The ketogenic diet has been around for many years but has recently become increasingly popular due to its positive impacts on weight management. I decided to give the ketogenic diet a try, not to necessarily pursue weight loss but more so for the mental health benefits it touts like increased focus and mental clarity along with sustained energy levels throughout the day. The ketogenic diet has decades of research behind it and shows positive impacts on everything from controlling drug-resistance epilepsy to reversing type-2 diabetes. While some may view this diet as extreme, I chose to look at what I could gain from implementing it versus what foods I had to go without.
I am now four weeks into the ketogenic diet and I can say I honestly feel many of the benefits promised including a significant reduction in appetite, reduction in energy slumps in the afternoon and a consistent mental clarity and focus that I was lacking before. I do have some suggestions for people who may be considering incorporating the ketogenic diet into their lifestyle. Below I have listed three main points to consider along with resources to help you begin your high fat journey.
Keto is a high FAT diet, not a high PROTEIN diet
I have had many patients come into my office and say they are on a “keto” diet but they are actually on a low-carb, high protein diet and this does not create ketosis. Eliminating dietary sources of carbohydrates, including all starches, fruits and some dairy, is the beginning, but ensuring one has sufficient fat in their diet is also important. Ketogenic diets target reducing net carbohydrates to less than 50g of net carbohydrates (net carbohydrates is the total carbohydrates minus the grams of fiber) and roughly 65-70% of the diet coming from fat. This leaves a remaining 20-25% coming from protein, which is less than many people would think. The reason for keeping protein low to moderate is important is because a portion of protein is converted into glucose during metabolism, so keeping protein moderated contributes to keeping blood glucose levels low. The high fat intake is what promotes satiety and a reduction in appetite and helps you go a longer time in between meals. I used to eat two to three snacks per day and I can now go without snacking at all since my meals are much more filling. Protein is an integral part to this diet but considering protein as “free” just because it is not a carbohydrate could prevent you from feeling the full benefits of this diet.
Keto takes planning and tracking
I tried the ketogenic diet a few years back and that attempt failed miserably; the main reason I believe is because I was not planning my meals out and I was not tracking my intake. Hitting the ketogenic macronutrient breakdown (roughly 65-70% fat, 20-25% protein, and <10% carbohydrates) can be challenging in the beginning and if you are not tracking your intake on a website/ application like My Fitness Pal it is easy to miss the mark. Over these past three weeks I have planned out my meals on the weekend and I log all my foods into My Fitness Pal first thing in the morning. This pushes me to not only think through my food choices for the day but also to ensure I stay on track with my targets. Planning my meals also helps me cook at home much more often, which saves me time and money, and ensures I get a good amount of fiber which can be difficult initially. Tracking and measuring my food does not take any more time than it does to watch the news for fifteen minutes before we run out the door. When learning a new way of eating it is important to have notes and think through your day which makes these dietary patterns easier to adapt and will ensure that this diet turns into innovative ways of thinking about the foods we put in our bodies.
Keto MAY help with weight loss
Much to my chagrin, the first time I tried keto I did not lose any weight, but this was mainly due to one factor, I did not make a caloric deficit. When I began my journey the second time around I made sure that did not happen by tracking my intake as we just discussed. Ketogenic dieting holds many benefits, but you still must create a caloric deficit with it to see the scale go down. Being in nutritional ketosis does not mean you can eat all the fat and calories you want and throw out the principle of portion control. My experience with this style of eating has shown me how being in ketosis makes it easier to reduce how much you eat since fat helps you stay fuller longer and being fat-adapted will get your body used to running off its fat stores. It has been easier to reduce the volume of food at meals without my stomach growling an hour later and this has created a larger calorie deficit and elicited weight loss.
I hope this firsthand experience of my efforts with the ketogenic diet will be educational and spark your interest in learning more about this lifestyle. Please keep in mind that this style of eating is not safe for everyone (especially insulin dependent diabetics, pregnant women, or children and adults with other medical conditions) so please speak with your physician before attempting it yourself. That being said, if this lifestyle is for you, do your research, enjoy the clarity and increased energy that the ketogenic diet can bring and embrace the avocado & bacon!
Ketogenic Diet Resources:
- Quick Start Guide & Research on Ketogenic Dieting: https://ketogenic.com/
- How to Guides, Supplements, Blog: https://www.perfectketo.com/guide/ultimate-guide-to-ketosis/
- Meals Ideas, Recipes, Tutorials: ketoconnect.net