There is scientific evidence that supports the use of a ketogenic diet to help manage certain neurologic conditions. There are also medical, nutrition, and fitness professionals that recommend the eating program for patients and clients who have other health goals. But just because the program works for some, doesn't mean that it's the best diet for you.
Some athletes swear by the ketogenic diet, not just for weight loss but for improved performance in their sport, as well. But Edward Weiss, PhD, associate professor of nutrition and dietetics at Saint Louis University, doesn’t buy it. “I hear cyclists say all the time that they’re faster and better now that they’re on keto, and my first question is, 'Well, how much weight did you lose?'” he says.
I should note that I fully believe the key to success on a keto diet is to be prepared. If you precook your meals, you are setting yourself up for success. You are only choosing to do keto once a week when you prepare your food. If you have no keto food at your house and its 9 pm on a Wednesday, then you are just asking to revert back to something easy like chinese food or pizza. However, if all you need to do is pull a premade meal out of the fridge and microwave it, you are much better off. Make sure to pick up some rugged, microwaveable containers to store your food. Now then, lets get started!
Each person on the keto diet will have different macronutrient needs. Jalali says that typically the diets are about 65-85 percent fat, 15-25 percent protein and about 5 percent carbohydrates. "Some of my patients/clients find it easier to keep track of the foods they consume over the day, others prefer to keep track per meal since it holds them more accountable."
The Johns Hopkins Hospital protocol for initiating the ketogenic diet has been widely adopted. It involves a consultation with the patient and their caregivers and, later, a short hospital admission. Because of the risk of complications during ketogenic diet initiation, most centres begin the diet under close medical supervision in the hospital.
One area where food tracking can be especially helpful, though, is ensuring that you're hitting the right ratios of macronutrients—protein, carbs, and fat. "The most researched version of the ketogenic diet derives 70 percent of calories from healthy fats, 20 percent from protein, and only 10 percent from carbs," explains Charles Passler, D.C., nutritionist, and founder of Pure Change. "In the ideal world, each keto meal and snack should have that same (70/20/10) ratio of macronutrients, but studies have shown that you'll still achieve great results even if each meal varies slightly from that ratio, just as long as you don't exceed 50 grams per day of carbs, or eat those carbs in one sitting," says Passler. In order to achieve these ratios without a preset meal plan from a dietitian or doctor, some food tracking is probably going to be necessary. But once you get the hang of things, you may not need it anymore.
And here’s an important side note: The amount of sugar we need in our bodies to keep the blood sugar number normal is only 1 teaspoon for all the blood in your body (about 1 gallons of blood). And that tiny amount of sugar could come from eating vegetables or even protein. In reality we do not need any sugar in our food at all. Yet the average person consumes 31 teaspoons of sugar and hidden sugar each day!
Your glycogen stores can still be refilled while on a ketogenic diet. A keto diet is an excellent way to build muscle, but protein intake is crucial here. It’s suggested that if you are looking to gain mass, you should be taking in about 1.0 – 1.2g protein per lean pound of body mass. Putting muscle on may be slower on a ketogenic diet, but that’s because your total body fat is not increasing as much.5Note that in the beginning of a ketogenic diet, both endurance athletes and obese individuals see a physical performance for the first week of transition.