Ah yes, the Keto Diet. Easily one of the most popular weight loss trends these days.
From “teatoxes” to prepared meals, Atkins and Weight Watchers, there are plenty of diets to try.
But which one will help you achieve your health and fitness goals?
Many diets suggest taking supplements which are helpful if you are not consuming a healthy amount of nutrients from food alone.
Other weight loss tactics include protein shakes which some people simply aren’t a fan of (I love them though and I encourage you to use them).
When looking for a new and sustainable diet, everyone wants something fulfilling to his or her taste palate and filling to the belly. The food should look like real food, taste like real food and help support a busy lifestyle.
The Ketogenic diet has all these benefits. Depending on your lifestyle, it could be the one diet that you finally stick to.
How Does The Keto Diet Work?
Warning — the following image might make you hungry:
I know, I all of those high carb foods are tempting. But, you must resist! Is these types of empty, “sticky” carbs that pack on the pounds and add fat to your frame.
Before beginning the Keto Diet, you’ll have to understand that your diet will drastically change from the typical American high-carb, high-fat diet.
Currently, your body’s first source of energy are the carbs you consume. With the Keto Diet, your body will enter a state of nutritional ketosis.
What this means is that your body will effectively burn more fat and use it as fuel for your body.
In fact, in a strict ketogenic diet you’d only consume a maximum of 50 grams of carbs per day. The rest of your calories will come from healthy fats and protein.
So what’s wrong with all these carbs you’re consuming on a daily basis?
Well, some would argue that all calories are created equal. I personally don’t agree. White table sugar fucks up your metabolism, and studies are showing how unhealthy it is.
Breads, pastas, cakes and all these other tasty foods provide no nutritional value to your body. They definitely shouldn’t be a part of a ketogenic diet.
Carbohydrates create glucose and glycogen, which is a form of glucose that is stored in the liver and muscle tissues. Glycogen comes with water. With every gram of glycogen, your body stores three to four grams of water.
This is why high-carb diets generally leave you feeling bloated. Your weight can jump 5 pounds or more over the course of several hours. You’ll wake up at 155 and go to bed weighing 162.
The truth is that glycogen isn’t bad for you. When you work out, your body uses it for energy. It only becomes an issue if you never workout and lift weights.
Cutting Down Your Intake Of Carbohydrates
A common phrase you’ll hear around these parts is that “abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym.”
If you want to try the Keto Diet, then it’s time to toss all those unhealthy, empty carbs in your pantry. The only carbs you’ll be eating are green vegetables and some dense fruits packed full on antioxidants.
Take out all the breads, tortillas, cereals, granola, yogurts, potatoes, crackers, chips, cookies, candy, and so on and so forth.
Just imagine that these foods are like an old ex who used you and left you for someone worse…It’s time to “break up” with these foods and toss them to the curb! Let someone else deal with this garbage 😉
It’s also a good idea to get rid of that stash of “healthy” snacks you may be holding onto. They also need to go… Don’t worry, they’ll be fine. After all, they’re processed and will last for YEARS on their own. You’ll have the choice to return to them in the future once you’re lean and mean.
For now, it’s time to introduce whole, natural foods that are high in good fats and protein. They haven’t been processed and are in their raw form ready to be cooked or consumed immediately. No plastic wrapping needed.
It’s time to break up with your popcorn, those lovely sweet potato chips, tortillas from your favorite mexican joint, and so on. I know Avocado Toast is the biggest thing right now, but put down that toast and just Avocado.
How To Know If The Keto Diet Is Working For You
How much of your daily consumption is carb based? I ask this question because you need to track! If you’re not tracking your daily intake of carbs, then you’re going to have a tough time staying consistent.
Depending on how active you are, you may be able to consume more carbs. This is especially true if you’re doing high intensity interval training a few times per week.
But, even athletes and professional bodybuilders who are on the Keto diet limit their carb intake to no more than 50 grams.
If you’re not that active in the gym, then keep your carbs at 25 grams max. This will insure that your body enters into a ketogenic state.
Benefits of the Keto Diet
If you’re wondering why you should give the Keto Diet a try, take a look at some of these benefits that many people experience:
- Prevents Diseases — Your body will deter the development or worsening of deadly diseases. Plenty of research proves that the Keto diet is more effective than most diets at helping people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and even cancer.
- Prevents Headaches and Migraines — You’ll give migraines a run for their money. Research shows that a ketogenic diet reduces headaches, which reduces the need for drugs to alleviate that pain in people who get migraines. It also proved in a short-term observation that a low calorie diet is ineffective. It is believed that the Keto diet helps because of how ketone bodies block high concentrations of glutamate (found in migraine sufferers) and it reduces oxidative stress.
- Less Inflammation and Higher Energy — You may also experience increased energy, decreased inflammation (from the lack of breads and sugars), and improved brain function. Following a keto diet reduces brain inflammation and promotes the activation of neuropathic factors. Ever feel like you can’t focus or like your thoughts are foggy? Blame glutamate. Ketones help the brain balance the neurotransmitters (glutamate) and GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid). Glutamate stimulates and GABA reduces stimulation in the body. Too much glutamate gets you out of focus because GABA can’t process it. So, now there’s excess firing of neurons in the brain, leading to worse mental focus. By giving the brain another form of energy, GABA production improves and you’ll experience reduced stress and anxiety. Go GABA!
- Increased Fat Burning — The Keto diet can help with weight loss which is the main reason you’re reading this article. Many studies show that a ketogenic diet helps men and women lose more weight than subjects who reduce caloric intake. Less carbs usually leads to a drop in body fat.
- Build Muscle — You’ll still build muscle as long as you’re eating enough calories and protein. In the Keto diet, you’re naturally consuming more protein than other diets would yield. More protein doesn’t necessarily mean more muscle, but it definitely doesn’t hurt the process. More importantly, the Keto diet is rich in ketones which are structured like amino acids. Amino acids are useful for building muscle mass.
- Reduced Appetite — It’s easy to find yourself addicted to sugar and carbs. You’ll feel this addiction when you first start the Keto diet. With the introduction of whole and organic foods into your diet, you’ll soon control hunger for longer periods of time. This will help you avoid being hungry and wanting to binge on the closest box of donuts.
- Increased Fiber — Consistently following a Keto diet will increase your fiber intake and give you wholesome nutrients instead of short-term satisfying carbs. Fiber is crucial in a healthy digestive track. I can’t stress how important it is to fix your stomach for a healthy gut.
Foods To Eat On The Keto Diet
I know what you’re thinking… All these benefits to the Keto diet sound great! But, it’s probably expensive as hell to buy all this healthy, nutritious food.
You would be wrong.
With some simple improvements to your pantry and fridge, you’ll be eating a ketogenic diet with ease. Try these foods:
- Coconut and Olive Oil — Coconut oil is great for cooking and part of a keto diet is fat intake. A saturated and monounsaturated fat like this is important to include. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fat, which is known to prevent heart disease.
- Seeds and Nuts — Pumpkin seeds, sesame and hemp seeds; raw nuts like almonds, pecans and macadamia nuts. These seeds and are low in carbs and rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and high in healthy fats.
- Cranberries and Blackberries — Eating fruit on a keto diet can be confusing because they’re loaded with healthy carbs. Berries are typically lower in carbs and a great micronutrient. However, I do believe in the power of an apple a day. But, one big apple can have around 30 grams of carbs. It’s up to you what you decide to consume.
- Leafy Greens — Bok choy, spinach, arugula, swiss chard, etc. These leafy greens are low in carbs. In fact, I don’t even count leafy greens in my daily calorie calculations because they’re so light and healthy for you.
- Other Healthy Vegetables — Broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and cucumbers are great options for veggies that aren’t leafy. Put those two categories together, add some healthy fats for a dressing and you have a great salad.
- Meat and Eggs — A staple of the Keto diet. Try grass fed meats, chicken, turkey and duck. Organic pasteurized eggs with omega-3 fats are a better alternative than regular eggs. Egg whites are also a great source for protein.
- Fish and Shellfish — salmon, tuna, cod, sardines, anchovies, lobster, crab, and oysters. More sources of protein to add to your diet so you hit your daily intake.
Start thinking whole, healthy foods when you shop. It will make the process easier. Cheeses and dairy are also okay, but I personally don’t do milk or yogurts. My body doesn’t like it.
And, if you eat foods that are heavy in satiety, you will stay full longer than if you eat foods that are low in satiety. This is actually a pretty important part of dieting because you want to feel fuller when eating in a caloric deficit.
Foods To Avoid On The Keto Diet
I generally recommend men and women to avoid non-organic foods while dieting. Your goal is to be as healthy as possible, right? Then stick to organic foods. It makes cutting weight easier in my experience.
A lot of food out there is hormone enhanced and filled with antibiotics. These can damage your health in the long term.
As I said above, I avoid regular milk high in lactose. I used to have a bad case of acne. Once I cut lactose milk out of my diet, my skin cleared up and has been clear ever since! Crazy to think it was caused by milk all these years…
The good news? I can drink milk now as long as it’s lactose free. And, it doesn’t taste any different. It’s a little pricier, but you can find a good deal on lactose-free milk at Costco.
You should also avoid hydrogenated vegetable oils. Make sure you look at the ingredients in nut butters before you buy them. Some contain these types of oils.
Trans fats from meats are safe because they are naturally occuring.
Grains, breads and other flour products won’t do you any good since they are loaded with carbs. They can also cause inflammation in some individuals. Avoid.
Starchy vegetables and large fruits are also loaded in carbs. If you’re trying to eat around 20 grams per day, you won’t have much room for potatoes and rice.
The same could be said about beans since they are high in carbs. Avoid kidney beans, green peas, black-eyed peas, lentil and chickpeas on this diet.
What Are The Side-Effects of the Keto Diet?
Here’s where things get interesting (and I saved this part for the very end of the article):
I am actually not a fan of the Keto Diet.
But wait… I just wrote 2,000+ words about the benefits of a high fat diet. Why would I not be on this diet?
Well, it’s really as simple as this: I don’t feel good when I’m in Ketosis. I’ve tried the keto diet multiple times and it always results in me having low energy and feeling like crap all the time.
But, this is just my result. Your mileage will vary. Some people get a ton of energy from this type of diet whereas others like me don’t do well on it.
With that said, I still keep my carbs quite low when I’m dieting. On days that I workout, I never eat more than 80 grams of carbs. On days when I’m resting and not in the gym, I keep my carbs at a max of 40. This is almost at the Ketosis level, but not quite.
So, you need to see how your body responds to this type of dieting. Give it at least a week to see if you get used to it and your body adjusts. If not, then try the recommended carb macros that I do myself. You’ll lose just as much weight as long as your caloric deficit is the same.
Any major diet change will warrant some possible side effects. However, these side effects hardly outweigh the benefits to a wholesome, nutritious diet.
One side effect of the Keto diet is bad breath, also known as “ketosis breath.” On a keto diet, our bodies produce ketones. Ketones come in three forms called acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate and acetone. Excessive volumes of acetone on the breath can cause the odor.
However, this isn’t a big deal. Buy some gum and keep it handy whenever you’re around someone you like 😉
Another side effect is a feeling of fatigue during the first week of this diet. This is normal. Your body makes a giant leap from using carbs as a fuel source to fats. Not only that, but your metabolism needs to adjust to the changes as well. To remedy these feelings, be sure to eat enough fat and protein.
Expect to pee often. You should be consuming at least a gallon of water per day. Your body will want to burn off the stored glycogen in your liver and muscles. This side effect will balance out once the extra glycogen is gone. Hit the weights hard to accelerate this process.
Another concern is constipation from all the meat and eggs you might consume. To remedy this situation, make sure you eat lots of leafy greens to keep a good level of fiber in your diet. Green vegetables are very important for this diet (and in general).
Have you tried the Keto Diet? Share your experiences with it below and let’s get the discussion going.