This blog aims to provide reliable information as well as healthy dialog about the topics covered. We do not provide responses to personal medical concerns nor do we endorse any recommendations offered in the comments. We reserve the right to delete comments for any reason, particularly those that do not relate directly to the contents of this post, are commercial in nature, contain objectionable or inappropriate material, or otherwise violate our Privacy Policy. Promotional URLs will be removed from comments. Comments on this blog do not represent the views of our editors or Harvard University, and have not been checked for accuracy. All comments submitted to this site become the non-exclusive property of Harvard University.
What is the key to a healthy diet?According to the Harvard Medical School Food Pyramid, the total amount of fat you eat, whether high or low, is not really linked with disease. What really matters is the type of fat you eat. The "bad" fats -- saturated and trans fats -- increase the risk for certain diseases. The "good" fats – mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats –- like those contained in olive oil lower disease risk. The key to a healthy diet is to substitute good fats for bad fats, and to avoid trans fats.
Those who’ve had their gallbladder removed may need ox bile supplementation to support their body in breaking down fats[*] and aid in overall digestion. When taken with a meal, ox bile provides a concentrated source of bile which takes the place of the bile that would have been secreted by your gallbladder. As mentioned before, proper digestion is key to helping aid in weight loss and optimizing overall health and wellness.
Your body composition. Do you have a lot of fat to lose? How much muscle do you have? The people who have the most to lose will tend to shred the fat at a much faster rate than those who have a few extra pounds to burn off. This phenomenon is mostly explained by the fact that obese individuals can easily maintain a much larger calorie deficit, which will result in faster weight loss. Muscle mass also plays a vital role in weight loss because it helps keep your metabolic rate from dropping significantly as you lose weight. This can help stabilize your weight loss rate and may even prevent a dreaded weight loss plateau.
Some studies have proposed that women’s weight gain in midlife is more a factor of aging — which impacts both sexes — than of menopausal changes in hormones. Other studies note, however, that declining estrogen (estradiol or E2) at menopause changes women’s energy needs and metabolism, changes their location of body-fat accumulation from the hips to abdomen, and is associated with an increased rate of metabolic syndrome.
Day 13: I have a love-hate relationship with this intermittent fasting thing. I think it's "working," and by that I mean I'm losing some weight. (Plus, improved body composition and definition can come with weight loss.) When I ask Dr. Axe if I should attribute my success to keto or IF, he says both. "I would say 80/20 it's more strongly in the favor of keto, but intermittent fasting does help as well," he says. The fat-burning capabilities of keto have more strength behind it when it comes to weight loss, specifically, he adds, but the intermittent fasting can be great for digestion and just feeling good.

Finally, people eat about nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day on a Mediterranean diet. (1) Produce packs an array of disease-fighting antioxidants, and people who fill their diet with these foods have lower risk of disease. Yet as the National Institutes of Health points out, it’s not known if it’s the antioxidants or other compounds (or general healthy eating patterns) that are responsible for these advantages. (5)
Cancer — While we can’t say that being obese or overweight causes cancer, consistent evidence indicates that higher levels of body fat are associated with increased risks for certain types of cancer, including breast cancer, kidney cancer, colorectal cancer, and endometrial cancer. In fact, overweight women are two to four times more likely to develop endometrial cancer (a type of cancer that begins in the uterus).
Eat the right amount of protein. Too much protein can increase insulin levels and decrease ketone levels, while not consuming enough protein can cause you to burn muscle rather than fat. If you exercise, protein levels should be hovering around 0.8g – 1.0g protein per lean pound of body mass a day. This helps with muscle mass retention and growth. However, if you are not exercising – your protein intake doesn’t need to be as high. A protein intake of 0.6g – 0.8g of protein per lean pound of body mass is going to be fine for sedentary individuals.
"I start my day with coffee and heavy whipping cream. My first meal of the day is in the afternoon and is usually something small like leftovers or some eggs. It’s about getting in protein and making sure whatever I eat is quality and tastes delicious. For dinner, I have a bigger meal which is always an animal protein with a side of something green like spinach or broccoli."

Many versions of ketogenic diets exist, but all ban carb-rich foods. Some of these foods may be obvious: starches from both refined and whole grains like breads, cereals, pasta, rice, and cookies; potatoes, corn, and other starchy vegetables; and fruit juices. Some that may not be so obvious are beans, legumes, and most fruits. Most ketogenic plans allow foods high in saturated fat, such as fatty cuts of meat, processed meats, lard, and butter, as well as sources of unsaturated fats, such as nuts, seeds, avocados, plant oils, and oily fish. Depending on your source of information, ketogenic food lists may vary and even conflict.
Finally, if you want to speed things up a bit I can highly recommend switching to intermittent fasting for your meal frequency which is not eating for most of the day then eating in just a short window of a few hours, can be whenever is most convenient for you but I find afternoon/evening window works best, the shorter the window the better, this can be quite hard for a lot of people to begin with as your brain is trained to expect food at certain time of the day but it doesn’t really need it, and after a few days of doing it you won’t get hungry anymore at those times as your body will be quite happily burning your stored body fat for fuel 🙂
I lost most of my weight on a high protein, low carb diet prescribed by my surgeon, but I’ve recently started the Deeper State Keto program which is much higher fat. I’ve cut out the protein bars and shakes and have so much energy. I feel like I could do cartwheels at all times. It’s not like I felt bad before. I wasn’t sleepy, lethargic, or sluggish. Now, I’m alert, bright and energized all the time."
Current weight — In order to lose weight, you need to be in a caloric deficit which means you need to burn more calories than you consume. That being said, your current weight is the number one determining factor for how fast you’ll be able to lose weight. This is because the heavier you are, the higher your metabolic rate is (your ability to burn calories in a given day). So, individuals with more weight to lose typically lose weight faster and more easily in the initial stages than those who don’t weigh as much.
These findings fall in line with another meta-analysis on 13 randomized controlled trials that compared low-fat and low-carbohydrate diets. The researchers found that, after six months, subjects who consumed less than 60 grams of carbohydrates per day had an average weight loss that was 8.8 pounds greater than the subjects on low-fat diets. At one year, the difference had fallen to 2.3 lb (which is consistent with what was found in the meta-analysis conducted by the Brazilian researchers).

There has also been increased interest in the diet’s effects on aging and cognitive function. [9-11] Cell damage through stress and inflammation that can lead to age-related diseases has been linked to a specific part of DNA called telomeres. These structures naturally shorten with age, and their length size can predict life expectancy and the risk of developing age-related diseases. Telomeres with long lengths are considered protective against chronic diseases and earlier death, whereas short lengths increase risk. Antioxidants can help combat cell stress and preserve telomere length, such as by eating foods that contain antioxidants nutrients like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. These foods are found in healthy eating patterns like the Mediterranean diet. [12] This was demonstrated in a large cohort of 4676 healthy middle-aged women from the Nurses’ Health Study where participants who more closely followed the Mediterranean diet were found to have longer telomere length. [12]


I lost most of my weight on a high protein, low carb diet prescribed by my surgeon, but I’ve recently started the Deeper State Keto program which is much higher fat. I’ve cut out the protein bars and shakes and have so much energy. I feel like I could do cartwheels at all times. It’s not like I felt bad before. I wasn’t sleepy, lethargic, or sluggish. Now, I’m alert, bright and energized all the time."
Given the choice of a fat and protein source like meat or a salt and carb rich food like potato chips, we are designed say yes to both. No matter how stuffed we are, the most primal parts of our brain will typically tell us that there is room for more if a novel food source is available. These behaviors were essential for our survival as a species. If we ate reasonably whenever food was available, then we wouldn’t have enough fat or muscle to fuel us when calories were scarce.
More serious: Scientists have documented several cases in which a condition called ketoacidosis occurred as a result of a very low-carb diet. In ketoacidosis, the body produces more ketones than it can use for energy, and they build up in the blood, becoming toxic. If untreated, ketoacidosis can cause heart attacks, kidney failure, or fluid buildup in the brain.
But your heart health might depend on what you actually eat. Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that low-carb diets based mostly on plant sources of fat and protein (like avocados or nuts) can lower heart disease risk by 30 percent. But those benefits didn’t hold for people who ate mostly animal-based proteins and fats. (Think: bacon, butter, and steak.)

The authors noted that “weight loss was similar between groups” [21]. However, they emphasized that “effects on atherogenic dyslipidemia (cholesterol) and glycemic control were still more favorable with a low-carbohydrate diet after adjustment for differences in weight loss.” [21] Another study noted that the low-carb diet promoted greater weight-loss than a standard low-fat diet for the first six months. However, these differences were small after one year. [22]

It reduces risk of disease. A growing number of studies suggest that people who follow a Mediterranean diet are less likely to die of heart disease than people who follow a typical American diet. (1) What’s more, evidence is emerging that shows people who eat this way have a lower risk of colon cancer, prostate cancer, and some head and neck cancers, according to studies published in September 2016 in the British Journal of Cancer and in February 2018 in the Journal of Urology. (27,28,29)
Over 8–10 mmol/l: It’s normally impossible to get to this level just by eating a keto diet. It means that something is wrong. The most common cause by far is type 1 diabetes, with severe lack of insulin. Symptoms include feeling very sick with nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and confusion. The possible end result, ketoacidosis, may be fatal and requires immediate medical care. Learn more
Many people may look at my side-by-side before and after pics and think, "She was fit before and she looks the same now." (Isn't it strange how differently other people see you versus how you see yourself?) But eating and exercise should always be about more than the aesthetics. How do your diet and fitness habits make you feel? Food is fuel (and recovery) for the activities you like to do most. If eating well means you gain some perspective, then ending up with a better butt is just icing on the cake. BTW, I can have cake now.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your healthcare provider or 911 immediately. Any mention of products or services is not meant as a guarantee, endorsement, or recommendation of the products, services, or companies. Reliance on any information provided is solely at your own risk. Please discuss any options with your healthcare provider.
Want even more inspiration? Sign up for our Fresh Fridays newsletter. Our bi-weekly e-newsletter delivered right to your inbox celebrates the Mediterranean Diet and its remarkable health benefits. Each issue includes delicious recipes that will remind you just how easy it is to enjoy beautiful, simple, economical, and easy-to-find Mediterranean foods. 
On the other hand, coconut oil does have some well-documented health benefits that concentrated MCT oils might be lacking. The biggest drawback to buying manufactured MCT oil is that you might not really know what you’re getting. In order to produce a liquid MCT oil that does not become solid at colder temps, it might need to be more refined than regular coconut oil.

Hallberg suggests caution, however, around very long fasts lasting multiple days. “If you are skipping meals because you are not hungry from doing a proper low-carb, high-fat diet that is just fine.” She is concerned, however, about very long fasts in which people are ignoring hunger signals and for the potential for a dangerous physiological fluid and electrolyte imbalance called refeeding syndrome that can arise after very long extended fasts, lasting many days, when normal eating is resumed.
I really enjoyed your article. I do have a couple questions (sorry if I missed the answers in any of the comments above), how would someone calculate their personal macros? At 5’1″ female, I am not going to consume the same amount of food you do so I would think my macros would be considerably less than 150 – 200 grams of fat and so on a day? I am in week 3 and really haven’t lost much. I dropped just over 3 lbs the first week, less than 1 the 2nd week and not sure this week as I weigh on Mondays. Also, did you have to make any adjustments for heavy lifting days?
All new habits need a plan. Luckily, I had the Keto360 Blueprint (which mapped out how this was all going to go down), Dr. Axe at my disposal for ALL the questions, a Keto360-approved food list, and a husband who agreed to jump on the two-week keto bandwagon with me. (Research shows that having a buddy system will increase your rate of success in fitness, a diet, and even sticking to your New Year's resolutions.) Still, sitting down to figure out my first week of keto diet meals and snacks was daunting. (Side note: I knew that if I was going to succeed at this, I'd have to be able to buy lunch. Luckily, Dr. Axe is totally on board, saying that most café salad bars will have what I need to create a keto meal-a big spinach salad with salmon and avocado, for example.)
In 2010, researchers published findings showing MCTs help lower your risk of developing metabolic syndrome,18 which includes a cluster of symptoms such as abdominal obesity, high blood pressure and insulin resistance. Unlike carbohydrates, ketones don't stimulate a surge in insulin. Another benefit is that they don't need insulin to help them cross cell membranes, including neuronal membranes. Instead, they use protein transporters, which allow them to enter cells that have become insulin resistant.
"I'm not obsessed with food anymore. Before keto, I was constantly hungry and thinking about food. If we got takeout, I would open all of the containers to see which one had the most in it and I would grab that one. It makes sense now because everything I was eating was full of sugar and carbs and I was in that vicious cycle. Growing up, if we had a bad day my dad would say, "Let’s go get some ice cream." He wasn’t trying to raise a food addict.
Now, if you had looked only at the blood lipids of the monkeys eating the monounsaturated-fat-rich diet in this study, you’d have thought they would have ended up with cleaner arteries than those that ate more saturated fat. Compared to monkeys fed the diet high in saturated fat, the monkeys fed the monounsaturated-fat-rich diet had lower LDL bad cholesterol levels and higher HDL good cholesterol levels (similar to what happens in studies with humans). And compared to monkeys fed a diet high in polyunsaturated fats, the monkeys fed the high-mono diet had HDLs that were nearly twice as high (again, just like humans).
A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).
Thank you for the nice comment!… I definitely understand your reasons as I have diabetes, high blood pressure and pretty much everything under the sun in my family. Besides those reasons, the bone and joint inflammation/pain that I had no longer exists… That’s one of my favorite benefits of carb restriction… Keep me updated with your progress or comment if have questions… Thanks again!
Unlike conventional diets, the Mediterranean diet doesn't restrict you to a daily allotment of calories, fat, or sodium. Instead, it’s about what you’re eating, from heart-healthy unsaturated fats to satiating, high-fiber foods. Taking these ideals to heart, we’ve constructed a Mediterranean diet meal plan for beginners from breakfast to dinner. Our recipes maximize flavor and nutrition to create balanced and colorful plates that marry whole grains with vegetables, lean proteins, and more. On top of all of this deliciously nutritious eating, make sure to work physical activity into your day, especially if you have a desk job.
Due to the high-quality design and data of the study, it was published in the Journal of American Medicine, one of the most prestigious research journals in the world. The research team stated that “in this study of overweight and obese premenopausal women, those assigned to follow the Atkins diet had more weight loss and more favorable outcomes for metabolic effects at 1 year than women assigned to the Zone, Ornish, or LEARN diets.” [16]
1,2,3-Propanetriol Trioctanoate, AC-1202, Acide Caprique, Acide Caproïque, Acide Caprylique, Acide Laurique, Capric Acid, Caproic Acid, Caprylic Acid, Caprylic Triglycerides, Laurate-rich MCTs, Lauric Acid, MCT, MCT's, MCTs, Medium-Chain Triacylglycerols, Medium-Chain Triglycerides, TCM, Triacylglycérols à Chaîne Moyenne, Tricaprylin, Triglycérides à Chaîne Moyenne, Triglycérides Capryliques, Triglicéridos de Cadena Media (TCMs), Trioctanoin.


I’m in the process of creating a workout guide as I had the same issue when I started… I Just could find anything on exercising in ketosis… I was losing muscle mass when I was doing a 7 day split…lol… Basically you want to work each muscle group at least twice a week. Workout with medium to heavey loads between 8-12 reps. I also bike 20 miles a day but it’s casual, not sprinting…lol… Cardio isn’t really necessary as it can raise your cortisol levels if it’s to extreme and kick you out of ketosis… You definitely want muscle contraction thought… I will update this post with more information… Good question!
C8 has potent anti-microbial properties (way more potent than lauric acid) to help you maintain a healthy gut, and it is the fastest to metabolize in the brain. (This is Brain Octane Oil.) Your liver does not need to process this rare type of MCT, and it only takes 3 steps for your body to turn it into ATP, the cellular fuel you use.[2] Sugar takes 26 steps. This is why Brain Octane is so good at suppressing cravings and is the most powerful oil to put in Bulletproof Coffee. You would need 4 tablespoons of coconut oil to get just one tablespoon of Brain Octane.

When examining the studies, the researchers noted that, on average, the participants in the VLCKD groups lost about 2 lbs. more of bodyweight compared to the low-fat diet groups. [19] This difference was statistically significant and described as “moderate”. The researchers also noted greater improvements in triglycerides, blood pressure, and HDL cholesterol in the VLCKD group compared to the low-fat diet group.
However, this diet is gaining considerable attention as a potential weight-loss strategy due to the low-carb diet craze, which started in the 1970s with the Atkins diet (a very low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet, which was a commercial success and popularized low-carb diets to a new level). Today, other low-carb diets including the Paleo, South Beach, and Dukan diets are all high in protein but moderate in fat. In contrast, the ketogenic diet is distinctive for its exceptionally high-fat content, typically 70% to 80%, though with only a moderate intake of protein.
Hi, I started last month and lost 16 pounds then went a week and no loss, thought ok fine then I gained 3 pounds and nothing I did wrong, no cheating at all and I go to the gym 5 days a week – nothing hardcore but I go. Is it normal for that to happen? Getting frustrated especially when I see all these people loosing all this weight and doing fabulous. I am on a lot of support groups on F/B and I am amazed but not sure what I am doing wrong. I know I cannot drink oil or butter in my coffee – but I have started to use coconut oil more and heavy cream too.
Notes Gomer, “There is also reason to believe that whatever modest health benefits are associated with consuming olive oil are largely due to the beneficial plant chemicals, such as polyphenols and plant sterols, found in the extra virgin olive oils, but these plant chemicals are largely lost in the more processed ‘light’ olive oils. These phytochemicals may provide some protection from the harmful effects caused by consuming a high-fat meal.”
The Mediterranean Diet is not a diet. It is a lifelong habit. Something you must stick to as a creed. Decades ago, this was the usual way of life of the communities around the Mediterranean Basin. It was the everyday life in countries like Spain, Italy or Greece. Its major points were physical activity, healthy nutrition and calm attitude. And not much money to throw away.
It’s no secret that carbs—especially refined ones like sugary cereals, white bread and pasta, or sweet drinks—cause your blood sugar to spike and dip. So it makes sense that eating less of them can help keep things nice and even. For healthy people, this can translate to more steady energy, less brain fog, and fewer sugary cravings, Mancinelli explains.
Your midday meal is crucial fuel for afternoon energy, so make it count. Grain bowls make a perfectly packable lunch and deliver a diverse offering of healthy ingredients, from quinoa to canned tuna or salmon to roasted veggies. Here, it’s all about convenience—add a protein boost to a crisp, leafy green salad with cannellini beans or chicken, then pack into a Mason jar.

Hi, really encouraging post. I'm considering the Keto diet among others, but I think I need more help and direction. I'm trying to see if I can get any good feedback on some diet programs that I've come across. One that looks possibly promising is the Easy3WeekDiet.com. Does anyone have any experience with or suggestions for this? Thanks for any help.
I’m in the process of creating a workout guide as I had the same issue when I started… I Just could find anything on exercising in ketosis… I was losing muscle mass when I was doing a 7 day split…lol… Basically you want to work each muscle group at least twice a week. Workout with medium to heavey loads between 8-12 reps. I also bike 20 miles a day but it’s casual, not sprinting…lol… Cardio isn’t really necessary as it can raise your cortisol levels if it’s to extreme and kick you out of ketosis… You definitely want muscle contraction thought… I will update this post with more information… Good question!
Researchers attributed this to the increased metabolism and fat burning that comes with consuming MCTs. I love coconut oil because it provides the very best natural source of MCT oils to boost metabolism, cut your hunger, lower triglycerides, reduce fat storage, and even improve athletic performance.  On top of all these benefits, MCTs make excellent brain and cellular fuel.
The ketogenic or “keto” diet is a low-carbohydrate, fat-rich eating plan that has been used for centuries to treat specific medical conditions. In the 19th century, the ketogenic diet was commonly used to help control diabetes. In 1920 it was introduced as an effective treatment for epilepsy in children in whom medication was ineffective. The ketogenic diet has also been tested and used in closely monitored settings for cancer, diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Best ever support for intermittent fasting, kills cravings and boosts energy. After only a couple weeks I could nicely fit into a skirt I wore 20 years ago in high school. There are sometimes light headaches due to 200mg caffeine (I’m not used to drinking the equivalent in coffee) but when you move around it’s easy to forget. Overall, I’m truly happy with the results :)
Are you tracking your calorie intake? Healthy fats also have higher calories and can put you at or over your bodies calorie requirement. Calculate the calories that you have been eating over the past while and then check how many calories you should actually be taking in. If you want to lose weight you have to be in calorie deficit regardless of whether you are in ketosis or not.

As well as being a full time GP, Dr Simon Poole is a renowned international commentator on the Mediterranean Diet and a member of the Council of Directors of the True Health Initiative in the USA. He has written regularly on matters related to primary care in medicine and nutrition for a diverse range of national media including The Guardian, Nutrition and Food Science and the Journal of the Royal College of Surgeons as well as consumer magazines such as Cook Vegetarian and Body Language. He also has extensive experience broadcasting and writing for local, national and international radio, television and web based organisations and regularly speaks at and chairs conferences attended by physicians, the media, politicians and the food industry on subject matters relating to health, politics and nutrition.
There’s been no shortage of coconut oil uses and treatments proven by recent research — it provides not only MCTs (especially abundant levels of lauric acid), but also antibacterial properties, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and more. The difference between MCT oil and coconut oil is that MCT oil is much more concentrated and contains mostly capric acid and caprylic acid. While coconut oil certainly has MCTs in it, concentrated MCT oil is almost entirely MCTs.
As evidence continues to mount affirming that inflammatory substances in the blood promote plaque growth, plaque rupture, and clot formation, all of which likely increase the risk of heart attacks, “we’ve got to start asking ourselves: ‘Is any fat, even so-called good fats, beneficial in terms of preventing heart attacks and strokes?'” says Kimberly Gomer, MS, RD, Director of Nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center.
×