That's because my intro to this seemingly new plan was when I worked in a hospital, where ketogenic diets were specifically used as a medical nutrition therapy for pediatric patients with seizure disorders, for whom medication was no longer effective. In other words: It was used as an absolute last resort for families who felt otherwise hopeless in the face of a neurological disease, and under strict medical supervision.
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.
Think about any social situations that will be encountered, and devise ways to handle those times when temptations to eat the "old" way will be high. You don't want to be blind sided when someone at the office brings in a box of your favorite chocolates and puts them right under your nose. Likewise, a beer with your friends usually turns into a date with potato skins and nachos. Think salad and steak instead.
You may also want to buy some Ketostix Reagent Strips so that you can check to see if you are in ketosis for the first few weeks. However, after the first 3-4 weeks on the plan, the goal is to become "keto-adapted". Once adapted, the body should be burning the ketones for fuel. The stick shouldn't register as deep purple if you are using the ketones as a fuel source. And they now have blood ketone meters available to track blood ketones at home. This is a much more accurate way to track your individual ketone levels. See my ketosis page for more information.
Trying to lose weight with exercise and starting a keto diet at the same time can provide fast results for a "multiplier" effect. However, if you haven't exercised in more than 6 months, you should wait to start the keto eating plan. Begin an exercise program first so you are adapting to only one physical change at a time. After 2 weeks of working out 3-4 times per week, you should be ready to start the keto diet.
Lots of apps and website offer keto diet challenges—basically, a blueprint for the keto diet with a fixed starting and ending point (they typically last for a week to a month, though some may be longer). Speaking of apps, plenty of keto-centric ones are right at your fingertips (a.k.a., your smartphone), like the KetoDiet app, which can help you calculate your macros and track your keto diet effectively.
Well, ketogenic comes from the word “ketosis“, which is a state in which your body breaks down fat molecules into ketones to provide energy. This state is achieved through very low carbohydrate intake and higher than normal fat intake. The “normal” state of the body’s metabolism is called “glycolysis”, where carbs are burnt for energy. The long and short is that when your body is in carb-burning mode, it will use all available carbs for energy before it touches stored fat. In ketosis, your body is primed to burn fat, and this is great news for anyone trying to get trim and slim.
Eggs are a healthy, nutrient-dense food that has been incorrectly maligned for years. Cholesterol in food doesn’t increase cholesterol in your blood, so eat eggs liberally – they’re packed with protein and lutein, and they fill you up for hours. Make a healthy omelet with some cheddar, crumbled breakfast sausage, and shredded spinach and you’re already looking at over 30g of protein, just for breakfast! Spinach is a great source of magnesium and potassium, too. Add some sea salt and you’ve got a big dose of electrolytes that are so vital to maintaining energy and staving off headaches. Get the recipe and instructions
Beyond just fat loss, ketosis has an additional benefit in that it spares muscle when you’re eating at a deficit. On a normal diet, when you eat fewer calories than you need for the day, your body breaks down muscle and fat in nearly equal amounts to make up for the difference. With keto, your body is primed to burn mostly fat, particularly if you’re meeting your protein goal for the day. This results in a better metabolism and more total fat lost. Low carb recipes offer:
There are many ways of implementing a low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet plans but most involve following a higher fat, moderate protein, low carb food plan. (The Atkins diet is one of the most famous ketogenic diets, but certainly not the only one). Many people think of ketogenic diets as high protein diets but this is incorrect. They are moderate protein diets.
The main criticisms include fears about fat intake and the process of ketosis.The argument over whether saturated fats are unhealthy has been settled in the research literature (they are not). If you need more info, there are several good books to read on this subject. For more information about the type of fats to eat, see the saturated vs unsaturated fats page. The right side column on that page has books which provide more information.
Sweeney does not stick to a specific macronutrient balance when he begins his own ketogenic diet plan. Instead, he maintains a diet that includes no more than 50 grams of carbohydrate per day. When he goes over 0.6 on the ketone meter (a device used to measure blood for the presence of ketones) he goes up to 70 grams of carbohydrates and takes a ketone supplement.
'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).'
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.
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. People with kidney disease should definitely consult with their physician about starting a ketogenic diet. Other contraindicated conditions and health issues are listed here. Make sure you check this list and rule these out before starting the diet.
These cookies will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth while keeping you in ketosis, says Fillenworth. They're made primarily with coconut and cashews, which are rich in good fats. Although they contain some coconut sugar, these cookies get most of their keto-safe chocolate flavor from unsweetened chocolate. However, Fillenworth notes that a serving of two cookies contains 8 grams of net carbs, which can be too high for some keto dieters. She recommends sticking with one cookie if you want to successfully work it into your diet. (Also try these homemade keto fat bombs for a sweet treat.)
For patients who benefit, half achieve a seizure reduction within five days (if the diet starts with an initial fast of one to two days), three-quarters achieve a reduction within two weeks, and 90% achieve a reduction within 23 days. If the diet does not begin with a fast, the time for half of the patients to achieve an improvement is longer (two weeks) but the long-term seizure reduction rates are unaffected. Parents are encouraged to persist with the diet for at least three months before any final consideration is made regarding efficacy.
After initiation, the child regularly visits the hospital outpatient clinic where he or she is seen by the dietitian and neurologist, and various tests and examinations are performed. These are held every three months for the first year and then every six months thereafter. Infants under one year old are seen more frequently, with the initial visit held after just two to four weeks. A period of minor adjustments is necessary to ensure consistent ketosis is maintained and to better adapt the meal plans to the patient. This fine-tuning is typically done over the telephone with the hospital dietitian and includes changing the number of calories, altering the ketogenic ratio, or adding some MCT or coconut oils to a classic diet. Urinary ketone levels are checked daily to detect whether ketosis has been achieved and to confirm that the patient is following the diet, though the level of ketones does not correlate with an anticonvulsant effect. This is performed using ketone test strips containing nitroprusside, which change colour from buff-pink to maroon in the presence of acetoacetate (one of the three ketone bodies).
"The keto diet is primarily used to help reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in children. While it also has been tried for weight loss, only short-term results have been studied, and the results have been mixed. We don't know if it works in the long term, nor whether it's safe," warns registered dietitian Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.
You’ll quickly find that eggs are a staple for breakfast in low carb diets. Eggies are a simple solution for days of healthy breakfasts. Simply beat 8 eggs in a bowl, add in cheese and vegetables, and pour into muffin tins that have been lined with a strip of bacon. Cook at 350 for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. Store in baggies for breakfast for up to 5 days.
All low-carbohydrate vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants that are beneficial for our health. Cruciferous vegetables come with an extra health boost. They contain more vitamin K and A than many other vegetables, this is the reason why we put cruciferous vegetables on the list of top keto foods. The reason why crucifers vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are at an edge over every other vegetable is because of sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is a compound that is created when we crush or chew cruciferous vegetables. Once it is digested, sulforaphane activates a cytoprotective (cell-protecting) pathway that protects the cells from oxidative stress and removes harmful toxins from the body. This is one of the primary reason why cruciferous vegetable consumption is linked to improved cognitive function and decreased cancer and heart disease risk.
A simple standby, but one that ketoers adore. 2 or 3 fried eggs and some bacon might not sound like much, but it’s full of protein that will keep you full and energized all morning. Take the opportunity on the weekend to lay your bacon strips on a single cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. The result is the best bacon you’ve ever had, in a big batch, with no sitting over a popping, hissing frying pan.
Salad — You really can’t go wrong with low-carb vegetables, especially with mixed greens as the base. Add some bacon bits, hard-boiled egg, and/or parmesan cheese for extra fat and protein. Use a homemade full-fat keto dressing or something simple like extra virgin olive oil to add even more fat. Here are some delicious keto salads you can try: Charred Veggie and Fried Goat Cheese Salad, Crispy Pork Salad, Oven Roasted Caprese Salad, and Spinach Watercress Keto Salad.
Take a 2 – 3 cups of lettuce, crumble in some bacon and dice a medium tomato. Mix that with two or three tablespoons of mayo, and toss after adding some splashes of hot sauce. Delicious, filling, full of fiber and healthy fats, and absolutely easy. I know the mayo sounds weird as a dressing, but trust us; it’s amazing! Add in some avocado chunks to boost potassium too!
Look at the glycemic index to choose the best foods for your ketogenic meal plan. There are websites that provide the glycemic index (GI) or glycemic load of different foods. The glycemic index tells you how your body's glucose and insulin system will respond to different foods. Foods that are lower on the index (or have a lower glycemic load) are foods that digest more slowly and will help you to feel full for a longer period of time.
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).