What is a ketogenic diet?
Ketosis is a metabolic process that occurs when the body does not have enough glucose for energy. Stored fats are then broken down for energy which causes the body to produce ketones. Ketones can be used by the body for energy.
The ketogenic diet was originally developed and used for several decades to treat epilepsy in children (Epilepsia, 2008, NIH).
Ketogenic diet is highly effective for treating obesity and type 2 diabetes (Paoli, NIH). People with some health conditions may need to be supervised while following a ketogenic diet, including those with insulin resistance, diabetes, or on a prescription diuretic. It can be difficult to find a doctor knowledgable about low carb diets, so we would encourage you to call around.
Ketogenic diets are highly effective for weight loss and treating various medical conditions. Some people choose to use it for weight loss and then maintain on a different variation of LCHF (low carb, high fat) while others choose ketogenic as a way of life.
How do I begin?
An easy way to begin a ketogenic diet is to eat no more than 20 carbs (net or total), 15% protein, and 80% fat. You can take a look at our seven day menu. Tracking in an app like MyFitnessPal is helpful because it provides macros percentages. Fatty coffee can help keep your fat percentage high. Focus on eating high fat foods such as avocados, butter, fatty meats, heavy cream, and coconut oil. Preparing fat bombs can help as well.
The menu will usually look like this:
- Breakfast: Fatty coffee and cream cheese pancakes
- Lunch: avocados stuffed with smoked salmon and cream cheese
- Dinner: Bacon wrapped jalepenos stuffed with cream cheese
- Breakfast: sausage and egg avocado boats
- Lunch: zoodles and shrimp
- Snack: chocolate peanut butter fat bombs
- Dinner: steak in Gorgonzola sauce and asparagus in butter
Foods to Eat:
- Fatty steaks
- Cream cheese
- Heavy cream
- Coconut milk
- Coconut oil
- Avocado oil
- Pork chops
- Pork rinds
- Green beans
- Almond butter
- Ricotta cheese
- Small serving of berries
- Swerve sweetner
- Garlic and herbs
- Sugar free flavored syrups
- Sour cream
- Fat bombs
Foods to Avoid:
- Granola bar
- Large servings of fruit
- Potatoes and yams
- Most sauces
- Fast food
Listed above are several examples, not a complete list of foods allowed on the diet. It is important to keep in mind that weight loss happens fast, and this diet does not have to be forever if you do not wish for it to be. There are other versions of LCHF (low carb high fat) that can be followed once the weight has been lost. Also, many people do not have to exercise for the majority of the time. We often say, weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise.
What to Expect:
People often lose weight fairly quickly in the beginning. It is not uncommon to lose between five and ten pounds on the first week. You can also experience hunger the first couple of weeks while your body is adapting to this new metabolic state. Hang in there, because after a couple of weeks many people report not being hungry at all and finding it difficult to eat all of their calories.
The authors of this blog have all had great success with ketogenic diet. Lee went from a size 16 to a size 4 in one year and is in the best shape of her life. Summer has lost 42 pounds to date (with 30 to go) while injured and unable to exercise and having to stay under 3,000 steps per day. Heather has lost 25 pounds and hopes to reach her goal this year. The one thing we’ve all done is chart our food daily. We converted from paleo and the one thing we all agree on is that ketogenic diets are less forgiving of cheats (accidental or intentional). Some people report the ability to consume a low carb alcoholic beverage on occasion; our experience has been this creates stalls. It is acceptable once you’ve reached your goal, but it’s best to avoid alcohol while actively losing weight. It will not take your body out of ketosis, however. We’ve also found it helpful to weigh daily, however some people (especially those with a history of eating disorders) may wish to avoid this. The scale can be a helpful tool by revealing which foods your body tolerates, and which it doesn’t.
While this diet can be quite the adjustment at first because there is so much cooking and charting involved, many people find the fast weight loss motivating. I personally lose around ten pounds per month in ketosis. Cooking and freezing meals for the following week on Sunday will set you up for success. After two weeks, you’ll probably find it easy to just skip a meal. Avoiding restaurants may also help you lose faster. Water is very important during the ketogenic diet.
This is not a full explanation of the ketogenic diet, but hopefully it will give you enough information to begin your research. The easiest way to learn is to just start and begin tracking your food each day. We also have a Facebook group called Ketogenic & Intermittent Fasting: For the Love of Lard. Please connect with us there and share your journey!
Below are pictures of some of the many great recipes, including bagels made from eggs and mozzarella.
Keto bagel with cream cheese, lox, and red onion.