What is the ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet, commonly known as ‘keto’, is very-low carbohydrate, high-fat diet that encourages the body to metabolise fat for energy instead of glucose. When prescribing the keto diet to patients we recommend your daily energy intake from food to be consumed in specific ratios in order to achieve a state of fat metabolism, called ketosis. We recommend 50-60% of your daily energy intake (kilojoules) to come fat sources, 30% of your energy to come from proteins, and 10-20% of your energy intake to come from carbohydrates. When converting this to grams, the Standard Australian Diet (SAD) contains approximately 45% carbohydrates which equates to about 229 grams of carbohydrates daily. In comparison to the keto diet, which is restricted to as little as 50 grams of carbohydrates daily- a significant difference.
“Ketone bodies are produced as an alternative fuel source to glucose when sugars and carbohydrates are restricted from the diet. These ketone bodies can be measured via breath, blood or urine as an indicator of fat mobilization.”
This restriction of carbohydrates forces the mitochondria, the engines within your cells, to create energy from fat (in the form of ketone bodies) rather than from carbohydrates (glucose). Once your body begins to run efficiently in this fat burning state, it is called ketosis. The keto diet is one of the only diets that you can immediately scientifically measure if you are successfully achieving your goal- a state of ketosis. Urinary strips, breath tests and blood tests are available that can measure the amount of ketone bodies you are producing, so it is easier to get on track and stay on track than other popular diets. Additionally, ketosis can produce more energy per ketone body than per glucose molecule, therefore people of a keto diet often report feeling more energetic, less fatigued, and they find they feel fuller for longer.
What does the ketogenic diet look like on your plate?
I know what you are thinking, “Wow, 60% fat and 30% protein, that leaves no room for vegetables”. This is not the case. The ratios we use when we talk about the energy intake of each macronutrient doesn’t look the same on your plate…..
Below, is an example of what the keto diet looks like on your plate. Surprisingly, you can fit a large amount of non-starchy vegetables into this diet. The reason for this, is fat sources contain a lot of energy per gram, therefore your fat sources of food will look smaller on your plate, but weigh more. Compared to vegetable sources, which are often very low in energy per gram, particular non-starchy vegetables; non-starchy vegetables are typically watery vegetables grown above the ground, compared to starchy root vegetables grown under the ground. So you can still eat a good amount of vegetables on a keto diet and nutritionally receive more bang for your buck!
Visually your plate should still be made up of at least half non-starchy vegetables, a palm size of protein, and 2 sources of fats in the form of a dressing, sauce, side (like avocado or feta) or oily fish.
MYTH BUSTING KETO
A keto diet is high in protein- MYTH
It is a common misconception that the keto diet is high in protein. The diet consists of a moderate amount of protein, approximately 30%, and a high amount of fat 50-60%. Too much protein can cause gut irritation and constipation in some people, and it can sometimes throw a patient out of ketosis. This is because proteins in the body can be converted to glucose for energy. Therefore if a patient overeats, it allows your cellular engines to utilise glucose for energy, rather than fat, pushing you back out of a ketogenic metabolic state.
The ketogenic diet is not safe- MYTH
A common concern our patients have about the ketogenic diet is that restricting an entire macronutrient food group could be unsafe for health. Clinically we have observed the opposite effect. We find that excessive sugar and carbohydrate consumption drives all sorts of inflammatory health conditions such as acne, IBS, anxiety, cardiovascular disease and arthritis. Recent studies have shown the ketogenic diet to be safe, and even beneficial results in the treatment of the following conditions:
- autism and other spectrum disorders
- autoimmune disorders
- depression, anxiety and other mood disorders
- metabolic disorders (including polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and type 2 diabetes)
- neurological and neurodegenerative disorders (including Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease)
- overweight and obesity
Side effects and complications are uncommon however, constipation, reflux, and dairy intolerance-type symptoms have been known. There is also mixed evidence in those with Type 1 diabetes, and we do not recommend in pregnancy and lactation. We recommend speaking to a health professional before pursuing a keto diet.
Everyone should be on a keto diet- MYTH
No diet is ‘one-size fits all’. Depending on your constitution, body type and health concerns it may or may not be the right diet for you. There are many factors that may influence how easily an individual’s body enters ketosis. Some of these factors include; individual tolerance of blood sugars, physical activity levels, variations in the body’s ability to metabolise and ulitise ketone bodies for energy, eating windows, and total kilojoule intake. In some cases, we may prescribe additional supplements to assist the ketosis transition such as ketone salt supplementation, medium-chained triglyceride oil (MCT oil), fish oils, glucose and carbohydrate metabolism support, and protein powders. Ask your practitioner for assistance with the ketogenic diet if you are measuring ketone bodies and find you are not entering a state of ketosis.
Eating fat will increase my cholesterol levels- MYTH
Clinically we have observed the opposite effect. We find that highly refined, processed carbohydrates and sugars impact cholesterol levels in a more negative way than a ketogenic diet. Scientifically and clinically it has been observed that in some individuals their total cholesterol levels may rise temporarily, however, when monitored over time cholesterol levels appear to regulate and reduce to a healthier ratio, becoming more protective for health. Differences may be seen however depending on the food sources one may be consuming their dietary fats from i.e. ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’ food choices.
You can eat as much fat as you want on a keto diet- MYTH
Yes, the keto diet is rich in fats, however it doesn’t give you a license to eat as much bacon, butter and diary as you wish without health consequences. As Naturopaths we see two different styles of the ketogenic diet, of which we consider a ‘Dirty Keto’ and a ‘Clean Keto’ diet. The ‘Dity Keto’ contains a large amount of saturated and trans fats like bacon, animal fat, sausages and dairy. We do not recommend this diet as studies show these foods can clog your arteries causing atherosclerosis, and increase risk of cardiovascular disease such as stroke. We recommend a ‘Clean keto’ which incorporates healthier unsaturated and polyunsaturated fat contains foods like olive oil, avocadoes, rolled flaxseeds, nuts, and oil fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel.
If you are considering trying the ketogenic diet for weight loss or other health reasons, we recommend talking to a health professional first such as a general practitioner, naturopath or nutritionist. If you would like to know more information about the ketogenic diet or other weight loss programs we offer at Des Lardner’s Organic, please contact us on (03) 53827766.
Written by Ebony Jordan, Naturopath
Des Lardner’s Organic
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