Everything you need to know about Keto! If you’ve wanted to know all about this diet and if it’s right for you read on! This is a guest post by Health Specialist John Welborn of John Welborn Fitness.
There are so many great diets out there, and it seems that every time you turn on the tv or click on Google, there’s yet another option. From Paleo to Whole30, Keto, WW, or the Mediterranean Diet, it can be so difficult to choose.
If you have been feeling the need to change your eating habits to go along with your commitment to a new, healthy lifestyle, start by narrowing down your choices to what fits with your daily life, your family, and your palate. Don’t pick Paleo if you are a vegetarian, or Mediterranean if you are allergic to shellfish! Some diets, however, are adaptable to a range of tastes and lifestyles and it is up to you (and your fitness coach) to decide which one might work best for you.
One diet that has proven scientific benefit, but is sometimes confusing or intimidating to implement, is the Ketogenic Diet. Read on for some quick answers to your keto questions to help you decide if the Keto Diet is right for you.
What Does Keto Even Mean?
Keto is short for “ketogenic,” which refers to anything that causes a cellular chain-reaction called “ketosis.”
Ketosis is the process where your body burns fat cells instead of glucose from carbohydrates. Sounds great, right! When you don’t take in enough carbohydrates, your insulin level decreases, and your liver produces chemicals called ketones to fuel your cells instead of glucose. Since carbs and sugars increase insulin, we simply need a method to reduce it. This is why low-carb diets, in general, can be so beneficial and effective.
The big difference is with keto is that our goal is not only to reduce insulin and the “stubborn belly fat” that is insulin’s most visible side effect. We simultaneously want to increase the production of ketones to make the body burn away fat.
How Do I Start Keto?
Because you want to decrease insulin and increase ketones simultaneously, the ketogenic diet is not something you can ease your way into. You need to make a plan for success with your nutrition or fitness coach and commit to several weeks to see whether or not the lifestyle change will benefit you. Any deviation from the plan will increase your insulin and glucose levels and undermine any ketogenic benefits.
This is a diet for people who do will with order, organization, and lists. Be prepared to cut carbs, track your macros, and wait 2-4 weeks for your body to start ketosis.
What are Macros
“Macros” is short for “macronutrients,” in other words, how you fuel your body. To achieve ketosis, studies have shown that you should reduce your carbohydrates to about 30g per day and that your total caloric intake should be 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs. The exact ration may be a little different from person to person, which is why it is always a good idea to work with a health professional on your keto plan.
Eat This, Not That
Your fats should come from healthy fat options like avocados, nuts, seeds, and nut oils, as well as protein-rich red meat (preferably organic). Additional protein sources may include poultry, seafood, and dairy. Finally, you still should include fiber-rich carbohydrates like cruciferous vegetables. Eliminating carbohydrates completely from your body risks a severe medical condition called ketoacidosis, so make sure to balance your food choices.
If your goal is to cut back on insulin and glucose, breads, pastas, and starchy vegetables all need to go. Also, sugar and alcoholic beverages lead to insulin production, but you should be avoiding them no matter what your dietary choice. Finally, many people are surprised that the Keto Diet does not include fruit. This is because fruits are high in sugars. Remember: you need to cut all sugars, not some, so a piece of fruit here and there will derail your ketogenic plans.
Because the Keto Diet is an extreme and sudden lifestyle change, swapping out the majority of your caloric balance, expect your body to react. The most common side effect is commonly known as the “Keto Flu.” As your body switches from burning glucose to burning ketones, you may experience headaches, body aches, nausea, and fatigue for anywhere from 24-hours to several days. This will pass, but if you feel like you are coming down with the flu, take a few pain relievers and know that it is perfectly normal. A similar short-term side effect is a prickly skin condition called “keto rash.”
More common side effects are bad breath and constipation. Ketones are an amino acid; the most common ketone is acetone. When you produce excess ketones, your body releases them through your skin and breath, causing an ammonia-like scent. Similarly, your protein-heavy new diet should be high in difficult-to-digest dairy products and low in fiber. This is almost guaranteed to cause you gastrointestinal distress. Stay hydrated to help decrease the impact of both of these symptoms.
After reading those paragraphs, you might wonder “who wants to go through all that?” But the science behind the positive effects of the Keto Diet is incontrovertible.
This diet was originally developed to treat epilepsy and is still a successful method for managing epilepsy in children. Ketone production has also been shown to increase cognitive function and decrease skin conditions like acne.
Most of all, the keto diet is one of the safest, most effective diets for rapid, sustainable weight loss. When it is implemented carefully and correctly, individuals who achieve ketosis see dramatic results without losing energy or giving up delicious meals.
The Keto Diet may or may not be for you, but hopefully, we have let you know some of the basics of the plan so that you can talk to your local nutrition or wellness coach about your options. Or feel free to reach out to an online health specialist as well. It is time for your new, healthy lifestyle. Learn about your choices and make the best one for you.
Have you ever tried the Keto diet? Leave your comments and questions below or check out John Welborn Fitness for more info!