What Is a Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet (or keto diet, for short) is a low-carb, high-fat diet that offers many health benefits. In fact, over 20 studies show that this type of diet can help you lose weight quicker and improve your health. While you eat far fewer carbohydrates on a keto diet, you maintain moderate levels of protein intake and may increase your intake of fat. The reduction in carb intake puts your body in a metabolic state called ketosis, where fat, from your diet and from your body, is burned for energy.
What Does “Keto” Mean?
The “keto” in a ketogenic diet comes from the fact that it allows the body to produce small fuel molecules called “ketones.” This is an alternative fuel source for the body, used when blood sugar (glucose) is in short supply.
When you eat very few carbs or very few calories, the liver produces ketones from fat. These ketones then serve as a fuel source throughout the body, especially for the brain. The brain is a hungry organ that consumes lots of energy every day, and it can’t run on fat directly. It can only run on glucose – or ketones.
On a ketogenic diet, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run mostly on fat, burning fat 24-7. When insulin levels become very low, fat burning can increase dramatically. It becomes easier to access your fat stores to burn them off. Which is great for losing weight rapidly. When the body produces ketones, it enters a metabolic state called ketosis. That’s why this diet is called “the keto diet”
Ketogenic Diet Can Help You Lose Weight
A ketogenic diet is an effective way to lose weight and lower risk factors for disease. In fact, research shows that the ketogenic diet is far superior to the often recommended low-fat diet. What’s more, the diet is so filling that you can lose weight without counting calories or tracking your food intake. One study found that people on a ketogenic diet lost 2.2 times more weight than those on a calorie-restricted low-fat diet. Triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels also improved. There are several reasons why a ketogenic diet is superior to a low-fat diet, including the increased protein intake, which provides numerous benefits
Other Health Benefits of Keto
Studies have now shown that the diet can have benefits for a wide variety of different health conditions:
Acne: Lower insulin levels and eating less sugar or processed foods may help improve acne
Epilepsy: Research has shown that the ketogenic diet can cause massive reductions in seizures in epileptic children
Brain injuries: One animal study found that the diet can reduce concussions and aid recovery after brain injury
Cancer: The diet is currently being used to treat several types of cancer and slow tumor growth.
Heart disease: The ketogenic diet can improve risk factors like body fat, HDL cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood sugar
Foods to Eat In A Keto Diet
Meat: Red meat, steak, ham, sausage, bacon, chicken and turkey.
Fatty fish: Such as salmon, trout, tuna and mackerel.
Eggs: Look for pastured or omega-3 whole eggs.
Butter and cream: Look for grass-fed when possible.
Cheese: Unprocessed cheese (cheddar, goat, cream, blue or mozzarella).
Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.
Healthy oils: Primarily extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil.
Avocados: Whole avocados or freshly made guacamole.
Low-carb veggies: Most green veggies, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.
Condiments: You can use salt, pepper and various healthy herbs and spices.
Foods to Avoid In A Keto Diet
Any food that is high in carbs should be limited.
Here is a list of foods that need to be reduced or eliminated on a ketogenic diet:
Sugary foods: Soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.
Grains or starches: Wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.
Fruit: All fruit, except small portions of berries like strawberries.
Beans or legumes: Peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
Root vegetables and tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
Low-fat or diet products: These are highly processed and often high in carbs.
Some condiments or sauces: These often contain sugar and unhealthy fat.
Unhealthy fats: Limit your intake of processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
Alcohol: Due to their carb content, many alcoholic beverages can throw you out of ketosis.
Sugar-free diet foods: These are often high in sugar alcohols, which can affect ketone levels in some cases. These foods also tend to be highly processed.
Tips for Eating Out on a Ketogenic Diet
Most restaurants offer some kind of meat or fish-based dish. Order this, and replace any high-carb food with extra vegetables.
Egg-based meals are also a great option, such as an omelet or eggs and bacon.
Another favorite is bun-less burgers. You could also swap the fries for vegetables instead. Add extra avocado, cheese, bacon or eggs.
At Mexican restaurants, you can enjoy any type of meat with extra cheese, guacamole, salsa and sour cream.
For dessert, ask for a mixed cheese board or berries with cream.
Frequently Asked Questions
Protein should be moderate, as a very high intake can spike insulin levels and lower ketones. Around 35% of total calorie intake is probably the upper limit.
You may not be in full ketosis or be utilizing fats and ketones efficiently. To counter this, lower your carb intake and re-visit the points above. A supplement like MCT oil or ketones may also help.
No. However, a few higher-calorie days may be beneficial every now and then.
It takes 2 – 7 days, depending on your body type, activity levels, and what you’re eating.
The amount of weight you lose is totally dependent on you. Adding exercise to your regimen will speed up your weight loss. Cutting out things that are common “stall” causes is also a good thing. Artificial sweeteners, dairy, wheat products and by-products (wheat gluten, wheat flours, and anything with an identifiable wheat product in it).
“Macros” is a condensed term for the word macronutrients. The “big 3” macronutrients are fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. it’s best you track all of them at the beginning. You can calculate your macros with the macro calculator available on our website.
It’s fairly common for people starting on keto to have irregular bowel movements. Below is a list of common advice given to people for constipation or bowel movement problems.
Take a Magnesium Supplement
Drink Plenty of Water
Eat One Tbsp. of Coconut Oil
Stop Eating Nuts (if you do)
Eat More Fibrous Vegetables
Try Eating Chia Seeds or Flax Seeds
Try Coffee or Tea
There are 2 types of people that work out. People who run and people who lift weights. If you’re someone who does a lot of cardio – running, biking, marathons, or the like, then you don’t need to worry. Studies show that aerobic training (endurance training) isn’t affected by low carbohydrate diets.
Now, the story changes if you lift weights. You have to know your end goal here. As a short answer, carbohydrates do help your performance and also help with recovery of muscles. That means faster gains, and better strength performance in your training sessions.