The ketogenic diet tries to bring carbohydrates down to less than 5 percent of a person’s daily caloric intake – which means eliminating most grains, fruit, starchy vegetables, legumes and sweets. Instead, it replaces those calories with fat. That fat is turned into ketone bodies, which are an alternative energy source: besides glucose derived from carbohydrates, ketones from fat are the only fuel the brain can use.
Josh Axe, a doctor of natural medicine and clinical nutritionist, estimates that about 25% of people who try a ketogenic diet experience these symptoms, with fatigue being the most common. “That happens because your body runs out of sugar to burn for energy, and it has to start using fat,” he says. “That transition alone is enough to make your body feel tired for a few days.”
The interesting thing is that many people are willing to spend a lot of time, money, and energy on expensive gym memberships and boutique fitness classes—and then say they’re too busy to cook. Even if you only spend 15 minutes driving to and from the gym every day, that’s 30 minutes that you could have put toward cooking a healthy dinner. And if you spend $30 a pop, 3 times per week on fancy circuit or spin classes, that’s $90 you could dedicate to your grocery budget. That wild salmon doesn’t sound quite so outrageous now, right?
Sleep enough – for most people at least seven hours per night on average – and keep stress under control. Sleep deprivation and stress hormones raise blood sugar levels, slowing ketosis and weight loss a bit. Plus they might make it harder to stick to a keto diet, and resist temptations. So while handling sleep and stress will not get you into ketosis on it’s own, it’s still worth thinking about.
Atkins products have been tested to ensure that their impact on your blood sugar level is minimal. The majority of Atkins products can be suitable for Phase 1 as long as you don’t sacrifice the intake of foundation vegetables (the requirement is 12 to 15 net carbs daily). If you are in Induction, you have 5 to 8 grams of net carbs to use for dairy, dressings, or Atkins products. You can plan accordingly and customize your diet to your needs!
The effects that dietary fat has on your blood cholesterol levels will help you choose which ones to consume. According to the American Heart Association, LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is the "bad" cholesterol because when too much of it circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is the "good" cholesterol because it helps remove "bad" cholesterol from arteries and prevent blockage. The goal is to have a
What about fruits and vegetables? All fruits are rich in carbs, but you can have certain fruits (usually berries) in small portions. Vegetables (also rich in carbs) are restricted to leafy greens (such as kale, Swiss chard, spinach), cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, bell peppers, onions, garlic, mushrooms, cucumber, celery, and summer squashes. A cup of chopped broccoli has about six carbs.
About 20% of children on the ketogenic diet achieve freedom from seizures, and many are able to reduce the use of anticonvulsant drugs or eliminate them altogether. Commonly, at around two years on the diet, or after six months of being seizure-free, the diet may be gradually discontinued over two or three months. This is done by lowering the ketogenic ratio until urinary ketosis is no longer detected, and then lifting all calorie restrictions. This timing and method of discontinuation mimics that of anticonvulsant drug therapy in children, where the child has become seizure-free. When the diet is required to treat certain metabolic diseases, the duration will be longer. The total diet duration is up to the treating ketogenic diet team and parents; durations up to 12 years have been studied and found beneficial.
The popular low-carb diets (such as Atkins or Paleo) modify a true keto diet. But they come with the same risks if you overdo it on fats and proteins and lay off the carbs. So why do people follow the diets? "They're everywhere, and people hear anecdotally that they work," McManus says. Theories about short-term low-carb diet success include lower appetite because fat burns slower than carbs. "But again, we don't know about the long term," she says. "And eating a restrictive diet, no matter what the plan, is difficult to sustain. Once you resume a normal diet, the weight will likely return."
To fuel the body's basic energy needs, calories are of course paramount. Yet many people find it difficult to take in the right amount—as well as the right kind—of fuel. No matter how many dietary guidelines are handed out, people still crave what is definitively bad for them. And in an era where sugary and fatty snacks are often within arm's reach, resisting those cravings has become exceedingly difficult. There is also more to food than nutrition, because what a person eats also carries cultural, social, and economic weight. Holidays and gatherings, for example, highlight food as the main event, which can complicate the meaning of a meal. Eating the right foods can help prevent many problems—cardiovascular issues, diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis, to name a few. No doubt many people behave in unhealthy ways around food; they overeat, eat the wrong things, or think about eating far too much. A healthy relationship with food means a healthy lifestyle overall.
Minerals are another component in a healthy diet. There are two categories of minerals: major minerals and trace minerals. The difference between each of these is the amount that is needed each day. The major minerals are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulfur. The trace minerals are iodine, iron, zinc, selenium, fluoride, chromium, and copper.
It seems strange that a diet that calls for more fat can raise “good” cholesterol and lower “bad” cholesterol, but ketogenic diets are linked to just that. It may be because the lower levels of insulin that result from these diets can stop your body from making more cholesterol. That means you’re less likely to have high blood pressure, hardened arteries, heart failure, and other heart conditions.
People with diabetes are advised to eat complex carbs (like green vegetables, whole grains, beans, and more), which take longer to digest and cause less intense spikes in blood sugar. Simple carbs (such as soda and fruit drinks, white bread, and more) are digested rapidly and can cause immediate blood sugar spikes. (If someone with diabetes is hypoglycemic, however, these simple carbs are often used to increase blood sugar back to safe levels again).
If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you'll lose weight. But when you're hungry all the time, eating fewer calories can be a challenge. "Studies show people who eat 4-5 meals or snacks per day are better able to control their appetite and weight," says obesity researcher Rebecca Reeves, DrPH, RD. She recommends dividing your daily calories into smaller meals or snacks and enjoying most of them earlier in the day -- dinner should be the last time you eat.