What is the Keto Diet?
Keto diets make your body run primarily on ketones instead of sugars from carbohydrates which are your pastas, grains and sugary foods. Ketones are an efficient source of energy meaning they burn slower and last longer whereas sugars/carbs are energy sources that are stored in shorter supply and convert quicker to energy. In short, keto diets limit your body's primary energy source, sugars, and force it to run on ketones or your own body fat.
What are carbohydrates and how do I choose them wisely?
Carbohydrates are a macro-nutrients such as sugar or starch that provide the body with "quick energy" Simple carbohydrates are made of refined flour and added sugars and convert quickly to blood sugar (glucose). Complex carbohydrates such as grains and vegetables convert slower. The body then converts the excess sugar to fat inside the body. You should choose complex carbohydrates and have them in your diet for their vitamins, minerals and fiber as opposed to a primary source of energy.
What do you eat on the keto diet?
All foods can be classified into one of three macro-nutrient categories. These are fats, proteins and carbohydrates. The keto diet consists of a diet that is 70% fats, 20% proteins and 10% carbohydrates with an emphasis on non-starchy vegetable carbs. To be more specific, a good keto plan would have between 1500 and 1800 calories with the ratios above and carbohydrates ideally at 20 grams or under and no more than 50 grams max.
I heard fat is bad for you, why is it promoted in this diet?
There is no truth to the myth that eating fat is stored as fat in the body. The origins of this myth date back to the 1950s when obesity began to climb. As medical professionals and politicians began to push for answers, a battle between the sugar industry and other foods began. The sugar industry was better equipped and more influential and were able to create a narrative that blamed saturated fat for weight gain despite lacking scientific evidence. Fat is vital to a diet and aids in cell growth, hormone production, and the absorption of nutrients.
Explain proteins and how they work in the keto diet?
Protein is consumed in moderation in the keto diet. Ideally, organic / grass-fed unprocessed meats are ideal as is pasture raised eggs and wild caught fish. There is a myth that you can eat all the protein you want on low carbohydrate diets but that is not true. You can and will gain weight on excess protein. You should have 3 to 6 ounces of protein per meal, the leaner the better.
How do I avoid exess sugar?
Sugar is at the root of all weight gain and many health afflictions. It has many names too on food labels some of which are: fructose, honey, brown sugar, agave nectar, dextrose, maltodextrin, high fructose corn syrup, juices, alcohols and many more. Altogether food labels have around 80 different names for what is ultimately just sugar.
What are net carbs?
The keto diet specifies 20 to 50 "net" grams of carbs. On the food label, take the total carbs minus the fiber to get the "net" grams of carbs and that is the number you track. Fiber does not contribute to weight gain.
What is insulin?
Insulin is known as the storage hormone. It is produced by the pancreas and is released when you eat. It acts as a key to open the door to a cell allowing it to get sugar fuel. It works to lower excess sugar in the blood after eating by storing it in the liver and muscles and excess sugar is converted to fat as a result of it. As it relates to the keto diet, the less sugar/carbs you consume and the less you eat means less insulin in the body and less fat storage.
What is ketosis and how do I know when I'm there?
Ketosis is when the body is burning its own fat rather than sugar for its energy. The breakdown of fats produce "ketones" which will show up in the blood and urine and can be measured. You can buy "keto strips" at the store that measure ketones in your urine or you can buy a blood keto monitor too. As you progress in the keto diet, the body will become more efficient at using ketones and less will show up in waste. You will also know you're in ketosis because you're losing weight, have reduced hunger and cravings and more consistent energy!
What is the difference between the keto diet and a paleo diet?
While similar, the paleo diet allows fruit, dates, honey and other high carbohydrate foods. You will see quicker weight loss on a keto diet.
What is the difference between the keto and the Atkins diet?
The Atkins diet became popular in the 90s and was the first mainstream diet to promote a low carbohydrate diet. It's primary difference between it and the keto diet though is that the Atkins diet was a high protein diet whereas keto is a moderate to low protein diet. The Atkins diets is also the source of the myth that you can eat all the protein you want without weight gain as many abused its teachings.
Do I need to count calories on the keto diet?
The short answer is no. Your primary calorie source on a keto diet is from fat and the body processes these calories differently than carbohydrate based calories. It is important to understand though that this does not mean a keto diet is an eat all you can eat fat/protein diet. Best results will be seen if calories are kept under 1800/day.
Do I Need to Eat Breakfast?
The determining factor is simple, are you hungry or not? After dinner, our body begins a long fast through the night and at this time is the only time many people are getting any significant fat burning. If you're not hungry in the morning, then allow this process to continue and stay in fat burning mode longer. If you decide to eat, avoid starches and hidden sugars and opt for protein and fat.
Why do we need grass fed beef?
Grass fed simply means cows in the field ate only grass. The alternative is grain fed which has soy, nutrient empty corn and GMOs. These are not good for our body and we ingest them we consume grain-fed beef. Grass-fed beef has more nutrients, vitamins and healthy fats. Pasture raised is another term for grass-fed too. If grass fed is not available, choose organic which means without pesticides, herbicides and insecticides.
I get bloated when I eat vegetables, what can I do?
Some people lack enough digestive enzymes to properly break down cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and brussel sprouts resulting in excess gas which can impede weight loss. Instead try lettuce, spinach and other vegetables that you know do not bloat you. Try blending vegetables in a blender - it is important to get vegetables to balance the proteins you will consume on the keto diet.
What sweeteners are considered good and bad?
Ideally, no sweeteners is best but do not let this stop you from changing your diet. Acceptable sweeteners include liquid Stevia (add to carbonated water for a nice treat), Xylitol, monk fruit, Swerve and Truvia aka Erythritol. Avoid stevia in the raw because it contains dextrose as well as splenda, maltitol and all forms of sugar.
How much weight can I lose per week?
Healthy weight loss is typically defined at 2 pounds per week. Anything more than that is mostly water. To be more specific, the body burns roughly 2000 calories a day doing normal items; hence why diets are based on 2000 calories a day. The body will use up its carb/sugar based energy first before going to the fat reserves; therefore if you continually replenish your carb/sugar energy, you will never get to the fat reserves and never lose weight. Once you do get to the fat, the body will then burn on average 0.5 to 0.7 pounds per fat each day. There is also associated water weight that will come off when you eliminate fat. While metabolism varies in person to person, the differences are slight and large differences are mostly because the person is highly muscular/athletic versus very inactive and overweight.
What side effects or body changes will I see other than weight loss with a keto diet?
Switching to a keto diet will undoubtedly cause side effects you will notice. Do not let these discourage you as your body will adjust. You can expect to see higher cholesterol levels in the beginning as excess fat is flushed through the liver, the keto flu which is your body's reaction to learning to use fat instead of glucose for energy. These symptons include a range of things most often associated with a traditional flu such as fatigue, brain fog, heaches and insomnia. You may also experience cramping and some people do report hair loss although that recovers too.
What is bulletproof coffee?
If you have read a lot about keto diets, you have probably heard about this by now. While there are varying recipes for bulletproof coffee, the short answer is that it is normal coffee with butter or another high fat substitute such as MCT oil. The purpose of this is so the body gets a quick does of a high fat/high calorie food early in the day which helps control hunger and gives them energy.
Do I need to exercise on this diet?
No. With any diet, you gain and lose weight based on your dietary inputs, exercise has little to no immediate effects on weight loss. Exercise is always recommended but its weight loss benefits come from increased muscle mass over time which results in more calories burned at rest. In the short term, you will not see this effect. There is an old saying that you can never out train a bad diet.