A keto or ketogenic diet is a diet that is low in carbs, has moderate protein and high in fat and is often recommended by doctors and health care practitioners. This is because their main aim is to assist in burning fat more effectively. The benefits of a keto diet include weight loss and high performance. Numerous studies have confirmed this claim.
If you desire to lose excess body fat, improve type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome and reduce hunger, then a ketogenic diet is the best option. This article will show you how to succeed on the keto diet with food suggestions and meal plans.You will learn how to follow and eat a keto diet based on real foods.
1. What is a Keto Diet?
A keto diet is generally a diet that is low in carbs but high in fat content. It resembles many other diets that are low in carb. Eating a keto diet means you will be consuming fewer carbohydrates, but a moderate protein consumption will be maintained and this may increase your fat intake. This reduction in carb intake will initiate a metabolic process in your body referred to as ketosis, where the fat consumed from your diet and body will be burnt to produce energy.
What “KETO” Means
A “keto” or “ketogenic” diet is referred to as so because it causes the body to produce tiny fuel molecules called “ketones”. Ketones are an alternative energy source in your body when glucose, commonly referred to as blood sugar, is scarce in the bloodstream.
When you consume low carbohydrates, your liver will produce ketones from fat, which will serve as a source of energy throughout the body, especially to the brain. The brain is one of the organs in the body that needs a lot of energy at all times, which means it can run on fat directly. It can only work efficiently when its energy source is from glucose – or ketones.
When you consume a diet rich in ketones, your body becomes accustomed to getting its energy from burning fat. When the levels of insulin drop drastically, there will be a sharp increase in fat burning. Meaning accessing your fat stores to burn them off will become easier.
This diet is recommended if you are trying to lose weight and if you want to feel less hungry and have a constant supply of energy – without having any sudden rise in sugar levels which mainly occur when you consume foods that are high in carbs. This diet will also help you be alert and focused at all times.
When the body produces ketones, it initiates a metabolic process called ketosis. The fastest way to get to this process is by fasting – not consuming any food. However, you can’t fast forever. A diet rich in ketones also initiates the process of ketosis and it can be consumed indeterminately. It comes with many benefits, such as fasting, which will enhance weight loss without doing it for an extended period.
Who should NOT take a ketogenic diet?
There are numerous myths and misconceptions about a ketogenic diet, but the diet is safe for consumption for most people. However, these three groups should pay keen attention to their body if they opt for a keto diet:
- Are you a diabetic taking drugs such as insulin?
- Are you on high blood pressure medication?
- Are you a lactating mother?
Disclaimer: Despite a diet rich in ketones having many proven benefits, there are still pending controversies that have not been addressed. The main potential danger is for those under diabetics medication such as insulin. It is necessary that before you begin taking a keto diet, discuss with your doctor any drugs and lifestyle changes.
2. What to Eat on a Keto Diet
Various foods make up the ketogenic diet. The numbers indicated show their net carbs per 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of food. For the process of ketosis to take place, you should go for foods with lower net carbs.
- Fish and seafood – 0
- Natural fats (butter, olive oil, etc.) – 0
- Meat – 0
- Vegetables that grow above the ground – 1-5
- Cheese – 1
The most important thing to do so that ketosis is initiated and kept running in the body is to consume fewer carbs. You should keep the carbohydrate intake below 50g of net carbs per day, preferably below 20g. The less the amount of crabs in the foods you consume, the faster the body will reach ketosis, which will enhance weight loss and improvement of type 2 diabetes.
When you begin taking this diet, counting the number of carbs you consume might be helpful. However, if you follow recommended foods and recipes rich in ketones, you can maintain a keto diet without counting.
Try to Avoid
When you are under a ketogenic diet, you should avoid consuming foods rich in carbohydrates, both sugary and starchy types. Such foods include bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. The numbers are grams of net carbs per 100 grams (3.5 ounces).
- Fruits – 6-20
- Potatoes – 15
- Cooked pasta – 29
- Soda/juice – 52
- Chocolate bar – 60
- Cooked rice – 28
- Doughnut – 49
- Beer – 13
- Candy -70
You should also avoid eating highly processed foods and food products that are low in fat. A diet rich in ketones should contain a moderate amount of proteins and high fat because this fat will be metabolized to provide the body with energy.
What to Drink
The perfect drink for a ketogenic diet is water. You can also take tea and coffee, but you should generally not consume sweeteners, especially sugar. It is okay to add milk or cream to your coffee or tea but have in mind that the number of carbs in your body can increase if you take multiple cups in a day. It would be best to avoid coffee lattes and a glass of wine does not cause any harm.
3. Keto Benefits: Why Eat a Keto Diet
A keto diet has numerous benefits which resemble other low-carb and higher-fat diets. However, it is more potent than other typical low-carb diets. Keto is a super-charged, low-carb diet and these maximize its benefits. Nevertheless, it may also slightly increase the risk of side effects.
If you desire to lose weight, turning your body into a fat-burning machine can be very beneficial. A keto diet significantly increases the burning of fat and the levels of the fat-storing hormone will drop drastically. For this reason, the body will lose the excess fat without hunger.
More than 30 high-quality scientific studies show that, compared to other diets, low-carb and keto diets result in more effective weight loss. Consuming a ketogenic diet that is low in carbs has been scientifically proven to result in effective weight loss.
Studies have also proven that taking a keto diet reduces hunger, which is essential in controlling your appetite. This will enhance weight loss as you will eat less as you will mostly wait to feel hungry before you can eat. Controlling appetite also makes intermittent fasting easier and this will also curb type 2 diabetes and speed up your process of weight loss beyond the effects of a keto diet alone.
You will also save a lot of time and money as you will not be required to snack all the time. Most people on a keto diet will only eat at most twice a day, while some will eat only once a day. Being able to curb the feelings of hunger will assist you with sugar problems and food addictions. Satiety can also be part of the solution as the food will become your friend rather than your enemy or merely a source of energy – whichever that you prefer.
Control Blood Sugar and Reverse Type 2 Diabetes
Studies have shown that a ketogenic diet is a great way to manage type 2 diabetes and in some cases, it can be used to heal you of the disease entirely. This is true because a diet rich in ketones lowers the levels of sugars in the blood, reducing the need for taking any medication. Therefore, the adverse side effects of high insulin levels will also be reduced. A ketogenic diet heals type 2 diabetes and can also be taken as a preventive measure of diabetes.
A ketogenic diet helps make the disease better by normalizing glucose control, consequently reducing the need for medication. Blood glucose levels will thus return to normal. However, apart from consuming a ketogenic diet, you should also make changes in your lifestyle. If you resume your previous lifestyle before you had type 2 diabetes, then the disease will attack you once again with time.
Improved Health Markers
Many studies have shown that low-carb diets are essential in preventing heart diseases by reducing the amount of cholesterol in the body, such as high-density protein (HDL) cholesterol and triglycerides. Other types that are usually affected in moderation are total and low-density protein (LDL) cholesterol. A keto diet also improves blood sugar levels, blood pressure and insulin levels in the body. These commonly improved markers are connected to an insulin-resistant condition called “metabolic syndrome” that a keto diet treats effectively.
Energy and Mental Performance
People who consume a keto diet tend to experience an increase in energy, leading to increased mental performance. When you are on a diet rich in ketones, the brain does not require dietary carbohydrates as it is fuelled entirely by ketones and small amounts of glucose that the liver synthesized.
Therefore, the process of ketosis leads to a constant flow of fuel in the form of ketones to the brain. This, in turn, prevents problems related to spiked blood sugar levels. Consequently, you will experience improved focus, concentration and resolution of brain fog hence improving mental health.
A calmer stomach
A diet rich in ketones also leads to a calmer stomach with less gas, less pain and fewer cramps. In general, it causes improvement in symptoms of IBS. This is a great advantage for some individuals as they will only take about a day or two to experience it.
Increased physical endurance
Consuming a keto diet increases your physical endurance as you will be exposed to vast amounts of energy in your fat stores. The supply of carbohydrates in form of glycogen in the body only lasts about 2 hours after an intense exercise or more minor. However, fats store enough energy that may last up to many weeks before it is depleted.
Another essential benefit of a keto diet is that it reduces the percentage of body fat that can be achieved on this diet. A reduction in the weight of body fat is valuable in various competitive and endurance sports activities.
A ketogenic diet is best for patients who have epilepsy and this has been used since the 1920s. It was traditionally administered to children, but adults have also substantially benefited from the diet in the past years. Consuming a ketogenic diet when you have epilepsy reduces anti-epileptic drugs and you will also be free from any seizure attacks. This will consequently decrease the side effects of the medicines and metal performance will thus be improved.
More possible keto benefits
A keto diet is also used in the treatment of high blood pressure. It causes a reduction in acne and aids in the control of migraines. It also serves to improve conditions related to heartburn and PCOS as well as decreasing cravings for sugar. Last but not least, it may also be significant when it comes to issues related to mental health. A keto diet might sound like a miracle cure for any condition, but it is not. It has numerous benefits but not for everyone.
4. How to get into ketosis on a keto diet
Below are the seven most essential things to initiate the process of ketosis and they are categorized from the most to the least important: You should stick to a diet that is low in carbohydrates by consuming at most 20g of digestible carbs per day or less.
However, you should still eat fibre as it may be necessary for the process of ketosis. 20g of carbs is equivalent to consuming the foods above that are low in carbs and for this reason, there will be no need to take count of the number of calories you consume.
In most cases, taking a diet with low carbs concentrations is all you require to initiate ketosis. The rest of the list below will assist you in ensuring that you are successful. Ensure that you consume enough fat to the point of having the feeling of satiety. A diet rich in keto is high in fat. This is because fat is responsible for the supply of energy you will no longer obtain from carbohydrate foods.
Starvation also initiates ketosis, but the difference is that a diet rich in keto is sustainable while starvation is not. If you are starving, you may feel fatigued and may want to give up on your keto diet. However, it should help you feel satiety without feeling hungry, which will make it manageable, making you feel great at all times.
Therefore, you must consume a lot of food rich in protein and vegetables low in carbs, with enough added fat so that you may feel satisfied. If you often feel hungry, then check your diet whether you are consuming enough proteins during meals and if that is the case, then add more fat to your meals. Such may include butter, some delicious sauces and olive oil.
You can constantly adjust your keto diet according to your preferences based on deficient foods in carbs. Remember to maintain an average intake of protein. A diet rich in keto should not be very high in protein. We always recommend that you consume at least 1.2 to 2g of protein per kg, depending on your body weight.
This translates to taking about 100g of protein daily if your lean body mass is around 70kg (155 pounds). Some people claim that individuals on a keto diet tend to eat ‘’too much’’ protein, but this is not the case for them because the diet is very filling and most people will find it hard to overeat foods rich in protein.
Amino acids from protein foods can be converted to glucose to produce energy. However, only a small percentage will be converted. This may be because of individual factors such as the degree of insulin resistance.
Nevertheless, even patients with type 2 diabetes survive well with adequate protein levels if their diet is low in foods rich in carbohydrates. Also, taking less protein over a long period can cause muscle and bone loss, especially as you get older.
You should avoid taking snacks if you are not hungry as this will reduce the process of ketosis and weight loss will also be slowed down. However, taking snacks rich in keto may minimize the effects when you are hungry between meals. It would be best if you always tried to adjust your meals so that snacks will not be part of your meal plan.
If there is a need, you can incorporate intermittent fasting. For instance, you can skip breakfast and take meals during 8 hours of the day while fasting for 16 hours. This will boost the levels of ketone and it will also increase weight loss as well as improvement of insulin resistance.
It is an excellent practice that is very easy to do when on a keto diet—performing any exercise while on the keto diet can increase ketone levels moderately. This can also help in speeding up the weight loss process and improve type 2 diabetes. Exercise is not a must to initiate ketosis, but it may be helpful.
Ensure that you get enough sleep and minimize stress. Most people will benefit if they get a minimum of seven hours of sleep. You should ensure that you keep your stress levels under control. Remember that sleep deprivation and stress hormones are likely to increase the levels of sugar in the blood, which will consequently slow down ketosis and the weight loss process. This may also make it difficult to follow the keto diet without falling into temptations.
Bottom line: To initiate the process of ketosis, you should restrict your diet to foods low in carbohydrates, preferably at most 20 net carbs per day. This is the required amount for a ketogenic diet and it is the most critical requirement for ketosis to occur.
5. How to Know You’re in Ketosis
There are various methods you can use to know if ketosis is taking place in your body. They include testing blood, urine samples or breath. However, other symptoms will indicate the process is taking place:
- You will begin to notice a dry mouth and heightened thirst unless you take enough water to get electrolytes like sodium. Taking a cup of bouillon or two daily can curb this as well as taking water when needed. Another sign of ketosis is also a metallic taste in the mouth.
- You will begin to urinate more because a ketone body known as acetoacetate may result in the urine. For this reason, the occurrence of the process is tested using urine strips. You will go to the bathroom more often than expected and as a result, there will be increased thirst, as mentioned above.
- There will be a keto breath which is usually because of a ketone body by the name acetone escaping via the mouth.
- There will be a “fruity” smell in the mouth or that similar to nail polish remover. This smell can also be noticed when working out due to the sweat and in most cases, it is temporary and does not last long.
Other, less specific but more positive signs include:
- Reduced hunger. Most people usually experience a decreased feeling of hunger when they are on a keto diet. Usually, many people will be satisfied after eating just once or twice a day and for this reason, they may end up doing intermittent fasting without knowing. This is an advantage because it saves a lot of time and money and increases the chances of losing weight.
- Possibly increased energy. When you begin taking the diet, you may have a “keto flu”, which may cause fatigue, but you will experience increased energy levels after a few days. Some people may have a feeling of clear thinking and lack of “brain fog” and, in some cases, a sense of euphoria.
There are three methods of measuring the level of ketones in the body and they all have their advantages and disadvantages. They include urine strips, breath ketone analyser and blood ketone meter.
6. Practical Keto Diet Guides
Despite being simple, a keto diet helps you in learning some new skills. How should you prepare a simple keto breakfast? Have you led a fat-free life and you would like to know how to increase its intake in your diet? How should you eat out and still maintain your keto diet? These tips and guides answer common keto questions.
How are you supposed to begin your day? If you love eggs and bacon, then don’t hesitate to take them. If not, there are a variety of keto breakfasts that do not contain eggs at all. Have you been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but that is not the case?
If you don’t feel hungry after waking up, you can skip breakfast or take a cup of coffee. Having decreased hunger is common when consuming a keto diet, so do not worry about missing a meal. You do not need to worry when you wake up feeling hungry because most keto breakfasts are tasty and make you feel satiety very fast.
What is the best food to eat for lunch or dinner if you are on a keto diet? You can incorporate in your daily meal plan foods such as fish, chicken or meat with vegetable or salad side – with yummy full fat sauce, melted cheese or butter. There are a variety of choices to pick for the keto diet meals.
A keto diet on a budget
Most people have the belief that a keto diet is expensive and in some cases, it is. This is because quality food will cost more than other unhealthier options. However, there are various ways that you can stay within your budget without breaking the wallet.
How to eat more fat
In most cases and over the years, we have been taught to avoid fat consumption, but there is a range of evidence that still needs to be questioned. We now have a valid reason to believe that fat is not entirely a harmful nutrient as it is satiating and it generally improves the taste of food.
Do you need advice on how you can incorporate fat into your diet? What fats should you consume, butter or olive and how much fat should you take in a day? An easy tip is that if you are continuously feeling hungry when you are on a keto diet, you may need to add protein or fat to your diet or both.
Bread is one of the foods that many people who are under the keto diet miss taking. If you are one of those people, you should not worry because there are many good keto bread options.
If you are eating out and need to maintain your keto diet, you should avoid foods like bread, rice, and pasta and ask for additional natural fat such as butter or olive oil if you require extra fats.
Avoiding special products
Do not be fooled to consume unique products that are low in carbs because an effective keto diet should not contain refined or industrially processed products. Products with fewer carbohydrates, such as chocolate, pasta, candy and bread, use deceptive marketing methods while remaining junk food in disguise.
7. Potential side effects of a keto diet
- Feeling tired
- Leg cramps
- Bad breath
- Heart palpitations
- Exercise difficulties
- Alcohol tolerance
- Hair loss. Read about HairFortin.
When you suddenly train your body to metabolize carbs into fat and ketones, you may begin to experience some side effects because, at this point, your body is getting used to the new fuel. This is most evident during the first few days of taking the diet. Some of the symptoms you may experience are headache, muscle fatigue, cramping, heart palpitations and general body weakness. These side effects may be short-term for most individuals, but there are various methods you can use to reduce or cure them.
To reduce the side effects, you may be required to reduce foods rich in carbs for a few weeks. However, if you do this slowly, you are less likely to notice the results. The short-term results may differ, but the long-term effects should be constant.
We recommend that you cease consuming sugar and starches. This will rapidly reduce some of your pounds within days. Most of the weight loss is attributed to water loss because of the reduced swelling and this is a motivating way to begin following your keto diet.
Most people who begin following a keto diet will experience symptoms of the “keto flu” and some of the symptoms you will start to have are:
- Light nausea
- Difficulty focusing (“brain fog”)
- Lack of motivation
These symptoms will disappear gradually within a week or two because your body will begin to adapt to the increase in the burning of fat. The leading cause of the keto flu is the retention of water by foods rich in carbs, resulting in swelling of the body.
Once you begin taking the low carb diet, most of this excess fluid is lost and this may result in increased urination and consequently, you will lose some extra salt, causing dehydration and lack of salt in the body. You can eliminate these symptoms by ensuring that you drink enough water and salt, for instance, by sipping a cup of bouillon or broth once or twice a day.
Keto diet controversies
Most of these side effects are usually minor and do not last long. However, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about this diet that scare people. Have you been told that eating fewer carbs will reduce the functioning of your brain? This is a myth based on a lack of understanding of how the body works during ketosis, which involves changing its energy supply to the brain to ketones.
Another common misunderstanding is confusing ketosis, which results from a keto diet with ketoacidosis, a dangerous medical condition. These are two different terminologies. Ketoacidosis is not brought about by a keto diet only and the misconceptions do not end at this point.
Will keto destroy your kidneys and bones? Will it prevent the working of the thyroid? Will you get a heart attack from taking saturated fats? Is keto terrible for the environment? Can you be depressed from consuming a keto diet? The environmental effect of a keto diet depends on how the diet is formulated and the short answer to whether it affects the environment is a simple “no”.
How much weight will I lose on a keto diet?
Results usually vary with several factors. Most people will lose 2-4 pounds (1-2kg) in the first week and is usually water-weight. After that, it is normal to lose about a pound (0.5kg) of the excess weight each week. However, some may experience weight loss quickly and this is often the case with younger men, while some may lose slowly, as in women above the age of 40.
You can speed up the weight loss process by following our tips mentioned below:
As you approach your average body weight, the rate of losing weight will slow down. Always have it in mind that “normal” body weight varies from one person to the next and this is all dependent on genetics and environmental exposures and may not be the same as what you see in the media. The weight loss process does not go on forever. As long as you follow the advice given when you are hungry, your weight will gradually stabilize.
What happens after I reach my health and weight goals on a keto diet?
Once you have attained your weight goal, you can choose to continue with the keto diet or add some carbs into the diet. When doing the latter, the keto diet’s effects will be slightly reduced and you may or may not regain some weight.
If you go back to your old eating habits, you will gradually restore weight and your health condition might be worse than before. This is similar to exercising – if you stop doing it, you will slowly fail to note the benefits. A keto diet only works well if you follow it diligently.