Kris Kresser: Everything you need to know about a ketogenic diet

A Complete Guide to the Keto Diet
by Chris Kresser
Published on April 2, 2019
Ketogenic diets are currently all the rage. Seemingly every health personality has an opinion on the ketogenic diet, commonly referred to as “keto.” Some tout it as a cure-all for everything from diabetes to cancer, while others express skepticism or disagree with some aspects of the diet.

The keto diet could help alleviate conditions like obesity and type 2 diabetes and even impact the progression of some types of cancer, but it isn’t for everyone.

It’s understandable that you may be wondering how to sort out the facts and interpret the latest research. Who is a good candidate for keto, and who should avoid it? How does someone successfully adhere to a ketogenic diet? In this article, I’ll answer these important questions and others so you can make an educated decision about whether keto is right for you.

What is the keto diet?
Nine conditions that respond well to keto
Who should avoid the diet
The keto time frame
Three steps to starting keto
13 tips and tricks
What to expect on keto
What Is the Keto Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb food plan. The typical macronutrient ratios are 60 to 75 percent of calories from fat, 15 to 30 percent of calories from protein, and 5 to 10 percent of calories from carbohydrates.
By strictly limiting dietary carbohydrates, the ketogenic diet encourages the body to switch from using glucose as a primary fuel source to burning body fat and using ketones for fuel. This metabolic switch has a variety of beneficial effects on the body, ranging from fat loss to improved brain function.
The keto diet could potentially address a number of health conditions, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer. Check out this article for more information on who should try keto—and who shouldn’t—and get tips to help you. #lowcarb #nutrition #chriskresser

A ketogenic diet differs dramatically from the carbohydrate-heavy Standard American Diet. When you eat a carbohydrate-rich meal, the ingested carbs are broken down into glucose. Glucose is then shuttled into cells by insulin, where it is used for energy production. The constant consumption of a high-carbohydrate diet causes the body to rely on glucose (sugar) for fuel, while rarely tapping into fat stores for energy. A ketogenic diet does just the opposite. It forces the body to turn to fats for fuel. A keto diet encourages the production of ketones, small water-soluble compounds, and the “burning” of fatty acids in adipose tissue (fat cells) for energy. Ketones are unique in that they are rapidly taken up by tissues and broken down to yield ATP, the primary energy currency of the human body. The process by which the body switches to using ketones for energy is referred to as “nutritional ketosis,” while the process of tapping into your body’s fat stores is termed “fat adaptation.”

Choosing the right diet can be a difficult process of trial and error. Health coaches support people in finding the best diet for their bodies, lifestyles, families—wherever they need encouragement in discovering the right path, etc. As a coach, you learn to ask the questions that help people figure out whether a diet is the right fit for them. This not only helps them make a good choice but minimizes the time they spend with diets that don’t work well for them.

Health coaches can also help people navigate their chosen diets, like the ketogenic diet. As an example, some people may need a little extra push getting their bodies to transition to using ketones. If you are finding it difficult to get into ketosis, a health coach can help you navigate that process.
How do health coaches do this? In our ADAPT Health Coach Training Program, you learn about a variety of diets—including the ketogenic diet—how they work, who they work well for, and how to support people in making diet transitions. Visit our health coach training program page to find out more.

The ADAPT Health Coach Training Program is an Approved Health and Wellness Coach Training & Education Program by the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC).
Nine Conditions That Are Ideal for Keto
The ketogenic diet offers many health benefits, but it isn’t right for everyone. Read on to learn who stands to benefit the most from keto and which conditions tend to respond the best to the diet.
1. Obesity
Disturbing statistics indicate that weight problems have reached epidemic proportions in the United States, with nearly 72 percent of American adults 20 and over categorized as overweight or obese. (1) The mandate that overweight and obese individuals should merely “eat less and exercise more” is failing miserably; it does little to correct the underlying metabolic disturbances driving obesity, trapping people in a vicious cycle of weight loss and regain. However, all hope is not lost! The ketogenic diet is emerging as a powerful, sustainable tool for weight loss in overweight and obese individuals.
A growing body of research indicates that ketogenic diets are more effective than low-fat diets for sustaining long-term weight loss in obese adults. (2, 3) Furthermore, the weight loss observed on a ketogenic diet is primarily visceral fat, the hard-to-lose fat located deep in the abdominal cavity; lean body mass, on the other hand, is preserved. (4)
A ketogenic diet may also benefit obese children. A study that placed obese children on a ketogenic diet for six months observed significant decreases in body fat, waist circumference, fasting insulin levels, and HOMA-IR, a marker used to detect insulin resistance. (5)
The ketogenic diet facilitates fat loss by increasing the efficiency of fat oxidation (the process by which fat is “burned” for energy), suppressing hunger hormones, and providing the body with plenty of satiating dietary fat and protein, thus decreasing total energy intake. (6)
For those who do not wish to stay on the ketogenic diet long term, a cyclic ketogenic diet alternated with a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet can also lead to successful long-term weight loss. (7) I’ll cover the cyclic ketogenic diet in more depth shortly.
2. Metabolic Syndrome
Over one-third of Americans have metabolic syndrome, a constellation of complications including increased blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, excess abdominal fat, and abnormal triglyceride and cholesterol levels that significantly increase one’s risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. (8) The conventional treatment of metabolic syndrome typically involves cholesterol-, blood sugar-, and blood pressure-lowering medications, along with vague advice to “eat better.” Given that heart disease is still the number one cause of death in the United States, that diabetes is considered to be at epidemic proportions, and that strokes disable or kill someone every 40 seconds on average, this treatment paradigm leaves much to be desired. (9)
Fortunately, patients have an alternative—a ketogenic diet. Research indicates that a ketogenic diet improves multiple aspects of metabolic syndrome, inducing significant reductions in body fat percentage, BMI, hemoglobin A1c levels, blood lipids, and blood pressure. (10, 11, 12) The ketogenic diet produces these beneficial effects by reversing the pathological processes underlying metabolic syndrome, including insulin resistance and chronic inflammation.
3. Type 2 Diabetes
Ketogenic diets represent a far more effective strategy for managing type 2 diabetes than the American Diabetes Association’s high-carb, low-fat dietary guidelines. Unlike the ADA’s guidelines, a ketogenic diet significantly reduces blood sugar, hemoglobin A1c levels, waist circumference, and triglycerides in diabetic individuals. (13) Most importantly, research indicates that the diet is sustainable for diabetic patients and that the beneficial changes can be maintained over the long term. (14)
4. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Between 5 and 10 percent of women in the United States have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a disorder characterized by insulin resistance, menstrual irregularities, hyperandrogenism, overweight, and obesity. (15) A ketogenic diet improves fertility in women with PCOS by improving insulin resistance, promoting weight loss, and inducing ovulation. (16)
5. Neurodegenerative Diseases
A great deal of exciting research is emerging regarding the application of a ketogenic diet in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. (17) Neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by brain insulin resistance, a condition that starves neurons of the glucose they normally need to function correctly. Scientists have found that ketones are an excellent alternative fuel for the insulin-resistant brain. In addition, ketones reduce brain oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction, two significant factors in the neurodegenerative disease process.
Animal research indicates that a ketogenic diet reduces levels of brain amyloid-beta, a misfolded protein that contributes to Alzheimer’s disease, while also restoring mitochondrial function and improving learning and memory. (18, 19, 20) Although fewer studies on a ketogenic diet have been done in humans with Alzheimer’s disease, a recent trial found a ketogenic diet to be both safe and effective for mild Alzheimer’s disease. (21)
Preclinical research suggests that a ketogenic diet may also benefit those with Parkinson’s disease. In animal models of Parkinson’s, a ketogenic diet improves motor function, and in humans with Parkinson’s, it improves nonmotor symptoms such as daytime sleepiness and cognitive disorders. (22, 23) While more research is needed, a ketogenic diet may be a powerful intervention well worth a try for both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients.
6. Traumatic Brain Injury and Epilepsy
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury caused by a blow, bump, or jolt to the head that significantly impairs brain function. TBI is common in military personnel, car accident survivors, and athletes involved in contact or high-risk sports. If left untreated, TBI can cause severe impairments in thinking, memory, and emotional regulation. Interestingly, a ketogenic diet may be an effective strategy for reducing the harmful effects of TBI.
A ketogenic diet promotes healing of the brain following TBI by increasing the activity of genes genes involved in energy metabolism, stimulating the generation of new mitochondria, and inhibiting the production of damaging reactive oxygen species in the brain. (24) In animal models of TBI, a ketogenic diet reduces cerebral edema and neuronal cell death while improving behavioral outcomes. (25, 26) While individual success stories of people using a ketogenic diet for TBI are easy to find on the internet, formal clinical trials are still needed.
Compared to TBI, the amount of scientific literature documenting the beneficial effects of a ketogenic diet for epilepsy is vast. The ketogenic diet was first introduced as a therapy in the 1920s, when doctors learned it could successfully treat seizures in children with refractory epilepsy. (27) Interest in the ketogenic diet waned when antiepileptic drugs were introduced in the 1960s and ’70s; however, the ketogenic diet has experienced a recent resurgence in popularity in the epilepsy community, particularly among those suffering from drug-resistant epilepsy.
The ketogenic diet exerts antiepileptic effects by improving energy metabolism in the brain and reducing brain oxidative stress. Fascinating new research suggests that the antiseizure effects of the ketogenic diet are also mediated by modulation of the gut microbiota. (28) Consumption of a ketogenic diet increases the levels of bacteria that produce GABA, the brain’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter; this shifts neurotransmission towards inhibition rather than excitation, thus preventing neuronal hyperexcitability and seizure onset.
7. Digestive Disorders
A high carbohydrate intake can exacerbate irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) by feeding opportunistic and pathogenic bacteria in the gut. (29) These microbes ferment dietary carbohydrates, producing gases that increase intraabdominal pressure, a driving force behind acid reflux and GERD. The gas manufactured by these bacteria also contributes to bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea in IBS.
How can a ketogenic diet help with IBS and GERD? By significantly reducing dietary carbohydrate load, a ketogenic diet provides less fermentable substrate for gut bacteria, reducing the amount of gas produced in the small intestine. Several small studies indicate that a ketogenic diet improves abdominal pain, stool frequency, and reflux in patients with IBS-D and GERD, respectively. (30, 31) However, it is important to note that the long-term effects of a low-fermentable-carbohydrate diets, including the ketogenic diet, on gut bacteria remain to be seen. Our beneficial gut bacteria also require fermentable carbohydrates to survive, so it’s possible that the ketogenic diet could reduce their numbers. This is why I highly recommend following a cyclic ketogenic diet rather than a long-term, strict ketogenic diet. I’ll provide more information on that topic shortly.
8. Skin Conditions
A ketogenic diet may seem like an unlikely approach for treating skin issues. However, keto addresses several of the physiological mechanisms underlying dermatological issues, particularly acne and psoriasis, and can therefore help people correct the root cause of their skin conditions.
Insulin is a crucial driver of acne due to its effects on hormones, sebum production, and inflammation. By reducing insulin, the ketogenic diet may correct hormone imbalances, excessive sebum production, and inflammation, thereby alleviating acne. (32)
High blood sugar promotes psoriasis by increasing levels of a protein that causes inflammation. A ketogenic diet corrects hyperglycemia and may lower the level of this protein, resulting in the amelioration of psoriasis. (33)
9. Some Forms of Cancer
Some of the most exciting research on the ketogenic diet pertains to its applications in the treatment of cancer. A rapidly growing collection of animal studies indicates that the ketogenic diet has anticancer effects in malignant glioma, neuroblastoma, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. (34) In humans, a ketogenic diet has been found to work synergistically with antineoplastic agents in the treatment of malignant glioma, a common primary brain tumor that is notoriously difficult to treat. (35) Several small studies indicate that the ketogenic diet improves body weight and blood profiles while reducing a marker for tumor progression, TKTL1, in patients with breast, prostate, colon, melanoma, and lung cancers. (36, 37)
The ketogenic diet exerts anticancer effects by inducing a metabolic shift in malignant tissues that promotes apoptosis (self-programmed death) of cancer cells, inhibiting angiogenesis (the growth of new tumor-supporting blood vessels), reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, suppressing mTOR (a protein in humans involved in the regulation of cell growth and regeneration), and increasing the sensitivity of certain cancer cell types to chemotherapy. (38)
Since a ketogenic diet can induce weight loss, clinicians should take care to ensure that adequate calories are consumed to inhibit undesirable weight loss in cancer patients.
It is crucial to recognize that not all forms of cancer will respond to a ketogenic diet.
Research suggests that cancer cells with low levels of particular enzymes (the ketolytic enzymes 3-hydroxybutyrate dehydrogenase and succinyl CoA 3-oxoacid CoA transferase) are more susceptible to the anticancer effects of a ketogenic diet. Screening a patient’s cancer cells for these enzymes may represent a valuable strategy for determining whether a ketogenic diet may be of use. (39)

Who Should Avoid a Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is not appropriate for everyone. If you fit any of the descriptions listed below, then a ketogenic diet may have a negative impact on your health.
You Have a Genetic Condition That Affects Fatty Acid Metabolism
Since fats are consumed in large quantities on a ketogenic diet, any genetic condition that impairs fatty acid metabolism precludes the use of this diet. If you have primary carnitine deficiency, pyruvate carboxylase deficiency, or any of the other genetic conditions listed here, a ketogenic diet is absolutely contraindicated.
You’re Pregnant or Breastfeeding
While a growing fetus can utilize ketones to an extent, it still requires a steady glucose supply to support normal growth, including crucial brain development. Reduced glucose availability caused by a maternal ketogenic diet may have long-term adverse effects on infant health, including abnormal growth patterns and alterations in brain structure. (40) If you are pregnant and struggling with blood sugar issues, a low-carbohydrate diet that includes moderate amounts of nutrient-dense carbohydrates, such as fruit and starchy tubers, is a safer choice than a ketogenic diet.
You Have Gallbladder Disease or No Gallbladder
The body needs bile to break down and digest dietary fat, and the gallbladder is responsible for storing bile before its release into the small intestine. Removal of the gallbladder and gallbladder disease cause fat malabsorption and may make it difficult to follow a ketogenic diet. If you have had your gallbladder removed or have existing gallbladder disease, consult with your doctor before trying a ketogenic diet.
You’re Suffering from Kidney Disease or Kidney Stones
While preliminary research suggests that a ketogenic diet may benefit chronic kidney disease patients, caution is advised in those with kidney disease or kidney stones. (41) If you have a kidney condition, consult with your doctor before starting a ketogenic diet.
You Have HPA Axis Dysfunction and High Levels of Stress
A ketogenic diet has been observed to raise cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone. If you struggle with high levels of stress or HPA axis dysfunction, a ketogenic diet may push your stress-response system into overdrive and cause burnout. A diet that includes a moderate intake of carbohydrates is typically a better fit for those with high-stress lifestyles or HPA axis dysfunction.
You’re a Hyper-Responder to Dietary Cholesterol
While dietary saturated fat and cholesterol do not impact blood cholesterol levels in most people, they may raise total and LDL cholesterol in a subset of the population referred to as “hyper-responders.” If you are a hyper-responder (this is something you’ll need to determine with the help of your doctor), I recommend following a Mediterranean Paleo-style diet, an approach that is lower in fat and higher in Paleo-friendly carbohydrates, rather than a ketogenic diet.
You’re an Athlete
If you participate in exercise that involves explosive movements such as jiujitsu, mixed martial arts, CrossFit, or even some rigorous forms of dance, you may benefit from a moderate carbohydrate intake rather than a ketogenic diet. Explosive movements draw on your muscles’ glycolytic capacity, which is powered by glucose from dietary carbohydrates. Endurance athletes, on the other hand, may thrive on a ketogenic diet because their respective activities can be adequately fueled by fatty acid oxidation and ketones.

How Long to Follow the Ketogenic Diet
The ideal keto diet time frame must take into account both nutritional ketosis and fat adaptation. Ketosis means your body is experiencing an acute lack of glucose and is therefore producing ketone bodies for energy. Fat adaptation, on the other hand, means your body has become adapted to burning fat for fuel.
When you first embark on a ketogenic diet, your goal is to be in nutritional ketosis consistently. Over time, as you train your body to function on fewer carbohydrates, you may enter the fat adaptation phase. While ketosis can be achieved after just a few days of the diet, at least three to four weeks of strict adherence to the diet is required in order to reach the fat adaptation state. This is also the time frame during which you’ll likely begin to notice benefits of the diet.
While some keto proponents advocate following the diet long term, a cyclic ketogenic diet may be a healthier choice.
A cyclic ketogenic diet involves carb-loading one to two days of the week, followed by a standard low-carb ketogenic diet the remaining days of the week. Cyclic keto has many benefits—it allows the body to enter a state of ketosis regularly while also satisfying carb cravings, improving sleep, and promoting a healthier balance of gut bacteria.

The Three-Step Process to Starting Keto
Step 1: Find Your Macronutrient Ratio
The goal of a ketogenic diet is to transition the body’s primary fuel supply from carbohydrate to fat, creating a state of nutritional ketosis and, eventually, fat adaptation. The degree to which dietary carbohydrates need to be reduced to reach nutritional ketosis varies from person to person. Finding the optimal macronutrient ratios for getting your body into ketosis requires some self-experimentation. I recommend playing around with the ranges listed below to find the ones that work best for you.
Possible macronutrient ranges for keto:
60 to 75 percent of calories from fat
15 to 30 percent of calories from protein
5 to 10 percent of calories from carbohydrates
I would like to emphasize that the super-high-fat, low-protein version of keto promoted by some keto advocates is not necessary for most people to obtain the benefits of keto.
Proponents of the super-high-fat, low-protein approach argue that protein kicks the body out of ketosis by supplying amino acids for gluconeogenesis (simply put, turning non-carbs into fuel); however, research indicates that the impact of dietary protein on gluconeogenesis and glucose flux is nearly negligible, making this argument irrelevant.

(42) In my practice, we have found that usual protein intakes (15 to 20 percent of calories) do not have appreciable effects on blood ketone levels. Besides, a super-high-fat, low-protein diet typically has more drawbacks than benefits—it may cause weight gain, muscle loss, fatigue, and chronic hunger. Don’t be afraid of including plenty of protein in your ketogenic diet; protein is a powerful tool that will satiate your appetite while facilitating fat loss and preventing muscle loss.
Step 2: Don’t Count Calories
I don’t recommend counting calories on the keto diet. Tracking your macronutrients, on the other hand, can be helpful. Try using an app for journaling your food intake and obtaining your ratios of macronutrients. I recommend the Carb Manager Keto Diet App.
Step 3: Regularly Test Your Ketones
To determine whether you’re in ketosis and what degree of ketosis you’re in, test your ketones each morning. Blood ketone testing is the most accurate method—I do not recommend breath or urine ketone monitoring. In our practice, we recommend the Precision Xtra Blood Glucose Meter Kit, which can be purchased on Amazon (you can buy test strips for this meter in bulk on eBay for a lower cost). Keto Mojo is another good meter with affordable test strips.
If your ketone value is above 0.5 mmol/L first thing in the morning, you’re in ketosis. However, a range of 0.7 to 2.0 mmol/L is optimal for most people. If your value is above 3.0 mmol/L, you may not be eating enough and/or should consider adding some carbohydrates back to your diet. However, in the long run, your goal should not be a specific number on the ketone meter, but an improvement in your symptoms.

13 Tips and Tricks to Help You Follow a Ketogenic Diet
Following a ketogenic diet can take some work and planning. Here are some tips and tricks to help you get into ketosis faster.
1. Eat Enough Calories and Protein
Failing to consume enough calories on a keto diet can cause fatigue and insomnia, while an insufficient protein intake promotes weight gain and muscle loss. When you first begin a keto diet, it can be helpful to track your food intake with an app such as Carb Manager Keto Diet App; this will allow you to visualize your macronutrient intake and ensure that you don’t undereat calories or protein. As I mentioned earlier, a low-protein intake is not required to obtain the benefits of keto. A sufficient protein intake (15 to 30 percent of total calories) suppresses hunger and, in most people, does not affect blood ketone levels. (43)
2. Add Supplemental Fat
Fat is the primary source of fuel on a ketogenic diet, and supplementing with specific types of fat, particularly coconut oil and medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, can help you get into ketosis faster. MCT oil is unique in that it increases ketone levels in a linear, dose-dependent manner and allows for the induction of ketosis with lower amounts of total fat in the diet. (44)
If you are a hyper-responder to dietary fat and cholesterol, you may need to restrict your intake of saturated fats on keto. Instead, focus on fats such as olive oil, avocados, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds.
3. Supplement
L-leucine is a ketogenic amino acid, meaning it can be used to make ketones. Supplementing with L-leucine may help you get your body into ketosis faster.
Exogenous ketones are ketones that are ingested as a nutritional supplement. They elevate blood ketone levels but may inhibit the body’s own process of ketogenesis. (45) I consider exogenous ketones an advanced strategy for those who have already nailed down the basics of keto.
4. Drink Apple Cider Vinegar
Consuming apple cider vinegar before meals not only assists digestion but may also promote ketone production due to its content of acetic acid, a naturally occurring ketogenic compound. Try adding a tablespoon or two to water and drinking before you eat your meal.
5. Increase Your Salt Intake
The body excretes more salt on a keto diet than on a standard diet due to reductions in insulin, which normally promotes a certain degree of water retention. Once you’re in ketosis, add an extra three to five grams of Himalayan, sea, or Redmond Real salt to your diet every day. (Five grams is about one teaspoon, but that may vary depending on the type of salt and the size of the grain.)
6. Eat More Magnesium and Potassium
In addition to sodium, levels of magnesium and potassium can also drop on a ketogenic diet due to its dehydrating effect on the body. Make sure to eat plenty of magnesium- and potassium-rich foods. Some of the best keto-friendly sources of magnesium are dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, and cacao. Keto-friendly potassium sources include spinach, kale, avocados, and mushrooms.
7. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners such as saccharin (Sweet’N Low), aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal), and sucralose (Splenda) are quite popular among low-carb dieters. However, concerning new research indicates that artificial sweeteners have adverse metabolic effects and may work against your keto efforts by disrupting your gut microbiota and inducing insulin resistance and weight gain. (46, 47) If you want to use a non-caloric sweetener, I recommend either stevia or monk fruit sweetener.
8. Stock Up on Keto-Friendly Snacks
Keep keto-friendly snacks on hand so that when hunger strikes, you have healthy food at the ready; this strategy will help prevent you from falling off the keto wagon and reverting to high-carb snack foods. Nuts and seeds, coconut butter, grass-fed beef jerky, and hard-boiled eggs make for easy, portable keto snacks.
9. Try Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting, an eating style in which you eat within a specific period each day and fast the rest of the time, is a great way to reduce the amount of time your body needs to enter nutritional ketosis. (48) Intermittent fasting accelerates the time to ketosis by keeping insulin levels low and raising ketone levels. If you’re new to intermittent fasting, start by limiting your eating to an eight- to 10-hour window each day and fasting for the remaining 14 to 16 hours of the day (and night).
10. Decrease Your Stress
Stress is an underappreciated but significant impediment to achieving success on a ketogenic diet. High stress elevates cortisol, which stimulates the generation of glucose (gluconeogenesis) in the liver. Gluconeogenesis raises blood glucose and reduces ketone levels; together, these effects make it difficult to enter ketosis.
Try these strategies for reducing your stress:
Set aside time for rest, ideally away from your smartphone and computer
Cut down on commitments
Get plenty of sleep
Start a mindfulness practice such as meditation
Spend time in nature
Spend quality time with friends and family
11. Prioritize Sleep
Inadequate sleep will rapidly derail your keto efforts by increasing your blood sugar and levels of stress hormones. Getting eight to nine hours of high-quality sleep per night should be a priority. Maintain a regular bedtime schedule and practice sleep hygiene strategies such as keeping your bedroom completely dark at night, lowering the ambient temperature to around 67 degrees Fahrenheit, and avoiding blue light exposure a couple of hours before bed with blue light-blocking glasses.
12. Exercise
Frequent exercise depletes glycogen stores, causing your body to turn to fat for energy; this means that regular exercise can help you get into ketosis faster. Some people experience a reduced capacity for exercise upon starting keto; in this case, engaging in longer durations of low-intensity activity, such as walking, cycling, or swimming, can help you get into ketosis without causing undue fatigue.
13. Drink Plenty of Water
Within the first few days of starting a ketogenic diet, you may experience a significant loss of water weight. This occurs primarily because glycogen stores in muscle are gradually being reduced, and glycogen causes retention of water. To ensure that you don’t become dehydrated on keto, drink half your weight in ounces of filtered water every day.

What to Expect When You’re on the Keto Diet
As your body gets used to keto, you may experience some uncomfortable side effects. Here’s what to expect.
The “Keto Flu”
The first few days of keto can be difficult as your body adjusts to a low carbohydrate intake; you may experience symptoms such as brain fog, headache, insomnia, irritability, and digestive issues. These symptoms are commonly referred to as the “keto flu” and are caused by the glycogen loss, low insulin levels, and dehydration that frequently occur when you suddenly cut back on carbs. Know that these symptoms will pass, especially if you make sure to drink plenty of water, replenish your electrolyte levels, and eat sufficient protein and calories. At the most, it may take a couple weeks for the keto flu to subside, but for most people, this uncomfortable period passes within a few days.
Constipation
Constipation is a common complaint for keto dieters. There are several reasons why you may experience constipation:
You’re not eating enough fiber. It’s easy to eat lots of meat, cheese, and oils on a ketogenic diet at the expense of optimal fiber intake. Be sure to eat plenty of colorful non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, bell peppers, mushrooms) because the fiber in these foods will keep things moving through your digestive tract.
You may need more water. As I mentioned earlier, people typically experience body water loss when starting a ketogenic diet. Your digestive tract needs water to keep fecal matter soft and moving through your intestines; if you are dehydrated, constipation is likely.
Try resistant starch. Resistant starch passes through the small intestine intact and therefore doesn’t count as a dietary carbohydrate. Instead, it travels to your large intestine, where it’s used to feed beneficial gut bacteria. Try adding a teaspoon of resistant starch, such as raw potato starch or green banana flour, to your keto smoothie each day to keep your gut happy.
Take a probiotic and eat fermented foods. The beneficial bacteria in probiotics and fermented foods help prevent sluggish digestion and promote healthy bowel function.
Reduced Thyroid Function
Research has found that a ketogenic diet decreases levels of T3, the body’s active thyroid hormone. (49) Unfortunately, this means a ketogenic diet may not be optimal for those with pre-existing hypothyroidism. If you have hypothyroidism and want to proceed with a ketogenic diet, consult with your doctor first because you may need thyroid support.
Elevated Cortisol
Research has indicated that a ketogenic diet raises the stress hormone cortisol to increase energy levels in the face of reduced carbohydrate availability. However, it is still up for debate whether this increase in cortisol is harmful or innocuous. Nonetheless, I recommend taking extra care to manage your stress while on a ketogenic diet. Getting plenty of sleep, exercising, and engaging in a regular stress-reduction practice can help you keep your baseline stress levels low and reduce the potential for chronically elevated cortisol.

Public Health Collaboration Conference 2018: Achieving your optimal blood sugar target

Videos of the lectures given at the Public Health Collaboration conference 2018 which was held in May over the royal wedding weekend have now been released on You Tube.

You can see my talk, Achieving your optimal blood sugar target, as well as others, on the link below. There are a wide variety of lifestyle topics discussed. Happy viewing.

 

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=public+health+collaboration+conference+2018

BMJ: Bariatric surgery best done before a BMI of 50

More than a third of patients who had bariatric surgery got back to a BMI of 30 or less after one year. Some patients respond better than others, and some operations are more effective than others.

Having a BMI of less than 40 made it more likely for the person to reach their goal weight. Obviously, they had less to lose. Only one out of ten patients who had a BMI of 50 or over got down to a BMI of 30, which corresponds to the limit between being considered overweight and being considered obese.

Sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass or duodenal switch operations were the most effective. Adjustable gastric bands were less effective.

BMJ  9 Dec 2017 from JAMA Surg 2017

Kris Kresser: Should you skip breakfast to lose weight?

Does Skipping Breakfast Help with Weight Loss?
on May 9, 2017 by Chris Kresser 

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? Researchers have been trying to answer that question for years, particularly as it relates to achieving a healthy weight. Read on to learn what the latest randomized clinical trials are telling us, and whether intermittent fasting is really an effective weight loss strategy.
While intermittent fasting has been lauded for its health benefits, including promoting cellular maintenance and protecting against aging and neurodegenerative diseases, popular wisdom maintains that skipping breakfast is bad for you. Often labeled as the most important meal of the day, breakfast is said to “boost metabolism” and reduce hunger. But is this really true? Mounting evidence suggests that eating three meals a day may not be important for weight loss.

In this article, we’ll explore the evidence for and against eating breakfast with all its nuances, including an ancestral approach, the problems with association studies, a review of the biochemistry of intermittent fasting, and relevant results from randomized controlled trials.
Did our ancestors eat breakfast?

The truth is, it’s hard to know for sure, but it’s thought that most hunter–gatherers ate intermittently depending upon food availability. (2, 3) Loren Cordain, founder of the Paleo diet, writes:
“The most consistent daily eating pattern that is beginning to emerge from the ethnographic literature in hunter–gatherers is that of a large single meal which was consumed in the late afternoon or evening. A midday meal or lunch was rarely or never consumed and a small breakfast (consisting of the remainders of the previous evening meal) was sometimes eaten. Some snacking may have occurred during daily gathering, however the bulk of the daily calories were taken in the late afternoon or evening.” (4)
It appears that the three-meals-a-day paradigm was not adopted until the Agricultural Revolution around 10,000 years ago. Frankly, the fact that we eat three times a day is somewhat arbitrary and seems to be based on when it was most convenient to eat during farm work and harvest. (5)

Most studies regarding breakfast consumption and obesity are association studies. And while there is undeniably an association between a lean body type and breakfast consumption, correlation does not imply causation, and many of these association studies have been inappropriately used to shape recommendations for weight loss.
Because “eat breakfast” is such popular health advice, people who are committed to their health are more likely to eat breakfast. They are also likely to avoid smoking, manage stress, and eat more fruits and vegetables, all things associated with a healthier weight. Breakfast eaters tend to be leaner, but this doesn’t mean that they are lean because they eat breakfast.

Luckily, in the last few years, several research groups have sought to use randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to answer the question “does eating breakfast cause weight loss?” Let’s take a closer look at the studies and what they found.
In one of the first RCTs in 1992, researchers separated 52 moderately obese adult women based on their normal breakfast habit (whether they ate or skipped breakfast regularly) and then randomly assigned half of each category to a breakfast group and half to a no-breakfast group. In their results, they reported a trend suggesting that women who had to make the most substantial changes to their initial eating habits achieved more weight loss. Essentially, habitual breakfast skippers tended to do a bit better when they had to eat breakfast, and habitual breakfast eaters tended to do better when they had to skip breakfast. (10) Unfortunately, when this result was cited by other studies and the media, it was widely misconstrued. First, the researchers only observed a trend for this interaction effect, meaning that it did not reach the level of statistical significance (p < 0.06, for those familiar with statistics). Second, the study was widely reported in the scientific literature as having shown that eating breakfast led to weight loss, even though the authors never concluded anything of the sort. Unfortunately, poor reporting of this study shaped scientific and popular opinion for several decades.
The belief that breakfast is important for weight loss prevailed, despite a few smaller studies that found that skipping breakfast had no effect or even a potential beneficial effect on weight loss.

In 2013, Cornell researchers performed a randomized crossover study in 24 undergraduate students and found that skipping a meal did not result in energy compensation at later meals and that it might even be an effective means to reduce energy intake in some people. (11)

In 2015, researchers in the UK performed a similar study with a week-long intervention in 37 participants and concluded that “there is little evidence from this study for a metabolic-based mechanism to explain lower BMIs in breakfast eaters.” (12) However, these studies were both relatively short-term compared to the 1992 study and didn’t receive as much attention.
In 2014, as part of the Bath Breakfast Project in the UK, 33 obese adults were randomly assigned to a breakfast group or no-breakfast group for six weeks. (13) The breakfast group ate slightly more calories but was also a bit more physically active. The no-breakfast group ate fewer calories over the entire day but was also slightly less active and had slightly more variable glucose levels in the afternoon and evening at the end of the trial. Body mass and fat mass did not differ between the two treatments, and neither did indexes of cardiovascular health. Contrary to the popular notion that breakfast “boosts metabolism,” resting metabolic rate did not differ between the groups. Breakfast also did not provide any significant suppression of energy intake later in the day. It seemed like the evidence was mounting against popular belief.
Finally, in the largest long-term, multisite clinical trial to date, researchers attempted to settle the debate once and for all. They randomized 309 obese adult participants to a breakfast group or no-breakfast group for 16 weeks. They reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:
“A recommendation to eat or skip breakfast for weight loss was effective at changing self-reported breakfast eating habits, but contrary to widely espoused views this had no discernable effect on weight loss in free-living adults who were attempting to lose weight.” (14)
Over 92 percent of subjects complied with the recommendation they were given, but it had no impact on weight loss. They also separated individuals based on their baseline breakfast habit and found no interaction between initial breakfast habit and success of the intervention. This is directly contrary to the near-significant interaction found by Schlundt and colleagues in 1992 and was a much larger study.

But wait, does a bowl of cereal and toast with jam have the same effect as an egg omelette, greens, and a sweet potato? Food quality matters more than food quantity, right? Yep. When “breakfast” is lumped into one big category, there’s not conclusive evidence for or against it, (15) as we saw in the previous section. But researchers have looked at different types of breakfast and weight loss as well, with some intriguing results.
In 2015, a study in China found that obese teenagers ate less at lunchtime if they had an egg breakfast compared to a bread breakfast. The egg breakfast was reported to increase levels of satiety hormones, keeping them full for longer. The egg breakfast group also had significantly more weight loss. (16) Sounds pretty good to me! Unfortunately, there wasn’t a “no-breakfast” group in this study, so it’s hard to know how the egg breakfast would have compared to intermittent fasting.
Researchers in Missouri performed a randomized trial in 2015 with three different groups. They randomly assigned 57 breakfast-skipping teens to a cereal-based breakfast (13g protein), an “egg-and-beef rich” breakfast (35g protein), or to continue skipping breakfast. They found that the egg-and-beef breakfast led to voluntary reductions in daily food intake and reduced reported daily hunger. It also prevented fat mass gains over the 12-week study. (17)
The truth is, most of the studies above (that found no effect of breakfast) were likely based on a typical high-carbohydrate breakfast, a la the Standard American Diet. It would be very interesting to see the metabolic response to breakfast omission in a group of healthy individuals eating a nutrient-dense, evolutionarily appropriate diet.

What about fasting in relation to exercise for weight loss? In the fed and fasted states, we preferentially oxidize (“burn”) different substrates to produce energy. Could exercising in one state or the other provide benefits for weight loss? In 2012, researchers in London performed a crossover study, monitoring food intake and energy expenditure in 49 participants during one week with breakfast and one week skipping breakfast. They found that total energy intake, energy expenditure, and activity levels did not differ between conditions. (18)
A study in Japan in 2014 used a randomized crossover design with eight male subjects, all of whom were habitual breakfast eaters. The subjects were instructed to eat or skip breakfast, and the researchers measured their energy expenditure during the day. Interestingly, they found that breakfast skipping did not affect energy expenditure, fat oxidation, or the thermic effect of food if you looked at the entire 24-hour period (similar to the previous study), but it did change the rhythm over the course of the day.

When people skipped breakfast, energy expenditure was lower during the morning but higher during the evening and sleep than those who ate breakfast. Breakfast skipping increased fat oxidation and reduced carbohydrate oxidation in the morning relative to breakfast eating and increased carbohydrate oxidation during the evening. (19)
Following up on this study, a crossover study in Korea in 2015 tracked 10 obese male college students. For one week, they ate before their morning workout. The second week, they ate breakfast after their morning workout. Their results? The fasted workout caused the men to burn more body fat, but it also increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol after exercise relative to the fed workout. (20)

While burning body fat is beneficial to weight loss, large rises in cortisol are not. It should be noted that these participants were not adapted to fasted exercise and that “fat-adapted” people might have a smaller cortisol response to fasting.
What do these studies tell us? Well first, the thermic effect of food in the morning, a common argument for why we should eat breakfast and “boost our metabolism,” is a myth. Over the total course of a day, total energy expenditure does not change. They also suggest that morning fasting might be a great time for a fat-burning workout, as long as it’s not too stressful on your body.

When you eat, the hormone insulin is released from your pancreas to the bloodstream and shuttles glucose (carbohydrate) into muscles and other tissues, where it is used for energy production. Excess glucose is converted to fat and stored in the adipose tissue. When you fast, the hormones glucagon and cortisol stimulate the release of these fatty acids from adipose tissue into the bloodstream. The fatty acids are taken up by the muscles and other tissues and broken down (oxidized) to produce cellular energy. In this concerted manner, the body switches from utilizing carbohydrates to fats as its primary fuel and ensures a constant source of energy to the body.
This is all good and rosy, as long as the body can actually make this metabolic switch. In the scientific literature, this is called “metabolic flexibility,” (21) though you may be familiar with it as “fat-adapted.” People who are “fat-adapted” are more accurately “metabolically flexible,” meaning that they can easily switch from oxidizing carbohydrates in the fed state to oxidizing fat in the fasted state, and vice versa.

On the other hand, people who are said to be “carb-adapted” are “metabolically inflexible,” meaning that they are constantly burning carbohydrates and have trouble switching to fat oxidation. These people still release fatty acids from adipose tissue to the bloodstream but have lost the capacity to oxidize fatty acids in the muscle and other tissues. The accumulation of lipids due to reduced fatty acid oxidation has been hypothesized to cause insulin resistance, (21) and a low ratio of fat to carbohydrate oxidation has been identified to be a good predictor of weight gain. (22)
The phenomenon of metabolic inflexibility may explain some of the results of breakfast studies. Most of the participants in these studies were individuals eating an evolutionarily inappropriate Standard American Diet with large amounts of refined carbohydrates three times a day. If, all of a sudden, you instruct these “carb-adapted” people to skip breakfast, you’re asking for a blood glucose crash and insatiable hunger by lunchtime. In reality, most people who want to try intermittent fasting transition do so gradually by slowly increasing the time between meals, allowing the body to adapt and restore metabolic flexibility.
This may explain why prior breakfast habits have an effect in some studies. Researchers at the University of Colorado studying 18 overweight women found that the adverse effects of skipping breakfast were restricted to habitual breakfast eaters. While habitual breakfast eaters who skipped breakfast had increased blood lipids, insulin, and free fatty acid responses at lunchtime, habitual breakfast skippers who skipped breakfast had none of these effects. The authors concluded that meal skipping may have enhanced effects in habitual breakfast eaters due to entrainment of metabolic regulatory systems. (23)
So, skipping breakfast might not cause weight loss in the short term, but if over the long term it allows your body to “reset” and restore metabolic flexibility and insulin sensitivity, you may ultimately see some weight loss benefit. This is especially true if you’re also improving the overall quality of your diet. A low-fat diet reduces your body’s ability to release fatty acids from adipose tissue and oxidize them in the muscle, (24) while a high-fat diet increases the ability to use fat for energy in muscle and thus improves metabolic flexibility. (25, 26)
Summing it up: should you fast, or break-fast?
If you’re overwhelmed by this quantity of research, you’re not alone. Researchers have been struggling to find consensus on this topic for decades. If you glazed over some of it, here are the major takeaways from this article:
Hunter–gatherers probably only ate one large meal later in the day.
You cannot trust association studies. Correlation does not equal causation!
When all breakfast is lumped together, skipping or eating breakfast has no apparent effect on weight loss.
If you separate out different types of breakfasts, a protein-rich, fiber-rich breakfast seems to confer the most benefits.
Eat before or after exercising depending on your health status and goals. Skipping breakfast will optimize fat metabolism during your morning workout, but it may also spike your cortisol levels.
Most of the individuals in these studies were “carb-adapted” individuals eating a Standard American Diet. It would be interesting to see how the results might differ in “fat-adapted,” metabolically flexible individuals eating a nutrient-dense Paleo diet.
And that’s it!

If anything is clear from this consortium of research, it is the need for individualized nutrition. I’ve written several articles and spoken on my podcast previously about why intermittent fasting (IF) may not work for everyone. If IF works for some people (they lose weight) and is detrimental to others (they gain weight), and these people are all lumped together, we’ll see a net zero change in weight.
So how do you know if intermittent fasting is right for you? Try an n=1 experiment: eat or skip breakfast for a period of time, and notice how it affects your weight, mood, productivity, gut function, and other factors. Transition slowly if necessary, by eating your first meal of the day later and later each morning. There are some predictors of success with fasting, but only you can really know if IF works well for you.

BMJ: Why don’t we encourage and register the diabetics who achieve remission?

weight

Weighing up the benefits of registering those in remission from type two diabetes

Adapted from BMJ Louise McCombie et al 16 Sept 17

Type two diabetes now affects between 5 -10% of the UK population. This is 3.2 million people in the UK. 10% of the NHS budget is spent on treating diabetes and costs are between two and three times that of age matched individuals without diabetes. Life expectancy is six years less for people with type two diabetes.
Remission is attainable for some patients but is rarely achieved or recorded. (My comments: except in the low carbing community) The trend is for diabetes management to focus on reversible underlying disease mechanisms rather than treating symptoms and multisystem pathological consequences.
Lowering blood glucose remains the primary aim of management and drugs are the main method of doing this rather than diet and lifestyle advice. (My comment: because high carb/low fat dietary advice is counterproductive).
It has been found that weight loss of 15kg often produces biochemical remission of type two diabetes, restoring beta cell function. The accumulation of fat in the liver and pancreas impairs organ function to cause type two diabetes but is potentially reversible. If remission is achieved, the person no longer requires diabetes drugs.
The American Diabetes Association describe a partial remission as below the threshold for diabetes diagnosis. This is a hba1c of less than 6.5%/48 mmol/mol and a fasting blood sugar less than 6.9 without diabetes drugs. A full remission is described as the elimination of the criteria for impaired glucose tolerance. This means a hba1c less than 6%/42 and a fasting blood sugar under 5.6 again without the use of diabetes drugs.
A full remission will completely remove the cardiovascular risk associated with diabetes but partial remission removes a great deal of the risk and is still very much worthwhile.
We suggest that whether hba1c or fasting blood sugars are used to detect remission that these are repeated twice at two month intervals. Once in remission, a patient should be tested annually.
No study has yet been done that has reported the outcomes for diabetics in remission, but you would expect their outcomes to be much better than it otherwise would.
If a patient achieves remission, and if the Read code C10P is applied to them, they would still be scheduled for annual reviews and retinal screening programmes but would be considered non-diabetic for matters such as insurance, driving, and employment. But so far, in Scotland, only 0.1% of diabetics have been coded as being in remission.
Perhaps there are coding errors, but the possibility that type two diabetes can be reversed may not be fully understood by both doctors and patients. If patients achieve either a 10% body weight loss or 15kg, then 75-80% of them can expect to go into diabetes remission.
Physical and social environments, emotional states and self- regulatory skills are important factors affecting adherence to a weight management intervention.
It costs around £5,000 for the medical care of a person with type two diabetes but this almost doubles over the age of 65. The patient also has increasing holiday insurance costs. This is around double the usual rate for type twos and more for insulin users. Could knowledge of the advantages of weight loss act as an incentive for patients?

 

Susan Pierce Thompson: How to be happy, thin and free

the-3-huge-mistakes-report

This March, Susan’s first book, Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin & Free, arrived in bookstores.

Here’s what she had to say:

Susan, in Bright Line Eating, you argue that the reason so many people struggle with their weight is that the human brain blocks weight loss. How so?

The human brain was designed to keep us stable in a right-sized body. But modern processed foods and the modern pace of life have hijacked various systems in the brain, and the result is that now, in the present-day environment, the brain does indeed block weight loss.

Here’s how: willpower is a finite resource in the brain. And it doesn’t just help us resist temptations or persevere in the face of challenges – it helps us do all kinds of things, like make decisions (e.g., checking email, going shopping), regulate our emotions (e.g., having kids, being in traffic), and regulate our task performance (e.g., working in Excel, giving a presentation).

After a brief period of time doing any of these things, if we start to think it might be a good time to get something to eat, we’re likely to fall into the Willpower Gap.

This is why so many of us order out for pizza or take-out on a Friday night after a long week, irrespective of how sincere we were when we pledged that this time we would stick with our diet until we lost all our excess weight.

In our modern society, the Willpower Gap is waiting for us, nearly always. Most plans of eating implicitly ask you to rely on your willpower to stick with the plan over the long term. The truth about your brain is that that will never work. You need a plan of eating that assumes you have no willpower at all (because, at any given moment, you may not), and works anyway.

To avoid relying on willpower, you suggest people adopt 4 “bright lines” into their eating habits. What are they?

Bright lines are clear, unambiguous boundaries that you don’t cross, no matter what–similar to how a smoker who wants to quit and get healthy throws up a bright line for cigarettes. The four bright lines I recommend are:

  1. No added sugar or artificial sweeteners
  2. No flour of any kind
  3. Eating only at meals–no snacking or grazing
  4. Bounding quantities of food, both to make sure you get enough vegetables, and to make sure you don’t eat too much of everything else.

What’s one thing everyone reading this can do right now to improve their chances of maintaining a healthy weight?

To really bridge the Willpower Gap, start writing down what you’re going to eat for the day in a little journal, ideally right after dinner the night before. Do it religiously until it becomes a habit. The next day, your job is to eat only and exactly that, no matter what. Make sure there’s no sugar or flour in your food plan for the day, and, ideally, stick with three meals a day, because three meals are much more automatizable than five or six.

Within a few weeks these habits will be automatic, and eating the right things, and not the wrong things, will start to be as easy as brushing your teeth.

 

(From original interview by Ron Friedman)

Planning a pregnancy: the importance of getting slim before you get started

newborn baby

In Europe the World Health Organisation estimate that more than 50% of men and women are overweight or obese and 23% of women are obese.

In a pregnant woman obesity raises her chances of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. She is also more likely to get metabolic syndrome and type two diabetes later in life. The resulting children are more likely to come to harm in utero and at birth and also more likely to become fat children. They are then more likely to develop higher blood pressure and excess weight in early adulthood.

Despite the push to improve the outcome for the babies in utero, lifestyle changes and medical interventions have largely proved unsuccessful.

Women with a BMI over 25 find it more difficult to conceive in the first place and then are more likely to miscarry compared to their slimmer sisters. The miscarriage rate is 1.67. Congenital abnormalities become more common.

The placenta responds to maternal insulin levels. In normal weight women they become 40-50% less sensitive to insulin but this bounces back within days of delivery. Obese women show greater decreases in insulin sensitivity, this affects lipid and amino acid metabolism. African Americans and Southern Asians get these changes at lower body masses than Europeans.

Obese women are more likely to go into labour early. They also may need to be delivered early. They have a higher rate of failed trial of labour, caesarean sections and endometritis and have five times the risk of neonatal injury.

Anaesthetic complications are more common. The Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology recommend that women with a BMI over 40 see an obstetric anaesthetist before going into labour. Epidural failure is more common. The woman may have lower blood pressure and respiratory problems and the baby may have more heart rate decelerations in labour.

Broad spectrum antibiotics are recommended for all caesarean sections. Despite this, overweight women get more post- operative infections. The wounds are also more likely to come apart.

Obese pregnant women are obviously at even more risk.

Babies of obese mothers are usually fatter at birth compared to other babies. Obese mums tend to put on more weight than average during the pregnancy and then find it even harder to lose weight after delivery.

Recent randomised controlled trial  have shown that interventions started after pregnancy have little or no effect. These include increasing the mum’s physical activity and cutting the dietary glycaemic load. These things reduced the weight gained in pregnancy a little but did not affect adverse pregnancy outcomes and the birth of fat babies. Thus there is now a bigger push to intervene before pregnancy.  

Currently between ten and twenty percent of obese women lose weight between pregnancies. This has been found to reduce weight gain in the next pregnancy and also the risk of pre-eclampsia.  Supervised intensive lifestyle interventions can be done, work and are safe, even in breast feeding mothers. Pre-pregnancy classes to get women fit for pregnancy would help improve the outcome for the babies of the future.  The metabolic environment, a mixture of inflammation, insulin resistance, lipotoxicity, and hyperinsulinemia,  can then be optimised prior to conception. After this, it is really too late.

 

Adapted from Obesity and Pregnancy. Patrick M Catalano and Kartik Shankar from Cleveland Ohio and Little Rock Arkansas Universities.  BMJ 18 February 2017 BMJ 2017;356;j1