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.)
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.
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.
It's only when you combine lots of fat and lots of carbohydrates in your diet that you get into trouble. The sugar from the carbohydrates drives up your insulin levels, and those high insulin levels cause the body to mishandle the way fats are metabolized. More fat is stored or circulates in the blood. This causes the metabolic syndrome and weight gain associated with insulin resistance and starts the health problems that should be associated with a high carb diet, not a ketogenic diet plan.
Ketogenic diets are very, very powerful, metabolically speaking and this is especially important if you take any kind of medication for blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol or triglycerides. The amount taken of these medications will most likely need to be sharply reduced while on a ketogenic diet to avoid negative effects such as excessively low blood sugar or blood pressure.
During the 1920s and 1930s, when the only anticonvulsant drugs were the sedative bromides (discovered 1857) and phenobarbital (1912), the ketogenic diet was widely used and studied. This changed in 1938 when H. Houston Merritt, Jr. and Tracy Putnam discovered phenytoin (Dilantin), and the focus of research shifted to discovering new drugs. With the introduction of sodium valproate in the 1970s, drugs were available to neurologists that were effective across a broad range of epileptic syndromes and seizure types. The use of the ketogenic diet, by this time restricted to difficult cases such as Lennox–Gastaut syndrome, declined further.
"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.
But when you look at long-term results, there is very little difference between the two. 'Part of this is because adherence is very poor for low-carb diets in the long term – that is, people find it difficult to maintain a very low-carb diet, which suggests it's probably not sustainable to continue eating this way in the long-term,' says Dr Barclay.
Another common mistake that she sees is that people focus too much on macronutrients: "Micronutrients are really important too as ketosis is metabolically demanding and the diet is not nutritionally adequate most of the time." She says that most of her clients take multivitamins, carnitine supplements, calcium supplements and sometimes selenium or zinc.
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.
My name is Kevin. My life changed when I realized that healthy living is truly a lifelong journey, mainly won by having a well-balanced diet and enjoying adequate exercise. By experimenting in the kitchen and openly sharing my meals, I learned that healthy eating is hardly boring and that by making a few adjustments, I could design a diet that could help me achieve my personal fitness goals. Our bodies are built in the kitchen and sculpted in the gym.
This is the only way my kids will eat Brussels sprouts! It’s actually great for me because this dish is fast, easy and healthy, and it makes a lovely side. Quick-cooking Brussels sprout halves are available in the prepackaged salad aisle at the grocery store. They’re a timesaver if you can find them, but you can always just buy whole ones and slice them in half. —Teri Rasey, Cadillac, Michigan
You’re very welcome, Judy! I’m glad it’s helpful. If you are keto (as opposed to low carb), unfortunately peaches would not allow you to stay in ketosis. You can check my keto food list to help determine what is keto friendly. Of course, there are worse things than fresh fruit 🙂 but in the end our bodies still see the sugar. That being said, it doesn’t mean you sabotaged the whole day. Just pick up again – you got this!! (And for next time, try some fresh berries in moderation when you’re craving fruit.)
Stay hydrated. As carb intake is lowered, the kidneys will start dumping excess water being retained as a result of the former higher carb intake. Make sure to drink enough water to replace what gets lost. The old 6-8 glasses is a good rule, I guess, although just drinking to thirst will probably do the trick. If you find yourself getting headaches and muscle cramps, you need more water, and more minerals such as salt, magnesium and potassium, because the water loss also takes minerals with it. (See my low carb diet side effects page for more info).
First reported in 2003, the idea of using a form of the Atkins diet to treat epilepsy came about after parents and patients discovered that the induction phase of the Atkins diet controlled seizures. The ketogenic diet team at Johns Hopkins Hospital modified the Atkins diet by removing the aim of achieving weight loss, extending the induction phase indefinitely, and specifically encouraging fat consumption. Compared with the ketogenic diet, the modified Atkins diet (MAD) places no limit on calories or protein, and the lower overall ketogenic ratio (approximately 1:1) does not need to be consistently maintained by all meals of the day. The MAD does not begin with a fast or with a stay in hospital and requires less dietitian support than the ketogenic diet. Carbohydrates are initially limited to 10 g per day in children or 20 g per day in adults, and are increased to 20–30 g per day after a month or so, depending on the effect on seizure control or tolerance of the restrictions. Like the ketogenic diet, the MAD requires vitamin and mineral supplements and children are carefully and periodically monitored at outpatient clinics.
What about fruits and vegetables? All fruits are rich in carbs, but you can have certain fruits (usually berries) in small portions. Vegetables (also rich in carbs) are restricted to leafy greens (such as kale, Swiss chard, spinach), cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, bell peppers, onions, garlic, mushrooms, cucumber, celery, and summer squashes. A cup of chopped broccoli has about six carbs.