Steak, butter, and bacon.
Are there three more delicious tasting or great smelling foods than these?!
What if we told you there was a way you could eat these three sinfully scrumptious foods, yet still lose weight and improve your health — you’d probably think we were crazy.
Well, as it turns out, you can eat these foods, and plenty others, when following a ketogenic diet.
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that forces the body to use fat as the primary fuel rather than carbohydrates. There’s an awful lot of misinformation bandying about the internet about what constitutes a true ketogenic diet.
Keep reading to see exactly what it is, how it benefits weight loss, and why it just might be a method to improving overall health!
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
As we mentioned up top, a ketogenic diet (“keto) is a low carb, moderate protein, high fat diet that essentially replaces just about all of your carbohydrate with fat. This typically translates to a macronutrient ratio of:
- 75% Fat
- 20% Protein
- 5% Carbohydrate
Drastically reducing carbohydrate forces your body’s metabolism to enter a state of ketosis – a metabolic process the body initiates when it’s lacking carbohydrates. In ketosis, your body burns fat instead, and in this process, it generates ketones.Ketones are created if your diet doesn’t contain enough carbohydrate to provide the body with enough glucose (sugar) for energy. As the body enters ketosis, it becomes incredibly efficient at using fat for fuel. Additionally, your liver also generates ketones, which are used by the brain for energy (since the brain runs on glucose).[3,4]
Ketogenic diets have been used for a LONG time, but recently have only come back en vogue — so where exactly did keto come from?
Let’s find out!
History of the Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet was originally developed in 1921 by Dr. Russell Wilder of the Mayo Clinic as an alternative to fasting, which had found great success as a treatment for epilepsy in children.[1,2]
Dr. Wilder suggested that the diet was equally effective as fasting, but could be sustained for a prolonged period of time than fasting. Wilder spent subsequent years documenting his findings on patients following his ketone-producing diet at the Mayo Clinic.
In its original form, the ketogenic diet restricted carbohydrates, protein, total calories, and fluids while significantly increasing fat intake to as much as 90% of calories!
Eventually though, the ketogenic diet fell out of favor as a means for treating patients as there were significant advancements in the area of anticonvulsants. It wasn’t until the Charlie Foundation was established in 1994 that the ketogenic diet saw its modern “rebirth” of sorts.
However, it wasn’t until the diet was featured on a Dateline TV special in 2000 that it really came into the national (and global) spotlight. Since then, curiosity of keto has exploded, and now it’s being used for all sorts of applications from Type II Diabetes treatment to weight loss.
As its increased in popularity, several versions of the ketogenic diet have surfaced leading to some confusion as to what’s the “standard” keto diet.
We’ve got that covered next…Types of Keto Diets
Keto shares some similarities to other popular low carb diets such as Atkins, but some significant differences as well. It isn’t just low carb and high protein, as eating too high of protein can kick your body out of ketosis. So, if you’re sticking to the tried and true original form of keto, you’d select the “Standard Ketogenic Diet” described below:
- Standard Keto Diet
The traditional macro set up of 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbs
- Cyclical Keto Diet
Also known as the 5:2 Diet, Cyclical Keto refers to consuming a keto diet 5 days per week followed by 2 consecutive high-carb days, which act as a “refeed” of sorts of your body.
- “Targeted” Keto Diet
Ideal for the high level athlete, Targeted Keto allows you to increase carbohydrate intake around your training or competition window for enhance performance
- High Protein Keto Diet
Similar to the “standard” option up top, but here, Protein accounts for 35% of your macro ratio, while Fat is lowered to 60%. Carbohydrate still remains at 5%.
Benefits of Keto
No one would willingly deprive themselves of tasty carbs like doughnuts, pizza, or pasta without a damn good reason right?!
As it turns out, keto isn’t just good for combatting epilepsy, it’s also got some solid research backing a wide range of benefits including:
- Weight loss
- Increased insulin sensitivity
- Decreased A1c (an important marker of Type 2 Diabetes)
- Reduced blood sugar
- Improved HDL (“good”) cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Increased satiety
- Enhanced Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Increased fat burning
- May combat neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
- Keto for You
So, how does all of this science and theory translate into a day in the life of a real keto dieter? Well, as it turns out, we just so happen to have an example day of keto eating all set up for you!
- Breakfast: Bacon, avocado, eggs (cooked in bacon grease!) and tomatoes.
- Lunch: Shrimp salad with olive oil and feta cheese.
- Dinner: Salmon with asparagus cooked in butter.
- Bedtime Snack: 90% Dark Chocolate
An important point to make when setting up a keto diet is that it’s crucial to get your daily fat from a number of sources so you’re getting a well-rounded mix of monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and saturated fats.
Saturated fats are important for overall hormone production (including testosterone!) and balance, so don’t neglect them!
Foods to Avoid
The key to structuring a successful keto diet is to avoid carbohydrate rich foods, this includes:
- Beans / legumes
- Fruit – except small portions of berries
- 99% of Desserts — No more cake, cookies, candy or other crap….sorry!
The bottom line is that for you to have a successful keto venture, you’re going to have to not only go low carb, but EXTREMELY low carb — meaning your total carb intake for the day will be = 50g/day.
Any more and you risk kicking yourself out of ketosis….
Side Effects of Keto
There are a great many benefits that can come from undertaking a keto diet, but it’s not without a few adverse effects when first ditching sugars and carbs of all forms:
- Low energy when first going low carb
- Brain Fog
- GI distress
- Constipation (from lack of fiber)
- Dehydration (due to decreased fluid intake)
- Electrolyte deficiency
Keto diets are a great option for those looking to lose weight, combat Type 2 Diabetes, or improve their overall health. It’s certainly not the easiest diet to follow (who doesn’t love carbs?!), but the science backing it is quite solid. Keto might not be the best diet if you’re looking to add mass or dominate on the playing field, but if you’re trying to cut fat Keto is a better option than virtually any other fad “weight loss” diet being advertised!References
1. Hartman AL, Rubenstein JE, Kossoff EH. Intermittent fasting: A “new” historical strategy for controlling seizures? Epilepsy research. 2013;104(3):275-279. doi:10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2012.10.011. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3740951/
2. Kossoff EH, Hartman AL. Ketogenic Diets: New Advances for Metabolism-Based Therapies. Current opinion in neurology. 2012;25(2):173-178. doi:10.1097/WCO.0b013e3283515e4a. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4002181/
3. Wheless, J. W. (2008), History of the ketogenic diet. Epilepsia, 49: 3–5. doi:10.1111/j.1528-1167.2008.01821.x http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1528-1167.2008.01821.x/full
4. Dashti HM, Mathew TC, Hussein T, et al. Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients. Experimental & Clinical Cardiology. 2004;9(3):200-205. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716748/
5. Boden G, Sargrad K, Homko C, Mozzoli M, Stein TP. Effect of a low-carbohydrate diet on appetite, blood glucose levels, and insulin resistance in obese patients with type 2 diabetes. Ann Intern Med. 2005;142(6):403-411. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15767618
6. Westman EC, Mavropoulos J, Yancy WS, Volek JS. A review of low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2003;5(6):476-483. http://www.zaggini.com/old/media/a-review-of-low-carbohydrate-ketogenic-diets_30.pdf
7. Yancy WS, Foy M, Chalecki AM, Vernon MC, Westman EC. A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet to treat type 2 diabetes. Nutrition & Metabolism. 2005;2:34. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-2-34. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1325029/
8. Freeman JM, Kossoff EH, Hartman AL. The Ketogenic Diet: One Decade Later. 2007; 119;535. Pediatrics. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2006-244. http://docdro.id/4tSxbqz