Ketogenic or keto meal plans have been used by medical professionals for nearly 100 years to manage certain medical conditions. But more recently, the eating style has become popular among dieters looking to lose weight and athletes looking to improve performance. Before you decide to follow the program, take some time to evaluate a typical keto diet meal plan to make sure that it is an eating style that you can maintain for the long term.
Why higher fat and moderate protein? Fats have little to no effect on blood sugar and insulin levels. Protein does affect both blood sugar and insulin. If you eat too much protein for your ideal body weight or lean muscle mass (usually more than 1.5-2.0 grams/kg lean body mass), it can spark gluconeogenesis and raise blood sugar. Protein will also spike blood insulin levels temporarily, which can interfere with ketone body production. However, it is important to note that this is an individually driven parameter, as detailed in this excellent post from the Optimizing Nutrition blog.
Ketosis and the subsequent metabolic state associated with it has been shown to have positive effects on chronic conditions, from PCOS to type 2 diabetes. Just a few weeks of eating keto recipes and keeping your blood sugar stable results in improved energy, elevated mood, and possibly best of all, quick weight loss. It’s not uncommon for people to drop 10 pounds or more in the first couple of weeks while sticking with a keto diet!
"Healthy in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbs, SunButter makes for a tasty addition to a keto diet," explains registered dietitian Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D. (Especially since you can't have peanut butter on the keto diet.) The sunflower seeds used in SunButter are also locally grown, roasted, and processed in a dedicated peanut-free and tree nut-free facility, she adds, meaning it's fair game if you have nut allergies.
'Studies have shown that compared to energy-restricted diets (ie cutting down on overall calories in a day), low-carb diets may be more effective for weight loss in the short term,' says Dr Barclay. 'This is partly due to decreases in body glycogen stores (in the liver and muscles), and the associated water loss that occurs (which collectively weighs about 2kg in a typical adult).'
After about two to seven days of following this eating routine, you go into something called ketosis, or the state your body enters when it doesn't have enough carbs for your cells to use for energy. Then it starts making ketones, or organic compounds that your bod then uses in place of those missing carbs—and oh, it also burns fat for more energy, says Beth Warren, R.D., founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Living A Real Life With Real Food.
A systematic review in 2018 looked at sixteen studies on the ketogenic diet in adults. It concluded that the treatment was becoming more popular for that group of patients, that the efficacy in adults was similar to children, the side effects relatively mild. However, many patients gave up with the diet, for various reasons, and the quality of evidence inferior to studies on children. Health issues include high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high total cholesterol, and weight loss.
In regimented keto diets, only 10% of total calories per day (about a measly 20 grams!) come from carbs, 20% from protein, and a whopping 70% from fats. Since our bodies preferentially use carbs for energy, cutting them means we have to use something else to keep organs functioning. Our bodies then turn to the glucose stored in our muscles as glycogen for fuel.
The remaining calories in the keto diet come from protein — about 1 gram (g) per kilogram of body weight, so a 140-pound woman would need about 64 g of protein total. As for carbs: “Every body is different, but most people maintain ketosis with between 20 and 50 g of net carbs per day,” says Mattinson. Total carbohydrates minus fiber equals net carbs, she explains.
Julie Hand is a certified holistic health and nutrition counselor (Institute for Integrative Nutrition), personal fitness trainer (National Personal Training Institute), and yoga teacher (Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health). Though she can’t resist trying every science-backed health tip, she also has a penchant for crystals and astrology (don’t judge). You can find her walking the beach (coffee in hand, of course) and practicing the ukulele on weekends.
There are so many tricks, shortcuts, and gimmicks out there on achieving optimal ketosis – I’d suggest you don’t bother with any of that. Optimal ketosis can be accomplished through dietary nutrition alone (aka just eating food). You shouldn’t need a magic pill to do it. Just stay strict, remain vigilant, and be focused on recording what you eat (to make sure your carb and protein intake are correct).