Keto Info: Go from Interested to Informed about the Ketogenic Diet

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.

There are different ways to follow the ketogenic diet that include:

Standard approach

For the standard ketogenic diet, 20 to 50 grams per day come from carbs and 0.8 to 1.2 grams per kilogram of your body weight come from protein (less for sedentary individuals and a greater amount for more active individuals) and the rest of your calories come from healthy fats. The grams of carbs refer to net carbs. Net carbs refer to the total you get when you subtract the number of grams of fibre from the total number of grams of carbohydrates. Here is a simple formula to calculate net carbs:
TOTAL CARBS – FIBRE = NET CARBS, i.e. an item with 10 grams of carbs and 7 grams of fibre would have 3 grams of net carbs.

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet

The cyclical version of the ketogenic diet involves you periodically eating more carbs to temporarily come out of ketosis. You could do this one day a week, one day a month or another frequency – it is up to you.

Targeted Ketogenic Diet

The targeted ketogenic diet is specifically for high-intensity athletes. On this diet you would go low-carb for all meals except for the meal right before a high-intensity activity. About 30 minutes to one hour before the activity, you consume 25 to 50 grams of net carbohydrates.5

Less Strict Modified Ketogenic Diet

If you want to gradually transition into a ketogenic diet or do not want to do the standard version, you can do a more moderate version where you aim for 30 to 50 grams of net carbs as outlined in the DrAxe.com article “Ketogenic Diet Food List, Including Best vs. Worst Keto Foods” under the subtitle “Modified Keto Diet and Ketogenic Diet Food List.”6

Be Careful and Do Your Research

The ketogenic diet is not something to do haphazardly or half-way. You need to do your research and do things safely. There are possible negative side-effects that could make you worse than before you began the diet. If you have gallbladder problems or no gallbladder, you want to be particularly careful on this diet because of the high fat content. Also, you need to eat a lot of vegetables, including your leafy green vegetables (like romain, spinach and kale) and cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower), not just healthy high-fat foods. The greens and other vegetables will help your body to be healthy and get much-needed nutrients on the ketogenic diet. You may also want to take supplements, since you may be eating very few or no grains and a limited number of fruits – certain fruits may put you out of ketosis due to their level of sugar and therefore cannot be consumed.

There are helpful articles and videos on the Internet to help you navigate the ketogenic diet, if you choose to try it. Remember there are different diets that have their own merits and one of those other diets may be better suited to your health and lifestyle requirements, the ketogenic diet is just one of those options, not the only option.

Two websites that I find helpful for a range of articles on the ketogenic diet are DrJockers.com and DrAxe.com. There are videos by Dr. Eric Berg that give helpful information about the ketogenic diet. One note about Dr. Berg is that he is a strict advocate of the ketogenic diet and I have not personally found that his approach is as flexible as other ketogenic-supporting alternative doctors. Therefore, I would recommend that you look at the resources from Dr. David Jockers and Dr. Josh Axe that are linked to in this article as well as other articles on the keto diet that they have on their websites for a more balanced view of this diet and alternative versions and ways of doing it like keto-cycling. However, Dr. Berg’s videos are worth looking at since he has a lot of information about the ketogenic diet that may be useful to you.

By looking at different sources of information, you could form a more complete view of the keto diet – both the good and the bad – and find a version that works for you – if you decide to do this diet in the first place. After learning about it, you may decide that you do not want to do this diet at all and prefer to take another approach to your health. There is also something called the keto flu that has a variety of symptoms that you should look into.7

Remember different people have different needs and body types and what may work well for one may be a disaster for another. Instead of jumping on the latest diet trend, even those that are scientifically sound, take time to research the eating method(s) that interest you. Don’t just pay attention to the benefits, but also the negatives, such as possible deficiencies and side-effects. If you implement a particular eating plan, pay close attention to how your body is reacting and make the necessary adjustments or try a new eating method.

Extra Resources

In addition to the resources in the References section at the end of this article, here are some other specific resources for you to look at:

Dr. Berg’s Mini-course on the Ketogenic Diet

Ketosis Mini-Course: Overview (https://youtu.be/Of6DsUHDliA)

Ketosis Mini-Course: Why Does Keto Work! (https://youtu.be/M8xFuhsm0Y0)

Ketosis Mini-Course: How to do Ketosis (https://youtu.be/-3l-DGKUZPo)

How to Achieve Keto Adaptation and Intermittent Fasting (https://youtu.be/UF79VHGILMM)

Other Dr. Berg Videos

The 16 Most Common Keto Side-effects and Remedies (https://youtu.be/thRboMXI4Rc)

Fatigued on the Ketosis Diet? Here’s What to Do! (https://youtu.be/thRboMXI4Rc)

How to do a Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Article: How to Follow a Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Video: How to Follow a Vegan Ketogenic Diet  (https://youtu.be/nmhaj7h8s_w)

References

  1. Dr. David Jockers [author]. DrJockers.comhttps://drjockers.com/ [homepage].
    6 Ways a Ketogenic Diet Improves Brain Function” – https://drjockers.com/ketogenic-diet-improves-brain-function/ [article]. May 30, 2018 [date page accessed].
  2. Dr. David Jockers [author]. DrJockers.comhttps://drjockers.com/ [homepage].
    9 Proven Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet” – https://drjockers.com/benefits-ketogenic-diet/ [article]. May 30, 2018 [date page accessed].
  3. DrAxe.comhttps://draxe.com/ [homepage]. “Ketogenic Diet Food List, Including Best vs. Worst Keto Foods” – https://draxe.com/hub/keto-diet/ketogenic-diet-food-list/ [article]. May 30, 2018 [date page accessed].
  4. Dr. David Jockers [author]. DrJockers.comhttps://drjockers.com/ [homepage].”How to Follow a Ketogenic Diet” – https://drjockers.com/follow-ketogenic-diet/ [article]. May 30, 2018 [date page accessed].
  5. Ibid (“How to Follow a Ketogenic Diet“).
  6. DrAxe.com. “Ketogenic Diet Food List, Including Best vs. Worst Keto Foods” (see citation #3).
  7. Dr. David Jockers [author]. DrJockers.comhttps://drjockers.com/ [homepage].
    7 Ways to Prevent Keto Flu” – https://drjockers.com/7-ways-prevent-keto-flu/ [article]. May 30, 2018 [date page accessed].
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