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.
Ketosis is a state of physical being and energy utilization when the body is running on ketones instead of glucose. Ketones are a clean fuel the body and brain absolutely loves. Ketones are an alternative fuel for the body that is not sugar or glucose. Running on ketones is like running a car on electricity rather than diesel fuel. Ketones are a cleaner fuel source - an alternative fuel source that gives a person way more energy than glucose. Even professional athletes can outrun and outperform any other athlete on ketosis than carb loading. By lowering your insulin, your sugars and refined carbohydrates, way down there close to zero to 5% of your daily calories or lower, you will burn fat as opposed to glucose for diet purposes or because you want to run on this clean fuel that many people find can help them perform better in all areas of life, mentally and physically. When you’re running on glucose and insulin is spiked, you’re not dipping down into your fat stores for energy. You’re burning up your muscles, not fat. When you’re in ketosis, you’re no longer spiking your blood sugar and you begin running on your own fat for fuel, which is idea for losing weight—the right kind of weight—fat.
Some people on a keto or low carb diet choose to count total carbs instead of net carbs. This makes it more difficult to fit in more leafy greens and low carb vegetables (which are filled with fiber), so you should only try that if you don’t get results with a net carb method. And, start with reducing sugar alcohols and low carb treats before deciding to do a “total carbs” method.
Before starting, ask yourself what is really realistic for you, Mattinson suggests. Then get your doctor’s okay. You may also work with a local registered dietitian nutritionist to limit potential nutrient deficiencies and talk about vitamin supplementation, as you won’t be eating whole grains, dairy, or fruit, and will eliminate many veggies. “A diet that eliminates entire food groups is a red flag to me. This isn’t something to take lightly or dive into headfirst with no medical supervision,” she says.
As you transition from three meals to two meals or even to one meal a day, you will need to consume more fat. There are all sorts of great desserts you can create that support your weight-loss program. There are also keto bombs, which are fat-rich cookies that can be consumed at the end of the meal to make it incredibly easy to do intermittent fasting. Here are some examples:
Say hello to the pili nut! Boasting a higher fat and lower carbohydrate content than just about any other nut on the planet, this snackable wonder is your ketone-loving body’s new best friend. Hunter Gatherer’s handy multipack includes flavors like black pepper turmeric, spicy chili, and Himalayan salt and coconut oil, each wild harvested from pili trees in the mountains of the Philippines.
"My suggestion is to start with changing your mindset first and foremost around three very important facts: this is not just another diet, you don’t have to live in Ketosis forever, and you will not be depriving yourself. Having said that, if you are used to eating highly-processed sugary food and refined carbohydrates you’ll need to ease into it," she explains.
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 >