What is the Ketogenic Diet & Where Do I Begin?

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-proteinlow-carbohydrate diet. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose, which is then transported around the body. However, if there is very little carbohydrate in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies

Cancer is an obligate glucose metabolizer. Your normal cells have the metabolic flexibility to adapt from using glucose to using ketone bodies. Cancer cells lack this metabolic flexibility, so when you eliminate carbs, which turn into sugar, you effectively starve the cancer!

The Ketogenic diet has not only been proven effective for cancer, but also for epilepsy, inflammatory disease, infertility, enhanced athletic performance, weight loss, autism, diabetes and heart disease. This diet was designed in 1924 by Dr. Russell Wilder at the Mayo Clinic. Despite being highly effective in treating disease, it fell out of fashion due to the surge in pharmecuticals in the 1940s. Since then, numerous studies have been done by different physicians and scientists, such as Dr. Otto Warburg, Dr. Thomas Seyfried and Dr. Domininc D'Agostino, proving the powerful healing ability of Ketosis.

Dr. Otto Warbug won the Nobel Prize in 1931 for his research on cancer. He discovered that cancer cells have a fundamentally different energy metabolism compared to healthy cells, cancer cells tend to feed on sugar. More recently, Dr. Thomas Seyfried, has confirmed and proven Dr. Warbug's findings, through his tireless research.

“When we’re dealing with glucose and [cancer] management, we know from a large number of studies that if respiration of the tumor is ineffective, in order to survive, the cells must use an alternative source of energy, which is fermentation. We know that glucose is the primary fuel for fermentation. Fermentation becomes a primary energy-generating process in the tumor cell. By targeting the fuel for that process, we then have the capability of potentially managing the disease.”

Dr.Seyfried’s work confirms that sugar (glucose) is the primary fuel for cancer cells, thus removing glucose from the diet and providing an alternate fuel, such as fat, you can dramatically reduce the rate of growth of cancer. So why can our healthy cells survive on fat alone, but cancer cells cannot? Here is a  great explanation by Dr. Dominic D’Agostino, PhD: 

"Your normal cells have the metabolic flexibility to adapt from using glucose to using ketone bodies (fat metabolized). But cancer cells lack this metabolic flexibility. So we can exploit that.” Cancers cells have a “fatal flaw.” 

They do not have the metabolic flexibility that your regular cells do, which means that they cannot adapt to using fat for fuel. Halle-freaking-luiah!  If cancer cells need glucose to thrive, and carbohydrates turn into glucose in your body, then cutting out carbs literally starves the cancer cells and you turn your body into a “fat burning machine.” So lets simplify this; limiting our intake of carbohydrates to non-starchy vegetables and very minimal fruit, increasing our intake of healthy fats, such as organic, pastured meats, pastured eggs, raw dairy products and tropical plants (avocado, coconut, palm oil), then we begin to transition our body into a state of Ketosis, right? Right!

Depending on what type of disease or health challenge you are trying to heal, is what determines how strictly you need to implement the diet. For those with cancer, epilepsy or autism for example, it is very important to drastically reduce the blood glucose level in the body, therefore following a strict protocol of Fat: 90%, protein: 7% and carbohydrates 3%, is effective. You can manage this through measuring your food using this scale. For those who are wanting to loose weight, get pregnant, enhance their physical performance, reverse diabetes or an autoimmune disease, you can be a bit more liberal with your protocol. I would still recommend eliminating most carbohydrates, all grains and sugar (wheat, rice, oats, corn, potatoes, rye, bulgur, etc.) with the exception of vegetables and minimal fruit. It is very important to work with a trained health practitioner when implementing a new dietary protocol. 

Below is an example of a day following a nutrient dense, ketogenic style diet: (please note that there is no guarantee that eating the below foods would put your body into a state of Ketosis, but this gives you a general, more liberal approach to transitioning into a Ketogenic style diet)

Breakfast: Organic pastured eggs cooked in organic raw butter, 1/2 of an avocado and a forkful of homemade sauerkraut or cooked spinach.

Snack: Grain free granola and 16oz homemade broth

Lunch: Wild salmon, roasted with butter and lemon, small salad with pine nuts, avocado, topped with olive oil and balsamic

Snack: Coconut cream smoothie: 1/2 cup berries, 1 cup full fat coconut cream/milk, 2 TBL coconut oil, 2 TBL nut butter, 3 drops of pure liquid stevia.

Dinner: Taco Bowl: grassfed ground beef cooked in butter, *soaked black beans cooked in homemade broth, organic cream fraiche or sour cream, raw cheddar cheese, avocado, onions and tomatoes chopped.

Dessert: Spoonful of coconut butter (this stuff tastes amazing by the way, and very effective for satisfying sweet cravings and controlling blood sugar spikes)!

DON'T GET OVERWHELMED! Start simple- for example, eliminate all grains and sugars for 1 meal a day for an entire week. Then, the following week, eliminate all grains and sugars for 2 meals a day for 2 weeks. Do the best you can with what you have! 

*Soaked Black Beans: 2 cups black beans, warm filtered water, 2 TBL whey or lemon juice, 4 cloves of garlic, 1 quart of broth, sea salt and pepper. Soak the beans 12-24 hours in water and whey, then drain and rinse. Add the beans to a pot filled with broth, garlic, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Skim the top and reduce to simmer for 6-8 hours. Soaking the beans increases the nutrient density and digestibility of this food. 


Season Johnson

Season Johnson, B.A., NTP uses her knowledge in preventive healthcare and nutrition science to educate families on how to achieve real health in a real-life way. Through a nutrient dense diet, detox remedies and healthy living, she is helping her 3 year old son, beat cancer and thrive during conventional treatment.