The keto (ketogenic) diet has grown in popularity over the last two years. People are drawn to it because not only does it help them lose weight, but it can cut down on cravings, it’s been known to improve mood, mental focus and energy.
Before you embark on this fat-burning endeavor, you should learn about it in this Keto Diet 101 guide.
The Keto Diet: Low Carb / High Fat
People lose weight by entering a state of ketosis. This physiological state breaks down fat into ketones, which the body uses for energy. The only way to enter the ketogenic state is to reduce the number of carbs in the body and increase the amount of fat.
Since the body doesn’t have enough carbs to run, it switches over to fat, which is a more efficient fuel source. This is what makes people lose weight faster.
The amount of carbs that people should consume in a day varies when trying to enter ketosis, but the recommendation is no more than 20 net carbs.
Medicinal Uses of the Ketogenic Diet
The keto diet has been used to help people with neurological conditions, such as seizures, especially in children.
Research has found that this type of diet can be effective in controlling brain conditions as well. In particular, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s symptoms may be lessened following the high fat/low carb diet. This could be because of the brain’s need for fat due to it being mostly made up of it.
What to Eat on the Ketogenic Diet
Due to the limited carb intake, it’s incredibly important to look at all of the ingredients in manufactured foods. Sugar is a carb, so avoiding all sources of it can help people stay under the 20 net carbs.
Most people who follow a ketogenic lifestyle stick with whole foods since it’s easier to control the carb, fat, and protein in meals.
The biggest surprise that people encounter when switching over to keto is the focus on fat. For years, most dieters stayed away from things like chicken skin or fat on ribeye steaks, but those are highly encouraged with the keto diet.
Some of the best meats to eat are:
- Pork shoulder
- Ground beef (grass-fed)
Vegetables are still important, but many contain carbs. Stick with leafy greens such as kale, lettuce, and spinach. Broccoli, cauliflower, and cucumbers are also good choices.
Oils are often made up of fat. Avocado, palm, canola, and olive are the best.
Dairy products should include whole milk and cheese.
Can’t make it through the day without a coffee? Don’t worry – you can still have it. Use ghee in your coffee as a creamer substitute. Stevia and other artificial sweeteners can replace the sugar.
Beginning the Ketogenic Diet
Most people have a difficult time getting through the first couple of weeks on a keto diet. Carb withdrawals can include:
- Muscle aches
- Mental fogginess
If you can get through the second week, the third and fourth weeks are much easier. Weight loss is faster at this point, especially for those who are active.
How to Know When You’re in Ketosis
The signs of being in ketosis are different for everyone. The ones that most people experience are:
- Bad breath
- Positive blood test for ketones
- Positive urine test for ketones
- Reduced appetite
- Increase focus
- Improved energy
- Enhanced performance
Most people report that ketosis feels like a huge cloud is lifted off of them. All of a sudden, they feel free from the weight that has been holding them down, and it’s not just because of the weight loss. The mental fog is gone, the cravings have ceased, and they simply feel better than they have ever felt. It’s a switch they feel that can’t be compared to how they felt before entering the state of ketosis.
Following the Keto Diet Long Term
The keto diet is not meant to be followed for a long time consistently. It’s best to cycle in and out of the keto diet, especially for women due to hormone fluctuations that can be influenced by limiting carbs.
Carbs are good for the body, but most people consume too many. Limiting carbs for a certain amount of time can help people control how much is in their system and it’s harm over time.
Before starting any diet, discuss it with your doctor. You should never follow a new diet or exercise program without the consent of your doctor.