The basic definition of a ketogenic diet is one where you are consuming approximately 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs each day, and there are many variations on how to do this.
The definition of an optimal ketogenic diet is one that is based on whole foods, is nutrient dense, and has minimal processed and pre-packaged foods. It’s very similar to Atkins, Paleo or Primal, with lower carbs and more of a Whole 30 focus. It is also grain-free.
The ketogenic diet is a Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) diet, but not all LCHF diets are ketogenic. Some also apply the IIFYM (if it fits your macros) concept to the ketogenic diet but again, this is not a ketogenic way of eating. This is because in an optimal ketogenic diet, the food quality and ingredients matter. We don’t advocate shakes, protein bars, Atkins products, exogenous ketone products, or anything similar to those products. Eat real foods and your body will naturally move into ketosis and healing will begin. With the LCHF and IIFYM movements, it’s less about food quality and more about whether or not it fits your macros, no matter what the ingredients may be.
People who follow LCHF and IIFYM often hold the position that if a food puts your body into ketosis, it’s ok to eat, but they don’t consider the importance of food quality and ingredients, which play a vital role in your overall health. You can make a Snickers bar or cotton candy fit your macros, but that doesn’t make them healthy choices!
Many of you are familiar with Atkins and may think that the ketogenic diet is the same thing, but it’s not. The induction period of Atkins is most similar to the ketogenic diet, but the Atkins diet begins adding more carbs after induction. The problem with that is that higher carbs are likely to knock you out of ketosis, defeating the purpose of following this lifestyle. Higher carbs also have the potential to cause the return of the health and weight issues that were resolved by the ketogenic diet.
NEXT: Why the Ketogenic Diet Works