By now almost everyone has heard about or even tried the ketogenic diet for one reason or another. This low-carb way of eating is getting all the glory for many pounds shed as of late, even though it's been around for quite some time. Originally thought of as only a way of eating for children with epilepsy it has grown in the last decade or so into quite a phenomenon.
In the simplest of terms the keto diet is a low-carb style of eating causing the body to shift into a state of ketosis. By limiting carbs, the body has to look for another efficient fuel source. The objective in the keto diet is to switch from using glucose as fuel and move over to ketones thus making it an ideal diet for Type 2 diabetics.
Ketones are produced in the liver by the breakdown of fat cells. Essentially, the body is burning fat for fuel in ketosis. The human body is very brilliant and when given the right tools, can run like a well-oiled machine!
How to Obtain the State of Ketosis
The metabolic state of ketosis is achieved by maintaining a daily carbohydrate intake under 25g. It's actually very simple. It only takes 24-48 hours of low-carb eating to shift the body naturally into ketosis.
Every nutrition store has a variety of ketone-enriched supplements to push the body into ketosis faster, but for the average person using ketosis as a weight loss plan, it's not really necessary and quite frankly, a waste of money.
There are also keto-strips to dip in urine, similar to what the nurse uses when running a urinalysis, but these have thus far been highly inaccurate and are again, unnecessary. The body gives signals when it's first in ketosis.
Here are a few:
- Strong smelling urine
- Bad breath (acetone)
- Short-term fatigue and/or flu symptoms
- Appetite suppression
- Weight loss!
By allowing the body to enter ketosis naturally, without enhancements, one knows exactly what's going in and coming out. Speaking of which, sometimes what's coming out (at first) isn't very regular.
Keep in mind, more of what's being ingested is being utilized by the body now so there's less to evacuate. If the frequency gets concerning, please contact a primary care provider for advice.
The Bad Foods
It's not a long list, like many probably fear. In fact, the guidelines are simple.
Steer clear of these food groups:
- Starchy foods
- Trans Fats
- Low-fat products
The biggest key to being successful with the keto diet is in taking on a more natural approach to eating. The more "real" the food, the better for you. A good habit to form is reading ingredient labels. Many items labeled "Diet" or "Low-fat" or "Heart Healthy" are riddled with sugars and carbs.
The Good Foods
This is the best part of the ketogenic diet! Below is a list of categories and a brief explanation of each:
- Protein. The best of the best is organic, pasture raised and grass-fed.
- Veggies. Lean on leafy greens and veggies grown above ground. Underground veggies are typically high in carbs. Fresh or frozen, it doesn't matter.
- Dairy. Full-fat dairy items.
- Fats & Oils. Always opt for a natural fat source. When necessary for cooking choose coconut, butter or olive oil.
- Nuts and Seeds. Fatty nuts like macadamias and almonds are great in moderation.
- Beverages. Water. If flavoring is needed use real fruit juices or flavorings using Stevia as the sweetener.
The Macronutrient Ratio
Calculating the individual macronutrient ratio is based on current weight, health history and weight loss goals for that person. Macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Since the carb count is less than 25 grams daily, it should equal to no more than 5% of daily macronutrient intake.
There are a number of calculators available online to assist in calculating macros. Seeking the advice of a professional, like a certified nutritionist, is optimal but not an option for some.
An individual macro ratio might be 5% calories from carbs, 55% calories from fats and 40% calories from protein. Depending on the caloric needs and weight loss goals, the actual grams of each macro will fluctuate. That is, except the carbs. It will always be under 25 grams daily and some even go as low as 20 grams.
The Reality of Keto
Yes, cutting back drastically on carbs for a hard-cord bread and pasta eater is going to be a challenge. The good news is for most people, the carb cravings fade away within the first couple of weeks.
And of course, the weight loss will be a driving force in continuing with the new way of eating. And that's exactly what the keto diet is: a new way of eating.
This isn't for yo-yo dieters or those just wanting to lose a couple pounds by next week. The keto diet is a lifestyle change. And is definitely a change for the better!