It’s no secret that the keto (short for ketogenic) diet has steadily gained popularity across the country in the last couple of years. Most people looking to lose weight or simply live healthier lives are turning to this low-carb (carbohydrate), high-fat diet to help them shed some calories! But, with so many misconceptions and arbitrary stats and facts floating around, we thought it was important to sift the wheat from the chaff. So listed below is a beginner’s guide to a ketogenic diet. We’re going to answer the all-important questions – what is ketosis and how does the keto diet really work?
What is the keto diet?
The Keto diet greatly reduces your carbohydrate consumption and instead requires the intake of fat in order to lead your metabolism into a state called ‘Ketosis’. Before we delve deeper into ketosis, let’s understand how the body normally functions in relation to your carb intake.
If you consume foods high in carbs, your body will produce insulin and glucose (sugar). Usually, your body uses glucose as an energy source and insulin helps to process the glucose and aids in its transportation throughout the body. Typically, since the body utilizes glucose it does not need to rely on fat as a primary source of energy.
However, as soon as you begin to lower carb consumption, your body enters into a state of ketosis; a natural process that kicks in when food (particularly carb) consumption reduces below a certain point. In this metabolic state, the body produces less insulin and instead produces ketones; these are chemicals secreted by the liver when the body does not have enough insulin to turn sugar into energy. In the absence of sufficient insulin, the body converts fats into ketones and releases them into your bloodstream. They are then used as a source of energy by your muscles and other tissues. Ultimately, what this means is that your body is burning fat, thus helping you lose calories and stay fit.
One key thing to keep in mind is that this metabolic state cannot be reached overnight. It takes a consistent effort and requires following a strict low-carb and high-fat diet for at least 2 -3 days before you experience ketosis. In some cases, it may take up to 7 days or more depending on your body type, overall health, and metabolic rate. Also, under no circumstances does the keto diet support insufficient consumption of calories, it requires a careful balance of fats vs carbs which we will explain in more detail below.
Let’s understand the different types of keto diets:
- Standard ketogenic diet (SKD): This is a low-carb, moderate-protein and high-fat diet. 25 grams or less of carbohydrates per day are required to keep the body in ketosis. Calories will come from proteins and fats. This diet generally requires 75% fat intake, 20% protein intake, and only 5% carb intake.
- Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD): This a low-carb diet with alternating periods of high or moderate carb consumption. It helps to maximize fat loss and consistently builds the ability for high-intensity exercise.
- Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): With this diet, you can add carbs around workouts, immediately before or after.
- High-protein ketogenic diet: It involves more protein than an SKD and generally requires 60% fat intake, 35% protein intake, and 5% carbs intake.
The standard and high-protein keto diet are more commonly used by people looking to get fit or lose weight. The cyclical and targeted diets are more suited towards athletes or bodybuilders.
How Does the Keto diet work?
So far we have explained that the body is traditionally a sugar burner i.e. it uses glucose as a primary source of energy. The idea behind the keto diet is to turn the body into a fat burner; this means increased consumption of fats and decreased consumption of carbs. For most people, this is contradictory to all the diet advice they have received in their entire lives! But, the truth is that the keto diet is designed to change the way your body processes fat thus helping you burn calories faster.
Also, the thing most people don’t realize is that fat isn’t the main obstacle when it comes to weight loss; the real enemy is sugar!
By sticking to a keto diet that involves more fat, some protein, and very few carbs your body will quickly become a fat burner.
What can you eat on the keto diet?
The calorie break up on a keto diet is generally, 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs. But, what does this entail? Basically, if your daily calorie intake is 2000 kcal then 75% of your calories should come from fats.
The good news is that fats are delicious so it shouldn’t be too hard to start incorporating them into your diet in a big way! For the non-veg lovers, you get to add bacon to your breakfast without feeling guilty and for the vegetarians, you can add butter to almost every meal! Sounds tempting, doesn’t it?
Some keto-friendly food options are listed below:
- Low carb veggies such as cauliflower or zucchini
- Greek Yoghurt
- Meat and Poultry
- Olive oil
- Nuts & seeds
- Butter and cream
What should you avoid on a keto diet?
Remember how we said sugar was the enemy? Well, so are carbs! No matter what diet you are following, carb reduction is key for weight loss. Understanding which foods contain carbs is very important when you embark on the keto diet journey.
Here is a list of foods to avoid:
- Sugary Foods
- Rice, pasta or bread
- Root Vegetables
- Unhealthy Fats
- Sugar-Free Diet Products
- High-carb Veggies like Potatoes
Whether or not your goal is to lose weight, the keto diet is a great way to start living healthier. And if you’re looking for Keto Meal Plans delivered to your doorstep, then check out these awesome options by Calorie Care.