Do you consider yourself to be a fitness fanatic? If so, there is a good chance that you’ve tried a handful of fad diet at some point or another. There are many diets out there, some are better than others. The ketogenic diet has secured a place in the hearts of many people far and wide. The keto diet offers a wealth of benefits and it is far easier to follow than many of the alternatives. If you’re not familiar with the keto diet, you’ve come to the right place. Within this in-depth guide, you’re going to learn the ins and outs of the ketogenic diet.
What Is Keto Diet?
First and foremost, it is wise to familiarize yourself with the basics of the ketogenic diet. What is it exactly? The term ketogenic can undoubtedly be very frightening for most people. The good news is that the diet itself is not. The Keto diet is really nothing more than a diet that is high in fat and low in carbs. One important element of the keto diet often misunderstood is that people must consume sufficient amount of protein.
When following the diet properly, your body will be forced to burn fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. Due to it’s satiety effect the keto diet is an ideal choice for those attempting to burn fat rapidly.
Keto Vs Low Carb
Many people mistakenly believe that the keto diet is nothing more than a low-carb diet. While there are some similarities, there are many differences as well. In fact, both are very similar to the well known Atkins diet. The biggest difference is the specific number of calories originating from fat.
Low-carb and the original Atkins diets tend to require you to consume far more protein. For instance, roughly 40% of your caloric intake will come from protein when following a low-carb or Atkins diet. When staying true to the ketogenic way of life, you will only be getting approx 25% of your calories from protein.
Also, the amount of carbs you consume on a keto diet will be severely restricted. To get the calories your body needs, you will need to increase your fat intake. It is also vital to understand that ketosis is a measurable fat-burning state. When you’re able to enter the state of ketosis, your body will automatically begin burning fat for energy and rather than glucose. That’s unique to the ketogenic diet and in that sense is different to any other dietary approaches.
Understanding Keto Diet Macros
When it comes down to macros, there are three primary macronutrients associated with the keto diet: protein, fat and carbs. All three will have a different impact on ketosis, as well as effects on hormone levels and blood glucose.
Fat – 90% of fats consumed are ketogenic and 10% anti-ketogenic. This has to do with a tiny quantity of glucose released during the conversion of triglycerides.
Protein – Proteins are considered 45% keto and 55% non-keto. When you consume protein, your insulin levels will rise to reflect the quantity of protein you’ve consumed as it is converted into glucose.
Carbs – Carbs are 100% anti-ketogenic. Carbs are going to cause your blood glucose and insulin to spike. This is why keto dieters should do their best to restrict their carbohydrate intake to a level of carbs they can tolerate and doesn’t disturb ketosis.
It is true that protein and carbs are going to have an effect on your body when it attempts to enter the state of ketosis. Nevertheless, both are going to be used for energy. Understanding how the body is going to use these nutrients for energy is absolutely essential.
Your Body’s Metabolic Pathways
To understand how macro nutrients are going to be used, you need to learn about your body’s metabolic pathways. This is simply the way your body is going to break down proteins, fats and carbs. It also defines the way these nutrients will be utilized based on the current condition of your body. Your body can be in three different states: fed, fasting and starved. Obviously, fed will occur right after you’ve consumed a satisfying meal. Fasting happens when you have not eaten for at least 2 to 8 hours. If you’re starved, you have been fasting for more than two days.
The Effect Of The Starved State
If you’ve been fasting for 48 hours, your body is going to enter the starved state. Your muscles and liver are going to be depleted of glycogen. This will cause the liver to use lactate to produce additional glucose, which will ultimately be used for energy for the red blood cells. The liver will begin producing ketones. They’ll enter the bloodstream and the muscles and brain will begin utilizing them for energy.
This is key to the keto diet, because your body is going to think it is starved when it has very little glucose. Since the body is using ketones for energy, you’re able to utilize body fat for energy.
The Effect Of The Fasting State
When your body is in the fasting state, it is going to break down nutrients in a much different way. However, the breakdown of those nutrients will be the same as it would, if you were fed. In the fasting stage, your body will break down nutrients into acetyl-CoA. This is vital for creating ATP, which is an energy molecule. The quantity of liver glycogen will rise and the glucose levels in your bloodstream will also increase. This means that the brain and red blood cells are primarily going to use glucose for fuel.
More triglycerides will be released from fat cells. When you’re sleeping, your liver and muscles will be using these free fatty acids for energy. The liver will also use them to produce ketones which can also be used for energy, if necessary. When you remain in the fasting state for a longer period of time, additional triglycerides will be broken apart and released.
The Effect Of The Fed State
After you’ve had a satisfying meal, your body is going to break down nutrients using several unique metabolic pathways. Fats are going to be delivered directly to the liver. There, they’ll be broken down into glycerol and fatty acids. The fatty acids and glycerol will spread throughout the body to repair cells and rebuild tissues. Excess fats will be converted into triglycerides and stored in the fat cells.
The proteins that you consume will be converted into amino acids. This is done through transamination. The proteins will be used to create non-essential amino acids, neurotransmitters etc. Any remaining amino acids will be used to repair tissue and stored as glucose. All of the carbs that you consume will be stored as glucose. The stored glucose will be available to be utilized for energy immediately. An increase of glucose in your bloodstream will cause an increase of insulin which will trigger the body store the excess glucose as fat.
The Benefits Of Keto Diet
So, why would anyone be interested in going on a keto diet? The truth of the matter is that there is a wealth of benefits associated with following a keto diet. Although it is not the easiest diet to follow, it has a large array of benefits. Some of the top benefits are:s
Over the years, doctors have utilized low carb, high fat diets as a way to treat obese patients. William Banting is credited with creating the Banting diet in 1863. At the time, he explained how he managed to lose weight by sticking with a diet with tons of fat, yet no carbs. Since then, the Banting diet has been utilized by many people who wanted to lose weight. The Banting diet isn’t necessary a keto diet, but it did help pave the way for the keto diet. One of the biggest benefits common to both is the fact that they are capable of suppressing your appetite.
Keto diet also lowers the insulin levels in your body. This combination makes the diet very effective for reducing body fat levels. The ketogenic diet can definitely be excellent for helping people decrease their body fat. When you consume more fat and few carbs, you’re actually going to force your body to use fat as its primary energy source. That means it is going to make energy from the fat stored in your body reserves.
Managing Blood Sugar
Keto diet lowers your insulin and blood sugar levels. This can be very helpful for people suffering from pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes. The diet will ensure that these individuals do not have to worry about having excessively high blood sugar levels. They may also be able to avoid needing external insulin. A study released in 1976 concluded that some patients following a keto diet would be able to lose weight and they may no longer need their insulin. A 2012 study supported those claims.
The 2012 study required obese diabetes to stick with the keto diet for a period of one year. It was determined that decreasing fasting glucose levels allowed the participants to improve their HbA1c readings and their cholesterol markers. Controlling blood sugar levels on a keto diet couldn’t be easier.
In the past, it was believed that a diet high in fat would lead to cardiovascular disease. Today, this is no longer thought to be the case. Actually, some evidence suggests that sticking with a high fat and low carb diet could potentially prevent cardiovascular disease. A research study carried out by Dr. Richard Feinman and Dr. Jeff Volek supported this assessment. Their study found that a low carb diet, such as the keto diet, could help prevent the primary causes of heart disease. This includes high blood sugar levels, lower HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure and more.
Nobody likes aging but there is no way to stop it. If you’re looking for a way to remain young for longer, the ketogenic diet may very well be the solution you’ve been looking for. It is thought that decreasing insulin levels would also reduce oxidative stress. The keto diet achieves this goal. This is why many specialists believe that the ketogenic diet may be helpful for slowing down the aging process.
Improving Brain Function
While the majority of people embrace the keto lifestyle to lose weight, many others do so to improve their cognitive function. A ketogenic diet may offer a wealth of benefits, such as improving brain function, enhancing memory and even improving mental clarity. Studies conducted on rats showed that the keto diet could help aged rates maintain optimum cognitive performance, while also protecting against cognitive impairment.
A study was also carried out on humans. It determined that following a keto diet could help older adults improve their memory functions. This was true even when the diet was followed for a short period of time. Keto diet can help increase concentrations of ATP, as well as the quantity of hippocampal mitochondria in the brain by as much as 50%. This is vitally important, because the hippocampus plays a crucial role in learning, memory and emotion.
It has been suggested that that brain and heart will operate approximately 25% more efficiently when it is using ketones for energy rather than blood sugar.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Many people suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or IBS which causes them to experience chronic diarrhea, bloating, stomach discomfort etc. Most people affected will dismiss the suggestion of consuming a high fat, low carb diet. After all, it is believed that higher fat intake can potentially cause diarrhea. However, there are many long-term benefits of the ketogenic diet for patients suffering from IBS. Decreasing the amount of sugar you consume can actually help alleviate the symptoms commonly associated with IBS.
Studies have shown that the keto diet may offer relief and improve stool habits and abdominal pain. Long-term, it could improve the patient’s quality of life.
It is also an establish fact that the keto diet is beneficial for endurance athletes. The diet can help boost endurance performance. The FASTER study analyzed the impact of the keto diet on endurance and confirmed that keto dieters had significant advantages compared to those following conventional diets. They had more mitochondria, less oxidative stress, and lower lactate levels. It was also determined that the keto diet athletes were able to perform much better and at a higher intensity than the control group.
Other studies have also supported the idea that ketones can help improve performance. Increased power output could be maintained for as long as 30 minutes.
Alleviating Pain And Inflammation
Pain and inflammation tend to go hand in hand. Both are capable of severely affecting the patient’s life. The good news is that the keto diet may be able to help. When you enter ketosis, your body can deal with inflammation and pain much better. If you suffer from chronic pain, you’ll definitely want to think about trying out the keto diet.
Migraines are downright horrific and there are no reliable cures. There is a possibility that a keto diet may be able to help. Anecdotal evidence and some research studies have shown a connection between ketosis and migraines. It has been shown that a keto diet can reduce headaches, while helping people suffering from migraines refrain from drug use. One study even concluded that making the switch to the keto diet could actually decrease the frequency and severity of the migraines.
Parkinson’s And Epilepsy
Keto diet can help people dealing with Parkinson’s or epilepsy. More research is needed, but the research so far has delivered some promising results.
Foods Eat & Avoid On A Keto Diet
Like other types of diets, the keto diet restricts and permits certain types of food. The only way to follow the diet and maximize its benefits is to follow these rules. Foods that are restricted on the keto diet will slow down fat loss and disrupt ketosis.
Foods to avoid
- Grains – Barley, oats, rice, rye, buckwheat and wheat
- Beans – Kidney, lima, pinto, black, cannellini, white and fava
- Legumes – Green peas, chickpeas and black eyed peas
- Fruits – Bananas, pineapples, papaya, oranges, apples, grapes and mangos
- Dried Fruits – Raisins, mango and dates
- Starchy Vegetables – Sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams, carrots, parsnips and corn
- Sugars – Honey, maple syrup, raw sugar, turbinado sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, agave nectar and cane sugar
- Some Dairy Products – Milk, evaporated skim milk, fat-free yogurts, fat-free butter substitutes, low-fat cream cheese and low-fat substitutes
- Oils – Soybean, canola, corn, safflower, sunflower, sesame and peanut oil
- Process Foods – Margarines, candies, ice creams, wheat gluten, foods with sulfites and carrageenan and commercial-baked goods, such as cakes and cookies
- Artificial Sweeteners – Splenda, Equal, saccharin, sucralose, acesulfame and aspartame
- Carbohydrates – Breads, pastas, crackers, cookies and pizza crusts that contain, bulgur, wheat, oats, rice, barley, rye, quinoa, millet, corn, sorghum, buckwheat, sprouted grains and amaranth
- Factory-Farmed Animal Products – Salami, pre-packaged sausages, corned beef, beef jerky, corned beef, bacon and smoked, cured and salted meats
- Soy products
In addition to the foods above, some alcoholic beverages are also excluded. These include beer, cocktails, flavored liquors, sweet wines and all mixers that contain sodas, flavored syrups and juices. Sugary beverages are also not allowed. These include vegetable and fruit juices and smoothies, coffee with added sugar, tea with added sugar, sweetened milks and even all diet sodas.
All condiments that contain sugar and unhealthy oils are also excluded from the keto diet. Low-fat condiments are also excluded.
Foods allowed on a keto diet
- Full-Fat Dairy Products – Butter, ghee, cream and high-fat cheese
- Nuts and Seeds – macadamia and pecan
- Beverages – Black coffee
- Saturated and Monounsaturated Fats – Macadamia nuts, avocado, butter, olive oil, coconut oil, lard, chicken fat, tallow, duck fat, MCT oil and egg yolks
- Meat – unprocessed and grass-fed (goat, venison, lamb and beef)
- Eggs – Pasteurized
- Fish- Wild-caught
- Vegetables – Cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, radishes, kohlrabi, celery, cucumber, summer squash, asparagus, bamboo sprouts, spaghetti squash, cabbage and zucchini (all green leafy vegetables)
- Beverages – Tea and coffee with no sugar
- Polyunsaturated Fats – Omega-3 fatty acids from animal sources
- Condiments – Mayonnaise, pesto and mustard
Foods to eat occasionally
Keto diet does allow for some foods to be eaten occasionally. They include:
- Cruciferous Vegetables – cabbage, broccoli, fennel, Brussels sprouts, rutabaga and turnips
- Root Vegetables – Spring onion, beetroot, sweet potato, carrot, celery root, parsnip, garlic, leek, parsley root, onion, winter squash and mushrooms
- Other Vegetables – Bean sprouts, sea vegetables, wax beans, okra, sugar snap peas, water chestnuts and French artichokes
- Nightshades – Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant
- Fruits – Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, mulberries, avocado, olives, coconut, rhubarb, lemons, limes, melons, watermelon and raspberries
- Nuts – Almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, chestnuts, pine nuts and hazelnuts
- Seeds – Sunflower, hemp, pumpkin, flaxseed and sesame
- Cocoa Powder
- Sugar-free Mints and Gum
- Alcohol – Unsweetened spirits and dry white and dry red wines
Tools For Keto Diet And Weight Loss
Following the keto diet will result in fewer cravings and lower caloric intake. Keto foods have the ability to put the body into a “state of ketosis”, which basically means it allows the body to utilize stored fat for energy. While some people may view the keto diet as a magic weight loss tool, it is far from just that.
The best way to lose weight on the keto diet is to utilize a Keto Calculator, exercise regularly and learn how to effectively deal with weight loss plateaus. This combined with routine testing and continuous tracking of ketone levels will go a long way in inducing weight loss.
Guides & recipes
There is loads of web sites and blogs with amazing and easy to prepare recipes. Some of my favorites include:
- Sugar-free mom
- All day I dream about food
- Keto in pearls
- Low-carb yum
- Fat for weightloss
- The cast away kitchen (great AIP recipe collection)
Dealing With Weight Stalling
Along the way, you will need to make adjustments to your keto diet. If your reach a weight loss plateau, adjusting your fat intake or following a keto diet combined with intermittent fasting can both help induce ketosis. If this is not effective, you may need to reduce your carb intake and increase your physical activity.
Always make sure your keto diet consists of adequate protein, which is the building block of muscles. Without adequate protein, you will lose muscle mass and prevent your body from losing weight.
Following the keto diet is definitely challenging in the beginning. However, it will get easier once you get used to it. Once you’ve felt the benefits for yourself, you’ll enjoy following the keto diet. When that happens, you’ll want to remain in a constant state of ketosis that will provide you with tons of health benefits. Just follow the guide to determine whether or not the keto diet is right for you!