High-Fat Nuts and Nut Butters — Some nuts are fairly high in carbs (like cashews and pistachios), so it is best to keep your snack portions small. Stay away from any nuts or nut butters that have added carbs, polyunsaturated oils, or vegetable oils. Choose higher fat nuts and nut butters, such as almonds, pecans, or macadamia nuts. You can also make your own nut butter at home by using this recipe. (Feel free to use MCT oil instead of coconut oil for an extra energy boost.)
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.
Most people have probably heard of the Atkins diet, which is a pretty general take on ketogenic eating. Wildly popular in the 70s and again in the 90s, Atkins and the low-carb diet are one of the best ways to lose weight. In fact, one of the biggest benefits to low carb eating is that it is a very efficient way to lose weight without much effort. The combination of filling meals that reduce overeating and the fact that, when you’re in ketosis your body burns stored fat for energy makes this an ideal diet for people whose primary goal is fat 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.)
It's only when you combine lots of fat and lots of carbohydrates in your diet that you get into trouble. The sugar from the carbohydrates drives up your insulin levels, and those high insulin levels cause the body to mishandle the way fats are metabolized. More fat is stored or circulates in the blood. This causes the metabolic syndrome and weight gain associated with insulin resistance and starts the health problems that should be associated with a high carb diet, not a ketogenic diet plan.
Advocates for the diet recommend that it be seriously considered after two medications have failed, as the chance of other drugs succeeding is only 10%. The diet can be considered earlier for some epilepsy and genetic syndromes where it has shown particular usefulness. These include Dravet syndrome, infantile spasms, myoclonic-astatic epilepsy and tuberous sclerosis complex.
Because the ketogenic diet alters the body's metabolism, it is a first-line therapy in children with certain congenital metabolic diseases such as pyruvate dehydrogenase (E1) deficiency and glucose transporter 1 deficiency syndrome, which prevent the body from using carbohydrates as fuel, leading to a dependency on ketone bodies. The ketogenic diet is beneficial in treating the seizures and some other symptoms in these diseases and is an absolute indication. On the other hand, it is absolutely contraindicated in the treatment of other diseases such as pyruvate carboxylase deficiency, porphyria and other rare genetic disorders of fat metabolism. A person with a disorder of fatty acid oxidation is unable to metabolise fatty acids, which replace carbohydrates as the major energy source on the diet. On the ketogenic diet, their body would consume its own protein stores for fuel, leading to ketoacidosis, and eventually coma and death.
Debbie, Congrats on your weight loss, that’s awesome! We haven’t tried this recipe with bone-in chicken thighs, but if you want to use them to make this recipe we recommend cooking the thighs in the oven and then pulling the meat off the bone, shredded it, and mixing it with the sauce. The objective with this recipe 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!
"Since many of these foods are the primary source of fiber in our diets, many people that start the keto diet will notice constipation as a side effect of eliminating those carbohydrate-rich foods," Fillenworth says. "Fiber is crucial to maintaining consistent bowel movements, helps to keep our GI system healthy, and creates a feeling of fullness when eating." Women should aim for 25 grams of fiber per day to keep things ~regular~.
I get many questions about intermittent fasting, the health benefits, the weight loss benefits, and the like. People normally use intermittent fasting for both the energy and mental clarity it can offer. But it’s not just good for that. It can offer breakthroughs of plateaus and even benefits in nutrient uptake in exercise. We go more in depth to intermittent fasting in Week 3 and 4, so keep your eyes peeled!
Helen, We think this recipe would also work well in the oven! Here’s how we would cook it: 1) crisp the bacon on the stovetop; 2) for step 2 in the recipe above, add all ingredients to a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish, cover it with foil, and bake it at 350F until the chicken is fully cooked, about 30 to 45 minutes (the chicken should not be pink in the center, and it should shred easily with a fork); 3) remove and shred the chicken; 4) stir the shredded chicken into the creamy sauce along with the cheddar cheese; 5) top with bacon and scallion and serve. If you give it a try, please let us know how it goes!
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.)
For the purpose of this keto meal plan, you will be making food for Monday morning through Sunday night. This should provide a full, 7 day comprehensive meal plan for you to follow. On Sunday you will make breakfast and lunch for the 5 day work week as well as the first dinner. Then mid week you will make a second dinner. The weekend is more of a free for all with less set parameters. This is the time to experiment and try new things. I am going under the assumption that you have more time to cook and prepare on the weekend and also that you might have leftover food from the week. If your weekends are totally slammed, consider just premaking all 7 days of food by tweaking the quantities in the recipes.
Who says dessert can’t be keto-friendly? This sugar- and sugar alcohol-free treat is made from 100-percent stone-ground South American cocoa beans and sweetened with monk fruit and non-GMO soluble vegetable fiber, making it both low in carbs (just three net grams per ounce) and melt-in-your-mouth creamy. Throw in a handful of earthy, buttery almonds for good measure and you’ve got something that’ll appease your sweet tooth without ruining your diet.
Because people with type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, there’s a specific concern that the saturated fat in the diet may drive up LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol levels, and further increase the odds of heart problems. If you have type 2 diabetes, talk to your doctor before attempting a ketogenic diet. They may recommend a different weight-loss diet for you, like a reduced-calorie diet. Those with epilepsy should also consult their doctor before using this as part of their treatment plan.
Janie, We haven’t made this recipe in the oven, but yes, we think it would work well! Here’s how we would do it: 1) crisp the bacon on the stovetop; 2) for step 2 in the recipe above, add all ingredients to a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish, cover it with foil, and bake it at 350F until the chicken is fully cooked, about 30 to 45 minutes (the chicken should not be pink in the center, and it should shred easily with a fork); 3) remove and shred the chicken; 4) stir the shredded chicken into the creamy sauce along with the cheddar cheese; 5) top with bacon and scallion and serve. If you give it a try, please let us know how it goes!
A keto diet has shown to improve triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels most associated with arterial buildup. More specifically low-carb, high-fat diets show a dramatic increase in HDL and decrease in LDL particle concentration compared to low-fat diets.3A study in the long-term effects of a ketogenic diet shows a significant reduction in cholesterol levels, body weight, and blood glucose. Read more on keto and cholesterol >