Achieve Your DESIRED BODY COMPOSITION
Without Depriving Yourself or Going Hungry
By Becoming a FAT BURNING MACHINE
Can ketone production in the body get too high? Yes, it’s called ketoacidosis. Is it likely under normal circumstances? Not at all. For most people, it’s a challenge just to get into optimal ranges for ketosis. Getting into territory where you need medical intervention is just not likely.
The purpose of the ketogenic diet is to force the body into a fat-burning state — burning fats instead of carbohydrates for fuel. Those who follow it eat a diet containing high amounts of fat, moderate amounts of protein and low levels of carbohydrates.
There are mixed and matched studies on keto and breastfeeding, though nothing is well researched at the current moment. Right now it’s understood that ketogenic diets are typically healthy to do while breastfeeding.
The exact amount you should eat to get into ketosis will differ from person to person. Your body fat percentage, how much weight you want to lose, as well as how much exercise you do all make a difference. So we suggest you use our Keto Calculator to figure out your exact macros (how many calories of fat, protein, and carbohydrates to eat).
The ketogenic diet is calculated by a dietitian for each child. Age, weight, activity levels, culture and food preferences all affect the meal plan. First, the energy requirements are set at 80–90% of the recommended daily amounts (RDA) for the child’s age (the high-fat diet requires less energy to process than a typical high-carbohydrate diet). Highly active children or those with muscle spasticity require more calories than this; immobile children require less. The ketogenic ratio of the diet compares the weight of fat to the combined weight of carbohydrate and protein. This is typically 4:1, but children who are younger than 18 months, older than 12 years, or who are obese may be started on a 3:1 ratio. Fat is energy-rich, with 9 kcal/g (38 kJ/g) compared to 4 kcal/g (17 kJ/g) for carbohydrate or protein, so portions on the ketogenic diet are smaller than normal. The quantity of fat in the diet can be calculated from the overall energy requirements and the chosen ketogenic ratio. Next, the protein levels are set to allow for growth and body maintenance, and are around 1 g protein for each kg of body weight. Lastly, the amount of carbohydrate is set according to what allowance is left while maintaining the chosen ratio. Any carbohydrate in medications or supplements must be subtracted from this allowance. The total daily amount of fat, protein and carbohydrate is then evenly divided across the meals.
The easiest macro to calculate in the ketogenic diet is fat. Once you’ve got your carbs and protein set, simply fill the rest of your daily calorie needs with fat sources. If you find yourself wanting to gain a bit of weight, add approximately 500 calories, or 55 grams. If you want to lose weight, cut down on your fat intake by 200-500 calories, or 22-55 grams.
Just keep in mind that beef, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb and fish is best if it’s organic. I realize that organic meat can be way more expensive. But, buying from places like Butcher Box helps keep costs lower.
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 high-fat diet includes moderate protein intake and very few carbs (about 75:20:5 by calorie percentage), and can help you shed pounds fast. When your body is unable to get glucose from carbs, your liver kicks in to convert fatty acids into clean-burning ketones. Running on ketones turns off inflammatory pathways, and keeps you away from the energy crashes and blood sugar spikes of a carb-fueled diet. The Bulletproof Diet uses cyclical intermittent keto as a powerful tool to fuel your brain and shed extra body fat, but you may want to try a full ketogenic diet too.
Pimpin L, Wu J, Haskelberg H, et al. Is Butter Back? A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Butter Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, and Total Mortality. PLoS ONE. June 2016.
To start a keto diet, you will want to plan ahead. That means having a viable diet plan ready and waiting. What you eat depends on how fast you want to get into a ketogenic state. The more restrictive you are on your carbohydrates (less than 15g per day), the faster you will enter ketosis.
Ketogenic diets often create a significant loss of water during the first phases. This is because carbs are converted to glycogen in your body, which is stored in water within the muscles and liver. As you deplete stored glycogen, your body flushes this water out. This is a huge part of the initial weight loss during the first few weeks of ketosis. While rapid fat loss does occur at first, a lot of water weight is often dropped as well, but this is a great encouragement as it often results in both weight loss and less bloating, allowing clothes to fit better.
While our bodies love healthy fats like avocados and coconut oil, a keto diet doesn’t mean just eating anything that’s high in fat — you still want good-for-you foods. My compilation keto diet snacks are just what you need when you find yourself hungry between meals. (For the full list, check out my keto snacks article.) You’ll find snacks like these:
However, no land mammal can compete with the amount of anti-inflammatory omega 3s that you’ll get from fish and shellfish. Salmon, sardines, mackerel and other fatty fish are the highest in omega-3 fats, which is why many studies have found frequent fish intake to be associated with improved mental health and decreased risk of disease.
One thing many people love about keto diet meal plans is that tracking your food is optional. “One of the biggest benefits of the ketogenic diet is that there’s no need to meticulously track your calories like you may in other diets,” notes Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of DrAxe.com, best-selling author of Eat Dirt, and cofounder of Ancient Nutrition. “Because you’re filling up on fat and protein, you’re more likely to feel satisfied and energized all day long, which causes you to naturally eat less.” This isn’t to say that food tracking on keto is discouraged. “Some people may find calorie counting a useful tool to be more mindful and aware of what they’re eating, but it’s not necessary on the ketogenic diet,” says Dr. Axe, but there’s no need to get too stressed about hitting a certain caloric goal, especially if you’re not trying to lose weight. (Related: The #1 Reason to Stop Counting Calories)
The brain is composed of a network of neurons that transmit signals by propagating nerve impulses. The propagation of this impulse from one neuron to another is typically controlled by neurotransmitters, though there are also electrical pathways between some neurons. Neurotransmitters can inhibit impulse firing (primarily done by γ-aminobutyric acid, or GABA) or they can excite the neuron into firing (primarily done by glutamate). A neuron that releases inhibitory neurotransmitters from its terminals is called an inhibitory neuron, while one that releases excitatory neurotransmitters is an excitatory neuron. When the normal balance between inhibition and excitation is significantly disrupted in all or part of the brain, a seizure can occur. The GABA system is an important target for anticonvulsant drugs, since seizures may be discouraged by increasing GABA synthesis, decreasing its breakdown, or enhancing its effect on neurons.
There are three instances where there’s research to back up a ketogenic diet, including to help control type 2 diabetes, as part of epilepsy treatment, or for weight loss, says Mattinson. “In terms of diabetes, there is some promising research showing that the ketogenic diet may improve glycemic control. It may cause a reduction in A1C — a key test for diabetes that measures a person’s average blood sugar control over two to three months — something that may help you reduce medication use,” she says.
The ketogenic diet reduces seizure frequency by more than 50% in half of the patients who try it and by more than 90% in a third of patients. Three-quarters of children who respond do so within two weeks, though experts recommend a trial of at least three months before assuming it has been ineffective. Children with refractory epilepsy are more likely to benefit from the ketogenic diet than from trying another anticonvulsant drug. There is some evidence that adolescents and adults may also benefit from the diet.
Insulin is needed to help cells absorb nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and amino acids (protein). In fact, almost every nutrient is influenced by insulin. Potassium is needed for energy, for balancing sodium in the body, and for all kinds of other important things. We need amino acids for our hair, nails, skin, joints and muscles. We need magnesium for a healthy heart. See where I am going?
Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, but measuring ketones in your blood is often the most effective. Although it’s the most affordable, urine testing is typically the least accurate method.
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VITAMIN K2, is another interesting but not commonly discussed fat-soluble vitamin. It is crucial to keep calcium out of the soft tissues (arteries and joints) and in your bones. Vitamin K2 comes from grass-fed dairy, cheese, egg yolk and grass-fed liver.
Each recipe has anywhere between 2-6 servings, so be sure to prepare according to your macros and personal needs. For example, if you only cook for yourself, you might want to make 1 serving at a time, or make as many servings as you want and keep the leftover for the next days.
“Yes, tracking macros can be cumbersome and tedious, but it’s absolutely essential during the first few weeks of a keto diet,” says Wittrock. “The diet likely goes against everything you have done before, so tracking your macros gives you feedback and allows you to troubleshoot until you get the hang of it.”
Our 28-Day Weight Loss Challenge walks you through how to incorporate the Ketogenic Diet into your lifestyle so you no longer have to worry about giving up on diets and gaining back the weight you keep on trying to lose.
Keep in mind that if a strict ketogenic diet is being followed, experts recommend that children following the diet be closely monitored, in addition to those who have who are taking medications or existing conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes.
^ Musa-Veloso K, Cunnane SC. Measuring and interpreting ketosis and fatty acid profiles in patients on a high-fat ketogenic diet. In: Stafstrom CE, Rho JM, editors. Epilepsy and the ketogenic diet. Totowa: Humana Press; 2004. p. 129–41. ISBN 1-58829-295-9.
You can measure if you’re in ketosis via urine or blood strips, though it’s not really worth it. The urine strips are considered pretty inaccurate (they more answer the question “Am I in ketosis?”), and the blood strips are expensive (up to $5 per strip). If you’re interested in reading more about measuring ketones, click here >
Here’s a digestible rundown of how the diet works: Eating no more than 10 percent of your calories from carbs, about 20 percent from protein, and about 70 percent from healthy fats causes the liver to produce ketones, or byproducts of breaking down fat for energy, allowing your body to enter ketosis. (I religiously logged my macros on MyFitnessPal.) Sticking to this low-carb, moderate protein, high-fat diet allows your body to burn fat for fuel rather than glucose—our primary source of energy.
It’s best to choose grass-fed meat, if possible. That’s because animals that eat grass produce meat with higher amounts of omega-3 fats, conjugated linoleic acid and antioxidants than meat from grain-fed animals (32).