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?
The first signs of ketosis are known as the “keto flu” where headaches, brain fogginess, fatigue, and the like can really rile your body up. Make sure that you’re drinking plenty of waterand eating plenty of salt. The ketogenic diet is a natural diuretic and you’ll be peeing more than normal. Take into account that you’re peeing out electrolytes, and you can guess that you’ll be having a thumping headache in no time. Keeping your salt intake and water intake high enough is very important, allowing your body to re-hydrate and re-supply your electrolytes. Doing this will help with the headaches, if not get rid of them completely.
Following the ketogenic diet can be safe in the short term but it does come with health concerns. 'It's not something that I recommend for the general population for the long-term,' says Dr Barclay. 'By drastically cutting out carbohydrate-containing foods, you'll miss out on the nutritional benefits of healthy choices like whole grains, fruit, starchy vegetables, and legumes such as beans, chickpeas and lentils.'
When you’re eating the foods that get you there (more on that in a minute), your body can enter a state of ketosis in one to three days, she adds. During the diet, the majority of calories you consume come from fat, with a little protein and very little carbohydrates. Ketosis also happens if you eat a very low-calorie diet — think doctor-supervised, only when medically recommended diets of 600 to 800 total calories.
Jalali recommends that her clients work with a medical professional who is familiar with the diet to get the best results. "I do not think most of the general population would benefit from a ketogenic diet, although it can be very beneficial for some. The diet can be extremely challenging to stay compliant on long term so I find that clients who are very motivated and have a strong support system seem to be most successful."
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.
The remaining calories in the keto diet come from protein — about 1 gram (g) per kilogram of body weight, so a 140-pound woman would need about 64 g of protein total. As for carbs: “Every body is different, but most people maintain ketosis with between 20 and 50 g of net carbs per day,” says Mattinson. Total carbohydrates minus fiber equals net carbs, she explains.
Look at the glycemic index to choose the best foods for your ketogenic meal plan. There are websites that provide the glycemic index (GI) or glycemic load of different foods. The glycemic index tells you how your body's glucose and insulin system will respond to different foods. Foods that are lower on the index (or have a lower glycemic load) are foods that digest more slowly and will help you to feel full for a longer period of time.
Wilder's colleague, paediatrician Mynie Gustav Peterman, later formulated the classic diet, with a ratio of one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight in children, 10–15 g of carbohydrate per day, and the remainder of calories from fat. Peterman's work in the 1920s established the techniques for induction and maintenance of the diet. Peterman documented positive effects (improved alertness, behaviour and sleep) and adverse effects (nausea and vomiting due to excess ketosis). The diet proved to be very successful in children: Peterman reported in 1925 that 95% of 37 young patients had improved seizure control on the diet and 60% became seizure-free. By 1930, the diet had also been studied in 100 teenagers and adults. Clifford Joseph Barborka, Sr., also from the Mayo Clinic, reported that 56% of those older patients improved on the diet and 12% became seizure-free. Although the adult results are similar to modern studies of children, they did not compare as well to contemporary studies. Barborka concluded that adults were least likely to benefit from the diet, and the use of the ketogenic diet in adults was not studied again until 1999.
These avocado bites (made only from freeze-dried avocado pieces and sea salt) are high in fat and have 7 grams of carbs per serving, making it a perfect portable keto-friendly snack. And if its low-carb appeal isn't enough, avocados are also full of fiber and potassium, she says, two nutrients that can be difficult to get enough of on the keto diet. "I recommend eating an avocado per day to most people on the keto diet, and these dried bites are a good way to help reach that goal," she says. Best part? They won't go brown like the avocado sitting on your kitchen counter.
"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.
Each person is different with different health goals and macronutrient requirements (ie, weight loss, weight maintenance, brain therapy aid). Each day of our weight loss meal plan falls between 1150-1300 calories for maximum weight loss. There is an optional snack for people that need a bit more calories, which brings the total calories with snack to between 1300-1500 calories per day. In addition, there are various ways you can adjust for your personal macronutrient needs.
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 >