From Bulletproof coffee to intermittent fasting, the ketogenic diet seems to be everywhere these days! But is the keto diet just a fad or a key part of a healthy lifestyle? We took a closer look at this low-carb diet to help you find answers to these questions.Jump to Recipe
*This article contains affiliate links. It doesn’t cost you anything, but if you click on the link and buy something, we’ll earn a small commission to help our writing team create more great articles.*
What Is the Ketogenic Diet?
A ketogenic diet is a special form of low-carb nutrition. Originally developed to help epilepsy patients in the 1920s, it’s a high-protein and low-fat, low-carbohydrate diet.
During a ketogenic diet, 75% of your calories come from fat, 20% from protein, and only about 5% from carbohydrates. That means you say goodbye to pasta, bread, and other bakery products, sugar, sweets, etc. Instead, load up with fat-rich foods such as meat, fish, eggs, and cheese. You can also include large quantities of vegetables, salad, and nuts.
Many swear by limited consumption of carbohydrates to lose weight. Due to the lack of carbohydrates, the body falls back on its fat reserves. So you’ll burn fat instead of glucose.
How Do You Burn Fat on the Ketogenic Diet?
Our brain normally needs glucose to work, which our body obtains from simple carbohydrates. Glucose is in our blood. It enters the cells through the blood sugar-lowering hormone insulin. We store unused energy as fat. So if we load up on too much pasta, bread, or sweets, our body stores that unused energy in fat deposits.
But if someone sticks with a low-carb, low-glucose eating plan instead of burning sugar, it burns fat. This concept puts your body into a state of ketosis. This means that our body takes the necessary energy from fat due to carbohydrate deficiency and starts producing ketones. As a result, our fat reserves melt.
During the so-called gluconeogenesis and ketogenesis, the triglycerides (fats) from the fatty tissue can be mobilized and converted into glucose and ketones. Our body uses them as an energy source.
Fast Weight Loss With Fat and Protein
Since you’re using fat rather than carbs as your energy source, you should notice significant weight loss. You’ll probably notice weight loss pretty quickly as a result of this carbohydrate-poor diet. But be careful of the side effects, sometimes known as the Keto-Flu, when you start this plan. Some people might have brain fog and feel weak, cranky, and dizzy after giving up sugar or high-carb items while on the keto diet.
After a few days, however, their food cravings generally subside, and those following a keto diet tend to feel extra energy and increased mental clarity. According to a 2018 study by Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, a ketogenic diet can improve cognition.
The high protein and fat content of the ketogenic diet ensure quick and long saturation without loss of muscle mass. This is important for losing weight, as your muscles can burn a lot of excess energy. Watching the numbers decrease on the scale can increase the motivation to stick with the low-carb keto diet.
Keto Diet and Weight Loss
However, studies have shown that ketogenic dieters usually regain the initial weight loss after one or two years. Many have stopped the diet and re-integrated foods containing carbohydrates into their diet.
If you only follow a ketogenic diet is over a short period of time, you risk falling into the trap of yo-yo dieting. Even if you reach your goal weight with a keto plan, it’s not going to help if you resume your previous eating habits.
That is precisely what many people find this diet so difficult. Long-standing habits can often only be changed over slowly in small steps.
Guidelines for the Ketogenic Diet
If you google for the term “ketogenic diet,” you will mainly read that it is about a lot of fat and protein. But those most successful with a ketogenic lifestyle follow these guidelines to maximize their nutrient intake:
- Only eat when you’re really hungry: Some people eat without feeling hungry, resulting in empty calories. You probably learned from an early age that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But in a ketogenic diet, you should only eat when you are really hungry. This prolongs the nightly fasting window, which reduces more fat. You often see the ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting linked together for this reason.
- The right amount of fat is significant: Too little fat can cause an early feeling of hunger. Too much fat harms the liver and the heart and can be really harmful in the long run. So aim for balance and eating high-quality fats from sources like grain-fed beef, MCT oil, or wild salmon, rather than processed meats and oils.
- Eat vegetables in large quantities: Your body needs the fibers, minerals, and vitamins. Without potassium, you can’t build muscle, and your heart can’t work properly. Non-starchy vegetables will provide your body with plenty of phytonutrients minus the carbs.
- Focus on fat loss over total body weight: Weight is not the only decisive factor in a diet’s effectiveness. Remember- muscle weighs more than fat. Therefore, it is better to check your waist measurement, and don’t despair if you don’t lose weight at first.
Bulletproof and the Keto Diet
The Bulletproof Diet is one of the most popular forms of the keto diet right now, and it’s anchored by the popular Bulletproof Coffee. Before starting Bulletproof, founder Dave Asprey was 300 lbs and not feeling his best. He spent 15 years talking to nutritionists about ways to reclaim energy and enjoy a healthier lifestyle. And by 2014, he developed the Bulletproof Diet, which combines intermittent fasting with some keto principles to keep energy levels constant. The Bulletproof Diet consists of consuming 50-60% of your daily calories from healthy fats, 20% from protein, and the rest from vegetables and fruit.
For Asprey and other followers of his plan, the quality of fat really matters. Unlike other forms of the keto diet, adherents to this lifestyle only follow the keto plan for about 6 days each week and can have one as a “carb refeed day” when they eat a more balanced diet.
Dave Asprey created this drink in 2004 after drinking a cup of yak butter tea that immediately boosted his energy levels and mental performance. This magical concoction has evolved into bulletproof coffee, which you can purchase or create your own variation of Asprey’s drink. Just be sure to use grass-fed, unsalted butter or ghee.
Check out our Bulletproof Coffee Recipe below!
- 1 cup strong coffee ((high quality coffee works better))
- 1 1/2 tbsp MCT oil ((Medium-Chain Triglyceride oil))
- 1.5 tbsp unsalted butter ((grass-fed))
- Mix MCT oil, unsalted butter and coffee together with blender/shaker bottle.
- Pour into cup/mug.
What Are Some Other Keto Recipes?
Beyond the coffee, there are other delicious foods to enjoy as part of a healthy keto or bulletproof lifestyle. Here are a few more of our favorites.
Chia Seed Pudding: Delicious, indulgent, and the perfect keto-friendly breakfast treat if you’re not in the mood for eggs and bacon (another great keto breakfast option!)
Avocado Fries: High-carb French fries might not be on the menu, but you can still enjoy creamy keto-friendly avocado fries as part of your high-fat diet. Crack an egg and whisk it in a bowl. Cut a firm (but still ripe) avocado into spears, and dip them in the egg batter. Then dip into crushed pork rinds. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then bake in an air fryer at 375 for about 10 minutes.
Keto Chicken Tenders: Use this recipe for Babby’s Cornflake Chicken, but instead of using cornflakes, dip your tenders into either crushed pork rinds or almond meal. You’ll have an unbelievably tasty chicken meal that the kids will love, too!
Low-Carb Cheesy Casserole: What’s not to love about this keto-friendly combo? Cheese, chicken, and cream will kick those ketone bodies into high gear.
Keto Berry Salad: It’s sweet, delicious, and still keto-approved! What’s not to love about this recipe? If you want to make it more high-fat, dollop with some full-fat coconut whipped cream.
Peanut Butter Cookies: Who says you can’t enjoy dessert on a keto meal plan? These peanut butter cookies are sweetened with Splenda and only have 4 grams of carbs for those watching their carb intake.
Is the Ketogenic Diet Right for Me?
The ketogenic diet has been effective in promoting weight loss, but it’s not for everyone. Many find it difficult to adhere to such an extremely low-carbohydrate food form is difficult. Others have difficulties with some of the keto side effects, including fatigue, bad breath, and weakness. And sometimes the large list of “forbidden” foods just seems to make them more appealing!
From a research standpoint, the data isn’t conclusive, either. Some studies indicate the benefit of a keto lifestyle for those with epilepsy or type 2 diabetes, or heart disease. In contrast, others indicate potential complications for those with heart disease (yes– it’s on both lists!) or liver damage and fatty liver disease.
We need carbohydrates to survive, and since a keto lifestyle tends to reduce or eliminate many valuable foods like fruit, it’s difficult to maintain long-term. Even the popular Bulletproof Diet encourages adherents to stick with a keto diet for 5-6 days a week and use the weekend as a carb-refuel day to balance the diet.
Reducing your carb consumption, or jumpstarting your body into ketosis, can lead to cravings, constipation, and nutrient deficiencies. In the long run, the ketogenic diet is probably not the best long-term solution. However, it can be useful for cutting carb cravings or jumpstarting weight loss.
Long-Term Healthy Living
Rather than using the keto diet as a quick weight-loss fix, we might want to focus on overall health and wellness. Instead of eliminating some nutritious whole foods entirely, start with getting rid of extra empty calories our body just doesn’t need. Just cutting back on refined sugar and carbs might go a long way to restoring health and wellness.
A balanced diet and plenty of physical exercise are two crucial ways to improve your lifestyle. If we stick to it, we don’t need a ketogenic diet for a healthy lifestyle reboot.
Looking for moral support when starting a weight-loss journey? Thinking of giving the ketogenic diet a try? Let us know below, or talk it over with family and friends on FamilyApp