What is Keto? The ketogenic (keto) diet is a high fat, low carb, moderate protein diet. It was initially used to treat epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s. This is how our ancestors would have been eating thousands of years ago. Now it is one of the leading diets for treating obesity.
The easiest way to explain how the Ketogenic diet works are this, our bodies need energy. There are two ways that the body can get this energy, and that’s from fat and carbohydrates. Eating carbs makes our bodies produce glucose. It finds glucose the easiest to convert and use for energy, so it chooses this over fat. Since we are not using the fat for energy, our bodies start storing it for later use.
This constant overeating of carbs makes us store more and more fat as we are never actually using the fat as an energy source. When we restrict carbs, our bodies start using our stored fat as their primary energy source, leading to weight loss.
What to expect from our article
- 1 WHAT IS KETOSIS?
- 2 ARE WE REQUIRED TO EAT CARBOHYDRATES?
- 3 HOW MANY CARBS DO I NEED TO GET INTO KETOSIS?
- 4 WORKING OUT YOUR MACROS
- 5 TEN RULES TO LIVE BY WHEN FOLLOWING A KETOGENIC DIET
- 6 IS KETOSIS DANGEROUS?
- 7 SHOULD I EAT LOW FAT?
- 8 WHEN SHOULD I EAT?
- 9 WHEN SHOULD I STOP EATING?
- 10 HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM IN KETOSIS?
- 11 WHAT TO EAT ON A KETOGENIC DIET?
- 12 WHAT CAN I DRINK ON A KETOGENIC DIET?
- 13 THE SCALES AREN’T MOVING. AM I LOSING WEIGHT?
- 14 DO I NEED TO TAKE A SUPPLEMENT?
- 15 ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS WHEN STARTING KETO?
- 16 HOW TO OVERCOME KETO SIDE EFFECTS
- 17 WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A KETO DIET?
WHAT IS KETOSIS?
Ketosis is a metabolic state. When the body changes into fat-burning mode, low carb diets encourage the body to switch from carbohydrates for energy to stored fat. The fat is then broken down in the liver, which produces Ketones. Ketones are a good indication that the body is in ketosis and burning fat which can be measured in the blood or a urine sample.
ARE WE REQUIRED TO EAT CARBOHYDRATES?
No, the body does not require carbs to function. Carbs are ok in small doses. The problem with carbs is that people are eating far too many when we eat carbs, we produce insulin. Insulin is a fat storer. The more carbs we eat, the fatter we get. Insulin also makes you hungry and gives you cravings, so you get into the cycle of eating far more carbs than you need. The Keto diet reduces insulin, which reduces hunger and food cravings and allows us to burn fat.
HOW MANY CARBS DO I NEED TO GET INTO KETOSIS?
This is where everyone is different. My level of carbs before I get kicked out of Ketosis is around 25-30. For some, it’s 15-20, and for others, it’s up to 50g. It’s up to you to decide how many carbs you want per day but the suggested daily amount to reach optimal Ketosis is 15g to 20g per day.
There are two ways of measuring the number of carbs you eat. The total amount of carbs per meal or net carbs, which is the total amount of carbs minus the dietary fibre. Our nutritional information listed on packages already has the fibre deducted here in the UK, so we don’t need to do it.
WORKING OUT YOUR MACROS
Not everyone who does the Ketogenic diet follows their macros, and there are going to be people who say, well, if you are not following macros, you’re not doing Keto, that is rubbish! If you are eating enough fat, moderate protein and your carbs are 20g, or below you are doing Keto, your body will go into ketosis and burn fat.
Macros are macro-nutrients. They are your daily intake of fats, protein and carbohydrates. Usually, macros are around 70% fat, 25% protein and 5% carbs. You don’t have to track macros. This is what we call lazy keto. As long as you eat only food from the allowed list, lots of fat, up to 20g of carbs and moderate amounts of protein per day, you should still get into Ketosis and lose weight.
If you feel like you hit a stall (a stall being no inch or weight loss for at least four weeks), you can try working from your macros to help kick start your weight loss again. Macros are easier to understand once you have been doing the diet for a while.
Many people are scared by macros either because they don’t understand it or don’t want to track everything they put in their mouths for the rest of their lives. It’s all about finding a balance that suits you. If you are following macros, you will need to re-calculate them after a 10lb loss or if your energy expenditure (activity level) changes.
TEN RULES TO LIVE BY WHEN FOLLOWING A KETOGENIC DIET
- Keep it simple
- Top up electrolytes
- Stick to 10-20g of carbs per day
- Avoid sugar
- If you are not hungry, don’t eat
- Stop eating before you get full
- Check labels if it’s over 2g of carbs per 100g (for meat products) or above five carbs per 100g for everything else. Leave it alone. Leave
- Remember your fats
- Measure yourself
- Weigh yourself only once a week
IS KETOSIS DANGEROUS?
Many people confuse Ketosis with Ketoacidosis. No, nutritional Ketosis is not dangerous. Nutritional Ketosis is when the insulin in your body is regulated by a reduction in carbohydrate intake. Your body makes a metabolic shift, burning fat for fuel instead of carbs. Your body produces ketones, these ketones are used by the body, and any excess ketones are excreted in your urine.
Ketoacidosis is caused by the lack of insulin in the body. People with type one diabetes cannot produce insulin, and without it, blood sugar rises and causes a build-up of Ketones in the blood. Without insulin, the body can’t flush them away quickly enough, leading to ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis only affects people with type one diabetes due to poorly managed blood sugars. It can be hazardous and life-threatening. Still, it does not have anything to do with nutritional Ketosis, which is normal and harmless.
SHOULD I EAT LOW FAT?
Modern-day diets say fat is bad for you, you should eat low fat, and it has been drummed into us for years and years. The government is now starting to backtrack on vilifying fat and are now saying the opposite.
The right fat is good for you. The most common mistake people make when starting a low carb diet is to go low fat, but they don’t realise that the body’s two primary sources of energy are carbohydrates and fat. The trouble is low fat is usually stuffed full of sugar. You have to have one of them, or you will become hungry, fatigued and crave bad food leading you to fail.
WHEN SHOULD I EAT?
Growing up, in schools, college, and even in the workplace, we have been set to think that certain times of the day are for eating. Oh, it’s 7.30 am. I should have breakfast, or it’s 12.30 pm. I should have lunch. We have unconsciously programmed ourselves to eat not because we were hungry but because the time of the day told us to.
From now on, you need to ask yourself, am I really hungry? Do I need to eat now? If the answer is no, DO NOT EAT, do not be afraid of skipping meals intermittent fasting is recommended on a Ketogenic diet. As you are eating sufficient amounts of fat, you will not go hungry. Your body will go longer and longer without food. This intermittent fasting also promotes fat loss.
WHEN SHOULD I STOP EATING?
Lots of us have lost the “I’m full signal”, and some of us no longer recognise it at all. We have conditioned ourselves to overeat. The Ketogenic diet encourages you to stop eating before you get to that stuffed I can’t eat another thing, but oh, there’s the dessert stage. Start to recognise when you have eaten enough, and gradually your portion sizes will become smaller, remember the only reason we need food is to fuel our bodies, not because a craving said so.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM IN KETOSIS?
There are a couple of ways to test if you are in Ketosis, with a finger prick blood test and a urine test. Blood testing can be expensive, so I use Keto sticks. This is. Quick, simple and straightforward, You can purchase Ketone sticks here. You simply urinate on the sample stick and check the colour against the tube. Any change in colour means you are in Ketosis.
Keto sticks can be unreliable as they only measure the excess Ketones that are in the urine. If you drink a lot more, you can dilute the Ketones giving you a false reading, and after a few months, they stop registering altogether. This does not mean you are not in ketosis. It just means the ketones you are producing are not showing on the stick. If you stay 20g or under on your carbs, you are almost guaranteed to be in ketosis, so don’t rely on them entirely.
WHAT TO EAT ON A KETOGENIC DIET?
Meat: Any type, minced, steaks, stew pieces, fillets, etc. Bacon, Beef, pork, lamb, game, poultry, etc. Feel free to eat the fat on the meat as well as the skin on the chicken. If possible, try to choose organic or grass-fed meats.
Fish and shellfish: Of all kinds, Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines or herring are great. Avoid breaded food items.
Eggs: All kinds, Boiled, fried, scrambled, omelettes, etc.
Natural fat healthy fat: Butter, full-fat cream, olive oil or coconut oil, avocado, fatty, oily fish
Vegetables that grow above ground: Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, bok choy, spinach, asparagus, zucchini, eggplant, olives, spinach, mushrooms, cucumber, lettuce, avocado, onions, peppers, tomatoes etc.
Dairy products: Always choose full-fat options. Real butter, cream (40% fat), sour cream, Greek/Turkish yoghurt and high-fat cheeses, Turkish yoghurt (10% fat)
Nuts: Great as a treat instead of popcorn, sweets or crisps. (in moderation)
Berries: Berries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries etc., are okay in moderation. If you are not super strict or sensitive, they are great served over whipped cream.
Avoid all processed, flavoured, sugary and low-fat products.
See our complete keto-approved food list here
WHAT CAN I DRINK ON A KETOGENIC DIET?
- Water (minimum of 2 litres per day)
- Flavoured water (Zero carbs, avoid if you have issues with sweetener)
- Tea as well as green tea
- Coffee made with cream
- Bulletproof coffee made with cream butter and coconut oil (see recipes)
THE SCALES AREN’T MOVING. AM I LOSING WEIGHT?
Yes, weight fluctuates daily, and we can see lbs added and lbs were taken away within a few hours. It is IMPOSSIBLE to put on 6lbs of fat in a day or two. Invest in a tape measure and measure yourself regularly. Inch loss is better than weight loss.
Many people, including myself, can become obsessed with the weighing scales. We jump on every morning with excitement to see how much we weigh, what we have lost and usually end up feeling disheartened and disappointed to see either a gain, a stay the same or minimal loss, especially when we have been trying so hard, don’t obsess about it because this can change how you feel. You could end up falling off the wagon.
We want to weigh on the day of starting Keto and then forget about them for a week. After that, only weigh yourself once a week! Don’t be surprised to see that the scales don’t change for a couple of weeks at a time it happens. This is usually because our busy little fat cells are deciding what to do with themselves. Do they stay open ready for the next storage of fat, or do they close? So in the meantime, they remain open and retain fluid. Once the body realises it is not getting any stored fat, it gets rid of the water retention, and the fat cells close.
DO I NEED TO TAKE A SUPPLEMENT?
Yes, because we are cutting out a lot of fruit and vegetables we need to replace them it is recommended to take a few extra supplements daily we recommend
- Vitamin D
- B12 complex
Be sure to check the carb content and also for hidden sugar wheat & gluten.
See here for recommended supplements for the Keto way of eating.
ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS WHEN STARTING KETO?
It is common to experience some side effects while starting Keto, so slowly ease yourself into it. If you ditch everything and go all out Keto, you will likely experience Keto flu, some of the symptoms included;
- Heart palpitations
- Cold/flu symptoms
See here for full side effects of keto
HOW TO OVERCOME KETO SIDE EFFECTS
Start by lowering your carbs over a few days or even the first two weeks. Going cold turkey can make you feel crappy, especially if you consume lots of carbs and sugar.
Make sure you are getting enough sodium, magnesium and potassium. Keto is a diuretic, which means that you do not retain water. When we lose water, we lose electrolytes, so it is important to replenish our electrolytes daily. You can do this by
- For sodium, you need to be drinking 1-2 cups of bone broth, bullion or stock per day and salting your food. You can also drink water with added pink Himalayan rock salt with a squeeze of lemon. Without adequate sodium intake, you lose potassium.
- Potassium can be regulated by eating leafy greens and avocado. It is not recommended to supplement potassium as it is dangerous if you get too much.
- Magnesium can be supplemented using magnesium citrate or malate
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A KETO DIET?
- Weight loss
- Increased libido
- Improved mental health
- Improved mental clarity
- Lowered cholesterol.
- Lowered blood Sugar
- More energy
- Lack of hunger
- Lack of cravings
- Improved skin
- Improves autism
- Cures cancers
- Reverses type 2 diabetes
- Relieves migraines
- Heals leaky gut
- Heals systemic candida overgrowth
- Stops depression
It helps with many many other illnesses
You should always consult your doctor or dietitian before starting a new diet or healthy eating plan. Please do also remember a doctor’s role is to diagnose and treat illnesses and diseases they are not trained in dietary issues. Some have no nutritional training or a minimum of around 6 hours for their entire career, so a doctor’s advice can be misleading and incorrect, so always seek a second, third or fourth opinion if you need to. We know our bodies.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I GET TO THE TARGET?
While you are on a Ketogenic diet, you are burning the fat that’s been stored. Once your body has used it all up, it continues to use the fat you ingest daily.
When you get to target, you can add more carbs up to around 50g, add in 5g of carbs per week and keep an eye on any weight gain. If you do gain weight, you can just reduce the carbs again until you find your tolerance. When you find what suits you best, you can stick with that to maintain your weight loss while continuing keto.
Not everyone is supportive of the Keto lifestyle, and I’ve even known people to lose friends and fall out with family because of it. Some people cannot get their head around eating fat to lose weight, the logical thing they think is how on earth can you eat fat you will clog up your arteries blah blah blah, your body burns fat for fuel once you cut carbohydrates, fat is only stored when you eat too many carbohydrates! Remember, you do not have to explain yourself to anyone.
Good luck on your journey on becoming a fat-adapted Keto loser and choosing the Ketogenic diet. Feel free to join our group on Facebook. Let us know how you are getting on.