Introduction to the Keto Diet
Keto, what does it mean?
“Keto” comes from the word Ketosis which is a state in which your body primarily uses Fat as its main source of energy instead of Glucose (also known as carbs, or sugar).
This alternate source of energy comes from the actual Fat stored in your body. Your liver breaks the stored fat down and in turn, produces Ketones for your body to use.
The organ that’s the biggest consumer of energy in the body is the brain.
The brain, being the largest consumer of energy yet only takes up 2.1% of your body’s mass consumes around 20% of the total energy your body produces every day.
Fortunately, the brain works even more efficiently on Ketones instead of Glucose and causes less oxidative stress.
During the age of the hunting and gathering, our ancestors, depending on where you originated from had either access to only fats and protein, fats/protein and (a low amount of) carbs, or little to no fats/protein and very high carb intakes.
So be wary of your background before you begin, as if this conflicts with your insulin intake you may get symptoms of the Keto Flu (more on that later).
When you’re in a Ketogenic state, your carb intake is very small as part of your daily diet. You’ll be only be getting carbohydrates from vegetables, and certain meat by-products.
When your body successfully starts producing Ketones, you’re in the state of Ketosis. The quickest way to get your body into that state is if you start fasting. The Keto diet works even better if you incorporate intermittent fasting at the same time as you reduce your carb intake which intensifies the speed of weight loss.
If you want to eat throughout the day, you can still do so on the Keto Diet and still be in a state of Ketosis.
Avoid the Keto Diet if you have
The Keto Diet improves your general health drastically, but you should safely avoid the Keto Diet if you have any of the following:
- Are you pregnant?
- Do you have issues with your blood pressure?
- Are you currently or just recovered from an eating disorder?
- Do you have any form of, or take medication for diabetes?
If you’re not sure if you fall into these categories or if you might have any other complication. We highly recommended asking your physician before getting into any diet.
Benefits of the Keto Diet
Like we mentioned earlier, the benefits of being in a state of Ketosis is using the stored body fat as energy, by creating Ketones instead of fueling the body with glucose. Which creates the effect of weight loss without the side effect of hunger.
Another proven benefit of the Keto Diet is the stability of blood sugar levels. You never feel extremely hungry where you’d consider bringing out after a long fast. Since you’re burning fat 24//7 you have a constant source of Ketones (energy) being used which reduces the frequency and strength of your hunger.
By always having a constant flow of Ketones in the body and especially the brain, your focus and awareness are consistent throughout the days.
While in Ketosis, your mental performance is slightly increased and consistent, which has the secondary benefit of having your influx of energy being much higher.
The biological reason for this boost is all linked back to how our ancestors ate and lived; Our most primal bodily instincts.
When your brain is getting Ketones for energy instead of carbohydrates, it realizes that the situation it’s presented with means that there either a shortage of food/calories at our disposal or there’s a large load of (usually when catching a large animal) protein and fats coming in, which in both cases mean that the increased mental performance is necessary for the near future.
A few other benefits from the Keto Diet includes:
- Controlled blood sugar levels and reduces the impact of high insulin levels.
- Many studies show that being in Ketosis improves your cholesterol contents by reducing bad cholesterol.
- With better blood sugar levels and improved cholesterol, results in improved blood pressure.
How to reach a state of Ketosis
There are many factors when it comes to reaching a state of Ketosis.
Restricting Carbohydrates: The number of carbohydrates you want to consume per day should be around 20 grams (not including fiber).
Vegetables are part of the Keto Diet and you can consume 2-3 full portions depends on what you eat.
Make sure you do not consume any sugary foods or drinks, which will negatively affect your state of Ketosis.
A good frame of reference is to look at the palm of your hand while letting your fingers curl inward. That’s how much carb’s you should be having a day.
Ex: Tomatoes are higher in carbohydrates compared to cucumbers.
Moderate Protein: You should not go overboard with the protein. Consuming too much will make your body convert it into glucose, which lowers your state of Ketosis. A good point of reference it to weigh yourself, and convert your weight into Kilograms which would be the number of grams of protein you should eat a day.
Good Sleep: To get the most out of your Keto Diet, you want to make sure you sleep at least 7 hours of good quality sleep. Good quality sleep, in turn, reduces stress which holds another large set of benefits. By also reducing your blood sugar levels, increasing the effect of Ketosis and its weight loss effects. Make sure you get your sleep schedule in check to make sure you get the most out of your Keto Diet.
High-Quality Fats: As this is a Fat intensive diet, you want to consume the cleanest, highest quality Fats.
We recommend using 2, any more would start to get expensive.
Make sure to eat enough to feel satisfied, you don’t want to turn the Keto Diet into a starvation diet both of which results in Ketosis, but not only is it going to have negative effects if you starve yourself, it’s not healthy nor sustainable in the long run.
The Keto Diet is meant to keep you satisfied, if you feel like its harder to get a full-ish feeling you can add more Fats into your diet, such as higher fat meats, healthy Oils, and butter.
Don’t forget to make sure your saturated fat levels are in check, butter and other cooking oils are full of unhealthy fats.
The Keto Diet is not an excuse to binge on unhealthy foods and hydrogenated fats like chips, fried foods, and desserts.
Keep the select carbs and fats you’ll be eating clean.
Excercise: Mixing intermittent fasting with the Keto Diet can be very effective, you’ll see weight loss results much faster. But your muscle growth will be hindered. Because your body is focusing so much on sustaining energy it’s harder for your body to put energy into muscle building. If you eat well enough, you can still build muscle, but it won’t be as fast as you’d expect it to be.
Eat protein immediately after your workout’s and right before bed for the best results (least muscle atrophy).
What to Eat while on Keto
Remaining in a state of Ketosis can be a challenge. The hardest part of the Keto Diet is cutting off sugar, you cannot have beer, soda, chocolate bars, grains and wheat products, and most fruits.
Let’s start with what you can’t eat while on Keto. The most critical part of the Keto Diet, eating an excess of raw sugary foods will stop your state of Ketosis and have you take 2 steps backward. Your blood sugar will dip and spike and inhibit your fat-burning state and set your hunger into a spiral-like, inconsistent state.
What you can take in while on Keto:
- Drinks such as Water, Tea, Coffee, and not too much Wine.
- Vegetables, all sorts and kinds are great but don’t overdo it as some vegetables (like tomatoes) have a good amount of sugar.
- Nuts, a great calorie dense option. Packed full of Fat and a load of other benefits make it a great part of your Keto Diet.
- Meats, most meat options are great. as well as eggs and fish, fish being even better since it’s full of great Fats. Try not to depend solely on Fish while on Keto, you don’t want mercury poisoning.
5. Cheeses work great too, being rich in protein and fats with lots of other subsets of benefits that fill you up, work great in the Keto Diet.
Side Effects of the Keto Diet
The Keto Flu, the most common temporary side effects when it comes to transitioning into the Keto Diet. Usually lasting about 1 week after you start cutting out carbohydrates, you’ll experience some of the following:
- Trouble falling asleep
- Difficulty focusing
These are not prone for everyone who delves into Keto. But may occur and is good to keep in mind before starting the diet. The fastest method to get rid of the “Keto Flu” is by:
- Consuming more calories, eat till you’re satisfied, and lower the calories to something more manageable when you’re body gets used to it.
- Eat a few more carbs, especially when you’re trying to get your body used to the Keto Diet.
- Drink more water and consume more Salts (balances your systemic Ph levels)
- Exercise. Nothing too intense if the symptoms are strong. Light cardio is perfect for waking your body up and is great to get your heart rate up.
You may experience constipation as most people do when beginning Keto. Just add more high fibrous veggies or low-calorie seeds to load some fiber into your system.
If you experience any difficulties relating to breathing or your heart and just feel like you’re in an irritable mood more often, we highly recommend stopping the diet and not looking into it before consulting with a physician once again.
As a final general note, when you’ve reached your weight goal with the Keto Diet you can safely start to introduce more carbs into your diet without affecting the results you’ve achieved!