Short for “ketogenic diet,” this eating plan is all about minimizing your carbs and upping your fats to get your body to use of fat as a form of energy, says Scott Keatley, R.D., of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy. While everyone’s body and needs are slightly different, that typically translates to: 60-75% of your calories from fat, 15-30% of your calories from protein, and 5-10% of your calories from carbs.
After about two to seven days of following this eating routine, you go into something called ketosis, or the state your body enters when it doesn’t have enough carbs for your cells to use for energy. Then it starts making ketones, or organic compounds that your body then uses in place of those missing carbs—and oh, it also burns fat for more energy, says Beth Warren, R.D., founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Living A Real Life With Real Food.
The ketogenic diet restricts all grains, so it may be a natural transition for someone who is eating gluten free. I think it’s an ideal way of eating for those with coeliac disease and gluten intolerance because a strict low-carb/high-fat or keto diet doesn’t allow bread, grains or grain-based additives.”
Elana Amsterdam, New York Times-bestselling author and founder of Elana’s Pantry, a website devoted to gluten-free and grain-free recipes, also sees the connection. “If you’re already eating a healthy gluten free diet that is free of processed foods, the next step would be eliminating grains, plus corn and potatoes, as well as fruit.” Amsterdam has found personal benefits in following the ketogenic diet. “It has helped both my gut and brain function better.”
Amsterdam recommends almond flour for those who are gluten free and eating ketogenic. “It’s a standalone flour that does not require a combination of other flours to ‘enhance’ it. It tastes incredible in baked goods and is high-fat and low-carb, making it the optimal flour for those following a keto diet.”
Giving up all grains and fruit can lead to other issues—in particular, constipation, which is already an issue for so many who need to eat gluten free. Spritzler recommends lower-carb fruits like blackberries and raspberries, as well as avocado, flax and chia seeds, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, and almonds. “To avoid constipation, I recommend getting a serving of one of these higher-fiber foods at each meal,” she advises.
Restaurants, already a challenge for those who are gluten free, may require some additional planning to remain on the keto diet. “You have to plan ahead for trips, dining out and celebrations,” says Spritzler. “Always have low-carb foods on hand in case you find yourself surrounded by high-carb foods. For example, low-carb side dishes you can try include cauliflower rice or cauliflower mash.”