First, a word: Choosing an eating plan or an approach to eating is very personal. Everyone’s body, tastes, and background are unique. The best approach to food intake is one in which you are healthy and nurtured and matches your social and cultural preference. If you want guidance, it’s recommended you consult with a registered dietitian.
What is the ketogenic diet?
A “typical” ketogenic diet consists of at least 70 percent of calories derived from fat, less than 10 percent from carbs and less than 20 percent from protein. The ketogenic diet, long used to treat epilepsy in children, calls for 90 percent of daily calories to come from fat, with the amount of protein or carbs varying as long as it’s 4 grams of fat for every combined 1 gram of carb and protein, according to the American Epilepsy Society. That can mean chowing down on a lot of cheese, butter, eggs, nuts, salmon, bacon, olive oil, and non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, greens and spinach. For the arithmetic-challenged, apps and online programs can do the math for you. (No matter what, the keto diet is vastly different than the USDA dietary recommendations of 45 to 65 percent of one’s total calories to be carbohydrates, 20 to 35 percent from fat, and 10 to 35 percent from protein.)
The goal of the ketogenic diet is to enter a state of ketosis through fat metabolism. In a ketogenic state, the body uses primarily fat for energy instead of carbohydrates; with low levels of carbohydrate, fats can be converted into ketones to fuel the body.
For ketosis, a typical adult must stay below 20 to 50 grams of net carbohydrates — measured as total carbs minus fiber — each day. Crossing that threshold is easy: a thick slice of bread adds 21 carbohydrates, a medium apple 25, and a cup of milk 12. “It’s very restrictive,” said Carla Prado, an associate professor and director of the University of Alberta’s Human Nutrition Research Unit. It’s not just bread and soda that are on the outs but high sugar fruit and starchy veggies like potatoes, as well as too much protein. Also, dieters have to be on high alert for hidden carbs, often invisible to the eye, yet coating that seemingly keto-friendly fried cheese.