The Ketogenic diet or the Fat Diet is a form of Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) diet where you’re reprogramming your body to use fat as fuel instead of glucose, the high fat intake produces ketones in the liver to be used as energy instead of putting the fat away for storage.
When your diet consists of higher amounts on carbohydrates, your body will produce glucose and insulin which your body will choose first as main fuel and save the fat for later.
Glucose is the easiest molecule for your body to convert and use as energy so that will be chosen over any other source of energy first
- When glucose is used as primary fuel, your fats are not needed and will be stored in your body, typically very prominent around your waist area – the belly flap. Normal modern diets consists of higher amounts of carbohydrate and therefore theres a high obesity level that keeps on increasing.
Insulin is produced to process the glucose in your bloodstream by taking it around the body.
- Insulin helps keep your blood sugar level from spiking and getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia). When you eat food and your blood sugar rises, cells in your pancreas are signaled to release insulin into your blood. The insulin then signals to your cells to absorb the sugar from the bloodstream. If you have more sugar in the body then you need, insulin will store sugar in your liver and release it when the level lowers.
Ketosis is a natural process the body initiates to help us survive when food intake is low. During this state, we produce ketones.
- Ketones are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver, when theres low amounts of glucose and your activity is still maintained, the body is forced to fuel itself from something, which in this case will be fat cells.
The goal of a properly maintained keto diet is to reprogram your body naturally to be fueled from fat cells instead of glucose, theres no starvation of calories needed but starvation of carbohydrates.
Your body will adapt to what your doing and telling it to do, when you overload it with fats instead of carbohydrates, it will realize that you have enough fat and doesn’t need to store any of it, the process of burning ketones will begin and use your excess stored fat as primary source of energy. Optimal ketone levels offer many health benefits as well as weight loss, physical and mental performance.
Weight loss – Since your body will now literally use your fat for fuel, a weight loss will come without saying, your insulin levels drop greatly which turns your body in to a fat burning machine.
Controlled blood sugar – Your blood sugar levels will naturally be greatly lowered since your not feeding yourself as much carbohydrates. This will keep your energy levels on an even high level and you won’t suffer from ups and downs from insulin spikes that can occur when you’ve had a meal containing high amounts of glucose, short burst of energy that suddenly crashes and makes you tired and sleepy.
Energy – Ketones are a great source of fuel for the brain and body, keeping your energy levels high and even, no sudden movements which will keep you focused and concentrated evenly over longer periods of time.
Normalized hunger – Fat is naturally more satiating and satisfying which will end up leaving you with a greater feeling of being full for longer time, this will keep you from overeating and habit-snacking.
Disease prevention – A ketogenic diet has been proven effective against many common diseases, such as epilepsy, cholesterol, blood pressure, acne, diabetes and cancer.
What and how to eat on a Keto diet?
The macros is divided up to something like this:
5% carbs – ideally 20g net carbs per day
Do not eat
- Grains – wheat, corn, rice, cereal
- Sugar – honey, agave, maple syrup
- Fruit – apples, bananas, oranges
- Starch – potato, pasta, yams
- Meats – fish, beef, lamb, pork, eggs (in moderation!)
- Leafy greens – spinach, kale
- Above ground veggies – broccoli, cauliflower
- High fat dairy – hard cheeses, high fat cream, butter
- Nuts and seeds – macadamias, walnuts, sunflower seeds
- Avocado and berries – raspberries, blackberries, blueberries
- Sweeteners – stevia, erythritol, monk fruit, other low card sweeteners
- Other fats – coconut oil, high-fat salad dressing, saturated fats
The more restrictive you are on your carbohydrates (less than 15g per day), the faster you will enter ketosis. You want to limit your carbs greatly, coming mostly from vegetables, nuts and dairy. Don’t eat refined carbs such as bread, pasta, cereals. Don’t eat starch such as potatoes, beans, legumes. Don’t eat high sugar fruit. There is plenty of options and just takes a short time of getting used to what to look for when doing your grocery shopping.
If you get hungry during the day, you can snack on nuts, seeds and cheeses, as long as its high fat, although snacking in general slows down fat loss, its better to have a snack than suffer and potentially fall out totally and give up.
Dark green and leafy is always the best choice for vegetables. Most of your meals should contain protein with vegetables and an extra side of fat. Chicken breast basted in olive oil, with broccoli and cheese. Steak topped with a knob of butter, and a side of spinach sauteed in olive oil.
A common misconception is to overload on the protein, such as the Paleo-diet encourages. The problem with too much protein is that the body don’t have a place to store the excess, which will be converted into glucose and therefore basically act like sugars or carbohydrates. An easy rule of thumb is to portion your protein to your fist size or measure about 150-200 grams per meal.
If you’re still confused about what a net carb is, don’t worry – I’ll explain further. Let’s say for example you want to eat some broccoli (1 cup) – seriously my favorite and most delicious vegetable out there.
- There are a total of 6g carbohydrates in 1 cup.
- There’s also 2g of fiber in 1 cup.
- So, we take the 6g (total carbs) and subtract the 2g (dietary fiber).
- This will give us our net carbs of 4g.
Heres a list of common low card vegetables:
|Spinach (Raw)||1/2 Cup||0.1|
|Bok Choi (Raw)||1/2 Cup||0.2|
|Lettuce (Romaine)||1/2 Cup||0.2|
|Cauliflower (Steamed)||1/2 Cup||0.9|
|Cabbage (Green Raw)||1/2 Cup||1.1|
|Cauliflower (Raw)||1/2 Cup||1.4|
|Broccoli (Florets)||1/2 Cup||2|
|Collard Greens||1/2 Cup||2|
|Kale (Steamed)||1/2 Cup||2.1|
|Green Beans (Steamed)||1/2 Cup||2.9|
Getting started is pretty simple, and an important thing to do first is spending some time cleaning out your kitchen pantry and adding in the new ingredients!
- Restrict your carbohydrates. Most people tend to only focus only on net carbs. If you want great results, limit both. Try to stay below 20g net carbs and below 35g total carbs per day.
- Restrict your protein intake. Many people come over to keto from an Atkins diet and don’t limit their protein. Too much protein will transform into unwanted glucose and lead to lower levels of ketosis. Ideally for weight loss, you want to eat between 0.6g and 0.8g protein per pound lean body mass, or a simpler version: your protein portion should be about the size of your fist.
- Stop worrying about fat. Fat is the primary source of energy on keto – so make sure you’re feeding your body enough of it. You do not lose weight on keto through starvation.
- Drink water. Try to drink a gallon of water a day. Make sure that you’re hydrating and staying consistent with the amount of water you drink. It not only helps regulate many vital bodily functions, but it also helps control hunger levels.
- Stop snacking. Weight loss tends to do better when you have fewer insulin spikes during the day. Unnecessary snacking may lead to stalls or slow in weight loss.
- Start fasting. Fasting can be a great tool to boost ketone levels consistently throughout the day. There are many different ways to go about it, like intermittent fasting or 24h fasting once a week, which i will cover in another article.
- Add exercise in. If you want to get the most out of your ketogenic diet, consider adding in 20-30 minutes of exercise a day. Even just a small walk can help regulate weight loss and blood sugar levels. In fact, most performance levels rises on a Keto diet because of the high energy output you get from fats.
- Supplementing. Although not usually needed, some supplements can help you with a ketogenic diet, like MCT oil.
Note: Always remember to be vigilant and make sure you’re checking ingredients on labels.
Types of Ketogenic diets
- Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): This is the classic keto diet that everyone knows and does.
- Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): This is a variation where you eat SKD, but intake a small amount of fast-digesting carbs before a workout.
- Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD): This is a variation of keto for bodybuilders and contest goers, generally giving one day a week to carb up and resupply glycogen stores.
Keto flu is a very common experience for new ketoers, but it often goes away after just a few days – and there are ways to minimize or even eliminate it. When transitioning to keto, you may feel some slight discomfort including fatigue, headache, nausea, cramps, etc.
There are a few reasons for the keto flu, but the two primary ones are:
- Keto is a diuretic. You tend to go to the bathroom more to urinate, which attributes to a loss of both electrolytes and water in your body. You can usually help combat this by either drinking bouillon cube or Powerade Zero and by increasing your water intake. Mainly, you want to replenish your depleted electrolytes.
- You’re transitioning. Your body is equipped to process a high intake of carbs and a lower intake of fat. Your body needs to create enzymes to be able to do this. In the transitional period, the brain may run low on energy which can lead to grogginess, nausea, and headaches. If you’re having a large problem with this, you can choose to reduce carb intake gradually.
After increasing water intake and replacing electrolytes, it should relieve most all symptoms of Keto Flu. For an average person that is starting a ketogenic diet, eating 20-30g of net carbs a day, the entire adaptation process will take about 4-5 days. My advice is to cut your carbs to fewer than 15g to ensure that you are well on your way into ketosis within one week. If you are experiencing any more keto flu symptoms, double check your electrolyte intake and adjust.
Overall, eating a high amount of fat, moderate protein, and low amount of carbs can have a massive impact on your health – lowering your cholesterol, body weight, blood sugar, and raising your energy and mood levels as well as greatly preventing diseases.
A ketogenic diet can be hard to wrap your head around in the beginning but isn’t as hard as it’s made out to be. The start can be a little bit confusing, but the growing popularity of the clean eating movement makes it easier and easier to find available low-carb foods.
Start slowly, take out notes from this text, keep a list when you go shopping and just ease into it, after a few days you’ll start doing it on autopilot, just as you’ve probably been doing before on the old ways!