Before I go any further with this, I’ll briefly explain what ketogenic means and why one would aspire to be on a ketogenic diet. Some say you need to eat fewer than 30 grams of carbs per day to be in ketosis. It may be fewer than that to get into a deep state of ketosis, and you must not eat too much protein either. So a ketogenic diet is high fat, low(ish) protein, and very low carb. More on that in a moment.
When you are in ketosis, your body is using ketones more than it normally would for energy. Ketones are made out of fatty acids in the liver in the absence of dietary glucose (carbs) so that your organs can continue to function properly even when you don’t have carbs. Some people say when you’re in ketosis your brain doesn’t get enough energy, but some would argue that the glucose your liver produces on its own when you’re in ketosis is more than enough to feed your brain.
Studies have shown that you can even train endurance activities at an elite level on a ketogenic diet. These people would fuel up with coconut butter instead of Powerade, and their bodies would get very good at using fat instead of glucose as fuel, as would yours if you ate a ketogenic diet for a while.
Isn’t it dangerous?
Ketosis has kind of a bad reputation, and that’s partly because there’s something called diabetic ketoacidosis, which is when a diabetic can’t use glucose as fuel (due to a lack of insulin or insulin resistance) and ketones start to build up in their blood. Too many ketones are not a good thing, but you can mitigate and monitor that on a healthy ketogenic diet. Jimmy uses the home blood tests to check his ketone levels in his blood, which seem to be more accurate than the urine tests. Here’s an interview with Jimmy and Dr. Lauren Noel that explains all that.
Ketosis can actually be therapeutic.
I’m not necessarily even advocating this as a way of eating. After analyzing what it would take to get me into ketosis, I’m not sure I’d like it. I do think it’s a good idea for people suffering from myriad diseases and disorders, though. So below is what it would look like on a 2,000 calorie diet. No, everyone should not be on a 2,000 calorie diet, but that’s sort of an average between men and women’s caloric needs, so I thought I’d start there. Jimmy says he gets around 82% fat, 3% carbs, and 15% protein, so I tried to mimic that in my imaginary ketogenic diet for a day.
Things to note…
One interesting thing I noticed when I was making this hypothetical diet was that there’s really no room for vegetables except for the paltry onions I included. I don’t necessarily think that vegetables are a necessary part of a healthy diet, but that’s only when you’re eating the whole animal, so to speak. If you eat organs, bone broth, AND the muscle meat from grass-fed/pasture raised animals and yolks from pastured hens, then you’re getting heaps of nutrients. But if you don’t, you’d really need to supplement on this diet.
One other interesting point came about when I was trying to think of all the fatty Paleo foods I could include. Of course avocado came up on my list, as well as lard, bacon fat, tallow, fatty meats, coconut oil, coconut milk, olive oil, and nuts. However, while one whole avocado contains 322 calories and 29 grams of fat, it also houses 18 grams of carbohydrates. I don’t know how I’ve overlooked that for so long. Those 18 grams alone would’ve more than doubled the carb count of this menu, so I omitted it. Just something to consider.
If you try eating a ketogenic diet, I strongly recommend you make a menu like this for yourself and record your meals in one of the free diet trackers online so you know exactly what percentages of carbs, fat, and protein you’re getting. You’ll probably be eating more fat than you’ve ever eaten before and I’m assuming it might require some practice. It might be worth being diligent about it: at least in Jimmy’s experience, the further he went into ketosis, the more weight he dropped, at least when he wasn’t doing any exercise. When he was doing exercise his weight loss declined a little bit, but that’s a whole different topic.
Photo Courtsey: Lebron James Instagram
Credit: Paleo Plan