The ketogenic diet is a fat-burning diet. It causes your body to run off an alternative fuel source: ketones. Your body can burn two fuels – glucose and fat. If you are eating a lot of carbohydrates, your body converts them to glucose, and your body will use glucose as the primary fuel source if it is present. When the body’s glucose stores are empty, however, the body will burn fat producing ketones, which becomes your new fuel source.
A ketogenic diet is a diet of severe carbohydrate restriction. When you restrict carbohydrates, the stored glucose (glycogen) runs out, forcing the body to burn fat producing ketones—hence the name “ketogenic”. It is in burning fat and producing ketones that you get your weight loss.
What Makes the Ketogenic Diet Great?
The ketogenic diet forces you off carbohydrates which are very pro-inflammatory and addicting. Additionally, you can eat as much as you want of the foods included so you don’t have to worry about portion control. The only thing you must count is NET CARBS. Calories are irrelevant on this plan. Finally, when you are burning ketones for fuel, you feel awake, alert, and energetic!
How Do You Do It?
It’s pretty simple. You eat 3 meals per day and 2 snacks (if you like). You eat mainly protein and fat, focusing on Net Carbohydrates. Net Carbohydrates = Total Carbs minus fiber and sugar alcohols.
NC= TC – (Fiber + Sug Alc)
Start aiming for a Net Carb of 20 grams. Just about everyone is in ketosis with this level of carb Restriction. You are going to need to know the Carbs in the foods you eat on the plan. There are many online sources that can help you with this. Just asking your search engine (eg Google) will usually give you the answer.
Foods on Your Plan
Meats, Eggs, and Protein Shake Powders:
- Beef, pork poultry, and seafood of any kind (not breaded/battered). No sauces.
- Eggs- Fried, boiled, deviled, scrambled etc.
- Protein shakes- whey based with less than 2 grams of carbs
- Cheese- all kinds of cheese are fine
- Yogurt- only plan Greek yogurt (It is essentially zero carb despite label as sugar is digested by bacteria in yogurt by the time you eat it)
- Heavy Whipping Cream/ Heavy Cream
- Full Fat Sour Cream
- Full Fat Cream
- Full fat Cream cheese
- Real Butter
- Leafy Greens – all varieties
- Other Vegetables – all vegetables except carrots, beets, potatoes, and corn are fine
Condiments, Dressings, Seasonings:
- Mayo (full fat)
- Regular mustard
- Full fat dressings such as Blue Cheese, Ranch, Caesar
- Guacamole – usually fine
- Hot sauce
- Splenda, Stevia for sweeteners
- Olives of All Varieties.
- Pickles – no added sugar.
- Pork Rinds
- Cream Cheese on celery
- Deli Meats and Cheeses (with No Added Sugars)
- Deviled Eggs/ Boiled Eggs
- Beef Jerky or Beef Sticks (No Added Sugar)
- Sugar Free Jello.
- Coleslaw with no added sugar.
- Diet Drinks (Eg. Diet Tea/Soda)
- Crystal Light® / Sugar Free Drink Mixes
- Alcohol – not recommended but spirits mixed with zero calorie mixers are best.
- Coffee – plain or with heavy cream +/– artificial sweeteners
Typical Meal Plan
- Omelet – 2 whole eggs, ¼ cup of egg whites, 1oz. of cheese- add veggies (peppers/spinach/onions) as desired
- 2 Scrambled eggs, 2 slices of bacon, 1 oz cheese shredded on top (add hot sauce if desired)
- Cottage Cheese – 1 cup of cottage cheese, add 1-2 Tbs. nuts and/or ½ cup of berries if desired.
- 1 cup of Greek yogurt with 2 tbsp berries and 2 tbsp nuts. Use Stevia for sweetness as desired.
- Iced Coffee Shake – 1 cup of iced coffee mixed with 1-2 Tbs. heavy cream and Whey protein powder (enough to get 30 grams of protein). Shake in a blender bottle and serve over ice.
- Traveling Eggs- 2 Hardboiled eggs with 2 cheese sticks
- No-Prep Shake- Premier Protein 30g Shake or OhYeah! Protein Shake
- Omega Salad – 5oz. tuna OR salmon mixed with 1-2 Tbsp. of mayo or ½ avocado. Add onion/relish/mustard as desired. Serve over lettuce or with raw veggies.
- Roll-ups – 2-3 oz. of favorite deli meat (turkey, ham, etc.) and 1-2 oz. cheese slices. Layer, roll them up, and enjoy! Add mayo/mustard/pickles/etc. as desired.
- Chicken Cobb- 3-4 oz. diced grilled chicken and 1-2 diced hard boiled egg- serve over bed of greens. Add onion, bacon bits, avocado, and full fat dressing as desired.
- Literally No-Time- Premier Protein or OhYeah! Shake with string cheese, ounce of nuts, or ½ avocado
- Chicken Caesar salad without croutons (can sub Parm Crisps instead)
- Any of the breakfast options above.
- Grab ’n’ Go- Rotisserie Chicken from locally grocery store- serve 4-6oz. with 1-2 cups steamed veggies tossed in butter or side salad with dressing.
- Taco Night- Sauté ground beef/turkey with taco seasoning. Enjoy 4-6oz. served in large leaf lettuce and top with sour cream, salsa, cheese, etc. as desired.
- No-Prep Protein- Slice and heat up 2-3 pieces chicken sausage (via pan/microwave)- add a cup of steamed/sautéed peppers and onions if desired.
- Protein Custard- start with 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, stir in 10 grams of protein worth of protein powder. Add heavy cream or unsweetened almond milk to get desired consistency. Top with chopped nuts, cinnamon, toasted coconut, etc.
- Sugar free Jello with whipping cream
- ½ cup of berries with whipping cream
- ½ cup low carb Ice Cream
- Sugar-free pudding with whipping cream
- Dark chocolate (darkest/lowest sugar possible)
- Cheese- string cheese, BabyBel, etc.
- Hard/soft boiled eggs
- Nut butters- peanut, almond, etc. Watch carbs
- Jerky – beef, turkey, etc.
- Raw veggies with ranch, blue cheese, or pimiento cheese
- Cured meats- pepperoni, salami, prosciutto
- Avocado- try it drizzled with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and squeeze of lime
- Olives/Pickles or other pickled vegetables
- Broth- chicken, beef, etc. with extra spices if desired
- Celery and cream cheese
Tips for Success From the Experts
- The key to Keto is PREPARATION! Carbs are everywhere and you really must take the time to fill your fridge with healthy protein (fish, chicken, beef, pork, turkey etc.), fat and dairy (eggs, butter, cheese, cream) and lots of healthy veggies.
- When you enter a state of nutritional ketosis, it is normal for your kidneys to excrete a large amount of sodium into your urine. This lowers your blood sodium level and can make you feel tired or fatigued. If this happens, dissolve a full salt bullion cube into a cup of hot water and drink it. Do this twice daily until you feel better. It should resolve in a couple of days.
- If you are going out to eat, look at the menu ahead of time and you will see there are many low carb options to choose. Never go without a plan! The same is true for going to an event etc.
- Ketosis can cause bad breath- it’s actually a good sign! Use sugar free gum or mouthwash to help.
- Exercise can be difficult for the first 4 weeks of keto because your body has to become “keto-adapted” which means it has to learn how to use ketones for energy. For the first 4 weeks, stick to walking, and slowly ramp up the exercise after that.
- Drink lots of water on this high protein plan. Unless you have restrictions, aim for 82-100 ounces per day.
- If you get constipated, make sure you are getting in enough water and fiber. If you are, try Miralax once or twice per day. Your body again should adjust over time.
- It is important not to cheat on the keto, because a carb binge can put you back 7-10 days! If you are someone who likes sweets, save your berries with whipped cream, sugar free jello, or a small amount of low carb Ice cream for the end of the day if you have enough carbs left. There are so many great recipes online that give you the sense of a sweet treat using artificial sweeteners. Try one, but make sure you stick to your carb range.
- If your weight loss is slowing down, purchase some keto sticks (urine tests that check for ketones) and make sure you are in ketosis. If you are, try…
- As always, a diet partner who follows the plan with you will improve your compliance and success! It is best if they are in the house, but even a close friend can exchange recipes and low carb meals with you.