How to Go Keto with Ease
For decades we’ve been told that fat makes you fat. Low fat diets became wildly popular in the 1980s along with “fat free” processed foods, but have you ever wondered what’s being put in if the fat is being taken out? Unfortunately the answer is sugar (a carbohydrate), which research has shown can be both toxic and addictive.
More and more nutritionists are saying that while some fats, like trans fats, are indeed bad for you, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can be great sources of energy that aid in muscle movement, blood clotting, and vitamin absorption.
Some people aren’t just learning to like fat again; they’re learning to embrace it through the ketogenic diet. The keto diet has actually been around for over a century, but in recent years, this low carb/high fat nutrition plan has been gaining traction. Studies are showing that it is not only a highly effective weight loss method, but that it can also lead to numerous other health benefits that may surprise you.
What is Keto?
The ketogenic diet takes its name from the word “ketosis,” which is a metabolic state where the body is forced to switch to burning fat instead of carbohydrates. Normally our bodies convert carbs into glucose to use as fuel. However, when our diet is lacking in carbohydrates it instead starts to burn fat which creates an alternate fuel known as ketones. When the ketone levels in your blood rise, your body will enter a state of ketosis rather than the usual glycolytic state.
How to Eat Keto
When we say low carb, we mean low carb. In order to follow the ketogenic diet seriously and achieve a state of ketosis, the average adult needs to limit their carbohydrate intake to around 20 to 50 grams of net carbs (grams of carbohydrates minus grams of fiber) per day. To put that in perspective, a bowl of Cheerios has around 17 grams of net carbs alone!
This means that flour, rice, potatoes, sugar, beer, and even some sugary fruits are not on the menu. Instead of carbohydrates, keto focuses on including moderate proteins like meats and fish, lots of non-starchy vegetables, alternate low carb grains, flours like almond, coconut, and chickpea, and fats like butter, nuts, cheese, avocado and oils. When following the ketogenic diet, approximately 75% of your daily caloric intake should come from fats, 20% should come from proteins, and 5% should come from carbohydrates.
This may sound like a difficult diet to follow; however, many find that eating keto can be surprisingly satisfying. You can’t eat that plate of French fries, but you can eat a nice juicy steak with a big dollop of garlic butter on it. For a “diet,” it can actually feel surprisingly indulgent, and many report that achieving ketosis curbs or even eliminates their cravings for starchy and sugary foods.
Ketosis is not to be confused with ketoacidosis. Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs in type 1 and sometimes type 2 diabetics when their blood sugar and ketone levels are dangerously high, making their blood acidic.
Ketosis on the other hand is a perfectly safe state for the body to be in, but like any diet it can come with minor side effects, and may not be right for everyone. Some reported side effects of keto are constipation, muscle cramps, tiredness, poor mood, dizziness, and flu like symptoms (known as the “keto flu” which usually occur only in the first two to four days).
Many of these symptoms are reported at the start of the diet while your body is adjusting. They can be remedied by eating more vegetables, particularly ones rich in potassium, drinking plenty of water, taking magnesium citrate supplements, and increasing your salt intake to replace your electrolytes. As with any diet, you should consult with your physician before trying keto out.