A ketogenic diet, or keto diet, is a very low carbohydrate eating plan that forces the body to use fat rather than glucose as a primary energy source. When you follow the plan, you build meals around fatty foods and significantly restrict your intake of carbohydrates and protein. As a result of that macronutrient balance, acids called ketones are produced in the body. When ketone levels are high enough, the dieter is in a state of ketosis.
But even if you’re not trying to lose weight, the keto meal plans might appeal to you. By limiting sugars and processed grains, you lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. Eating an array of heart-healthy fats, like nuts, olive oil and fish, can decrease your risk of heart disease. And while some people stick to a super strict keto diet, with 75 percent of their diet coming from fat, 20 percent from protein and just five from carbs, even a less intense, modified version can help you reap the keto diet’s benefits.
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.
Therein lies the problem, of course. You can’t just walk in to any store or restaurant and grab yourself some keto snacks. We are making progress on that front, for sure, but we’ve still got a ways to go. While there are a number of decent store-bought options like cheese, nuts, and hard-boiled eggs, there are potential pitfalls everywhere. Like beef jerky, which can often contain a startling amount of sugar and carbs.
And here’s an important side note: The amount of sugar we need in our bodies to keep the blood sugar number normal is only 1 teaspoon for all the blood in your body (about 1 gallons of blood). And that tiny amount of sugar could come from eating vegetables or even protein. In reality we do not need any sugar in our food at all. Yet the average person consumes 31 teaspoons of sugar and hidden sugar each day!
Insulin is needed to help cells absorb nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and amino acids (protein). In fact, almost every nutrient is influenced by insulin. Potassium is needed for energy, for balancing sodium in the body, and for all kinds of other important things. We need amino acids for our hair, nails, skin, joints and muscles. We need magnesium for a healthy heart. See where I am going?
Yes, too much lean protein—think turkey and chicken—even lean fish—if you’re consuming that and vegetable only, without fat there, you are at risk of throwing yourself out of ketosis. Even eating egg whites without yolks greatly spikes insulin. So look to fatty proteins. Fatty cuts of beef, chicken WITH skin, fattier cuts of beef, lamb, and game. Chuck as opposed to 10% lean sirloin.
Keto-Friendly Dark Chocolate — If not sweetened with stevia or another low carb sweetener, make sure it’s at least 80% cocoa content or higher, as the carbs can add up quickly. Here is an example of low carb friendly chocolate that you can try. You can also make your own by mixing melted coconut oil with cocoa powder and your favorite low carb sweetener(s).
If you’ve decided to move forward in trying the keto diet, you will want to stick to the parameters of the eating plan. Roughly 60 to 80 percent of your calories will come from fats. That means you’ll eat meats, fats, and oils, and a very limited amount of nonstarchy vegetables, she says. (This is different from a traditional low-carb diet, as even fewer carbs are allowed on the keto diet.)
You’ve probably heard about the low carb, high fat diet that’s so popular among actors and models, and with good reason: low carb diets offer proper nourishment with whole foods, while keeping your body burning fat for fuel. This is a great way to be, as it makes fat loss largely effortless! But where does this “ketogenic” word fit into the picture?
A: The most common ways to track your carbs is through MyFitnessPal and their mobile app. You cannot track net carbs on the app, although you can track your total carb intake and your total fiber intake. To get your net carbs, just subtract your total fiber intake from your total carb intake. I have written an article on How to Track Carbs on MyFitnessPal.
Note that the U.S. Department of Agriculture advises against cooking frozen chicken in a slow cooker or crock pot because slow cookers cook at a low temperature and may not heat chicken up to 165F, which is the minimum temperature to destroy any dangerous bacteria and ensure that chicken is fully cooked. So if you’re using a crock pot or slow cooker to make Crack Chicken, make sure to defrost it first!
One downside to a ketogenic diet for weight loss is the difficulty maintaining it. “Studies show that weight loss results from being on a low-carb diet for more than 12 months tend to be the same as being on a normal, healthy diet,” says Mattinson. While you may be eating more satiating fats (like peanut butter, regular butter, or avocado), you’re also way more limited in what’s allowed on the diet, which can make everyday situations, like eating dinner with family or going out with friends, far more difficult. Because people often find it tough to sustain, it’s easy to rely on it as a short-term diet rather than a long-term lifestyle.
The ketogenic diet achieved national media exposure in the US in October 1994, when NBC's Dateline television programme reported the case of Charlie Abrahams, son of Hollywood producer Jim Abrahams. The two-year-old suffered from epilepsy that had remained uncontrolled by mainstream and alternative therapies. Abrahams discovered a reference to the ketogenic diet in an epilepsy guide for parents and brought Charlie to John M. Freeman at Johns Hopkins Hospital, which had continued to offer the therapy. Under the diet, Charlie's epilepsy was rapidly controlled and his developmental progress resumed. This inspired Abrahams to create the Charlie Foundation to promote the diet and fund research. A multicentre prospective study began in 1994, the results were presented to the American Epilepsy Society in 1996 and were published in 1998. There followed an explosion of scientific interest in the diet. In 1997, Abrahams produced a TV movie, ...First Do No Harm, starring Meryl Streep, in which a young boy's intractable epilepsy is successfully treated by the ketogenic diet.