That's because my intro to this seemingly new plan was when I worked in a hospital, where ketogenic diets were specifically used as a medical nutrition therapy for pediatric patients with seizure disorders, for whom medication was no longer effective. In other words: It was used as an absolute last resort for families who felt otherwise hopeless in the face of a neurological disease, and under strict medical supervision.
Generally, the ketogenic diet reduces or excludes carbohydrate-containing foods, including breads, breakfast cereals, pasta, rice, quinoa, couscous, starchy vegetables (potato, sweet potato, corn), fruit, and legumes. Instead you are encouraged to consume more high fat foods, such as fatty meats, full-cream dairy, butter, nuts, avocado, olive oil and coconut oil.
Typically packed in oil with heads removed, these are easily forked and eaten for a perfect low-carb snack. If you’re wondering what they taste like? They taste like a mild tuna, actually. They often come in flavors such as jalapeno and tomato sauces for some added delight. Don’t knock it till you try it, and they’re fairly inexpensive, so they’re worth a shot.
Not only is this jerky zero-carb, sugar-free, and full of protein, but Davidson says it's the perfect keto post-workout recovery snack, especially since protein is crucial in building and repairing muscles after exercise. (P.S. This is what you need to know about exercising on the keto diet.) And since jerky is harder to eat and chew, it allows time for your stomach to tell your brain you're full, keeping those pesky carb cravings at bay, she says.
For another science-based resource on ketogenic diets, I highly recommend visiting the site that Raphael Sirtoli and his team over at Break Nutrition have put together. They have good content about low carb and ketogenic diets, and they offer more information on how to kick-start a ketogenic diet, measure your ketones and there's a great post on the benefits of ketogenic diets for inflammation.
A short-lived increase in seizure frequency may occur during illness or if ketone levels fluctuate. The diet may be modified if seizure frequency remains high, or the child is losing weight. Loss of seizure-control may come from unexpected sources. Even "sugar-free" food can contain carbohydrates such as maltodextrin, sorbitol, starch and fructose. The sorbitol content of suntan lotion and other skincare products may be high enough for some to be absorbed through the skin and thus negate ketosis.
Imagine that you have found an assortment of keto snacks that are absolutely delicious, and they fit perfectly into your lifestyle. You always have them with you, prepared for hunger to strike. On some days, you won’t feel hungry at all, so there will be no need to snack. On other days, however —due to a variety of factors (e.g., fat loss, stress, lack of sleep) — your appetite will be ravenous. Nothing will seem to satiate you. Cheese, bacon, avocado, peanut butter — nothing will make you feel full.
It can be tricky calculating the precise kind of diet that leads to a long life. Part of the problem is that (thankfully) we don't live our lives in highly controlled laboratory conditions. Until that terrifying day arrives and we all become well-studied lab rats, we have to rely on long-term observational data, usually in the form of surveys, to know more about which diets are the best long-term plans.
There are three instances where there’s research to back up a ketogenic diet, including to help control type 2 diabetes, as part of epilepsy treatment, or for weight loss, says Mattinson. “In terms of diabetes, there is some promising research showing that the ketogenic diet may improve glycemic control. It may cause a reduction in A1C — a key test for diabetes that measures a person’s average blood sugar control over two to three months — something that may help you reduce medication use,” she says.
Because the ketogenic diet alters the body's metabolism, it is a first-line therapy in children with certain congenital metabolic diseases such as pyruvate dehydrogenase (E1) deficiency and glucose transporter 1 deficiency syndrome, which prevent the body from using carbohydrates as fuel, leading to a dependency on ketone bodies. The ketogenic diet is beneficial in treating the seizures and some other symptoms in these diseases and is an absolute indication. On the other hand, it is absolutely contraindicated in the treatment of other diseases such as pyruvate carboxylase deficiency, porphyria and other rare genetic disorders of fat metabolism. A person with a disorder of fatty acid oxidation is unable to metabolise fatty acids, which replace carbohydrates as the major energy source on the diet. On the ketogenic diet, their body would consume its own protein stores for fuel, leading to ketoacidosis, and eventually coma and death.
No fruit but some berries. Apples have too many carbs. Pineapples will create massive insulin spikes. Never consume fruit juices: Valuable phytonutrients are bound to the fiber, and these are lost; plus the juice is cooked, removing many other nutrients. You’re basically just drinking concentrated fructose. You can get away with one-half to one cup of berries a day.
Some athletes swear by the ketogenic diet, not just for weight loss but for improved performance in their sport, as well. But Edward Weiss, PhD, associate professor of nutrition and dietetics at Saint Louis University, doesn’t buy it. “I hear cyclists say all the time that they’re faster and better now that they’re on keto, and my first question is, 'Well, how much weight did you lose?'” he says.
What we do know, based on carefully conducted laboratory testing of overweight men, is that going keto probably doesn't help burn more body fat than a regular regimen. Instead, it forces people to dramatically curb their sugar intake (remember, sugar is 100% carbohydrate) and kick processed foods to the curb. Those are both good habits for overall health and blood-sugar levels, and they can help reduce your likelihood of developing cancer.
You’ll quickly find that eggs are a staple for breakfast in low carb diets. Eggies are a simple solution for days of healthy breakfasts. Simply beat 8 eggs in a bowl, add in cheese and vegetables, and pour into muffin tins that have been lined with a strip of bacon. Cook at 350 for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. Store in baggies for breakfast for up to 5 days.
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.
In Asia, the normal diet includes rice and noodles as the main energy source, making their elimination difficult. Therefore, the MCT-oil form of the diet, which allows more carbohydrate, has proved useful. In India, religious beliefs commonly affect the diet: some patients are vegetarians, will not eat root vegetables or avoid beef. The Indian ketogenic diet is started without a fast due to cultural opposition towards fasting in children. The low-fat, high-carbohydrate nature of the normal Indian and Asian diet means that their ketogenic diets typically have a lower ketogenic ratio (1:1) than in America and Europe. However, they appear to be just as effective.
With intermittent fasting, the whole goal is to burn off excess fat, right? Watch how you feel when you exercise. Do you feel best when you exercise after eating or if you exercise while fasting? Watch if your legs feel heavy or if you tire too easily. Some people do well with eating first, while some love that feeling of exercising when they have fasted and having to eat afterwards.
You’re transitioning. Your body is equipped to process a high intake of carbs and a lower intake of fat. Your body needs to create enzymes to be able to do this. In the transitional period, the brain may run low on energy which can lead to grogginess, nausea, and headaches. If you’re having a large problem with this, you can choose to reduce carb intake gradually.