"I recommend designing the meal around the fat and protein sources, since the carbohydrates are very limited. For example, if someone is having tuna for lunch, they may consider adding mayo to it. I also think a common mistake made on the diet, is individuals focus on reducing carbohydrates, but they do not increase their fat adequately. This may make it difficult to go into ketosis, especially if they are consuming too much protein. Some adults can be on a stable ketogenic diet consuming 50 net carbs whereas some may need to restrict to 15 net carbs."
The ketogenic diet — a high-fat and very low-carb eating plan — can be tough to start. After all, it’s likely a radical departure from the way you’re eating now (a typical standard American diet is high in carbohydrates and processed foods). But many people are trying the keto diet, which puts your body in a state of ketosis. That's what happens when your body’s carb-burning switch flips to a fat-burning one, a change that can cause weight loss and has even been credited with controlling diabetes. (1)
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.
Therein lies the problem, of course. You can’t just walk in to any store or restaurant and grab yourself some keto snacks. We are making progress on that front, for sure, but we’ve still got a ways to go. While there are a number of decent store-bought options like cheese, nuts, and hard-boiled eggs, there are potential pitfalls everywhere. Like beef jerky, which can often contain a startling amount of sugar and carbs.
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.
Lunch: pat dry chicken and cut into cubes. Lightly (!) salt and pepper. Heat a skillet over medium heat, once hot add coconut oil and fry chicken cubes until brown from all sides. Remove chicken, and add crushed garlic, curry paste and fish sauce to pan. Stir until fragrant and remaining oil in pan and curry paste are well combined. Then add coconut milk and whisk until well combined. Simmer and reduce sauce until desired consistency (1-3 minutes). Pour sauce over chicken and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with baby spinach.
So why is social media blowing up with all things #keto, all the time? Well, most of us eat too many carbs to begin with. About half of our calories should come from carbs, according to the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans. That's about 250 grams per day for a 2,000 calorie diet. When you consider all of the grain-based foods and sneaky sources of added sugar, it's easy eat a lot more than the recommended amount.
I have been eating this way (very low carb, high fat, protein in between) for around 3 years now. I have found that for me I can MAINTAIN quite easily at an ideal weight and eating to satiety, but in order to actually LOSE weight, I have to at least have a very small calorie deficit. And though the change is gradual, it is sustainable and quite immediate (just little by little). The amount of that calorie deficit required in order to drop excess varies a lot from one individual to the next though, I think. I am particularly intolerant to hunger, and so I cannot overly emphasize how small of a deficit I will allow for. The nice thing about that though is that the hunger is far more pleasant in the absence of carbs.
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.