What exactly is keto?
No, Keto is not a type of martial arts or eastern philosophy of medicine. The ‘Keto’genic diet is a low-carb diet that forces the body to burn fat. The diet was accidentally discovered in 1862 by a funeral director who lost 52 pounds consuming exclusively cordial and meat. I’m sure his reasonings didn’t align with the science, but more of not wanting to cut out his favorite two things from his diet. Either way, he lost serious weight! How did that shed them pounds, though? He cut out carbs. When we eat carbs, the body turns them into glucose. When there’s an excess of glucose, it’s converted to glycose and stored in the liver. The body then produces insulin to help your cells use glucose and glycose to create energy. If you have less glucose and glycose, though, your body will look for other sources of energy. When the carbs are used up, the body starts breaking down or burning fat for energy. Ketones are a byproduct of this process and take over the role of glucose, energy for the body and brain. The process of producing ketones is called ketosis.
Doing keto requires you to eat a mix of protein and healthy fats. Healthy fats to help kickstart your body’s fat-burning focus! Generally 25% of your intake will be protein while the rest is those healthy fats.The reason for the lesser protein is that excess protein would convert to glycose, which you don’t want and isn’t keto, bro.
Don’t worry, you’re allowed some carbs every now and then, 20-50 grams per day is recommended. This is the equivalent to about 5-10% of your total caloric intake. To give you an example, a half cup of cooked quinoa has approximately 12 grams of net carbs (net carbs are the number of grams of carbs, minus the grams of fiber in it.) and a medium-sized banana has 27 grams of net carbs. That’s just about your allotment for the day, there’s always tomorrow!
Why go keto?
- To get a handle on your sugar intake, glucose and insulin levels.
- To lose weight.
- To stimulate your body to burn more fat.
- To help lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels (which happens when we burn more fat).
- To improve energy levels and avoid the energy spikes and dips from sugar in your bloodstream. Healthy fats tend to keep you feeling satiated while providing a longer lasting, more even boost of energy.
- Reducing glucose and sugar is thought to help with inflammation as well as counter the potential development of other illness such as diabetes or heart disease.
Drawbacks to consider:
- Initially, you might feel like you do when you are really hungry—lightheaded, lethargic, weak, irritable, slightly nauseous or simply kind of yucky (this WILL go away).
- You may find yourself not thinking clearly in the start.
- You may have low energy do to the initial cutting out of carbs, glucose and glycose.
- If you are diabetic, you will want to confer with your doctor before starting this diet.
- It’s tough to watch what you eat. You really have to take time to figure out the right mix of healthy fats that aren’t full of carbs. Also, you must monitor your protein, to make sure excess protein isn’t stimulating glycogen production and defeating your efforts to stick with this diet.
- Vegetables: Though you can’t have fruit, you can still have most veggies. Veggies contain carbs, but if you look at their net carb count, they are usually in the healthy range. Focus on non-starch veggies like spinach and kale, or cruciferous vegetables and zucchini to get the best nutrient intake while staying low-carb.
- Healthy Fats: What are the best options when looking for healthy fats? Start with olive oil or coconut oil, butter and cream. Coconut oil can easily be converted to sustain ketosis. It’s made up of medium-chain triglycerides and lauric acid, which are easily converted to ketones. One avocado is rich in healthy fats and contains just 3 grams of net carbs (in addition to the protein and healthy fats). Avocados are a welcome staple in the keto diet.. Also good are nuts and seed. Just watch them carbs! Walnuts have healthy fats and protein, while staying low carb. Olives too, they make the healthy fat cut. Especially because they are high in fiber. A handful of olives, depending on palm size, contains roughly 1 g of carbs!
- Protein: Recommended proteins also include seafood, mostly because they’re pretty much carb free.. Give us that shrimp cocktail! Shellfish is good, too. But meat and poultry are staples of the diet, they contain no carbs but a rich in nutrients.
- Dairy and Eggs: Cheese. Cheese cheese cheese, cheese. You can still eat cheese! It’s high in fat, protein and calcium but low in carbs. It even contains conjugated linoleic acid, which has been linked to weight loss. Oh cheese… On the dairy front, you can still have your greek yogurt and cottage cheese. Eggs are good, too, they are low-carb and high in protein.
- Berries: “I thought you said no fruit!” Turns out berries make the cut! They are low in carbs, high in fiber, so go ahead and pick some strawberries. Blueberries are ok but blackberries, strawberries and raspberries have a higher fiber count so are lower in carbs.
- Coffee, Tea and Chocolate: You thought caffeine and sweets were out? Turns out you can still have coffee and tea as long as you don’t load it up with sugar and dairy, sweeteners or flavorings. Dark chocolate is still a go. It must have a minimum of 70% cocoa. One ounce of dark chocolate contains 10 g of carbs or less. And eating a little bit of chocolate will see you through until lunch if you get hungry.