The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that can help you burn more fat. Welcome to Keto 101! Check out our ultimate beginner’s guide to the ketogenic diet.
Did you know that obesity affects more than 35% of American adults while more than 34% are overweight? With statistics like this, it’s no surprise that more and more people are looking for ways to lose weight. If you’re one of them, you may have heard of the ketogenic diet.
Among other diet plans, it’s one of the most effective. But what does ketogenic mean and how does this diet work? What are the benefits and risks?
Read our keto 101 guide for everybody and anybody ready to make a lifestyle change.
- Keto 101: What Is the Keto Diet?
The keto diet or ketogenic diet involves the intake of proteins from a low-carb, high-fat diet. It has similarities with the Atkins diet and the low-carb diet. This diet promotes ketogenesis, which is a natural occurrence in the human body.
Your body needs organic protein and carbs to function well. When your diet changes into a fat-heavy kind, your body will start looking for a new calorie source. This survival mode is what we call ketogenesis or ketosis.
Ketogenesis happens when you eat a very low amount of carbohydrates. Your blood sugar will drop and your brain will look for a glucose source. From the stored fats in your body, your liver creates ketones, which are a reserve energy source.
The keto diet is somewhat of a contrast to the Atkins diet. The typical Atkins diet involves getting 75% of calories from protein, 25% from fat, and less than 5% from carbs. Meanwhile, in the keto diet, you get 75% of your calories from fat, 25% from protein and less than 5% from carbs.
- What Must You Eat on the Keto Diet?
For the keto diet to work, 60-80% of your calories should come from fat. Protein could provide around 20% of calories. For your carb intake, it should be 20-30 grams per day only.
The keto diet has very strict control over carb intake and moderate control over proteins. Water is the best drink to have while on this diet but you can also have plain coffee and black tea. However, be careful about the fibers you eat and be sure to look for more info about it here.
You don’t have to follow the Atkins-opposite ratio above for this diet. Only remember this rule: very low carb intake, moderate protein intake, and high fat intake.
Of course, this isn’t keto 101 if we didn’t include an example meal plan for a day.
For your first breakfast, eat eggs scrambled in butter on a bed of lettuce and topped with avocado. Grab salmon baked in olive oil and asparagus with butter for lunch. Prepare a pork chop with cauliflower mash and red cabbage slaw for dinner.
Whenever you feel hungry, snack on low-carb cheese and sunflower seeds between meals. If you need a new snack, try celery and pepper strips dipped in guacamole.
- Who Should Take the Keto Diet?
This diet will work for certain kinds of people but not all. For starters, people who can’t stick to the diet won’t see any results from it.
Although it’s one of the most effective diets out there, you should be careful when trying it.
There are other groups of people who should ask their doctors first if they’re considering this diet. The first group is people who take medication for diabetes like insulin. You’re still allowed to get the keto diet but you may need to lower your insulin doses by a lot.
The next group is breastfeeding mothers. It’s understandable that you want to get rid of the post-pregnancy fat as soon as possible. However, a low-carb diet may be dangerous for you and your child.
The last group is people who are taking blood pressure medication. The diet change can normalize your blood pressure but your meds can be too strong for your condition. Talk to your doctor about your plans as well as getting extra salt and bouillon.
- Benefits of the Keto Diet
Many doctors recommend the keto diet because it’s far more superior to the typical low-fat diet. Also, this diet is not only a quick weight loss solution. It’s also a treatment for epilepsy.
If you have type-2 diabetes, a ketogenic diet can help you lose the excess weight well. It can even reverse your type-2 diabetes until you don’t have to medicate anymore. If you have type-1 diabetes, you can control your blood sugar levels with it.
The diet also helps treat several types of cancer and tumor growth. Avoid heart disease by reducing risk factors like HDL cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Researches show that the keto diet also has benefits for people with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, brain injury, and polycystic ovary syndrome.
- Does the Keto Diet Have Any Side Effects?
Now, you may think that the ketogenic diet is pretty solid. However, you might also think about any cons this diet has in store. As with most diet, your body will take some time to adjust to using much fewer carbs.
In the beginning, you may experience the “keto flu.” Symptoms include headaches, nausea, fogginess, muscle cramps, and fatigue. Stay hydrated and rested and you should be alright within the week.
Cutting down on carbs may affect your defecation as well. Note that your breath may stink too due to the acetone compound in ketones. To be safe, see your doctor for any recommendations or advice.
- What Not to Do (and Eat) on a Keto Diet
Since ketosis happens when the majority of your diet involves fats, how do you know when you’re in ketosis? One thing’s for sure: maintaining it isn’t easy. For one, you should have the self-discipline to avoid too much protein or too many carbs.
Avoid sugary foods and almost all fruits. Reduce the intake of beans, legumes, root vegetables, and tubers. Grains, starches, and processed low-fat diet products have to go too.
Supplements are not enough to jumpstart your body into ketosis so don’t rely on them. Also, drinking alcohol can put you out of ketosis and back to square one, even on a cheat day. If you want, you can use an over-the-counter ketosis test to see if you’re in ketosis.
Take the Keto Diet
That is Keto 101 for beginners. Remember that everyone’s regimen is as unique as their metabolism and body. The keto diet may work for you or it may not but it wouldn’t hurt to give it a go.
It doesn’t end here! There are other details to learn and more diets to discover. Don’t hesitate to explore our other posts for more guides like this one.