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.
Good fats can come from several sources (in appropriate amounts)
Proteins can come from a variety f soources, but should be watched closely, because if you go over in your protein intake, it will be converted to carbs/sugar. Buy free-range, grass-fed, wild-caught, and pasture-raised whenever possible. Be sure to include fat content numbers in your overall daily calculation.
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.
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.
One key point to remember is that it is very important to stay hydrated during the Keto diet! You are passing large amounts of electrolytes through your urine very quickly, and it is very important to replenish them. This can be done by drinking regular water, coconut water or bone broth (watch protein & carbs on both of these). Using these can significantly help with the transition into ketosis, and help avoid the sluggishness that may initially accompany the change in eating habits.