Control portion size. Ideas for how to do this include downsizing your dishes, eating without watching TV or being otherwise distracted, and keeping unhealthy food out of sight. An important component of the DASH diet is also to eat smaller portions more frequently throughout the day. This is a way to reduce the risk of overeating and to distribute your energy evenly during the day.
In the 1960s, it was discovered that medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) produce more ketone bodies per unit of energy than normal dietary fats (which are mostly long-chain triglycerides). MCTs are more efficiently absorbed and are rapidly transported to the liver via the hepatic portal system rather than the lymphatic system. The severe carbohydrate restrictions of the classic ketogenic diet made it difficult for parents to produce palatable meals that their children would tolerate. In 1971, Peter Huttenlocher devised a ketogenic diet where about 60% of the calories came from the MCT oil, and this allowed more protein and up to three times as much carbohydrate as the classic ketogenic diet. The oil was mixed with at least twice its volume of skimmed milk, chilled, and sipped during the meal or incorporated into food. He tested it on twelve children and adolescents with intractable seizures. Most children improved in both seizure control and alertness, results that were similar to the classic ketogenic diet. Gastrointestinal upset was a problem, which led one patient to abandon the diet, but meals were easier to prepare and better accepted by the children. The MCT diet replaced the classic ketogenic diet in many hospitals, though some devised diets that were a combination of the two.
Yancy WS, Olsen MK, Guyton JR, Bakst RP, Westman EC; “A Low-Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet versus a Low-Fat Diet To Treat Obesity and Hyperlipidemia: A Randomized, Controlled Trial” (2004) Annals of Internal Medicine 140(10): 769-777. Accessed 6/4/2018 https://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/717451/low-carbohydrate-ketogenic-diet-versus-low-fat-diet-treat-obesity
Drink lots of water. This is especially crucial on a low carb or keto diet. Why? When you eat carbohydrates, your body stores the extra as glycogen in the liver, where they are bound to water molecules. Eating low carb depletes this glycogen, which allows you to burn fat – but it also means you are storing less water, making it easier to get dehydrated. Instead of the traditional recommendation of 8 cups of water per day, aim for 16 cups when following a low carb lifestyle.
“We do not recommend the diet,” he says. “It works for weight loss, and the liver insulin resistance we observe might be transient. But the diet is simply not necessary and probably not the best choice for weight loss,” he says. “Ketogenic diets are often very low in fiber, which may have bad effects on gut health and overall health, especially over a long term. Diets high in fiber and low in fat work equally well or better than low-carb plans, in many studies, to achieve weight loss and lower glucose intolerance.”
Keep a food diary. In it, record your current daily eating habits. Write down what you eat for every meal of the day, and take note if you skip a meal. If you regularly skip breakfast, jot this down as well. Also write down any snacks you eat, even if you do this mindlessly - say, while watching TV. This diary will allow you to see where you stand right now in terms of eating practices and where you can start to make changes.
Fat isn’t unlimited either. As with wine, it's possible to get too much of a good thing when it comes to healthy fats. The American Heart Association points out that while the Mediterranean diet meets heart-healthy diet limits for saturated fat, your total fat consumption could be greater than the daily recommended amount if you aren't careful. That’s 65 g per day. (32)
The 2-week turbocharge is a great way to kick off the plan: all the claims about resetting your body's expectations proved true for me. In the 3 months I've been on this plan I started a new job; celebrated my anniversary, Halloween, my birthday, & Thanksgiving, and now find myself surrounded by all the Christmas treats...and still find it easier than it's ever been to make conscious choices about what I eat.
The types of foods listed are not comprehensive. For example, avocados are not included so it is not clear if they would be categorized as a fruit or a fat serving. Certain foods are placed into questionable categories: pretzels are placed in the grain group even though they have fairly low nutrient content and no fiber; frozen yogurt is placed in the dairy group even though most brands contain little calcium and vitamin D and are high in added sugar. The general term “cereals” are placed in the grain group but different types of cereals can be highly variable in nutrient and sugar content.
“This is a good example of a study where you should not directly apply the information to what you are eating as an individual,” Stefanski says. “The research is interesting, but the study period examined was only three days. While this study showed insulin resistance, it did not in fact show that the mice had diabetes. Making the leap from the results of this study to a headline that concludes a ketogenic diet will cause type 2 diabetes is not supported.”
On a ketogenic diet, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run mostly on fat, burning fat 24-7. When insulin levels become very low, fat burning can increase dramatically. It becomes easier to access your fat stores to burn them off. This is great if you’re trying to lose weight, but there are also other less obvious benefits, such as less hunger and a steady supply of energy. This may help keep you alert and focused.