Last updated on October 19, 2021.
Following the Atkins diet and the 80/20 diet, the keto diet has gained huge popularity. Here is your complete guide.
What is the Keto diet?
The ketogenic (keto) diet is a type of a low-carb, high fat diet typically to lose weight over a relatively short period of time. The term ‘keto’ comes from ketones (also known as ketone bodies) which we produce when we burn fat for energy instead of glucose, i.e. sugars and starches from carbohydrates. By reducing carbs, our body enters into a metabolic state called ketosis.
The keto diet first began to be researched in the 1970s and was created by Peter Huttenlocher. There has been several variations but the key element remain a high fat, moderate protein, and low carb ratio.
Who is the Keto diet for?
The keto diet was originally created to treat patients with epilepsy, as an alternative to fasting which had been noted to produce positive results. Studies showed that when patients went on a high fat low carb diet, the regularity of their seizures seemed to be reduced. However, in recent years, this method has increasingly been used for weight management, focusing on the effect of fat loss. The diet seems to also be available to those with type 2 diabetes. It is common for people with type 2 diabetes to be overweight and need to manage their weight for better health, and the diet involves a higher reliance on breaking down fat for energy, with less reliance on the production of insulin to manage blood sugar levels.
Precautions with the Keto diet
Before implementing any new diet, it is advisable to consult first with your practitioner, especially if you have a physical condition that you need to pay attention to.
Subsequently, besides the case of having a condition you may need to monitor with a professional, the keto diet seems to be good for everyone to utilize.
What a keto diet involves
To implement the keto diet, you first need to reduce your daily carbohydrate consumption. Some typical carbs include sugar, soda, pastries, and white bread.
With less carbs, your body will have less sugars to digest to generate energy. Glucose stored in your liver as glycogen will be broken down and your level of insulin will decline, beginning the transition into ketosis state. The amount of carbohydrate an individual needs to consume each day depends on physical activity as well as weight and height ratios. A common figure is no more than 20g of carbohydrates per day, but some also have achieved ketosis with double this amount of carbohydrates a day.
There are ketone test strips that can be purchased from any local pharmacy, to test if you are in ketosis. These tests should be used on urine samples, and the indicator strips can be compared to a color chart to identify if you are already in ketosis; for the body to be in ketosis, the strip will be deep purple, and the process will usually take around 3-4 days.
Once your body is in ketogenic phase, other than the result of fat-loss, you can also benefit from a feeling of prolonged energy, Having a high fat diet will likely keep you fuller for longer, and the process of energy breakdown will become more steady rather than with energy spikes, meaning better efficiency in your daily routines.
Though it is not a necessary part of the diet, some people pair the process with intermittent fasting i.e. decide to only eat during an 8-hour period during the day, e.g. noon to 8pm or from 9am until 6pm. This is supposed to enhance the state of ketosis, to maximize results.
What do you eat on keto?
When being on the keto diet, it is important to maintain a high fat, moderate protein and very low carb ratio. In terms of fats, try to opt for healthy sources of fats as much as possible, to reap weight loss benefits but also for your heart health and blood health.
Remember to keep track of what you are eating to ensure you consume enough amounts of fats and have a sustained energy supply throughout the day.
Here is a list of foods you can incorporate when being on keto:
- Fish and seafood
High in protein and rich in omega-3 fats, also high in B vitamins
- Meat and poultry
Great source of protein, but keep a note of the amount of animal fat consumption in relation to higher ‘bad’ HDL cholesterol
- Low carb vegetables
Nutritionally dense, great for digestion and cleansing the body, and helps regulate cholesterol levels in the body
High in healthy fatty acids, a high-fat fruit that brings filling effect
Zero carbohydrates, rich in protein and calcium
- Nuts, seeds and healthy oils
Healthy sources of good fats, nuts add fiber and protein to the diet; specific oils with strong benefits include coconut oil
- Unsweetened coffee and tea
Help to speed up metabolism, giving stimulation to the brain, without sending the brain into a sugar rush. You may have heard of incorporating butter and/or coconut oil into coffee to increase the fat intake, it is commonly known as “bulletproof coffee”.
What to expect
Once you begin to enter in to ketosis, you may come into a handful of signs; you may notice that you are urinating more often and your breath may smell differently, this is all due to ketones being produced and released in urine and breath, slightly altering the bodily processes. Another common sign that is common when starting the keto diet is the ‘keto flu’: a set of symptoms some experience when first switching to the high fat-low carb diet. You may also experience withdrawal-like symptoms as the body and the brain are becoming accustomed to the sudden change of energy supply. It is important to stay hydrated throughout this process and take some rest if you feel sluggish and tired. Once your body adapts to being in ketosis, these symptoms will fade away.
When being on the keto diet, it can be easy for an imbalance of electrolytes to occur, so again, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the whole process, and add electrolyte supplements in your diet.