Here's the reality: A high carb diet drives up blood sugar and insulin levels. All that sugar and insulin are inflammatory. The standard American diet offers lots of foods that are high sugar AND high in saturated fat, and in studies, these two factors were lumped together. So although saturated fat is healthy, it got the blame for the inflammation that causes heart disease because it was studied in combination with a high carb diet. A ketogenic diet plan which is high in saturated fat and very low in carbohydrate will REDUCE inflammation. (Reference here.)
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?
Conklin's fasting therapy was adopted by neurologists in mainstream practice. In 1916, a Dr McMurray wrote to the New York Medical Journal claiming to have successfully treated epilepsy patients with a fast, followed by a starch- and sugar-free diet, since 1912. In 1921, prominent endocrinologist Henry Rawle Geyelin reported his experiences to the American Medical Association convention. He had seen Conklin's success first-hand and had attempted to reproduce the results in 36 of his own patients. He achieved similar results despite only having studied the patients for a short time. Further studies in the 1920s indicated that seizures generally returned after the fast. Charles P. Howland, the parent of one of Conklin's successful patients and a wealthy New York corporate lawyer, gave his brother John Elias Howland a gift of $5,000 to study "the ketosis of starvation". As professor of paediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital, John E. Howland used the money to fund research undertaken by neurologist Stanley Cobb and his assistant William G. Lennox.
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.
Potatoes and gravy are total comfort food — and luckily, there’s a keto version. These are made with cauliflower, which is quite low-carb, particularly when compared to potatoes. Made with cream, butter, rosemary and parmesan, this mash is creamy, full of flavor and smooth. You’ll finish it all off with a stock-based gravy, that would be perfect on a roast, too.
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!
Its simple, eat this; lose weight. I feel like I’ve finally amassed enough recipes to create several simple keto meal plans. AKA you print out a couple of recipes, hit the store, and you can know you’ll be doing keto right. If you’re not familiar with keto, its a low carb, high fat, medium protein diet designed to put your body into ketosis. Once in ketosis, your body burns fat instead of sugar and you’ll see accelerated weight loss as a result. The ideal ratio of fat to protein to carbs is 65% / 30% / 5% and you also want to keep your maximum net carbs at less than 20g a day. Net carbs = carbs – fiber.
This doesn’t mean that you can never have some of your favorite foods again. Once you get past the adaptation phase and you have tested that you are in Ketosis, you can start experimenting with Keto versions of the foods you don't want to give up. Here are a few simple Keto recipes to start with. If you're looking for ready-to-eat Keto-friendly options, check out Country Archer Meat Sticks, Cuvee Coffee and FBOMB nut butters.
'Cutting out carbs without advice can be dangerous, and can put you at risk of deficiencies in the long-term,' warns Dr Barclay. 'If you're looking to lose weight, burning fat may sound like the key to success, but in actual fact it comes with some risks, and may not be effective in the long term. The ketogenic diet is a short-term solution to a long-term health problem.'
One thing many people love about keto diet meal plans is that tracking your food is optional. "One of the biggest benefits of the ketogenic diet is that there's no need to meticulously track your calories like you may in other diets," notes Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of DrAxe.com, best-selling author of Eat Dirt, and cofounder of Ancient Nutrition. "Because you're filling up on fat and protein, you're more likely to feel satisfied and energized all day long, which causes you to naturally eat less." This isn't to say that food tracking on keto is discouraged. "Some people may find calorie counting a useful tool to be more mindful and aware of what they're eating, but it's not necessary on the ketogenic diet," says Dr. Axe, but there's no need to get too stressed about hitting a certain caloric goal, especially if you're not trying to lose weight. (Related: The #1 Reason to Stop Counting Calories)
I have been eating this way (very low carb, high fat, protein in between) for around 3 years now. I have found that for me I can MAINTAIN quite easily at an ideal weight and eating to satiety, but in order to actually LOSE weight, I have to at least have a very small calorie deficit. And though the change is gradual, it is sustainable and quite immediate (just little by little). The amount of that calorie deficit required in order to drop excess varies a lot from one individual to the next though, I think. I am particularly intolerant to hunger, and so I cannot overly emphasize how small of a deficit I will allow for. The nice thing about that though is that the hunger is far more pleasant in the absence of carbs.
Use these meal plans to get an idea of what eating a keto diet looks like. Evaluate each day's meals and think about whether or not the foods look palatable and if the eating style seems manageable. If you decide that you think you'd like to try the eating style, connect with a nutrition or medical professional to create a plan that is personalized for you.
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.
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.
Net carbs is simply total carbs minus fiber and non-digestible sugar alcohols, like erythritol. (This doesn’t apply to high glycemic sugar alcohols, like maltitol.) We don’t have to count fiber and certain sugar alcohols in net carbs, because they either don’t get broken down by our bodies, are not absorbed, or are absorbed but not metabolized. (Read more about sugar alcohols here.)
The symptoms of keto flu are headaches, body aches, cravings, brain fog and fatigue. Well, just think about what you’re trying to do. You’re converting your ENTIRE cellular machinery to fat burning. What you need to do to avoid and heal the keto flu is get more electrolytes and more B vitamins. These are the cofactors that help in developing the machinery to burn fat effectively without draining your body. For the B vitamins, try nutritional yeast. However, nutritional yeast does not have B5—so you may have to take a B5 supplement. I recommend my electrolyte powder. It has 1,000 mgs of potassium and will help you get to that 4,700 mgs you need to create this machinery to burn fat faster and get into ketosis!
By cutting carb intake significantly, we can drastically reduce insulin resistance, the precursor to type 2 diabetes. In addition, low carb diets, along with exercise, can be very effective at helping alleviate the symptoms and progression of type 2 diabetes. Beyond that, ketosis itself is appetite-suppressing, meaning your hunger will naturally check itself, increasing your caloric deficit and making you lose fat even faster.
What's more, studies that have examined the efficacy of the ketogenic diet for weight loss have a few questionable similarities. First, they use the keto diet in conjunction with an extremely low-calorie plan (under 1,000 per day!), which makes it difficult to determine what caused the actual weight loss. Second, they all question the long-term impact on your heart of eating mostly saturated fat, not to mention how hard (and boring) it is to eat mainly coconut oil and butter for months on end.
Being in nutritional ketosis is a beneficial body state, and a great deal of research is being done on ketosis as it relates to disease. Ketone bodies themselves are beneficial, and have been shown to alleviate many disease conditions through improvement of cellular energy pathways and mitochondrial health. Ketogenic diets are now being used to treat medical conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, autism, Alzheimer's, cancer and others and much of the success of these treatments is rooted in these cellular effects.
One area where food tracking can be especially helpful, though, is ensuring that you're hitting the right ratios of macronutrients—protein, carbs, and fat. "The most researched version of the ketogenic diet derives 70 percent of calories from healthy fats, 20 percent from protein, and only 10 percent from carbs," explains Charles Passler, D.C., nutritionist, and founder of Pure Change. "In the ideal world, each keto meal and snack should have that same (70/20/10) ratio of macronutrients, but studies have shown that you'll still achieve great results even if each meal varies slightly from that ratio, just as long as you don't exceed 50 grams per day of carbs, or eat those carbs in one sitting," says Passler. In order to achieve these ratios without a preset meal plan from a dietitian or doctor, some food tracking is probably going to be necessary. But once you get the hang of things, you may not need it anymore.
You want to keep your cheats to none. Be prepared, make sure you’re eating what you need to be satiated (“full”), and make sure you’re satisfied with what you’re eating. If you have to force yourself to eat something, it will never work out in the end. This is just a guideline on how you can eat on a ketogenic diet, so you’re very welcome to change up what kind of foods you eat!
What's more, it's especially important to make sure your diet is well-planned when you're eating keto-style, because the foods you can choose from are limited. In addition to checking in with a dietitian if you're able, Stefanski recommends that you "talk to your doctor and make sure she or he is aware that you'll be starting a diet that completely changes how your body metabolizes energy." You might also want to check your most recent bloodwork levels for things such as cholesterol, vitamin D, and other indicators of health because these can change while on keto. That's because for some people, a prolonged keto diet can result in certain nutritional deficiencies or even high cholesterol. But most experts will tell you that the ketogenic diet is not a permanent lifestyle change (as could be the case for something like the 80/20 approach to eating or a Mediterranean eating style).