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If you’re looking to get a jump start on your health and fitness goals this year, you may be thinking about trying the ketogenic diet. Maybe you’ve heard the phrase before — it’s a huge diet buzzword — but aren’t sure what it means. Here’s a primer: The ketogenic diet is an eating plan that drives your body into ketosis, a state where the body uses fat as a primary fuel source (instead of carbohydrates), says Stacey Mattinson, RDN, who is based in Austin, Texas.
Getting control of your diet is the first and most important step towards lasting health and weight loss. Low carb recipes like these will give you a good blueprint to move forward with permanent changes to the way you eat that will improve your life and health. When filled with healthy, whole foods that are low in carbs and prepared deliciously, the keto diet is an amazing way to create a lasting, positive difference in your life!
When you get to one meal a day, just make sure the meal is a robust one, containing all the needed nutrients to fortify your body with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, those important fatty acids, trace minerals—all of it. (This can be aided with green drink powders and high-quality electrolyte supplements that will help you get your daily requirements for potassium.)
A survey in 2005 of 88 paediatric neurologists in the US found that 36% regularly prescribed the diet after three or more drugs had failed; 24% occasionally prescribed the diet as a last resort; 24% had only prescribed the diet in a few rare cases; and 16% had never prescribed the diet. There are several possible explanations for this gap between evidence and clinical practice. One major factor may be the lack of adequately trained dietitians, who are needed to administer a ketogenic diet programme.
Lastly, if you're active, you might need to make some adjustments to take that into account. "For the first one to two weeks, temporarily reducing your exercise load can be helpful as your body adjusts to being in ketosis," he says. "Additionally, for those who have an intense workout schedule, carb cycling may be a good option." Carb cycling essentially means you'll increase your carb intake on the days you're doing exercise, ideally just two to three days per week. "While low-carb days may be around 20 to 30 grams of net carbs daily, high-carb days can range all the way up to 100 grams, although it can vary based on your size and activity level," says Dr. Axe. (Related: 8 Things You Need to Know About Exercising on the Keto Diet.)
A ketogenic diet focuses on minimal plant-based carbs, moderate amounts of clean protein, and high healthy fat consumption – the three keys to achieving nutritional ketosis. In ketosis, you’re essentially converting yourself from a “sugar burner” to a “fat burner.” With 40g or less net carbs per day, you’ll feel satisfied instead of hungry. The lower sugar helps reduce inflammation and fight chronic disease while keeping your insulin levels in tact, too. Great for people suffering from chronic conditions or anyone who wants to feel their best.
You’ve probably heard about the low carb, high fat diet that’s so popular among actors and models, and with good reason: low carb diets offer proper nourishment with whole foods, while keeping your body burning fat for fuel. This is a great way to be, as it makes fat loss largely effortless! But where does this “ketogenic” word fit into the picture?
Sleep enough – for most people at least seven hours per night on average – and keep stress under control. Sleep deprivation and stress hormones raise blood sugar levels, slowing ketosis and weight loss a bit. Plus they make much it harder to stick to a keto diet, and resist temptations. So while handling sleep and stress will not get you into ketosis on it’s own, it’s still worth thinking about.
Here are a few of the most common side effects that I come across when people first start keto. Frequently the issues relate to dehydration or lack of micronutrients (vitamins) in the body. Make sure that you’re drinking enough water (close to a gallon a day) and eating foods with good sources of micronutrients. To read more on micronutrients, click here >
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used primarily to treat difficult-to-control (refractory) epilepsy in children. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose, which is then transported around the body and is particularly important in fueling brain function. However, if there is little carbohydrate in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies pass into the brain and replace glucose as an energy source. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood, a state known as ketosis, leads to a reduction in the frequency of epileptic seizures. Almost half of children and young people with epilepsy who have tried some form of this diet saw the number of seizures drop by at least half, and the effect persists even after discontinuing the diet. There is some evidence that adults with epilepsy may benefit from the diet, and that a less strict regimen, such as a modified Atkins diet, is similarly effective. The most common adverse effect is constipation, affecting about 30% of patients—this was due to fluid restriction, which was once a feature of the diet, but this led to increased risk of kidney stones and is no longer considered beneficial.
Tracy, We haven’t tried this recipe with another cooking method, but it should actually be pretty easy! The objective is to cook the chicken (any way you like, poached, baked, grilled, or even rotisserie) until it can be shredded, and then mix the shredded chicken with the creamy sauce. To cook the creamy sauce on the stovetop, we recommend crisping the bacon in a saucepan and then removing it and adding the water and spices. Once the water is simmering, add the cream cheese a bit at a time (slightly softened would probably work best), whisking until it’s incorporated. Cooked this way, you may need to add a splash more liquid (water or broth, if you prefer) to the sauce, because some of the liquid will evaporate off as the cream cheese melts down. Finally, stir in the cooked shredded chicken and shredded cheddar, and serve! If you try it this way, please let us know how it goes!
Vicky started Tasteaholics in 2015 with her boyfriend, Rami, hoping to document all their low carb cooking adventures. She lives in NYC and her favorite food is steak and lava cake. She enjoys photography, travel, cooking, working out, cats & Harry Potter. She loves sharing her knowledge, cooking tips and creative dishes with all of Tasteaholics’ readers.
"I recommend only 5 percent of calories coming from carbs, which usually averages out to less than 30 grams," he says. "I understand why people get nervous and panic, thinking 'Can I even eat a salad?' This is why I recommend tracking only 'net carbs', which are total carbs minus fiber. For example, an avocado has 12 grams of carbs but 10 grams of fiber, which means it has 2 grams of net carbs. Also, green leafy vegetables are very nutritious and contain a lot of fiber, so you can almost eat them as much as you want and stay below your limit.
A question we frequently get asked is whether you have to defrost boneless, skinless chicken breasts before making this recipe, or if you can just use them frozen. If you forgot to pull the chicken out of the freezer in the morning, we have good news for you! Crack Chicken can easily be made with frozen chicken. If using an Instant Pot, just add 5 minutes on to the cooking time (for a total of 20 minutes on Manual High Pressure).
If you’re not sure after your initial test, explore other healthy diets such as clean eating and always have in mind that your number 1 goal should be to avoid overly processed foods (keeping this definition fairly broad of course, as we live in the 21st century and have to adapt to modern age as well, where hardly any of us have time to spend 12 hours a day evolving around food production, gathering and cooking).
Beef Pemmican — Pemmican is a delicious paste of dried and pounded meat mixed with melted fat and other ingredients, originally made by North American Indians and later adapted by Arctic explorers. It is an undeniably delicious keto snack if you want something that is filling with beefy flavor. I recommend getting your pemmican from U.S. Wellness Meats. Opt for the Honey & Cherry-Free Beef Pemmican.
The meal plan is designed to ensure you get three balanced, healthy meals a day that address fiber, satiation, and adequate protein intake. The greatest part of a ketogenic diet is the fact that it spares muscle loss, where a carb-based diet doesn’t. Weight lost in a high carb, calorie-restricted diet will often come both from muscle and fat, whereas with keto, you can burn fat without sacrificing muscle. This is referred to often as “body recomposition” and leaves you with a much more preferred physique after weight loss.
It usually takes three to four days for your body to go into ketosis because you have to use up your body's stores of glucose, i.e., sugar first, Keatley says. Any major diet change can give you some, uh, issues, and Keatley says he often sees patients who complain of IBS-like symptoms and feeling wiped out at the beginning of the diet. (The tiredness happens because you have less access to carbs, which give you quick energy, he explains.)
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.
Gina, We recommend cooking the chicken thighs first, pulling the chicken meat off, and then combining it with everything else. To cook the creamy sauce on the stovetop, we recommend crisping the bacon in a saucepan and then removing it and adding the water and spices. Once the water is simmering, add the cream cheese a bit at a time (slightly softened would probably work best), whisking until it’s incorporated. Cooked this way, you may need to add a splash more liquid (water or broth, if you prefer) to the sauce, because some of the liquid will evaporate off as the cream cheese melts down. Finally, stir in the cooked shredded chicken and shredded cheddar, and serve! If you try it this way, please let us know how it goes!
Bulletproof Coffee is coffee with added grass-fed butter and a fat called MCT oil, which is extracted from coconut oil. It’s alright to consider it as a meal but remember that it can slightly trigger insulin. However, I think it is good to do in the beginning, as it reduces hunger. For some people, it could slow progress so it’s good to experiment.
Karen, We haven’t tried this recipe using the Ranch packets, but yes, it should work fine! To do so, we would omit the following: vinegar, chives, garlic powder, onion powder, crushed red pepper flakes, dill, salt, and black pepper, and add 2 (1 oz) packets of dry Ranch seasoning. Yes, it would probably be delicious served over white rice. If you try this recipe using the Ranch packets, please let us know how it goes!
Some ingredients you will already have in your cupboards like seasonings and condiments. We list these out at the beginning of the meal plan. We assume that you'll have them in stock. If you're worried you won't have them all, you can check the meal plan for the daily ingredients as well! There are also some rare ingredients that we suggest you purchase at the beginning of you ketogenic diet journey. You'll begin to use these low carb ingredients in more and more of your keto diet recipes. You can get bargains on items such as almond flour if you purchase ahead online instead of waiting to purchase at the grocery store. In addition, you won't have to wander the health stores for hours in search of these items to find out they don't stock them, or that they are ridiculously over-priced.
Some people don't do well in ketosis. As I mentioned above, you should check with your physician if you have any concerns about starting a ketogenic diet plan with pre-existing health conditions, especially if those conditions involve kidney or heart problems. Although there is evidence that many people do well with reducing carb intake, I don't recommend going much lower than 10-20 carbs per day. The ketogenic is a very low carb diet, but it is not a zero carb diet. If you find (after at least a month on the diet) that you are one of the people who doesn't feel well at very low carb levels, adding enough carbohydrate in the form of sweet potatoes and other starchier vegetables back into your diet should bring you out of ketosis and resolve the issues. If you stay away from grains and rely on vegetables, a moderately higher carb content (60-100 grams/day) should result in health benefits. You won't be in ketosis of course, but still, you should feel better. (I think grain consumption is one of the root causes of illness, but also acknowledge that everyone is different.)
This week we’re introducing a slight fast. We’re going to get full on fats in the morning and fast all the way until dinner time. Not only are there a myriad of health benefits to this, it’s also easier on our eating schedule (and cooking schedule). I suggest eating (rather, drinking) your breakfast at 7am and then eating dinner at 7pm. Keeping 12 hours between your 2 meals. This will help put your body into a fasted state.
Here's the reality: A high carb diet drives up blood sugar and insulin levels. All that sugar and insulin are inflammatory. The standard American diet offers lots of foods that are high sugar AND high in saturated fat, and in studies, these two factors were lumped together. So although saturated fat is healthy, it got the blame for the inflammation that causes heart disease because it was studied in combination with a high carb diet. A ketogenic diet plan which is high in saturated fat and very low in carbohydrate will REDUCE inflammation. (Reference here.)
People also see good weight loss results on the keto diet because eating a low carb, high fat diet can help you feel less hungry and not have to count calories or portion sizes to lose weight. Plus, cutting out the refined carbs and sugars normally present in a traditional Western diet helps avoid crazy spikes in blood sugar that can lead to the feeling of being hungry again soon after eating.
The modified Atkins diet reduces seizure frequency by more than 50% in 43% of patients who try it and by more than 90% in 27% of patients. Few adverse effects have been reported, though cholesterol is increased and the diet has not been studied long term. Although based on a smaller data set (126 adults and children from 11 studies over five centres), these results from 2009 compare favourably with the traditional ketogenic diet.
A standard ketogenic diet consists of a split of around 30 per cent protein, 60 per cent fats and 10 per cent carbohydrates. Experts advise that you should eat no more than 50g of net carbs a day for the body to stay in a ketogenic state. 50g of carbs is equivalent to one cup of oats, one medium sweet potato, one cup cooked brown rice or one slice rye bread - in other words, not much.
By cutting carb intake significantly, we can drastically reduce insulin resistance, the precursor to type 2 diabetes. In addition, low carb diets, along with exercise, can be very effective at helping alleviate the symptoms and progression of type 2 diabetes. Beyond that, ketosis itself is appetite-suppressing, meaning your hunger will naturally check itself, increasing your caloric deficit and making you lose fat even faster.
When you’re eating the foods that get you there (more on that in a minute), your body can enter a state of ketosis in one to three days, she adds. During the diet, the majority of calories you consume come from fat, with a little protein and very little carbohydrates. Ketosis also happens if you eat a very low-calorie diet — think doctor-supervised, only when medically recommended diets of 600 to 800 total calories.