Are you considering the keto diet? We answer your questions about the diet that is working for people.
All sorts of diets have had their moment in the spotlight: the Paleo diet, South Beach Diet, Weight Watchers Diet, and Atkins Diet are all great examples of trending lifestyles. Each of them have a purpose, whether the goal is weight loss or to achieve a specific health related goal, such as insulin control or lowering your cholesterol, there are many reasons for someone to go on a diet. Last year, the DASH diet—intended to aid in diabetes control by fighting high blood pressure—took the U.S. by storm. This year the ketogenic lifestyle is shaping up to do the same.
What Is a Ketogenic Lifestyle?
The ketogenic lifestyle follows the keto diet.
A nutrition plan that is designed around human physiology—which is commonly described as a low-carb diet.
But the keto diet is much more complex than that. More specifically, it’s based on the goal of getting the body into a state of ketosis—when the body burns off body fat for energy. By getting the liver to produce ketones, which essentially are byproducts of the liver breaking down fat for energy, the body is no longer in a state of glycolysis—when the body uses blood glucose levels as its main energy source. When this is achieved, your fats are no longer stored away in the body, and never used, but are now the main source of energy and are burned away much quicker.
What Can I Eat on the Ketogenic Diet?
People who live the ketogenic lifestyle focus on a specific diet. Foods that can be eaten under the keto diet are:
- leafy greens
- above ground vegetables
- high fat dairy
- hard cheeses
- high fat cream
- monk fruit
- nuts and seeds
- sunflower seeds
- 90 percent cacao dark chocolate
- coconut oil
- saturated fats
What Can’t I Eat?
The foods you must avoid on the keto diet are:
- sugar—such as maple syrup, honey, and agave
- tubers—such as yams and potatoes
- grains—such as cereal, corn, wheat, and rice
- fruit—such as bananas, oranges, and apples.
What are Keto Macros?
Understanding macros is vital to a successful ketogenic lifestyle. They are the main source of calories for someone on the keto diet. Fats, carbs, and proteins are all macros that anyone on the keto diet should keep an eye on.
How Do Keto Macros Impact My Diet?
Considering that a ketogenic diet is a high fat diet, moderate in protein, and low in carbs, it’s easy to see why most of the daily calorie intake comes from fats. The nutrient intake for the keto diet is around 70 percent fats, 25 percent protein, and 5 percent carbs.
How Do I Get Started With the Keto Diet?
While there are several websites out there offering their own guides, the general way to start out on the keto diet goes as follows.
- You’re going to see this suggestion all over this piece and for multiple reasons, but drink plenty of water—close to a gallon daily.
- Maintain a healthy sleep schedule.
- Become acquainted with meal planning as it will become your best friend and the top way to avoid any missteps in your diet.
- Get educated on what your daily macro goals are so you can adjust your meal plans accordingly.
What Are the Benefits?
Created in the 1920s to help people with epilepsy, the ketogenic lifestyle was written off as quackery by many physicians. However, it is mainly credited for lowering the risk of diabetes by normalizing blood sugar and insulin levels. It also is known to reduce the risk of heart diseases and stroke. Nowadays, the keto diet is used in the health and fitness industry for weight loss and to help increase mental focus and physical endurance.
How Do I Reach Ketosis?
Reaching a state of ketosis means you become a fat burner rather than a sugar burner. It retrains the body to start relying on fats rather than glucose.This is achieved by restricting carbohydrate intake—not just net carbs but also total daily carbs. Ideally, staying under 20 grams in net carbs and 35 grams in total carbs daily is the best approach.
How About Protein?
Monitoring your protein intake is also essential as the body needs it to maintain its muscle, especially considering that ketosis is a metabolic state where your body is trying to use fat as fuel. Enough protein will help prevent muscle loss, however, too much can lead to lower levels of ketosis.
How Much Water?
Drinking a gallon of water daily, cutting out unnecessary snacking, incorporating fasting, and adding 20 to 30 minutes of daily exercise will also help get your body into the state of ketosis. It’s also important to remember that fat intake is essential and the mind needs to be retrained to not consider consuming fatty foods as bad. This is especially important considering fat is the main source of energy in the keto lifestyle.
How Do I Know If I Reached Ketosis?
While some people try to use urine or blood strips to determine if they’re in ketosis, the urine strips are considered inaccurate and the blood strips can be costly. The body does more than enough to tell you it’s in ketosis without external measurement systems. The physical symptoms include:
- increased urination
- dry mouth—as a result of the increased urination
- bad breath—a temporary symptom
- reduced hunger coupled with increased energy
What Do I Do Once I’m in Ketosis?
Ketosis is a natural diuretic so the increased urination is inevitable, you should still ensure you’re drinking plenty of water as it will also help with dry mouth. Additionally, make sure to replenish your electrolytes. Reduced hunger and energized mental state are clear benefits of the ketogenic lifestyle, but they will not come until after you get past the keto flu.
What Is the Keto Flu?
The keto flu is a process that many people go through when they start the ketogenic lifestyle and it only lasts a few days but it can, understandably so, be uncomfortable. Symptoms include
Why Does the Keto Flu Happen?
The two main reasons for the keto flu are increased urination and the fact that your body is transitioning from to a low carb and low sugar intake. The transition can often involve your body going into a sort of shock as it adjusts to the changes.
How Can I Treat the Symptoms or Ease the Process of the Keto Flu?
Remember the suggestion to drink plenty of water and replenishing your electrolytes? This will also help curb most of the symptoms of the keto flu. Generally the process takes about four to five days. As for the fatigue, taking a tablespoon if MCT Oil, directly or in your meals, may not be a quick fix, but it will help your body to better understand that fat is now it’s main source of energy.
How Long Does the Adjustment Period Take?
When starting the keto diet the body will have to endure a sort of adjustment period as it shifts from a sugar burner to a fat burner. The body will react in a way that it feels like a drastic change, however the period should take no more than a week. The transition may be quicker for some: it all depends on how your body reacts to the change in diet.
What Are the Common Side Effects?
Common side effects that people usually come across when they first start the keto diet are usually related to dehydration or a lack of vitamins. Other side effects include:
- heart palpitations
- reduced physical performance
Again, these can also be relieved by drinking plenty of water as well as a diet rich with micronutrients. The heart palpitations and cramps can also be addressed by increasing salt intake and, if it the palpitations persist, taking a potassium supplement. Eating vegetables with fiber and taking a probiotic will usually help the constipation. As for the reduced physical performance, your body regains its strength and endurance after the body is finished adjusting to the keto diet.
What Are the Less Common Side Effects?
The less common side effects of the keto diet are:
- hair loss
- increased cholesterol
The keto rash is another minor side effect even though there is no explanation as to why it happens, rather there are plenty of accounts of people developing an itch that is, anecdotally, more likely irritation from the acetone in the sweat.
Is There Only One Type of Ketogenic Diet?
There are actually three types of keto diets and the one you choose depends on your goals.
- Standard Ketogenic Diet
- This diet is used by people who want to lose weight choose to follow.
- Targeted Ketogenic Diet
- This version follows the standard diet but adds the consumption of fast-digesting carbs before your workout.
- Cyclical Ketogenic Diet
- This variation allows you to take one day a week and load up on carbs to replenish glycogen stores.
Can I Exercise While on the Keto Diet?
Your long term ability won’t be affected, but you will go through a short term drop in your physical performance. Give your body some time to adjust before expecting the same performance as before.
Are There Any Risks to the Keto Diet?
Just like with anything else you try, consulting a health professional before changing your diet is essential. As for the ketogenic lifestyle, there is the slight chance that your body could produce to many ketones and send your body into a state of ketoacidosis. This is highly unlikely to occur under normal circumstances.
Is It Expensive?
One of the biggest myths about any diet is that they are expensive. As for the keto diet, while at first you will have to invest in restocking your pantry, the long term effects on your expenses can actually be positive. Meal planning will lead you to buy your ingredients for the week ahead of time, often times buying them in bulk like with milk. All of your prepped meals will lead you to spend less on more expensive alternatives as you find that you are cooking for yourself rather than going out or buying frozen meals.
Are you Considering the Ketogenic Lifestyle?
You would certainly not be alone as it has been one of the top diets at the moment. What matters is that you educate yourself as much as possible, consult a health professional, determine whether this diet is suited for your health, and ensure that it aligns with your goals. Take the necessary steps to ensure your ketogenic lifestyle is as optimal as possible so you get the most out of it. Who knows? You might just be on the cusp of a life changing experience. There are plenty of people who have already made similar claims because of their adoption of the keto diet.