Chances are if you use any form of social media in 2017 you’ve likely seen or heard SOME reference to a Keto diet. Keto, or short for Ketosis, is the body’s natural process of producing Ketones, which are used to break down fats in the liver. This metabolic state (Ketosis) is achieved relatively easily by starving your body of carbohydrates, which in turn forces your body to burn an alternate fuel source for energy. With a diet consisting of a proper balance of fats and proteins and carbs, we can essentially use body fat for energy and easily shed the weight we all want to lose with minimal effort.
Let’s cover some basics.
A typical diet is usually pretty high in carbs. When we eat foods that are high in carbs, our bodies produce glucose and insulin. Glucose is what our body ordinarily uses for energy, and insulin is produced to help process the glucose, so whatever fats get ingested are just stored. Limiting your carb intake is what depletes that source of fuel, and ultimately forces your body to run off fats instead.
A Ketogenic diet isn’t anything new or innovative; low carb or low carb high fat (LCHF) diets have been around for quite a while. In fact, Keto plans have been used to treat pre-diabetic or Type II diabetic patients by helping control blood sugar and insulin levels. Aside from the weight loss benefits of using fat for fuel, studies have shown that avoiding blood sugar spikes on a low carb diet help improve concentration and focus, as well as feeling more energized and feeling “full” longer. So how do you get started?
Believe it or not, it’s pretty easy.
Work up a plan for yourself that inhibits or restricts carbs to a minimum. For most people to enter a state of Ketosis, you need to stay below 30g of carbs per day, though the more aggressive you are with cutting carbs, the faster you’ll enter Ketosis. What carbs you DO ingest, try and get from vegetables, nuts, or dairy. Avoid refined or complex carbs such as starches, sugars, and grains. At its simplest, build your diet around these guidelines:
Meats (Eggs, fish, turkey/chicken, and even fattier proteins like beef are ok)
Vegetables (Though be aware of what vegetables you consume. Some in-ground vegetables such as carrots can be high in carbs)
Hard Cheeses (Cheese will be your best friend. A great Keto snack with zero carbs and dense in fat, this can be snacked on to help hit your daily fat allowance)
Zero calorie sweeteners (Stevia and other zero/low-carb artificial sweeteners are ok in moderation too)
Things to be aware of: first, you’re gonna pee. OFTEN. Keto helps evacuate a lot of the water your body holds on to which, once flushed, helps you feel leaner and less bloated (just a perk). Peeing so much and passing so much water is great, but can also deplete the electrolytes in your body, so be sure to drink plenty of water to supplement your water loss. Some people experience what’s referred to as the Keto-Flu, which is the transitionary period between switching from carbs to fats as fuel. In some cases, there’s slight lethargy and fogginess, though this certainly isn’t typical and never lasts more than a few hours. Usually, a good night’s sleep is all the remedy you need to wake up in full Keto-mode feeling like a champ.
If all else fails, just do what I did and start Googling everything. “Fats in X” and “Carbs in X” and “Protein in X” will become your go-to queries for EVERYTHING you eat until you’ve built a basic routine for yourself. The hardest part of the diet is the hardest part of any change in routine, and that’s what I’ve preached week after week: commitment. When your friends are grabbing Tacos on Tuesday or the office is bringing in donuts and kolaches for everyone, having the discipline to put the donut down and walk away is half the battle.
My Keto plan is practiced intermittently, which means I have a VERY structured Keto plan Monday through Friday. But, come Saturday morning, I’m practically eating ice cream for breakfast. Seriously. I’ve had a tremendous amount of success on an intermittent Keto plan, which gives me an entire weekend to eat whatever I want, satisfy my cravings, and gives me something to work towards during the week. In my opinion, letting my body reset every weekend and re-enter Ketosis early every week is what’s contributed to the 50+lbs I’ve lost this year.
Low amounts of carbs (5% of your total nutrient intake)
Medium amounts of protein (30-35%, more if you’re active)
High amounts of fat (60-65%)
So, why don’t you give it a shot? Make an easy Keto plan for yourself that starts on Monday, and commit to a low-carb routine through Friday. It sounds so cliché, but if it can work for me, chances are it can work for you too. There are tons of resources out there and amazing Keto-friendly recipes to keep the diet from getting boring and monotonous. Track what you eat, drink plenty of water, and don’t overcomplicate it. You got this!
“Fats are bad and carbs are good!” For many years, this myth has been so widely thought true that those of us from the last generation feel as though it were tattooed upon our brains. Today, as we walk down the grocery aisles we still recognize its influence in the remaining “Fat Free” product labels. Thankfully, the world is becoming more aware that fats are essential for good health and sugars are the real problem. This is evident by the recent explosion of “Sugar Free” marketing labels found on food products of all kinds. We are obviously reaching a turning point that will forever change our views concerning the benefits of fat in our diets. Science has only reached the tip of the iceberg with respect to the diverse health benefits of a “high fat low carb” diet.
Understandably, it is hard to trust science when we are still utilizing chemotherapy to treat cancer with only a 15 percent survival rate! Yet, the truth is physicians prescribe chemo, scientists develop solutions and publish results. The scientifically tested, “ketogenic diet” is becoming the latest rage. Yes, it’s a diet that allows you to eat BACON! What meat eating hippie would NOT be inspired by that? It is an extremely simple yet hard to understand, multifaceted process, which in a nutshell comes down to this: A body deprived of carbohydrates it will enter a state of ketosis!
Our body is a highly effective machine. It employs several different pathways to produce fuel. Glucose, which is produced by the breakdown of carbohydrates, is our body’s primary fuel source. Without getting into too many details, when glucose levels are inadequate, the body turns to fats as an alternative resource. Our cellular communication and nutritional flow is based on lipids (fats). The idea that we would deprive our body of fats is horrifying especially once one understands how our neurons communicate and how our cells are structured.
Sugars, carbs, and glucose are the main fuel source for multiple diseases. Once that fuel source is cut off our body regains the upper hand. The human body operates in a ketogenic state in a decidedly efficient manner. Ketones are the fuel produced by the breakdown of fats. They are known to starve cancer cells, increase neurological function, increase satiation, lower blood pressure, and lower cholesterol.
Now that you are sold concerning the benefits of the “Keto Diet” with plenty of reliable facts, the diet regulations are the next questions which require answers. Macros is a hard concept to grasp for most people. To put it as simply as possible, the Keto Diet allows for limited carbs with a regulated amount of protein and increased allowable fat grams. The macro nutrient breakdown would consist of 5% carbs, 20% protein, and 75% fats. Calculating the proper macros is based on your goals, weight, and body fat percentage. There are plenty of free Keto Calculators found on the internet that will help determine the correct macros.
Keep in mind, everyone’s body is different in reference to how resistant we are to ketosis. My recommendation is to start a ketogenic diet in a fasted state with 20 percent less fats than are suggested. Depleting the body’s glycogen would be ideal before starting the diet as well. In order to deplete your body of glycogen, perform cardiovascular or High Intensity Interval Training while you are fasting. Additionally, make sure to drink a minimum of a gallon of water per day to assist your body in eliminating metabolic waste and toxins.
Ketogenic dieting is increasing in popularity now that well-known actors and athletes are bragging about the benefits. Yes, this diet will bring about a more aesthetically pleasing figure, but what it does for individual health far exceeds the benefits of enhanced appearance.