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Your 30-Day Plan to Lose Weight, Balance Hormones, Boost Brain Health, and Reverse Disease
Read by Eric Jason Martin
By Dr. Josh Axe
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Today, the ketogenic diet is the world’s fastest growing diet, and with good reason. When practiced correctly, it has been proven to burn fat, reduce inflammation, fight cancer, balance hormones and gut bacteria, improve neurological diseases, and even increase lifespan. Unfortunately, many people remain unaware of several key factors that are crucial to the diet’s success, setting them up for frustration, failure, and relapse.
In Keto Diet, bestselling author Dr. Josh Axe sets the record straight, offering thorough, step-by-step guidance to achieving lifelong health. Unlike other books on the subject, Keto Diet identifies and details five different ketogenic protocols and explains why picking the right one for your body and lifestyle is fundamental to your success.
Inside, you’ll find all the tools they need to say goodbye to stubborn fat and chronic disease once and for all, including:
- shopping lists
- delicious recipes
- exercise routines
- accessible explanations of the science behind keto’s powerful effects
- five different keto plans and a guide to choosing the one that fits you best!
Finding a Better Way
Foolish the doctor who despises the knowledge acquired by the ancients.
There must be a better way. I first had that thought as a thirteen-year-old kid in Troy, Ohio, when I discovered clumps of my mom’s sandy-blond hair on our bathroom floor—a side effect of the chemotherapy that was poisoning her body in order to treat a cluster of cancer cells in her left breast and lymph nodes. The same unsettling thought struck again when my vibrant, athletic mom (a swim instructor and my school gym teacher) emerged from treatment seemingly cured of cancer but robbed of her spark, her energy, and her health.
There must be a better way.
At that age, I knew absolutely nothing about nutrition, but one public service message found its way into my adolescent brain: Soda is unhealthy. So I decided I would no longer drink it. This was the first time it occurred to me that food and diet might somehow be part of a “better way.” If soda was bad for you, might other foods be, too—and might some be good for you as well?
For the next decade, my mom struggled with a range of health problems that left her feeling sick and tired all the time. Depression. Hypothyroidism. Constipation. Chronic fatigue syndrome. All this from a woman who, prior to treatment, could easily work a full-time job, care for her family, and then go for a workout or run and still feel energized. As I watched her health decline, an idea began to take hold, and over the years it continued to grow. I would become a doctor. I’d learn for myself why my mom had to sacrifice her health to treat her illness. And I’d try to find a better way.
By the time I was in my twenties, that dream was becoming a reality. I was attending chiropractic college in Florida, where I learned the foundations of nutrition. I also began training as a doctor of functional medicine and learning about ancient remedies. The wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine made sense to me. These millennia-old practices worked with your body rather than against it. Instead of looking at an illness in isolation, the treatments took the whole person into consideration and aimed to heal the root cause of disease. They saw the forest and the trees, restoring overall health while eradicating illness. And they used food as medicine to bolster the body and create the optimal conditions for healing.
Nutrition was a key piece of the “better way” puzzle that was slowly coming together in my mind. As I read everything I could get my hands on about food and healing, I came across the ketogenic diet. I was blown away by the research. Here’s a diet that actually transforms the way the body uses macronutrients, shifting your main fuel source from carbohydrates to fat. No other approach, short of fasting, can accomplish that. As a result, it can be a game changer for people who have struggled for years to lose weight, because it literally turns your body into a fat-burning machine. At the same time, the overall health implications are profound. It can reduce inflammation, balance vital hormones like insulin, and boost your brain health. During my research, I learned that the diet had already been used for decades to treat epilepsy and diabetes—and was being explored for other diseases as well, including cancer.
I was in that mode of research and discovery when I received a tearful call from my mom. “My oncologist told me they found a tumor on my lungs,” she said, voice quavering. My stomach dropped. No, I thought, not again. My mom was my inspiration—and she’d already been through so much. I told her I loved her and would be there soon. The next day, I was on a plane to Ohio.
Back in my family home, my mom explained that her doctors had recommended surgery and radiation. I told her I believed there was a better way—one that would strengthen her body’s innate healing mechanisms, support her overall health, and offer a sane, sustainable, scientifically sound approach to lifelong wellness.
Then I dove headlong into my research. I spent hundreds of hours reading about cancer and nutrition and herbs and antioxidants, and I reached out to some of the world’s leading integrative medicine physicians for advice on nutrition and lifestyle changes that could support immunity and healing. Based on what I learned, we completely revamped my mom’s diet.
We got rid of all the processed foods in her cupboards and filled her fridge with veggies, herbs, healthy protein, wholesome fat, and bone broth. I showed her how to make delicious vegetable juices with celery, spinach, cilantro, ginger, lemon, and beets. We bought wild salmon and cod liver oil, both of which are packed with inflammation-lowering omega-3 fatty acids. My mom began eating a variety of mushrooms, like shiitake and cordyceps and reishi, known as the mushroom of immortality in traditional Chinese medicine. She used herbs like milk thistle, known to detoxify the body, and turmeric, a potent anti-inflammatory that may play a role in reversing a variety of diseases, including cancer. We all but eliminated processed carbs and added sugar from her diet.
She made other healthy changes, too. She began getting lymphatic massage and chiropractic care; praying and doing positive, healing affirmations; and using essential oils like frankincense, which relieves stress and anxiety, supports immunity, and contains antitumor properties. She’d been diagnosed with cancer, but you’d never know it. As the weeks rolled by, she began feeling more energetic than she had in years, her depression lifted, and she lost twenty-two pounds.
When she went to her doctor four months later for a CT scan, he could hardly believe the images. Her tumor had shrunk to half its original size—without any chemo or radiation. Nine months after her diagnosis, she was in almost complete remission. Now, thirteen years later, she’s cancer-free. She water-skis, runs 5K races, and keeps up with her grandkids. She says she feels better now, in her sixties, than she did in her thirties.
I’m not suggesting that those who’ve been diagnosed with cancer ignore their doctors’ advice. Life-altering decisions should be made only with the help of trusted health-care practitioners and based on the unique characteristics of each individual diagnosis. But bolstering your body’s defenses with nutrition makes sense no matter what health challenge you’re facing. The diet that helped my mom beat cancer was a modified version of the keto protocol I lay out in this book. For me, the experience was pivotal. I had all the proof I needed. I had discovered a better way.
ANCIENT NUTRITION IN A MODERN WORLD
My keto diet program isn’t a gimmicky fad, nor is its sole purpose to help you slim down. It’s a scientific way to lower inflammation, correct hormonal imbalances, jump-start your weight loss, and transform your health, giving you the best shot at a disease-free future. It doesn’t involve hunger or deprivation or calorie counting. It’s a high-fat, moderate-protein, very-low-carb approach—a unique mix that accomplishes something no other diet can: It fundamentally changes the way your body burns calories. By shifting the source of energy your brain and muscles utilize from carbs to fat, it forces your body to let go of that stubborn spare tire around your belly—the fat that’s frustrating from a cosmetic standpoint and largely responsible for the health problems that go hand in hand with being overweight. As a result, my keto diet program is the one diet that can work for you when every other diet has failed.
The approach is grounded in science, but it’s based on the way humans have been eating since the beginning of time. Our ancestors didn’t have access to grocery store shelves overflowing with cereal, chips, and macaroni and cheese, nor was food available 24/7. Their sustenance came straight from nature—from the organic plants, herbs, berries, nuts, and free-range meat in their surroundings—so its availability was up to nature’s whims, and they experienced cycles of feast and famine. Alternating between plentiful periods when food was abundant and challenging phases when it was scarce had an upside. During the intermittent famines, their bodies went into ketosis, the health-promoting state in which you burn fat, rather than carbohydrates, for fuel.
You can get into ketosis with fasting. Or you can get there with the ketogenic diet. The approach was discovered in the 1920s. Doctors working at Johns Hopkins University and the Mayo Clinic were treating patients with disparate problems—intractable seizure disorders and diabetes. They had learned that fasting helped alleviate their patients’ symptoms, but the symptoms returned once the patients started eating again. So, independently, the researchers at each institution began manipulating their patients’ diets to try to mimic a fasting state. When they cut carbs to almost zero, their patients went into ketosis. The seizures stopped and their blood sugar normalized. The ketogenic diet was born.
My keto diet program is based on the well-established science behind that breakthrough discovery. Its macronutrient combination triggers the same healthy metabolic condition as fasting. So while you’re eating satisfying, nutritious meals, you reap the health benefits of abstinence: You burn fat for fuel, normalize hormone levels, slash inflammation, and give your body the opportunity to heal.
Let me say this again: My keto diet plan doesn’t entail deprivation, much less starvation. The plan is built around delicious foods that melt off fat, reduce your sugar cravings, and help you feel mentally sharp, energetic, and sated. Like fasting, it’s not meant to be a long-term approach. But in this day and age, when everything from stress to environmental toxins can throw your system out of whack, my keto diet program is a scientifically proven way to reboot your body by resetting and stabilizing its basic biochemical functions. Even better: There’s a way to benefit from ketosis for the long term, an approach known as keto cycling that I explain in detail in the upcoming pages.
THE BIG, FAT TRUTH
You undoubtedly already know that the United States is the most overweight industrialized nation in the world. No one wants to be overweight—and people who are have tried diet after diet to get their weight under control. Despite those sincere attempts, we’re heavier than ever. In 1960, 31 percent of U.S. adults were overweight and 13 percent were obese. Today, a whopping 70 percent are overweight—and more than a third fall into the obese category, where the risks of weight-related health problems are the most dire.
Gaining a pound or two a year has become the norm—an accepted and expected side effect of aging. But here’s the thing: Age-related weight gain isn’t inevitable. It’s actually a sign of imbalance, in both your external lifestyle (too much food, too little physical activity) and your internal physical environment—specifically, hormones that have gone haywire. Those accruing pounds so many people take for granted are truly dangerous, putting you at increased risk of serious health problems that limit your ability to feel and function your best—from high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes to sleep apnea, arthritis, and hormonal issues, like polycystic ovary syndrome, which can make it difficult to get pregnant. Excess weight also boosts your odds of developing certain types of cancer, including breast, colon, and gallbladder.
There are a number of causes for the obesity epidemic, but the processed carbs that form the basis of most Americans’ diets are largely to blame. Heavily processed foods contain “obesogens”—toxic chemicals that make us fat—and hidden sugars that hook our brains, mess with our blood sugar, energy, and mood, and leave us craving more. After watching thousands of patients—including my wife, Chelsea, who lost those last stubborn ten pounds, balanced her hormones, and got lean on the ketogenic diet—and experiencing the program for myself (it made me leaner than ever), I can say with certainty that the fastest way to lose weight and keep it off for good is by radically slashing carbs, at least temporarily, so you start incinerating your body’s deep, unreachable fat stores. The ketogenic diet is the only approach that’s specifically designed to achieve that goal.
The secret to my keto diet program’s effectiveness is an optimal mix of macronutrients: high amounts of healthy fat, moderate protein, and low, low carbs. The idea of eating fat to shed weight might sound counterintuitive. But the right kinds of fat, studies show, actually help you lose stubborn body fat. My keto diet plan is built around healthy fats—the type in avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, and salmon. Those fats are actually good for your brain and heart. They taste good, too.
The keto diet program is lower in carbs than most low-carb eating plans. It’s super low carb—about 30 grams a day. Without the grains and starchy vegetables and fruit that the body typically relies on for fuel, your body starts utilizing fat within three or four days. You enter ketosis and begin torching the stubborn pudge that’s collected around your belly or thighs or back.
That metabolic state is also deeply restorative and triggers a cascade of healthy changes:
Your body releases less insulin, so two things happen: You store less fat and your blood sugar levels normalize—slashing your risk of diabetes.
Levels of triglycerides and bad (LDL) cholesterol fall, while good (HDL) cholesterol rises—all factors that protect the health of your heart.
Your natural ability to fight cancer improves, because sugar is the fuel cancer cells need to survive. Studies indicate that the very-low-carb ketogenic diet may actually starve and shrink tumors.
You achieve optimal brain function by improving the ability of mitochondria—tiny organs in cells that transform fuel into energy—to do their job. In fact, promising new research shows that by maintaining healthy functioning in the brain’s energy centers, ketosis may protect against an array of devastating neurological disorders, from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and epilepsy to headaches, traumatic brain injuries, and sleep disorders.
READY, SET, KETO
There are a number of approaches to the ketogenic diet, but mine is unique. It’s designed not just to put your body into fat-burning ketosis but also to create the optimal environment for healing. As a result, my keto program isn’t all about bacon and butter. It’s about giving your body the veggies, herbs, vitamins, and minerals that are the basic building blocks of health and healing.
The upcoming chapters contain all the information you need to fully understand my keto diet and get the most out of the next thirty days—and the rest of your life. Part I forms the foundation. I explain in an easy-to-digest way how the keto diet works and why it is so effective. I cover the biggest keto diet mistakes I see other people make, helping you avoid common pitfalls that can undermine the diet’s effectiveness. I share powerful stories of people, including my wife and my patients, who’ve gone through my Keto360 program, which features the keto diet plan in this book as well as online support. (For more information on my in-depth Keto360 program, visit www.draxe.com/keto-diet-keto360.) Plus, I fill you in on the top keto diet foods, supplements, exercises, and essential oils—and I include a detailed shopping list and even cover how to eat out and travel while going keto.
In Part II, we dig deeper. I explain how the keto diet program transforms the health of your whole body down to your cells and mitochondria by reducing inflammation, producing ketones, and balancing insulin. I’ll cover how you can boost the health of your brain, hormones, and metabolism and fight cancer with a ketogenic diet.
Part III gives you five different short-term keto plans to choose from based on your health goals and how deep and far you want to go with keto: a beginners’ plan, an advanced plan that includes intermittent fasting, a plan for vegans, a plan for those looking to boost their collagen and fight aging, and a keto cancer plan. And I make it all super easy by giving you access to more than eighty delicious keto recipes.
Regardless of which plan you choose, you’ll need a way to incorporate the keto diet into your life for the long term. That’s where the final program in Part III comes in. The Forever Keto Cycling Plan is a sustainable approach that allows you to go in and out of ketosis over and over, keeping your body trim, youthful, and healthy for years to come.
I’m excited you’re here—and grateful you’ve made the choice to join my mission to create a more robust and healthy world. If you want to support your brain and neurological health, balance your hormones, improve your digestive health, lose weight, burn fat, bolster your energy, and feel your best, my keto diet program is for you. It’s time to put the frustration and disappointment of failed diets and deteriorating health behind us. Welcome to a better way.
Meet the Keto Diet
The Diet That Works When Nothing Else Will
The Need for Ancient Nutrition in Today’s Toxic World
In my twenty years of helping patients, friends, and family improve their health, one of the facts about diet that surprises them most is that fat is critical to the human body and carbohydrates play a minor role. We’ve been duped into believing that carbs are good and fat is bad. I’m here to tell you: That’s not true. Of the three macronutrients that food contains—fat, protein, and carbohydrates—carbs are the only one known by scientists and doctors to be nonessential.
For proof you need look no further than your own body. If we exclude water, the average human body is made up of 73 percent fat, 25 percent protein, and 2 percent carbs. See that ratio? Mostly fat. Almost no carbs. Fat is crucial for the optimal functioning of the 37 trillion cells in your body. It protects your organs, supplies energy to your body and brain, and plays a vital role in hormone signaling, including insulin, estrogen, and testosterone. Not only that, but approximately 60 percent of your brain and nervous system is made up of fat,1 and 25 percent of that is cholesterol. And at just three pounds, a fraction of your overall weight, your brain utilizes 20 percent of your body’s metabolic energy and oxygen.
In this book, I’m going to show you how consuming more fat and fewer carbs—the opposite of what you’ve always been told—is the dietary strategy that can transform your health. In my functional medicine clinic, I’ve seen proof that the unique high-fat, very-low-carb approach I describe in Keto Diet can change people’s lives.
One patient’s doctor prescribed a no-fat diet for heart disease. By the time he came to me, his hair was thinning, his muscles were wasting, and his liver was failing. I put him on a high-fat ketogenic diet and his hair grew back, his muscle mass rebounded, and his cardiovascular system became so healthy he was able to go off all his heart medications.
Another patient had been struggling with infertility for years, the result of hormones that were badly out of whack. She had hypothyroidism and polycystic ovary syndrome. I prescribed a strict thirty-day keto diet, followed by a less regimented keto cycling plan. Two months later, her hormones were healthy—and she was pregnant.
I consulted with an MD friend who was diagnosed with cancer of the spine. His doctors had told him his only hope was chemo, and even then, his prognosis was grim. I suggested he try a strict ketogenic diet. That was eight years ago. He’s been cancer-free ever since.
My keto diet program has worked for hundreds of my patients, and it can work for you, too. But first you need to forget most of the conventional rules you’ve been taught about what you’re supposed to eat, because most of those rules are dead wrong.
You’ve been told that the key to weight loss is eating less and exercising more.
You’ve been told that eating fat will make you fat and contribute to heart disease.
You’ve been told that your lack of results is due to your lack of willpower.
You’ve been told that your hormone imbalance, digestive issues, pain, or other medical conditions are incurable, and no diet can fix them.
We now know that the composition of your diet—the mix of high-quality fat, protein, and carbohydrates—rather than how carefully you count calories or how much you burn off with exercise is the key to losing weight and improving your health. A 100-calorie snack pack of cookies has a dramatically different effect on your body than half an avocado or a small handful of almonds with about the same number of calories. Keto Diet is based on that radical shift in understanding about what makes diets succeed or fail—as well as on my longtime experience as a doctor of functional medicine and clinical nutritionist, treating hundreds of patients who have tried to follow the conventional rules and wound up heavier, sicker, and more tired than before.
Not all ketogenic diets are created equal. To get the most out of this new approach to looking and feeling your best, the specific foods you eat are vitally important. Keto Diet explains my unique, über-healthy, superclean take on the concept, which will help you avoid common pitfalls of other ketogenic diets, get the most nutrition out of every bite, and optimize the benefits of this game-changing plan. Over the years, I’ve discovered the ideal mix of key nutrients, along with the best, most wholesome sources of those nutrients. My patients who follow this approach are able to reduce inflammation, balance their hormones, and lose the stubborn body fat that has been making them unhappy and unwell. After years of trying, they finally attain their health and wellness goals.
Dr. Axe Keto: Loads of veggies
Standard Keto: Few veggies
Dr. Axe Keto: Organic meat
Standard Keto: Conventional meat
Dr. Axe Keto: High in collagen
Standard Keto: No collagen
Dr. Axe Keto: Nutrient-dense foods
Standard Keto: Focus on butter/bacon
Dr. Axe Keto: Alkalizing
Standard Keto: Acidic
Dr. Axe Keto: Anti-inflammatory herbs and spices
Standard Keto: No herbs/spices
If you’re like most of my patients, you can expect to lose an average of fifteen to eighteen pounds in your thirty days on my keto diet plan—and you’ll continue losing afterward if you stick with the Forever Keto Cycling program, which is designed to achieve and maintain optimal health and weight for the long term. You won’t be eating the same boring old foods, by the way. You’ll love the simple recipes for dishes like Keto Pancakes, Keto Florentine Pizza, and Keto Fudge. Did you ever think you could lose weight by eating food like that?
What you can expect to gain on my keto diet program is equally life changing: increased energy, vitality, and mental clarity. Those of you who have struggled with conditions like diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, epilepsy, infertility, heart disease, thyroid disease, digestive problems, multiple sclerosis, migraine headaches, and autoimmune disease will likely see a dramatic improvement. And even though it’s controversial to say that dietary changes can improve Alzheimer’s, autism, and cancer, I’m here to tell you that I’ve seen significant healing with the right type of keto diet. Even if you’ve become so dispirited by failed attempts to heal a chronic disorder or lose weight that you’ve given up trying, there’s hope in these pages. This keto diet plan can work when nothing else can.
NEW SCIENCE SUPPORTS A RETURN TO ANCIENT NUTRITION
My keto diet program isn’t magic. Its effectiveness is based on sound, well-known scientific principles of physiology. With every other weight-loss plan, including low-carb approaches, you burn carbohydrates, or glucose—the sugar that’s created when you metabolize carbs—for fuel, just like you would if you were eating a regular American diet. But my keto diet program’s unique mix of high fat, moderate protein, and extremely low carbs triggers a vital biochemical shift in your metabolism. Instead of burning glucose for fuel, within four days you begin burning fat. Think about that. After just a few days, you start incinerating the stubborn love handles and belly fat you may have tried to get rid of for years. You actually continue burning fat while you sleep, so you wake up in the morning looking and feeling slimmer and leaner. No other diet, except fasting, does that. The keto diet is in a category by itself.
Compared to the way most people eat today, this approach to peak health is revolutionary—and yet it’s a return to the time-tested nutritional principles of our ancestors. The basic biology of the ketogenic diet comes from the days when our ancestors hunted and gathered their food. They didn’t eat three meals a day. They didn’t have grocery stores stocked with every imaginable form of nourishment or pantries filled with packaged snacks to grab the moment they felt a twinge of hunger. Instead, their survival depended on what they could forage or hunt. Even after they began to learn how to grow their own food, they ate sporadically. They might have had a large midmorning breakfast, then skipped a meal or two—or even gone several days eating hardly anything at all. Our ancestors’ relationship with food was simple and straightforward. They ate what they had on hand. When food was scarce they went hungry. But intermittent hunger, it turns out, was surprisingly good for them.
- "Our dietary choices remain our most powerful ally in remaining healthy and combating disease. In Keto Diet, Dr. Josh Axe explores the emerging science that is converging around both the threat of carbohydrates and sugar as well as the powerfully salubrious benefits of a diet that augments our utilization of fat, and specifically ketones, to power our physiology. And beyond providing an in-depth exploration of this exciting science, Keto Diet provides the user-friendly tools that will allow every reader the chance to implement changes to regain and safeguard their health."—David Perlmutter, MD, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Grain Brain
"If you're looking to lose weight, balance insulin, and boost your brain health, this book can change your life. Dr. Axe lays out a simple plan for following the Keto Diet the right way: by eating only nutrient-dense foods, like healthy fats, vegetables, herbs, and spices. If you're ready for a health breakthrough, this is the book for you."
—Amy Myers, MD, author of The Thyroid Connection and The Autoimmune Solution
- "Keto Diet is a proven way to balance insulin, reduce inflammation and change your health forever. In his book Dr. Axe busts all of the common Keto myths and teaches you how to do the Ketogenic diet the right way."—Dr. Mark Hyman, New York Times bestselling author of Food
- "Backed by science and Dr. Axe's own experience with patients, Keto Diet masterfully explains how setting your metabolism to the way humans functioned in ancient times reverses chronic diseases of today. Dr Axe's interest in health started with his mom getting sick, which gave him powerful motivation. It is obvious in his work that this pure, original intention is very much alive. I trust Dr. Axe as a source of information without reservation, and I highly recommend his book to anyone interested in getting healthy."—-Alejandro Junger, MD, author of Clean
- On Sale
- Feb 19, 2019
- Hachette Audio