Updated: Sep 28
What is keto? How does it work? Is it safe?
The keto diet is one of the most popular diets out there today. However, it can also be one of the most confusing. What is keto? How does it work? Is it safe? This article will introduce you to the keto diet and answer some of the most common questions about it.
The keto diet is based on a principle called "ketosis," which is when the body burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.
The ketogenic diet, or the "keto" diet, is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that has been gaining popularity in recent years.
Why does the keto diet work? The keto diet is effective because it forces the body into a metabolic state known as ketosis. When you're in ketosis, the body breaks down fatty substances in the body for energy production.
Because there is no insulin in the bloodstream, the body starts producing its own, which causes the reduction of harmful LDL cholesterol and an increase in HDL cholesterol. Eating a lot of fat also fills the body with water, which can make you feel fuller faster.
The key to starting a keto diet is understanding the keto diet, how it works, and how to go keto. Without a basic understanding of what going keto means, you can never successfully lose weight and take charge of your health using the keto diet.
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The keto diet, the benefits of the diet, side effects, and more.
Key tips for going keto.
Since the first couple of weeks on a new diet is always the hardest, you need key tips and techniques for honing your mindset, so you stick to your keto diet.
The keto diet has become a popular fad for weight loss and quick results.
Many people jump on the keto bandwagon without knowing exactly what the keto diet is, how to master it successfully, and why it works so well.
As a result, people quickly switch to a keto diet and give it up even more quickly. With such short bouts of keto dieting, it is impossible to see the results you want.
The only way to see the lasting results you want is to live a keto lifestyle.
Don't know where to start?
Try this Quick & Easy 7-Day Keto Food Plan
The keto diet is a low-carb diet. It is similar to other low-carb diets, but it requires you to eat even fewer carbs than you would on other diets. Many people find the keto diet incredibly hard to follow because of how restrictive it is on carbohydrate intake.
By lowering your carbohydrate intake, you must make up those calories by eating a high amount of healthy fats and protein. In other words, you make healthy fats and protein the star of your meals, not carbohydrates.
Food like bread, pasta, potatoes, and carrots are removed from your diet, while foods like steak, avocados, and nuts are added. Although cutting out carbohydrates is hard, at least you can still eat a lot of the yummy, filling foods that you love, like burgers and chicken.
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The most important aspect of the keto diet is consistency. You will not see any lasting results if you go back and forth on your diet.
Of course, the occasional cheat day is permitted, but you must rigidly stick to your low-carb diet if you want to see lasting results in your weight and health.
If you stick to the keto diet rigidly, you can expect to see lasting results quickly. The keto diet is wildly praised for how it can make a noticeable difference in a short amount of time.
Ketosis – the Secret to the Keto Diet You may be wondering, But what makes it so great. The answer to that question is simple – ketosis.
Our bodies are programmed to run on two energy sources – fat and sugar (glucose). When we eat a regular diet filled with carbohydrates, our body prefers to run on glucose.
Glucose requires insulin as a transporter and breaks the brain-blood barrier. Whenever our bodies do not have enough carbohydrates, they naturally use fat as our fuel.
Our brains cannot run on fat directly, so our bodies use ketones as fuel. Ketones are a great fuel source, but they don’t require insulin as a transporter and still break the brain-blood barrier.
The process of your body switching over to ketones as a fuel source is known as ketosis. As you probably assumed, the name “keto” comes from ketosis, a metabolic process where our bodies run on fat, not sugar.
Benefits of the Keto Diet
Since the keto diet puts your body in ketosis, you can expect to lose more fat quicker when on the keto diet. This is because ketosis gives you easier access to your fat stores, which in turn makes it easier to burn off. This is an excellent fact if you are trying to lose weight.
Although your weight loss will eventually plateau, the first months you are on keto will dramatically change your weight and body. The keto diet is good for more than just weight loss, though.
Since ketones don’t require insulin as a transporter, the keto diet helps regulate your blood sugar levels. Without the need for as much insulin, your blood sugars can normalize.
The keto diet can be an effective weight-loss tool, but it's not for everyone. If you're considering trying the keto diet, it's important to consult with your doctor first to make sure it's the right decision for you.
Those with diabetes or prediabetes will significantly benefit from the keto diet for this reason. The diet can help regulate their blood sugars so they can decrease their insulin and blood sugar medication.
Another benefit of the keto diet is that you don’t have the peaks and lows of other diet types or a high sugar intake. When you eat a lot of sugar, your body gets a natural high that eventually crashes.
When you decrease your carbohydrate intake, your body normalizes better, so you have a more consistent feel.
Similarly, you don’t feel as hungry on the keto diet. Fat takes longer to process than sugar. This means that you will feel full longer when you are on a keto diet. Many keto dieters enjoy this benefit because it means they don’t feel like they’re dieting; they still feel full and satisfied.
Below is a complete list of the benefits of the keto diet:
● Reduces appetite
● Feel fuller longer
● Weight loss
● Decreases triglycerides
● Increases HDL cholesterol
● Decreases LDL cholesterol
● Reduces blood sugar and insulin levels
● Effective against metabolic syndrome
● Benefits brain disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
Side Effects Although the keto diet is most beneficial for your health and well-being, it does come with some side effects as well. Make sure that you recognize these side effects so that you don’t harm yourself in the process of losing weight.
Most people who switch to a keto diet experience something that many people call the keto flu. Although it is not a recognized medical condition, switching to a keto diet can cause flu-like symptoms for the first week or so that you are on the diet.
Vomit, gastrointestinal distress, fatigue, and lethargy are all signs of the keto flu, though they usually pass within a couple of days.
The reason for the keto flu is the adjustment period between switching from sugar fuel to fat fuel. Your body gets tired and worn down in the process, but it quickly adjusts to the change.
Sleeping well, drinking water, and drinking matcha green tea are great ways to bust these symptoms. People on the keto diet also experience diarrhea. This is often due to the gallbladder, the organ associated with fat breakdown, feeling overworked.
Diarrhea can also be due to a lack of fiber, a common problem for those on the keto diet. Eat fiber-rich vegetables or supplements to help lessen this effect.
One of the more severe side effects of the keto diet is ketoacidosis. Though ketoacidosis is unlikely for people without a prior health concern, those with type 1 or type 2 diabetes should only use the keto diet while being monitored by a doctor due to this side effect.
Ketoacidosis is when the body stores too many ketones and the blood becomes too acidic. This can cause liver, kidney, and brain damage. Dry mouth, frequent urination, nausea, bad breath, and breathing difficulties are signs of ketoacidosis.
Here is a list of all the adverse side effects that have been reported due to a keto diet:
• Keto flu • Insomnia • Fatigue • Nausea and vomiting • Endurance issues • Headaches • Constipation • Dizziness • Diarrhea • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies • Kidney stones • Hepatic steatosis (fatty liver) • Hypoproteinemia (low levels of protein in the blood)
Although the list of side effects may be long, most healthy people do not experience any symptoms other than the keto flu. If you are sure to get ample vitamins and minerals, you should be all set.
The Keto Lifestyle After looking at the benefits and drawbacks of the keto diet, that brings us to the main point – the keto lifestyle. Unlike other diets, the keto diet is one that must be committed to. Yo-yoing back and forth will not let you see the results you want, and you may suffer extreme weight fluctuation.
More than this, though, the keto diet is not about feeling hungry or irritable. Instead, the keto diet is about eating until you’re satisfied but doing so in a way that is healthy and conducive to weight loss. With this in mind, the keto diet is more of a lifestyle than a diet.
By learning what foods you can eat, the keto diet becomes an everyday part of your life. Simply eat the foods you want and avoid carbohydrates. It’s as simple as that.
How to Go Keto
Getting started on your ketogenic diet can be overwhelming at first. There are a lot of factors to consider, like what you can eat, how to eat, and how to kickstart ketosis. In this chapter, we're going to look at how to go keto so you can start seeing results fast.
Choose a Ketogenic Diet
As we have already discussed, the keto diet is one with high fat and protein intake and low carbohydrate intake. There are different versions of the ketogenic diet you can choose from. Select which version you want based on your needs and body type. Here are the four types of ketogenic diets: • Standard Keto Diet (SKD): The standard ketogenic diet is low carb with moderate protein and high fat intake. Your macros should be about 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs. • Clinical Keto Diet (CKD): The clinical ketogenic diet is when you alternate between low carb intake and high carb intake days. Most people prefer having five ketogenic days, followed by two high-carb intake days. • Targeted Keto Diet (TKD): The targeted ketogenic diet permits you to add carbs around workouts. • High Protein Keto Diet: The high protein keto diet is like the standard ketogenic diet, but you eat more protein. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs.
If you are unsure which diet to choose, you should probably select the standard keto diet. Only the standard keto diet and high protein diet have been studied extensively. Bodybuilders and athletes often use the clinical keto diet and the targeted keto diet.
What You Can Eat No matter what keto diet you choose, you will have a low carbohydrate intake and high fat intake. The exact ratio will depend on your body and diet of choice. Always look for foods that are high in healthy fat. Your meals should revolve around fat and protein, not carbohydrates. This does not give you an excuse to eat as much butter or bacon as you want, though. Processed foods and unhealthy fats are still bad for you. Instead, look for the following food types to plan your meals around: ● Meat: red meat, steak, ham, bacon, lamb, and poultry ● Fatty Fish: mackerel, salmon, trout, and tuna ● Eggs: pasteurized or omega-3 whole eggs ● Butter and Cream: grass-fed butter and heavy cream ● Cheese: unprocessed cheeses like cheddar, Colby jack, cream, blue, goat, or mozzarella ● Nuts and Seeds: almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, etc ● Avocados: avocados or guacamole ● Low Carb Veggies: green veggies, onions, peppers ● Condiments: salt, pepper, spices, and herbs The easiest way to stick to a keto diet is to use one ingredient foods. For example, make a chicken dish using only chicken and herbs, and pair it with a green veggie or a side of cheese. This one-ingredient approach is easier to make keto, and it will save you money. What You Can’t Eat
On a keto diet, you have to restrict your carbohydrate and sugar intake. If you don't, then your body cannot go into ketosis, defeating the entire purpose of the diet. Here are the foods to avoid when on a keto diet: ● Sugary Foods: soda, fruit juice, candies, cake, ice cream, dessert ● Grains or Starches: wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, bread. ● Fruit: all fruit except berries in small portions ● Beans or Legumes: peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas ● Root Vegetables/Tubers: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots ● Low Fat Diet Products: low-fat mayonnaise, low-fat butter, etc ● Condiments High in Sugar: BBQ, honey mustard, teriyaki, ketchup ● Unhealthy Fats: processed foods, vegetable oils, mayonnaise ● Alcohol: beer, wine, liquor, and mixed drinks ● Sugar-Free Diet Food: sugar-free candies, syrups, puddings, desserts, etc
It is not the end of the world if you eat these foods every now and then. After all, our bodies do need a little bit of sugar. However, limit your intake of these items so your body can kickstart ketosis and you don’t yo-yo on your diet.
Ketosis is your body's process of using fat for fuel instead of sugar. The keto diet forces your body to go into ketosis for a longer period.
Although going into ketosis may be tiresome and annoying at first, it will help you lose weight quickly, and the mild flu-like symptoms should not last more than a couple of days. You have to cut out your carbohydrates to get into ketosis.
One way you can do this is by switching to the keto diet immediately. This means limiting your carbohydrate intake to between 20 to 50 grams a day. If you want to get into ketosis faster, you can always try a short-term fast.
Many people mildly go into ketosis between dinner and breakfast. This is due to how you aren't eating during those hours you are asleep. You can make the most of this fact by trying intermittent fasting with your keto diet. Intermittent fasting is when you eat for 8 hours a day and fast for the other 16 hours.
This is a great way to kickstart your ketoses in a way that is safe and effective. Extreme fasting is unhealthy for your body. You need calories and food to sustain life. Intermittent fasting, however, is safe because you eat every day.
Although fasting for 16 hours may be annoying at first, most bodies adjust within a couple of days. Many intermittent fasters choose to eat between 12:00 PM and 8:00 PM, though the exact timing doesn't matter. Tips for Going Keto
Once you have decided what keto diet you want to follow and commit to it, it may be time to start trying your keto diet. Before you start, you may want to find a way to incorporate these techniques into your routine to make the process of switching to a keto diet a bit easier:
Plan Your Meals
Eliminating carbohydrates can be difficult at first simply because they are the star of most western diets. Adjust to a keto diet by planning every meal you eat. This includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Do not leave it up to chance because it might be more challenging to stick to your keto diet if you do this. Make It Fun
Most people think of diets and sigh. Try to make your keto diet fun so that you can stick to it longer. Getting a keto recipe book or doing it with your friends can be a great way to make the diet more fun and engaging. The more fun you make it, the more rewarding the diet feels. Not to mention, it will be easier to stick to it if you make it fun. If you like cooking, definitely try to find keto versions of your favorite meals. That's a great way to keep it fun and fresh. If you don't like cooking, then maybe it is time to start. Try Intermittent Fasting
As I have previously mentioned, intermittent fasting is a great way to kickstart ketosis. Even after you have reached ketosis, try to incorporate intermittent fasting into your daily life anyway. Intermittent fasting paired with keto is a great way to see weight loss results fast. At the same time, they are also healthy to use together. Listen to Your Body Many people who support a keto diet don't tell you this: you need to listen to your body. Not everyone needs the same amount of carbohydrates. Some people will need more than others. Your goal should never be to eliminate all carbohydrates. Listen to your body first and foremost. The goal of any diet should be to make you healthier, not sicker. If your body does not feel right, you need to adjust your diet to live the healthiest and happiest version of yourself possible.
Always consult with your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet and lifestyle.