The ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet often compared to the Atkins diet, as both are based on a drastic reduction in carbs consumption. Per webmd.com, the main premise of the ketogenic diet is to get more calories from protein and fat, and fewer from carbs – which means cutting out sugar, soda, pastries, and white bread, for starters.
With weight loss as your goal, eating fewer than 50 grams of carbs a day will deplete your blood sugar (the body’s fuel) within three or four days. At that point, your body turns its attention elsewhere and starts breaking down fat and protein for energy, and off comes the weight.
The ketogenic diet is aimed at inducing a metabolic process known as ketosis, in which the body lacks glucose to burn as energy and in its place starts burning stored fats. (See the previous blog on this website for more information about ketosis.)
An interesting irony about the ketogenic diet is that it can help protect against heart disease by raising good (HDL) cholesterol and reducing bad (LDL cholesterol) even while calling for more fat to be added to the daily menu.
The ketogenic diet may also be beneficial for our health in other ways:
- Clear up acne. Carbohydrates have been linked to acne on the skin, so it stands to reason that cutting carbs can help with our complexion.
- Control epileptic seizures. Ketogenic diets have helped in this regard dating back to the 1920s, although a discussion with your doctor is in order before you try to play doctor yourself.
- Help with nervous system disorders. This includes not only epilepsy but also Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and sleep disorders.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome. This is a condition, per webmd.com, in which a woman’s ovaries become enlarged and small sacs filled with fluid form around the eggs. The ketogenic diet can help address that problem by reducing the amount of insulin produced by the body, with insulin being a key factor leading to the syndrome.
- Diabetes. The diet’s reduction in carbs can mean an accompanying drop in blood sugar. But diabetics also should know that the diet’s production of ketones, if excessive, can make you very sick. Again, consult with your physician before making any changes to your diet.
Protein Is Key to the Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet can help you lose weight quicker than other diets because it takes more calories to change fat into energy than it does to change carbs into energy. Additionally, such a diet emphasizing protein might satisfy you more, helping to suppress your appetite.
So, you want to know what to eat on a ketogenic diet? Here are some suggestions, per healthline.com:
- Seafood. Salmon, shrimp, and most crabs are virtually carb-free.
- Low-carb, non-starchy veggies. Cauliflower, zucchini, and squash work well.
- Cheese. Just about any kind will do.
- Avocados. Has a few carbs, but those are offset by the plentiful fiber. Also good for raising “good” (HDL) cholesterol.
- Meat and poultry. Grass-fed meat preferred. High in protein, low in carbs.
- Eggs. Make you quickly feel full, too.
- Coconut oil. Its auric acid helps promote sustained level of ketosis.
- Plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese. High in protein.
- Olive oil. No carbs.
- Nuts and seeds. High in fat, low in carbs.
- Berries, especially raspberries and blackberries.
- Butter, cream. Good fat, only traces of carbs.
- Shirataki noodles. Composed mostly of water.
- Olives. Fiber offsets the carbs.
- Unsweetened coffee, tea.
- Dark chocolate, cocoa powder. OK, twist my arm.