Whether you have heard about the ‘keto diet’ from popular podcasts, fitness forums, or doctor discussions, there is no denying the traction it is gaining. What is keto? How do you start the diet? We have you covered.
Short for ketogenic, the keto diet is a high-fat, low-carb, and moderate protein diet plan that rewrites the way your metabolism operates. Originally the ketogenic diet was developed in the 20’s and 30’s to combat epilepsy in children, and then abandoned in favor of new drugs. Recently doctors working with Navy SEALs used the diet to treat their seizures induced by oxygen complications from deep dives. But those who suffer from seizures aren’t the only people who benefit from the diet.
For most, eating the Standard American Diet (SAD), their bodies are running off carbohydrates by converting them to glucose. This causes a spike in blood sugar and energy as well as ‘crashes’ when your body quickly burns through the fast fuel that are carbohydrates. By reducing carbs to almost nothing and increasing fats, the keto diet resets your body’s primary fuel source, switching it from glucose burning to fat as fat becomes a much more plentiful, consistent burning fuel. This is called ketosis, the desired state. Fat is burned 24/7. Energy levels equalize, avoiding all crashes. Variations of this diet have come and gone in popularity, such as the South Beach and Atkins Diets, because they are effective, but the lack of popular knowledge sees them lampooned and abandoned. The truth is it works, and it is amazing.
The food industry has targeted Fat as the enemy and it has led to the obesity epidemic we are experiencing today. To rectify it you must rewire how you think and understand your nutrition. Millions of people are combating their declining health with ketogenic diets, and if you are suffering you too can easily take the step to go keto. It’s a big diet change, but that will have HUGE effects on your weight and health.
What Can I Eat?
All diets should be varied, diverse and keto allows for it. Leafy greens, chicken, pork, beef, fish, eggs, and bacon are all available. Fat is critical. It encourages satiety as well is the new fuel source your body will be burning. The leafy greens will provide your body with the needed fiber, as well as vitamins A and K. Limiting your net carbs to under 20 grams per day will see you entering the ketosis zone, so long as your protein and fat goals are being met. Net carbs mean the total number of carbs minus fibers. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that does not get metabolized by the body, in essence, it’s a carb that doesn’t count.
A good budget will see 80% of your daily calories coming from healthy fat sources, while the other 20% is proteins. Compare that to the SAD which sees 50% coming from carbs, 30% from fat and 15% from proteins. Both are as important as limiting your carb intake; fat is the new fuel and protein is used to keep your body burning fat and not muscle. Eating too much protein and not enough fat can similarly see you falling out of ketosis. You can drink coffee and tea but water is so necessary to your health and as your body keto-adapts you will need more to keep your body feeling right.
Many keto adopters report feeling flu-like symptoms in the first few days or weeks of the diet change. The so-called ‘keto-flu’ is feelings of lethargy and malaise that exists as your body attempts to tap into its regular energy source only to find its stores empty. Stick it out, this doesn’t last forever, after a couple of days your body will be keto-adapted and running on fats. Some don’t ever experience those symptoms.
The Keto Basics
- Low in Carbs
- Moderate in Protein
- High in Fat
- That’s it.
Follow those guidelines and you’ll be keto-adapted in no time, burning excess fats while having more consistent energy than ever before.
Your body is equipped to run on two different energy sources: sugar and fat. Normally, your body runs on sugar from carbohydrates in food. The Keto Diet cuts your intake of carbohydrates from your diet, and replaces them with healthy fat. By doing this, your body begins to produce ketones. Ketones are alternative fuels for the body that are made when glucose is in short supply. They are made in the liver, from the breakdown of fats. Ketones can only be produced once you have purged your body of sugar and carbohydrates. These ketones supply most organs with energy. Once you have traded these energy sources, your body will go into a state of Ketosis. Ketosis is the state in which the body “flips” from utilizing carbohydrates for energy, to using fat. Interestingly, once your body starts to produce ketones and use fat as an energy source, your body’s fat-burning ability increases. This energy sources fuels your entire body, including your brain.
In a nutshell, by cutting out carbohydrates, and depriving your body of this energy source, you will train your body to use fat, instead of glucose (from carbohydrates), as it’s fuel source. The entire Keto Diet is focused around allowing your liver to produce ketones, and obtaining this state of ketosis.
Once you have achieved a state of ketosis, you are in optimal fat-burning mode. You will burn fat, and lose weight when you continue to follow the Keto Diet, and consume the proper mix of Macros.
I’m sure you have heard the term “Macro” from any fitness-minded or heath conscious friends. Macros, is short for Macro-Nutrients. These are the nutrients that your body needs: Fat, Carbohydrates, and Protein. Every diet will focus on cutting one of these macros, usually fat. In the Keto Diet, you will be cutting your carbohydrate intake, and increasing your HEALTHY fat intake.
To achieve ketosis and keep yourself in optimal fat-burning mode, you will want to be consuming 70% Fat, 25% Protein, and 5% Carbs. You will want to use a caloric calculator to determine your daily caloric intake. Be sure to stick to this, as eating less than your daily caloric intake will stall your weight loss.
As you continue your look into the Keto Diet, or as you are continuing the Keto Diet itself, it is important to remember that it is not easy. You will experience strong cravings for carbs, and some negative side effects due to carbohydrate deprivation. Remember that you are training your body to produce energy in a whole new way. While you may want to give up, the negative side effects are only temporary. Don’t give up! You can do this!