Beginning in the 1970s many doctors and nutritionists advised against eating fatty foods. Such advice led to a significant rise in carbohydrate-based meals—that is, meals with a high content of glucose (sugars) like bread and pasta. The human body can either run on carbohydrates (glucose) or ketones (metabolized fat). The process whereby the body runs on fats as opposed to sugars is called ketosis. This happens when carbohydrates are severely restricted, causing the body to rely on fat intake or existing fat stores already present.
The promotion of such a fat-based nutritional plan, known as a ketogenic plan, resulted from research into the effects of ketosis at major international universities over the last twenty years. The research demonstrated that following a balanced high-fat nutritional plan can have a variety of benefits; however, it is not without risks for some individuals.
Here are some basic facts to consider before beginning, and while following, a ketogenic nutritional plan:
1. Seek out medical advice before you begin.
Consulting a medical specialist is essential because one of the major side effects can be a rapid rise in cholesterol. Establishing a baseline and returning for regular testing is important.
2. The ketogenic nutritional plan is not a “Diet”.
If you are searching for methods to lose weight and generally feel better, most specialists will tell you to adjust your food intake and be more active. Ketosis can be dangerous for short term dieting as many specialists continue to reiterate.
3. Gradually transition into the ketogenic plan.
The “cold turkey” approach will result in the onset of flu-like symptoms—colloquially referred to as “keto flu”. A slow progression over a two-week period will make for a more comfortable transition.
4. Tracking your food intake is essential.
Because all foods have calories, it is important to record your daily food and calorie intake totals. Using apps such as MyFitnessPal or Lose It!, or even Fitbit’s corresponding app, can make the process easier since many major foods and brands are built into their softwares.
5. Throw out or donate all the carbohydrate-based foods in your house.
The sooner you replace your food supply, the faster your body will begin to burn fat for energy.
6. Search out recipes on medical web pages and online forums.
Contrary to some urban myths, you can continue to eat a balanced diet of fatty meats like steak and salmon, as long as avocados, walnuts, and plenty of vegetables are included too. Remember to record the calories so you can burn everything you eat.
7. You can be in ketosis while not eating more than 2500 calories a day.
Starting with a fatty breakfast that is followed by a lighter lunch (such as a boiled eggs and some vegetables), and a seafood-and-greens dinner can be less than 2000 calories. A daily intake of 2500 calories can be easily burnt by walking over 8000 steps per day.
8. Yes, you can still drink alcohol.
Alcohol consumption can occur if you schedule it into your plan and modify your intake. Since beer is high in carbohydrates, many people focus on wine or spirits instead. Beer is often over 300 calories and rich in sugar, whereas red wines rarely top 150 and spirits like scotch contain as little as 80 calories.
9. Let your friends and family know you can eat most foods.
There are only a few major things you must avoid while spending time with friends and family. Stay away from potato chips, tortillas, rice, root vegetables, and, unfortunately, desserts—unless the pie is made with an almond flour crust and is served with naturally-whipped cream.