Following a ketogenic diet plan may not be easy at first. But the health benefits might be worth the effort. Should you give it a try?
Oh, pasta and potatoes and pizza and pancakes and other favorite indulgent starchy carbs … how we love you. But how so cruel you are to our bellies and waistline and overall health!
Perhaps it’s time for a breakup with you, starchy carbs. The few minutes of enjoyment devouring you is not worth the return on investment.
The best way to get through a breakup is total avoidance. Time to throw out boxes of rice, bags of potato chips and bread. Sorry, carbs, there’s no use in just being friends … it’s time once and for all to be without you.
And if you want to lose weight and enjoy other benefits, the great way to kick carbs is by following a ketogenic diet plan!
What is a ketogenic diet plan?
In short, the keto diet plan is a high fat, ultra-low-carbohydrate way of eating (with a handful of healthy, lean, grass-fed protein thrown in). Compared to a normal diet with lots of carbs, the keto diet fuels your brain and body by burning ketones.
Ketones are fatty acid molecules. By mostly eliminating carbohydrates, your body enters a state of ketosis. When you’re in ketosis, your body uses ketones to produce ATP. ATP is your body’s main source of cellular energy.
Or, if you prefer a more scientific explanation: under a state of ketosis, your body undergoes mitochondrial oxidation of fatty acids for energy. The mitochondria in your cells is where ATP energy production takes place.
As opposed to burning glycogen, which is stored carbohydrates, when you’re in ketosis, your body burns fat from your cells. That’s great news if you want to lose weight, especially body fat.
In addition, people who have experience being in ketosis often report experiencing more energy and sharper mental focus.
These benefits, then, begs the following questions, “Why doesn’t everybody go on a keto diet plan? Why aren’t there tons of books and websites with ketogenic diet recipes? Where can I get a ketogenic diet food list now!?”
Those questions will be answered. But first, let’s talk about the origins of the keto diet….
Background of the ketogenic diet plan
The ketogenic diet plan has been around for almost 100 years. It was created by researchers at the Mayo Clinic. Specifically, credit goes to Dr. Russell Wilder, who designed the diet in 1924. Originally, the “keto” diet plan was medically supervised and followed by people suffering from epilepsy, seizures and other neurological disorders.
Although currently there are medications to manage epilepsy and seizures, some forms of epilepsy are rare and not treatable by medications. In this instance, a strict diet is still used to manage epilepsy.
The keto diet has other medical applications as well. It’s been used to manage diabetes, arthritis and even cancer. There are several research studies on the ketogenic diet plan, including this one that proved its effectiveness to manage obesity.
Adherence to the keto diet has also demonstrated the ability to reduce cancerous tumors (at least in mice.)
Generally speaking, most diseases are caused by an over productive inflammation response. The ketogenic diet, when properly followed, may drastically reduce inflammation in your body.
Research on the keto diet plan has supposedly been conducted not just by diet researchers but also by NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense. NASA’s interest in ketogenic diets: to see if astronauts could subsist on it in outer space.
Another U.S. government agency, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), develops the latest James Bond-like high-tech devices for military applications. DARPA’s interest in the ketogenic diet: study ketone bodies to see if they can fuel U.S. soldiers in combat, giving them the upper hand against the enemy.
The U.S. Navy has also conducted its own research on keto for its effects on eliminating the severity of oxygen toxicity for scuba divers and sailors in submarines.
Why isn’t the keto diet plan followed by more people?
In short, it’s not that easy for most people to follow a keto diet. Actually, getting into ketosis is very easy. All you have to do is fast for one day or a day and a half. Your liver will start burning ketones to supply your brain and body for fuel.
But when it’s time to start eating again, the keto diet isn’t a simple diet plan to follow. It’s not something you can do “half-assed.”
The more quickly you want to enter ketosis, the lower the amount of carbs you should eat. In general, you can eat up to 50 net grams of carbs. However, if you want to enter ketosis and start burning your own body fat for fuel, you should keep your net carbs (roughly speaking, grams of carbs minus grams of fiber) to much lower than 50.
Compared to popular weight loss programs that count points and allow for carbs, a keto diet plan is difficult for some people to follow at first. There’s no keto section in the grocery store.
And though there are many restaurants that offer keto-friendly food—just tell ‘em to hold the toast when ordering an omelet, and obviously, no potatoes!—there’s only one official keto restaurant as of this post: the Bulletproof Cafe in Los Angeles.
Do people need carbs?
It appears that the majority of people are programmed to consume carbs. It’s not just happening in the west. People all over the world seem to love carby food. But it wasn’t always this way….
Eons ago, the keto diet plan was followed by much of humanity, especially prior to the agricultural revolution. Many tribes regularly at the very least slipped in and out of ketosis.
As mentioned, fasting is the easiest way to enter ketosis. When you don’t eat food, your liver will start burning ketones for energy. If you’re just fasting for one day, your body has plenty of ketones to burn for fuel.
Virtually every tribe, clan, traditional society and religion fasts. Either because of food scarcity or purification rites, fasting has always been a part of the human experience. Therefore, so, too, has ketosis.
Ketogenic diet menu
Despite the fact that modern diets in general are geared towards glycogen-based metabolism, there are dozens of ketogenic diet recipes available online. People who follow a ketogenic diet claim that eating an ultra low-carb diet is easy to maintain and isn’t a form of dietary flagellation; keto diet recipes can taste just as sublime as their carb-fueled doppelgangers.
Following a keto diet plan has gotten easier over the last few years. One service delivers keto-friendly food to your home.
The trick to creating ketogenic diet recipes is figuring out what to replace regular carbs with. But thanks to websites like this one, staying in ketosis is easy. That being said, though, the ketogenic diet is still a fledgling industry.
But a bevy of bloggers devoted to the keto cause are also making it easier for people to follow a ketogenic path. Many of these keto bloggers are mothers who have kids with medical conditions (besides epilepsy) that prohibit them from having normal kid food.
These keto mommy bloggers are sharing their ketogenic diet recipes for birthday cake, for example. A mommy keto blogger doesn’t want to see their child who has type 1 diabetes missing out on birthday cake with their friends at a birthday party.
You can turn almost any kind of recipe into a keto-friendly one. There are very few foods that can’t be prepared keto friendly. But there is keto-friendly bread, pizza, even chocolate chip cookies.
In summary, you can eat really well on a keto diet. But, you will need to take the time to adjust to the eating plan.
How do you know if you’re in ketosis?
There are a few ways to test if you’re in ketosis. First, you can do a blood test. But this takes time and might be expensive if your insurance won’t cover it. The upside to a blood test is it’s the most accurate for measuring ketone bodies.
Second, you can do a breath test. Also very accurate, the breath test takes a real-time assessment of ketone bodies. Though it’s highly accurate and analysis is immediate, a breath test is expensive, costing roughly $150.
The third way to measure ketones in your body is the most practical: urine testing. For under $10, you can get 100 test strips. A urine test isn’t the most accurate, but accurate enough. More or less, urine ketone strips measure your ketone levels within the last few hours. A urine ketosis strip will not only reveal whether you are in ketosis, it also measures how strong of a state of ketosis you’re in, i.e. slightly in ketosis or strongly.
If you don’t like the idea of fasting, you can reach a state of ketosis in roughly a handful of days. That is, if you keep your carbs to, roughly speaking, 20 grams or less.
As for the so-called ‘Keto Flu’, if you’re used to eating junk food any healthy diet that you rapidly switch to may cause unpleasant detox symptoms. Generally speaking, though, if you eat a relatively healthy diet to begin with, you might not experience keto flu.
Ketogenic food list
Ketogenic friendly foods include all-natural/smart fats and a limited amount of protein. Avocados, walnuts, olives, eggs, salmon, sardines, olive oil, grass-fed whey protein, non-starchy vegetables (leafy greens), and butter are just a few examples of things you can eat on keto diet plan.
Think you can follow a ketogenic diet plan?
Interested in the Keto Diet? Check out these other references about the diet: