimal brain function, a keto diet can actually support cognitive function. In fact, some people report improved focus, concentration and mental alertness when they enter ketosis.
Some blood pressure issues are associated with excess weight, which is a bonus since keto tends to lead to weight loss. If you have high blood pressure or other blood pressure issues, click here to learn how keto can reduce blood pressure >
The body then further breaks down these fatty acids into an energy-rich substance called ketones that circulate through the bloodstream. Fatty acid molecules are broken down through the process called ketogenesis, and a specific ketone body called acetoacetate is formed which supplies energy.
This 7-days of meal planning is created and permitted to publish by our friend Leanne Vogel, founder of Healthful Pursuit. Leanne is a four-time bestselling author, Nutrition Educator, and the host of The Keto Diet Podcast.
If you experience keto flu, drink plenty of water. Increasing your salt intake can also help minimize symptoms. Another option is to lower your carb intake gradually. This will extend the amount of time it takes to get you into ketosis but will make for a much more pleasant experience.
There are mixed and matched studies on keto and breastfeeding, though nothing is well researched at the current moment. Right now it’s understood that ketogenic diets are typically healthy to do while breastfeeding.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder in females, with a high prevalence (6–10%);72 symptoms include hyperandrogenism, ovulatory dysfunction, obesity, insulin resistance and subfertility. Insulin resistance and related hyperinsulinaemia is actually a very common feature affecting about 65–70% of women with PCOS;73 it is seen most frequently in obese patients, affecting 70–80%, compared with only 20–25% of lean PCOS sufferers.72 Despite this observation, insulin resistance and hyperinsulinaemia appear to be linked to PCOS independently of obesity, and modifications in the normal cellular mechanisms of insulin signalling have been demonstrated in both lean and obese patients. Furthermore, high blood levels of insulin can act by increasing androgenous hormonal stimulation of the ovarian theca cells as well as potentiating gonadotropin-stimulated ovarian androgen steroidogenesis—although recent data has suggested that the insulin-induced increase in ovarian hormone secretion is not accompanied by increased steroid metabolism.74 Hyperinsulinaemia may also affect the central actions of androgen by impairing progesterone inhibition of the gonadotropin-releasing hormone pulse generator.75 Insulin has also been shown to increase expression of adrenal steroidogenic enzyme mRNA47 as well as adrenal responsiveness to adrenocorticotropic hormone.76
Overall, eating a high amount of fat, moderate protein, and low amount of carbs can have a massive impact on your health – lowering your cholesterol, body weight, blood sugar, and raising your energy and mood levels.
^ Stainman RS, Turner Z, Rubenstein JE, Kossoff EH. Decreased relative efficacy of the ketogenic diet for children with surgically approachable epilepsy. Seizure. 2007 Oct;16(7):615–9. doi:10.1016/j.seizure.2007.04.010. PMID 17544706
“Chicken broth is absolutely critical on this diet as a way to ensure you are getting enough sodium,” Wittrock explains. “Any time a client calls me and feels bad, I immediately tell them to drink a cup of chicken broth, and their symptoms usually go away.”
Keep it straightforward and strict. You usually see better results in people who restrict their carb intake further. Try to keep your carbs as low as possible for the first month of keto. Keep it strict by cutting out excess sweets and artificial sweeteners altogether (like diet soda). Cutting these out dramatically decreases sugar cravings.
At the initial consultation, patients are screened for conditions that may contraindicate the diet. A dietary history is obtained and the parameters of the diet selected: the ketogenic ratio of fat to combined protein and carbohydrate, the calorie requirements and the fluid intake.[18]
^ Liu H, Yang Y, Wang Y, Tang H, Zhang F, Zhang Y, Zhao Y. Ketogenic diet for treatment of intractable epilepsy in adults: A meta-analysis of observational studies. Epilepsia Open. 2018 Feb 19;3(1):9-17. doi:10.1002/epi4.12098. PMID 29588983.
While the ketogenic diet has become popular for weight loss, studies have also shown numerous other health benefits of following a keto diet. For example, studies have shown it may help reverse type 2 diabetes and reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and autism (2)(3). In fact, the keto diet was first used in the 1920s not as a weight loss diet, but a natural treatment to prevent seizures in epilepsy patients (4).
Take a 2 – 3 cups of lettuce, crumble in some bacon and dice a medium tomato. Mix that with two or three tablespoons of mayo, and toss after adding some splashes of hot sauce. Delicious, filling, full of fiber and healthy fats, and absolutely easy. I know the mayo sounds weird as a dressing, but trust us; it’s amazing! Add in some avocado chunks to boost potassium too!
As a bonus, I’m making this amazing meal plan – and other keto meal plans – available in my MealPrepPro app!  So, if you’ve been wondering what the hype is all about and you want me to some of the heavy work for you by providing a fresh, customizable keto meal plan each week, then make sure you test drive my MealPrepPro app. The app is FREE to try and available right now to download on iPhone and iPad.
Because consuming even up to 30–50 grams of net carbs daily is still dramatically less than what most people eating a “standard Western diet” are used to, many will still experience weight loss eating slightly more carbs.
Brehm BJ, Seeley RJ, Daniels SR, D’Alessio DA. A randomized trial comparing a very low carbohydrate diet and a calorie-restricted low fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2003; 88: 1617–1623.
Our main goal here is to stay pretty simple at first. In my eyes, simplicity is key for someone that is just starting out on a low carb diet. You don’t want it to be a difficult transition (kitchen-wise), because it will be hard to just get rid of your cravings.
For ideas and inspiration on how to reach your macros, take a look at our ever-growing library of keto recipes. If you don’t want to do all of the planning yourself, consider getting detailed shopping lists and months of meal plans made for you with Our Keto Academy >
The ketogenic diet essentially uses your body fat as an energy source – so there are obvious weight loss benefits. On keto, your insulin (the fat storing hormone) levels drop greatly which turns your body into a fat burning machine.
In any healthy diet, there are the obvious things to avoid: processed carbs, sugars, fried food etc. In the ketogenic diet we need to avoid unhealthy foods as well as any food that would kick us out of ketosis. This means we have to be smart about the types of fat we eat, when and how to consume alcohol, eating the right nuts, and managing cheat meals.
As the diet moves into the second and third weeks, you’ll begin to feel better. Soon, low-carb, high-fat eating will seem more natural as it becomes a habit. By week four, you can expect weight loss, especially if you’ve been physically active while sticking closely to the plan.
Kashiwaya Y, Takeshima T, Mori N, Nakashima K, Clarke K, Veech RL. D-beta-hydroxybutyrate protects neurons in models of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2000; 97: 5440–5444.
In order to transition and remain in ketosis, aiming for about 30–50 net grams is typically the recommended amount of total carbs to start with. This is considered a more moderate or flexible approach but can be less overwhelming to begin with. Once you’re more accustomed to this way of eating, you can choose to lower carbs even more if you’d like (perhaps only from time to time), down to about 20 grams of net carbs daily. This is considered the standard, “strict” amount that many keto dieters aim to adhere to for best results, but remember that everyone is a bit different.
Now, if you’re the kind of person that can’t fast then you can go back and follow week 2 again. That’s no big deal. Though fasting does take some time for the body to get used to, so I suggest putting your best efforts into it. Not only are the health benefits fantastic, the self-control that you gain from doing so is really a great thing.
Henderson ST, Vogel JL, Barr LJ, Garvin F, Jones JJ, Costantini LC. Study of the ketogenic agent AC-1202 in mild to moderate alzheimer’s disease: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2009; 6: 31.
Since 1920, the ketogenic diet has been recognized as an effective tool in the treatment of severe childhood epilepsy, but following the introduction of anticonvulsant drugs, the interest in ketogenic diet treatment waned until the 1990s, with subsequent research and clinical trials demonstrating its practical usefulness. Various studies have been carried out to understand its mechanism of action in epilepsy, but until now it remains largely uncertain.5 Several hypotheses have been put forward trying to explain the mechanism of action of ketogenic diets: (1) a direct anticonvulsant effect of KBs; (2) a reduced neuronal excitability induced by KBs;39 (3) an effect on the mammalian target of rapamycin pathway.40 In 2008, Hartman et al.41 demonstrated the efficacy of a ketogenic diet in the 6-Hz seizure test in mice, but also reported that the protection from seizures was not related to the level of ketosis in the blood, indicating that mechanism(s) of action other than those directly linked to the blood concentration of KBs should be investigated. Most researchers suggest that the metabolic mechanism(s) activated by ketogenic diets (see above) may influence neurotransmitter activity in neurons and this is currently a field of active research. Although the mechanisms of action are not clear, the ketogenic diet is now considered an established part of an integrative approach, along with drug therapy, in the major epilepsy centres worldwide,42 an important benefit being the reduction of drug use and concomitant reductions in severe side effects often associated with antiepileptic agents. The effectiveness of ketogenic diets is strongly supported in a recent Cochrane review where all studies showed a 30–40% reduction in seizures compared with comparative controls, and the review authors reported that in children the effects were ‘comparable to modern antiepileptic drugs’. The main drawback with the ketogenic diet was difficult tolerability and high dropout rates—given the extremely positive results and the severe side effects common with antiepilepsy medication, the development of an easier-to-follow ketogenic diet would be a worthwhile goal.5
The day before admission to hospital, the proportion of carbohydrate in the diet may be decreased and the patient begins fasting after his or her evening meal.[18] On admission, only calorie- and caffeine-free fluids[36] are allowed until dinner, which consists of “eggnog”[Note 8] restricted to one-third of the typical calories for a meal. The following breakfast and lunch are similar, and on the second day, the “eggnog” dinner is increased to two-thirds of a typical meal’s caloric content. By the third day, dinner contains the full calorie quota and is a standard ketogenic meal (not “eggnog”). After a ketogenic breakfast on the fourth day, the patient is discharged. Where possible, the patient’s current medicines are changed to carbohydrate-free formulations.[18]
There is no doubt that there is strong supportive evidence that the use of ketogenic diets in weight-loss therapy is effective; however, there are contrasting theories regarding the mechanisms through which they work. Some researchers suggest that there are not in fact any metabolic advantages in low-carbohydrate diets and that weight loss results simply from reduced caloric intake, probably due to the increased satiety effect of protein.12 Others instead promote the hypothesis that there is indeed a distinct metabolic advantage, which has recently been explored in more detail, raising interest in the role of VLCKD in weight loss and effects on metabolism in general.13 The first law of thermodynamics, also known as the law of conservation of energy, has in effect controlled the concepts for the basis of weight loss for over a century—resulting in a difficulty in accepting other ways of thinking. Adhering to these traditional concepts the US Department of Agriculture has concluded that diets, which reduce calories, will result in effective weight loss independent of the macronutrient composition, which is considered less important, even irrelevant.14 In contrast with these views, the majority of ad-libitum studies demonstrate that subjects who follow a low-carbohydrate diet lose more weight during the first 3–6 months compared with those who follow balanced diets.15, 16, 17 One hypothesis is that the use of energy from proteins in VLCKD is an ‘expensive’ process for the body and so can lead to a ‘waste of calories’, and therefore increased weight loss compared with other ‘less-expensive’ diets.13, 18, 19 The average human body requires 60–65 g of glucose per day, and during the first phase of a diet very low in carbohydrates this is partially (16%) obtained from glycerol, with the major part derived via gluconeogenesis from proteins of either dietary or tissue origin.12 The energy cost of gluconeogenesis has been confirmed in several studies7 and it has been calculated at ∼400–600 Kcal/day (due to both endogenous and food source proteins.18 Despite this, there is no direct experimental evidence to support this intriguing hypothesis; on the contrary, a recent study reported that there were no changes in resting energy expenditure after a VLCKD.20 A simpler, perhaps more likely, explanation for improved weight loss is a possible appetite-suppressant action of ketosis. The mechanism for this is not established but evidence supports direct action of KBs together with modifications in levels of hormones, which influence appetite, such as ghrelin and leptin.21 Here we can summarize (listed in order of importance and available evidence) that the weight-loss effect of VLCKD seems to be caused by several factors:
https://www.myketokitchen.com/keto-resources/best-ketone-meters-monitor-ketosis/

So where do you start your calculations? With carbs and protein. When first getting started, it is ideal to keep carbohydrates less than 50 grams per day. Wittrock found that he likes to go even lower.
^ Wang S, Fallah A. Optimal management of seizures associated with tuberous sclerosis complex: current and emerging options. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2014 Oct 23;10:2021-30. doi:10.2147/NDT.S51789. PMID 25364257
The best way to monitor your ketone levels is through testing, which you can do from home. When you eat a ketogenic diet, excess ketones spill over into several areas of the body. This allows you to measure your ketone levels in various ways:
I am a vegetarian. How can I do a ketogenic diet? I have been avoiding all carbohydrates for about 2 wks–no processed food, no bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, etc. I lost about 2 lbs almost immediately, then no more weight loss.
In recent years there have been an increasing number of studies published, suggesting that at least for certain food types there is a nutritional influence on the development of acne. The negative effects seem to lie in the capacity of some foods/nutrients to stimulate proliferative pathways that in turn stimulate development of acne—suspect foods include those with a high glycaemic load and milk.11, 43, 44 Other evidence comes from several studies reporting that the prevalence of acne varies significantly between different populations and is substantially lower in non-Westernized populations that follow traditional diets,45 a common factor among these traditional diets being a low glycaemic load.46 Various studies have provided evidence that high-glycaemic-load diets are implicated in the aetiology of acne through their capacity to stimulate insulin, androgen bioavailability and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) activity, whereas the beneficial effects of low-glycaemic-load diets, apart from weight and blood glucose levels, also include improved skin quality.44 The clinical and experimental evidence does in fact suggest ways in which insulin can increase androgen production and affect via induction of steroidogenic enzymes,47 the secretion by the pituitary gland of gonadotropin-releasing hormone and the production of sex hormone-binding globulin.48 Insulin is also able to reduce serum levels of IGF-binding protein-1 increasing the effect of IGF-1.49 These insulin-mediated actions can therefore influence diverse factors that underlie the development of acne such as:
Last, but certainly not least, is sticking to the diet! Ketosis is a process that happens in your body. You can’t just have “that one” cheat meal. If you do, it can hamper progress for up to a week before your body is back in ketosis and normally functioning again.
We’re going full on fats with breakfast, just like we did last week. This time we’ll double the amount of ketoproof coffee (or tea) we drink, meaning we double the amount of coconut oil, butter, and heavy cream. It should come to quite a lot of calories, and should definitely keep us full all the way to dinner. Remember to continue drinking water like a fiend to make sure you’re staying hydrated.
Wondering how many carb foods you can eat and still be “in ketosis”? The traditional ketogenic diet created for those with epilepsy consisted of getting about 75 percent of calories from sources of fat (such as oils or fattier cuts of meat), 5 percent from carbohydrates and 20 percent from protein. For most people a less strict ketogenic diet (what I call a “modified keto diet”) can still help promote weight loss in a safe, and often very fast, way.
Early studies reported high success rates: in one study in 1925, 60% of patients became seizure-free, and another 35% of patients had a 50% reduction in seizure frequency. These studies generally examined a cohort of patients recently treated by the physician (what is known as a retrospective study) and selected patients who had successfully maintained the dietary restrictions. However, these studies are difficult to compare to modern trials. One reason is that these older trials suffered from selection bias, as they excluded patients who were unable to start or maintain the diet and thereby selected from patients who would generate better results. In an attempt to control for this bias, modern study design prefers a prospective cohort (the patients in the study are chosen before therapy begins) in which the results are presented for all patients regardless of whether they started or completed the treatment (known as intent-to-treat analysis).[18]
Those with diabetes should be aware of diabetic ketoacidosis. This is a rare but dangerous state for diabetics who don’t take enough insulin, get sick or hurt or aren’t drinking enough fluids. Other causes of ketoacidosis could include alcoholism, an overactive thyroid or true starvation. In ketoacidosis, ketones levels reach an extremely high level, causing the blood to become acidic.
“I started the keto diet before I heard about MyKetoCoach. I was frustrated and on the verge of quitting! I thought I had done all the research and could do this thing with no problem, boy was I wrong! I was searching for help and I am so glad I found MyKetoCoach! After reading the book it really opened my eyes to what I was doing wrong and what I needed to do to succeed. MyKetoCoach breaks it down and the guide is so simple, he takes all the guessing work out! Anyone who is serious about making a change to better themselves needs to get this book!*”
For patients who benefit, half achieve a seizure reduction within five days (if the diet starts with an initial fast of one to two days), three-quarters achieve a reduction within two weeks, and 90% achieve a reduction within 23 days. If the diet does not begin with a fast, the time for half of the patients to achieve an improvement is longer (two weeks) but the long-term seizure reduction rates are unaffected.[43] Parents are encouraged to persist with the diet for at least three months before any final consideration is made regarding efficacy.[9]
Keto requires moderate protein: a healthy amount to support organ function, red blood cells and muscles. Note that your protein macro also depends on your daily physical activities. Make sure you know your ideal protein macro and stick to it.