Calories: The nutrient intake on a ketogenic diet typically works out to about 70-75% of calories from fat, 20-25% from protein, and 5-10% from carbohydrate on a daily basis. However, these ratios don't work well at very low calorie or very high calorie daily totals. And although calorie counting is not required, it is important to understand how macronutrient percentages can be affected by caloric intake, so you may want to read my page on calorie counting to get more information on this subject. Again, low or very high calorie intake will skew the percentages of macronutrients. It is also important to remember that fats are super high-calorie foods, especially if you have extra weight to lose and you are doing keto to lose weight. Read my plateau page if you are not reaching your weight loss goals.
Another trigger of insulin is large quantities of protein. This was one of the issues with the Atkins diet. The optimum amount of protein per meal is about 3 to 6 ounces. Protein is needed for repairing and providing the raw material for muscle, tendons, joint cartilage, and even bone. Protein can also be used for fuel; however, too much protein triggers insulin which can be converted to sugar and then to fat.
When you consume lots of sugar and have higher levels of insulin on a continuing basis, your cells try to protect you and eventually start resisting or ignoring insulin. Remember, insulin is the key that allows glucose into the cell. So, your cells prevent insulin from working in order to prevent excessive sugar in the cell. This is your body saying, “If you’re going to keep eating sugar, I will block it at the cellular level.”
There are vegetables that are high in carbs and others low in carbs. The keto diet recommends sticking to the ones low on carbs but encourages you to eat a lot of them. Best vegetables are all green ones to make it easy. And vegetables that grow above the ground (e.g. lettuce) are always better than the ones that grow below the ground (e.g. potatoes)
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Hi Gigi, Low carb and keto is about the balance of macronutrients eaten (fat, protein and carbs), not specifically meat or lack thereof. Most people on keto do eat meat, though some people do vegetarian keto. Fat is actually necessary for many body processes. There is no issue for the kidneys with a high fat diet, but if you eat too much protein that isn’t great for the kidneys. It’s a common misconception that keto is high protein (it isn’t). Keto is great for diabetics as it naturally helps stabilize insulin. All of this being said, please know I’m not a doctor and you should consult your doctor on any medical questions or before starting any diet. If you have more questions that aren’t medical questions, I recommend our low carb & keto support group here.
Ariel Warren is a Registered Dietitian, Diabetes Educator, graduate from Brigham Young, and was diagnosed with Type 1 at the age of 4 years old. Ariel understands diabetes and enjoys working with clients to improve their blood sugar management, healthy eating, weight loss, fitness, and pregnancy. For coaching from a T1D Dietitian, you can contact Ariel directly, through her website: arielwarren.com.
The popular low-carb diets (such as Atkins or Paleo) modify a true keto diet. But they come with the same risks if you overdo it on fats and proteins and lay off the carbs. So why do people follow the diets? "They're everywhere, and people hear anecdotally that they work," McManus says. Theories about short-term low-carb diet success include lower appetite because fat burns slower than carbs. "But again, we don't know about the long term," she says. "And eating a restrictive diet, no matter what the plan, is difficult to sustain. Once you resume a normal diet, the weight will likely return."
Still, it can be hard to get enough fat when you first start this diet. Butter, nuts, coconut and olive oils, and fatty cuts of meat are all on the menu. However, don't go overboard with polyunsaturated fats like soybean, corn, or sunflower oil. Keto dieters who increase their intake of those fats often end up with gastrointestinal distress that causes them to jump ship.
The best part of low carb eating is that you can still have rich, savory foods – dieting isn’t really a part of the lifestyle. Your body regulates your hunger naturally, so keeping your carbs low is the main concern. Being able to do that while still enjoying roast, fish, and big, healthy salads is what makes low carb so easy to stick with, and keep the weight off for good.