The Ketogenic Diet
By: Dr. Anna Camille Moreno • Posted on June 26, 2018
What is the ketogenic (keto) diet?
The keto diet is all the rage? Why you may ask? Because it puts a person into ketosis, which means you are burning fat and if you are burning fat, you are losing weight. The Ketogenic Diet is a low carb, high fat, and moderate protein sparing diet with the purpose of switching your body from being a sugar-burner to a fat-burner.
Most women’s biggest concern with aging is weight gain. So this diet is a great way for many to lose weight and prevent that “Meno-pot” belly. However, the keto diet is NOT for everyone. If you have any of the following, you need to check with your physician before trying the keto diet:
- type 1 diabetes
- renal insufficiency or kidney failure
- heart failure
- chronic medical problems
How did the keto diet come about?
The keto diet was initially developed to control seizures in epileptic disorders without the use of medications. Ketosis is a natural bodily process that helps us survive when food intake is low.
How does the keto diet work?
- The keto diet teaches your body to burn stored fat which in turn makes fat cells start to release fatty acids that are quickly broken down by the liver producing “ketones.”
- Your body then enters into a state of “ketosis” where your body breaks down ketones for its primary energy source instead of glucose from carbohydrates.
What are the benefits of the keto diet?
The benefits of the keto diet include:
- Weight loss
- Control of blood sugar and lower insulin resistance – good for those at risk for diabetes and/or women with PCOS.
- Mental focus and attentiveness
- Increase energy and normalize hunger
- Epilepsy control
- Helps control cholesterol and blood pressure
- May improve acne
What are the possible risks or side effects of the keto diet?
- “Keto Flu:” bowel changes such as constipation, muscle cramping, menstrual changes, hair thinning, gout, and irregular heart beat (rare) but may be an issue especially if potassium levels drop.
- Gout flares as uric acid levels may flare and possible changes in creatinine/renal function.
- You usually will lose weight and loss fat tissue but you HAVE TO HAVE a plan to maintain that weight loss once you go out of ketosis.
What do you eat on the diet?
A keto diet should include the following restrictions and allowances:
- Restrict your carbohydrates to less than 15 g per day.
- Your nutrient intake should be something around 70% fats, 25% protein, and 5% carbohydrate.
- Drinking adequate fluids and having your blood chemistries, potassium, kidney function and uric acid levels measured monthly is usually recommended.
- Some people will need to take a prescription dose of potassium daily.
- Urine dipsticks can be done to monitor for ketones in the urine.
***Note that the Cleveland Clinic version of this diet recommends lean proteins and healthy fats***
Do Not Eat
- Grains: wheat, corn rice, cereal
- Sugar: honey, agave, maple syrup
- Fruit: apples, bananas, oranges
- Tubers: potato, yams
- Legumes: beans
Do EAT (1 cup contains 15 grams of carb)
- Meats: fish, beef, lamb, poultry, eggs
- Leafy Greens: spinach, kale
- Above Ground Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower
- High Fat Dairy: hard cheeses, high fat cream, butter
- Nuts and Seeds: macadamias, walnuts, sunflower seeds
- Sweeteners: stevia, erythritol, monk fruit are OK.
- Other Fats: coconut oil, high-fat salad dressing, saturated fats can be used in moderation
For information on keto recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and side items, check out ruled.me/keto-recipes/.
Be Strong. Be Healthy. Be In Charge!
Melissa Matteo, RD and Anna Camille Moreno, DO NCMP
Anna Camille Moreno, DO is a Family Medicine Doctor at Duke Women's Health Associates. Dr. Moreno is dedicated to an interdisciplinary women’s health practice focusing on the care of midlife women as it relates to menopause, perimenopause, hormone therapy, and their associated medical problems. Dr. Moreno is a graduate of the Specialized Women's Health Fellowship Program at Cleveland Clinic.