The Keto diet is probably one of the most popular and hyped diets in this decade. Although similar diets like Atkins were around since the early 20th century, keto seems to have really taken off coupled with the healthy living movement in these last few years, leading many people to be more conscious about nutrition, health, and fitness. The keto diet is not only very effective for weight loss.
Studies show that keto can significantly improve health issues like type 2 diabetes that often occur due to obesity. Furthermore, this diet may also benefit people who have Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and even cancer. Read more to learn all about keto and how you can implement this diet to better your health.
So What Exactly Is the Ketogenic Diet?
The standard ketogenic diet is a low carbohydrate diet that is very high in fat and moderate in protein. When you reduce your carb intake drastically, glucose, which is your body’s primary fuel, becomes limited and won’t be enough to sustain your body’s need for energy.
This causes the body to go into a metabolic state called ketosis. In this state, your body switches its primary energy source to fats so that your body becomes very efficient in burning the fat from your diet and your body. This can facilitate losing weight by burning body fat much quicker than other diets.
The standard ketogenic diet typically contains 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs. But there are several different versions of ketogenic diets like the high protein ketogenic diet, targeted ketogenic diet, and the cyclical ketogenic diet. Each diet can offer you different benefits; therefore, it’s important to go on a diet that aligns with your lifestyle and diet goals.
How to Go into Ketosis
An effective way of going into ketosis is being on the keto diet, reducing your carb consumption to 20 to 50 grams per day, and relying heavily on high-fat foods like meat, dairy, and healthy oils. When your body runs out of glucose, which will typically occur around 3 to 4 days after going on a diet, your body will look for alternative energy resources and start breaking down protein and fat.
Intermittent fasting together with a ketogenic diet can get your body into ketosis even faster. While there are many ways to intermittent fast, limiting your eating to 8 hours and then fasting for 16 hours is the most common timeframe. You can do this easily by skipping breakfast or dinner.
How to Know if You are in Ketosis
When your body is in ketosis, your liver will increase ketone production by turning the fat in your nutrition then your existing body fat into ketone bodies. There are several ways to test if you are in ketosis by measuring the number of ketones in your body.
Using urine strips are a cheap and fast way to measure the ketones in your body. Follow the instructions on the package. The changing color of the strip will indicate the number of ketones. The darker the strip gets, the more ketones are in your body.
Using blood strips are a very accurate measuring method. You can test your ketone level exactly like measuring your blood sugar. Then the amount should be around 0.5 – 3 mmol/L (9 – 54 mcg/dl).
Breath tests use the acetone in your breath to indicate how many ketones your body produces. They can be very accurate. However, these tests are on the expensive side of the scale.
Signs That Show Your Body Is in Ketosis
If you don’t want to bother with a test, you can try reading your body signs to know if you have entered ketosis. The most common indicators that you are in ketosis are:
- Dry mouth and increased thirst
- Having “keto breath,” which is most commonly described as being like a baby’s breath
- Frequent urination
- Decrease in appetite
Side Effects of the Keto Diet
While the ketogenic diet is generally safe, some side effects can occur during the early diet period since your body tries to adapt to the new form of energy source. These symptoms are collectively referred to as the ‘keto flu.’ People who have the keto flu may experience:
- Brain fog
- Muscle cramps
- A decrease in exercise performance
- Digestive problems
Usually, the side effects are temporary and are most commonly experienced in the first two weeks of the diet. And the good news is, they are easily manageable. The underlying issue causing most of the keto flu symptoms comes from your body excreting more sodium and water because of the sudden drop in insulin levels. Therefore, drinking more water and monitoring your sodium intake can significantly decrease and even eliminate keto flu symptoms.
Losing Weight With the Keto Diet
The ketogenic diet is often considered for weight loss; then again this is not without good reason. Compared to other diets, the keto diet proved to be more effective for losing weight in the first 3 to 6 months and is at least as effective as low-fat diets. Additionally, the triglyceride and cholesterol levels can significantly improve the ketogenic diet, which is also a win-win.
Several properties of the keto diet may explain its effectiveness of this diet in weight loss. Firstly, because of the high-fat consumption, the diet is extremely satisfying, therefore it is easier to lose weight steadily without any major calorie restriction or hunger. Secondly, burning fat instead of glucose is harder for the body and this can cause more calories to be burned in the process. Last but not least, the ketogenic diet can substantially improve insulin sensitivity, which can make your metabolism work more efficiently, resulting in faster weight loss.
What to Eat on Keto Diet?
As we mentioned in the article before, the ketogenic diet’s goal is to limit carb intake, eat high-fat foods, and a moderate amount of proteins to make your body switch to burning fat instead of glucose to accelerate fat loss. While dieting, eating high-fat foods sounds counterintuitive, but for the ketogenic diet to work its full potential with as few side effects as possible, it is essential to stick to it. Below we gathered an extensive list of keto-friendly foods and foods to avoid on a ketosis diet.
Keto Diet Food List
Your majority of meals should consist of the keto diet foods listed below.
Meat and Poultry
Unprocessed meat and poultry are staples of the ketogenic diet. They are rich in vitamins and minerals, contain no carbs, and are a great high-quality protein source. But keep in mind not to overeat on proteins since excess protein can be converted into glucose.
High-Fat Fish and Seafood
Eat high-fat fish like salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, herring, etc. Shellfish is also fine to eat, but some shellfish can contain carbs, like mussels and clams. So check the suggested serving size and carb amount first.
Eggs are versatile, high in protein, and very efficient in keeping you full. They can make a great little snack as well.
Use heavy cream, butter to cook and include high-fat cheese and yogurt in your meals or snack on them.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are high in healthy fats and are very nutritious, containing various vitamins. Include pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, peanuts, walnuts, flaxseed, almonds, and other nuts and seeds in your diet.
Low Carb Vegetables
Include vegetables growing above the ground, and especially leafy greens in your diet. And of course, don’t forget about the quintessential keto food, the avocado.
Berries are low in carbs and high in fiber. Therefore, they are fine to eat in moderation. They can make a great dessert with whipping cream or yogurt.
Saturated fats are vital for the keto diet. Cook with oil and butter, and put plenty of healthy oils like olive oil or avocado oil in your salads.
Foods to Avoid on a Keto Diet
Here are some foods you should limit or completely avoid on the ketogenic diet.
Foods With Sugar
Anything sweet like candy, cake, ice cream, etc.
Soda, fruit juice, sweet iced tea, etc.
Although fruits are good for you, they are high in sugar, so you have to avoid all fruit except small amounts of berries on the ketogenic diet.
Pasta, cereal, etch.
Grains and Legumes
Rice, wheat, beans, lentils, peas, etc.
Starchy vegetables like potatoes, parsnips, sweet potatoes.
Low Fat Diet Products
Anything containing sweeteners and promoted as a low calorie, low-fat diet product.
- Get inspiration from online keto diet plans, and then prepare your own eating plan for the week experimenting with keto-friendly recipes according to your preferences.
- Look at labels, weigh your food, and then calculate your macronutrients to fit the diet.
FAQ on the Ketogenic Diet
Although the ketogenic diet is usually safe, it can cause serious health risks to people with the following conditions: women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, people who have type 1 diabetes, people who have their gallbladder removed, people who have kidney damage, people with a pre-existing liver or pancreatic condition, people who have, or people who are at risk for heart issues.
While there is anecdotal evidence that people can benefit from the keto diet for an extended period of time, long-term research on the effects of the ketogenic diet is limited. Therefore healthcare professionals and dieticians recommend staying on a strict ketogenic diet for six months before going on a more sustainable and balanced diet.
Everyone’s body is different. Many factors contribute to your weight loss on the ketogenic diet, like your current health, if you have any metabolic or thyroid issues, your BMI, your daily activity level, and your eating habits. And also, everybody has a different adaptation period to the diet. If you stay consistent and cultivate healthy habits, you are more likely to see faster results. On average, you may expect to see 2 to 10 pounds of weight loss in the first week, predominantly water weight. After one or two weeks, your body will start to adapt to burning fat as the primary energy source. Your weight loss will get slower, but you will actually start losing body fat. In this period, you can expect to lose 1 or 2 pounds a week on average.
Unfortunately, yes, your body will go out of ketosis when you eat more than 20 to 50 grams of carbs because the body’s preferred source of energy is glucose, and it will immediately switch to it if given a chance. This means patience and consistency are key when you are on a ketogenic diet to see results.
Yes, you can drink alcohol in moderation on a ketogenic diet, even though, drinking alcohol may impact your progress in the diet, you will still stay in ketosis. But you have to be mindful of what kind of alcohol you drink because some kinds of alcohol are more keto-friendly than others. Stay away from beer and sweet alcohols like cocktails, and indulge in a nice glass of wine or spirits with 40% or more alcohol content, like whiskey or vodka, which are low in carbs.
Conclusion on the Keto Diet
The ketogenic diet is very effective for quickly losing body fat, cure type 2 diabetes, regulate blood sugar, and control cravings. The diet works by limiting the carb intake, therefore, forcing the body to burn fat instead of glucose, which is called ketosis. With its high-fat content, it is a filling diet that can be very versatile and healthy if it is applied short term. To get the best results from keto, plan ahead for your meals, calculating macros, and then be careful not to surpass the daily carb limit to sustain the body’s state of ketosis. However, we assure you that there are some other ways to lose belly fat. Click on the link to see how.