This article discusses everything you should know about the keto diet.
Keto diet definition
In the world of keto dieters, there are two major groups of people; those who are all for the keto lifestyle and those who are not. Take Jemma Jameson for instance, she is all for the keto lifestyle as is Savannah Guthrie, Halle Berry and Mama June. Halle believes that keto diet has been helping to maintain her type 2 Diabetes while Jenna swears that the keto diet has helped her shed 80-pound post-partum weight loss. As with other trends and lifestyles, the keto lifestyle isn’t accepted by all. Tamra Judge switched to the keto diet and had to quit after one week of no changes in her health, heck it even made her sick.
Now, with the negative and positive reviews of keto diet flying around, you might be unsure of the keto diet, how it works, and the food components of the diet and if indeed it works. This begs the question, what really is the keto diet? Why is the diet so popular?
The keto diet which is the short form for ketogenic diet is an eating plan that encourages reducing carbs and increasing fats to allow the body use up the fats as energy. While our nutritional needs and body goals are slightly different, switching to the keto diet simply translates to:
- Getting 60-75 percent of daily calories from fats,
- Getting 15-30 percent of daily calories from protein, and
- Getting 5-10 of daily calories from carbs.
You can check what your macros are using our free keto calculator .
Going by these, the keto diet doesn’t encourage more than 50 grams of carbohydrates daily. There are even some strict keto dieters who eat no more than 20 grams of carbohydrates daily. If you are new to the keto diet, your body will go into the state of ketosis after about 2-7 days on the diet. The ketosis state is the state the body enters when there isn’t enough carbs for body cells to burn as fuel. At this point, the body starts producing ketones otherwise known as organic compounds which it uses as an alternative for carbs and at the same time the body burns available fats for more energy. The keto diet was originally designed for people who experience seizure disorders, not for people who wants to shed pounds. Studies show that the ketones produced by the body at ketosis and the chemical Decanoic acid induced by the diet may help to reduce seizures. Keto dieters soon began to notice weight loss as an after effect of the keto diet. This weight loss occurs for a number of reasons; when you consume starchy foods (carbs), your body retains the fluids from the foods to store carbs as energy but when you don’t eat enough carbs, your body will lose the fluid weight. Also, it’s not difficult to gain weight with excess carbs, fats on the other hand helps to reduce cravings so you don’t eat much. In addition, the body burns fat when it’s in ketosis state so you may experience dramatic weight loss on the diet.
The keto diet really clicked with people that are looking to shed some pounds and truth be told, almost everyone wants to lose weight. The keto diet can be a weight-loss tool as it burns fat as fuel. Some celebrities have even encouraged switching to the keto lifestyle.
So what are the food components of the keto diet?
Which foods does the keto diet encourage?
The fact that keto diet might not encourage you eating your favorite carbs doesn’t mean you will starve yourself or go hungry. With the keto diet, your body will load up healthy fats such as avocado and olive oil, considerable amount of lean protein such as chicken and grass fed beef, leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables. You are even allowed to have snacks; not just carrot sticks alone. There are a lot of snack options for keto dieters. One of them is FATBAR which contains 200 calories, 16grams of fats and just 4grams of carbs. What’s more? The snack options for keto dieters are of plant origin and made with chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pea protein, coconut, cocoa butter, cashew butter, and almond. Even for lovers of coffee who aren’t allowed to have vanilla lattes, there is a healthy alternative and that is bulletproof coffee. The bulletproof coffee is a standard coffee that comes with medium chain triglycerides oil and grass fed butter which gives a healthy boost of fats in the morning.
If you want something sweet to munch on, keto fat bombs are healthy alternatives. Keto fat bombs are little snacks with low carb contents and high fats contents so you can enjoy them without the fear of derailing on your diet. If you are a great lover of pasta, don’t you worry as there are healthy products out there such as Explore Cuisines’ organic black bean spaghetti which will give you the pasta feeling without the carbs? You don’t even have to stop eating out as there are keto friendly restaurants such as Olive Garden, Texas Roadhouse, and Red Lobster where you can enjoy dinner without the fear of being kicked out of ketosis.
What are the foods to avoid on the keto diet?
Since the keto diet focuses on fats and protein with little carbs, your menu shouldn’t include grains or big bowl of pasta. The likes of black beans, lentils, chickpeas, carrots and potatoes are a no-no on the keto diet. Also, the keto diet doesn’t encourage sweets be it natural or artificial. Even doughnuts, cakes and candies are off-limits. Fruits such as pears, bananas, and apples aren’t because they are packed filled with sugar, which is a carb. Alcohol isn’t left out; sugary cocktails and many beers aren’t allowed on the keto diet, some sweeter wines too. Because the keto diet doesn’t encourage some major food groups such as fruits and grains, there is a need for you to take multivitamins, one that has folic acid to help your body produce new cells.
Do you experience any side effect on the keto diet?
Your body has to deplete its store of glucose so if you are new to the keto diet, it will take 2-3 days for your body to go into ketosis. It is very likely for your body to experience side effects from a major diet change. You may feel wiped out or tired because you aren’t consuming much carbs which gives the body quick energy. The side effects of the keto diet are known as the keto flu and may include symptoms such as mental fog, headaches, cramps, nausea, lightheadedness and tiredness. Not to scare you, the side effects only linger for a week and that’s around the time you will begin to see your number drop on the scale. Besides the common side effects of keto diet, some dieters also complain of keto breath and diarrhea.
Truth be told, keto diarrhea is a big problem! This symptom is associated with how the body processes fats considering that the keto diet is one that encourages fatty foods. Some dieters do not digest fats as much as they should so they may suffer diarrhea. On the other hand, keto breath isn’t really a side effect but a harmless inconvenience. The keto diet may give your breath an unpleasant smell; the ketones produced by the body contains the chemical acetone which is one of the components of nail polish remover. The keto diet may make your breath smell like nail polish remover. Not to worry, your body will get rid of the chemicals produced during ketosis through breathing, defecation and urination. The keto breath will also minimize once your body gets familiar with the diet. Before then make sure to practice and maintain good oral hygiene.
Let’s get to it – Does the keto diet really promote weight loss?
As mentioned earlier, there are a number of reasons why keto diet can promote weight loss. For starters, lean proteins and healthy fats will make you feel fuller sooner and make you satiated for a long time thus your daily caloric intake is reduced to 1500 calories. Also, the fact that the body uses more energy to burn protein and fats than proteins promotes weight loss. With the keto diet, the body uses more calories to burn protein and fats so weight loss is a must. Our bodies are different, so you can’t compare someone’s weight loss on the keto diet to your own. Your bodyweight when you switched the diet also determines how much weight you lose and how soon you lose it. But not to worry, you should lose one to two pounds a week on the keto diet. Weight loss is sometimes less or sometimes more on the keto diet; it all depends on your body’s caloric needs.
It is worthy to note that the keto diet isn’t a miracle fat burner as the calories contained in fats are still normal calories. As such, there is a need for you to keep your caloric intake to a reasonable level and engage in regular exercise to make the diet work faster. Eating more calories while on the keto diet will only add more fat to your body.
Does keto diet have any long term benefits?
While some faithful keto dieters argue that the diet provides multiple health benefits such as curing acne to reducing the risk factors of heart disease, most of these claims are anecdotal, unproven and do not have strong scientific evidence to support them. The keto diet may help to treat symptoms of seizure disorders such as epilepsy and there is scientific evidence to support this claim. A study conducted on epileptic patients on keto diet at John Hopkins University found that 36 percent of the patient had a 50 percent reduction in seizure symptoms three months into the diet. However, much evidence hasn’t surfaced to ascertain why keto diet has this benefit.
Also, there is developing evidence that the keto diet may help to manage type 2 diabetes. Thanks to the ability of the keto diet to burn insulin and regulate appetite, the keto diet may provide some real benefits for diabetic patients. Asides these benefits, health experts aren’t convinced that keto diet has other benefits that has been scientifically proven. You will be shocked that the keto diet even has some disadvantages if you don’t follow it correctly. For instance, if you eat lots of saturated fats as opposed to eating healthy unsaturated fats, you put yourself at risk of high cholesterol levels. You need to keep your heart healthy by eating unsaturated fat sources such as avocados, olives, seeds, nuts and canola oils. Bear in mind that the keto diet doesn’t support good bones, a healthy colon, heart, gut microbiome or brain and it could even contribute to plague in the arteries which in turn causes stroke or heart attack in the long run.
Is it safe to combine keto diet with intermittent fasting?
You have probably heard that some keto dieters combine keto with fasting diets, one of which is intermittent fasting. In case you don’t know what intermittent fasting is; intermittent fasting is a fasting diet that centers on a cycle of eating and fasting periods. That is, there are times you eat and times you don’t eat. Intermittent fasting is different for everyone but the most popular form of this fasting is the 16:8 diet which involves fasting for 16 hours and eating all your meals in a span of eight hours. Another form of intermittent fasting that is quite popular is the 5:2 diet which involves eating less than 500 calories for two days of a week then eating normally for the remaining days of the week. While most people claim that doing the keto diet with intermittent fasting promotes weight loss, the results are usually short-lived. This means that you will regain the lost weight once you go back to your old eating pattern.
Health experts advise against combining a restrictive diet with long periods of no eating. Doing this will put your body in a state where it extracts your muscle for energy and your body doesn’t know the difference between heart muscle and leg muscle. This means that your body can even extract muscles from the heart. Bear in mind that the important organs in your body are composed of smooth muscles and combining keto diet with intermittent fasting may harm your lungs or bladder. Research on intermittent fasting has shown that weight loss from intermittent fasting is a result of calorie reduction. So why not eat less or eat healthy to lose weight rather than combine keto diet with intermittent fasting? Research even shows that eating less or healthy contribute to weight loss. While intermittent fasting may contribute to faster weight loss and make you go from losing one pound in week one to four pounds in week two, you are literally starving yourself. The weight loss through this method is mostly lean muscle loss and studies show that lean muscle is needed for healthy functioning as you grow and once lost, it is difficult to recover. So if you must combine keto diet with intermittent fasting, consult your nutritionist or doctor first to advice as needed.
Ever heard of the lazy keto?
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you because once something is popular people are going to create new or easier methods to do it and achieve the same goals. So some people have created the lazy and dirty keto diet. Such people try to reduce their daily carb intake to 20 to 50 carbs with lazy keto. With dirty keto on the other hand, people try to follow the same guideline as regular keto but they do not care where the macronutrients come from. Dirty keto isn’t really a good one as it doesn’t allow you to build good eating habits and it is even easy to fall back to your old eating habits. If you want to opt for the lazy keto diet, health experts recommend that you monitor your meals based on size versus macronutrients. This approach is more adjustable, easier and promises to be effective for long term weight loss when combined with moderate exercise.
The big question – should I switch to the keto diet?
Truth be told, the keto diet isn’t easy and it’s not a healthy diet to follow for a long period of time considering that it doesn’t encourage some carbs that are good for your body. However, if you are looking to try the diet for a short time, it’s crucial that you set yourself up for success by ensuring that you have the tools needed to make it happen.
Getting started on the keto diet
I have got good news for you! The keto diet is quite popular now and there are a number of ways to get started. There are lots of websites and apps that offer keto diet challenges. There are even some that give a blueprint for the diet which entails the starting and ending point, maybe a week or a month. There are plenty of keto-centric apps at your fingertips that can be downloaded on your smartphone such as the KetoDiet app that helps to calculate your nutrients and track your diet successfully.
If you need a guide to show you how to go the keto way on your own, you can browse for keto cookbooks and recipes. There are lots of them available on the internet be it keto recipes in your Instant Pot, general keto recipes, snack options that are easy to make and keto breakfasts.
Our nutritionist located in Derby also offers nutrition plans catered to your specific requirements should you wish to enlist additional help.
If you have decided to try the keto diet, get on with it but remember that the keto diet isn’t a diet that you should or can live on forever.