Weight loss is the primary reason my patients use the ketogenic diet. Previous research shows good evidence of a faster weight loss when patients go on a ketogenic or very low carbohydrate diet compared to participants on a more traditional low-fat diet, or even a Mediterranean diet. However, that difference in weight loss seems to disappear over time.
If you think about it, one of the diets that follow these principles is the low-carb ketogenic diet. It focuses on highly-satiating foods like meat and low-carb vegetables while cutting out all processed, carb-ridden, and highly-palatable foods. By eating in this way, most people experience tremendous amounts of fat loss — not because insulin levels dropped or the body got a metabolic advantage from burning fat, but because keto dieters tend to eat significantly fewer calories than before without realizing it.
WY conceived, designed, and coordinated the study; participated in data collection; performed statistical analysis; and drafted the manuscript. MF assisted with study design, performed data collection, and helped to draft the manuscript. AC analyzed the food records. MV assisted with study/intervention design and safety monitoring. EW participated in the conception and design of the study, and assisted with the statistical analysis. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
The insulin theory of obesity, in short, declares that the primary cause of obesity is higher carbohydrate diets because these diets increase insulin secretion more than any other diet. When insulin levels are high, fat storage will increase significantly and “starve” muscles and organs of energy. This causes increased hunger and overeating that results in obesity.
Gottfried recommends the keto diet (as it’s commonly called) to help with a range of brain and focus issues—she finds ketones to be “very efficient fuel for the brain”; she also says it works well for some patients (not all) who want to lose weight but have trouble kicking sugar cravings. We talked to her about who the keto diet is right for (and whom, or when, it isn’t); the nutritional ins and outs of mastering it; and which keto-friendly meals are healthy for practically everyone, regardless of what diet we do (or don’t) practice.
Eating out while going keto can be tricky. Planning ahead helps you know where your next snacks and meals will come from, so you aren’t tempted to reach for an easy—high-carb—fix, like fast food. Each week, plan out everything from meals to snacks and if you’re using an app, go ahead and fill in your estimated macronutrients ahead of time. This will help you get an idea of your overall intake, so you can make adjustments to reach your daily goals more easily. Get started by planning to make these 10 keto recipes so good you’ll never know you’re on a diet.
Drink lots of water. This is especially crucial on a low carb or keto diet. Why? When you eat carbohydrates, your body stores the extra as glycogen in the liver, where they are bound to water molecules. Eating low carb depletes this glycogen, which allows you to burn fat – but it also means you are storing less water, making it easier to get dehydrated. Instead of the traditional recommendation of 8 cups of water per day, aim for 16 cups when following a low carb lifestyle.
Psyllium husk powder is what you’ll need, and you can find it on Amazon. Flaxseed Meal is another ingredient you can use to provide a slightly chewy texture. Although I feel that it’s not as good as psyllium (as it gives a slightly gelled texture), many people have used it successfully in place of psyllium. Make sure you grab a pack or 3 from Amazon. It’s super cheap and lasts a long time!
“After struggling with weight my entire life, I was pointed in the direction of a low-carb diet by a group of other physicians — and it changed my life. As a family physician, it became clear to me how many of my patients could benefit from this lifestyle in so many ways. I spent time training with other doctors who had been practicing nutritional medicine with their patients for years, and learned how best to help my own patients. This is my passion, and being able to help change patients lives in this way is incredibly rewarding.”
Women were also invited to complete a questionnaire on sexual function (the Female Sexual Function Index—FSFI). The FSFI consists of 19 questions, divided into 6 domains: desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain. Each answer is rated on a scale ranging from 0 to 5 or 1 to 5 (0 means no sexual activity in the four preceding weeks) . The total FSFI score, obtained from the sum of the items in each domain multiplied by the domain factor (0.6 for desire, 0.3 for arousal and lubrication, and 0.4 for orgasm, satisfaction, and pain), may range from 2.0 to 36.0. Lower scores indicate poorer sexual function. A total FSFI score less than 26.55 is indicative of sexual dysfunction .
If you talk to keto aficionados, you’ll find many save leftovers from dinner for the next day’s lunch. Cook once, eat twice—your keto diet menu for lunch is solved. If you don’t like leftovers or if you’re craving something different for lunch, the mid-day meal can be as simple as a scoop of chicken salad. Or, hit the salad bar at a local grocery store and top a bowl of greens with some good-fat goodies. You can also try one of these simple keto lunches:
In general, you want to eat the minimum amount of protein to preserve lean body mass and not overtax your kidneys. If you eat too much protein, the excess converts to glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis. You don’t want that to occur in ketosis. Instead, eat anti-inflammatory protein—at the minimum amount to preserve or build lean body mass. My favorite sources are wild-caught fish, grass-fed and -finished beef and wild meats (elk, bison, etc.), pasture-raised poultry, nuts, and seeds. Make sure fish has more selenium (which helps protect the brain) than mercury, to mitigate heavy metal toxicity. Good sources that have a safe selenium/mercury ratio include: tuna, opah, wahoo, spearfish, swordfish.
Julie Hand is a certified holistic health and nutrition counselor (Institute for Integrative Nutrition), personal fitness trainer (National Personal Training Institute), and yoga teacher (Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health). Though she can’t resist trying every science-backed health tip, she also has a penchant for crystals and astrology (don’t judge). You can find her walking the beach (coffee in hand, of course) and practicing the ukulele on weekends.
Spices have carbs in them, so make sure you are adding them to your counts. Sea salt is preferred over table salt, as it is usually mixed with powdered dextrose. Most pre-made spice mixes will have sugars added to them, so make sure you read the nutrition label beforehand to make sure you know what’s inside. If you have the choice, never include added sugar into your spice blends or food.
Typically you want to stay away from any brands that use filler ingredients like maltodextrin and dextrose, or high glycemic sweeteners like maltitol. Many low-carb products that claim low net carbs usually use these sugar alcohols. Many candies that are “sugar-free” also use these sweeteners. Avoid them where possible. These specific sweeteners respond in our body in a similar way sugar does.
The popular belief that high-fat diets cause obesity and several other diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, and cancer has not been observed in recent epidemiological studies. Studies carried out in animals that were fed high-fat diets did not show a specific causal relationship between dietary fat and obesity. On the contrary, very-low-carbohydrate and high-fat diets such as the ketogenic diet have shown to beneficial to weight loss.