Know How to Keto

 The Ketogenic Diet 

The Keto Diet is all the rage…Movie stars are getting slim on it, others are managing their diabetes and warding off Alzheimer’s.  Is the Ketogenic diet the miracle diet we have all been waiting for or is it just another fad?  What does the research show? 


What is the Keto Diet?  

The keto diet is a high fat, moderate protein low carbohydrate eating pattern.  Carbohydrates are replaced by fats as an energy source producing ketones for the body to use as energy inducing ketosis. Unlike a fast where the body uses lean muscle mass for fuel, with the ketogenic diet the ketones provide an alternate source of fuel, preserving muscle mass.  

Generally, the Keto diet resources recommend 70-80% fat, 5-10% carbohydrate and 10-20% protein.   

Typically, it is recommended to keep total carbohydrates to less than 50g per day and protein to 1.5g per kg body weight.  


Who shouldn’t go Keto? 

The Ketogenic diet is not recommended for people with liver conditions, pancreatic disease, thyroid problems, eating disorders, gall bladder disease or people without a gall bladder. 


Health Risks 

The short terms health risks for the keto diet are flu like symptoms called the “keto flu” which may include nausea, headache and upset stomach.  With the elimination of whole grains, fruits and many vegetables, this low fibre diet can lead to constipation.   

Long term health risks include the possibility of kidney stones, liver disease and nutrient deficiencies due to the restrictive nature of the diet including vitamins A, C, K and folate.   


A Sample Meal Plan:  

Breakfast: Omelet with cheese, peppers, tomatoes, and spinach cooked in olive oil or butter 

Lunch: Salad of mixed greens with Chicken, avocado, almonds, feta, tomato, cucumber olive oil and vinegar.  

Dinner: Sauteed prawns in butter or olive oil and garlic with zucchini noodles and parmesan.   

Snack options:  

Trail mix with unsweetened dried fruits and nuts  

Cheese and sliced turkey 

nuts and seeds 

Celery and guacamole  

Kale chips and pumpkin seeds 

Hard boiled eggs  

Smoothie with almond milk, almond butter, chia seeds, spinach, cauliflower, green melon, avocado, vanilla extract and cocoa powder sweetened with monk fruit powder or stevia. 



Foods to eat while on the Keto Diet:  

·       Meat 

·       Poultry 

·       Fish 

·       Full-fat dairy products  

·       Nut products (nuts,seeds, nut/seed butter)  

·       Low-carbohydrate vegetables/fruits: 

o   Leafy greens  

o   Broccoli  

o   Tomatoes 

o   Mushrooms  

o   Peppers  

o   Avocados 


Foods to avoid or eat less of on the keto diet:  

·       High carbohydrate foods 

o   Bread and pasta  

o   Foods and drinks high in sugar  

o   Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, yams, squash, corn, peas  

·       Fruits high on the glycemic index:  

o   Bananas  

o   Grapes  

o   Pineapples  

o   Dried fruit 

·       Legumes 

o   Beans  

o   Chickpeas 

o   Lentils  

·       Alcohol  


Best drinks for the Keto Diet:  

·       Water 

·       Coffee without sugar  

·       Tea without sugar  

·       Sparkling water instead of soda 


Who does the Keto Diet benefit?  

·       Patients with Type 2 Diabetes:  

o   There has been some evidence that has shown that the ketogenic diet may help with the management of Type 2 Diabetes 

·       Patients with epilepsy (non-responsive to anti-epileptic medication)  

o   Children with epilepsy often benefit from following a ketogenic diet 

o   In adults, there have been some studies done using the standard Ketogenic diet, showing some improvement. However, the ketogenic diet has shown a low rate of compliance due to the dietary restrictions. For this reason, many adults choose to use the Atkins diet instead (Low carbohydrate but no restrictions on protein and fat)  

·       Patients with obesity  

o   Some documented benefit but long-term studies are needed 


Does the Keto Diet help you lose weight?  

·       Many studies have shown that in the short-term, the ketogenic diet is effective for weight loss. However, once participants go off the ketogenic diet, it is common to regain any weight lost.  

o   Weight loss may be seen due to an increased satiety from higher fat and protein intakes; a lower caloric intake due to the increased satiety; increased lipolysis (fat breakdown)  

Keto and Alzheimer’s 

·       Research on the keto diet and Alzheimer’s has been done mostly on animals. 


The Bottom Line: 

In general, any diet that requires the exclusion of entire food groups long term may have potential health consequences and should be followed carefully with the help of a registered dietitian.  Although the keto diet may help people lose weight initially, it is not evident that the weight loss can be maintained and there may be potential health risks.  Restrictive diets such as the Keto Diet can be difficult to follow long-term and can lead to yo-yo dieting.  Finding an eating pattern that works for you, including eating all the healthy foods you love in addition to regular activity will help promote good physical and mental health.  




Written by Diana Steele with research done by Elena Kwan.
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