Ketogenic Diet

Why ketogenic diet? What is it?

Dr. Mercola emphasizes a version of this diet for those with Protein nutritional type (P-type); especially for those who have gone astray with too many carbs so that they have insulin resistance (metabolic syndrome). People like me. The ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet that relies on fat and protein for energy, instead of carbs. If you have been a carb-eater for a long time, you need to retrain your body to burn fat for energy - fat in the form of ketones.

This diet is NOT a high-protein diet, but rather moderate in protein and high in fat. I suspect that the type of fat is very important. Fats from pasture-raised livestock and dairy, wild fish, olives and coconuts are the best and together include a good mix of saturated, mono-unsaturated and omega-3 polyunsaturate.

The Atkins diet is a type of ketogenic diet,  but is designed for weight loss, rather than changing your metabolism.  Not all people on a ketogenic diet will lose weight, but their health will improve.  If you want to lose weight on a ketogenic diet, you must reduce your fat consumption enough that your body will burn stored fat. But remember that if you reduce dietary fat, you must also reduce dietary carbs and proteins to maintain the same dietary percentage: 5% carbs, 20% protein, 75% fat calories. Do not be tempted to eat Atkins-endorsed processed foods as this will likely make matters worse.

Another important aspect of the Ketogenic diet has to do with when you eat what you eat. (from Dr. Loscalzo (4)). 

  1. There should be a 12-hour break (or ‘fast’) between dinner and breakfast; then your breakfast is truly a ‘breaking of the fast;”

  2. Stop eating 3 or more hours before bed; e.g., if you go to bed at 11 PM, don’t eat/snack after 8 PM.

  3. Avoid high-carb foods (sugar, breads, cereal, porridge, etc) at breakfast. Instead, eat protein (e.g., eggs, green smoothie, protein powder, etc) balanced with fat (e.g., fatty bacon, butter, cream, full-fat cottage cheese, etc.) and a little whole fresh fruit (not juiced).

Following those three guidelines will help return your body to a normal leptin cycle (leptin governs when you are hungry; see my Insulin Resistance and Leptin article). Ideally, the leptin levels follow a wave pattern through the day that is low when you get up in the morning (so that you are hungry), and high after dinner (so that you are ready to fast). But when this cycle is out of balance - high in the morning, and low after dinner, for example - or flat all day long, your body stores fat and feels sluggish. This is an oversimplification, of course, but true nonetheless.

The goal of the ketogenic diet is to achieve ketosis - a metabolic state in which the body burns segments of fats called ketones, instead of glucose (from carbs) for fuel. You level of ketosis can be measured in your urine, using ketosis test strips. The graph below describes the different levels and the optimum ketone zone (from Mercola on Ketogenic Diet with Calorie Restriction for Improved Health (2)). He states the 1.0 - 3.0 millimolar (mM) is a good biomarker of nutritional ketosis.

My Ketostix measure mg/dl  ketone (acetoacetic acid); to convert, multiply mg/dl by 0.98 to get mM (0.98 * mg/dl = mM) for comparison with chart, below (per So the range is 0.98 - 2.94 mM, or 1 - 3 mM. The color guide on the Ketostix container starts at 5 mg/dl, so that’s the best I can do unless I can find a better color chart. See also You want to be in the pink, not magenta or purple:

On the other hand, as long as it is NOT negative (beige color), your are in ketosis, and that’s all that matters (unless you are a diabetic and you want to avoid ketoacidosis); Ketostix “do not accurately measure degree in all people”. (from Health & Beauty Blog)

Feb 2016 update (Thanks to one of my readers for this information): If you want to see a sensitivity ranges closer to the 1 - 3 mM that you want to achieve, keto-sticks designed for ketogenic diet testing are now available to provide colors for the desired 1 - 3 mM sensitivity range; for example, Smackfat Ketone Strips (see Amazon (5)) which provides colors for 0.5, 1.5, 4.0, 8.0, and 16.0 mM readings.

Or you can use blood glucose as a guide; per Mercola’s article, “if your blood glucose stays at 75 or below with carbohydrate restriction, there’s a good chance that you’ll be in nutritional ketosis, which is where you want to be.”

I’ve decided to give this a try, but I won’t go cold turkey, on the advice of my acupuncturist/body talk practitioner. I should take 5 weeks to change my diet and then stick with if for several months. My hope is to reset my insulin needs. Eventually I will morph this into a version of the Paleo diet, which is quite similar to the ketogeneic diet except that it includes more ‘good’ carbs - fresh veggies and fruits (no fruit juice). Sep 2016 update: I’ve been doing this for over 3 years and can’t imagine going back to the way I used to eat. After just a week on this plan, the sugar cravings stopped, and I no longer missed bread. A year ago, I started adding whole grain bread, no more than a slice per day, s or porridge (no more than a bowl a week) on the advice of my acupuncturist/body-talk practitioner, as I needed the fiber.

Paleo diet is not necessarily a ketogenic diet, but it can be.

  1. It generally does not include high-carb foods like grains and legumes. Starchy tubers (potatoes, etc) are included in some paleo lists.

  2. It includes meat from pasture-raised livestock, nuts and seeds (except grains, legumes), most veggies and fruit (no fruit juice), and may include eggs.

  3. Some versions of the paleo diet do not include pasteurized dairy (but I find no references either way to raw dairy).

To begin, I am collecting links with info about this ketogenic diet, jotting down notes from each.

Mercola’s Metabolic Mitochondrial Therapy (MMT)

  1. See source (8) for more about this interesting twist on the Ketogenic Diet that involves a feast/fast sequence:

  2. 2 - 3 days per week increasing your carbs and protein (“feast”),

  3. then returning to the low-carb, reduced protein ketogenic program (“fast”) for the remainder of the week.

  4. This sequence should only be started after phase one of the ketogenic program, when your body has gotten used to burning fats instead of carbs for fuel.

  5. Note that Mercola’s ketogenic and MMT program differs from the Paleo diet in several ways, especially restricting protein consumption to 1.2 gram protein for every pound (or 1 gram for every kilo) of lean body mass.

  6. For more, see my page on CKD: Cyclical Ketogenic Diet

Ketogenic diet: Informational Links, notes

I’m working on my own carb/protein/fat (CPF) counter for various foods. In the meantime, see KEtogenic Diet Resource: carb, protein, fat counters for common foods which I have copied onto my Carb Counter page.

Here are some other informational links:

  1.’s summary of ketogenic diet and its benefits.

  2. Mercola: Beginner’s Guide to Ketogenic Diet (9)

  3. Mercola: The Benefits of a Ketogenic diet and its Roll in Cancer Treatment. (10)

  4. Mercola: [Ketogenic] diet may slow Alzheimers (11)

  5. Wikipedia: Cyclic Ketogenic Diet (12) (something Mercola suggests)

  6. Ketosis and the Brain: The Fat-Fueled Brain: Unnatural or Advantageous explains what ketosis and ketone bodies are, and how they may help reverse neuro-degenerative damage in the brain

  7. Ketogenic Diet Resource: Diet Plan. This site also has recipes, sample menus, and carb, protein, fat counters for common foods which I have copied onto my Carb Counter page. (see also Mike’s Calorie Counter (no longer available, darn) and
  8. This site recommends books that explain the diet. For example, Dr. Atkins New diet Revolution, and New Atkins for  New You. See also Program Overview and additional pages for the 4-phases, carb counter and more. The Atkins diet is a type of ketogenic diet, designed for weight loss; it gradually steps up the amount and kind of carbs you can eat.

  9. Check with physician if you have heart or kidney problems before starting this diet. Note that the doctor may confuse ketosis with ketoacidosis.

  10. The diet is 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carb (% of calories) - see image, above.  While fats have no impact on insulin, protein does have an impact; if you consume too much protein, the body will convert it to glucose. For this reason, the protein content should be 20-25% protein; if the protein is too lean, you may have malnourishment issues.

  11. Based on above %’s, assuming by calories, for 2000 calories/day:

  12. -5% carb = 100 calories (25 grams, at 4 calories per gram),

  13. -20% protein = 400 calories (100 grams, at 4 calories per gram),

  14. -75% Fat - 1500 calories (167 grams, at 9 calories per gram).

  15. NOTE: When figuring calories, remember that fats have higher calorie count per gram than protein and carbs.  Fat: 9 cal/g; Protein: 4 cal/g; Carb: 4 cal/g

  16. Daily grams protein: From Mercola:

  17. Dr. D’Agostino believes 2 - 3 grams of protein for every kg of body weight is too much, but doesn’t suggest a better amount.

  18. Dr. Rosedale recommends 1 gram protein/kg of body weight, especially for cancer treatment and prevention.

  19. Based on these two opinions, I would say 1 - 1.5 grams protein/kg body weight. For example, if you weigh 150 lb (68 kg), that translates to 68-102 grams protein. If you weigh 200 lb (91 kg), that translates to 91-136 grams protein.

  20. However, Broken Brain docu-series recommends 30 g protein for each meal, independent of body weight; If one meal is lower and others are higher than that, brain issues can result

  21. Daily grams protein:

  22. x

  23. Tips:

  24. Clear your pantry and restock with low- or no-carb whole foods.

  25. Ketostix will tell you when you are in a ketosis state. Optimal readings: 1 - 3 mM (millimoles)

  26. Use coconut oil instead of cream/whole milk in my smoothie at least half the time (because of the lactose and its galactose component in one glass of milk can exceed the carb limit) per Mercola. However, if you have good gut microbes, they will quickly turn the lactose into lactic acid, before it is broken down to galactose and glucose, keeping it from being burned as a carb.

  27. Keep a daily food diary and track grams of Carbs, Protein, Fat  (CPF).

  28. Learn how to stop sugar cravings (special supplements such as 500 mg L-glutamine, B-complex, etc.; also exercise; 4-oz protein such as low-carb smoothie that include whey protein isolate (problematic for me so I will need a substitute; my rice protein is low in carbs so would probably work.). This is especially important at the beginning when your body has not re-learned how to live on fat.

  29. See also Low-carb side-effects. tiredness, dizziness, shakiness (hypoglycemia) will likely be what I experience, but possibly also others

  30. Three Fat Chicks: Ketogenic Diet Plan

  31. eLow Carb Good List: Ketogenic diet Plan

  32. Stick to above-ground veggies (avoid root veggies). I love beets so I’m wondering if beet kvass would be OK (the fermentation should reduce the carbs in the beverage) According to Mike’s Calorie Counter: beets have CPF =8/2/0 g for two 2” diameter cooked beets, or 2/0/0 for 1 oz;  I eat only 1one half of one 2” diameter beet at a meal, for CPF = 2/0.5/0, which isn’t bad. 

  33. Compare that with  1 oz cooked, drained beet greens, with CPF = 0/1/0; or 1 cup has CPF = 1/1/0; spinach is similar to beet greens: 1 cup cooked, drained CPF = 0/1/0.

  34. Low Grain and Carb Diets Treat Hypoglycemia, Heart Disease, Diabetes, Cancer and Nearly All Chronic Illness, by Dr. Joseph Brasco, MD (on Mercola’s website).

  35. Includes a bit of anthropological history to support the ketogenic diet, glycemic index, epidemiological data, health risks. Also discussion of ketosis, increased saturated fats, dietary protein and cardiovascular disease, risk of osteoporosis, kidney and liver damage; all in relation to the ketogenic diet - whether each has positive or negative impact on health while on the diet.



  2. 2.Mercola:

  3. 3.Video with Dr. Dominic D’Angostino: Keto Nutrition (

  4. 4.Dr Ritamarie Loscalzo:


  6. 6.Mercola: Importance of ketogenic diet for avoiding/healing cancer (/

  7. 7.Mercola: Basic Intro to

  8. 8.Mercola: Basic Intro to Metabolic Mitochondrial Therapy

  9. 9.Mercola: Beginner’s Guide to Ketogenic Diet (

  10. 10.Mercola: The Benefits of a Ketogenic diet and its Roll in Cancer Treatment (

  11. 11.Mercola: [Ketogenic] diet may slow Alzheimers (

  12. 12.Wikipedia: Cyclic Ketogenic Diet

  13. 13.Dr Christianson:

return to Diet Menu  or Health Essays Menu

  1. Ketogenic diet: What and Why

  2. Metabolic Mitochondrial Therapy (MMT)

  3. Ketogenic Diet: Informational Links

  4. See also related pages (this site)

  5. CKD: Cyclical Ketogenic Diet

  6. Carb Counter (Protein, Veggies, Fruits, Fats, Dairy, Nuts & Seeds, Legumes, Grains & Starches, Condiments)

  7. Menus: Outline and Sample

  8. See also (other sites):

  9. Dr. Alan Christianson: The science behind the ketogenic diet (13)

  10. Video with Dr. Dominic D’Angostino: Keto Nutrition (3)

  11. Mercola: Beginner’s Guide to Ketogenic Diet.

  12. Mercola: Importance of ketogenic diet for avoiding/healing cancer (6)

  13. Mercola: Metabolic diet approaches for optimal health (7)

  14. Metabolic Mitochondrial Therapy (MMT) (8) (see also Mercola’s Fat for Fuel book)

by Catherine M. Haug,  June 18, 2013