A ketogenic diet, or keto diet, is a very low carbohydrate eating plan that forces the body to use fat rather than glucose as a primary energy source. When you follow the plan, you build meals around fatty foods and significantly restrict your intake of carbohydrates and protein. As a result of that macronutrient balance, acids called ketones are produced in the body. When ketone levels are high enough, the dieter is in a state of ketosis.
In 1921, Rollin Turner Woodyatt reviewed the research on diet and diabetes. He reported that three water-soluble compounds, β-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate and acetone (known collectively as ketone bodies), were produced by the liver in otherwise healthy people when they were starved or if they consumed a very low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. Dr. Russell Morse Wilder, at the Mayo Clinic, built on this research and coined the term ketogenic diet to describe a diet that produced a high level of ketone bodies in the blood (ketonemia) through an excess of fat and lack of carbohydrate. Wilder hoped to obtain the benefits of fasting in a dietary therapy that could be maintained indefinitely. His trial on a few epilepsy patients in 1921 was the first use of the ketogenic diet as a treatment for epilepsy.
Don’t let the kiddie lunchbox aesthetic fool you—these dehydrated little nuggets might look like they come from a children’s book, but there’s nothing made up about their magic. Whether you’re fiending for the pepper jack, gouda, or cheddar, they’re all shelf-stable, low-carb, high in protein and calcium, delightfully crispy, naturally gluten-free, and super fun to eat. Why? They’re just cheese!
"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 meal you have to judge how much fat you need. If you’re really battling a high appetite/high craving day or week, you might want to add more fat, especially at breakfast to trim your appetite throughout the day and enable you to go longer without cravings and hunger. Ketosis in general suppresses your appetite, so your hunger will be greatly reduced. You're going to be able to go many hours without eating. So let the hunger dictate how much fat you eat. If you're not hungry, cut down on the fat and go a little bit lighter. You might need a little bit more fat sometimes, but don't go crazy, because that's going to slow you down.
Note: Are you a vegetarian or vegan and want to go on a ketogenic diet? It’s still possible! Just keep in mind that the dietary restrictions can sometimes be a little bit intense. Make sure to plan ahead and prepare to aid your success. To help out, we’ve published articles (with 7 day meal plans included) for both the vegetarian ketogenic diet and the vegan ketogenic diet.