Updated: May 6
Everything you need to know about starting a Ketogenic diet properly. There are many different types of Ketogenic diets and not all of them are created equal. All will get you into ketosis, but some won't promote the healing and powerful therapeutic properties. Learn more about the different types of diets in my blog post (coming soon).
The Ketogenic Diet has never been more popular or more confusing. I often see people not knowing where to start or worse making mistakes that are holding them back from achieving their goals. I created this guide for that purpose.
The Ketogenic Diet was invented in the 1920s by Dr. Russel Wilder to treat epilepsy. However, ketosis has been used since the time of Hippocrates to treat all sorts of ailments through caloric restriction or fasting.
To treat epilepsy Hippocrates had his patients fast. Not knowing at the time that the abstinence from food led to the generation of ketones which allow the brain metabolism to remain in a homeostatic state. Hippocrates used fasting for everything. From the common cold to cancer fasting was the preferred method of treatment. So, what happened?
Fasting and the Ketogenic Diet left the mainstream, only to be used when every last drug option was exhausted. This was the case for Charlie Abrahams. Charlie's parents tried everything, but nothing worked.
Until, the Ketogenic Diet was mentioned. Charlie is now seizure-free and teaches elementary school. So, fasting and the Ketogenic Diet left the mainstream, only to be used when every last drug option was exhausted.
The answer is quite simple. It is part convenience and part business. Arguably, it is much more convenient to take a pill than to completely overhaul a person's diet and lifestyle. Let's face it no one wants to be the oddball at a family gathering.
The Ketogenic Diet has numerous uses, but of course, it's first use was in the treatment of epilepsy. Now the Ketogenic Diet is most famous for quick and effective fat loss, but it is so much more than that. There are people starving cancerous glycolytic tumors and reversing their Type 2 Diabetes. This is the real power of Keto. Fat loss is just a bonus. In order to lose weight, you must first get healthy.
Today the Ketogenic Diet is being used for many different types of conditions...
Several different types of epilepsy, such as Dravet's syndrome, Doose syndrome, Intractable epilepsy, and Infantile Syndrome. Metabolic syndrome, which is classified by a large waist line, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, and elevated fasting blood sugar. Glycogen storage disease, Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), type 1 and 2 diabetes, some cancers, autism, Parkinson's disease, obesity, and GLUT-1 deficiency syndrome.
What is Clean Keto?
Clean Keto is when a real whole foods-based approach is taken. For example, instead of using Splenda as a sweetener, you would opt for Stevia. Or instead of eating fake cheese real cheese is used.
I do not include whether it's organic or not in my description because I do not think that that really should define Clean Keto. I don't buy organic avocados and I don't buy all organic and pastured meat, but I do the best I can. Basically, please do not do Dirty Keto. This variation will be explained in my future blog posts.
Three Reasons Why You Should Eat Clean
Fat isn't only generated for the purpose of storing excess calories. Your body also produces fat to store toxins. By eating toxic food you are slowing weight loss and possibly not feeling as well on Keto.
You will feel better! The more real the food the more bioavailable the nutrition. Especially, if these nutrients are coming from animal products.
You'll save money! Yes, I said it. You'll save money buying real food instead of buying a $10.00 breakfast at Starbucks. I went there to get a tea recently and was shocked at the price.
Is This Keto?
If You Have To Ask...I'm Just Kidding
With Keto being as popular as it is there are many big companies trying to get in on the keto game, but with companies like Slim Fast making products you do have to ask yourself if they are truly Keto. Why?
Well, unfortunately, these companies tend to not care about food quality and will most likely be using sweeteners that do spike your blood sugar. A good example of this is Smart Sweets. These delicious little "low carb" gummy candies say they only have 3 grams of sugar, but if you look on the back they are loaded with fiber.
"Wait, I thought fiber was great on Keto?"
And it is if it is insoluble fiber, which is not digested. However, soluble fiber is digested after it turns into a gel in the digestive tract. And that is what Smart Sweets is loaded with.
This is why I encourage everyone to count total carbs because most of the time insoluble and soluble cannot be told apart from one another.
Your body is also going to dictate whether something is or is not Keto. Everyone's biochemistry is so unique that someone may be able to eat a sweet potato without going out of ketosis. While someone else might only be able to tolerate low carb veggies.
Why You Need Electrolytes
Did you know electrolytes are essential for cellular function your brain, heart, and all other cells? This is true for everyone, but especially if you are on a very low carbohydrate diet. Why? Because for every gram of carbohydrate or sugar consumed one thousand water molecules are created. You may be wondering what causes inflammation and water retention. Well, there's your answer, sugar, and carbohydrates. That is why the Ketogenic Diet is touted for its anti-inflammatory benefits. Okay great, but how does that impact electrolyte concentration.
That is a simple answer.
Luckily, there are many amazing brands out there today. There is one company that makes a bioavailable supplement called KetoBeam and another brand called GoUltima that makes delicious fruit-flavored electrolytes. If you are someone who is very active or maybe you just don't like to put that much salt on your food an electrolyte supplement would be a wise idea.
How Do I Test For Ketosis?
There are three ways that you can test for ketosis.
Similar to an alcohol breathalyzer, a ketone breathalyzer measures the number of ketones present in your breath. However, similar to the test strips, as you become more fat-adapted the ketones in your breath will decrease. There is some argument about this, but I believe that this is not the most accurate way to measure a state of ketosis.
In my opinion, the best way is to use a blood ketone and glucose meter. Why?
As an individual becomes more fat-adapted the amount of ketones begins to decrease in the urine and they can no longer be used.
You can also test for ketones present in your breath. However, similar to the test strips, as you become more fat-adapted the ketones in your breath will decrease. There is some argument about this, but I believe that this is not the most accurate way to measure a state of ketosis.
There are certain conditions that benefit from being in a deeper state of ketosis than others. You can read more in my GKI Guide (coming soon).
So, What Can I Eat?
That's easy lots of delicious fats, proteins, and a few low carb plants. Healthy fats include animal-based fats (tallow and butter), avocado oil, olive oil, macadamia nuts, pili nuts, and egg yolks. Proteins include foods like beef, poultry, pork, collagen/ bone broth, and eggs. Keto approved low carb plants include berries, cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens, avocado, and olives.
How to Begin a Ketogenic Diet
This goes without saying that the first key to starting a ketogenic diet is to drop your carbohydrates significantly and raise your fats. The tricky part, or so most people think, is the protein. There is a common myth among ketonians that protein will turn into glucose and kick you out of ketosis. This somewhat true in the first month of Keto because the body has most likely never or has not burned fat for fuel since the infant stage. Yes, babies are in ketosis due to breast milk consumption. However, if you were not exclusively breastfed you were not in ketosis as a baby. And due to the fact that the body essentially has to re-learn how to burn fat as fuel, it will try and make sugar from everything and anything it can. This is why tracking your macros, especially at the beginning, is highly encouraged. I do advocate for tracking initially, especially if you are practicing a plant-based, vegan, or vegetarian ketogenic diet.
You can use this free macro tracker below by Perfect Keto to calculate your macro intake. This will take all of your body measurements and goals into consideration when calculating your ideal macros.
For the first 30 days it is important that you do keep your fats high, your protein moderate, and your carbs very low.