Fears about fat: Most people have trouble on a ketogenic diet plan because they are scared to increase the amount of fat they eat, especially saturated fat. The message that fat is bad has been pounded into the collective American consciousness for the last 30 years. It's hard to unlearn the message that fat makes you fat, and saturated fat especially is very bad for you. I understand that message has been repeated over and over, but it is a lie.
When you eat tons of carbs, your blood sugar is consistently elevated, and then so is insulin. Insulin is a hormone that keeps your blood sugar in check by shuttling the glucose into cells, but when there’s a consistently high amount of insulin, your cells become resistant. This insulin resistance makes it easier to store fat, and chronically high levels of insulin also cause excessive inflammation in the body, which contributes to heart disease, high blood pressure, and potentially type 2 diabetes.
Fat is the cornerstone of the keto diet, making up the bulk of calories. An individual consuming 2,000 calories per day would need to consume 144 to 177 grams of fat. Fats make up 70-80% of your calories. Since fat is the main source of nutrition on a ketogenic diet, it’s important to source high-quality, healthy fats, which you’ll read about below.
Even if you are starting a ketogenic diet plan for weight loss purposes, don't focus on your weight. Don't weigh yourself every day. Your weight can vary between 2-4 pounds each day because of changes in water intake and absorption. You won't be able to track any fat loss accurately on a daily basis, and the fluctuations will make you crazy if you focus on them. Instead, weigh yourself once a week, or keep track of your body measurements to track your progress. Better yet, focus on the health benefits and the long term health changes that come with eating a low carb diet. Knowing that you are greatly improving your health is a powerful reason to stay with a ketogenic diet plan, even if you don't lose any weight. I discuss in more depth the health benefits of a ketogenic diet in this article published in the July/August issue of the Well Being Journal. I recommend getting a health check up and a blood panel test done just before starting the diet, so that you can track the effect of the change in your eating habits on your cholesterol, blood pressure, and other health markers. Four to eight weeks later, you can get another blood test done and see if there are improvements.
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.
I want to give special mention one of the side effects of carb withdrawal because it can really be scary if you don't know what it is. During the first week or so of cutting your carb intake, your blood sugar levels will fall, and you may experience a mild insulin overload and reactive hypoglycemia. This usually happens to people who are severely insulin resistant. It takes about 2-3 days to burn through all of your stored glycogen (carb energy stored in your muscles and liver), and after that you may get these low blood sugar symptoms of shakiness, dizziness, tremors, a pounding heart and more. (See the link above for more info). For those of you that have been living on a high-carb diet for a long time, the effects may be even more pronounced, as your blood sugar and insulin levels are probably chronically high.
Infants and patients fed via a gastrostomy tube can also be given a ketogenic diet. Parents make up a prescribed powdered formula, such as KetoCal, into a liquid feed. Gastrostomy feeding avoids any issues with palatability, and bottle-fed infants readily accept the ketogenic formula. Some studies have found this liquid feed to be more efficacious and associated with lower total cholesterol than a solid ketogenic diet. KetoCal is a nutritionally complete food containing milk protein and is supplemented with amino acids, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals and trace elements. It is used to administer the 4:1 ratio classic ketogenic diet in children over one year. The formula is available in both 3:1 and 4:1 ratios, either unflavoured or in an artificially sweetened vanilla flavour and is suitable for tube or oral feeding. Other formula products include KetoVolve and Ketonia. Alternatively, a liquid ketogenic diet may be produced by combining Ross Carbohydrate Free soy formula with Microlipid and Polycose.
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.
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!
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 >