As a dietitian, my patients ask about a wide variety of diets. One plan has dominated the inquiries lately: the ketogenic diet. Since I’ve never put a patient on a diet I haven’t tried myself, I knew I needed to experience it personally. I dove in for 30 days with two carb-loving feet — and a combination of trepidation and motivation.
Since I began the experiment in October 2017, interest in keto has grown. At the same time, recent studies have questioned the health benefits of very low, as well as very high, carbohydrate diets. I’ve learned a lot from my experiment.
Saying goodbye to carbs and making fat a way of life
The ketogenic diet allows about 70 to 80 percent fat, about 5 percent carbohydrates (which equates to about 25 digestible, or net carbs, which are calculated by subtracting fiber from total carbohydrates), and moderate amounts of protein.
I recently wrote about a cancer specialist who not only adheres to the diet himself, but also feels it’s the right plan for the prevention, and perhaps even treatment of disease. I detailed his keto dietary practices in an earlier article.
What can you eat on the keto diet?
During week one, it was the drastic cut of carbohydrates that left me really hungry.
I soon realized keeping carbohydrates under 25 net carbs meant eating no “traditional” carbs at all. My tiny amount was being filled from non-carbohydrate sources, like:
- tree nuts — 2 grams for ½ cup of macadamia nuts
- vegetables —4 grams for a cup of broccoli
- my daily snack of pure coconut chips, 5 grams for a 1-ounce serving
Breakfast consisted of eggs, but not too many egg whites since that would increase my protein too much. I snacked a lot on dried cheese — particularly useful when traveling — and nuts. Lunch comprised of salads with lots of dressing and avocado.
Dinner was often wild salmon with broccoli, kale, or spinach — usually roasted to factor in any missing fat I needed for the day. As for dessert, forget about it, unless I was up for a tablespoon of olive oil as a midnight snack. I did find a few no-added-sugar coconut bars I liked, but in general, it was best to skip any after-dinner eats.