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The Ketogenic Diet - A Beginners Guide

The Ketogenic diet has been rising in popularity over the past few years thanks to its many benefits, including weight loss and improved health. Unlike some other popular diets, “keto” is not a fad and is here to stay. In fact, numerous studies have shown benefits of the Ketogenic diet in the context of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease among others.

Our Medisys clinic in Montreal is now offering the services of the Keyto Center.  Its objective is to help people improve their weight, diabetes and other metabolic issues through an approach based on real, whole foods – no supplements, no prepackaged meals. Dr Elyssa Elman and Lauren Richer, M.Sc, RD, directors of the Keyto Center, have been helping patients lose weight and get healthy for several years now. In the below article, they answered some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the Ketogenic diet.

 

Looking for healthy low-carb diet ideas? Download the complete low carb diet guide. 

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What is a Ketogenic diet?

The Ketogenic diet is a low carbohydrate, high fat, and moderate protein diet. By drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and providing the body with enough fat, the body switches from burning sugar to using fat as fuel1, which is what’s known as a state of nutritional ketosis. When this happens, the body becomes efficient at burning fat and harvesting energy from it. This diet can lead to significant improvement in glucose and insulin levels, as well as other beneficial side effects like mental clarity, improved energy levels, and greater concentration1.

 

What is nutritional ketosis? Is it the same as Ketoacidosis?

Ketosis is a natural metabolic state in which fat provides fuel for the body and the brain. When the body uses fat as fuel, it will break fat down and the by-product of this process produces ketones2. To go into ketosis, people generally need to be eating fewer than 40g net carbohydrates a day, and as few as 20g net.

Ketoacidosis, on the other hand, is a dangerous and life-threatening condition, associated with diabetes, which results from very high levels of ketones and blood sugar2. This condition can lead to numerous symptoms and even death2.

A low-carbohydrate diet can trigger ketosis, whereas poor diabetes management is the main trigger for ketoacidosis.

 

Why add fat? Is that dangerous?

When we restrict carbohydrate intake, fat becomes our primary energy source. Dietary fat has many functions in the body other than energy, like helping us absorb vitamins, regulating inflammation and immunity, satiety, and repair to name a few. Fats are found in both animal (meat, fish, eggs) and plant sources (avocado, oils, olives)3. Although fat has developed a bad reputation over the years, studies have failed to show a link between saturated fat and heart disease. It is important to mix up your sources of fat. Not all fats are created equal and so there are some fats that should be avoided like vegetable oils and seed oils3.

On a Ketogenic diet, we aim to add 2 tbsp of fat per meal. Fat is tasty and is a great way to flavor a meal!  

 

I keep hearing that a keto diet helps treat metabolic syndrome but what is metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that generally occur together and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes4. About 1 in 5 Canadians meet the diagnosis for metabolic syndrome4. It is diagnosed when a person has three or more of the following conditions4:

 

I am lactose intolerant, can I still be on this type of diet?

Being on a Ketogenic diet does not require you to eat dairy. Dairy is a good source of fat and protein, as well as calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus; however, it is not essential in this lifestyle. There are numerous dairy alternatives that are keto-friendly and an array of dairy-free keto recipes that are equally delicious! Concerned about your health? Contact us.

 

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What are the benefits of the Ketogenic diet?

Keto has been shown to have widespread health and wellness benefits5 including:

  1. Decreased appetite and fewer cravings: many diets tend to leave people feeling hungry and miserable which eventually leads to them giving up. The Ketogenic diet is naturally highly satisfying so many people find they don’t need to eat as much or as often to feel full. People often notice how they are no longer tempted by the sugary, or junky foods as they once were.
  2. Weight loss: cutting carbohydrates is one of the most effective ways to lose weight. Studies have shown that a low-carb diet leads to 2-3 times more weight loss than a low fat diet.
  3. Improved blood sugar and insulin: a low-carb lifestyle has been shown to significantly reduce both blood sugar and insulin levels. Some people with diabetes may need to reduce their insulin dosage by 50% within the first couple of weeks. A study conducted in 2008 showed that in people with type 2 diabetes, 95% had reduced or eliminated their diabetes medications within six months6.
  4. Loss of that pesky gut: not all fat is created equal and the fat that is stored in your abdomen known as visceral fat, is the most dangerous. Visceral fat is associated with inflammation and insulin resistance. The Ketogenic diet is effective at reducing this harmful fat7.
  5. Cardiac benefits: a study conducted in 2018 found that patients, with type 2 diabetes, improved many of their biomarkers of cardiovascular disease risk after 1 year on a Ketogenic diet8. Further, there were significant changes seen in inflammation and blood pressure8.

 

I travel a lot and often have to eat out, is that a problem?

The Ketogenic diet is a way of life and can easily fit in with your busy schedule, whether it is eating out, traveling or just on the go.

It is very easy to eat at restaurants while on this program. At Keyto, we will teach you what you need to know to make the right choices when dining out and provide you with an eating out guide so you feel comfortable no matter where you find yourself.

 

I am on medications, is this diet safe for me?

Our program is run by a team of health professionals, including physicians. If any adjustments are necessary, one of our physicians will meet with you to ensure you are taking the right doses.

Many patients who follow a program like this are successful in helping to treat their diabetes, and as a result, are able to reduce or stop taking most, if not all of their medications, including insulin.

 

 

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Check out this simple, delicious and keto-friendly recipe: Fat Head Pizza (Retrieved from https://www.ditchthecarbs.com/fat-head-pizza/)

 

Ingredients

The Crust:

  • ½ cups shredded mozzarella
  • ¾ cup almond flour
  • 2tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • garlic salt

Toping options:

  • Tomato sauce
  • Pesto
  • Cheese
  • Fresh herbs
  • Vegetables
  • Olives 
  • Pepperoni
  • Sausage
  • Chicken…

 

 Looking for healthy low carb diet ideas? Click here to download the ketogenic diet guide.

 

Instructions

  1. Place mozzarella and cream cheese in medium size microwaveable bowl.
  2. Microwave for 1 minute, stir and then microwave for another 30 seconds.
  3. Stir in egg and almond flour
  4. Wet hands and spread the dough on parchment paper
  5. Poke rows of holes to avoid bubbling.
  6. Sprinkle garlic salt
  7. Put in oven at 425 degrees
  8. After 8 minutes, check and poke more holes in necessary.
  9. Cook for another 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. Add any toppings of your choice*

 

Please visit us at keyto.ca to learn more about our program and services.

 

References:

  1. Westman, EC, Mavropoulos, J., Yancy, WS, & Volek, JS. (2003). A review of low-carbohydrate Ketogenic diets. Current Atherosclerosis Rep, Nov; 5(6),476-83. 
  2. Levy, RG, Cooper PN, & Giri P. (2012). Ketogenic diet and other dietary treatments for epilepsy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, Mar 14; (3): CD001903.
  3. Spritzler, F. & Eenfeldt, A. (2018). Healthy Fats on a keto or low-carb diet. Diet Doctor 2019. Retrieved from https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/fat
  4. Metabolic Syndrome Canada. (2019). Metabolic syndrome is a health crisis hiding in plain sight. Modified 2019. Retrieved from https://www.metabolicsyndromecanada.ca/about-metabolic-syndrome
  5. Freeman, JM, Kossoff, EH, & Hartman, AL. (2007). The Ketogenic diet: one decade later. Pediatrics, Mar; 119(3): 535-43.
  6. Westman, EC, Yancy, WS, Mavropoulos, MM, & McDuffie, JR. (2008). The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ktogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nutrition Metabolism, 5(36).
  7. Foster, GD, Wyatt, HR, Hill, JO, McGuckin, BG, Brill, C., et al. (2003). A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet for obesity. New England Journal of Medicine, May 22; 348(21), 2082-90. 
  8. Bhanpuri, NH., Hallberg, SJ., Williams, PT., McKenzie, AL., et al. (2018). Cardiovascular disease risk factor responses to a type 2 diabetes care model including nutritional ketosis induced by sustained carbohydrate restriction at 1 year: an open label, non-randomized, controlled study. Cardiovascular Diabetology, 17:56