A ketogenic diet (keto) is a very low-carb diet, which turns the body into a fat-burning machine. It has many potential benefits for weight loss, health and performance, but also some potential initial side effects. A ketogenic diet is similar to other strict low-carb diets, like the Atkins diet or LCHF (low carb, high fat). These diets often end up being ketogenic more or less by accident. The main difference between strict LCHF and keto is that protein is restricted in the latter.
What is a Keto Diet?
A keto diet is designed specifically to result in ketosis. It’s possible to measure and adapt to reach optimal ketone levels for health, weight loss, or for physical and mental performance. A keto diet is well known for being a low carb diet, where the body produces ketones in the liver to be used as energy. It’s referred to as many different names – ketogenic diet, low carb diet, low carb high fat (LCHF), etc.
When you eat something high in carbs, your body will produce glucose and insulin. Glucose is the easiest molecule for your body to convert and use as energy so that it will be chosen over any other energy source. Insulin is produced to process the glucose in your bloodstream by taking it around the body. Since the glucose is being used as a primary energy, your fats are not needed and are therefore stored.
Typically on a normal, higher carbohydrate diet, the body will use glucose as the main form of energy. By lowering the intake of carbs, the body is induced into a state known as ketosis. Ketosis is a natural process the body initiates to help us survive when food intake is low. During this state, 2 we produce ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver.
The end goal of a properly maintained keto diet is to force your body into this metabolic state. We don’t do this through starvation of calories but starvation of carbohydrates. Our bodies are incredibly adaptive to what you put into it – when you overload it with fats and take away carbohydrates, it will begin to burn fat as the primary energy source. Optimal ketone levels offer many health, weight loss, physical and mental performance benefits.
What is a Net Carb?
Starting a Ketogenic lifestyle means you will need to learn how to read a food label, specifically how to find NET CARBS. Some experts will suggest you count TOTAL carbs which is fine if that’s what you would like to do, however it’s easier to count net carbs and the method we suggest (you can do this however you prefer though). If you are counting TOTAL CARBS it is recommended you stay below 50 total grams per day.
If you are counting NET CARBS it is recommended you stay below 30 NET CARB grams per day (Ideally staying at 25 net or less). Although every body is different these are a general suggestion.You take TOTAL CARBS and subtract DIETARY FIBER and SUGAR ALCOHOLS to get NET CARBS. Since dietary fiber / sugar alcohols won’t impact your blood sugar or cause an insulin response it isn’t counted towards your carb count.
Here are my top 5 tips for getting started on the KETO diet and keeping it simple:
1) cut the sugar (substitute for stevia, erythritol, xylitol)
2) lower carbs (actually read labels)
3) add in healthy fats (coconut, butter, avo)
4) start everyday with a high fat/low carb breakfast (no breakfast does not have to be at 8am–it is simply the first meal of the day)
5) eat more low carb veggies (green and/or cruciferous)
Keep keto simple and easy! Take it day by day and focus on feeling better and getting healthy! All of the benefits to this lifestyle will follow!
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You can also order our KETO MEAL PLANNING GUIDE. It is full of how to get started on keto but also how to meal plan and meal prep to make your life easier and be successful on this lifestyle. Click on the picture below to order.