The Ketogenic Diet: How it Works, What to Eat and What to Expect

Ketogenic diet: a high-fat, high-protein, low-carb salad

When looking for a healthy eating plan to follow, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of plans and diets out there to choose from. It can be difficult to know what plan is best for you, especially when you have to consider your own body and health conditions.

Although not every plan fits every person, one popular eating plan is the ketogenic diet. Although most people consider a ketogenic diet as a plan for weight-loss, it’s also used to treat other health conditions such as epilepsy in children.

What is a Ketogenic Diet?

A ketogenic diet is higher in fat, adequate in protein and low in carbohydrates. This particular diet has been around for many years and has recently gained more and more popularity. There have been many variations over the years, but all of the plans limit carbohydrates to some degree. This may be something that works for you, but always talk to a health professional to determine if it’s a good option.

How the Ketogenic Diet Works

The body needs glucose (sugar) for its main source of fuel. The carbohydrates you eat are turned into glucose and used for energy. When you limit the amount of carbohydrates you eat, your body must search for another source of energy. After your glucose is depleted, your body uses fat for energy which leads to increased weight-loss.

What Can You Eat?

A ketogenic diet limits carbohydrates. Generally, the recommendation is to eat less than 50 grams per day. To meet this goal, you will eliminate foods like bread, pasta, sweets, candy and sugary drinks, just to name a few.

Most people are aware of this. What may surprise you is that other foods also contain carbohydrates such as fruits, milk and beans, so they will also be limited. A diet full of protein, vegetables and heart-healthy fats will provide you with great nutrition and keep you satisfied.

To start eating less carbs, find ways to substitute pasta with zucchini, swap tortillas with lettuce wraps or make mashed cauliflower. In addition to what you eat, remember to stay hydrated.

What to Expect

Patients are often surprised with their great weight-loss results after following the ketogenic diet. For many, quicker weight-loss increases their motivation.  Many are also surprised to notice their hunger decreases when they cut back on carbs and choose more protein. Health professions are happy to see metabolic changes such as improvements in insulin resistance, blood glucose control and improvements in blood pressure.

Next Steps:

Sometimes it’s easiest to begin with small changes. Cutting out your afternoon soda or swapping chips for a salad at lunch are great first steps. Build on each positive change and you will notice an impact on your weight and health. It’s important to focus on the positive changes you are making vs. what you are struggling with. The hard work will pay off in the end.

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