Different Types of Ketogenic Diets You Can Try
There are several variations of the ketogenic diet based on specific needs:4
• Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)
SKD is the type I typically recommend for most people, because it is very effective. It focuses on high consumption of healthy fats (70 percent of your diet), moderate protein (25 percent) and very little carbohydrates (5 percent).5
Keep in mind that there’s no set limit to the fat, because energy requirements vary from person to person, depending on their daily physical activities.
However, majority of your calories still need to come from fats, and you still need to limit your consumption of carbohydrates and protein for it to become a standard ketogenic diet.6
• Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)
TKD is generally geared towards fitness enthusiasts. In this approach, you eat the entirety of your allocated carbs for the day in one meal, 30 to 60 minutes before exercise. The idea here is to use the energy provided by the carbs effectively before it disrupts ketosis.7
If you’re following this approach, I recommend that you eat carbs that are easily digestible with a high glycemic index to avoid upsetting your stomach. Then, when you’re done exercising, increase your intake of protein to help with muscle recovery, then continue consuming your fats afterwards`.8
• Cyclic Ketogenic Diet (CKD)
Whereas TKD is focused on fitness enthusiasts, CKD is focused more on athletes and bodybuilders. In CKD, you cycle between a normal ketogenic diet, followed by a set number of days of high carb consumption, also known as “carb-loading.”9
The idea here is to take advantage of the carbohydrates to replenish the glycogen lost from your muscles during athletic activity or working out.10
If you’re a high-level athlete or bodybuilder, CKD may be a viable method for you. It usually consists of five days of SKD, followed by two days of carb-loading. During the ketogenic cycle, carb consumption is around 50 grams, but when you get to the carb-loading cycle, the amount jumps to 450 to 600 grams. Again, this method isn’t recommended for most people who do not have a high rate of physical activity.11
• High-Protein Ketogenic Diet
This method is a variant of the SKD. In a high-protein diet, you increase the ratio of protein consumption to 10 percent and reduce your healthy fat consumption by 10 percent. In a study involving obese men that tried this method, researchers noted that it helped reduce their hunger and lowered their food intake significantly, resulting in weight loss.12 If you're overweight or obese, this may help you at first, then you can transition to SKD after you normalize your weight.
• Restricted Ketogenic Diet
As mentioned earlier, a ketogenic diet can be an effective weapon against cancer. To do this, you need to be on a restricted ketogenic diet. By restricting your carbohydrate and calorie intake, your body loses glycogen and starts producing ketones that your healthy cells can use as energy. Because cancer cells cannot use these ketones, they starve to death.13
A 2010 study helps back up this claim. A 65-year old woman who was suffering from glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), an aggressive type of brain cancer, was put into a restricted ketogenic diet that started with water fasting and then proceeded to consume 600 calories a day only. After two months, her weight decreased and the ketones in her body elevated.
Furthermore, there was no discernable brain tumor tissue detected using magnetic resonance (MRI) or fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) imaging scans.14
Put Away These Foods Before Going on a Ketogenic Diet
Before coming up with an actual ketogenic diet food list, it’s important to take a look at what you’re eating first and take out anything that’s unhealthy. This means that you have to remove sugars, starches, packaged and processed foods from your diet, because a ketogenic diet focuses on eating real, whole food.
Furthermore, avoid drinking milk because it contains the carbohydrate galactose – drinking just one glass can basically eat up your entire carb allotment for the day. In addition, avoiding milk helps lactose-intolerant people to implement the ketogenic diet. Many other products should be avoided, such as hydrogenated vegetable oils (canola), soy products and sodas. They may be low on carbohydrates, but they are unhealthy and can wreak havoc on your health.
The Ideal Foods to Eat for a Ketogenic Diet
So now that you’ve taken out all the unhealthy food sources, what’s the next step? When it comes to the core of an actual ketogenic diet, remember that you need to consume only a moderate amount of protein, or about one-half gram per pound of lean body mass, each day. In addition, carbohydrates must be minimized and high-quality fats increased to serve as your new fuel source.
To ease yourself into a ketogenic diet meal plan, I usually recommend adding C8 medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil into your food. It’s typically more expensive than other types of MCT oil, but I prefer it more because it converts into ketones more effectively. You can start with 1 teaspoon per day, then gradually increase your consumption to 2 to 3 tablespoons per day.
If you stomach does not agree with MCT oil, you can try MCT powder, which is easier on your stomach. The table below provides a good overview of other foods rich in high-quality healthy fats:
When building your ketogenic diet meal plan, it’s important to stick to green leafy vegetables because they are rich in fiber, antioxidantsand various nutrients. Your best choices include broccoli, spinach, parsley, Brussels sprouts and zucchini.
While fruits are generally healthy for you, majority of them should be are avoided in a ketogenic diet because of their high amounts of sugar. However, certain berries are safe to eat in moderate quantities, such as blackberry, blueberry and cranberry, because they are rich in antioxidants that can support your health.
As for beverages, there are several you can choose from. The most important is water, but you may also drink organic black coffee (without any sweeteners or milk), which is rich in antioxidants. Coconut milk can be consumed as well, as well as herbal teas because they are rich in various antioxidants and nutrients. If you want a more extensive list, Paleo Flourish Magazine has recommendations that encompass various food groups.15