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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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April 04 2018

What Happens “After Keto”?

By Mark Sisson
110 Comments

Inline_What_Comes_After_Keto.jpegGoogle searches for this question have shot up in recent weeks. I’m not surprised. An unprecedented number of people went keto in January purely as a quick weight loss hack, and now they’re looking to transition off of “this weird diet.” Tortillas and bagels beckon, after all. This is the wrong way to approach keto—obviously. It’s not a quick hack. It isn’t magic, and if it were magic, the magic takes awhile to happen.

And asking “what happens after keto?” is the wrong question to ask. And here’s my answer to all those folks who are wondering.

Keto is a reset (a Keto Reset, even). It’s a return to the ancestral metabolic state, the metabolic state we were born into (newborns are filthy with ketones, even on their relatively sweet mother’s milk diet). Keto happens really easily in humans compared to other animals. You go 12 hours without eating and then wake up in the morning? You’ll have detectable ketones on your breath. It’s almost like we’re made for it.

Then we enter the “real world.” We start sitting in chairs for half the day. We never go more than a couple hours without snacking on something. We eat carbs we don’t need in order to fuel athletic pursuits we don’t actually pursue. We eat right up until bedtime, which is later than ever because we have multiple social media statuses to update. After our 6 hours of sleep, we grab a pastry and Frappucino on the way to work or school. We’re not just well-fed. We exist in a permanent fed state. Since ketosis naturally occurs when we don’t eat, ketosis comes fewer and farther between for the majority of people living and eating this way.

When you fully commit to the ketogenic diet, you’re committing to rebuild your fat-burning metabolic machinery. The stuff you were born with but squandered. The stuff that’d fuel you for ten hours straight without any exogenous input on those long summer break days. It’s pretty enviable metabolic machinery to have. And while it takes at least four weeks and maybe as long as several months to really establish a solid fat-burning infrastructure, once you build it, you have more flexibility.

This is where “after keto” comes in.

You can stay keto indefinitely. This could be necessary for certain people with certain conditions that really respond to keto, like epilepsy or neurodegenerative diseases. Or if keto just works for you, it might be the easiest, most sustainable way forward. Studies as long as five years show no negative side effects of long-term ketogenic dieting, so, provided you do it right (no salami and cream cheese keto diets), I see no reason not to continue.

If you’re done losing weight and happy with your body comp, you can shift toward a more moderate carb intake. Maybe 100-150 grams a day, depending on activity levels. Just be sure to reduce your fat intake commensurately. The weight loss will have cleared out most of the insulin resistance that naturally results from carrying extra body fat and improve your ability to handle a few more carbs.

If you have weight to lose, and keto was working, I’d just stick with it. Stay the course until you’re where you like.

If you have weight to lose, and keto wasn’t working—and you gave it an honest 2-3 month try—try something else. Nothing works for everyone. Some people just do better on moderate carb, lower fat diets. Most people eating these diets for weight loss probably shouldn’t be and would do better on a keto approach, but this is a viable option if you’ve tried keto and it just hasn’t worked.

What you definitely don’t want to do is return to the dietary habits that led you to keto. Yet I see people do this, time and time again: Keto went well, but they want out, so they start adding carbs on top of their high-fat intake. That’s a recipe for disaster. Not only will you consume an incredible number of calories without even knowing it—butter just disappears into a baked potato—you’ll be consuming the most obesogenic combination of macronutrients around. Consider what the Standard American Diet consists of:

  • Salty snacks like chips and crackers (pulverized carbs fried in refined seed oils)
  • Sweet baked goods (fructose inside pulverized carbs baked in refined seed oils)
  • Fast food meals (meager meat sandwiched between pulverized carbs served with pulverized carbs fried in refined seed oils)
  • Pizza (huge discs of pulverized carbs topped with cheese)

Notice a theme? Sound familiar?

Not even choosing the cleanest, most Primal sources of fats and carbs together makes it much better. That combo doesn’t work unless you erect an ultra-intense, high-volume training habit just to keep the junk at bay—and even then, you’ll only maybe stave off some of the weight gain and create a whole host of other problems. If you’re getting paid to do it, sure. But if you’re a weekend warrior destroying his or her social life just to out-train a bad diet, what’s the point?

Here’s what I like most—and what seems to work best for folks: the keto zone.

That’s where your diet is fluid. You’re regularly slipping in and out of ketosis. You’re a bit higher (not high) carb one day to help with an intense training session and go right back to lower carb the next. And throughout it all, because you’ve put in the work necessary to build up that fat-burning machinery, you’re always great at burning fat, and you retain your ability to burn glucose/glycogen when needed.

It’s actually not that far off from how I ate before the keto reset. Same basic foods promoted and eliminated. Similar macronutrient ratios. But with my newfound metabolic flexibility and the improvements in mitochondrial function, it feels different. I eat a little less. I’m a little more efficient with my calories. And I’m not getting any of the negative effects usually seen in diehard adherents to calorie restrictionI’m still killing it in the gym, on the board, and on the Ultimate field. I’m sleeping great. My cortisol levels are in a good place because my body isn’t perceiving this way of eating as a stressor. I’m handling the work load of a growing business and the stress of a cross-country move without issues.

If I had to sum up what ideally happens “after keto,” it’s that ketosis becomes a well-worn tool in your kit—one you’re able to call upon when the job requires it. These jobs just… happen. You realize you skipped lunch because you just weren’t hungry, and you barely noticed. You spend all day bouncing around airports and never even think to eat the terrible food being offered, and it’s no issue at all. It doesn’t even register because, underneath the hood, your mitochondria are dialed in and producing all the energy you need from your own body fat. Ultimately, what keto allows you to do is stop thinking about food so much and get on with your life.

That’s what I’ve seen, at least in myself, my tribe, and the thousands of people who write in to tell me about it. That’s our “after keto.”

What’s yours?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care, be well.

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110 thoughts on “What Happens “After Keto”?”

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  1. Great read. I was interested in the ketogenic diet for some time, but hesitant to commit with one heart attack behind me four years ago. To my surprise, my doctor recommended it to me. After my first week Ikm feeling great and dropping weight quickly. I read the Keto Reset, and with my present diet and exercise habits, passed the test with 100/110 so I jumped right in to 50 grams of carbs and adjusted the other macros suitably. I’m enjoying the meals, fast 18 hours most days, sleep well, and am presently 10 pounds away from my high school weight.

    1. Hi Kirk, I’m 71 years old. I had open heart surgery about 4 years ago to repair an aortic aneurysm and replace my aortic valve. I’ve been zero carb since my surgery. Now I eat only raw beef and raw eggs … every day. Still no carbs. I’ve never felt better in my whole life and plan on being around for many more years to come.

    2. Great job. Looking good!
      I started in May. Down 10lbs, need to lose at least 10 more.

  2. The Keto Zone has worked well for me for years. I regularly drift between 100 percent Paleo (bordering on but probably not actually in ketosis) to 90/10 and often 80/20. This works for me since I feel good and I don’t need to lose weight. It’s easy, it requires no counting or measuring (which is a hassle), and it actually requires very little conscious thought when you know which foods to avoid. Substitute foods don’t appeal to me. Way too often that becomes a slippery slope of replacing conventional junk with Paleo junk. I’d much rather allow myself a few bites of the real thing if I really want it (80/20 rule), but I usually have no problem skipping the bad carbs (grains and sweets). For me, and maybe most women, the Keto Zone is the perfect way to eat.

    1. Same here. keto for 5 years after years of yo yo dieting, no weight loss. my weight has stabilized, stay below 60 grams carbs a day. once in awhile, I will eat around 100 grams. if I want something not on the diet; I will have a small taste once in awhile. the big thing for me is IF – really makes a difference! Are there any vegans on this regime? I’d really like to cut back on my meat consumption.

      1. Search for the ketotalk podcast from 11/17 with the Vegan Keto doctor. She apparently runs a vegan keto facebook group

      2. Do you need to go vegan just to cut back on your meat consumption, though? It sounds as though you have plenty of willpower already. Just cut back, I’d say. But do watch your nutritional intake – humans aren’t meant to be vegan, as I guess you know.

    2. Great job! I don’t find it too hard to follow, I keep my carbs down pretty good 99.9% of the time. I started losing weight and then when I started exercising and walking I started gaining weight, I was told it’s muscle mass….. Hopefully I start losing the fat pretty soon! LOL

  3. Your point that keto is a tool in one’s kit going forward is key. I’m so happy someone pointed this out. Diets are not merely fads, as so many articles try to frame them. They are learning experiences that can also assist when in another eating lifestyle. In my case with keto, I have slipped off the diet over the years, but I can rely on the diet to up my mental acuity, while protecting against anxiety in particular, when work and environment stressors increase. The mental advantage of the diet is vastly underreported. And the convenience of relying on bodily fat for fuel helps balance the public inconvenience of the extreme-low-carb strictness.

  4. Is it possible that keto can take a very long time to produce any noticeable results? I’ve been consistently under 50 carbs/day (often under 25) for 4 months with absolutely zero weight loss.

    1. No. Make sure you’re not injesting too much protein and that your calories are low enough.

      1. Bad answer. Some people, believe it or not, do everything correctly and do not lose weight. This bears out in studies as well. Though some people I think do have to watch the calories, or burn more.

        1. Bad news – you have always wact calories, becuase the body won’t eat its own fat reserve unless energy deficiency…would you take money from your savings when you do not have to because mney comes in ervery month. It#s that simple.

    2. Tim,
      My suggestion would be to get your daily carb amount under 20 grams for a bit and see how that goes. Just make sure you are keeping your fat intake at a decent level. Using a calorie counting app worked wonders for to really dial in my macros and play with them it find what works for me. I dropped a little over 20 lbs in a month a half rather effortlessly. But I kept my carbs pretty low, around 8 grams a day, and fat intake around 70-80%. Lastly, be mindful of your total calorie intake. Any amount of calories over what you actually need, regardless if on a keto diet or not, will prevent weight loss. Don’t give up on it, be consistent, and tweak/tune your diet to find what works for you.

      1. Like Trevor said,I also found that I needed to drop below 20g carbs per day and keep fat somewhat moderate (yet never feeling it was restricted) and that got the weight coming off. I also find I need to forgo alcohol because it tends to stall me as well. I’ve grown to really enjoy keto and believe this is the way I’ll eat for the rest of my life now and once I’ve reached my goal weight.

      2. Are you referring to Net or Gross carbs? 8 grams seems pretty low if you’re talking Gross.

    3. You also need to make sure you’re at a caloric deficit. Think of protein as a goal, carbs at a limit and fat is your variable. It’s also possible you need fewer carbs to be in ketosis. Get some test steps

    4. What are your fat-protein ratios? Your body does this fantastic thing called ‘gluconeogenesis’ if you consume too much protein on a virtually no-carb diet. I LOVE protein, I’ve found that proper ratio maintenance is key for me to get the most out of Keto.
      Also, I’d suggest a genetic test. Your genes/relationship to your gut bacteria are an intrinsic part of your nutrition.

      I’m far from an expert, but I’ve been trial-and-error-ing myself into and out of different diets for around 12 years. Starting keto practically eradicated some GI symptoms I never thought I could rid myself of, particularly considering most of them were the direct cause of a severe eating disorder.

      Hope this helps!

    5. If you’re that low in carbs then what are your other macros like? If you are fat adapted and show obvious signs of it (even energy, no hunger no matter the time between meals, better sleep etc) then you don’t need to keep those fats so elevated. If carbs are fixed, what else is left but protein? Your body needs protein for more than just muscle. Many who try keto eat too many veggies and not enough protein. As noted above, high saturated fat with a few too many carbs will lead to weight gain or at least a plateau.
      Consuming a high amount of fat usually leads to some type of fasting. If you’re not losing weight you need to increase activity to create some kind of additional deficit. In this case, you’ll definitely want to make sure you’re getting adaquate protein. Try adjusting to your proper protein macro (.8 to 1g per lb of lean mass), keep the carbs under 30, but scale back the fats. Do this and maintain and fasting window of 14 to 16 hrs and you’ll start to see results esp if you are active. Steady state low impact cardio like a long decent pace uphill walk combined with occasional sprinting sessions interspersed with even bodyweight lifting is plenty of activity.
      If you’re fat adapted, let your body burn it’s own fat instead of loading so many dietary fats into the equation. Don’t be afraid that excess protein is going to convert to glucose in the body to the point of spiking your blood sugar. Take a look at my b4 and afters. Once I hit ideal body comp I lowered my fat intake and increased protein intake almost to carnivore levels. Same energy and stabilized hunger hormones but have noticed a continual improvement in body composition. Better digestion as well. A 200lb male at 18% body fat still needs 175ish grams of protein a day on keto. That’s like a pound of meat a day, a few eggs, and maybe a protein shake. Eat the fatty cuts of meat and plenty of them, don’t add too much unnecessary fat, forget the carbs except greens and avocado, and never look back.

      1. Most recent protein recommendations from Mark are .5 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass. So a 200 pound male minus 18% body fat is 164 pounds lean body mass with a protein need of 82 grams a day. That is less than 3/4 pound of beef a day (at 90 grams protein in 3/4 pound beef) for your total daily protein needs.

        Also note that the normal portion size for most protein sources (meat, fish, fowl) is 3-4 ounces. If you eat out a lot, most restaurant portion sizes are double that or more. As a nation, we have gotten used to huge portion sizes. One restaurant meal could represent most or all of your caloric needs for the day.

        Too much protein is a problem for many people trying keto, even when the carbs are good. Too much protein gets treated the same as too many carbs in your body due to gluconeogenesis.

        You have to be careful about other calories as well. Wine has substantial calories from alcohol even with a relatively low carb count. Total calories still matter.

        You can try other things as well. Sometimes stuck weight loss is due to lack of movement throughout the day. Stress may cause you to not lose weight. Lack of sleep can be another factor. So it is worth trying other aspects of the Primal lifestyle to see if that will trigger weight loss.

        1. A grown man can’t really eat too much protein. For obvious reasons. Not to discredit Mark, but if protein is very low and so are carbs, the rest of the calories must come from fat. If you are eating the fattiest cuts of meat on keto (which you should), you’ll hit your protein macros before fat. So this leaves a window of opportunity to adjust fat intake by adding it or leaving it alone. Most will add fat thru dairy. These longer chain acids take forever to digest leading to elongated fasts and not actually being able to eat and hit macros day to day. Weight loss stalls because there’s too much dietary fat to digest and burn off. If you’re fat adapted, it doesn’t just mean you prefer to burn what’s in your diet, it means your metabolism has begun to regularly mobilize fat stores for energy. We have more fuel on our body than most of us need. If a deficit is required to lose weight without losing muscle mass (most men’s goal), the deficit can’t be so low that the brain thinks you’re starving and triggers stress hormones resulting in a carb binge. Better to hit the sweet spot with dietary fat that allows you to feel full while allowing the body time to burn it’s own. If you under eat everything but fat and the body will burn off dietary fat before body fat, what is the body burning during this so called deficit? Not the desired body fat. So, something has to give. It’s just common sense. Finally, most tdee keto calculators shoot the fat macro up to 60-90% by default and expect you adjust. If I wasn’t losing weight eating 90% fat and under 25g carbs, why would I seek to raise the fat further?
          I’m no expert on this, I’m just living it.
          Do not fear protein.

      2. Nope, this is not correct. You need to restrict protein on the Diet, not “make sure you get enough protein”

    6. Tim, it is entirely possible to be strictly keto and not see “any noticeable results”. It happened to me. I followed the keto regimen as described in Mark’s book (and other places) for about 4 years and all I got was extremely elevated cholesterol, fasting blood glucose, and high blood pressure (which i never had before), as well as very little to no weight loss. In short, I was becoming quite ill, and this is with including regular intermittent fasting (longer fasting window most days). I decided I had enough and slowly transitioned back to a moderate complex carb/low fat eating plan, which is mostly vegan, most days and all my numbers improved and my health has returned, thank goodness. Mark does state in this post that some people don’t do well on a keto plan. Some of us are more insulin sensitive and just feel better on something other than strict keto all the time. I am at my lowest weight in years, even lower than high school, and my energy has come back to the point where my husband has noticed that he can “barely keep up with me” which wasn’t the case before. Don’t be afraid to go against the group it that is what works for you. We are all unique in our physiology, no matter what some may say.

      1. “Don’t be afraid to go against the group if that is what works for you.”
        I’m in love with this statement. Thank you.

      2. YES! If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t. Everybodys different. I was looking for salvation in dietary habits and ended up realizing a lot of people perform very well eating ordinary foods. I might try some diet again at some point but currently I’m leaving all that to others. Still curious about what goes on in the field, though.

    7. My biggest mistake was eating too few calories (a bad habit I’ve had for years). I recently started eating at least 2000 calories a day and I am finally losing inches.

    8. – increase your “healthy” fat consumption
      – buy a $20 precision xtra meter… test serum ketones and blood sugar
      – incorporate MCT oil and/or caprylic acid (CapTri)
      – Incorporate apple cider vinegar for the acetic acid

      If all else fails, do what our early ancestors did all the time… do a 5-day water only fast and/or, at least incorporate a 24 hr fast once a week. Now you’re in ketosis!

    9. The dirty secret of the keto diet as found in the Reset Diet is that it is actually not just a very low carb diet (that I could handle from being Primal), it is a very low protein diet as well. If you follow the guidelines as to protein consumption, it is laughable how little you can actually eat on the program in a day. My guess is that you are well above the protein guidelines, as most people will be who try the diet. It is a head fake calorie restriction diet at its root.

      1. The Keto Reset Diet does not recommend very low protein. The recommendation is for most people to start at ~0.7 grams per pound of lean body mass and adjust accordingly for activity level and goals (like the general primal guidelines, actually). It is not necessary to drop protein to very low levels to achieve nutritional ketosis nor to lose weight.

        It might well be the case that part of the “magic” of the keto diet is that it helps people comfortably modulate their calorie intake, but TKRD does not recommend that they do so by failing to eat sufficient protein. If you are doing a healthy keto diet, fat would be the macro that moves according to calorie needs.

        1. All of these responses, although conflicting, are correct to some degree.. Some people are able to achieve ketosis and weight loss quite easily (and can therefore get away with eating more carbs/protein). Others need to drastically reduce both carbs and portion sizes (including protein) and STILL struggle with it. Keto isn’t a carved-in-stone endeavor and needs to be adjusted individually. I strongly suspect that quite a few people who think they’re in deep ketosis are really mostly in the Keto Zone. But it doesn’t matter if they are achieving their goals.

    10. You could be eating too much fat. To lose weight, you still need to create a calorie deficit. Also, as Mecko mentioned, you have to keep your protein at “moderate” levels, excess protein will prevent weight loss. .

    11. Try not to get discouraged, if you were not a carb King before you started the diet that might be why your weight loss is little. I’m diabetic and I wasn’t a big junk food junkie but I do have weight to lose. I think that these great amount of weight losses that we hear that happened very quickly are due to people that eat a lot of carbs chips, candy, regular soda pop fast food, then when they start the keto diet and they cut out all those carbs of course they’re naturally going to drop a bunch of weight real fast! I thought when I went on this keto diet I’d drop 50 pounds real fast, I dropped about 18 pounds I think and then started working out and walking and gained weight. So….. I’m going to keep at it and see what happens. But I know one thing my A1C went down and my blood work is good it is healthier.

    12. Sure. Dr. Eric Berg says it is possible to be on keto for a while with no weight loss because your body is using the shift to repair and renew, restore hormone balances, heal the effects of too much stress, etc and when your body is ready and feels safe, the weight loss will come.

    13. Some great answers on here. I’m also thinking that any underlying issues that make losing weight harder for some people could take a lot longer to resolve. So, for example, thyroid and adrenal health may need many months of quality nutrition — nutrient-dense real food with minimal inflammation-causing food — to become optimised. Or imperfect gut health, disrupted gut microbiome, etc. may impair nutrient absorption and mean more time needed to return various body systems to optimal health. Be patient and know that you are going in the right direction 🙂

  5. what about the rampant popularity of exogenous ketone products?

    1. Pointless and a waste of money. If you’re doing it cotrectly, you’re producing your own ketones. If you’re NOT doing it correctly, you’re still in glucose burning mode!

      1. You said it! Our physiology was not designed to use both substrates simultaneously… stay Primal… honor your DNA… be wildly happy, healthy and strong.

        If you have a neurological and/or medical condition (or, you’re an elite war fighter using O2 rebreathers) that requires above 5.0mM BHB, I’d fast to go even deeper into ketosis… lastly, I’d consider esters and salts as a last line “supplement” option… otherwise, they’re rubbish. There, I said it too!

  6. I’ve been doing keto stents since my collage days (>20 years ago). At that time, I was bodybuilding and there was no more effective way to get all ripped, maintain muscle and feel pretty dam good (mentally and physically) throughout the process. I decided to go full time keto about 8 years ago… as a competitive crossfit athlete with multiple workouts / day, I experimented with years of full time keto and years of keto cycling. Even when I have some carbs (honey, fruits, potatoes, sorghum), my serum BHB still hovers around .5mM. It’s the weirdest thing… when I, and others that live similar lifestyles, stay in deep keto for too many months in a row, blood sugar goes up and performance goes down… every time!

    There’s nothing scientific about this but it seems to work for me… if I don’t feel awesome, maybe I’ll fast for a week… maybe I’ll go strict keto for months… maybe I’ll cycle in some carbs on the weekends… maybe I’ll eat once a day (to the tune of 5,000ish calories) for months… I’ll eat twice a day (4 to 5,000 calories / day) for months… the take home message is that I know myself pretty well, so when I’m not feeling amazing, and my calories are adequate, and I’m not over training, it’s time to change the game… ketosis, nose-to-tail, wild quality foods pretty much remain foundational. Works for me; maybe it will work for you too.

      1. With practice! The first week is not easy… but, it gets easier… after a week or two, it’s the new normal. You can see exactly what I eat on my “About Us” page at Ancestral Supplements dot com > About Us. When I eat 5,000 calories in one sitting, I essentially combine meal 1 with meal 2.

        Let me know what you think…

        1. Wow – great stuff, thanks! How do your lipids look with a diet like that?

          1. Lipids are a proxy to something else… something that we (nor) medical science understands yet. I suggest that we re-frame the narrative to do more good.

            – Dietary cholesterol has little, or nothing, to do with blood cholesterol numbers.
            – Heart attacks occur more often in people with “normal” ldl cholesterol numbers.
            – Inflammation, triglycerides, fasting blood sugar and blood pressure are better predictors of heart health.

  7. You have very many blog posts and books on the subject of health and nutrition. I keep thinking to myself as I navigate feeding a family of five that it shouldn’t be so complicated. Yet it is! I botch up my fairly clean diet all the time. I’ve been a brown rice-noodle-no veggie-tofu-eggs-dairy vegetarian in a past life; I’ve done healthy-whole-grains with vegetables vegetarian; vegan (the carbivore type, not raw foodie type); I’ve been gluten/dairy/soy free since my oldest daughter was born; mostly grain free since my youngest son was born; and I am still finding that I dive headlong into higher carbohydrate foods when I get lazy/tired. Others seem to admire that I cook everything from scratch and that I read labels on everything (which is why I make everything!).

    Feeding kids is rather insane these days! I can’t even believe the junk they get sent home with from school. If I tell people that I toss my kids holiday candy, it’s seen as some kind of affront to the American tradition. I get the “All things in moderation” lecture. Then I feel guilty for not participating and then run out to find more natural substitutes for all the junk that gets thrown at them, which leads to paleo pancakes, muffins, dark chocolate Easter bunnies and other slippery slope foods that are filled with starches and a month worth of nuts.

    So, the “after keto” post makes me think of how we tend to look at health and nutrition. We like to tell ourselves that our dietary experiments are lifestyle changes, but of all the phases I’ve been through, they all come with their lifestyle components–when I was vegetarian, I did a lot of yoga and walking. Paleo, crossfit. Regular old whatever diet, regular exercise. If I look back on my day sometimes I think I’ve really botched things up with too many carbs or too much fat combined that I’m basically ending up with a SAD diet variation. However, if I quietly think about my youngest son’s plate and can identify it as such: real food (broccoli), real food (steak), real food (squash) real food (avocado) (check!), then it’s easier. I just set out the real food and he eats what he eats. If I look at most of our plates like that, it’s much easier. I get really confused when I start trying things like the keto diet, or mentally trying to tally my carbs in a day.

    1. Thanks so much for this post Jennifer as I can relate to you. I don’t want every meal to become so complicated as it takes the fun out of life. I’m not gonna obsess about food instead look at what is real food and cut out the processed junk etc. With moderate cardio and weights and yoga. Eat when I’m actually hungry not when I’m bored or stressed. The other day I came in from work after driving a long commute stuck I’m traffic etc I thought I was hungry but instead went for a 20 minute walk and I completely forgot about eating! Sometimes distraction is the key !

  8. I am totally in the keto zone and have been for years now…I refer to it as “borderline keto.” I’m not trying to lose weight, just want to look and feel as good as possible. I do not measure or track anything but just eat high fat/moderate protein/low carb. Sometimes I forget to eat. I work a 12+ hour shift bartending on Fridays, and credit keto for keeping me more focused and energetic than many of my twenty something co-workers. This is just totally a way of life for me.

  9. “cross-country move without issues.” You’re leaving Malibu? Please fill us in!

      1. Being in ketosis isn’t a matter of what’s allowed on a list, it’s the actual, objective state of your metabolism. testing will answer that question unequivocally. In small enough quantities or, as others have pointed out, artificially sweetened, I would guess probably. I’m talking juice glass servings, not main beverage or source of hydration.

        My counter question to Matheus: why would you want to? Aren’t you contemplating doing this for your health? Actually I have known several people so addicted to Pepsi I imagine they would understand your concern. Not usually other sodas but sometimes. Or coffee drinks.

        If I were in your place I’d postpone trying Keto and start by eliminating Pepsi (and other sweet beverages, don’t replace it with Coke or juice) partly because it may give you a gentler step down in carbs, but partly because when any one food/drink stands out like that it’s like waving a big red flag.

    1. Maybe with artificially sweetened Pepsi. But Keto is all about good health, more energy, and losing weight if necessary. Pepsi isn’t about any of those things, no matter what it’s sweetened with.

    1. The ultimate tool in the arsenal. I have been going straight carnivore for about 2 months. I have had a deviation or two, but nothing major. I thought I would do this and then test eating blueberries or a certain veggie, but I just don’t want to. Enjoying the carnivore WOE and it seems to be the perfect “after” keto step.

      I also think Grok might’ve taken this route through the winter, maybe in the summer having the occasional fruit source. I might try that in the summer

      1. Yes, Grok absolutely was carnivore. There simply wasn’t much else to eat during the Ice Age, especially in northern latitudes. Read about glacial and periglacial environments. You’re not growing food there.

        It may not matter If your metabolism is healthy, but there are good examples of healing horrible problems by eliminating plants. Check out Mikhaila Peterson’s story…

    2. That’s where I went. I love it so much, it’s so freeing. Occasionally I’ll cycle in an avocado. It feels a little subversive, and I don’t dare tell anyone outside of this community, they wouldn’t understand. They already think I’m too extreme following Paleo, but I’ve always been an outlier.

  10. Perfect post for me today, since I’m currently experimenting with carb cycling, after 9 months of clean Keto preceded by 9 years of Primal (9 send to be my number lately). Primal enabled me to ditch my diabetes and all meds, and helped me lose 40 pounds, but Keto shaved off another 6 pounds and brought my blood sugars into the 90’s and sometimes 80’s, well into normal. I’d still love to take another 5 pounds off, but the scale has stopped moving despite my best efforts for several months.
    So I’ve been experimenting with carb-ups consisting of Keto foods + Primal foods + Keto or Primal desserts (which I don’t eat at other times) + a bit of sourdough bread or other non-primal food, about once a month, only when I feel a strong desire. Gotta say, so delightful! So far I’ve done 2 of these, lasting 4-5 days (comprised of mostly Keto food, 80/20) with the next coming soon. Also I’ve added in more fasting, with 18/6 most days and 23/1 once a week.
    Good news: each time I carbed-up up I gained a few pounds, but once back eating Keto I lost them – plus another! Also, my glucose rose after ingesting a few higher carb foods, but dropped right back down within a few days back on Keto. Yay! Hello, metabolic flexibility!
    We’ll see if I achieve my dream weight, but meantime this cycling feels perfect, I get my keytone fat-burning cake, and eat it too. I’ll keep you posted.

  11. I have been in Keto for over 6 years and love it. Keto for life! I am 71 years young! There is no after Keto for me! I play Basketball 4 times per week with men half my age!

  12. Hi! Thanks for sharing this article. I am leaning towards a Keto-Mediteranean diet to lose weight. I’ve started this new diet on March 5 and tomorrow is my one month. I’m enjoying it and taking my doctors advice to eat more food daily. Keto should always be above 1.51 which is something I’ve learned this past week. I noticed that one day last week I was so busy and then realized I didn’t eat much and like you say in the article, I didn’t feel hungry. I’m excited to step on the scale very soon and best of luck to all who are giving this a try. My goal is to lose 60 pounds.

  13. What did you mean by as long as it’s not a salami and cream cheese keto diet? I can literally find nothing negative about them other than nitrates in the salami, everything I read supports these foods for keto.

    1. I think he means make sure you have some greens/veggies and healthy fats (olive oil, avo oil, etc) in your life! Some people literally pile a plate with bacon, grate some cheese and pour oil on it and call it good. It may still put you in ketosis but it sure ain’t healthy. 🙂

    2. Totally agree with your question and wish Mark could answer, but I think his point of view comes from the idea of eating these as staples. Many, if not most less informed people going on keto from a SAD diet will feed on processed fats and meats and won’t eat the nutritious food that goes along with all the good fats and proteins, like the veggies, nuts and seeds, etc. Also if you don’t go for the real thing most cold cuts and cheese offerings are pure, adulterated junk. I don’t want to answer for him just sharing my feeling in this one.

  14. I like being on a keto diet. I feel so much better physically, mentally, and emotionally than I ever did before. It has taken quite a while (10 years in and out of keto) for me to crack the personal code of how to make it work for me full time, but now that I know how, I do not see any reason to switch back. Oh, I might have a bit of a higher carb day now and again, but it is just easier to stay keto all the time. In exchange for the carbs, I get to eat yummy healthy fatty food all the time!

  15. I’ve been leaning up and doing so very successfully on a high protein, moderate carb, low fat diet. It works better for me than any other way of eating. I eat 2.3g per kg protein, split into 4 meals. Paleo carbs. one small glass wine a day. Almost no added fat, just what is in the meat and a little in dressings. I’m post menopuase and have experimented with a few different diets, however this is by far the most successful. I also lift heavy weights (powerlifting)

  16. Do you lose some of the anti-inflammatory benefits if not fully keto?

  17. No doubt this has been discussed before…..however, for a 60 year old post menopause woman with osteoporosis (but still active, going to gym, walking etc), is Keto reset a good option?

    1. I am a 63 year old post menopausal women with osteoporosis and am mostly primal (meat, fish, chicken, veggies and fruit, some quinoa and beans) but also hypothyroid. I lift weights and walk on an incline. Wine at night. No sweets. Because of thyroid I have read that keto may not be best for me. I do not need to lose weight only tighten up. Need to lose ab fat. Maybe keto would do that?

      1. I’m a 52 year old woman with Hypothyroidism and I’m doing great on Keto. I am loosing weight, slowly but it is coming off. It’s the only thing I found that will work. I get my carbs from vegis, mostly salads in the evening. Sometimes a few nuts, counted or measured. Eggs, cheese or meat for breakfast about lunchtime. Butter or coconut oil or MCT oil in my tea. Just don’t do low calorie with hypothyroidism.

  18. I am 59 year young male. I lost 50 lbs in 90 days and I will be wearing 34” waist pants tomorrow for the first time in 35 years. I am fully in control of my weight and have broken my addiction to carbs. I feel great and no l longer use CPAP, BP pills, and many other fat guy trappings.

  19. The study of no adverse effects was on bones. Didn’t reference heart health at all, yet the author says in general terms “no negative side effects”.

    Any diet high in animal products and low in carbs will raise cholesterol and will have negative impacts on your health.(heart, digestion, energy, etc). Glucose is the number one energy source for the human body, not fat.

    The ketogenic diet is beneficial for epilepsy patients. And that’s about it.

    1. Ketosis is beneficial for schizophrenics and those with dementia and those with anxiety and for the bipolar and those fighting many kinds of cancer and … those are just what comes immediately to mind! Oh, yeah, and those trying to loose weight.

    2. Well thanks for your expert opinion ! Totally opposite of what the experts and Doctors do say . Cholesterol goes down in almost all cases anyway, and HDL goes up. Troll somewhere else..

  20. Thanks for getting things right. What happens after keto is a better life!

    I started a low carb regimen at 315 pounds twenty years ago. Based on the book Protein Power, a popular resource at the time, I reduced my net carbs to under 50 grams and added some exercise to my life. I lost 125 pounds over the course of a year or so, and managing carbohydrates have kept it off for two decades.

    Those baby steps led me through a wonderful paleo journey to where I am today, loving the ketogenic lifestyle, weighing 185 and at age 67 looking towards sub 15% body fat.

    The most incredible part of it for me, and this is the thing many people miss, is that I discovered that an unknown athlete had been hiding in my obese body. Being active has become the joy of my life. I have discovered a new life in a very real sense, discovering the person I was meant to be all along.

    I’d encourage people who are struggling with a ketogenic diet to stick with it. Weight loss is just the tip of the iceberg. Mental clarity, greater calm, balanced energy, fewer seasonal illnesses, all come into play. The longer you do it the easier it becomes.

  21. This is by far the best article I have read on the Keto diet. It really wrapped up exactly how I feel…

  22. Outstanding post….man am I ever there! Down 31 pounds and needing a soft landing from this burner.

  23. Fortunately after dedicated time building the keto machinery, I can now enjoy a carb-filled cheat day once a week (sometimes as much as ~15,000 calories over the course of a day, and as high as 70% carbs; mostly containing delicious junkfood) and be back in full ketosis not 48 hours later. No weight gain, and feel amazing every day.

    1. I second that! I’d like to also point out that this is likely very primal in a way that’s reminiscent of our early ancestors coming up on a fig tree full of figs… or a honey hive brimming with honey… or berry bushes, or whatever; we would have gorged.

      1. Reminds me of stumbling on a fairyland of blueberry and huckleberry bushes growing wild and eating berries upon berries as we wandered through the woods, under an enchantment. That was so cool. Gotta do that again. So glad some wildness remains. Viva la Vida!

  24. Pulverized Carbs – good description. Love you way with words Mark.

  25. I loved this post, Mark! It’s true! Whenever I’m in ketosis I can handle any tempting lower quality foods without any stress. I distinctly remember the first time I cruised the pastry isle at the grocer’s with no feeling of depravation or desire. It’s very freeing, considering how bombarded we are with these foods. Aside from the incredible benefits of keto for physical health, I see this diet/ lifestyle as THE NUMBER ONE DETERMINANT OF OUTCOME in working with individuals with chronic mental health issues. I don’t read much about that. I also wonder if you could write a post exploring the detriment of a high carb high fat diet in terms of cardio health. I remember Dr. Atkins talking about this waaay ahead of its time. Namaste!

    1. That’s interesting. I know my ADD symptoms are way less problematic when my diet is lower carb higher fat.

  26. I’m wondering if the keto breath goes away after the first month , when the body gets better adapted …..if not will have to have more carbs.

  27. I have a question. I firmly believe that Keto can be a sustainable diet, but I have friends who are appalled/horrified that going Keto means not eating fruit or grains EVER (vitamin/mineral deficiency being their concern). At what point would a person need to consider vitamin or mineral deficiency or supplementation while being Keto? Is it even an issue?

    1. It’s a non-issue! Genus Homo only relatively-recently (200,000 years ago) evolved the ability to even digest such foods, courtesy of amylase. Do what we have always done… honor your DNA… eat nose-to-tail… eat plenty of veggies (especially the fermented variety), consider local in-season fruits and never go back to grain… well… almost never! A little hormesis is by very nature good for the organism.

      If you eat a well varied, nose-to-tail (inclu liver and bone marrow) diet that’s high in healthy fats, get plenty of pink salt, love the whole eggs, eat some fermented veggies, get sensible sun exposure (or eat wild caught fish eggs), the only thing that you’ll need to “supplement” with is magnesium.

      — Magnesium is required for the production of all proteins, including those that interact with vitamins A and D * —

      It’s been depleted from our soils… supplement with it! Keto life is a primal life… it only gets better!

    2. Shannon, I wrote an article a while back on the subject. It’s a worthwhile question for sure, especially with long term keto. That said, we can think along the lines of supplements and supplementary foods.

  28. What you don’t touch on, and it seems to me to be up there as one of the biggest reasons people fail keto initially or after, is alcohol, more specifically, beer and wine. Drinking socially also usually is paired with non-keto foods, exponentially causing failure.

  29. What you don’t touch on, and ranks up there with one of the biggest problems, is alcohol, specifically beer and wine, and when drinking socially, it is usually combined with high carb snacks, exponentially causing failure

  30. Mark, I love your blog but let’s be realistic, the average Joe shouldn’t be thinking about his diet like that and neither should I. Such changes should be made with the support or warning from a doctor or nurse. You are a former athlete, you have worked in the sports/fitness/gym world your entire life, and any reader of that blog should have that perspective in mind. You seek to educate the masses, but the advice you provide are not realistic for everyday people without any background or prior experience in fitness/sport/physical education training. That’s why I prefer the approach from Chris Kesser, who I know you also like, as it is more realistic and approachable for “real people”, not people with a background or qualifications in science or sports. Your advice are almost for professionals, I think.
    I have been reading your blog for almost 8 years and I love it, in retrospect I think the advice you provide are too extreme and out of the norm to be actionable.

  31. Great read! You’re the only one who’s even mentioned keto not working. I felt like an alien after doing 6 months of keto with only 6lbs of weight loss, all in the first two weeks. I started with 1800 cals, then 1600, then 1400 and nothing worked. I’m a 200lbs female with a good 50-70lbs to lose so I was so confused as to why it didn’t work for me (I still am?) I’m currently carb cycling with (3)0g carb days, (3) 50-60g carb days and (1) 200g carb day. I’ve seen no changes in the scale or measurements but I do feel stronger when I weight train. Its just trial and error at this point for me.

    1. Without knowing exactly what you eat it would be hard to pinpoint the reasons why you’re not losing weight. One thing right off the bat: 200 grams of carbs is way too much for serious weight loss, even if it’s only one day a week. Ditch the extreme stuff by keeping your carbs around 50 every day (an approximation) versus clouding the issue with no-carb days followed by days of too many carbs.

      A lot depends on what kind of carbs you’re eating. Keep a journal of everything you put in your mouth, including liquids other than water. Try sticking with plenty of low-glycemic veggies and limiting fruit to a small amount once or twice a week. Skip the sweets (including both artificial and alternative ones–yes, it’s hard at first). Skip the grain products altogether (also difficult for many people). Eat enough animal protein, including eggs, for satiation but don’t go overboard with it. Same with fats. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no such thing as “free” foods. Do daily IF from dinner until late the next morning if you can, and make an effort to avoid snacking between meals.

      Mainly stop stressing out over calories, gram counting, weighing and measuring yourself, etc. It sounds like you’re doing way too much of that sort of thing, which IMO is counterproductive. It might take you a year or more to lose that 60 or 70 pounds since weight loss is an individual thing and not everyone loses at the same rate. For that reason you need a dietary approach you can live with.

  32. Attaining ketosis is probably the best help one can do for himself or herself , if they are looking forward to loose weight.

  33. Paul Jaminet gives examples of several people who are ketogenic dieters, and after years of using it died of tumors of the digestive system. This is associated with a shortage of mucous because of the small amount of carbohydrates.
    He recommends 100-150g of carbohydrates a day. What do you think about it?

  34. This pattern happens so often. January seems to bring with it a large number of people looking for fast fixes to complex problems. You’re so right about people just adding on carbs when they stop keto. That’s a seriously risky pattern but it’s exactly the approach that many seem to take.

  35. I see Keto as a lifestyle to maintain my health and prevent diseases not a temporary thing. I’ve been essentially Keto for over two years and make adjustments periodically thru fasting and carb intake but looking more to nutrient intake and consistency than anything else.

  36. I mow down on lots of pizza without too much of an insulin response… because I just eat the cheese and toppings and throw away the crust. Actually one of my staples. I often microwave them (bit of radiation, I know) for convenience because it’s so much more enjoyable and convenient to eat when the cheese is melted without having to wait for the oven. There’s a chain pizza restaurant around here that throws out plenty of pizzas, in the boxes, and I regularly salvage them from the dumpster.
    I know it’s an irresponsible way to feed the wild life, if you can call those city [blank]hawks wildlife, but if I’m outside and eating the toppings then I’ll sometimes throw away the crusts or extras for seagulls (apparently what’s commonly called seagulls here are just gulls to be precise – someone told me (Legolas?). They’re so stupid, they make a bunch of noise when you throw them something and attract like a whole flock, and then it’s a free for all melee, which is quite entertaining. They’ll also sometimes pick pieces out of the air if you aim ahead of them when they’re flying.

  37. Well said. I find that your description of what happens down the road to be spot on. That is exactly my experience being just over 2 years in the low carb universe.

  38. Great read Mark! If been keto for about a year and a half and what you describe is so accurate. Skipping meals not because your too busy but because you don’t get hungry and just forget. I have an energy level that exceeds what I had as a mediocre high school athlete. It has literally changed mine and my wife’s lives. We have remained keto; not because we still need to lose weight, not because I feel better and have more energy, not because of the reduced inflammation and not because it cleared the acne on my back; we continue to eat keto because we simply enjoy it more than our old life style! Great job spreading the message!

  39. For me I think I will always be on a ketogenic diet. I’m in my sixties and have been very obese and sedentary most of my life. Any other diet brings back intense cravings for sugar. I don’t think I will ever reach my ideal weight (my BMR makes sloths look like rabbits), but this diet helps my blood pressure and BG a great deal. And eating low carb is somewhat easier that it was back in the sixties.

  40. Great perspective. It’s almost like a lifestyle TKD diet, where you’re increasing carbohydrates on days with intense workouts. I’d be interested in seeing the long-term medical results in maintaining a TKD; one particular area, the lowering/increasing of inflammation. Understanding that the increased level of carbohydrates is still technically “low-carb” and optimized around workouts to maintain glycogen stores. At the same time, the body does a great job at moderating glycogen itself, and if your body is efficient at doing that (being fat adapted), then is there a reason to do this other than to introduce more flexibility into your diet?

  41. Something I’ve always wondered abut is how much carbs and fat together is okay? I tend to eat about 50-100g carbs a day, but mostly all at once at night with plenty of fat. Is this bad, even though I’m still technically low carb?

  42. And what about lchf but not keto? Is primal blueprint carbs curve still ok? I mean 50-100g of carbs to lose weight with high fat about 50-60% of fat intake with calories deficit?

  43. This is by far one of the most relating articles I have found. I have been doing keto for a solid month now. I am a die-hard fitness pal user, meal prepper, calorie & macro watcher. I have always been lifting and working out whether I am dieting or not. I mean it is just part of my life now, I am sure you understand. But like you, I moved across the country, very hard to adjust, holidays became stress relievers for me and I ate. I gained about 15lbs after moving (fluctuating here and there) but only dropped the lbs on a severely low carb / low-calorie deficit, and well… you know the yo-yo life was my life now that I look back at it. I always avoided all fats in my diet.. the common American idea that fats are bad.. feel stupid now! But moral of my story is I did keto and dropped 5lbs AFTER I had lost about 13 due to my strict no late night munching and stresses. I am 120lb and built 20yr female. I love the keto diet, I love the food and the BACON I always avoided. However, though I don’t necessarily have those carb cravings.. I feel like I can’t go out to eat or just enjoy a night out with friends because I am so worried I am out of my macro or calorie count that I go mentally insane beating myself up. I want to be able to have like a cheat day.. or more so get that favorite meal of mine here and there and not cut it out of my life forever. I did just think okay well why don’t I just transition into carb cycling since I do train 6/7 days a week. But I am so scared to gain back lbs just from the carbs and doing something wrong. I wanted to ask, if i were to do the cyclical keto diet what would my macros be on the high carb days. Or do you recommend the cyclical keto diet? What is the difference between that and just carb cycling? I just need a little direction as to where or even when I should begin this because I cant go to restaurants with my friends or family and watch them eat and wait till I get home to heat up my meal prepped and weighed dinner.. lol

  44. Thank you Mark! This worried me now I have some great guidance now that I’m at my goal weight.

  45. Thank you for pointing out that when you commit to the keto diet you are committing to rebuilding your fat-burning machinery. My mother is wanting to lose some weight and I think the keto diet would be perfect for her. I’ll have to look into finding the best program possible.

  46. This is fantastic! You helped keep me going. Thank you!! I wasn’t thinking of quitting, I was just tired today, and the husband offered some high carb food since I forgot to eat. I read this on my way out the door…and will wait to eat my fat bomb dessert, and salad with keto ranch when I get home. I love this way of life.