There are many ways of implementing a low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet plans but most involve following a higher fat, moderate protein, low carb food plan.
The nutrient intake on a ketogenic diet typically works out to about 70-75% of calories from fat, 20-25% from protein, and 5-10% from carbohydrate on a daily basis when calories are not restricted.
As far low carbs, keto diet plan typically requires tracking the carb amounts in the foods eaten and reducing carbohydrate intake to about 20-60 grams per day.
The specific daily protein requirement should be driven by a goal or ideal body weight or lean body mass and depends on height, gender and the amount of exercise done. The protein intake is usually about 1.5-2.0 grams/kg lean body mass. Eating too much protein can interfere with the effectiveness of the diet.
The balance of calories after calculating carbs and protein requirements will be from fats.
There is NO ONE SIZE that fits all. The carb/fat ratio is directly dependent on your level of carbohydrates tolerance.
Calorie counting is NOT important when doing keto, but it is important to understand how macronutrient percentages can be affected by caloric intake, so you should explore more on calorie counting to get more information on this subject. In short, low or very high-calorie intake will skew the percentages of macronutrients, so keep this in mind.
The goal of a ketogenic diet plan is to improve well-being through a metabolic change in which the primary cellular fuel source switches from carbohydrate-based fuels (glucose) to fat fuels and fat metabolism products called ketones.
Here are the practical steps (based on my own learning and experience). Read through them and start to implement them. As you go down the list the improvements are greater, sometimes you can only handle one change at a time. There is no one “right” way to do this. Choose a path you deem sustainable for you.
1. Reduce (ideally, eliminate) ALL sugar consumption in the form of sucrose and high fructose corn syrup.
Start to read all food labels. I know this will start to drive you crazy but this got to be the first step.
High-fructose corn syrup is a sweetener made from corn starch and it has a similar chemical composition and effect on the body like table sugar. It’s commonly used because it’s cheap. And it is COMMONLY added to foods, even in some you are told to be “healthy”.
You can find high-fructose corn syrup in soda, candy, sweetened yogurt, salad dressing, frozen junk foods, breads (irrespective white or wholemeal), canned fruit, juice (look it up and be shocked), granola bars, breakfast cereal, baked goods (your donuts, cookies and cakes), sauces and condiments, processed foods (chips and crackers), cereal bars, nutrition bars (yup those who claim to be healthy), coffee creamer, energy drinks and sport drinks, jam and jelly, ice cream…
Sucrose is a disaccharide created by the combination of glucose and fructose. High sucrose foods include granulated sugar, drink powders, syrups, cookies, cakes, dark chocolate, puddings, pies, processed cereals, dried fruits, ice cream, and cereal bars!
Rule of the thumb: Reject any fat-free and low-fat stuff, the good fat is taken out to be replaced with sugars.
2. Swap “simple” carbohydrates for “complex” ones.
Now one step further. All carbs, simple or complex, are all sugar. “Simple” simply means that they are easier to be digested by our body.
So typical simple carbs are table sugar, molasses, brown sugar, jam, corn syrup, fruit drinks, soft drinks, candy…
Complex carbs are often rich in fibre, thus satisfying and health promoting. Complex carbohydrates are commonly found in whole plant foods and, therefore, are also often high in vitamins and minerals.
The more a carbohydrate food source contains insoluble fibre, for example, the less likely it is to lead to the hormonal condition in your body that promotes fat storage. For example, if you want vegetables, eat those with less sugar and more fibre, such as broccoli over peas and carrots, or yams over white potatoes. Fibres are important for your microbiome health.
The good news is that there is absolutely no reason to limit non-starchy vegetables. So you can eat up as much green salad as you’d like.
3. Limit really sweet fruits (e.g., banana, mangoes) to 1-2 servings per day, avoid any dried fruits (e.g., raisins, dried mangoes, and the like), and don’t drink any fruit juice.
I know… we have been hammered into our head that fruit is healthy… right up there with vegetables, right?
But fruit, despite the health halo, also tend to be fairly rich in carbohydrates, primarily the simple sugars glucose and fructose.
When going low-carb, it is recommended that fruit consumption is controlled like any other carbohydrate especially if you have low carbohydrate tolerance.
The good news is that berries tend to be the better choice for fruits. Watch the serving size at all time.
4. Reduce overall carbohydrate intake to one serving per day.
Little by little, you are building your awareness of the “bad carbs” and know your “good-carbs”. At this point, you want to continue to reduce even more carbs to achieve keto-adaptation and optimise your health.
5. With each step above, increase your intake of fat (over protein or other carbohydrates).
With every step above, you need to fuel your body and optimise the fuel source.
Do not fear fat and trust that you have to increase your fat intake, especially if you’re still hungry and your metabolic demands are high (e.g., if you exercise a lot).
Do not go backwards and load up carbs or protein; just add more good fat! I know, this might drive you nuts and make you nervous. Eat more eggs, more cheese, more nuts, more avocados, more olive oil, more coconut oil, more high fat yoghurt over anything suspiciously low-fat.
A ketogenic diet plan is not a “special diet” that requires special foods. There is no need to buy any “low carb” packaged foods. Ketogenic foods are essentially just real, whole foods which are close to their natural state.
6. Be prepared for Keto Flu
You are bound to go through an induction phase with the change of the diet and frankly, this is perhaps the hardest part. Here is a practical guide.
7. Consider supplements
Our body is complex and this is a good opportunity to look further into supplementation. Check out more discussion on this subject here.
This is perhaps the most important message I’d like to drill into your head as you browse through this blog. Stay curious and indulge in healthy scepticism.
You are now embarking on a lifestyle change outside conventional wisdom and you may even find your doctor not supportive of your approach. And this will drive you crazy.
My sincere advice is it’s your body and it’s your health.
Learn!!!! Knowledge is power and there is a growing community out there across the globe and I cannot help but want to call it “Keto revolution”!
We all want to live a healthy and long life and no one can stop you from achieving this. Even if it means to find a new doctor. I mean it.
Check out this must-see lecture by Dr Jeff Volek on The Many Facets of Keto-Adaptation: Health, Performance, and Beyond.
Welcome to the Keto Superhuman Club! You will discover more ways to eat, play and love Keto!