A survey in 2005 of 88 paediatric neurologists in the US found that 36% regularly prescribed the diet after three or more drugs had failed; 24% occasionally prescribed the diet as a last resort; 24% had only prescribed the diet in a few rare cases; and 16% had never prescribed the diet. There are several possible explanations for this gap between evidence and clinical practice. One major factor may be the lack of adequately trained dietitians, who are needed to administer a ketogenic diet programme.
In the 1960s, it was discovered that medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) produce more ketone bodies per unit of energy than normal dietary fats (which are mostly long-chain triglycerides). MCTs are more efficiently absorbed and are rapidly transported to the liver via the hepatic portal system rather than the lymphatic system. The severe carbohydrate restrictions of the classic ketogenic diet made it difficult for parents to produce palatable meals that their children would tolerate. In 1971, Peter Huttenlocher devised a ketogenic diet where about 60% of the calories came from the MCT oil, and this allowed more protein and up to three times as much carbohydrate as the classic ketogenic diet. The oil was mixed with at least twice its volume of skimmed milk, chilled, and sipped during the meal or incorporated into food. He tested it on twelve children and adolescents with intractable seizures. Most children improved in both seizure control and alertness, results that were similar to the classic ketogenic diet. Gastrointestinal upset was a problem, which led one patient to abandon the diet, but meals were easier to prepare and better accepted by the children. The MCT diet replaced the classic ketogenic diet in many hospitals, though some devised diets that were a combination of the two.
Bottom line: If you don't measure and calculate exactly each food and ingredient, you won't be able to get into ketosis or maintain it. And who wants to be sitting around measuring and counting everything? Again, this diet really takes the enjoyment out of cooking and eating. (Related: I Had Keto Meals Delivered to See If Sticking to the Diet Was Any Easier)
A small Feb. 20, 2017, study looked at the impact of a six-week ketogenic diet on physical fitness and body composition in 42 healthy adults. The study, published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism, found a mildly negative impact on physical performance in terms of endurance capacity, peak power and faster exhaustion. Overall, researchers concluded, “Our findings lead us to assume that a [ketogenic diet] does not impact physical fitness in a clinically relevant manner that would impair activities of daily living and aerobic training.” The “significant” weight loss of about 4.4 pounds, on average, did not affect muscle mass or function.
Contrary to what most people think, the keto diet isn’t a high-protein plan; it’s really about cutting carbohydrates and protein. And that protein deficit can be hard on your muscles, research suggests. When you limit carbs from things like fruits, vegetables, and grains, your body starts to steal protein from your muscles and other tissues to transform it into carbohydrate, Notte says. “Protein makes up our organs, our heart, our muscles as well as some hormones, antibodies, and neurotransmitters.”
We’re going full on fats with breakfast, just like we did last week. This time we’ll double the amount of ketoproof coffee (or tea) we drink, meaning we double the amount of coconut oil, butter, and heavy cream. It should come to quite a lot of calories, and should definitely keep us full all the way to dinner. Remember to continue drinking water like a fiend to make sure you’re staying hydrated.
This is a well-known phenomenon with nearly every type of diet: If you relax the rules even a little bit, you suddenly find yourself overeating. Making entire food groups—such as grains, sugar, and other carbohydrates—off-limits helps make them even more attractive, Macri says. This type of reaction goes beyond a psychological reaction—it can also be physical, she says. “Serotonin is one of the feel-good brain chemicals, and when serotonin decreases, such as it does when you’re on a strict low-carb diet, the brain is on high alert for any kind of reward,” she explains. Let some sugar or bread into your diet, and you could be overcome with a desire for more, Macri warns. “This makes it much more likely that you’ll overeat or even binge on those foods.”
Implementing the diet can present difficulties for caregivers and the patient due to the time commitment involved in measuring and planning meals. Since any unplanned eating can potentially break the nutritional balance required, some people find the discipline needed to maintain the diet challenging and unpleasant. Some people terminate the diet or switch to a less demanding diet, like the modified Atkins diet (MAD) or the low-glycaemic index treatment (LGIT) diet, because they find the difficulties too great.
Selecting the right food will be easier as you become accustomed to the Keto approach. Instead of lean meats, you’ll focus on skin-on poultry, fattier parts like chicken thighs, rib-eye steaks, grass-fed ground beef, fattier fish like salmon, beef brisket or pork shoulder, and bacon. Leafy greens such as spinach, kale and lettuce, along with broccoli, cauliflower and cucumbers, make healthy vegetable choices (but you’ll avoid starchy root foods like carrots, potatoes, turnips and parsnips). You can work in less-familiar veggies such as kohlrabi or daikon.
This doesn’t mean that you can never have some of your favorite foods again. Once you get past the adaptation phase and you have tested that you are in Ketosis, you can start experimenting with Keto versions of the foods you don't want to give up. Here are a few simple Keto recipes to start with. If you're looking for ready-to-eat Keto-friendly options, check out Country Archer Meat Sticks, Cuvee Coffee and FBOMB nut butters.
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?
To prevent side effects such as the keto flu, begin transitioning your meal plan gradually. Start by understanding how many carbohydrates you take in most days. Then begin slowly reducing your carbohydrate intake over a period of a few weeks while gradually increasing your intake of dietary fat to keep your calories the same. You should also make sure to seek guidance from a professional to make sure this plan works best for you and your health goals. “See a dietitian and adapt the diet to fit your long-term needs,” Spano recommends.
These are just a few samples of what a ketogenic diet menu looks like. As mentioned above, it comes down to eating some protein, adding as much fat as you like (within calorie limits) and choosing low carb veggies to round out the meal. Of course, you can't consume whole sticks of butter and expect to lose weight, but if you aren't trying to lose weight, eating enough saturated fat and adequate protein is a very good way to kill hunger.
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.
It’s important to remember that the goal of any dietary change is to promote a healthy lifestyle, so make sure to select a meal plan you can envision yourself following long term. If you know you will not be able to comply with such stringent carbohydrate restrictions for years to come, the ketogenic diet is most likely not the right choice for you.
The keto diet cuts out so many healthful foods and is so difficult to follow, even the most outspoken proponents of the plan say it should be followed only temporarily. The issue is that when people go off the plan, they gain the weight back—and then some, Macri says. Some people find success, though: Read the secrets of people who’ve maintained their weight loss.
Because people with type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, there’s a specific concern that the saturated fat in the diet may drive up LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol levels, and further increase the odds of heart problems. If you have type 2 diabetes, talk to your doctor before attempting a ketogenic diet. They may recommend a different weight-loss diet for you, like a reduced-calorie diet. Those with epilepsy should also consult their doctor before using this as part of their treatment plan.