The Ketogenic diet, or ‘Keto’ diet, is a well-known eating regimen known for its low carb-high fat (LCHF) and moderate protein content. Many athletes have used it to reach weight loss goals and maintain high performance levels required in their sport. But more importantly, it has been successful for many ‘regular folks’ as a way to rapidly lose weight. If the principles are adapted at a more moderate level, the weight loss can then be maintained. It is similar to other low-carb diets (Atkins, LCHF, Paleo, etc.), but the differentiator is that Keto has the specific focus of putting the body into a state of ketosis, which is a fat-burning state that creates energy by metabolizing fat instead of carbohydrates.
In most basic form, our bodies are run by our brains, which function on two sources of fuel: glucose and ketones. Glucose (blood sugar) comes from carbohydrates. Ketones come from the liver, from processing fats. Ketones are generally used as an alternative fuel source when glucose is in short supply. So by keeping carbohydrates at a very low level, and eating very moderate proteins (excess proteins can also be converted to blood sugar), we force our bodies to burn ketones, or fat! And that throws us into that beneficial fat-burning state of ketosis. On a ketogenic diet, your whole body systematically switches its fuel supply to run almost entirely on fat. Insulin levels become very low and fat burning increases dramatically. It becomes easy to access your fat stores to burn them off. This is obviously great if you’re trying to lose weight!
To be successful on the Keto diet, you will need to balance your daily nutrition consumption to the right ratio of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, which will put you and keep you in a state of ketosis. The recommended ratio is approximately 70% fats, 20% healthy proteins, and 10% carbohydrates. (If you want to be the most aggressive, you can ramp up the fats to 75% and cut the carbs to 5%.) A great way to manage these ratios with a busy lifestyle is with products designed specifically for the Keto diet, and leave only one meal a day to prepare. Menu suggestions for that one meal will be provided later in this blog post.
FATS (70% of Your Diet)
Good fats can come from several sources (in appropriate amounts):
Healthy Protein (20% of Your Diet)
Feel free to top your protein choice with a ‘fat’ from the above list, such as butter, sour cream, avocado, etc., as an extra way to get your fat content in. For example, put butter on your steak with your seasonings; add olive oil, shredded cheese, and nuts to your spinach salad; or top your broccoli or asparagus with melted cheese.
Carbohydrates (10% of Your Diet)
The carbohydrates should come mainly from veggies, nuts, and milk. Do not eat any kind of refined carbs like wheat (pastas, breads, cereals), starch (potatoes, beans, legumes – including peanuts) or fruit. Dark green and leafy vegetables are the most effective.
For Those Between-Meal Snacks:
When you’re trying to stick to the 70/20/10 balance, it takes a few days for your body to adapt, and for your system to move from burning carbs for energy into ketosis – or the fat-burning stage. So between meals, you may get a little hungry. There is a great keto-specific snack bar available to help with this craving! You can eat ½ of this bar occasionally between meals to help with cravings, but it is best not to do it on a regular basis due to carb content. Below are some additional snack suggestions that can be used to help you make it to the next meal. They are almost carb-free, but check fat content to make sure you stay within your proper ratios.
You’re Ready to Get Started on Keto
So you’re ready to get started, what is your first step? You first need to set your start date! And then go shopping to make sure you have all the healthy foods in your house that will make you successful. And…it will be very helpful to remove the UNhealthy foods from your house that may tempt you to cheat in a moment of weakness.
Make your list! Remember, you have many options! You can use nutrition charts [LINK to charts] and make your own plan that balances within the 70/20/10 ratios. And, you have the option of using a plan where the work has been done for you with keto-ready foods. If you’re a coffee drinker, there is a special keto-approved coffee drink that you can add heavy whipping cream and other flavorings to enhance your fat content. There are caramel snack bars to eat occasionally between meals, and even a delicious shake that lets you have all the right nutritious ingredients for dinner. You can add cream, an avocado, and a variety of other items to up your fat and protein content.
This LINK will take you to some lunch/dinner menu options using healthy foods to make your 70/20/10 ratios. A very simple Keto meal would be a small amount of protein, a source of natural fat like butter, avocado, or nuts, and a green leafy and fibrous vegetable. The amount of each would be determined by their nutritional contribution.
Most people see the desired results within 30-90 days on the Keto diet, and are then able to transition back into eating a wider variety of foods. At that point, you can change the fat/protein/carb ratio to 40/40/20, and continue this healthy balance. You will be able to maintain your weight loss, higher energy levels, and appetite control.
Whichever method you choose to use, you can be confident that if you work this plan – it will work for you! The proof is in the science, and the thousands and thousands of people who have seen the keto diet work for them.