While it may be new to you, the keto diet has actually been around since the 1920’s, when the Mayo Clinic reported its effectiveness for helping epilepsy (that is still the case). Since then, there’s strong evidence that the keto diet helps with weight loss as well as type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and metabolic syndrome, says Jeff Volek, Ph.D., RD, professor in the department of Human Sciences at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio and co-author of The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living.
Plus, the creativity behind the recipes meant I didn't miss takeout or dining out. Navigating restaurant menus can be tough when you're on such a restrictive diet—you can't be shy about asking the chef exactly how a meal is prepared—and that just wasn't worth it while on this very specific eating plan. The big bonus (and a surprising one) was the affordability. Each meal is priced at about $30 per couple, and given that we live in New York City, it's easy to spend a hell of a lot more than that during a typical date night. (Related: HelloFresh Is Making Meal Prep So Much Easier With Their New Dinner 2 Lunch Option)
My point here is that the warnings about the ketogenic principles are well taken and well documented. My concern is implications that this is a fad. I don’t use the word diet with my patients and I’m concerned that the principles behind the label and the real results that these readers have commented on might get minimized. I have found it best to encourage patients to read authors like: Stephen Phinney, Jeff Volek, Patricia Daly, and Charles Gant and the be partners with their doctors and check blood work as they move along. I am not for or against the article. If ketogenic principles offer people enduring, satisfying, and cohesive change then why not read about its potential and flexilbity?
If there's one thing that's for sure right now, it's that the ketogenic diet is insanely popular. People searching for how-to info, detailed meal plans, and high-fat recipes such as keto-friendly smoothie recipes, vegetarian keto recipes, even meals that'll work in the Instant Pot has been steadily increasing throughout 2018. (Related: Is the Keto Diet a Good Idea for Vegetarians?)
Frederick F. Samaha, M.D., Nayyar Iqbal, M.D., Prakash Seshadri, M.D., Kathryn L. Chicano, C.R.N.P., Denise A. Daily, R.D., Joyce McGrory, C.R.N.P., Terrence Williams, B.S., Monica Williams, B.S., Edward J. Gracely, Ph.D., and Linda Stern, M.D., “A Low-Carbohydrate as Compared with a Low-Fat Diet in Severe Obesity,” N Engl J Med 2003; 348:2074-2081. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa022637.
Meat – like grass-fed selections – and fresh veggies are more expensive than most processed or fast foods. What you spend on Keto-friendly foods will vary with your choices of protein source and quality. You can select less-expensive, leaner cuts of meat and fatten them up with some oil. Buying less-exotic, in-season veggies will help keep you within budget.
Everyone has to find their nutritional sweet spot for producing enough ketones and staying in ketosis, but “the core principle of the diet is to keep carbohydrate intake low enough, so your body continues producing ketones at elevated levels,” says Volek. “Your body adapts to this alternative fuel and becomes very efficient at breaking down and burning fat.”
Con: Results can vary depending on how much fluid you drink. By drinking more water, you dilute the concentration of ketones in the urine and thus a lower level of ketones will be detected on the strips. The strips don’t show a precise ketone level. Finally, and most importantly, as you become increasingly keto-adapted and your body reabsorbs ketones from the urine, urine strips may become unreliable, even if you’re in ketosis.
There are many ways in which epilepsy occurs. Examples of pathological physiology include: unusual excitatory connections within the neuronal network of the brain; abnormal neuron structure leading to altered current flow; decreased inhibitory neurotransmitter synthesis; ineffective receptors for inhibitory neurotransmitters; insufficient breakdown of excitatory neurotransmitters leading to excess; immature synapse development; and impaired function of ionic channels.
“Mark is doing that keto diet,” his wife, Kelly Ripa, said on Live with Kelly and Ryan on Tuesday. “Since he’s been doing that I’ve been on a mostly carb diet. He’ll have the burger but he won’t have the bun. Then I see that little bun sitting there with burger juice on it and the condiments and yeah, I’m not a big meat eater so I just eat that bun with the lettuce and the tomato and I’m a happy camper.”
Now I'm on keto. I just went out with my family for lunch and I got a pile of chicken wings and a light beer. I didn't over eat on wings, I had 7. On weight watchers? I'd have plowed through a dozen easy because I'd have felt so deprived that finally having fatty, delicious food would've triggered a huge response in me. But I get to eat veggies and some fruit (strawberries, my fave) plus healthy fats and occasionally the fried chicken wing. I don't obsess anymore about the next meal. I don't think about buying a candy bar and hiding it to eat when no one is around cause I was embarrassed to be so stuck on food.
"The keto diet is primarily used to help reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in children. While it also has been tried for weight loss, only short-term results have been studied, and the results have been mixed. We don't know if it works in the long term, nor whether it's safe," warns registered dietitian Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.
There are several types of the keto diet, but essentially, to achieve a state of ketosis, you have to severely reduce the amount of carbs you eat. (You can use this ketogenic calculator to create a custom food plan.) Data suggest the average American man over age 20 consumes 47.4 percent of his daily calories from carbs, and the average American woman over age 20 consumes 49.6 percent of her daily calories from carbs. (3) But in the classic ketogenic diet, which was originally used for the management of seizure disorders, 80 to 90 percent of calories come from fat, 5 to 15 percent come from protein, and 5 to 10 percent come from carbohydrates.
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.
One area where food tracking can be especially helpful, though, is ensuring that you're hitting the right ratios of macronutrients—protein, carbs, and fat. "The most researched version of the ketogenic diet derives 70 percent of calories from healthy fats, 20 percent from protein, and only 10 percent from carbs," explains Charles Passler, D.C., nutritionist, and founder of Pure Change. "In the ideal world, each keto meal and snack should have that same (70/20/10) ratio of macronutrients, but studies have shown that you'll still achieve great results even if each meal varies slightly from that ratio, just as long as you don't exceed 50 grams per day of carbs, or eat those carbs in one sitting," says Passler. In order to achieve these ratios without a preset meal plan from a dietitian or doctor, some food tracking is probably going to be necessary. But once you get the hang of things, you may not need it anymore.
The day before admission to hospital, the proportion of carbohydrate in the diet may be decreased and the patient begins fasting after his or her evening meal. On admission, only calorie- and caffeine-free fluids are allowed until dinner, which consists of "eggnog"[Note 8] restricted to one-third of the typical calories for a meal. The following breakfast and lunch are similar, and on the second day, the "eggnog" dinner is increased to two-thirds of a typical meal's caloric content. By the third day, dinner contains the full calorie quota and is a standard ketogenic meal (not "eggnog"). After a ketogenic breakfast on the fourth day, the patient is discharged. Where possible, the patient's current medicines are changed to carbohydrate-free formulations.
This can be tough for folks who need a "cheat" day, but it can also take a mental toll on the dieter. In a usual diet plan when you go off of it for a day or two, you just get right back in the saddle and start again. With keto it's more than that: You need to start from scratch to get yourself back into ketosis, which can take a few days or weeks. This can really make you feel bad about yourself and take a psychological toll on your well-being and self-worth. (Related: Why You Should Give Up Restrictive Dieting Once and for All)
Make things yourself. While it’s extremely convenient to buy most things pre-made or pre-cooked, it always adds to the price per pound on items. Try prepping veggies ahead of time instead of buying pre-cut ones. Try making your stew meat from a chuck roast. Or, simply try to make your mayo and salad dressings at home. The simplest of things can work to cut down on your overall grocery shopping.
I know you’ve been hearing and seeing the keto diet advertised everywhere. Maybe you’re already on the keto diet, but maybe you’re not and have no idea what all the buzz is about. Maybe you’re just doing a low carb diet and that’s working for you. Wherever you are in your health and journey, the keto diet is hot right now and getting a lot of attention and for good reason.
But generally speaking, if you plan to follow a ketogenic diet, you should aim to consume less than 10 percent of your total calories from carbohydrates per day. The remaining calories should come from 20 to 30 percent protein and 60 to 80 percent fat. That means if you follow a daily 2,000-calorie diet, no more than 200 of your calories (or 50 grams) should come from carbs, while 400 to 600 calories should come from protein and 1,200 to 1,600 should come from fat. (There’s a reason this plan is also called a high-fat, low-carb diet!)
The ketogenic diet has been studied in at least 14 rodent animal models of seizures. It is protective in many of these models and has a different protection profile than any known anticonvulsant. Conversely, fenofibrate, not used clinically as an antiepileptic, exhibits experimental anticonvulsant properties in adult rats comparable to the ketogenic diet. This, together with studies showing its efficacy in patients who have failed to achieve seizure control on half a dozen drugs, suggests a unique mechanism of action.
If carbohydrates—either processed packaged sweets or nutritious whole foods—are your jam, the ketogenic diet will, at best, take some getting used to. And at worst, it could be a total nonstarter. The diet will necessarily steer you away from foods that have added sugar, are calorically dense, and don’t offer much in the way of nutrition, like cookies, cakes, white bread, sugary cereals, fries, chips, crackers, and sugary drinks, which are all high in carbohydrates. (It's important to keep in mind that it's not necessary to totally avoid all processed carbs; healthy, balanced diets can in fact include processed foods and sweets). On the other hand, the diet also creates an unneeded aversion to nutritious foods that are also high in carbohydrates, like fruit, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, beans, lentils, and whole grains.
Temperatures are dropping fast, which means soup should be your new best friend. And when that soup is thick, rich, and high in protein and fat, it’ll really stick to your bones on a chilly night. This soup by Cast Iron Keto has only 6.7 grams of net carbs and tons of filling fats from the heavy cream and cream cheese. Add sliced jalapeño on top for a little kick.
And although in the short term, ketogenic diets seem safe for healthy people, we also lack long-term data on the diet, so it’s hard to confirm long-term safety with certainty. Complications seen with kids maintaining a ketogenic diet for epilepsy, for example, included kidney stones, constipation, gastrointestinal issues, pancreatitis, and vitamin D and calcium deficiencies.
Don’t stick to chicken and steak just because you’re comfortable cooking them. Make dinner time the place where you can try new meats and recipes that increase your keto recipe resources. “At lunch and dinner, you can be creative and experiment,” Weaver says. “Just focus on cooking meat—pork, chicken, lamb, beef, or seafood. Meat is rich in iron and fish contains omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Use only organic oils, such as avocado oil, coconut oil, and olive oil.”
A keto diet is very restrictive—more so, even, than plans such as paleo and Atkins. One piece of fruit or a serving of steamed beets can put someone over his or her entire daily carbohydrate limit. “Restrictive dieting is a psychological stressor,” says psychotherapist Shiri Macri, MA, LCMHC, clinical director at Green Mountain at Fox Run, who specializes in working with people who emotionally overeat or binge-eat. “When people deprive their bodies of the amount of nutrition and the nutrients that it needs, the body responds in a state of emergency. Levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, go up, and we also have a decrease in mood-boosting serotonin.” Check out the 11 hidden dangers of the keto diet.
Now, Week 1’s shopping list is going to be long. I have to make the assumption you have nothing in your house. Many of the items are common items that most people will have already. These are all staples in my everyday cooking for keto, and should be considered an investment for your health. Once you have all of the items from week 1, there won’t be too much else to buy.
How did this diet, which was first developed in the 1920s as a treatment for children with epilepsy (and has been shown to reduce seizures in patients whose epilepsy symptoms aren’t responding to other medications), become the diet du jour, and why such a discrepancy between its fandom and expert opinion? Let’s take a closer look at what “going keto” entails.
macronutrient ratios in line: "Fat should be used as a satiating nutrient. People don't necessarily need to eat fat bombs and put extra fat on their food or in their coffee just to make it high-fat," says Mavridis. While this is a good strategy for when you're transitioning from a glucose-dependent diet to a fat-fueled one, it's not necessary once you’re fat-adapted, she adds. This is where intuitive eating comes into play. Learn to pay attention to your hunger cues. "If you’re feeling hungry shortly after a meal then you probably did not have enough protein or fat. But if you’re full and satiated, there is no reason to consume excess quantities of fat," explains the health expert.