Low Carb and Keto Diet

Jul 20, 2022

Having grown up in the 1980s and 1990s, I remember a time where it was normal to avoid fat.  Avocados had “too much” fat while fat free snacks like “Snackwells” were supposedly the  “healthy choice.” Since that time, we have learned that fats are an important part of good  nutrition (e.g., fats contain many important nutrients for good health). Low Carbohydrate and  Very Low Carbohydrate/Ketogenic Diets at first glance may seem to be the latest “diet trend;”  however, both have been around for a very long time and many people have misconceptions  about what it is and what it is not.  

The goal of a (Very) Low Carbohydrate Diet is to switch from using glucose as the primary  energy source to enable the more efficient burning of fat. If you lower carbohydrates, you can  begin to use glycogen and reduce insulin levels. A (Very) Low Carbohydrate Diet can be  successfully combined with other eating plans (including both Mediterranean and Plant-Based)  and can be beneficial for many people especially those with insulin resistance. They can also be  combined with intermittent fasting. Low Carbohydrate and Very Low Carbohydrate/Ketogenic  Diets largely differ in the amount of carbohydrate included in the diet. 

A Low Carbohydrate Diet is made up of:  

  •  At least 5 servings of non-starchy vegetables, 
  •  Whole foods, 
  •  51-130 grams of carbohydrate per day (or 25% or less). 
  •  Moderate protein, 
  •  Any fat that comes from whole foods, 
  •  No grains, sugar, or potatoes, 
  •  Dairy, limited berry fruit, nuts, and seeds. 

A Very Low Carbohydrate/Ketogenic Diet is made up of: 

  •  At least 5 servings of non-starchy vegetables, 
  •  Whole foods, 
  •  <=50 grams of carbohydrate per day (or less than 10%),, 
  •  Moderate protein, 
  •  Any fat from whole foods, 
  •  No grains, sugar, or potatoes,  
  •  Dairy, limited berry fruit, nuts, and seeds,
  •  Goal is nutritional ketosis. 

Some Benefits of Low Carbohydrate and Ketogenic Diets: Loss of Body Fat, 

  •  Decreased Appetite, 
  •  Decreased Inflammation, 
  •  Improved Mental Clarity, 
  •  Increased Energy, 
  •  Improved Blood Sugar and decreased insulin resistance, and Decreased Triglycerides and increased HDL. 

The Ketogenic Diet Food Pyramid (From Ditch the Carbs) is shown below.

If you want to start a Low Carbohydrate or Ketogenic diet, here are a few quick tips: Remove processed flour and sugar from diet, 

  •  Limit or replace “healthy” breakfast cereals, 
  •  Replace sugary drinks with water, coffee, or tea, 
  •  Start reading labels, 
  •  Consider getting a tracker; MyFitnessPal or Carb Manager are two good apps to help you  track macronutrients, 
  •  Check out the following web pages for more information:,,
  •  Consider watching the following movies: “Fat: A Documentary” and “That Sugar Film.” 

If you want to try a Low Carbohydrate or Ketogenic Diet and have any medical conditions, you  should discuss it with your doctor, especially: 

  •  If you have diabetes or prediabetes, ask your primary care doctor for help in monitoring  your blood sugars or adjusting any medications, 
  •  Work with your physician to monitor your blood pressure at home and adjust  medications as needed, 
  •  Discuss supplementing with Vitamin D, Magnesium, and Sodium with your physician.