The Ketogenic Diet is a low carbohydrate diet, consisting initially of less than 20 carbohydrates per day. Not per meal, yes, you heard me correctly, per day. It is not for the faint of heart and yes I am writing from experience. Of course I have tried it! Hasn’t everybody in America at some point who has wanted to lose weight? Does it work you ask? Of course it does! The problem is how long can you keep it up?
The ketogenic diet is not a benign, holistic or natural treatment for epilepsy; as with any serious medical therapy, there may be complications. These are generally less severe and less frequent than with anticonvulsant medication or surgery. Common but easily treatable short-term side effects include constipation, low-grade acidosis and hypoglycaemia if there is an initial fast. Raised levels of lipids in the blood affect up to 60% of children and cholesterol levels may increase by around 30%. This can be treated by changes to the fat content of the diet, such as from saturated fats towards polyunsaturated fats, and, if persistent, by lowering the ketogenic ratio. Supplements are necessary to counter the dietary deficiency of many micronutrients.
Meat – like grass-fed selections – and fresh veggies are more expensive than most processed or fast foods. What you spend on Keto-friendly foods will vary with your choices of protein source and quality. You can select less-expensive, leaner cuts of meat and fatten them up with some oil. Buying less-exotic, in-season veggies will help keep you within budget.
The other nutritional remedy for T2 diabetes is carbohydrate restriction. In a large, ongoing university-based study, 60% of patients with Type 2 diabetes reversed their diagnosis of diabetes after just one year on a ketogenic diet, supplemented by support via a mobile phone app.11 On this protocol, 94% of participants reduced or eliminated their need for insulin medications while improving the vast majority of cardiovascular risk factors.12
Several comprehensive studies and meta-analyses have demonstrated that after a few months or even a year of a low carb diet versus a moderate/high carb diet, there are no significant differences in the amount of weight lost (2,3,4,5). I will say, however, most of these diets are NOT keto and are simply lower carb (i.e. 20%). Also, long-term effects (beyond 1 year) are not often studied due to budgetary constraints, so interpret results as you wish.
A: The most common ways to track your carbs is through MyFitnessPal and their mobile app. You cannot track net carbs on the app, although you can track your total carb intake and your total fiber intake. To get your net carbs, just subtract your total fiber intake from your total carb intake. I have written an article on How to Track Carbs on MyFitnessPal.
These carbohydrate recommendations are not PER DAY, they are per meal. This is the major difference between Ketogenic diets and a consistent, low carbohydrate diet CDEs advocate for. 30-45 carbs per meal is considered a low carb diet. Eating this in the form of a Mediterranean diet is what I recommend and what my article outlined. In a perfect world, we try to have people steer clear of anything artificial or processed when possible. Just eat fresh foods, like our grandparents did, who never had these types of health problems.
Incidentally , there’s a very informative article on the bbc website about one of the last remaining hunter/gather societies left in the world, living in Tanzania. They have amazing gut health and no t2d. Would you like to guess at the type of diet they follow? This would be the caveman diet that the writer mentions, and yes these people might not live as long as us but the cause of death is never a lack of motivation to stay on a keto diet.
Meal planning also causes you to look at your calendar and consider everyones schedule. Grocery shopping can again become part of the family routine with everyone contributing to the meal. You’ll also notice a change in your weekly food budget. Susan pointed out that she had, “Given a presentation on the cost of buying food and cooking meals at home saved $1,200 a year versus eating out. Eating out on average costs people about $2,000 a year. Yes, there are some up front costs when buying the spices or equipment you may need but the second time you go to use them, you are saving instead of spending.”
Prior to the advent of exogenous insulin for the treatment of diabetes mellitus in the 1920's, the mainstay of therapy was dietary modification. Diet recommendations in that era were aimed at controlling glycemia (actually, glycosuria) and were dramatically different from current low-fat, high-carbohydrate dietary recommendations for patients with diabetes [1,2]. For example, the Dr. Elliot Joslin Diabetic Diet in 1923 consisted of "meats, poultry, game, fish, clear soups, gelatin, eggs, butter, olive oil, coffee, tea" and contained approximately 5% of energy from carbohydrates, 20% from protein, and 75% from fat . A similar diet was advocated by Dr. Frederick Allen of the same era .
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.