The Entire Ketogenic Diet in One Sentence



They would have made it zero but they thought that would discourage some folks. So they compromised with 20 grams or less per day. When you consider that eating carbohydrates serves no useful purpose, I think they were quite generous. :relaxed: Welcome and best wishes.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #264

It’s not actually all that restrictive, especially if you aim for 20 g net (digestible carbs) rather than 20 g total (including fibre, which is by definition indigestible). My understanding is that Carl and Richard pegged their recommendation at a level that guarantees success to almost everybody. Although people who are severely insulin-resistant may have to restrict even further.

The goal is to lower serum insulin below 25 μU/mL. Yes, that’s 25 micro-units per millilitre, which is not much. (A unit of insulin is so low that 25 μU needs to be expressed in femtograms, if I did the arithmetic correctly.) So anyone who needs to restore his or her metabolic health (and possibly shed some extra stored fat along the way) needs to be assiduous about restricting carb intake, given that carbohydrate elicits over twice the insulin secretion of protein and far, far more than fat. (The impact of fat intake on insulin secretion is the minimum necessary for survival.0

(Walt ) #265

Thanks, Paul. So watch “net” carbs, not total carbs, right?

How about protein? I guide I have states daily intake of protein on a Keto diet should be about 75 grams. And that “eating too much protein can prevent ketosis.”

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #266

There is some dispute about how much protein we need. Richard Morris, following Dr. Stephen Phinney, recommends 1.0-1.5 g of protein per kilo of lean body mass per day. Other researchers recommend more, and there are a few who recommend less.

Dr. Phinney says there are data to show that too much protein can inhibit ketosis. There used to be a fear that excess amino acid (protein) would all be converted into glucose, but that’s an expensive process that the body does not seem to undertake unless necessary. There are data to show that our ability to assimilate protein declines as we age, and therefore there are recommendations to eat more.

There does seem to be an upper limit to protein intake, based on the ability of the uric acid cycle to handle ammonia from amino acids, but people have trouble eating that much, especially in the form of meat (one research subject in an overfeeding study famously broke down in tears when he was asked to eat yet one more pork chop).

One researcher used to advise eating the minimum amount of protein, around 0.6 g/kg of lean mass/day, so as to avoid activating a protein complex called mTOR and thus promote longevity. As our understanding of mTOR has grown, this concern is no longer seen as relevant.

A couple of researchers believe, on the basis of quite a bit of data, that all mammals, including human beings, have an instinct for eating the proper amount of protein and will overeat if their diet is deficient in protein. What this suggests to me is that if our diet is meeting the protein recommendations above, and we are eating plenty of fat, and yet we are still getting hungry, we probably need more protein than average. As evidence for this, the study that was used to determine the minimum recommended daily protein intake showed that, on average, people lose a certain amount of nitrogen daily, equivalent to a protein intake of 0.6 g/kg of lean mass/day, but the graph of the research subjects’ daily nitrogen loss was quite widely scattered. So some people don’t need nearly as much protein as others do, and we all need to find our proper intake level.

The reason protein is important in the diet is that the human body can only utilise nitrogen from amino acids; we cannot make use of nitrogen from other sources (such as the air, or the nitrates in foods). Insufficient protein, or a diet that does not contain the essential amino acids in the correct proportions, results in malnutrition.


Many people on this forum says total is what important. It may be true for them. I only cared about net as total seemed to be insignificant, I surely had many 80-100g total carb days and my ketosis and fat adaptation had no problems. But we are different and anyway, ketosis and fat adaptation is nice but often not enough. I need “extreme low non-animal carbs” it seems so I like to be close to carnivore where even my total carbs are pretty low :slight_smile: I plan to experiment with “extreme low non-animal net carbs” but that had some disadvantages for me so I am in no hurry. But it probably would work well.

So it’s individual just like the actual carb limit. 20g is a popular amount as it works for most people. Some can go way higher and some must go lower, though. My limit is 40-45g net carbs, it seems but if I want benefits and any hope to lose fat, I should go way lower. I needed time for that but it’s usually easier and more enjoyable than my original keto was. Sometimes being stricter is so much better :slight_smile:

Don’t worry about protein unless you have some special condition demanding being careful with it. That silly belief about extra protein becoming glucose and interfering with ketosis should be forgotten already. I got that, sadly, I was a newbie and everyone and their mother told me I should limit my protein or else. (I tried and failed every day because my body and mind doesn’t work that way, lucky!)
So many of us experienced high protein is fine. And what is this 75g? I know people just adore fixed numbers for absolutely everyone, no matter what but humans don’t function that way… One may easily have a way higher protein need than another person. Like, this petite inactive girl can be okay with 50g (just a random number) but this active muscular giant would have problems below 200g. But it’s not just activity and lean body mass though they definitely matter. 1-2g/kg for LBM is a nice range I always heard about.
I personally can’t eat so very little protein, I get hungry and overeat fat and anyway, I am not into eating super fatty items when I just want some still fatty but protein rich food galore because that is satiating and satisfying for me. There must be a serious individual factor and I happen to need a bit more protein than the measly 2g/kg to feel right… (My LBM is small, 2g/kg is around 100g protein! It would be so crazy not to be able to eat a pound of meat a day on carnivore because then I can’t touch any other protein sources… Impossible. Sometimes I meet tiny protein limits and try to imagine HOW one needs to eat to stay that low. 75g is actually possible for many, it’s not a bad number anyway but it would be extremely unsatisfying and inconvenient for many of us.)
We aren’t robots anyway so it’s normal not to have the same macros every day. Or even similar ones. Sometimes my protein intake just doubles compared to the previous day and it’s fine. I don’t need any noticeable reason for it just like I can’t stick to 2g/kg even when I am inactive. My satiation and taste doesn’t care. I try to be not inactive, though, I even lift except in my most tired and bad times. So some of the protein should go there, it’s very minimal but something :smiley:

Eating TOO MUCH protein is bad, sure. You get bigger problems than lack of ketosis. But as @PaulL wrote, we usually have problems with eating too much protein. Some can do it so it’s good to know the symptoms if we are not sure we aren’t like that but even I don’t have that problem and I am prone to overeating on every diet I am willing to do. IDK how it that with others, I eat and eat and eat and when my protein gets seriously high, I just lose interest. I still may be hungry but I find very fatty, lower-protein things a better idea. It’s very automatic, my protein just unable to go too high - or too low. Smart body. Not smart enough but I can’t complain. So I never worry about protein, I can just forgo tracking and be sure my protein will be in its proper range. I go over the probable upper limit sometimes but just a bit and for one single day and that doesn’t cause any problem for me. My average is safe and about the same for every week under normal circumstances (not necessarily after a drastic woe change). I tracked very much and while many of my numbers were all over the place (less so in average), my protein was more stable.
Probably many people are like this.

We know that people often tend to undereat protein but that’s probably for carbier diets or newbies with a confused body - or the unlucky ones who only can starve on keto (sometimes even when they are already underweight), unable to eat enough… It’s super odd to me but heard about such people many times. Keto messes with their hunger/satiation signs, it seems. So it’s not always right to trust our body to get enough food.

(Smashing ) #268

wow wonder write up

(David Spector) #269

Well, it is also important to get enough vitamins, salt and magnesium, and amino acids, which you can’t get just from fats, oils, and a bit of protein. Don’t forget the supplements, very important.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #270

Which is why we stress the importance of getting enough protein in the diet. Proteins, as you may remember, are composed of amino acids, just as carbohydrates (except for sugars) are nothing more than glucose molecules arranged in various fashions.

Magnesium is found both in meat and in any green vegetable (since there is a magnesium atom at the heart of every molecule of chlorophyll).

Something to bear in mind is that long-term carnivores (people on a plant-free diet) usually find no need to add salt or to take vitamin and mineral supplements. In fact, in a famous experiment, Vilhjalmur Stefansson and Kirsten Andersen, the Arctic explorers, consented to live for a year under observation at Bellevue Hospital while eating a meat-only diet, to prove that it could be done (they had spent several years among the Inuit eating nothing but meat, but no one believed them). Andersen presumably returned to the standard Western diet after the experiment, but Stefansson continued eating meat only and lived into his eighties, in perfect health.

(David Spector) #271

An experiment, particularly a dietary experiment, involving just one person has zero statistical significance and would be ignored by anyone with a science background or any person with medical training.

Yes, protein is also a requirement in ketogenic diets. Except for diets prescribed by the rare doctors who understand ketosis, I have rarely seen all the requirements for a healthy ketogenic diet presented together. Too often it’s just “low carbs, high fats”. That’s okay as a first approximation, and will actually work for some people, while it may make others sick, depending on the exact way they interpret such poor instructions.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #272

That’s the problem with a lot of Internet sites, it seems. Fortunately, my introduction to low-carb, high-fat eating was the lectures of Dr. Stephen Phinney on the LCDU YouTube channel. And from there I ended on on these forums, where the recommendation is quite specific: carbohydrate intake under 20 g/day, protein in the range of 1.0-1.5 g/kg of lean body mass/day, and fat to satiety.

(David Spector) #273

Really? That is all Dr. Phinney told you? Nothing about the types of protein, or amino acids, anything else, or even vitamins? I need to know this for sure, because someone I know may be doing a project with him.

(Robin) #274

No need to confront or argue here. We are all N=1 experiments. There is nothing more valid in my life than what I am experiencing based on my own diet and lifestyle.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #275

Yes, that is all we advise. The rest is up to you. We presume a certain minimal level of understanding of what protein is and what it does in the body and what the essential amino acids are, not to mention some familiarity with one’s own body’s particular needs as regards vitamins and minerals.

To get an idea of where we are coming from, you might like to take a look at The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living, by Phinney and Volek; Good Calories, Bad Calories and The Case for Keto, by Gary Taubes; and The Big Fat Surprise, by Nina Teicholz. There is also a lecture, available on YouTube in various incarnations, by Robert Lustig, M.D., entitled “Sugar: The Bitter Truth.” (He also did a follow-up, “Fructose 2.0.”) Phinney and Volek also have various lectures available on YouTube, particularly on the Low Carb Down Under channel. You will notice that the people mentioned in this paragraph are very careful to document every assertion they make with citations from the scholarly literature.

One thought you will hear often on these forums and on other sites is the mantra “Just Eat Real Food” (abbreviated “JERF”), which is based on the premise that the food we evolved to eat will be the food most likely to properly nourish the body.

In other words, Pop-Tarts, Cheetohs, Froot Loops, and Kraft Easy Cheese—none of which played any role in human evolution, and all of which are about as far removed from real food as it is possible to get—are not likely to provide nearly as good nutrition, even if fortified with all the vitamins and minerals we know about so far, as beef with maybe a bit of salad.

(Stickin' with mammoth) #276


tend to take care of themselves. You can

if you’re ingesting and properly absorbing

(Robin) #277

Very clever, you!

(Stickin' with mammoth) #278

Send checks to…


I believe it’s important to note that everyone is different and what might be safe for one might not be for another. There are many people who have experienced a decline in health on a protein only diet. Remember, lack of Vit C can cause Scurvy. They figured this out back in the day and placed limes for consumption on boats to prevent it.

One thing I’ve noticed about people is it seems we try to live our lives very black and white. Sometimes gray is ok. Keto is a great WOE and works for so many people. Adding supplements or adding a food type isn’t ‘bad’. We each need to find what works for us, because if it doesn’t work, we won’t keep at it. There is a very dominate yet simple goal in Keto. Low carbs. LOw CaRBs. LOW CARBS!

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #280

Firstly, a protein-only diet would be very hard to achieve. Meats, as a rough rule of thumb, tend to contain equal amounts of protein and fat by weight, which works out to 31% of calories as protein, and 69% as fat. (This is because fat contains over twice as many calories per gram as protein.)

Secondly, the anti-scorbutic properties of fresh meat have been known since before the discovery of Vitamin C. The reason that sailors on long deployments away from shore developed scurvy was that they had to subsist on ship’s biscuit and salt beef for months at a time, once the live stock had all been butchered. Before the advent of mechanical refrigeration powered by ship-board electricity, it was much simpler to carry a sufficient stock of citrus fruit for a long deployment, The naval ships of the day were far too small to carry enough live stock to last the entire voyage…

Thirdly, it has been demonstrated that the human body has less need of Vitamin C on a ketogenic diet. The reason for this is that the elevated insulin resulting from a high-carb diet has epigenetic effects that inhibit the body’s endogenous defences against oxidative stress, whereas the ketone body β-hydroxybutyrate has epigenetic effects that restore those defences. (Also, there is some debate over what the Vitamin C content of meat actually is. In food composition databases, it is typically listed as 0, because it is assumed to be 0, not because it has ever been measured.)

Lastly, the number of people who have successfully lived on an all-meat diet for a decade or longer is quite large, and none of them has been known to develop scurvy (believe me: it would have made the news if someone had). The Bear ate a carnivore diet for at least the last 50 years of his life and was healthy up until his death in a car crash in 2011.

The Arctic explorers Vilhjalmur Stefansson and Kirsten Andersen began eating an all meat diet during their stay with the Inuit. On their return to New York in the late 1920’s, they were subjected to a famous experiment at Bellevue Hospital, in which they continued to eat nothing but meat for a further year, under the supervision of researchers who were convinced the men would develop scurvy quite quickly. They did not. I have no idea what happened to Andersen afterwards, but Stefansson kept on his all-meat diet and remained scurvy-free until his death in 1962, a couple of months shy of his 83rd birthday.


I think you made the mistake as I do so often myself. You read protein and think of protein! And not meat and other protein rich food :smiley: I probably never will get used to the latter…

Nice comment by the way as usual… IDK how you do this, being on this forum and sharing your knowledge since ages, so very often and thoroughly… Wow. Very helpful.


Love this. keep it simple