The ketogenic (or keto) diet is a low Carbohydrate, high-fat diet. Maintaining this diet is a great tool for weight loss. More importantly, it reduces risk factors for diabetes, heart diseases, stroke, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, and more.
On the keto diet, your body enters a metabolic state called ketosis. While in ketosis your body is using ketone bodies for energy instead of glucose. Ketone bodies are derived from fat and are a much more stable, steady source of energy than glucose, which is derived from Carbohydrate.
Entering ketosis usually takes anywhere from 3 days to a week. Once you’re in ketosis, you’ll be using fat for energy, instead of Carbohydrate. This includes the fat you eat and stored body fat
Testing For Ketosis
You can test yourself to see whether you’ve entered ketosis just a few days after you’ve begun the keto diet! Simply use a ketone test strip and it will tell you the level of ketone bodies in your urine. If the concentration is high enough, you’ve successfully entered ketosis!
The Truth About Fat
You may be thinking, “but eating a lot of fat is bad!” The truth is, dozens of studies and meta-studies with over 900,000 subjects have arrived at similar conclusions: eating saturated and monounsaturated fats have no effects on heart disease risks 7,8.
Most fats are good and are essential to our health. Fats (fatty acids) and protein (amino acids) are essential for survival.
Fats are the most efficient form of energy and each gram contains more than double the energy in a gram of protein or Carbohydrate (more on that later). The keto diet promotes eating fresh, whole foods like meat, fish, veggies, and healthy fats and oils as well as greatly reducing processed and chemically treated foods.
It’s a diet that you can sustain long-term and enjoy.
What’s not to enjoy about bacon and eggs in the morning?
Calories & MACRONUTRIENTS
How Calories Work
A calorie is a unit of energy. When something contains 100calories, it describes how much energy your body could get from consuming it. Calorie consumption dictates weight gain/loss.
If you burn an average of 1,800 calories and eat 2,000 calories per day, you will gain weight.
If you do light exercise that burns an extra 300 calories per day, you’ll burn 2,100 calories per day, putting you at a deficit of 100 calories. Simply by eating at a deficit, you will lose weight because your body will tap into stored resources for the remaining energy it needs.
That being said, it’s important to get the right balance of macronutrients every day so your body has the energy it needs.
What Are Macronutrients?
Macronutrients (macros) are molecules that our bodies use to create energy for themselves primarily fat, protein and Carbohydrate. They are found in all food and are measured in grams (g) on nutrition labels.
- Fat provides 9 calories per gram
- Protein provides 4 calories per gram
- Carbohydrate 4 calories per gram
Most low Carbohydrate recipes write net Carbohydrate when displaying their macros. Net Carbohydrate is total Carbohydrate minus dietary fiber and sugar alcohols. Our bodies can’t break them down into glucose so they don’t count toward your total Carbohydrate count.
Note: Dietary fiber is sometimes listed as soluble or insoluble.
How Much Should You Eat?
On a keto diet, about 65 to 75 percent of the calories you consume daily should come from fat. About 20 to 30 percent should come from protein. The remaining 5 percent or so should come from Carbohydrates
Carbohydrate: What Exactly Are They?
Carbohydrates are found in things like starches, grains, and foods high in sugar. This includes, but isn’t limited to, bread, flour, rice, pasta, beans, potatoes, sugar, syrup, cereals, fruits, bagels, and soda. Carbohydrate is broken down into glucose (a type of sugar) in our bodies for energy. Eating any kinds of Carbohydrate spikes blood sugar levels. The spike may happen faster or slower depending on the type of Carbohydrate (simple or complex), but the spike will still happen.
Blood sugar spikes cause strong insulin releases to combat the spikes. Constant insulin releases result in fat storage and insulin resistance. After many years, this cycle commonly leads to pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome and even type 2 diabetes.
In a world full of sugar, cereal, pasta, burgers, French fries and large sodas, you can see how Carbohydrate can easily be over consumed
Long-Term Benefits of Keto
Studies consistently show that those who eat a low Carbohydrate, high fat diet rather than a high Carbohydrate, low-fat diet:
- Lose more weight and body fat
- Have better levels of good cholesterol (HDL and large LDL)
- Have reduced blood sugar and insulin resistance (commonly reversing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes)
- Experience a decrease in appetite
- Have reduced triglyceride levels (fat molecules in the blood that cause heart disease)
- Have significant reductions in blood pressure, leading to a reduction in heart disease and stroke
Day to Day Benefits of Keto
The keto diet doesn’t only provide long-term benefits!
When you’re on keto, you can expect to:
- Lose body fat
- Have consistent energy levels during the day
- Stay satiated after meals longer, with less snacking and overeating
Longer satiation and consistent energy levels are due to the majority of calories coming from fat, which is slower to digest and calorically denser.
Eating low Carbohydrate also eliminates blood glucose spikes and crashes. You won’t have sudden blood sugar drops leaving you feeling weak and disoriented.