Ketogenic diet basics

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Keto Diet:

The Ketogenic diet is a way of eating that is high in dietary fat, low in carbohydrates, and moderate in protein. This way of eating encourages a state known as ketosis, where our body becomes more efficient at using fat (rather than glucose) for fuel.

**Collab post with Laurie Christine King**

Keto Variations:

Classic Keto (often used for weight loss, resetting insulin sensitivity, etc): 75% fat, 20% protein, 5% carb.

Cyclical Keto: Keto with one high carb day once a week (or once every 2 weeks).

Targeted Keto: Keto but with approximately 20-50g net carbs 30-60 minutes before exercise.

*The original diet developed for treating refractory epilepsy, used macros around 90% fat, 6% protein, 4% carb – the aim of this diet is much different than what most of us require when using keto for weight loss/ insulin sensitivity/ mental clarity/ etc. 


Example Keto macros for a female:  100p 25c 165f ~ 1985 cal

Example Keto macros for a male: 140p 35c 230f ~2770 cals

(*As always, mileage will vary based on height, weight, goals, etc – just providing a visual for what a potential macro spread might look like).


Monitoring Ketosis:

Knowing and monitoring blood ketone levels is very important for those on a ketogenic diet. We can eat “low-carb” and not necessarily be in ketosis. For example – if protein intake is too high (>0.8g/ lb of body weight), it can prevent us from sliding into (or staying in) ketosis. Once our body is efficient at using ketones for fuel, we generally will have a little more wiggle room with the amount of carbs/ protein we eat. This is why monitoring ketones is super important- we can then make adjustments based on what our metrics look like. Gold standard for monitoring ketones is drawing blood using a blood ketone meter. We love the Keto Mojo Meter as it can test both blood glucose and ketones ($60 Amazon)

If testing blood ketones, we’re aiming for BHB (beta hydroxybutyrate) levels of around 1-3 mmol/L.

Keto Flu:

You may have heard of the notorious “Keto Flu” – this encompasses the symptoms we may feel as we transition into eating the lower carbohydrate and higher fat balance on a Ketogenic diet.Keto Flu

Symptoms May Include:

-Diarrhea, constipation, upset stomach

-Difficulty concentrating or focusing

-Difficulty falling/staying asleep

-Irritability, mood swings

-Muscle cramps

-Nausea, cramps


-Sugar Cravings

(and others)

To minimize kickback while transitioning to Keto, make sure to stay hydrated, supplement with electrolytes and be careful to monitor caloric intake. Also keep tabs on exercise intensity and frequency as changes may need to be made in this department to accommodate our dietary change to Keto.


Keto for Fat Loss:

Every diet can work if (1) it creates caloric restriction and (2) we can adhere to it. There is nothing inherently magically about Keto that makes it superior to any other type of eating. So the question to ask becomes “Is Keto right for me?” If we have an abstainer-type personality, Keto could be brilliant since it paints very rigid guidelines of foods that can and cannot be eaten. We must consider sustainability, however, and also have a plan in place for reintroducing carbohydrates if our time on Keto is a temporary one – as we can’t simply go from ketosis to eating 300+ grams of carbohydrates a day. 


Keto & Improving Insulin Sensitivity / Blood Glucose Regulation

30-90 days of keto can be a brilliant way to improve insulin sensitivity, if blood glucose and insulin values aren’t looking so hot. Not sure if this you? Check our previous post on Monitoring Blood Glucose.

Worth mentioning that if we’re consistently waking up in the morning with elevated blood glucose levels (90-100 mg/dL)- this is more often than not a hormonal regulation issue and less about our last meal prior to bed. However, if we’re monitoring post prandial blood glucose and find that our glucose levels are staying elevated post meal, or we’re having severe spikes and dips in blood glucose- this is more characteristic of an insulin issue.  As always, we want to avoid making assumptions based on one reading- be sure to look at trends over a few days or even a week to get a more complete picture of blood glucose regulation. 

Keto & Exercise:

Sprints, HIIT, Spin class, Orange Theory, CrossFit, Weightlifting – all of these popular workout methodologies (and more) are primarily fueled by glucose, aka carbohydrates. Everything works until it doesn’t – so be super careful combining a Keto approach with these modalities. Mileage may certainly vary, but for most people, Keto likely won’t be a good fit in the long term.


Keto & Women’s Health:

The Ketogenic Diet and women’s health is an interesting conversation point. Women are certainly not tiny men, and the two genders seem to react much differently to macronutrient needs and certain ways of eating. Persistent low carbohydrate eating can often be a root cause of period problems or amenorrhea. Because women are more-or-less designed to (metaphorically) turn calories into babies, the female system seems to be more sensitive and have more “emergency breaks” in play to protect itself. Stress, adrenal health, exercise frequency/intensity/modality, menstrual health, and actual caloric intake need to be carefully monitored and taken into consideration. Interestingly enough, we are seeing some promising results for the menopausal crowd- perhaps due to lower estrogen levels being associated with a decrease in insulin sensitivity. We look forward to more research on lower carbohydrate intake and menstrual cycles.

As always feel free to DM me with any questions! xoxo

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