Q: I’m considering the ketogenic diet, but I’m worried I’ll feel tired and have a ton of cravings. Is there a right way to do it? – Scott Shipanik, via Facebook

A: To start any ketogenic diet, you need to cut carbohydrates. By how much? Recent research defines a ketogenic diet as one with less than 50 grams of carbs per day. This brings your body into nutritional ketosis, in which it primarily uses ketones, or fatty acids, for energy. According to Jeff S. Volek, Ph.D., R.D., this occurs when you’re producing 0.5 to 3.0 mmol/L of ketones. Urine strips and handheld breath analyzers can be used to measure ketone levels, but if you’re keto-adapted, you’ll know. 

“Keto-adapted means you oxidize dietary and stored fat for energy instead of glucose,” says Maria Emmerich, nutritionist and author of The Ketogenic Cookbook. “If you can handle skipping a meal, intermittent fasting, and go hours without carb cravings, you’re likely keto-adapted.”

Emmerich’s macronutrient guidelines for a ketogenic lifestyle are 0.5 to 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass, less than 10 grams of carbs, and about 80 percent of calories from fat, which doesn’t leave much room for grains or fruit. To quell performance concerns, a 2012 Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition study found that elite gymnasts who ate 22 grams of carbs for 30 days lost fat mass and built muscle without losing strength. Recent research in Obesity Reviews found that people feel fuller while ketogenic diets compared with when they ate their normal calories. 

Before ridding your kitching of starch, take the following precautions to alleviatea side effects such as headaches, cramps, or fatigue. Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water daily, Emmerich suggests. Next, consume extra sodium and potassium. 

“When your body reaches ketosis, the liver releases a lot of sodium and water, so you need more salt,” Emmerich says. “Bone broth is my favorite way to add sodium; it’s filled with minerals.”

The ketogenic diet even has some delicious recipes, like Emmerich’s deep-dish keto pizza.

Deep-Dish Keto Pizza

Crush Plateaus and Cravings With a Fat-Fueled Diet

Serves 9

What You’ll Need

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup unflavored whey/egg-white protein powder
  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened (or reserved yolks if dairy-free)
  • Coconut oil spray

Optional Toppings:

  • Low-sugar marinara sauce
  • Spices
  • Organic chicken sausage
  • Mushrooms
  • Peppers
  • Mozzarella/feta/goat cheese
  • Olives


  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Separate eggs and whip the whites and cream of tartar until very stiff. Slowly sift in protein powder to the whites. 
  2. Using a spatula, gently fold the cream cheese into the whites
  3. Spray a lasagna pan or cast-iron skillet with coconut oil spray and spoon mixture into it. Bake for 18 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven; top with your favorite pizza toppings and cheese.
  5. Return to oven; bake until cheese melts. 

Totals (1 serving): 161 calories, 13g protein, 2g carbs, 11g fat