Updated: Dec 6, 2020
What is it?
The keto diet is a nutrition plan comprised of 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs. The body switches from using carbohydrates to burning fat for energy and the liver produces molecules called ketones in the process. Ketones are what the body uses for fuel instead of glucose broken down from carbohydrates.
What foods are included?
Natural fats: butter, olive oil, coconut oil
Meat: Chicken, turkey, beef, lamb
Seafood: salmon, shrimp, crab, sardines, mackerel
Cheese, plain greek yogurt (no flavouring), cottage cheese
Nuts & seeds: Brazil, macadamia, pecans, chia, flax
Vegetables grown above ground: Spinach, cooked brussels, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, spaghetti squash, avocados
Small portions of berries, lemon or lime
What foods are avoided?
High starchy vegetables: potatoes, yams, beets
Grains: oats, amaranth, rice, pasta
Beans & lentils
Deep fried foods & trans fats
Added sugars/ sweeteners
Alcohol: beer, wine
High sugar fruits (Mango, bananas, pineapple)
High omega 6:3 ratio foods (safflower, corn, and sunflower oils)
The missing nutrients:
Due to the restrictive nature of the keto diet, it can be lacking the following nutrients:
Ketosis vs. ketoacidosis
Ketosis is a state where the body has low levels of ketones (acetoacetate, beta- hydroxybutyric acid, and acetone) in the blood. Ketosis is a normal physiological process of the body which occurs during an overnight fast.
In contrast, ketoacidosis is a large amount of ketones in the blood which is extremely dangerous, requires immediate medical attention, and may occur in unmanaged diabetes.
The keto flu:
Getting into ketosis can take 2-3 weeks. In the transition period common symptoms include muscle cramping & soreness, heart palpitations, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, depression, trouble sleeping, and moodiness
Microbial diversity is reduced as only certain bacteria survive in high fat/ bile salt environments. Diets high in protein also decrease butyrate producing bacteria leading to a gut predisposed to less types of bacteria.
Poor meal planning may cause constipation and excessive loss of potassium/sodium
Intolerance to eating a high fat & protein diet e.g. malabsorption
Predisposed to gout
Less sugar cravings
Decreased afternoon fatigue
Reduces brain fog
Weight loss & leaner body shape
Used in brain disorders: epilepsy, autism, Alzheimer's disease, depression, brain trauma (How? ketones may modulate nerve firing)
Used in some cancers and diabetes management
Possible 2.5% increase in grip strength & beneficial performance in aerobic/endurance athletes
Knowledge is power,
Bueno, N. B., de Melo, I. S. V., de Oliveira, S. L., & 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. British Journal of Nutrition, 110(7), 1178-1187.
Gasior, M., Rogawski, M. A., & Hartman, A. L. (2006). Neuroprotective and disease-modifying effects of the ketogenic diet. Behavioural pharmacology, 17(5-6), 431.
King, D. E., Mainous III, A. G., & Lambourne, C. A. (2012). Trends in dietary fiber intake in the United States, 1999-2008. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 112(5), 642-648.
McSwiney, F. T., Wardrop, B., Hyde, P. N., Lafountain, R. A., Volek, J. S., & Doyle, L. (2018). Keto-adaptation enhances exercise performance and body composition responses to training in endurance athletes. Metabolism, 81, 25-34.
Neal, E. G., Chaffe, H., Schwartz, R. H., Lawson, M. S., Edwards, N., Fitzsimmons, G., ... & Cross, J. H. (2008). The ketogenic diet for the treatment of childhood epilepsy: a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Neurology, 7(6), 500-506.
Ruskin, D. N., Svedova, J., Cote, J. L., Sandau, U., Rho, J. M., Kawamura Jr, M., ... & Masino, S. A. (2013). Ketogenic diet improves core symptoms of autism in BTBR mice. PLoS One, 8(6), e65021.
Rho, J. M., & Stafstrom, C. E. (2012). The ketogenic diet as a treatment paradigm for diverse neurological disorders. Frontiers in pharmacology, 3, 59.
Seyfried, T. N., Kiebish, M., Mukherjee, P., & Marsh, J. (2008). Targeting energy metabolism in brain cancer with calorically restricted ketogenic diets. Epilepsia, 49, 114-116.
Urbain, P., Strom, L., Morawski, L., Wehrle, A., Deibert, P., & Bertz, H. (2017). Impact of a 6-week non-energy-restricted ketogenic diet on physical fitness, body composition and biochemical parameters in healthy adults. Nutrition & metabolism, 14(1), 17.
Note: keto diets should only be used under professional & experienced supervision. If you are considering undertaking a ketogenic diet please consult a dietician or naturopathic doctor.