The Keto Diet
The ketogenic diet consists of eating meals high in fat, moderate in protein, and very low in carbohydrates. How can this make you lose weight? Normally, when you consume carbohydrates, your body uses them to fuel your brain and muscles. If you restrict your carb intake, your body has to turn to another source for energy. In the absence of carbs, the liver converts fat into the glucose that your brain and body need. This process is called gluconeogenesis, and the results can be striking.
A ketogenic diet can help you lose weight, but even more than that it can decrease insulin levels and improve insulin sensitivity (very important for diabetics and those with metabolic syndrome). It can reduce blood sugar levels, triglyceride levels, and LDL (bad cholesterol). It can also reduce chronic inflammation in the body. There is even some research that shows that the presence of ketones in the body can have benefits for those who have cancer, Alzheimer’s, and epilepsy. A ketogenic diet aids in fat loss and at the same time preserves muscle mass.
To get started, here are some basic rules to follow. You will want to eat healthy fats and meats—organic butter and heavy cream, and grass-fed beef and organic chicken and oily fish. Avoid farm-raised fish, as it is not as high in fat and may also contain harmful chemicals. You will be eating unprocessed cheese, whole eggs, olive and coconut oils, nuts, seeds, and low-carb vegetables. Good low-carb and high fiber vegetables to include in your diet are: bell peppers, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, zucchini, spinach, avocados (which are technically a fruit), cauliflower, green beans, lettuce, kale, cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, celery, tomatoes, radishes, eggplant, cabbage, and artichokes. Garlic and onions are OK to eat as well, even though they have a few more carbs in them, since they are usually eaten in small quantities and are good for flavoring foods.
Eliminate most carbs from your diet. This means eating whole foods & being a “label-reader”. You will need to avoid sugar and other sweets, alcohol, grains, bread, pasta, beans, potatoes, low-fat milk, cereals, fruits, and vegetables that are starchy. You should restrict your carb intake to 30-50 grams per day to start, but typically to achieve ketosis you will need less than 20 grams daily. Your carbs should come from the vegetables that are listed above and you need to be cautious with fruits and even carrots as they contain many carbs! This is difficult at first, but you will find that this diet keeps you full, and most will lose the craving for sweets. There are, however, recipes for ketogenic pasta, bread, and sweets using stevia as a sweetener. A helpful App for learning more about ketogenic diet is called Ketogenic app. Also, for recipes, you may download Diet Doctor App for free. There are dairy free recipes and many simple recipes as this doesn’t need to be time consuming either.
How much protein should you consume? A good way to tell the amount of protein that is right for you is to take your ideal weight in pounds, (lean body mass), and divide it by 2.2. This will give you the amount of protein in grams that you should consume daily. For example, if your ideal body weight is 120 pounds, divided by 2.2, gives you an amount of 54 grams of protein to consume per day. By eating only moderate amounts of protein, your body will continue to burn fat for energy. As a side note, the more active you are, the more protein you can consume.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to calorie restriction on this diet. Some experts say that you should limit your calories to no more than 2000 per day. But most think that it is not necessary to count your calories, since this diet keeps you full and naturally keeps you from consuming too much.
How can you tell if you are “in ketosis”? Many people will notice that their breath smells bad, and that their urine doesn’t smells “fruity”. Gum or sugar-free mints will take care of the breath issue. You can also buy strips to test your urine for ketones. If you stick with the diet, you will notice that you are losing weight. Initially some may notice decreased energy levels. But if you stick with the diet, this problem goes away as your body gets used to using fat instead of carbs as fuel. Most people report that their energy levels increase, sometimes even dramatically, after a few weeks of being on this diet. Most people find they only need to do keto for 3-6 months and studies will say no longer than one year.
If you have symptoms of “keto flu” or better known as withdrawal from sugar/carbs, you can use Metagenics exogenous ketones for a few days, but do not continue to use them every day or long term. You can also use this occasionally if you consume too many carbs to help put you back in ketosis within 15 minutes.
Metagenics also has a keto shake that is high in protein and low in carbs that is a great way to get your day started or use as a meal replacement. We recommend two scoops daily. You can also add Metagenics MCT oil 2 tsp to your black coffee in the morning. The MCT oil is a medium chain triglyceride that supports your mitochondria and your cognitive health. It helps you to feel full and help with fat loss.
If you are diabetic, you will want to monitor your blood sugar closely with your health care provider as you may need to decrease your medications.
So please speak with your health care provider if you would like to give this diet a try—it just may be the right one for you!
Blessings to you,
Nurse Anne & Brandy Manetta, FNP-C, IFM-C and Final Edits by Dr. Lisa Miller