The ketogenic diet (referred to as the “keto diet” or “keto” for short) is currently one of the most popular diet trends on the Internet today and for good reason. The ketogenic diet is being used for a variety of reasons, which include losing weight, battling cancer, treating autism and helping those suffering from epilepsy.
Rather than being a new fad, the ketogenic diet was used as far back as the 1920s for reducing seizures in pediatric epilepsy cases. In addition to epilepsy, the ketogenic diet is being highlighted as a treatment for those with mental disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.1 Due to its anti-inflammatory effect, “a ketogenic diet may be well suited for improving cancer outcomes, autoimmunity, neurological disorders, and metabolic disorders alike.”2
Summary of the Ketogenic Diet
In a nutshell, the ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb, moderate protein diet.
On a “strict” (standard) keto diet, fats typically provides about 70 percent to 80 percent of total daily calories, protein about 15 percent to 20 percent, and carbohydrates just around 5 percent.3
The goal of the ketogenic diet is to go from burning glucose (sugar) for fuel, which is what most of us burn and what our body favours as a fuel source, to burning fat for fuel instead.4 When blood levels drop to a certain point, your body goes from burning glucose for energy to burning ketones for energy. Ketones are produced by the liver from both dietary and body fat. They are water-soluble compounds formed from fatty acids that cross into the cellular mitochondria where they are metabolized for energy.
While most people use meat in their ketogenic diets it is possible to do vegetarian or vegan versions of the diet. These non-meat keto versions are much more restrictive than a meat keto diet, but allow vegetarians and vegans to experience the benefits of a ketogenic diet without sacrificing their dietary principles. A vegan keto diet that shuns all animal-based products is more restrictive than a vegetarian keto diet that allows eggs and dairy products, but both are possible with keto. Actually, some of the key foods on all keto diets, including those with meat, are vegan like coconut milk and oil, olive oil, avocados and high-fat nuts like macadamias. See the Extra Resources section for links to an article and video talking about How to Follow a Vegan Ketogenic Diet.