A Kid-friendly anticancer Approach to Keto
Get into a routine
Many KDs are based on a specific ratio of calories consumed, e.g., 80% of calories from fat, 10% from protein, 10% from carbs. An easier way to do this is called the “Modified Atkins Diet” which restricts carbs but allows for liberty with protein and fat. For an anticancer ketogenic diet, it is important to keep protein restricted because protein can increase insulin and can be converted into glucose when consumed above a moderate amount. So a good rule of thumb is to keep carbohydrate intake to around 20 grams per day and protein around 1 gram per kg of body weight. Fat can always be eaten to satiety (fullness). This, of course, can be adjusted with your dietitian.
Stay as whole-foods as possible
KetoCal is a shake that most hospitals use to induce and sometimes maintain ketosis. While some kids might need to start on KetoCal, the KD can be maintained through the use of whole foods. Because fats are such an important part of the KD, it is crucial to consume the highest quality fats. This means that all meat and dairy should be organic and grass-fed or pasture-raised if possible. Grass-fed, organic meat will ensure two things: a great reduction in harmful chemicals and hormones in the protein and fat, and a significant increase in good fats like omega-3 fatty acids. These products can be found in most health food grocery stores. But farmer’s markets are also a great option.
Stock up on the staples of a healthy KD
- Butter, from grass-fed, pasture-raised animals (Organic Valley brand is the best, followed by Kerrygold)
- Heavy Cream (if possible from grass-fed, pasture-raised animals)
- Coconut Oil (virgin, cold-pressed)
- MCT (Medium-Chain Triglyceride Oil, derived from coconut and palm oil)
- Olive Oil
- Macadamia Nuts
- Avoid all seed oils (corn oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, etc.) if possible. They are pro-inflammatory.
- Eggs (organic, omega-3)
- Meat from organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised animals (don’t trim the fat)
- Hot dogs from grass-fed, pasture-raised animals (Applegate brand)
- Cheese from grass-fed, pasture-raised animals (look for highest fat-to-protein ratio)
- Fatty fresh fish like Wild Salmon
- Organic bacon (Applegate Brand)
- Organic chicken (always served with fat-based sauce like hollandaise, bearnaise, cream
- Veggies. We’ve only listed ones that most kids will eat. They should all be served in fat, either olive oil dressing, melted butter, or a cheese sauce (mixed with coconut oil or MCT oil). Be sure to include salt to taste:
- Any type of leafy green (a whole head of green leaf lettuce only has 10 g of carbs)
- Broccoli (1/2 cup cooked = 6 g of carbs/3g of fiber)
- Cauliflower (1/2 cup cooked = 6 g of carbs/3g of fiber)
- Asparagus (1/2 cup cooked = 4 g of carbs/2g of fiber)
- Green beans (1 cup cooked = 10 g of carbs/4g of fiber)
- Cucumber (1 whole = 4 g of carbs/1 g of fiber)
- Carrots (8 baby carrots = 7 g of carbs/2 g of fiber)
- Fruit. Most fruit and ALL juices are off the list. It is best to space out fruit consumption as well so that all 20 grams of allowed carbs don’t come at one sitting. Below are some good low-glycemic choices.
- Berries (1 cup of halved strawberries = 12g of carbs/3 g of fiber)
- Cherries (4 cherries = 4g of carbs/1g of fiber)
- Apple slices (1 cup = 15g of carbs/3g of fiber)
Download this great keto foods resource list from Miriam Kalamian of Dietary Therapies.
It’s all in the numbers
The great thing about the KD is that at the end of the day what matters is your child’s glucose and ketone numbers. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of the diet. Some kids (and adults) will be able to consume a little more carbs and protein and produce good numbers, while others will have to work a bit harder. Find the balance that’s right for you and your child. Don’t be afraid to experiment. We advise that you work with your keto coach on developing your targets and monitoring your glucose and ketone numbers.