Five Top Tips for Ketogenic Diets

Ketogenic Diets - the inside scoop

Going Keto? Read more.

Ketogenic (keto) diets are very popular currently for both the general population, athletes, people seeking a lifestyle change or  people wanting some health benefits by following a low carbohydrate diet.  However, it is important that you understand how to follow a Ketogenic diet safely.  Ketogenic diets have been advocated as controlling some types of Diabetes and for the treatment of Epilepsy not controlled by medications(1). 
A ketodiet usually comprises of < 20 g carbohydrate (carb) consumed daily (about 5% of total energy consumed daily), a moderate amount of protein (about 20% of total energy consumed daily) and fat (greater than 70% of total energy consumed daily).  
The principles behind a keto diet are is that by eat mostly fats and very little carbs, the body changes from using ingested carbohydrates as a predominate fuel to make make energy to breaking down fats stored in the body to produce glucose and ketone.   
Ketones can be used for energy also as they are converted in acetyl-CoA which enters the citric acid cycle and is oxides in the mitochondria for energy (1).   Once the body is in breaking down fat as a fuel and using ketones as a fuel, this is called a state of Nutritional Ketosis.  You can confirm you are in ketosis by using urine test strips that test for ketones.
Once a person is in nutritional ketosis and following a low carb, high fat diet this is called being fat adapted;  the process can take several weeks be fully adapted.

TOP TIP # 1 - Tracking

Many people think that a keto diet is just eating no carbs and high fat, however, the entire diet still needs to be adequate in vitamins, minerals and fibre.  

Tracking your food intake will determine your macronutrients (carbs, protein and fat) consumed as well as the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), so that any adjustments can be made to ensure your health is not compromised.

TOP TIP # 2 - Increase fluids

As with any diet or meal plan drinking adequate water is essential to maintain good health.  Water is essential for many biochemical processes in the body along with maintain good mental acuity and athletic performance.  When the weather is warmer remember to consume more fluid.  The additional fluids will also aid in digestion and help relieve any constipation issues due to following a lower fibre keto diet. 

TOP TIP # 3 - Avoid constipation

A keto diet is low in carbohydrate and many carbohydrate foods are rich in fibre such as wholegrains, vegetables and fruits.  Try to continue eating low carbohydrate fibrous vegetables daily such as; broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, mushrooms, avocados, spinach, checking for total carbohydrate content. You may even benefit from adding a good probiotic (healthy bacteria) and a prebiotic into your diet.

TOP TIP # 4 - Moderate protein 

Many people on keto diets think they can eat lots of protein, however this is not healthy long term, as the body can only utilise a certain amount of protein daily; depending on your individual needs. General requirements for most people will be between 1.2 – 2.0 g protein/ kg body weight daily (2).  Athletes and very active people may have higher requirements than less active people but there is no need to have more than your daily requirements. 

TOP TIP # 5 - Seek professional help

Many people start a keto diet and don’t fully understand how to manage this on a daily basis, they tend to start off restricting all carbohydrate and then cannot maintain ketosis.  Seek the help of a trained Dietitian or Nutritionist into how to safely follow a ketogenic diet.  This diet regimen is not for everyone and it may be of no benefit for you to try.  But if you are considering a lifestyle change or want to try a ketogenic diet for your health, then seek the guidance from a health professional.

Reference:

  1. Paoli, A., Rubini, A., Volek, J. S., & Grimaldi, K. A. (2013). Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets. European journal of clinical nutrition67(8), 789-796.
  2. Rodriguez, N. R., DiMarco, N. M., & Langley, S. (2009). Nutrition and athletic performance. Medicine and science in sports and exercise41(3), 709-731.
Please email  rachel@megabitenutrition.com for any nutrition topics you would like to learn about.

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