The Power Of Ketogenic Diets – A Beginners Guide
If you’re wondering what is the easiest and most efficient way to lose fat, and maintain a very lean physique while gaining muscle, keto is the answer. This diet has transformed thousands of physiques, in record time.
So what is a keto diet all about, and how can you start doing it?
Those are the two questions we’ll tackle in this article, so keep reading.
What Is The Keto Diet?
Keto diet is basically a high fat, low carb diet. The amount of protein though, can vary according to different experts, but it’s usually in the low-to-moderate ratio. The thing about the keto diet is that it activates a very powerful mechanism within the body.
When you eat a standard, carb-rich diet, the carbs turn into glucose, and that glucose is stored as energy reserves within the body. Your body uses glucose as a fuel when you do any physical or mental activity, and even while you rest. Unfortunately, glucose is spent quite fast, which is why you have to eat a lot of calories to maintain the optimal energy levels.
The keto diet eliminates this high calorie problem because – guess what – it allows you to drastically reduce your consumption of carbohydrates without any negative side effects. Instead of stuffing yourself with bread, rice, pasta, oatmeal or even worse, sugary processed foods, you eat more healthy fats. Now your body uses fats as the main source of energy.
Why Are Fats Superior To Carbs?
There are a few reasons why fats are a much better energy source than carbs. First of all, eating a lot of carbs messes up insulin secretion. Each time you eat a carbohydrate-rich food, your digestive system breaks it down. The faster it is able to digest it, the sooner that food will be converted to blood sugar.
When you eat any carb, but especially simple carbs (white bread, cakes, cookies etc.), the blood sugar rises exponentially. This causes the body to produce insulin to lower your blood sugar levels. Since the human body is not used to intaking large amounts of sugar that are available to most of us nowadays, it produces far more insulin than is necessary, as it feels the situation is dangerous for our health.
Due to this faulty mechanism, your blood sugar levels drop below the optimal level, and you get hungry. This is the main reason why most people have to snack a few hours after they’ve eaten a large meal. And what do they usually crave? It’s almost always sugar. Exactly because their blood sugar levels dropped. It’s not because they actually need to eat, but rather due to the hunger produced by the overproduction of insulin.
When you eat a high fat diet, the insulin spikes no longer occur, and the body is constantly in an optimal state in regards to energy, and you don’t feel hungry hours after you’ve eaten your last meal. But you’re probably wondering how do we get energy from fats? Well, there is a very interesting thing that happens with this approach.
When your diet consists mostly of fats, a chemical compound is produced in the liver, called ketones. Just as glucose becomes the main source of energy when you eat carbs, ketones become the source of energy when you eat a high-fat diet.
Benefits Of Ketosis
When your body starts to use ketones for energy, it’s turned into a state of “ketosis”. In the state of ketosis, people experience many great effects. Some of them include:
- Increased energy levels
- Lack of hunger
- Increased desire to train
- Improvement in respiratory conditions
- Improved cardio sessions
- Fat loss
- Increased vascularity
- Require less sleep
- Reduced stomach bloating
Perhaps the greatest benefits are felt when it comes to fat loss. Eating carbs leads to the previously mentioned bouts of snacking, and carb-dense foods in general tend to have a lot of calories. The high fat, keto approach basically eliminates the need to snack, and you also eat far less calories with your meals, while still staying healthy and energized.
The Fat/Protein/Carb Ratio
There are a few approaches to the keto diet. Some people like to reduce their protein intake as much as their carb intake, while others like to keep a moderate protein intake. The same goes with carbs.
Generally speaking, the less carbs and proteins your eat, the more ketosis benefits you’ll get. If you’re trying to get in ketosis, your carb intake shouldn’t exceed 50 grams daily, and the recommended intake is below 20 grams.
Ketosis is not a strictly defined state, it can vary from light to deep ketosis, and so can the benefits. You have to keep in mind that if the protein you eat is not utilized, it can also turn to glucose, which is why it’s necessary to keep it in the moderate-to-low intake. With that being said, here are a few standard keto approaches:
Standard Keto Diet – 75% fat, 20% protein, 5% carbs
Cyclical Keto Diet – The Standard Keto Diet for 5 days, and then 2 days of carb refeeds
Targeted Keto Diet – Allows you to add carbs before and/or after workouts
High Protein Keto Diet – Includes more protein. The usual ratio is 60% fat, 35% protein, 5% carbs.
Most people tend to do the standard keto diet, whereas the other 3 approaches take some time to master, by listening to your body and how it responds. It also varies on the amount of physical exercise you do. If you train 5 times a week, chances are that you would do better on a targeted keto diet, adding some oatmeal or similar food before and after training.
Foods To Eat
You might be thinking that a ketogenic diet can really restrict the food, and you just can’t let go of the tasty carbs. The truth is that there are thousands of recipes online made by professional chefs and other keto dieters, that focus on creating tasty high fat, low carbs meals. In fact, you’ll be surprised at how much new found freedom you’ll have.
Maybe you’ve avoided bacon and sausages because of their fat content. Well guess what – on a ketogenic diet, the fats are the main prize! So you get to enjoy all of that tasty meat without feeling guilty or gaining fat. It takes some time to get used to it and see what works best, but it’s definitely worth it. With that being said, here are some standards foods that work well:
- Meat – red meat, ham, sausage, bacon, chicken
- Fatty Fish – tuna, salmon, herring, trout etc.
- Dairy And Eggs – full fat milk, cheese, cream, butter, organic eggs (the dairy and eggs section is a bit tricky though. Make sure you’re not lactose intolerant before drastically increasing your intake, as many people are.)
- Nuts and Seeds – pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, walnuts etc.
- Vegetable Oils – olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil (and whole avocados)
- Low Carb Vegetables – broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, cauliflower etc.
- Spices & Herbs – salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, ginger, basically any you like
Foods To Avoid
You should basically avoid any foods that are high in carbs. That includes:
- Grains and starches
- Sugary juices
- Low fat products
- Alcohol (If you must, rather drink low carb versions, such as vodka and whisky. Avoid completely beer and wine)
- Beans and legumes
These foods are not completely banned from the keto diet. They’re just the foods you should consume strategically. Make sure that you don’t exceed your daily carb limit, and you can still eat some fruit or have a drink on a night out.
A Daily Meal Plan Sample
Your daily meal plan can of course vary drastically from this one, depending on whether you’re doing intermittent fasting, and how many meals you like to eat. This is just an example of what can work for an average healthy person.
Breakfast: 4 egg omelet with bacon, broccoli with olive oil, and a hanfull of almonds
Lunch: A chicken salad with olive oil, feta cheese and cayenne pepper
Dinner: Salmon/tuna with asparagus and olive oil. A big glass of full fat milk before going to bed
You can also snack in between with your favorite, keto-friendly foods.
Keto Diet Side Effects
You might think that the reduced carb intake could cause some side effects. Some people worry about the fiber intake, or they worry about lacking minerals and vitamins. This is however, not a reason for concern.
Your fiber intake will still remain relatively high since you’ll be eating fiberous vegetables every day. These vegetables also have a lot of vitamins and minerals. You also get these micronutrients from protein and fat-rich foods as well, which are often-times limited when you eat more carbs.
However, when you make the transition to the keto diet, you might feel some symptoms which are commonly known as the “keto flu” for the first few days. These might include restlessness, digestive discomfort, lack of energy and increased thirst. The keto flu can last for a few days as you make the transition, after which it subsides, and you start feeling the amazing benefits of the diet.
With that being said, don’t go hardcore keto when you’re just starting out. Ease yourself into it, by reducing your carb intake step by step. It might take a bit longer, but it’s the healthier way to do it.
The ketogenic diet is the best diet approach for losing fat, maintaing a lean physique and staying healthy in the long run. It might seem counter-intuitive at first, since all of us have been led to believe we need tons of carbohydrates to get energy, but the research at hand, and the countless positive experiences from people like you and me, point to the opposite direction.
My final recommendation is that you at least try it for a month, and share with me your experience in the comment section. The results, I’m sure, will speak for themselves.