Cold fried chicken breast (don’t eat the skin or coating). Hint: The chicken doesn’t have to be cold. This could be a fast-food lunch but only if you can choose whole chicken parts. (Definitely do not choose chicken tenders, patties, crispy chicken, or nuggets. They have too much breading for the amount of meat.) Most fried chicken places have coleslaw as a side. When you get back to your office, you can have the carrots and Jell‑O.
On the ketogenic diet, carbohydrates are restricted and so cannot provide for all the metabolic needs of the body. Instead, fatty acids are used as the major source of fuel. These are used through fatty-acid oxidation in the cell's mitochondria (the energy-producing parts of the cell). Humans can convert some amino acids into glucose by a process called gluconeogenesis, but cannot do this by using fatty acids. Since amino acids are needed to make proteins, which are essential for growth and repair of body tissues, these cannot be used only to produce glucose. This could pose a problem for the brain, since it is normally fuelled solely by glucose, and most fatty acids do not cross the blood–brain barrier. However, the liver can use long-chain fatty acids to synthesise the three ketone bodies β-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate and acetone. These ketone bodies enter the brain and partially substitute for blood glucose as a source of energy.
The ketogenic diet seems straightforward. Unlike a typical low-calorie diet, however, a high-fat diet requires careful monitoring. In fact, you may start the diet in a hospital. Your doctor needs to monitor both blood glucose and ketone levels to make sure that the diet isn’t causing any adverse effects. Once your body adjusts to the diet, you may still need to see your doctor once or twice a month for testing and medication adjustments.
In case you haven’t jumped on the keto train and are wondering what exactly all the hype is about, here you go: The diet is very high fat and (almost) no carb. The ratio of fat to carbs and protein is 4:1. The goal of the ketogenic diet is to burn fat for energy rather than carbohydrates, resulting in weight loss. And, advocates claim there are many benefits beyond the number on the scale going down.
A 2016 study in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal that analyzed data from Predimed – a five-year trial including 7,447 adults with Type 2 diabetes or at risk for cardiovascular disease who were assigned either a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil, the same diet supplemented with nuts or a control diet – found that people on the Mediterranean versions added the fewest inches to their waistlines. The olive oil folks lost the most weight.
Full disclosure: I have followed a low-carb diet for nearly a decade and find no problem adhering to it. I’ve lost weight and all my cardiovascular biomarkers have improved. Moreover, I’ve studied the science and history behind low-carbohydrate diets, so beyond my personal experience, I bring an evidence-based perspective. (Previously, for 25+ years, I adhered faithfully to a “mostly plants” regimen of fruits, veggies, and whole grains, including my own homemade 7-grain bread, while exercising religiously. Yet during that time my blood lipids were unhealthy, and I never could shake an extra 10-20 pounds.)
Sleep enough – for most people at least seven hours per night on average – and keep stress under control. Sleep deprivation and stress hormones raise blood sugar levels, slowing ketosis and weight loss a bit. Plus they might make it harder to stick to a keto diet, and resist temptations. So while handling sleep and stress will not get you into ketosis on it’s own, it’s still worth thinking about.