The Keto Diet, more formally known as the ketogenic diet, is an extremely low carb diet that has been medically proven to positively affect millions of people and promote effective weight loss.
Funny enough, the Keto Diet pretty much is the exact opposite of what we have been told by the health authorities for several years! We have always been told that a low-fat, high-carb diet was the best thing for optimum health and performance. Saturated fats, we were told, would clog arteries and cause heart issues, and thus set you down the path to an early grave.
So What is the Keto Diet?
At first glance, the Keto diet looks like the exact opposite of what we were told to eat once upon a time. But let’s take another, closer look at why it is exactly the right way to “diet” and what is the keto diet.
The meaning behind the word “keto” comes from molecules produced within the body known as “ketones”, which act as an alternative source of energy when your body is low on blood sugar. When you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose, or what we call blood sugar, and secretes insulin.
Glucose is a very easy molecule for the human body to convert into energy, hence it is what the body automatically uses. While all this is happening, the body will also produce insulin during this process in order to help process the glucose and bring it to all areas of the body.
Meanwhile, any fat you consume is stored in the body because we have no use for the energy it can provide – glucose is simply easier to use as energy instead, so fat builds up in the body, never being expended.
What is it Like to Be on the Keto Diet?
Essentially, what a keto diet does is attempt to change this process. It encourages your body to make use of ketones instead of glucose. This is done because ketones are created in the liver, where they are synthesized from fat.
This means that the keto diet will convince your body to convert the fat it has stored up into energy that gets used throughout your body, powering your brain and basically burning fat right off of you. Your body will begin to run entirely on fat, which means the fat you have stored up will be burned at dramatic rates.
The state whereby your body switches to running primarily on fat instead of glucose is known as “ketosis”. Technically, this state is induced as a survival method, allowing the human body to continue to survive when food supplies are low. Ketosis is typically induced by fasting, but of course, fasting is not the best way to go about healthy weight loss.
That’s what the keto diet is for – it gives you the benefits that come from a periodic fast without jeopardizing your health or inducing caloric starvation. The main purpose of the keto diet is simple: convince your body to go into the metabolic state of ketosis by “starving” it of carbohydrates, forcing it to start converting and burning fat instead. It may sound dubious, but you’d be surprised how well the human body adapts to new conditions and improves itself to survive.
As your body becomes used to being in ketosis, it will begin to automatically burn ketones instead of glucose for energy. Boosting ketone levels and encouraging good health lowers insulin levels, reduces hunger levels, and provides you with a reliable source of energy that doesn’t deplete easily.
But, I hear you say, what about the brain? Doesn’t the brain require carbohydrates to run properly? Surely we can’t deprive the brain of carbs, as it runs the entire body’s system.
Actually, it’s a common misconception that the brain needs carbs! Just like the rest of the body, the brain will be just as eager to run on ketones if glucose isn’t available. After all, the body is designed to be adaptable and survivable, and since it can only store carbs for two days at best, the brain cannot be expected to run on carbs alone.
If it did, then in moments of fasting or starvation, the brain would either be forced to shut down or would have to start converting muscle protein into glucose – a painstakingly long and slow process that would result in a human slowly deteriorating from the inside.
Luckily, this is the brain we are talking about – it’s a smart organ, after all. It, like the rest of our body, is aware that the fat stores we have can last us several weeks, and even months.
Basically, what I’m getting at here is this: the body doesn’t need many grain carbs at all! It needs quality fats to run in an energized manner.
If anything, ketones are great brain fodder, as it can make you feel stronger and less tired.
There are also other myths that might affect your thoughts regarding the keto diet. For example, you might be nervous about eating a high fat diet because you’re concerned that the fat will clog up your arteries. But this is a common misconception that has been put to rest by many experts!
Saturated fats have actually been discovered to be totally healthy and fine, and that it is entirely natural to consume them – in fact, they’ve been around in all food for pretty much all of time. In fact, newer research in the past decade has gone to show that there is no link between saturated fat and heart disease.
If you’re still not convinced, consider this: the keto diet is scientifically and medically proven to promote weight loss! This may come as a surprise to anyone who has heard the words “low fat” any number of times in their life, especially since the keto diet prides itself in being high fat.
Yet tens upon tens of studies have proven that a low carb, high fat diet is superior to a low fat one.
Losing Weight and Getting Healthy on the Keto Diet
Some studies found that those on keto diets lose 2.2 times more weight than those who are on a low fat diet with calorie restrictions, and another found that keto dieters can lose 3 times more weight than dieters who follow the recommended food intakes of other low carb diets.
Numerous other studies have even proved that there are almost endless health benefits to a keto diet, and that they can even help those with certain conditions like diabetes.
On top of all that, the keto diet isn’t like your typical diet. It’s not uncommon to feel a strong dislike for diets of any kind, as they often involve calculations, constantly weighing yourself, meticulously tracking food, and persistent hunger pangs through the day. That does not happen with the keto diet.
No calorie counting is involved, and you don’t need to track your food intake, and you likely won’t have extra cravings or feel starved because the keto diet is extremely filling and keeps you full and satisfied for hours until your next meal.
The Different Kinds of Ketogenic Diets:
There are actually l4 different types of keto diets each allowing different goals and personalized outcomes.
This blog (ketobabble.com) revolves around the standard keto diet, but its good to know the options especially if you are looking to gain mass muscle or are involved in high levels of exercise.
Standard ketogenic diet
The first is the kind most commonly discussed, which is the ketogenic diet most people refer to when discussing. This is the version most people choose to partake in.
It involves a diet that consists of 80% fats, 15% protein, and 5% carbs, making it an extremely low-carb and very high-fat diet, with only moderate protein intake because some proteins provide components that are broken down into glucose.
You can add carbs around workouts as needed but for the most part, the good fats are the stable of this diet.
cyclical ketogenic diet
The second kind of ketogenic diet is the cyclical keto diet, which typically means you have a couple of high carbohydrate days per week as a form of carb re-feeding.
For example, you may have 5 or 6 days on the keto diet, then 1 or 2 days refueling with high carb meals. This is a good plan for those that exercise more heavily on the weekends so you can enjoy a warm bowl of oatmeal or even a muffin as a way of gaining some carbs back into your diet.
This means that you can “cheat” one or days a week without completely destroying the diet and making you feel too restricted. The tough part about this method is that with too many carbs and for too long, it can kick you out of ketosis making it take your body a few days to get back in.
high-protein ketogenic diet
The third kind is the HP Keto Diet, which slightly increases the intake of protein you would have on a standard ketogenic diet.
Typically, you would still consume only 5% carbs, but would add protein to be 35% and keep fat at 60%.
This would be good for someone who exercises more or needs the additional energy protein can provide. Good proteins would include lean steak, wild salmon, and nut butters.
targeted ketogenic diet
The fourth version of the keto diet is the targeted keto diet, which is usually reserved for those who train or workout intensely and require some carbs to keep them going.
Basically, this diet will allow for the dieter to consume carbs around the time of their workouts so they have enough fuel for their exercise.
Keep in mind that cyclical and targeted keto diets have not been studied or researched extensively, and that they are mostly designed for athletes and bodybuilders.
However, both the standard and high-protein keto diets have been proven to be effective diets for weight loss.
How to Tell if You Are Doing Keto Correct?
But, you may ask, how do you know that you are doing it right? How can you know for certain that your body is in a state of ketosis? There are actually tests you can take that will determine medically whether or not you are in a state of ketosis. However, there are also changes your body may experience that could help you determine whether or not you’re in ketosis.
You may notice that you feel more thirsty and that your mouth feels dry. This is a common symptom of ketosis. Make sure you consume enough electrolytes – such as salt – and stay hydrated!
On the bright side, this symptom will make you feel more motivated to drink a lot of water, which is a healthy life choice as is. As a direct link to that, you may also feel the increased need to use the bathroom at the beginning of your ketosis state, but this should decrease as time goes on.
You may also develop a little side effect called “keto breath”. This is because in ketosis, acetone escapes the body through your breath and other methods of excretion.
When in ketosis, your breath may have a somewhat fruity smell, or an odor reminiscent of nail polish remover, which also contains acetone.
The scent may also be present in your urine or when you sweat. More often than not, this is merely a temporary side effect that will go away as your body becomes used to the ketosis state.
However, you can deal with keto breath through maintaining good oral hygiene, using a breath freshener, consuming enough water and electrolytes, and – if you really can’t stand it – reducing the ketosis state by eating a little more carbs.
Other ways you may notice a change that could indicate ketosis would be reduced feelings of hunger as your body becomes more energized and fueled through fat stores, and an eventual slow but sure increase in energy, a better mood, and clearer thinking.
Keto Strips to Verify Your Body’s State
How do I know if I am in ketosis? If you’d like more concrete measurements for knowing you are in ketosis, there are medically sound tests you can do. Urine strips are available for this purpose, and they are cheap and easy to use – by far the least hassle of all the possible tests. Ketone strips work by detecting acetone levels in your urine, thus pinpointing a rough estimate of your ketone level.
You can purchase ketone strips from pharmacies or online, and they will show you your ketone level. However, the test is not 100% accurate, with readings depending on your hydration level and once your body becomes accustomed to the state of ketosis, the strips may no longer work.
You can also use breath-ketone analyzers, which respond to your breath with a color code that represents your general ketone level. Do note that these devices are relatively expensive, and that while they can be more accurate than urine strips, they certainly are not the most accurate either.
The final kind of test you can do is a blood-ketone meter test, which will display the exact ketone level within your blood.
This is by far the most accurate and sure way to measure ketone level and determine whether or not your body is in ketosis. However, this is also a rather expensive option, as every test will cost $1 or $2, and if you plan to test regularly in the long run, the price can add up.
The good news is that ensuring that you are in a state of ketosis isn’t nearly as important as following the diet well. Eventually, your body will go into the state, it just may take a little longer than expected for some people. After all, everyone’s body reacts differently to new changes.
How do I know if I am in Ketosis
But by following the keto diet, you can be assured that you are eating healthily and that your body is undergoing positive changes. In fact, most benefits of a keto diet come during lower levels of ketosis, of around 0.5 and above.
Now that you’ve heard the broad details of the benefits of the keto diet and how it works, you’re ready to begin your keto diet journey with us. Once you begin your new meal plans, don’t be surprised if you come out feeling like a completely new, different, and healthier person!