Quick and Easy Guide to the Ketogenic Diet
What is a Ketogenic Diet?
Very simply, the ketogenic diet is an overhaul of a typical balance of carbs, protein and fat that has the user dramatically increase the level of fats in their diet to 70% of the calorie intake while reducing the protein to ~20% and carbohydrates to less than 10%.
This change forces the body to change its reliance on carbohydrates as the primary fuel source to fat as the new fuel source. When this change takes place in the body it is called the “metabolic shift” or “switch”.
With the idea that food derived toxins may compromise brain health, Keto was birthed in the early 1900’s as a means of treating epilepsy 1. It was used with relative success, albeit not necessarily for the reasons initially thought 1. More recently, it has gained attention in the fitness and nutrition field as an effective means of weight loss.
How does the Ketogenic (keto diet) diet work?
A healthy man with an average body fat composition can hold as much as 80,000 – 100,000 calories in the form of body fat 2. Normally, when ample food is provided, fat is broken down and processed into energy through the same common pathway shared by carbohydrates and proteins, i.e. the citric acid (TCA) cycle.
While at rest, fat provides fuel for the majority of energy demands 3. But the body makes especially good use of these reserves when calories are heavily restricted such as during starvation or while fasting. During periods of prolonged very low calorie intake, the body enters a state of ketosis.
Ketosis is characterized by the breakdown of fat for the production of “ketone bodies.” These supply the brain and other tissues with the energy they need.
It turns out our bodies are exceptional at adapting to these types of environmental stresses. How else would we have survived the hunter/gatherer era preceding the onset of agriculture? The difference between starving and Keto as we know it today is that Keto does not require a steep decline in calories but instead requires the near complete removal of carbohydrates.
When carbohydrates are deprived, Keto takes advantage of the body’s natural response to very low calorie intake by entering a state of ketosis. There are three ketone bodies that result from this process: acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate and acetone.
When in prolonged ketosis, the body undergoes, Keto-adaptation. This includes changes that occur over the course of weeks and involves the metabolic shift to ketone bodies in place of glucose as the bodies primary fuel source 4.
How do you achieve Ketosis?
To achieve ketosis there must be a near complete removal of carbohydrates from the diet but protein consumption is also considered. Some amino acids are “glucogenic,” meaning they can be converted into carbohydrate and thus work against a state of ketosis.
The following are some general guidelines of macronutrient intake associated with Keto:
|Macronutrient||Grams/Day||% of total Calories|
|Fat||Enough to meet calorie needs||~70|
|2,000 Calories per day||% Calories|
|1,400 Calories||Fat: 70% (155 g)|
|500 Calories||Protein: 25% (125 g)|
|100 Calories||Carbs: 5% (25 g)|
As you can see, meeting the demands of a ketogenic diet may be challenging for some people. Fortunately, some of the best tasting foods are those high in fat.
Listed are some foods that can be easily enjoyed:
And the list goes on… There are plenty of fantastic sources catering to food items and recipes adherent to the ketogenic diet, all you have to do is look!
How can you tell when you’re in Ketosis?
There are two primary indicators that you are in a state of ketosis.
The first indication is, “fruity breath.” When Acetoacetate breaks down it creates Acetone. Acetone easily transitions from liquid to a gas and is expelled from the lungs when we breathe out. It has a very characteristic smell and make it responsible for the identifiable breath most people get when in a state of ketosis.
Secondly, and perhaps the most accurate, is a direct measurement of ketone bodies in the blood using a ketone meter. Blood ketone meters typically measure the ketone 3-beta-hydroxybutyrate 6 and the optimal range of this ketone during ketosis has been described by Phinney and Volek to fall within 1-3mM 7.
Optimal blood Ketone levels:
Blood ketone levels near or greater than 10mM are an indication of a serious phenomena known as ketoacidosis 7. Typically, ketone bodies should not reach these heights 5 however, for those presenting with diabetes, the risk is far more pressing.
In healthy individuals, blood glucose and insulin levels are on the low side of normal while on a ketogenic diet 5. On the other hand, so-called “diabetic ketoacidosis” is characterized by significant increases in blood glucose and ketone bodies with virtually zero insulin 8. The most likely causes are usually new onset diabetes or insulin non-compliance 8.
In essence, due to the absence of glucose transport between blood and cells that would otherwise normally occur, the body assumes a necessity to ramp up ketone body production resulting in dangerously high levels 8. Therefore, if you’re diabetic and following a ketogenic diet, it is extremely prudent that you utilize your insulin effectively and that you monitor your blood glucose/ketone body levels regularly.
Should I consider a Ketogenic diet?
If you’re someone looking to lose weight, but calorie counting and craving sugary snacks always pull you in the opposite direction, then the ketogenic diet may be for you. For starters, and frankly most importantly, Keto is backed by science. A ketogenic diet has been shown to truly provide an effective means of weight loss – even when compared to a low fat diet 9. What this means is that there are no false promises here, you can safely assume you’ll lose weight by adhering to this diet.
The ketogenic diet turns your body into a fat burning machine by switching your body’s metabolism, as described previously. However the weight loss effects of the ketogenic diet go beyond simply burning fat.
Keto may also aid in decreasing appetite 10 which in addition to virtually eliminating carbohydrates, helps to resist those sugary snacks. This leads to the next point. A ketogenic diet makes it easy to eat in a calorie deficit (necessary to lose weight) without making a conscious decision to do so. Eliminating one third of available food options will most likely reduce energy intake without even thinking about it 10. That means no more dreaded calorie counting!
Keto has also been shown to enhance insulin sensitivity 11. This is good news, as improved insulin sensitivity is correlated with improved fat oxidation 12. Moreover, insulin resistance is the primary condition of type 2 diabetes 13. As such, it appears that the ketogenic diet may be beneficial for improving glycemic control in type 2 diabetes patients 14. Although a direct analysis of the ketogenic diet and type 1 diabetes is lacking, a low-carbohydrate diet approach seems promising to improve glycemic control in these populations as well 15.
Improved insulin sensitivity is correlated with improved fat oxidation.
Finally, if you’re an athlete looking to shed excess fat while retaining muscle mass, without going on a very low calorie, “crash” diet; the ketogenic diet is a fantastic choice. Free living individuals prescribed to a ketogenic diet and a resistance training regime show significant fat loss with retention of fat-free mass 16. A match made in heaven.
Keto Supplement Arsenal
If you do decide on giving the Ketogenic diet a try, there are plenty of Supplements to help keep you on track and meeting your goals. Below you will find a few great products ALLMAX has to offer that will make the perfect addition to your stack.
ISOFLEX / ISONATURAL
Looking for an extremely high quality protein with zero sugar and only 1g Carb? ISOFLEX and IsoNatural are the highest quality protein you can get and combined with MCT oil can make getting your protein more delicious than ever!
CASEIN-FX is an amazing, thick, rich protein source that has a very slow rate of absorption. From a ketogenic perspective, 75% of the calories comes from protein, with 13% from fat and 12% from carbs (and 2 of those grams coming from Fiber!). Adding additional fats to this makes an ideal way to have a delicious, milkshake-like treat while staying well within a keto diet.
AMINOCORE is an exceptional option when you are looking for a cool and delicious zero-carb drink that helps keep muscle from breaking down while dieting. BCAAs are unique in that they feed muscle directly. Always remember to keep your fat calories high to stay in ketosis. In fact studies have shown that in seizure patients (who are helped immensely by ketogenic diets), BCAAs can be a big help to the effectiveness of the keto state.17
Alpha Lipoic Acid (R+ ALA)
R+ ALA increases insulin sensitivity = lower insulin levels & higher glucagon = better ketosis.
Tribulus – TRIBX90
Many keto dieters like Tribulus (TRIBX90), suggesting it amplifies the testosterone increase from ketosis.
L-Carnitine L-Tartrate (LCLT)
L-Carnitine is necessary for the formation of ketones in the liver and helps shuttle fatty acids (the fat freed from stored adipose tissue) in the blood to the mitochondria for energy.
LIKED THIS ARTICLE? CHECK THESE OUT!
Freeman JM, Kossoff EH, Hartman AL. 2007. The ketogenic diet: one decade later. Pediatrics 119:535-543.
Fink HH, Mikesky A. E. 2015. Practical Application in Sports Nutrition 99.
Melzer K. 2011. Carbohydrate and fat utilization during rest and physical activity. the European e-Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism 6:e45-e52.
Volek JS, Freidenreich DJ, Saenz C, Kunces LJ, Creighton BC, Bartley JM, Davitt PM, Munoz CX, Anderson JM, Maresh CM, Lee EC, Schuenke MD, Aerni G, Kraemer WJ, Phinney SD. 2016. Metabolic characteristics of keto-adapted ultra-endurance runners. Metabolism 65:100-110.
Paoli A, Bianco A, Grimaldi KA. 2015. The Ketogenic Diet and Sport: A Possible Marriage? Exerc Sport Sci Rev 43:153-162.
Pluddemann A, Heneghan C, Price CP, Wolstenholme J, Thompson M. 2011. Point-of-care blood test for ketones in patients with diabetes: primary care diagnostic technology update. Br J Gen Pract 61:530-531.
Volek J, & Phinney S.D. 2012. The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance. , 1st ed. Lexington, KY: Beyond Obesity.
Westerberg DP. 2013. Diabetic ketoacidosis: evaluation and treatment. Am Fam Physician 87:337-346.
Bueno NB, de Melo IS, de Oliveira SL, da Rocha Ataide T. 2013. Very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet v. low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Br J Nutr 110:1178-1187.
Sumithran P, Proietto J. 2008. Ketogenic diets for weight loss: A review of their principles, safety and efficacy. Obes Res Clin Pract 2:I-II.
Volek JS, Sharman MJ, Gomez AL, DiPasquale C, Roti M, Pumerantz A, Kraemer WJ. 2004. Comparison of a very low-carbohydrate and low-fat diet on fasting lipids, LDL subclasses, insulin resistance, and postprandial lipemic responses in overweight women. J Am Coll Nutr 23:177-184.
Goodpaster BH, Katsiaras A, Kelley DE. 2003. Enhanced fat oxidation through physical activity is associated with improvements in insulin sensitivity in obesity. Diabetes 52:2191-2197.
Veech RL. 2004. The therapeutic implications of ketone bodies: the effects of ketone bodies in pathological conditions: ketosis, ketogenic diet, redox states, insulin resistance, and mitochondrial metabolism. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 70:309-319.
Hussain TA, Mathew TC, Dashti AA, Asfar S, Al-Zaid N, Dashti HM. 2012. Effect of low-calorie versus low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet in type 2 diabetes. Nutrition 28:1016-1021.
Nielsen JV, Jonsson E, Ivarsson A. 2005. A low carbohydrate diet in type 1 diabetes: clinical experience–a brief report. Ups J Med Sci 110:267-273.
Jabekk PT, Moe IA, Meen HD, Tomten SE, Hostmark AT. 2010. Resistance training in overweight women on a ketogenic diet conserved lean body mass while reducing body fat. Nutr Metab (Lond) 7:17.
Reference: Jirapinyo P. et al. (2004) High plasma branched-chain amino acids:aromatic amino acids ratio in children on the ketogenic diet: a mechanism in controlling epilepsy. J Med Assoc Thai. 2004 Apr;87(4):432-7.