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Diets Deconstructed: Ketogenic Diet

Paleo, Keto, Low Carb. The types of diets are endless, and new ones seem to pop up every day. So what are the differences, and which ones are worth my time? We go to the experts in our series Diets Deconstructed.

Below, OhioHealth dietitian Emily Monfiletto, RD, LD, CCMS, gives the low-down on the Ketogenic Diet so you can decide if Keto is right for you.

Diet Theory

Ketogenic is a high-fat, moderate-protein and extremely low-carb diet. On the surface, it may seem like the ketogenic diet is the same as other low-carb diets out there. However, there are some pretty major differences.
The premise of the ketogenic diet is to eliminate carbohydrates from your diet. Since your body typically uses carbs as its primary source of fuel, removing carbs forces it to burn fat as its primary source instead.

Expected Outcomes

Lose weight faster and feel less hungry compared to other diet methods. Studies suggest that that the keto diet may help lower blood sugar and insulin levels as well as provide benefits for health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, brain injury and more.

Encouraged Foods

The Standard Keto Diet (SKD) suggests that you eat about 75 percent fat, 20 percent protein and 5 percent carbs. Good food choices include:

  • Avocados
  • Eggs
  • Healthy oils (extra-virgin olive oil)
  • Low-carb vegetables (leafy greens)
  • Meat and fish
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Some dairy (butter, cream, unprocessed cheese)

Discouraged Foods

You need to eliminate all high-carbohydrate food and drink, including:

  • Alcohol
  • Beans and legumes (peas, lentils, kidney beans, etc.)
  • Fruits (small portions of berries are acceptable)
  • Grains and starches (bread, rice, cereal, etc.)
  • Processed foods (pretty much anything that comes in a box)
  • Root vegetables and tubers (potatoes, parsnips, etc.)
  • Sugar (soft drinks, juice, cookies, etc.)

Dietitian’s Take

Who It’s For

The ketogenic diet is for people who want to see results fast, but it’s not a safe choice for everyone. It’s extremely important to consult your doctor before starting the keto diet. If you’re an athlete, this is not for you because your body needs carbs for fuel during exercise.

Ease of Use

The rules are simple and straightforward.


If you don’t crave a lot of variety in your diet, you may be fine. However, a lot of people have a hard time giving up carbohydrate foods for long periods.


There are no dietary supplements needed with the keto diet. Due to a lack of fiber, constipation may be an issue. Since fiber contains carbs, you cannot take fiber supplements.


You can exercise, but you may not be able to reach the intensity level you were at before you began the diet.

Bottom Line

Carbohydrate foods are not the enemy when eaten in appropriate portions. You can be just as successful with a balanced diet that includes carbs. If you choose to try the keto diet, be sure to talk to your doctor before starting.

Looking to improve your nutrition? Contact us at the McConnell Heart Health Center, we’re ready to support you!


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