top of page

3:1 KETO DIET

        explained

You have probably already heard about the ketogenic diet. It has been popular amongst celebrities recently. Ketogenic food even found its way onto our supermarket’s shelves and various websites. But what is it exactly? How does it work and protect the brain? What does "ketogenic" mean? What is a 3:1 ratio? How to cook (delicious) 3:1 ketogenic meals?

  • Carbs = bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, cookies, flour, vegetables, fruits

  • Protein = meat, chicken, fish, seafood, eggs

  • Fat = oil, cream, butter, olives, mayonnaise

  A useful reminder    

       What is the ketogenic diet?

We mostly eat carbs and our body turns carbs into glucose. Glucose is the main fuel for the human body. If you reduce considerably your carb intake, after a few days, your body will use protein as a main source of energy. If you don’t eat a lot of protein and if you eat a lot of fat, after a few extra days, your smart body will find another way to feed itself. It will then use fat as a main source of energy. Fat will become the new fuel for your body and therefore for your brain. At this point, you will be on a ketogenic diet.

Why does the ketogenic diet prevent seizures?

Fat is the golden fuel for your brain: the Rolls-Royce of all fuels. That is why it protects your brain from seizures. Moreover, to get to your brain it takes a different route than carbs do. That can also explain why it prevents seizures.

The ketogenic diet is an established and effective treatment for childhood epilepsy. A huge amount of clinical evidence of its efficacy is available. It was developed in 1921 and has been increasingly used worldwide in the past decade. It has been used mostly for intractable epilepsy, after trying 2 different drugs. Protocols vary in each country. In some parts of the world, the diet is a third option. But it is becoming more often a second or even first choice of therapy.

Will all that fat make me gain weight?

As fat will become your main source of energy, your body will burn it all. So you shouldn’t gain any weight, and you will most likely lose some. My son has always been slim. Since he started the 3:1 keto diet, over a year ago, it hasn't affected his weight at all. He has been growing beautifully.

What does 'ketogenic' mean?

A 'ketogenic diet' is a diet in which you considerably lower your intake of carbs, eat an adequate amount of protein and a high amount of fat. When you do so, your body will start producing 'ketone bodies' also called 'ketones', which is basically the name of the fuel made from fat. Ketones will supply energy for your body and brain. Your metabolic system will change into a state called 'ketosis', hence the name 'ketogenic diet' ('keto' is simply short for ketogenic).

   What is the difference between
'ketogenic diet' and '3:1 diet'?

The '3:1 Diet' is a type of ketogenic diet. It is also called the 'classical ketogenic diet' or 'classical KD'.

Anybody can be on a ketogenic diet for various reasons such as weight loss, overall wellbeing, etc. The 3:1 keto diet is a strict and extreme ketogenic diet, which has a therapeutic goal. Because it is so extreme, it requires medical supervision and can have the benefit of protecting the brain from seizures.

 

Ketogenic diet = all you have to do is eat very low carbs, an adequate amount of protein and lots of fat. Your body will then produce ketones and you will be on the ketogenic diet.

 

3:1 ketogenic diet = you will have to weigh all of your food and reach a specific ratio for every meal. The ratio stands in the name: 3 to 1.

That means: 3g of fat for every 1g of protein + carbs. Yes, you need to put carbs and protein in the same basket. A ratio is like a balance. A 3:1 ratio means a 3 to 1 balance between fat on one side and protein + carbs on the other side. You will need to reach that specific balance in every meal : breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner.

What about the other ratios such as 2:1 and 4:1?

2:1 and 4:1 ketogenic diets are less common options.  A child might try a 4:1 ratio if the 3:1 ratio doesn’t give the expected result. 

2:1 can be a step towards reaching a 3:1 ratio or progressively getting off the 3:1 diet at the end of the treatment. 

 

2:1 is less restrictive than 3:1

4:1 is more restrictive than 3:1

 

The principle is the same :

2:1 ratio = 2g of fat for every 1g of protein + carbs.

4:1 ratio = 4g of fat for every 1g of protein + carbs.

What are the other ketogenic treatments ?

In the past few years, alternative and more flexible ketogenic diet variants have been developed : Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) ketogenic diet, Modified Atkins Diet (MAD) and Low Glycaemic Index Treatment (LGIT). The clinical evidence to date suggests that the more liberal versions of the classical ketogenic diet such as MCT KD, MAD and LGIT have an efficacy close to the classical ketogenic diet.

 

Your doctor will decide which diet is the most suitable for your child.

 

My son is on the classical 3:1 ketogenic diet, which is the most common diet treatment for epilepsy worldwide. The 'TIPS' section of this website can apply to all variants. The 'RECIPES' section includes only 3:1 recipes. If your child is on a different ratio or following a different ketogenic diet, you can use my recipes as a source of inspiration, but you will have to adapt the proportions of fat, protein and carbs to your child's diet.

 

 

How do I know the amount of fat, carbs       and protein in the food I cook ?

In order to achieve a 3:1 ratio, you need to know the exact amount of fat, carbs and protein in everything you cook. 

 

THINGS THAT COME IN A PACKAGE 

For all the packaged stuff it’s easy. All you have to do is look at the nutritional content label on the package.

In the US, 'dietary fibers' are counted as carbs, but they don’t count in a keto diet. So, on all American labels, simply deduct the amount of 'dietary fiber' from the total amount of carbs. Sometimes the label will specify 'net carbs'. That is the number you want to take into consideration.

In most countries, the nutrition facts are given for 100g of product. If the amounts are given per serving, make sure you take that into consideration while doing your math.

 

FRESH FOOD 

In order for you to know the amount of fat, protein and carbs in meat, chicken, fish, eggs, fruits and vegetables, your nutritionist will give you some documents. It will most likely be a table looking like this :

                          1g carbs     2g carbs       3g carbs

Strawberries            25g            50g               75g

Grapes                    7g             14g               21g   

 

That means: 

25g of strawberry = 1g of carbs

50g of strawberry = 2g of carbs

7g of grape = 1g of carbs

14g of grape = 2g of carbs

 

Grapes, for instance, contain more carbs than strawberries.

 

In the same way, pasta has more carbs than lentils, which have more carbs than tomatoes, for example. 

Salmon has more fat than ham.

Oil is 100% fat. Butter is 82% fat. So oil has more fat than butter.

 

Some foods have 2 things, like protein + carbs (pasta for example) or protein + fat (salmon for example). 

 

That is why nutritional values on labels and tables given by your nutritionist are absolutely essential.

 

 

 

Now, let's get cooking! You will need a piece of paper, a pen, a calculator, small pans and bowls and of course a scale!

I always start by choosing my protein. You have salmon in the fridge? So let's cook with salmon today!

Now, look in your fridge for vegetables that may go well with salmon.

I find that fresh salmon works beautifully with spinach and tomatoes, so I am going to go with those today.

For my 4 year old son who weighs about 16 kilos (35lb), I use 45g of salmon (follow the recommendations from your nutritionist to know the right quantity for your child). I weigh 45g of salmon in a small pan (yes, you can put the pan directly on the scale) and add the maximum quantity of oil it can absorb.

I know from experience, that 45g of salmon can be cooked in 7g of oil, so

I add 7g of delicious organic olive oil to the pan.

On a piece of paper, write down everything you cook. In this case: '45g salmon' and '7g olive oil'. Now calculate the quantity of protein, carbs and fat of those 2 ingredients. Oil is easy. 7g of olive oil = 7g of fat. That's it.

Next to '7g olive oil', write '(7F)'. F stands for 'Fat'. You can use 'F' for 'Fat', 'C' for 'Carbs' and 'P' for 'Protein'. Once you are familiar with the diet, you won't need to add the letter anymore, you'll just know.

For the salmon look up the nutritional facts online or on the documents provided by your nutritionist. You will find out that:

100g salmon = 13g Fat (F)

                      20g Protein (P)

Time to use the good old cross-multiplication that you learned in school!

45g salmon = ? g Fat (F)

                     ? g Protein (P)

To find out the amount of fat, calculate: 45 x 13 / 100 = 5,8

45g salmon contains 5,8g of fat. 

Do the same with the protein.

45 x 20 / 100 = 9

45g of salmon contains 9g of protein. 

Next to "45g salmon" write: "5,8g F / 9g P"

Your paper will look like this:

45g salmon (5,8g F / 9g P)        7g olive oil (7g F)

Now, add up the fat on one side and the protein and carbs on the other. 

At this point you have a total of: 12,8g F / 9g P    

Let's calculate our ratio. 12,8/9 = 1,42. 

We are far from 3, the ratio that we need. That's where the vegetables kick in! They will absorb the missing fat that we need. God bless vegetables!

 

In a bowl, weigh the quantity of spinach that seems appropriate for your child and calculate the amount of carbs in that quantity.

 

You know that 55g of cooked spinach = 1g C

But you only want to cook 45g of spinach. Use cross-multiplication.

45 x 1 / 55 = 0,8

45g cooked spinach = 0,8g C

 

You will cook your spinach in the maximum quantity of oil that it can absorb.

For 45g of. spinach, you will use about 14g of olive oil, and you will write:

45g spinach (0,8g C)          14g olive oil (14g F)

 

Using 2 different pans, cook the salmon in 7g of oil and the spinach in 14g of oil.

Calculate the total we have at this point, adding protein and carbs together (PC):

12,8g F /9g P for the salmon

14g F /0,8g C for the spinach

That adds up to: 26,8g F / 9,8g PC = RATIO 2,7

We are getting there! Where can we find a little more fat to achieve a RATIO 3? In the oil that will go with our tomatoes of course!

50g of diced tomatoes = 0,8g C

10g of olive oil = 10g F

Make a salad, using 50g of tomatoes and 10g of olive oil.

Now, at this point your big TOTAL will be:

36,8g F / 10,6g PC

36,8/10,6 = 3,5

Your ratio is 3,5. Perfect! When your ratio is a bit over 3, it gives you room to add fruit to the meal for dessert. Yippee, we did it!!

Now, the question is how many carbs can we add?

To find out, divide your total amount of fat (in our case 36,8g) by 3 

36,8 / 3 = 12,3

Now subtract the amount of carbs (in our case 10,6g)

12,3 - 10,6 = 1,7

Here is your answer! You have room for 1,7g of carbs.

Use the tables given by your nutritionist to find out how to 'make' 1,7g of carbs. The quantity of fruit will depend on the quantity of carbs in each fruit.

For example, 1,7g of carbs = 42,5g strawberries or raspberries

                                         15,3g blueberries or apple 

You're done. I know this might seem very complicated at first, as it is a lot to process and a completely new way of cooking. But, believe me, after a couple of weeks you will be a real pro and will be able to create your own recipes. And, most of all, if the diet helps your child, it could change their life, your life, the lives of your whole family. It changed everything for our son, his brother and our family. Our sons sickness put our life on hold. The diet turned it back on.

I suggest that you start off by using my recipes. They will help you to better understand the diet. Within days, you will be creating your own, using whatever you can find in your fridge. My recipes will always be here for guidance and inspiration, being regularly updated.

CROSS-MULTIPLICATION 

100g product     =   13g fat

45g product      =    ? g fat

45 x 13 / 100 =  5,8

The answer is 5,8 g fat

    

How do I create a 3:1 keto meal?

Sans titre.png
Sans titre-2.png
Sans titre-4.png
Sans titre-6.png
Sans titre-7.png

Can my other children eat the same 3:1 meals?

Yes, if they want to, your other children can eat the same 3:1 keto meals. But not everyday as it is a medically supervised diet which goal is to cure. Moreover, overall your other children will most likely keep on eating a high amount of carbs and glucose will remain the main source of energy for their body. It won't burn the high amount of fat in the 3:1. keto meals, which could make them gain some weight. So it is best to keep it occasional. 

To make your life easier, you can make the same meal for the whole family and simply adapt the recipe for those who don't follow the diet. For example:

- less oil/butter

- more protein

- no mayonnaise on the side

- replace mayonnaise by ketchup 

- add some carbs on the side (pasta, rice, bread, etc)

- add a starchy vegetable on the side (lentils, corn, chickpeas, peas, potatoes, etc) or switch a non-starchy vegetable for a starchy one.

Will we still be able to eat out?

Before our son got sick and started the keto diet, our family use to eat out several times a week. With the diet, we simply stopped going to restaurants. It just seemed easier that way. 5 months into the diet, we went on a vacation in Corsica and decided to give it a try. We brought our son's meal in a small cooler and discreetly gave it to a waiter asking kindly if they could put it in a plate and bring it over as if it was coming right out of the restaurant's kitchen. To avoid any cravings, we ordered meals that our son didn't like. The thing is... he likes almost everything. So we ended up eating lots and lots of goat cheese... It's amazing how many meals you can put goat cheese on, haha! Honestly, it felt really good sitting at a restaurant table together the way we use to.

Shortly after that, we ate a few times in restaurants where we knew we could place a personalized order. Sea bream with green vegetables for instance, with mayonnaise and olive oil on the side. As I got more used to the diet, after cooking 3:1 meals for several months, I realized I could weigh ingredients instinctively. I knew what 40g of fish and 20g of mayonnaise looked like for example. 

If you want to try ordering a 3:1 keto meal at a restaurant, my advise is to wait until you feel VERY confident with the diet and are able to 'weigh' ingredients in the blink of an eye. Bring some olives or macadamias with you, just in case, to bring some extra fat to the meal. You should also pick your restaurant carefully (avoid pizzerias and exotic cuisine) and check their menu in advance. It is best to go somewhere you know. You will feel more confortable explaining the situation to the waiter and more confident to trust the chef.

That being said, the best chef for your child is clearly yourself! I hope that my recipes will bring a restaurant vibe into your home!

bottom of page