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.
Saturated fat is not harmful in the context of a low carb diet. This study from Johns Hopkins Medical School confirms this. The ketogenic diet plan is healthier because the higher saturated fat intake increases your HDL cholesterol, and at the same time, a lower carb intake decreases your triglycerides levels. These two factors are the major markers for heart disease, and the closer your triglyceride/HDL ratio is to 1, the healthier your heart. In reality, the cause of heart disease is a chronically high carbohydrate consumption, not a high saturated fat and cholesterol intake. I think the best way to learn this is to get a full blood test before you start a ketogenic diet plan, then do the diet faithfully for 3 months. Then have your blood work checked again. You'll see the difference and discover how much better you feel.
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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!
In addition to burning fat reserves and super charging weight loss, ketosis produces a clean burning metabolic fuel that has many benefits. Ketones lower production of reactive oxygen species (ROS),1 enhance mitochondrial biogenesis,2 3 and induce positive epigenetic expression.4 Because of its neurological benefits, I went on a Keto Diet in 2014, and it has been helpful in moderating my MS symptoms.
Meal prepping is the secret to eating on a tight budget. It allows you to buy the items that are on sale, in bulk, and prepare them for quick access throughout the week. The meal prep detailed here took us about 2 hours of “active time” and another 3 hours of “passive time”. The passive time was mostly waiting for the chicken to cook/cool. The items we prepped for this meal plan are:
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.)
Since successfully losing 100lbs by changing her relationship with food and her body, Sarah has taken her passion for food and balanced it between cucumbers and cupcakes. When she's not bustling her way around a kitchen, you can find her working out or winding down at home with her 3 kids and pug. Follow Sarah's journey on Instagram @TheBirdsPapaya.
For another science-based resource on ketogenic diets, I highly recommend visiting the site that Raphael Sirtoli and his team over at Break Nutrition have put together. They have good content about low carb and ketogenic diets, and they offer more information on how to kick-start a ketogenic diet, measure your ketones and there's a great post on the benefits of ketogenic diets for inflammation.
There are numerous benefits that come with being on keto: from weight loss and increased energy levels to therapeutic medical applications. Most anyone can safely benefit from eating a low-carb, high-fat diet. Below, you’ll find a short list of the benefits you can receive from a ketogenic diet. For a more comprehensive list, you can also read our in-depth article here >