Ketogenic Diet: A Quick Primer

Published July 19, 2016

Ketogenic diets have been around for years, yet seem to garner a resurgence in popularity every few years.  Read the basic information below, and if you find yourself interested talk to Chris or the coaches (and your physician) for more information. 


What is a Ketogenic Diet?

“In the most general terms, a ketogenic diet is any diet that causes ketone bodies to be produced by the liver, shifting the body’s metabolism away from glucose and towards fat utilization. More specifically, a ketogenic diet is one that restricts carbohydrates below a certain level (generally 100 grams per day), inducing a series of adaptations to take place. Protein and fat intake are variable, depending on the goal of the dieter.” – Lyle McDonald, “The Ketogenic Diet” Book.

There is a standard ketogenic diet, but there are also a few variations. However, all versions of this diet are essentially a very low carbohydrate, high fat diet.  Many of those on ketogenic diets seem to eat 30-50 grams of NET carbohydrates (carb-fiber=net). 

  • Standard Ketogenic Diet        
    • The diet with the most research behind it
    • Typically, 75% fat, 20% protein, and about 5% carbohydrates
  • Cyclical Ketogenic Diet
    • A standard ketogenic diet but with a day or two of high carb refeed days.
  • Targeted Ketogenic Diet
    • A standard ketogenic diet with small amounts of carbohydrates added before workouts
  • High-Protein Ketogenic Diet
    • A high protein version of the standard ketogenic diet
    • Typically, 60% fat, 35% protein, and about 5% carbohydrates


 Is there science behind a ketogenic diet?

  • Ketogenic diets have been associated with positive benefits for weight loss, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, PCOS, brain injuries, and acne.  The evidence is stronger for some outcomes as compared to others.


How to avoid the “keto flu” or ease the transition?

  • It may take 4-6 weeks to fully adapt to a ketogenic diet.
  • Similar to the paleo approach, transitioning to a ketogenic diet can initially result in a “foggy” brain and gut issues. 
  • A ketogenic diet is just as much about what type of foods you put in your body, as it is about the amount.  Use paleo principles to guide your intake of healthy fats, proteins, and carbs to ease the transition side effects.
  • Watch your electrolyte intake.  It can be easy to be deficient in sodium, potassium, and magnesium while eating a ketogenic diet.  Salted avocadoes can help fit nutrient needs.


Is a ketogenic diet right for you?

  • A ketogenic isn’t right for everyone.  This diet requires a particularly strict adherence to see benefits.
  • Similar to the paleo diet, you must be willing and have the patience to tweak the diet (trial and error) to fit your needs.
  • From personal experience: this diet is not great for those who do not get adequate sleep, and/or are stressed.  A ketogenic diet will affect your hormones (not necessarily in a negative way). However, if you are don’t get enough sleep or you are under stress, this diet may place extra stress on your body, particularly during the adaptation phase. 


I highly discourage you from starting this diet without doing research on it and talking to someone in the health field.  This diet can be particularly tricky in the beginning to meet nutritional needs.  Let us know if you have questions!



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