People can’t stop talking about the ketogenic diet, and social media is filled with photos and posts from people who credit this high-fat, low-carb plan for their significant weight loss. If you're interested in giving keto a try, consult your doctor first—and then test it out by swapping your usual go-to snack for a keto version. These blogger- and nutritionist-inspired snack recipes are the ones we’ve been seeing all over Pinterest.
Jump up ^ Freeman JM, Vining EP, Pillas DJ, Pyzik PL, Casey JC, Kelly LM. The efficacy of the ketogenic diet—1998: a prospective evaluation of intervention in 150 children. Pediatrics. 1998 Dec;102(6):1358–63. doi:10.1542/peds.102.6.1358. PMID 9832569. https://web.archive.org/web/20040629224858/http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/press/1998/DECEMBER/981207.HTM Lay summary]—JHMI Office of Communications and Public Affairs. Updated 7 December 1998. Cited 6 March 2008.
In many developing countries, the ketogenic diet is expensive because dairy fats and meat are more expensive than grain, fruit and vegetables. The modified Atkins diet has been proposed as a lower-cost alternative for those countries; the slightly more expensive food bill can be offset by a reduction in pharmaceutical costs if the diet is successful. The modified Atkins diet is less complex to explain and prepare and requires less support from a dietitian.
Which leads us to your personality. You need to be VERY strong willed to follow this diet. It follows very strict rules and you need to be able to commit to this. It makes it hard to eat out with friends or eat with friends in general. It’s hard to find food that fits this diet in common restaurants, but and this takes us to the next point, your health goals might be more important.
When you consume lots of sugar and have higher levels of insulin on a continuing basis, your cells try to protect you and eventually start resisting or ignoring insulin. Remember, insulin is the key that allows glucose into the cell. So, your cells prevent insulin from working in order to prevent excessive sugar in the cell. This is your body saying, “If you’re going to keep eating sugar, I will block it at the cellular level.”
The ketogenic diet has been studied in at least 14 rodent animal models of seizures. It is protective in many of these models and has a different protection profile than any known anticonvulsant. Conversely, fenofibrate, not used clinically as an antiepileptic, exhibits experimental anticonvulsant properties in adult rats comparable to the ketogenic diet. This, together with studies showing its efficacy in patients who have failed to achieve seizure control on half a dozen drugs, suggests a unique mechanism of action.
That’s why many health experts are concerned about people on the keto diet, especially those who try it without the guidance of a doctor or nutritionist. Doctors say that high-fat diets like this one may raise cholesterol levels, and some studies suggest that they increase the risk of diabetes. Some have even called it a “cardiologist’s nightmare.”
Reduced hunger. Many people experience a marked reduction in hunger on a keto diet. This may be caused by an increased ability of the body to be fueled by its fat stores. Many people feel great when they eat just once or twice a day, automatically ending up doing a form of intermittent fasting. This saves both time and money, while also speeding up weight loss.
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!
Many ketogenic dieters also swear by MCT oil. (MCT simply stands for medium chain triglycerides.) MCT's energy-sustaining powers can be explained as follows: When MCT oil is metabolized in the body, it behaves more like a carbohydrate than a fat. Unlike other fats, MCT oil does not go through the lymphatic system. Instead, it is transported directly to the liver where it is metabolized so it releases energy like a carbohydrate and creates lots of ketones (which can be used for fuel) in the process.
No deep fryers or air fryers needed for these wings! Forget those greasy chicken wings you’d order at a restaurant and opt-in for these homemade guiltless garlic parmesan wings. You won’t find rancid vegetable oil, gluten or a deep frier here — just avocado oil, healthy pecorino romano and free-range, organic chicken for a twist on an otherwise unhealthy classic.
Not only is this jerky zero-carb, sugar-free, and full of protein, but Davidson says it's the perfect keto post-workout recovery snack, especially since protein is crucial in building and repairing muscles after exercise. (P.S. This is what you need to know about exercising on the keto diet.) And since jerky is harder to eat and chew, it allows time for your stomach to tell your brain you're full, keeping those pesky carb cravings at bay, she says.
Some keto cookies or a keto brownie can certainly be delicious, but if you’re looking for a dessert that’s a little more interesting, then you have to try this chocolate chia pudding! I love chia seeds for a number of reasons. They’re high in antioxidants, vitamins such as calcium, potassium and magnesium, Omega-3 ALA, dietary fiber and even protein. So, while this dish feels like a dessert, you’re receiving plenty of necessary nutrients. Enjoy guilty-free!
But people who started following the keto diet noticed weight loss for a few reasons: When you eat carbs, your body retains fluid in order to store carbs for energy (you know, in case it needs it). But when you’re not having much in the carb department, you lose this water weight, says Warren. Also, it's easy to go overboard on carbohydrates—but if you're loading up on fat, it may help curb cravings since it keeps you satisfied.
These types of back-and-forth weight fluctuations can contribute to disordered eating, Kizer says, or can worsen an already unhealthy relationship with food. “I think this diet appeals to people who have issues with portion control and with binge eating,” she says. "And in many cases, what they really need is a lifestyle coach or a professional counselor to help them get to the bottom of those issues."
Find some way to track daily food intake and carb counts. Keep a spreadsheet, use one of the online food intake trackers, or simply write it down in a journal. Not only will journaling help you stay on track carb count wise, you'll want to have a record of the foods you are eating, how you felt and the changes you make so that if you go off track, you can look back and see what worked for you. This is a good place to track ketone levels as well. I've created a free printable food diary for you to use. The Atkins website also has some nice tools for tracking your progress on a ketogenic diet plan. And this database is an excellent resource for food information.
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.
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.
It is not necessary to be as strict with children as you would be for yourself. Children are generally more insulin sensitive than adults, which means their bodies can deal with sugars and carbs more efficiently. Focus on whole foods, good sources of protein, lots of good fats (essential for brain development), and getting carbs from nutrient-dense sources.
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).