The ketogenic diet (sorry rather long)

Its a bit long, but here is my answer to the questions about the keto diet.

A ketogenic diet is one that is very low in carbohydrate forcing the body to burn stored fat. You would think that any diet that reduced calories would do that, but it is rather more complex than that, and in reality normal calorie restriction tends to result in lowered metabolism(and permanent lowered metabolism at that), rather than burnt fat.

There are 255 Facebook groups about ‘keto’ diets and each one has a slightly different take on the system. Some are lovely (I’ll list my favourites below) and some moderators are plain nasty, and advocating some seriously dodgy stuff.

MY keto diet consists of minimal carbohydrates – I aim at below 20 grams, and usually end up between 15 and 30 on the days I am counting. To get that low and still eat at least some vegetables that means cutting out all added sugars, all grains, all starchy veg including things like carrots, all fruit except for a few occasional berries. Other things that need to be limited are liquid milk, nuts and seeds and a few other more unusual things. I have been doing a LOT of label reading, but fortunately nowadays most things have nutrient values, and if that fails the net will give the answers.

I eat the normal recommended level of protein (unlike the original Atkins diet which pushed huge amounts of protein). Normal recommended is between .6 and .8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. For me that works out at 80-110 grams of protein. And egg contains 6 grams of protein and a 4oz steak about 25 grams.

Finally I eat more or less unlimited fat. I don’t eat ‘fat bombs’ (a lump of fat coated in something to make it edible) or drink bulletproof coffee (black coffee with added butter or fats). I do put butter on my low carb vegetables, and thicken sauces with cream. Fat is brilliant at suppressing appetite. It is the precursor of all our hormones. It is NOT bad for you and will not cause heart disease.

Also most keto-ers seem to eat confections with artificial sweeteners and will tell you how it is harmless, I can’t personally see how something quite so synthetic and known to raise insulin levels can be harmless! So I avoid them. No keto cheesecake for me!

How did I get here? Well there are two reasons. The first is that after I dealt with my candida, which was causing sugar and carb cravings, I could. I used to have a killer sugar habit and realised that although I wasn’t diabetic, I was doing myself no good at all. Once I could say no to sugar I did, and then gradually I reduced other carb containing foods. Along the way my research took me to low carb and then keto diet groups.

The second thing is that a year ago a girl posted on, I think, an adrenal fatigue group on facebook. She had before and after pictures, about 2 or 3 stones different. And she said she owed her transformation to among other things a ketogenic diet. She also mentioned the curly girl method, and I started that the next day. It took another 9 months to go keto.

I was undoubtedly motivated to lose weight. But also this girl, Rina, claimed her health was transformed. She is half my age, but I wanted to be like her!!

What have been the benefits? Well to start with there is the weight loss. All 10 kilos of it in 3 months. That is down two (probably 1.5 really) dress sizes, and BMI down from 28 to 25. I need to go clothes shopping, but am reluctant because I may lose more! I’d tried dieting ever since a two month withdrawal of my thyroid meds caused an 8 kilo weight gain, but nothing worked despite the fact I am optimally medicated, and my nutrients are good.

Then there are all the other things. No more headaches or migraines. Not one. I did some reading and it seems that about 90% of migraine sufferers are helped by the ketogenic diet. Why did no-one tell me?

Digestion. No more heartburn, gastritis, IBS, burping or farting and best of all NO MORE CONSTIPATION! I have been constipated all my adult life!

Sleep. I sleep like a log, if I wake to go to the loo I get straight back to sleep. I no longer have night panics.

Anxiety. Its gone. When a crisis happens I deal with it, and then I get on with stuff. It doesn’t cause sleeplessness that night, or repetitive thoughts, it’s just sorted.

Depression. I’m not depressed! No SAD this year. No negative thoughts, no hopelessness. Even when not depressed I have tended to be rather negative. Not this year!

Has this been an easy change? well, yes, and no. It takes a huge shift in perception to a)not be afraid to eat fat and b) just work out what to eat. I was pretty food obsessed for the first couple of months. But one learns, and it turns out that eating out is not that difficult either.

BUT I haven’t been hungry, in fact my appetite has waned. And the psychological changes have made it much easier to stick to the rules.

here are lots of ‘forbidden’ foods. When I started I thought I would just be doing the diet until I hit my target weight. I promised myself that I could, if not go back to my old ways, at least eat normally in company, and have the occasional treat. But when I did that at Christmas I found that a) the food didn’t taste that delicious after all and b)I felt rough, and it really did not seem worth it. So I doubt that I will return to my old ways, although I might eventually eat the odd carrot.

What is certain is that if you use the diet to reduce your weight, and then go back to your old ways, you will also go back to your old weight. It’s a choice. But at least it does work as a diet.

Right, some reading for you.

Jason Fung, my hero. He has written a book ‘The Obesity Code’ about how we get fat. Based on robust science and written with true humility and concern for his patients. He also has a blog It has the same content as the book, but isn’t as well organised. He is also an advocate of fasting, but I haven’t felt the need.

Gary Taubs – several books on the evils of sugar and big food.

A good, but not free forever website is

Facebook groups

Ketogenic diet open discussion

Keto 2nd breakfast

Keto friendly UK

All have pinned posts which include quick start guides.

Top advice from my experience?

Don’t jump straight in. If you drop your carbs from the typical high carb low fat diet you may give your system a bit of a shock and give you ‘keto flu’ transient flu like symptoms that can be quite unpleasant. Instead plan a gentle transition over 2-3 weeks, cutting out a few foods at a time.

And don’t expect to get it 100% right straight away. It’s a big change and it takes time!

49 Replies

  • And then look what plops into my inbox. I hate coconut, it makes me heave. But luckily I can make my own ketones.

  • Thank you for your post .....

    From someone who would love to lose weight :-)

  • The worst part was the anticipation! What will I eat? Will I get constipated? Not be able to sleep? and so on....

    As with so many changes in life, its just about deciding to give it a go.

  • Full fat sheeps yoghurt for breakfast with berries sometimes. Salads laced with our own olive oil. Supper is meat/fish with veggies - again with a dressing.

    My snack vices - cheese - rice cakes & marmite - nuts - fruit - wine. I know they have to go .... yikes !

    Have cut out the wine - hoping it will make a difference ..

    Just had a plate of courgettes/onions/garlic in coconut oil for lunch. Too cold for salad !

    Not being able to hold ny yoga classes or walk my dog makes it all rather dull. Am awaiting an MRI on a painful Trochanter ....

    Also have been on B12 jabs for over 3 years during which time I have gained. Methinks my absorption has improved in what was once a poorly Crohns gut 😊

  • You know, I got fat because my metabolism died and the doctors ignored it for 18 months despite a high TSH and then kept me at a "normal" TSH for six years which was in fact around TSH 3.

    My "old" ways were in fact, very healthy ways. So your post is a tad galling tbh.

    Are there any books on the evils of incompetent and quality-of-life reducing HCPs? I'd definately give that one a go! x

  • Well yes, me too, and probably most of the people on this board. But what I thought was healthy eating (low fat, and loads and loads of 'good' carbs) turns out not to be so healthy after all.

    Its kind of indirect, but there are lots of books that criticise HCPs and their rubbish dietary advice.

    'The Obesity Code' Jason Fung

    'The Case Against Sugar' Gary Taubes

    'Grain Brain' David Perlmutter

    'Eat Fat Get Thin' Mark Hyman

    I particularly like the first two because they are firmly based on good research.

    And while we got fat dramatically when your metabolism died I am increasing wondering if our metabolism dies because of our poor diet, and poor dietary habits.

  • More videos for you

    'The men who made us thin' and 'The men who made us fat' both BBC productions but now available on youtube (probably rip-offs, but I pay my licence!)

    I think the whole problem is that there isn't much money to be made out of healthy eating. Where is the added value in a lump of meat and some fresh veg? Much better keep them sick and fat, so we can push expensive drugs, do horrendous mutilation operations, to keep the NHS in the red, push processed foods, keep them coming back to slimming clubs...

    Cynical? Moi?

  • What do you eat in a typical day? x

  • Great Post, thank you! My Mom is doing keto with fasting and I will be easing into it after the candida diet to clear this stubborn Candida. She is also fasting and like you is a Fung Follower. She got me this for Christmas;

    Also, Lakanto is a keto/candida approved sugar substitute and its not synthetic.

  • I'm having to wait patiently for hubby to finish the Complete Guide to Fasting. Seems only fair as it was an Xmas pressie!

    I killed my Candida with the herbal stuff from Humaworm. No way I could have resisted the sugar cravings on the diet. In fact I knew about the diet for twenty or more years, but couldn't follow it. Also look at lufenuron brand name CCWS. There is no need to do it unaided.

  • THANKYOU!!! I did the diet a few months back and felt much much better but the Candida came back (or never fully left?) after i was given strong antibiotics for a surgery. Finding it very difficult to get back on it full throttle. R x

  • I was totally ruled by the Candida. I remember my stepmum saying when I was in my teens that I only had to see a little child with a sweetie and I had to have one.

    It is SO liberating to be able to choose!

    Honestly, what do you have to lose, other than money, of course, but then I can't imagine what I have saved by not eating chocolate for 3 months! or

    My suspicion is that CCWS is more powerful, but it required me to renounce sugar before starting the course! So I did Humaworm thinking that at least then if I had to go to CCWS I might not get such severe die-off. But so far, I don't really feel the need.

  • Oh, and the bad news is that we all have it to some extent. I have even read that its an important part of the biome in a healthy person.

    It just depends on the individual how much havoc antibiotics or eating sugar/carbs causes. You and I just got short straws!

  • Thank you Ruthi , yes we all have a variant of the yeast its just when it becomes out of balance where it becomes a problem and hard to 'control'. This book was a real life changer for me;

    I went to the Humanworm site. thank you, lots to see! Can I just confirm before I order, is it the one that is just called humanworm for adults?

    R x

  • No, that is the parasite cleanse. There is a separate Candida cleanse.

  • Love Jason Fung, got his book on my Kindle.

    I ve eaten a low carb, high fat diet for ever a year and it works. Gut feels healthy, ditched the omeprazole but to be fair I did that a month or so before going LCHF - I went totally gluten free First - but I've gone from 75kgs to 54kgs - without counting a single calorie, I became T2 diabetic while being treated with steroids but I was prediabetic anyway, so I checked my bloods before and after every meal and discovered my bloods were spiked by all the so called 'healthy' carbs I was eating.

    Like you I was pretty food obsessed for the first while and like you I've never been hungry - I eat lots of food, I've got loads of energy and I sleep well.

  • What is a typical day's food for you? x

  • No real typical days. Yesterday was late lunch of avocado, sardines, salad and supper of home made burgers (beef, chopped onion, an egg) fancy sprouts I found in Lidl with bacon bits and some cream, and some buttered cabbage. I had planned berries and cream for pud but was too full! I rarely eat breakfast, and lunch tends to be around 3pm, after dog walks. But when I started I ate 3 meals a day. Breakfast just became too much of a chore and I am rarely hungry at the start of the day

  • Sounds like you eat how I eat part from breakfast - I LOVE breakfast, it's my favourite meal of the day even if I have to make it myself.

  • Well, I start every day with a two large or x large eggs in an omelette, with either blueberries, mushrooms, or if I'm pushing the boat out I'll have half of a ripe banana mashed up and mixed in but I only really do that once a week. have that with half a pink grapefruit and a cup of tea. If I'm in a hotel I'll have bacon and eggs with mushrooms and tomatoes.

    At lunch time I'll have a bowl of soup, usually home made mushroom and a handful of unsalted nuts - 5 Brazil nuts, some walnuts and almonds and sunflower and pumpkin seeds and sometimes some dried fruit but not much. Or if I'm out and can't get a soup I like I'll just have a coffee and the nuts, they are easy to get.

    Then dinner at night might be salmon - often barbecued along with chorizo - it releases all the oils and tastes great but when it's too cold to go out and barbecue we have it wrapped in pancetta and cooked in my remoska on a bed of leeks with a splash of white wine - have that piled up with a couple of different veg - either broccoli, asparagus, kale, cabbage (red or regular) Brussels sprouts, I don't eat a lot of potatoes but I've discovered I can eat three or four boiled baby potatoes without spiking my blood glucose, sometimes I make sweet potato wedges. I eat a lot of veg but I've cut back on the amount of fruit I eat - I used to eat masses of it and I'm careful about the kind of fruit I eat - no more tucking into a massive bunch of grapes or a pineapple.

    We eat fish, usually salmon or sea bass, chicken, lamb probably once a week, and we tend to have a steak and salad once a week with gluten free chips.

    I have to say I do like my puddings and I often have mixed berries - a handful of strawbs/raspberries / blueberries with a (large) teaspoon of extra thick cream on them or I'll have a couple of squares of very dark chocolate.

    I started having a sugar free jelly with blueberries or straw s plus some thick cream but I'm not sure about the chemicals they use as a sugar substitute.

    When I was tracking what I ate and how it affected my blood sugar I discovered I could eat a small helping of pavlova and it would have less effect on my blood sugar than if I ate an oatcake! Very surprising and a bit of a blow though because I like oatcakes and used to eat them quite a lot, same with jacket potatoes - in fact I ate a lot of carbs in the past, not particularly unhealthy ones either but just a lot and they obviously affect my metabolism.

    I never ever snack between meals and I never drink fizzy drinks - I stick with water, decaf tea and coffee or I might have the very odd and very small glass of red wine. I've never been a drinker - if I'm going to have calories I want to eat them.

    I've also given up my massive McDonalds habit. I used to walk miles and reward myself on the way home but they don't do much that is gluten free so I've not been to a McD for over a year.

    Going low carb was nothing to do with losing weight for me, it was to control my T2 Diabetes which it did, the weight loss was just an added and surprising bonus. I never calorie counted only went by keeping my blood sugar in a good place.

    Going gluten free was to try and reduce my antibodies, I've got Graves Disease, IBS, inflammatory arthritis and a few others so I really wanted to do something to help myself and over the year I've watched my thyroid antibodies steadily reduce until they are now very low - still there but a fraction of what they were.

  • Thank you! I've been GF for four days now. I will steal some if your meals! It's easier then I thought tbh. The knock-on effect in this very early process is having low amounts of carbs seem to go hand in hand.

    I mean four days is laughable really in terms of commenting any "experience" but the shift has been less traumatic then I imagined and my joint pain has eased considerably already (I don't know if this is psychosomatic...)

  • I'm sure it's not. It gets easier the longer you do it. I used to find getting caught in town when I didn't want a meal and didn't want cake the most awkward, now I have nuts but you've got to read the ingredients - M&S put wheat in oneof their little tubs of fruit and nuts! A piece of cooked chicken is good two,been known to but that. Eating out is fairly easy too nowadays, most places are pretty aware now, Nando's are amazing.

  • I'm a fan of the ketogenic way of eating. I'm about to go back on the strictest version of the diet after a Christmas lapse, and because I feel so unwell after eating anything with sugars or starches in it (with the exception of berries).

    Blood sugar control is one thing, but weight loss quite another, I find. Before menopause, even with severe UAT I could still lose a few pounds if I needed to. Post menopause, I've found it absolutely impossible and I piled on weight. Nothing works for me now.

  • Mum is passed Menopause and has lost over 30 pounds on the keto/fasting combo. There is hope! xx

    EDIT: She is also Hypothyroid and suffers from Colitis which is now in remission.

    EDIT: She corrected me its actually 57 pounds now.

  • Yes, fasting might help with weight loss, but I do tend to feel faint and start stumbling and dropping things, as well as feeling very tired. I've a few other health issues, so I think I will have to wait until they're resolved before I try fasting again.

  • Indeed, its not for everyone. She worked her way up to it slowly.

  • If you are properly fat adapted, (I assume you know the term if you have keto experience) then fasting shouldn't make you feel faint, which is usually low blood sugar. You could add in bone broth and some fats (I hate BPC but quite like chai tea with a bit of butter!) might help even things out.

    The other thing is to just to contract your eating window.

    I'm 66, and it works for me as long as I keep under the magic 20grams of carbs.

  • Thanks for those suggestions, Ruthi.

    I do make bone broth to put in the slow cooker with a lump of meat, or soups. Never actually got round to drinking it by the mugful, which I know is recommended for keto, but the idea is a bit off-putting. ;-) I agree with you about BPC - horrible!

    I think I may have to invest in one of those blood ketone meters. I've delayed buying one, because the test strips are so expensive, but it's probably the only sure way to monitor ketosis.

  • I love the bone broth! I do it in the pressure cooker. It does need lots of seasoning, though.

    The general view of the ketone meters is that they are rather unreliable, because they only take a snapshot. No good for me with my needle phobia anyway. The generally accepted (by the experts) way of guaranteeing ketosis is being strict with carbs and keeping below 20 grams.

    When I asked the experts about the likely cause of all the benefits of ketosis they more or less said it was primarily because of the removal of trigger foods. Ketosis only seems really important for migraine and epilepsy where there has actually been some research.

  • That's such a shame. Think it only worked for me because of the diabetes and the fact I was pre diabetic for a long time before that, it doesn't seem to work in my other half - although he does eat more than me and he still eats lots of bread.

  • If he eats bread it is NOT low carb.

    I think we are all pre diabetic to some extent nowadays, 'normal' diets are so high in carbs.

  • I know that - bread is definitely not low carb - actually he knows that too.

    To be fair, it is only me who is on a low carb diet although generally he is pretty low carb by default but he does buy bread every now and again if we have people in for a meal or he will eat it Is put on the table in a restaurant.

    He says he 'doesn't want to lose weight too fast'. I've given up even bothering.

  • It's very difficul to eat low carb when you are vegan, as leaving out all starchy veg and fruit makes it very hard to eat enough food not to feel hungry. It sounds good to be able to eat pounds and pounds of food, but it isn't, and there's a limit to the number of avocados one woman can consume (or afford).

  • That must be tough! Not sure how 'strict' it is but;

  • I agree its difficult. But apparently possible.

    My argument would be that, however strong the moral argument, we did not evolve to be vegan, and I know of no stone age community that existed without animal products of some sort. Given that agriculture, which made veganism possible, started 200 to 400 generations ago, it is not surprising that we haven't really evolved to cope with its products that well. Some groups do better than others, and things were OK till we started processing our food, and eating non stop. I know that the Jains are vegan, but I suspect they don't have any truck with sugar or other processed foods. And of course it is much easier to stay slim and healthy than get back there once things have gone wrong and for thyroid patients that situation has usually not been of their own making!

    But it leaves you between a rock and a hard place. Stick to your principles, or eat for your health? I am glad I haven't been faced with that choice. I do avoid factory farmed meat and eggs, but I know that animals die, and live, to feed me. I eat no more meat than I did pre keto, though. Its the carbs that have fallen, and the fats risen. The problem with vegetable source proteins is that they tend to be bound up with carbs.

  • It's an anti-cancer diet so I'm sticking to it (it's given me another 10 years so far) and most of those vegan versions have more processed stuff in them than I would normally eat: cookies and pies, flour substitutes, gordon bennet! My blood type suggests that I'm quite a late comer to society, so ...

    Apart from the odd paleo bar when I'm in a hurry (filed under sweeties) I just eat fruit and veg. No processed stuff at all (I think, unless you count tea).

    I buy lots of good raw meat to feed the cat (he gets a species-appropriate diet) - it would be too expensive to feed it to both of us and I don't think I'd fancy eating it again now. Plus my asthma and migraines went on this diet so I don't really want to change anything.

  • It really is so much more complex than a 'plan' or an equation for health, the more I hear stories like yours the more I am convinced of how there is no one size fits all approach to healing. I wish you and your cat good health :) R xx

  • Well, yes, I can see that you have powerful reasons to stick to the diet!

    Understanding of what drives and feeds different types of cancer has come such a long way in recent years. When the diet was prescribed did they tell you what to do for your particular type of cancer? If not it might be worth asking now, given the speed of progress.

    My understanding is that many cancers thrive on sugar, but some others are protein driven. I think the broad brush statement that obesity is linked to higher cancer risks is far to general nowadays. But given the amount of sugar in fruit may be worth checking?

  • Luckily, no obesity and I eat only a handful of berries a day , fruit-wise, and occasionally a banana or grapefruit. Mostly veg.

  • I've got to say thank you ruthi and Fruitandnutcase because this has spurred me on no end.

  • Looking through your posts, Sedgie, I imagine it would help you again. At least to start with no need to give up your dairy or even small amounts of chocolate. You can always try doing without them once you are established.

    Being GF will even out the highs and lows of Hashimoto's. Being keto will enable you to make the best use of what thyroid hormone you have. If you start today it won't affect any tests you have in the next 3 or 4 weeks.

  • Thank you. I greatly appreciate the input. There's no one in real life I can really converse with about this subject. Thanks! 😊

  • I think most of us are in that boat! We are the outcasts!

  • Ruthi, what is curly girl about and do you know if people with adtenal fatigue have any success with ketogenic dieting? Supposed with low metabolism your body can't draw fuel from stored fat but only from food you ingest.

  • The Curly Girl Method, after a book of the same name. You use no sulphate shampoos (in fact most use none at all, I just wash with conditioner) because it drys and damages the hair. And conditioners without Silicones because they build up and the only way to remove them is sulphate shampoo! Beautiful shiny healthy curls and at least in theory no frizz. My hair is gorgeous in comparison to before. I was curly, of course, but curlier now.

    As for AF, I think you need to be careful. I had very high cortisol, permanently wired, highly anxious, no sleep so exhausted. I've not tested cortisol since keto, but I'm no longer anxious, cope with crises calmly, have forgotten how to catastrophise. I sleep properly at night and am no longer exhausted in the daytime, or sneaking cheeky naps. So it worked for me. And the beautiful girl that posted on facebook about keto saving her posted in the AF group! But if you have low cortisol I wouldn't like to second guess how it would affect you. I'd certainly say lower carbs very gradually, and monitor how you are. Because such a drastic change in diet has to be a stress on the body and mind. BUT everyone can benefit from avoiding sugar, and skipping the snacks. That will lose insulin and increase insulin sensitivity, and lower baseline blood glucose.

    I was astounded at the effect on mood. I have always thought I was just a volatile character. Now I realise it was the sugar in charge. And when I was stressed I turned to sugar again, which causes the release of endorphins. But as with any drug, I needed more and more to get an effect. So it has been all good eliminating it from my life. And because so far, I haven't found an artificial sweetener that doesn't cause me problems. So I'm not having ersatz junk food either.

    I don't know if it's just kicking sugar or having gone fully keto that is responsible for all these changes. I do know that if I slide I feel worse. And in September I bought size 16 clothes for our holiday. Today I am wearing size 10. And of course that is a huge pleasure, but I'm more excited about all the other wins.

  • CG--no shampoo: what a concept. I'll have ro try it. And tell my really curly daughter.

    Your weight loss is amazing. When I tried Ketosis before it made me sleepless. But you are right about easing in to things.

    I am substituting nuts and seeds for sugar when I have cravings now. But apparently Keto doesn't recommend that--and why?

    I need to give up bread as well as sugar i don't know if it's the gluten or wheat that addicts me

    I have low cortisol days and high cortisol night so I have known the tired, wited and sleepless way since I was forty. Just too much stress at that time

    Now I am trying a homeopathic combination that has me feeling better and may be a solution but the weight has been impossible to lose since I went on synthroid. I only gain, even though I am back on ndt

    Thanks for your thoughts you write so well

  • Your sleeplessness will have been due to an electrolyte imbalance. The diet is diuretic in the early days, till the body learns to hold on to electrolytes again. They recommend 1.5tsp of salt plus lo salt on food to start with. I used to put the salt into capsules because I really can't just down it. But I no longer need to do more than normal salt in cooking.

    Nuts are surprisingly high in carbs, that is the only reason they are limited on keto. But ground almonds are used a lot in 'baking' as a flour substitute. As for bread, yes, its bad on so many levels. I was gluten free for several years before so that was one hurdle already jumped. I make a little bun with ground flax seed nowadays, so I can still have my cheese on toast!

    Definitely tell your daughter about CG method. It is worth reading up, because its a little bit more than no shampoo - so either get the book, or join the facebook group Curly Girls! (Conditioner-Washing Group for Women).

  • Ruthi this is just a fab post! I have been maintaining a ketogenic lifestyle for the last 7 years or so and have transformed my health. It is always good to find other likeminded people as the world seems very small sometimes when you feel like you are living a lifestyle so far outside the mainstream belief system.

  • The world just seems very small minded, I find. I've just spent an hour explaining - again - to my daughter that carbs are not essential, that sugar is poison, that honey is sugar despite containing nice things, and that saturated fats are not at all bad, its the vegetable oils we should beware of. I try not to go into the whole thing with most people, I just say I have given up sugar and starchy food. And most people aren't that interested!

    Its fine for her, she lives in France where they eat properly, has no sweet tooth, and never snacks. She is in no real danger!

You may also like...