What is the Keto Diet? The Basics

Ketogenic Lifestyle Benefits

The keto diet was arguably one of the biggest health trends of 2019; a number of famous people follow it, but why is this diet suddenly becoming so fashionable?

When you know its immediate health benefits, you quickly realise why it has become so popular in such a short time.

Below are the main benefits of following a ketogenic diet.

Weightloss

Keto is one of the fastest and most effective ways to lose weight for many people.

One of the reasons is because the types of food that is eaten in a keto lifestyle are more fulfilling. Calories from foods such as bread, pasta and confectionary, burn faster, causing hunger to return soon after.

Fats and proteins tend to be more fulfilling than foods high in sugar so they curb the appetite and therefore, prevent an over-intake.

Following a ketogenic diet has a number of advantages related to appetite suppression thanks to its impact on the body’s hormonal changes.

Many studies of the benefits of losing weight with ketosis state that subjects who follow a low carbohydrate diet lose more weight during the first 3 to 6 months compared to those who follow other ones.

Another great advantage is that it doesn’t force you to control your portions or do intense exercise routines. If you have previously tried some diets that use these methods, you will already know that boredom is a real challenge.

When you start with it, you don’t need to limit calories. Eat all the correct foods you want, always maintaining a high level of fat, a medium level of protein and a low level of carbohydrates.

When you manage to eat a lot of fat and very little carbs, you will reach the state of ketosis. Other ways to speed up this transition is by taking supplements, exercising, and fasting.

Natural concentration ability

In addition to helping you lose weight, the keto lifestyle improves neurological health. Fat is a fuel for your brain and increases energy levels, which translates into greater concentration and energy throughout the day. Not surprisingly, the brain demands a lot of energy, and ketones released by the body while in a state of ketosis are a more efficient source than glucose.

Energy injection

With a normal diet rich in carbohydrates, the body gets used to working with the carbs. In these diets, the carbs are the main source of energy, yet, they leave you tired and weak until you start eating carbohydrates (that is, sugar) again.

With the keto diet, you don’t feed your body with carbohydrates, but with healthy fats. A normal person eats about 225 grams of carbohydrates each day. This diet limits intake to less than 30 grams a day.

This change forces your body to go from burning carbohydrates to burning fat, so it allows you to say goodbye to the drop in energy that occurs in the afternoon.

Attention: If you are a diabetic person with an insulin treatment, it is important that you consult your doctor before starting it.

Basic Concepts

What is ketosis?

When carbohydrates are replaced by healthy fats as the main source of food, the body reaches a metabolic state called ketosis. The excess glucose that is stored in the body is reduced as you eat a diet high in fat.

The body becomes extremely efficient at burning fat for energy by producing ketones instead of glucose. Ketone is an acidic chemical compound that is released into the bloodstream when the body is in a state of ketosis.

What to do when Keto flu hits you

Keto flu is caused by your body’s transition from burning glucose to burning fat for most of your energy needs. Once you start practicing ketosis, it takes a while for your brain and other organs to adjust to using fat for fuel instead of sugar.

It is important to note that much of the body’s toxins are stored in fat. When fat is broken down, these stored toxins are released into the circulation. To prevent reabsorption of these contaminants, the liver must properly detoxify and remove them from the body.

Those who follow the diet sometimes experience symptoms associated with reabsorption of toxins or what is commonly known as “keto flu”.

Symptoms usually appear during the first week of starting, especially when you are 3-5 days into it. During this period, you may experience “keto flu”. Symptoms may include fatigue, headache, irritability, “brain fog”, lack of motivation, dizziness, sugar cravings, nausea, and muscle cramps.

If you experience these “flu” symptoms, it is essential that you hydrate well by increasing your intake of water and salt. Be sure to maintain a good mineral balance, eat more fat, and reduce physical activity until you feel better. It can also help your transition to ketosis and inhibit flu symptoms by detoxifying when starting your eating plan.

What is the Ketogenic Diet?

The original studies of the diet were intended for treatment for epilepsy. Several trials were conducted during the 1920s where the scientific team at John Hopkins Medical Centre found that restricting food intake over a period of time or fasting produced significant health benefits, and even reduced patient attacks. Other notable advantages were the improvement of cardiovascular health and insulin levels, as well as weight loss.

Since fasting is not sustainable in the long term, the ketogenic lifestyle was developed with the aim of mimicking these positive results for the body.

The standard diet consists of high fat, medium protein and very low carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrates are sugars and starches found in foods like sweets, cereals, dairy, and starchy vegetables.

Basically, the idea is to train the body to process healthy fats instead of carbohydrates for energy by eating few carbohydrates and a lot of fat (LCHF). Some examples of healthy fats are avocados, cheese, whole eggs, or blue fish.

Most of us agree that we love to eat carbohydrates but we hate the decline that follows, as well as the unintended consequences that often come. When you follow a diet high in carbohydrates, your body stores fat while burning glucose for energy.

In contrast, with the ketogenic diet, the body reaches a state of ketosis, where it breaks down fats for energy. The transition from a high sugar diet to an LCHF diet can be a drastic change at first, as sugar, bread and pasta are the main foods in many diets. However, you will soon realize that the keto lifestyle is perfectly feasible as soon as you learn the foods you have to include and which ones to avoid.

How Long to Reach a Ketogenic State?

It usually takes up to 2 weeks to reach a ketogenic state (fat burning). However, some supplements can help you achieve ketosis in a matter of a few days.

The Keto Diet is an Amazing Way to Lose Weight Without Counting Calories

Surprisingly, ketosis helps you lose weight without counting calories – you just have to eat the right foods. To achieve it, the recommended consumption of calories from fat, protein, and carbohydrates is 70-85%, 10-20%, and 5-10%, respectively.

This distribution is a strict approach that you can slightly modify while getting used to the iet, if necessary. A good starting point could be 30-50 grams of net carbohydrates per day (total carbohydrates: grams of fibre and polyols), with the intention of reducing them to 20 grams per day or less.

In short, you change your body’s energy source from glucose to fat, so there are several health benefits.

Tips and Tricks for Success on the Keto Diet

Prepare to successfully follow the diet with a guide, meal plan, and recommendations. Learn the basics of a high-fat diet, the most common mistakes, what to eat, and how to plan ahead. If you want to prepare well to make the most of the diet plan, here are the most common difficulties and how to avoid them from the beginning.

Control macronutrients

A fundamental practice in the ketogenic lifestyle is the control of what we call macronutrients, that is, the fat, protein and carbohydrates that you consume on a daily basis. To achieve a ketogenic state, the breakdown of calories between these three should be: 70-85% fat, 10-20% protein and 5-10% carbohydrates.

Don’t worry if you make mistakes

Do not worry if you start the diet and feel that you cannot follow it 100% with this distribution. We all lead very busy lives, so adopting a realistic posture according to how your daily life is in this case can prevent you from abandoning the diet in the short term because you feel that you will not be able to maintain it in the long term.

All beginnings need to go through an adaptation phase in which you have to feel comfortable with your new lifestyle. And finding balance also involves making a mistake in your diet from time to time, which can help you learn in the long run. In other words, don’t worry too much and focus on feeling comfortable with the diet.

Keep variety

From the outside, switching from a high-carbohydrate diet to a high-fat diet may sound tempting for the new freedom to eat fatty foods. To avoid boredom in the diet, spend some time looking for recipes for the diet, always keeping in mind the variety.

Searching for simple and creative options can help keep you from falling into routine with your meal plans. Be sure to include plenty of vegetables. Leafy green vegetables are a major source of nutrients in meal planning for such a diet. Here are basic lists of foods to include and avoid to help you get started.

Plan ahead

The ketogenic diet is feasible, but it requires some intent. Plan ahead to make sure you meet the conditions regardless of whether you’re at home or out with friends. Prepare your kitchen by getting rid of foods that don’t fit in with the lifestyle.

The simple step of removing anything that might tempt you from the pantry is a powerful and effective method. Replace your junk food supplies, sweets, and other quick but unhealthy snacks with ketosis-matching meals prepared in bulk.

Break meals down into smaller portions so they’re easily accessible when hunger strikes. When you’re away from home, you’ll quickly realize that eating a diet on the go can be extremely difficult.

However, to avoid this conflict it only takes a little planning. Check the menu of some of your favorite and most frequented restaurants to identify the options that fit with the diet and to have them in mind on your next visit.

Hydrate well

Drinking enough water on a daily basis is essential for any healthy lifestyle model. For this diet, staying well hydrated throughout the day can help you avoid undesirable effects such as headaches or tiredness.

In general, it is also necessary for digestion, detoxification and can help you suppress your appetite. A good way to make sure you drink enough water is to always carry a bottle of water with you.

Once you know these tips and tricks, what remains is to offer you a starting point for the diet meal plan. Read on for the foods you should take and avoid in your diet, as well as an example of a daily plan.

What you shouldn’t eat

As a general rule, you should avoid sweets and sugar as a whole, as well as foods rich in carbohydrates, such as pasta, rice, bread, flour and potatoes.

What should you eat

You should focus on eating meat, vegetables that are grown above the ground and fats, since they maintain satiety. Vegetables grown above ground include green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes, bell peppers, peas, celery, aubergines, or zucchini, among others.

Basic Food Tips

Clean the pantry before starting the keto diet

Some truth remains in the old saying that says “eyes that do not see, heart that does not feel.” Getting rid of the sweet and carbohydrate temptations found in your home before starting the diet is a great long-term benefit and will save you a lot of frustration.

Choose fatty foods

Yes, fat will be your friend on this eating plan. One of the best things about carbohydrates is that they provide a feeling of satiety. Instead, you can focus on fatty foods, such as avocado, blue fish, meat, and cheese, and thus feel the same feeling of satiety, since you can’t eat too many carbohydrates.

But this does not mean that you can live on cheese and salami. Following this diet means eating not only fat but also plenty of vegetables and protein.

Foods for the ketogenic diet

  • Fatty foods like steak or fish
  • Avocado (the ones you want)
  • Coffee
  • Eggs
  • Herbs and spices
  • Butter
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Cheese
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Cream
  • Healthy oils (olive, clarified butter or avocado)
  • Cauliflower and other low-carbohydrate vegetables

Foods to avoid

  • Added and processed sugars
  • Cereals
  • Fruits (except berries in moderation)
  • Potatoes and other starchy vegetables
  • Beans / legumes
  • Low-fat foods
  • Many seasonings or sauces
  • Alcoholic beverages with added sugar

Ideas for a Basic Keto Diet Plan

The easiest way to ensure that delicious food is part of a diet plan is to cook it yourself.

First of all, make a shopping list full of keto foods. The best part is that cooking at home gives you the flexibility to unleash your creativity. You can even make desserts.

These are some of our favorite recipes for the diet. Dishes like the cheesecake are quick and great. From appetizers to dinner ideas, discover our suggestions for cooking simple and tasty meals at home.

What you should eat:

Breakfast:

  • Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Avocado
  • Coffee

Lunch:

  • Salad with MCT oil and vinegar
  • Avocado

Dinner:

  • Grilled salmon dipped in lemon butter
  • Asparagus sauteed with butter and garlic
  • Avocado

Dessert:

  • Ketogenic Soft Caramel Brownies
  • Glass with sugar-free cashew and almond drink

Keto Vegetarian Diet Ideas

Most vegetarian diets are rich in cereals, legumes, and starchy vegetables. This choice often leaves vegetarians hungry. The diet supports most vegetarian lifestyles.

By contrast, the vegan diet doesn’t fit keto perfectly, since vegans avoid dairy and eggs. By not ingesting animal products, it is difficult to obtain adequate macronutrients every day.

Pescetarian people will be much easier to adhere to a diet plan, since they themselves eat blue fish.

What you can eat on a vegetarian keto diet:

Breakfast:

  • Eggs
  • Brie cheese and almond butter
  • Avocado

Lunch:

  • Guacamole
  • Celery
  • Salad with fresh red berries

Dinner:

  • Cauliflower cream
  • Roasted artichoke
  • Olives and almonds

Can You Skip the Keto Diet Occasionally?

As you may already know, the diet is based on the transition from a diet that forces your body to burn sugar to a one that forces you to burn fat. What happens is that the body will always burn the sugar (glucose) first. When there is no glucose left to burn, the body uses stored fat instead to create energy.

In a suitable meal plan, the daily intake does not exceed 20 grams of carbohydrates and prioritizes fat, protein and vegetables. This means that you will have to remove high carbohydrate foods from your diet, such as rice, bread, potatoes and pasta, as well as all sugary foods.

While the eating regime is an excellent dietary strategy for those who want to see real changes in body weight, following a 100% diet can be difficult at times.

We all have birthday parties, weddings or we just want to skip it every once in a while. However, the complex part of the keto diet is that treating yourself to sweets can take you out of the state of ketosis and, therefore, the state of fat burning.

Now there are a few tricks you can use to treat yourself without feeling bad about breaking ketosis.

What you should know before skipping the diet one day

First, attend any celebration with something to snack on and be aware of the temptation. For example, you can decide that the day you skip the diet coincides with a birthday or an office party, so there will be no cheating days in a row. In addition, you can make the decision beforehand not to consume additional carbohydrates.

Another way to not be tempted is to attend when you are already satiated. Satiety makes the temptation to eat a sugary dessert not so strong. Plan a successful keto meal before heading out.

Many people claim that exogenous ketones and an increased intake of MCT oil can help you maintain ketosis. However, these claims have a weak foundation, as they are based on testing for ketones through urine or with a breath ketone meter; methods that are not exact.

There are some proprietary mixtures that allow the consumption of dishes with high carbohydrate content after 6 in the afternoon without leaving the state of ketosis.

Consider using supplements

A botanical blend of resveratrol (from red grapes), silybinin (from milk thistle), and quercetin (plant pigment, flavonoid) could maintain the metabolic pathway you’ve established during the ketogenic state.

Normally, reaching a state of ketosis (fat burning instead of sugar burning) can take up to 2 weeks with a disciplined keto diet.

Unique combinations of ingredients in the supplements not only help you speed up the process, it also helps you maintain ketosis once you reach it.

Just because supplements can help you achieve ketosis more quickly once you’ve gone from a carbohydrate-focused diet to a keto one, it can also help you return to ketosis if you skip it and allow yourself eating more carbohydrates and sugars on a cheat day than you would normally eat during ketosis. And it does it in a matter of days.