The Ketogenic Diet – Is it for You?

The ketogenic diet is on the rise, but is it for you? Learn more about this high-fat, low-carb eating pattern including what to eat and what to avoid.

The ketogenic (“keto”) diet has been getting a lot of attention among medical and nutrition communities and in the media – appearing in cookbooks, on podcasts, in magazines, and more. Customers at local coffee shops are trading in their lattes for bulletproof coffee – adding butter instead of skim milk to their morning cup. Doctors are prescribing the ketogenic diet to patients with chronic diseases. And the general public is even using the high-fat, low-carb diet for weight loss. The ketogenic diet is being implemented for all of these reasons and more. So what is all the hype about and is the ketogenic diet for you?

Ketogenic Diet

 

What is the Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet that sends the body into ketosis, a state in which your body uses fat instead of carbohydrates as the main source of energy. In ketosis, the body cannot fuel itself on carbohydrates alone and therefore, begins breaking down fat cells into fatty acids and ketones (a byproduct from the breakdown of fatty acids) to use for energy. Compared to the traditional balanced diet of 40/30/30 (carb/protein/fat), the keto diet typically focuses only 5% of daily calories from carbohydrate (about 20-50 g/day), 15-20%from protein and 70-80% of daily calories from fat. (1)

 

Is the Ketogenic Diet Beneficial?

The ketogenic diet has been found to help manage the symptoms and the progression of many chronic diseases including neurological diseases, multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer. Scientists have found that children with epilepsy are able to reduce their seizures by following a ketogenic diet. (2) And studies have found that the ketogenic diet supports weight loss in obese adults – helping to significantly decrease total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, and increase HDL cholesterol. (3)

Health professionals are also promoting a ketogentic diet to help their patients in other ways. Registered dietitian, Meg Doll, uses the diet to help her clients recover from disordered eating, while Franziska Spritzer uses the diet to treat clients with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), diabetes, and more.

 

Is the Ketogenic Diet Harmful?

Some individuals on the ketogenic diet have reported incidences of the “keto flu,” experiencing symptoms like constipation, hair loss, kidney stones and nutrient deficiencies. (2) In addition, common side effects of ketosis include bad breath, excessive thirst, frequent urination, stomach pain, weakness and nausea. (4) Certain individuals – anyone without a gallbladder, those who have undergone gastric bypass, anyone with pancreatic insufficiency, those prone to kidney stones, or individuals with rare metabolic disorders that interfere with fat metabolism – may have difficulty digesting fats and should be careful following the ketogenic diet.

 

Is the Ketogenic Diet Right for You?

The answer is…it depends. The safety and success using the ketogenic diet depends on the individual and the foods choices selected on the diet. Everyone is different. While some thrive using the ketogenic diet, others may not. Therefore, if you are interested in implementing the ketogenic diet, consult your doctor and seek support from a dietitian before moving forward.

 

What to Eat on a Ketogenic Diet

 

What Can you Eat on a Ketogenic Diet?

A high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet should be full of a variety of nutrient-dense foods including healthy fats, plenty of protein and a wide assortment of vegetables.

 

Foods to Eat

  • Fats & Oils
    • Avocados
    • Olive Oil
    • Olives
    • Nuts (hazelnuts, pecans, cashews, Brazil nuts, Macadamia nuts, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, nut butters)
    • Seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flax seed)
    • Coconut oil
    • Butter
  • Protein
    • Beef
    • Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck, wild game)
    • Pork
    • Lamb
    • Fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna, cod, halibut, snapper, trout, catfish, mahi-mahi)
    • Seafood (crab, shrimp, clams, mussels, oysters, squid, octopus, lobster, scallops)
    • Eggs
    • Organ Meats (liver, kidney, tongue)
  • Non-Starchy Vegetables
    • All non-starchy vegetables such as leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables are allowed on the ketogenic diet. View the full list of low-carb vegetables.

Foods to Limit 

  • Dairy
    • Full-Fat Plain Yogurt
    • Full-Fat Cottage Cheese
    • Hard Cheeses (Parmesan, Swiss, feta, cheddar, etc.)
    • Soft Cheeses (mozzarella, brie, bleu, colby, monterey jack, etc.)
    • Sour Cream
    • Cream Cheese
    • Heavy Whipping Cream
    • Mayonnaise
  • Starchy Vegetables
    • Potatoes (sweet potatoes, yams, white potatoes)
    • Carrots
    • Parsnips
    • Beets
    • Okra
    • Peas
    • Artichoke
  •  Fruit
    • Berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries)
    • Cherries
  • Beans & Legumes
    • Garbanzo
    • Black
    • Kidney
    • Pinto
    • Lima
    • Soy
    • Lentils

Foods to Avoid

  • Fats & Oils
    • Trans Fat
    • Hydrogenated Oils
  • Sugar
    • All sugar sources including cane sugar, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, honey, maple syrup and any products containing these.
  • Grains
    • All grains such as wheat, rye, oats, rice, quinoa, corn and any products made from grains like pasta, bread, crackers, tortillas, etc.

 

 

Ketogenic Diet Meal Plan

Still curious about what a typical day on the ketogenic would look like? Below is a one-day keto meal plan.

 

Ketogenic Diet Meal Plan

 

 

Learn More – Ketogenic Diet Experts and Resources

 

This post was written by Eat Chic Chicago intern Jamie Magdic of Perfectly Imperfect. Jamie is currently pursuing a degree in Dietetics from Eastern Michigan University.  Her interest in nutrition focuses on holistic health and intuitive eating.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *