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What is the Ketogenic Diet?

Unless you've been living under a rock the last couple of years, you've probably heard of the Ketogenic diet, the popular weight-loss trend that has been plastering daytime talk shows and social media with successful stories of weight-loss transformations for months. 

The Ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb approach to weight loss that trains the body to produce energy by burning fat rather than relying on glucose (sugar).  

Hidden sugars are one of the biggest culprits of weight gain, as they are found in unlikely sources, such as low-fat packaged foods, starchy fruits, vegetables and grains. While it may seem contrary to conventional health wisdom, these seemingly healthy foods can be adding tons of sugar to your diet.

This is due to Amylase,  an enzyme found in the mouth and digestive system that converts carbohydrates and starches into sugar. Excess amounts of protein may also be converted to glucose through the process of Gluconeogenesis (GNG).

Because of GNG, certain diets such as the Atkins and Paleo diets that promote high-protein consumption may be less effective than the Keto diet, since the excess proteins that aren't being digested properly by the body are being converted into glucose and absorbed into the blood system.

Additionally, these diets do not do enough to emphasize the difference between healthy and unhealthy protein sources.  A great example of these unhealthy protein sources are bacon, and conventionally raised beef and chicken, which can be key sources of protein for people following the Atkins or Paleo diet plan.

The goal of the Ketogenic diet is to eliminate sugar intake and fuel your body with healthy fats to maintain  "ketosis", a state in which your body’s energy comes from burning fat. 

While a high-fat diet may sound scary, its important to recognize the difference between good fats and those which lead to weight gain, heart disease and other health issues. Fats containing sugar or trans fats cause oxidation in the blood which is what leads to higher risks of heart attacks and elevated cholesterol levels.

 

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The Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet

  • Weight loss
  • Decreased insulin levels 
  • Stored fat used as a primary fuel source
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Controlled appetite 
  • Restored cellular membrane health
  • Re-sensitized cellular membrane receptors that lead to more efficient hormones and metabolism

  

How to do it:

The trick to reaching and maintaining a level of ketosis in the body is by eliminating sugar and anything that coverts to sugar(starches, excess protein, carbs) from your diet and replacing them with good fats, moderate protein and minimal plant-based carbohydrates.  

A recommended breakdown of macronutrients for Ketosis looks something like this:

Healthy Fat – 70-80%

Healthy Protein – 25-30%

Healthy Carbohydrate – 5-10%

ketogenic-diet

 

So once you've swapped out your rice and pasta for cauliflower and zoodles, you may start to wonder how to monitor your ketosis. While there are physical indicators like weight loss, reduced appetite and improved energy, the most accurate way to measure ketosis is by monitoring blood ketone levels, which can be easily accomplished through the use of a ketone meter like the Abbott Precision XTRA. This tool measures both blood sugar and ketones which is far more accurate than competing products that measure ketones in urine.

When testing for ketosis, blood ketones should measure between .5 and 5.0 with the optimal range being between 1.5 and 3.0.

 

Fasting

If you're looking for a quick solution, fasting is can be a great way to break into ketosis. By completely removing all sources of energy, you force the body to shift from being a sugar burner to a fat burner. 

Before stating a fast, as with any dietary change, it is recommended that you speak with your primary healthcare provider, as fasting can be damaging or dangerous for people living with conditions such as diabetes or adrenal fatigue.

If you are considering a fast to jumpstart your Ketogenic diet,  it is important to stay hydrated. Track your water intake and be sure to consume a minimum of 2 liters per day. Consuming sea salt may also help keep energy levels up by replenishing your electrolytes. Fasting for at least 4 days can result in ketosis. Be sure to measure your ketone levels and other vitals during your fast. 

When reintroducing food after a period of fasting, it is important to start incrementally so as to not shock your digestive system. Small amounts of fat and small meals of fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut and miso can help ease you back into eating without knocking you out of ketosis. 

Here is a general outline of carb consumption to follow when breaking a fast and entering ketosis: 

Week 1: Eat less than 10 grams of carbs per day

Week 2: Eat less than 20 grams of carbs per day

Week 3: Eat less than 30 grams of carbs per day

Week 4: Eat less than 40 grams of carbs per day

Week 5: Eat less than 50 grams of carbs per day

 

Intermittent fasting can be another effective option for entering and maintaining ketosis quickly. You can follow Dr. Pompa’s 5-1-1 Rule: 

1. For 5 days of the week, eat a Ketogenic diet and check your blood ketones to make sure you’re in ketosis. 

2. 1 day of the week is a fast day, to support detoxification and give your digestive system a rest. 

                        There are three potential options for fasting: 

                                    A. Fast only on water for 24 hours or 

                                   B. Consume coconut oil or MCT oil throughout the day to maintain energy until                                              you can achieve a true fast or

                                   C. Limit intake to 500 daily calories during restricted hours (i.e. 1PM-7PM, skipping                                                    breakfast.)

 

3. 1 day of the week is a healthy moderate carb-loading or moderate protein-loading day. The higher carb load day serves to refill your glycogen stores, and reminds your body that it is not starving. The protein load day seems to work better for some patients, especially those with thyroid conditions.

On the days that you are not fasting, adding fats like coconut oil, grass-fed butter, ghee or X-Factor butter oil can help keep you in ketosis and promote healthy digestion and cell function. An additional 2 teaspoons of sea salt daily can keep your electrolytes balanced and stave off feelings of dizziness, weakness and rapid heart beat.

 

Meal Planning

Breakfast

Once in ketosis, listen to your body and eat when you are hungry. Most people won’t need breakfast once completely in ketosis but if you still want something in the morning I recommend organic coffee with 1-tablespoon coconut oil, 1 tablespoon of grass-fed butter and added stevia to taste.

Lunch

Salads with olive oil and avocado are great for ketosis and rich in good fats. Small amount of lean grass-fed protein can be added.

Dinner

For dinner, consider a fist sized amount of fatty, healthy protein like wild salmon or grass-fed beef with a hearty serving of non-starchy vegetables with olive oil or grass-fed butter and sea salt

Remember to follow your macronutrient ratios for each meal. Meal planning tools such as food diaries or MyFitnessPal can help you track your carb/protein/fat consumption throughout the day and keep you in ketosis. Be sure to weigh your food to ensure you are getting accurate measurements of your carbohydrate intake. You may be surprised to find out what an actual single serving of cheese is once you've measured it out. (Spoiler alert- it's probably less than you think!) 

The most common foods in the Ketogenic diet include: Grass-fed butter, grass-fed beef, wild salmon, coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut flakes, avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds, turkey bacon, and non-starchy vegetables.

Here is a Ketogenic Diet Nutrition Plan to help you get started:

 ketogenic meal plan

Topics: Weight Loss

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