What is the Keto Diet?
The Keto Diet is a diet based on consuming high amounts of protein and healthy fats and low amounts of carbohydrates.
Eating a Keto Diet puts the body into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is when the liver produces ketones for energy instead of relying on glucose levels.
Since your body won’t have high levels of sugar for energy, your body will burn the fat you consume instead of layering it over your muscles.
The standard Keto Diet follows a daily nutritional intake that is 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbohydrates.
You should calculate these macronutrients on a regular basis to maintain your body’s state of ketosis.
Keto Vs. Atkins
The Keto Diet and Atkins diet share one common similarity: they both reduce the number of carbs in your diet.
The Atkins diet was trendy in the early 2000s because it re-introduced carbohydrates later on in the menu, allowing the dieter a little more freedom.
However, while the Atkins diet slowly re-introduces carbs once you've reached a specific milestone, the Keto Diet does not.
The Keto Diet is a consistent pattern of eating healthy fats and protein, so your body maintains a state of ketosis long term.
You are less likely to gain back weight or lose energy while on a monitored Keto Diet.
In a clinical study, doctors also found that patients were more likely to have lower cholesterol and reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes (1).
Keto Vs. Paleo
While there are many benefits to the Paleo diet, it was designed to create an allover more healthy person than to promote weight loss or metabolic flexibility, like the Keto Diet.
The Paleo diet includes all types of whole foods found in nature, with no added sugar and minimal processing. So naturally, carbs and processed foods are excluded.
The Keto Diet shares the idea of eliminating added sugars and processed foods. It goes a step further by cutting down on all “empty” carbohydrates and increasing the amount of fat in your diet.
The Keto Diet also changes how your body uses energy, while the Paleo diet does not.
In keto, you use ketones, a byproduct of burning fat. In Paleo, you use carbs.
Keto Vs. Caveman
The Caveman diet is another term for the Paleo diet since most of the Paleo diet is similar to what a cave dweller would have eaten.
The Caveman version is more restrictive of processed foods, such as processed whole grains, limiting the body to consuming foods entirely in their natural state.
As such, you may naturally go into a state of ketosis, but this is not the goal.
It is possible to be Keto and Paleo or Caveman at the same time. To do this, you’ll need to exclude dairy from your diet and carefully monitor your macros.
Always consult with a licensed health care provider before putting yourself on a diet.
What Can I Eat on the Keto Diet?
There are many delicious foods you can include in your Keto Diet that won’t leave you feeling hungry or unsatisfied.
Good Keto Foods
Your Keto Diet can include:
- Fish and Shellfish
- Red Meat
- Leafy Greens
- Above-ground Vegetables
- Dairy Products
To name a few foods! Sticking to the 70/20/10 rule is essential.
Most of your macros should come from healthy fats, then lean proteins, and then smaller amounts of low-carb vegetables and fruits.
Bad Keto Foods
There are a few foods to avoid while on the Keto Diet.
For example, try to pick food choices with the lowest carb count, such as walnuts (7g per serving) over cashews (27g per serving).
High-carb foods to avoid:
- Underground and starchy vegetables
- Large fruit
- Fruit and Vegetable juices
- Table Sugar
- Sweets and Candy
- Processed snacks
List of Sweeteners to Moderate
In most cases, adding sweeteners to your foods should be avoided while on the Keto Diet.
There are a few natural sweeteners on the market that can be added to Keto treats, without ruining your state of ketosis:
- Sugar Alcohol
Most alternative sweeteners can be found at health-food grocery stores and online shops.
Alternative sweeteners can be a little expensive to purchase, which is another good reason to limit your intake of these products!
How Often Should I Eat?
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Controlling how much and how often you eat is crucial to the Keto Diet.
Intermittent fasting is a helpful tool to promote personal weight loss when you feel you have plateaued or need a kick-start to your diet.
There are many ways to practice intermittent fasting safely:
- Skipping breakfast or lunch
- Limiting eating to specific time windows during the day
- Exercising a fast period of 24-48 hours
The great thing about intermittent fasting on the Keto Diet is that sleeping is part of your non-feeding time!
It’s important to sleep regularly every night.
Use Intermittent Fasting to Get into Ketosis
Since you will be consuming minimal carbohydrates on your Keto Diet, intermittent fasting teaches your body to use the stored fat in your body for energy, as opposed to the fat you are consuming.
The body’s glycemic index will reduce, and leptin hormone levels will become regulated.
This process of intermittent fasting trains your body to feel full longer and promotes a continual cycle of ketosis.
Why Do I Feel So Hungry?
Leptin, a natural hormone, is released in the body when enough fat is stored, telling your body that it is full and needs to burn that fuel for energy.
However, your body may become resistant to Leptin when too much fat is being consumed, requiring an overproduction of Leptin to feel full.
Many professionals in the health field have compared Leptin Resistance to Insulin Resistance in diabetes patients (2).
By regulating your fat consumption in the Keto Diet, you can return your Leptin levels to normal, resulting in feeling satiated faster and increasing weight loss.
How to Calculate Your Macros
Short for macronutrients, “macros” account for the protein, fat, and carbohydrates in your diet, usually calculated in grams.
In the Keto Diet, tracking and regulating your macros are a necessity for putting your body in a state of ketosis and maintaining weight loss.
The weight of grams you should consume of each macro is determined by your body fat percentage, how much weight you want to lose, and other details, like your height and current weight.
We will show you what tools you can use to determine your macros.
Why Macros are Important
Counting macros is more crucial than just counting calories since the number of calories alone doesn’t consider the quality of the calories you are consuming.
Focusing on your macros will teach your body to produce energy from burning healthy fats and lean protein instead of sugar from carbohydrates.
Eating the right amount of macros will also help you feel full and avoid symptoms of keto flu.
You can use a Keto Macro Calculator to determine how many grams of each macro you should consume on a daily basis.
How to Use a Keto Macro Calculator
A Keto Macro Calculator will use your gender, height, weight, and body fat percentage to determine how many macros you should consume daily to maintain ketosis.
This type of calculator will also define your macros based on your level of activity on a daily basis.
Simply put: if you are mainly sedentary during the day, your body needs less “fuel” for energy, while a more active person will require a higher level of macros to fuel their body.
Both levels of activity can still result in healthy weight loss!
3 Ways to Tell if You’re in Ketosis
Ketone Urine Sticks
Newcomers to the Keto Diet can use urine sticks to determine if they are in a state of ketosis or not.
These are paper strips that you can urinate on, and they will change color to represent your body’s ketone production level.
Urine sticks are generally more helpful for beginners on the Keto Diet, but they are not the most accurate method and may not reflect your current state of ketosis.
A Ketone Breathalyzer measures the level of acetate in your breath, which reflects your level of ketosis.
This method is more accurate than using urine strips but is not a direct measurement of ketone levels.
A Ketone Breathalyzer is also more cost-effective than urine strips over time, so it’s a worthwhile investment for active members of the Keto Diet community.
Ketone Blood Meter
The most accurate method for measuring ketone levels in real time is through a Ketone Blood Meter. The meter pricks your finger and directly measures the ketone level in your blood.
If you are fully committed to the Keto Diet, and you don’t mind pricking your finger, this is the best tool to use.
You can check with your health insurance to see if they will cover the cost of a Ketone Blood Meter.
What is Keto Flu?
You may experience what is commonly referred to as the “keto flu” while transitioning to your Keto Diet. Keto flu is caused by restricting your intake of carbohydrates since your body is not used to low levels of glucose.
Symptoms of the keto flu can include:
- Stomach cramps
These symptoms will go away as your body gets closer to a state of ketosis.
There are several ways to avoid or reduce symptoms of the keto flu.
How Can I Prevent Keto Flu?
The keto flu typically lasts for one week, if you experience symptoms at all.
When starting your Keto Diet, there are a few things you can do to prevent symptoms:
- Increase fat intake
- Consume more calories as you cut out carbs
- Increase salt consumption to avoid sodium deficiency
- Stay hydrated with water
I Have Keto Flu, What Can I Do?
The best way to alleviate your keto flu symptoms is by increasing your level of electrolytes (sodium, magnesium, and potassium)!
Electrolytes are essential to maintain because a lack of electrolytes results in poor blood pressure, breathing, and allover energy.
If you exercise, sweat, or urinate frequently, you could be losing more electrolytes than you should, increasing your symptoms of keto flu.
Drink a lot of water to keep your body’s cells healthy while they burn stored fat. You may also try a homemade, Ketogenic drink to increase your electrolytes.
Avoid commercial drinks, like Gatorade or Powerade, due to the high sugar content.
Eat the foods listed to increase your electrolyte levels as well:
- Potassium - store-bought supplements, avocados, leafy greens, yogurt
- Magnesium - store-bought supplements, nuts, and fish
- Sodium - salt, bacon, fermented low-carb vegetables
- Calcium - cheese, leafy greens, seafood
- Phosphorus - meat, cheese, nuts, dark chocolate
- Chloride - olives, salt, low-carb vegetables
How to Boost Ketone Levels
If you are having trouble increasing your ketone level, you may need to include more salt in your Keto Diet. Salt will improve your body’s levels of sodium, magnesium, and potassium.
Bone broth is an ideal way to ingest more salt without increasing your carb count.
You can also increase your sodium levels while maintaining your Keto Diet by eating bacon, fermented vegetables, and salted nuts.
Eat More Green Vegetables
You may not be reaching your desired state of ketosis because you’re not eating enough green vegetables. Leafy greens are dense in nutrients and low in carbohydrates. Increasing your intake of green vegetables in your Keto Diet can help.
In contrast, you may be eating too many starchy vegetables. Root vegetables, like potatoes and carrots, and nightshades, such as tomatoes and eggplant, are high in carbohydrates. By monitoring your macros, and replacing high-carb vegetables with low-carb options, you can improve your ketone levels.
Your body needs to create energy from the fat it is storing to go into a state of ketosis!
Exercising is essential in the Keto Diet for depleting glucose levels and burning fat. When your glucose level is lowered, your body will be encouraged to produce ketones for energy.
Don’t think this means you have to strain your body. Even a daily walk after meals or light exercise can promote ketosis.
You may want to consult your health care provider before beginning any exercise or diet program.
Should I Count Calories?
You do not have to count calories at the beginning of your Keto Diet! It is important to eat to satiation during the first few weeks to avoid symptoms of the keto flu.
Instead, focus on counting macronutrients - the amount of protein, fat, and carbohydrates you are consuming.
You are likely to consume fewer calories naturally since the healthy foods included in your Keto Diet will be void of the high calories you find in processed foods.
Is It True Too Much Protein is Bad in a Keto Diet?
Yes, too much protein is bad for your Keto Diet. Protein should account for no more than 20% of your macros.
When you consume too much protein; your body will use Gluconeogenesis to break down the extra protein into glucose for fuel.
This process counteracts your body’s state of ketosis since it is creating more glucose when you’re not even consuming sugar.
The majority of your Keto Diet should be centered around consuming healthy fats for energy, and your consumption of protein will promote muscle growth.
I Feel Constipated on a Keto Diet - What Should I Do?
As you transition into the Keto Diet, you may experience constipation or irregular bowel movements.
There are a few tricks you can use to remedy this problem:
- Drink water
- Consume caffeine with coffee or tea
- Take a magnesium supplement
- Eat vegetables with more fiber
- Eat chia or flax seeds
Should I Take Any Keto Supplements?
The short answer is, yes, you should take supplements while on the Keto Diet!
Keto supplements can help avoid keto flu symptoms and help you maintain your energy and health while reducing your glucose level. Supplements will help your body reach a state of ketosis faster.
During the first 1-2 weeks of your Keto Diet, most people can expect to lose 3-7 pounds.
After the first few weeks of your diet, your body will transition into the state of ketosis. Most people lose 1-2 pounds per week during this phase.
By counting your macros and exercising regularly, you can maintain this weight loss.
Those with a higher percentage of body fat may see more dramatic weight loss than those with a lower body fat percentage.