What is the Ketogenic Diet?
Here’s what you need to know about keto.
You may be a bit sick of hearing about keto, ketosis — but also curious if you should try it. It is everywhere – the almost-zero-carb ketogenic diet or via ketone supplements— can curb appetite, enhance performance, and cure nearly any health problem that ails you. Is this too good to be true? Just as the saying goes…if it sounds too good, it probably is.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if you can eat all the butter, bacon, and whip cream you want?
“I’m doing this for my health,” you could tell others, as you bite into your daily cheeseburger sans bun.
Most new ways of eating that consistently make headlines are fads. But eventually you start wondering if you should eat this way too. Whether it’s counting calories/points, restricting when you can eat (IF), limiting food groups without reason, or just fueling food guilt and are more concerned with selling books, programs, and foods for that $$$.
Surprisingly, the ketogenic diet has been around since the 1920’s and was intended to be used to help people with epilepsy and seizures but what is new is the mainstream popularity. This improved symptoms and greatly improving the quality of life of patients.
It seems to be following the trend of past low-carb diets (Atkins, The Zone, and some Paleo versions) by claiming to help people lose weight fast. It makes sense why it has become mainstream so let’s dive deeper into how it works and if it is for you.
What does a keto meal look like?
The ketogenic diet is very restrictive to most of us as in 5% max of your daily calories coming from carbohydrates restrictive. The average American’s diet consists of about 40-60% per day which can make it near impossible to stick to for most. And since it’s such a limiting diet that you even have to restrict good-for-you foods like veggies and fruits.
And, there isn’t sufficient research yet on the long-term effects it can have on the body so that is a concern for some as well.
A ketogenic diet is made up of about 70-75% of your daily calories from fat, with about 20% from protein and just 5% from carbohydrate.
Ketosis is the goal when eating a ketogenic diet — to shift your energy source from carbohydrates (glucose) to fat (ketones). This drastic cut in carbohydrates forces your body to reach the state of ketosis.
To give you a better idea of the ketogenic diet in real life, here’s what keto plate looks like:
Notice a few things.
For the first three meals, protein is more or less the same, with a little variation.
Ketogenic diets, however, include less protein — usually only 10 or 20 percent of total daily intake.
Extremely low in carbohydrates
The PN plate suggests high-fiber, slow-digesting carbohydrates, like good ol’ whole grains, beans/legumes, fruits, and starchy vegetables. What I like best about this plate is you can have some fresh-baked bread at an Italian restaurant if you want- no guilt or weight gain!
The Paleo plate may contain slightly fewer carbohydrates but nixes the grains and beans / legumes.
The “low carb” plate will have fewer carbohydrates than the first two, but still have a small amount, likely from vegetables.
The ketogenic meal aims for near-zero carbs. Most estimates suggest around 10-15 grams of carbs a day. That’s only about one fist-sized portion of cooked carrots, or about 10-15 grapes. For. The. Whole. Day.
Very high in fat
The PN plate suggests about 1-2 thumb-sized portions of fat-dense foods (like nuts, cheese, avocado, olive oil, etc.) per meal, depending on body size, activity level, and goals.
The Paleo and low-carb plates may be roughly similar, with a little variation.
We might call all three of these “moderate fat”. Indeed, some indigenous diets (aka variations on the “Paleo” concept) are often quite low in fat, especially saturated fat.
The ketogenic meal is high fat — even up to 90 % of total energy intake. So if you’re eating a 500-calorie spinach and mushroom salad, you get about 2 thumb-sized pieces of chicken breast on top, and then pour about 3-4 glugs of olive oil on top… Yum yum!
A ketogenic diet is the most restrictive and limits all four of these styles of eating. Here’s what you can eat on a ketogenic diet:
A small amount of protein, such as:
A large amount of high-fat foods, such as:
- coconut and coconut milk or oil
- olive oil and any other oil
- nuts and nut butters
- egg yolks
A very small amount of very-low-carbohydrate vegetables, such as:
- leafy greens
- brassicas: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage
Is Keto Best For Weight Loss?
Still not sure if keto is for you?
Well, for particular groups of people with medical challenges, ketosis may indeed be helpful.
If that’s not you, but you are curious, enjoy reading about ketosis and even try it if you like. But know that you can be perfectly fit, healthy, and feel your best without it.
For me personally, I like to follow my innate preferences and hunger cues because our own bodies know best. I also don’t like restrictions especially, if I have to consciously limit my greens and vegetables every day (and all their powerful nutrients and anti-oxidants! I also enjoy carbs. And I love my healthy fats with each meal in order to help my body absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K.
Because there currently isn’t enough research on the side effects of a long-term ketogenic diet to practice the diet for an extended period of time, it makes me a little uneasy. I look at evidence rather than a person’s opinion.
Plus, my motto is food or eating isn’t a main hobby so I don’t feel like worrying about the nuances of rules around my food. I eat what I like, when I like, and that has worked best.
Ready for the real shocker? You can even enjoy a cheeseburger, dessert, and bread if you’d like (the exact reason I don’t eat keto). Because you don’t need to cut out an entire group of anything to lose weight. Weight gain happens when you eat more of anything even protein. Don’t believe me? Learn how in my lifestyle program, Never Diet Again. You can look here more info.
Remember, eating whole foods, mostly plants and not too much is key. Balance will make it a lifestyle.
So, don’t worry if you are not ready to eat a diet made of mostly fat to shed a few pounds. It’s NOT necessary. And if you need help or have any questions, please comment!
Thanks for reading my first blog! I hope to be able to get to know you more.
In case you forgot — You deserve to feel good and are worth it.