The Keto Diet

The ninth installment of the series on eating patterns is about the Ketogenic (Keto) Diet. Last month, we explored the Glycemic Index Diet and learned that different carbohydrates have different effects on a person’s blood sugar. Ranked #38 out of 41 total diets in the U.S News Best Diet Rankings (but #2 in the ‘Best Fast Weight Loss’ category), the Keto Diet switches the fuel your body uses for energy from carbs to fat, thus encouraging weight loss and promoting feelings of fullness.

Keto Diet: The Keto Diet can promote quick weight loss because it leads to a state of ‘ketosis,’ in which your body produces ketones, the byproducts of using stored and dietary fat for fuel. During normal metabolism, our bodies primarily use glucose (from carbohydrates) as fuel. In ketosis, our bodies begin relying on stored fat for fuel. However, ketosis can only be achieved when carbohydrates are extremely limited, often to as low as 20 grams of net carbohydrates (grams of carbs minus grams of fiber) per day. For reference, a medium banana contains approximately 24 grams of net carbs. The diet can be cycled on and off, or with discipline it can be maintained for longer periods of time. Because the diet is high in fat, it can promote feelings of fullness, which may lead to a decrease in overall food consumption. The diet is moderate in protein.

Nutritional Considerations: This low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet is incredibly controversial. While ketosis may promote some quick weight loss, the eating pattern is extremely restrictive. The incredibly low carbohydrate intake may cause fatigue, headaches and brain fog, often referred to as the “carb flu.” Once a dieter’s body has acclimated to the decreased carbohydrate intake, those symptoms should subside, often by the third week. Participants should choose high-quality, minimally processed keto foods, such as grass-fed meats, low-carb vegetables (such as kale or broccoli) and high-fat dairy products to get the most nutrition from the diet.

Target Audience: The Keto Diet is not recommended for anyone who is underweight, has kidney or liver problems or a history of eating disorders. However, those who are overweight or have Type 2 Diabetes may find some health improvement on this diet as it promotes weight loss. For diabetics taking insulin, the Keto Diet will change your regimen; consult your doctor prior to making any dietary changes. Regardless of your state of health, it’s important to inform your doctor if you decide to experiment with ketosis.

Foods to Highlight: Nut butter, it’s your time to shine! Nut butters are high in fat and have a moderate amount of protein, so they’re perfect on this diet. Try almond butter spread on celery, or use it to make dressings for salad or meat. Low-carb veggies include greens, cucumbers, celery, zucchini, cabbage and broccoli. This is also a dieter’s chance to indulge in high-fat meats, like dark-meat poultry or ribs, just hold the BBQ sauce! Avocados and ghee (clarified butter) are excellent sources of fat on this diet.

Holly R. Layer is a Registered Dietitian and a freelance writer.  She teaches fitness classes at the Southtowns YMCA and leads nutrition tours at the East Aurora Cooperative Market.  She lives in the village with her husband, Andrew, an East Aurora native. She blogs at Questions can be emailed to Holly at 


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