What is the keto diet? Rather than relying on counting calories, limiting portion sizes, resorting to extreme exercise or requiring lots of willpower, this low-carb diet takes an entirely different approach to weight loss and health improvements. It works because it changes the very “fuel source” that the body uses to stay energized: namely, from burning glucose (or sugar) to dietary fat, courtesy of keto diet recipes and the keto diet food list items, including high-fat, low-carb foods.
A ketogenic diet (also known as “nutritional ketosis”) is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. On a ketogenic diet, your brain uses ketones (a byproduct of your fat-burning metabolism) for fuel, instead of glucose. Since humans can burn either glucose or ketones for energy, this change is possible to make, although there is some controversy surrounding ketogenic diets regarding both their efficacy and health benefit. Ketosis keeps your body in a “fasting” or starvation metabolism, and consequently encourages weight loss by burning off fat reserves. While the shift to a ketogenic diet can be difficult initially, you should begin to see results after a few weeks.
No diet plan fits all and not everybody can follow a very low-carb diet. Even Dr Volek and Dr Phinney noted that there is not enough evidence that a very low-carb diet (such as less than 20 g net carbs) is beneficial for those with preexisting thyroid or adrenal conditions. Dr. Broda Barnes, who spent over 50 years on thyroid research, suggested in his book “Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness”, that the minimum amount of carbohydrate intake for patients with hypothyroidism should be at least 30 grams of net carbs.
And good news for coffee addicts: you can still have your morning cup of joe. You’ll just need to adjust what you stir into it. Switch out flavored creamer for the real deal—full-fat heavy whipping cream, which has only 1 gram of carbs per tablespoon. If you want to give your java a jolt of sweet, stir in a low-carb sweetener that uses sugar alcohols. But if you can skip the sweet, even better. In time, you’ll retrain your palate to not crave a sugary start to the day. This is what everyone gets wrong about the keto diet.
In essence, it is a diet that causes the body to release ketones into the bloodstream. Most cells prefer to use blood sugar, which comes from carbohydrates, as the body’s main source of energy. In the absence of circulating blood sugar from food, we start breaking down stored fat into molecules called ketone bodies (the process is called ketosis). Once you reach ketosis, most cells will use ketone bodies to generate energy until we start eating carbohydrates again. The shift, from using circulating glucose to breaking down stored fat as a source of energy, usually happens over two to four days of eating fewer than 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. Keep in mind that this is a highly individualized process, and some people need a more restricted diet to start producing enough ketones.
Minerals/Electrolytes: Adopting a ketogenic diet will change the way your body uses (and loses) certain minerals. Not replacing these minerals can lead to symptoms of the “keto flu” such as lightheadedness, headaches, constipation, muscle cramps and fatigue. Refer to this article for tips on how to replace common minerals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium.
With the help of keto-friendly ingredients, you can easily make yourself some delicious, fluffy pancakes. There are, in fact, several ways to make fantastic keto pancakes, but our favorite is the Faux “Buckwheat” Pancakes made with almond flour and flaxseed meal. Try them for yourself if you want low-carb pancakes that taste just like the real thing.
Low-calorie diets leading to rapid weight loss can cause headaches -- especially if your carbohydrate intake is too low. A study published in 2011 in the "Nutrition Journal" reports that symptoms of ketosis, which occurs when there is a buildup of metabolic byproducts called ketones in the body after breaking down fat instead of carbs as fuel -- include headaches, bad breath, weakness and constipation. To reduce your chance of getting a headache during weight loss, eat at least 130 grams of carbohydrates -- which is the recommended dietary allowance, or RDA -- daily and avoid losing more than 2 pounds per week.
Some negative side effects of a long-term ketogenic diet have been suggested, including increased risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis, and increased blood levels of uric acid (a risk factor for gout). Possible nutrient deficiencies may arise if a variety of recommended foods on the ketogenic diet are not included. It is important to not solely focus on eating high-fat foods, but to include a daily variety of the allowed meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds to ensure adequate intakes of fiber, B vitamins, and minerals (iron, magnesium, zinc)—nutrients typically found in foods like whole grains that are restricted from the diet. Because whole food groups are excluded, assistance from a registered dietitian may be beneficial in creating a ketogenic diet that minimizes nutrient deficiencies.
A CKD offers a way to combat this. It offers a cyclical "refeed" (sometimes also called a carb-up). During this phase, the diet consists mostly of complex carbohydrates, with limited fat, sucrose and fructose. Since the glycogen stores in the liver and muscles are depleted, these carbohydrates go straight to refilling them instead of being added to the body's fat stores. For this reason, the amount of calories consumed during a refeed can be far above an individual's usual dietary intake. While a typical CKD consists of 50g or less of carbohydrate per day, the typical refeed consists of 450-600g of carbohydrate. A weight gain of 1-2 lbs is usually reported during refeeding; this is mainly water and normally lost in 2–4 days.
The Johns Hopkins Hospital protocol for initiating the ketogenic diet has been widely adopted. It involves a consultation with the patient and their caregivers and, later, a short hospital admission. Because of the risk of complications during ketogenic diet initiation, most centres begin the diet under close medical supervision in the hospital.
I recall reading once that pink grapefruit and eggs for breakfast (or maybe it was the grapefruit 10-15 minutes before eggs) was supposed to launch you into some crazy fat burning mode. Something to do with hormone production, I seem to recall. Can’t say if it’s true or not. I tasted a grapefruit once when I was about 10, and have never desired to repeat that mistake in the 24 years since.
Dr. Campos, it is so discouraging to see that you disparage the ketogenic diet based on your assumption that it is very heavy in poor quality processed meats. No diet that relies on processed foods can be viewed as “healthy”. Become better informed by getting up to speed with what Jeff Volek, RD, PhD, calls a “well-formulated ketogenic diet.” Also, learn more about the potential of the diet to slow cancer progression (my specialty). You owe it to your patients who are depending on you for advice. Present them with facts, not opinions.
Hi Maya. I LOVE your site!! Interesting, informative with fab recipes and ideas. Hubby and I have just started eating low carb and I have to say, we are not finding it too difficult and I already feel sooo much better!! I find the hardest part is choosing low carb veg, I feel as if we are not eating enough. Any suggestions on how to get more veggies into our diet?
If you’re not sure after your initial test, explore other healthy diets such as clean eating and always have in mind that your number 1 goal should be to avoid overly processed foods (keeping this definition fairly broad of course, as we live in the 21st century and have to adapt to modern age as well, where hardly any of us have time to spend 12 hours a day evolving around food production, gathering and cooking).
“I recommend a high-fat, low-protein, ultra-low to no-carbohydrate diet with intermittent fasting to my fertility patients. Immunologic dysfunction can contribute to recurrent pregnancy loss and infertility. One of the easiest ways to improve immunologic function is to reduce inflammation throughout the body. The keto diet does this. I use Diet Doctor myself and recommend it to patients as a valuable resource.”
“When the low-fat dietary advice I had been preaching for decades didn’t work for me in middle age, I changed to low-carb. After mentorship from Dr. Eric Westman, I introduced low-carb to my patients with astonishing results reversing diseases I had only been “managing”. In fact, more than 90% of patients who come to me on insulin are able to come off. I run a multidisciplinary medical weight loss clinic helping to restore health. This has brought the joy back into medicine for me. Diet Doctor has been an amazing resource to help me and my patients in this journey.”
Muscular strength was measured with a Jamar handgrip dynamometer (Lafayette Instruments, Lafayette, IN). After a brief demonstration and verbal instructions, the test was performed in the standing position with the wrist in the neutral position and the elbow flexed to 90 degrees. Patients were given verbal encouragement to squeeze as hard as possible and to apply maximal effort for at least 3 seconds. Two trials were allowed in the dominant limb, and the highest score was recorded as peak grip strength (kg). Considering possible influences on the muscular strength of changes in body composition, handgrip strength (HG) was divided by appendicular lean mass (ALM) determined by DXA (HG/ALM) and by appendicular soft lean mass (ASLM) determined by MF-BIA (HG/ASLM).
Seasonings and sauces are a tricky part of ketogenic diet foods, but people use them on a regular basis to add flavor to their meals. The easiest way to remain strict here is to avoid processed foods. There are many low carb condiments and products on the market, and there’s no way to list them all. A handful of them are great, but the majority use high glycemic index sweeteners – which you want to avoid.
Anticonvulsants suppress epileptic seizures, but they neither cure nor prevent the development of seizure susceptibility. The development of epilepsy (epileptogenesis) is a process that is poorly understood. A few anticonvulsants (valproate, levetiracetam and benzodiazepines) have shown antiepileptogenic properties in animal models of epileptogenesis. However, no anticonvulsant has ever achieved this in a clinical trial in humans. The ketogenic diet has been found to have antiepileptogenic properties in rats.
While in ketosis, your body effectively uses fat for fuel. In general, the daily intake of net carbs required to enter ketosis could vary from 20 to 100 grams per day. Most people, who have experienced ketosis, claim to have reached that state at about 20-50 grams of net carbs per day. I'd suggest you start at 20-30 grams and see how you can adjust it for your needs.
I get many questions about intermittent fasting, the health benefits, the weight loss benefits, and the like. People normally use intermittent fasting for both the energy and mental clarity it can offer. But it’s not just good for that. It can offer breakthroughs of plateaus and even benefits in nutrient uptake in exercise. We go more in depth to intermittent fasting in Week 3 and 4, so keep your eyes peeled!