Ultimate Ketogenic Diet Guide for Beginners
Nowadays, with all the miraculous motivational weight loss examples of men and women all over the Internet, it is likely that you must have heard the term “Keto Diet.”
Keto (short for ketogenic) diet is a special diet plan in which you decrease carb intake, and get most of your daily calories from fats.
This very act of restricting carbohydrates to the extreme force your body to prioritize fats as a source of energy and helps you to lose those extra pounds.
The ratio of fats to carbohydrates and protein you utilize largely depends on your body weight and activity levels.
However, the keto diet encourages your daily intake of calories to consist of approximately 70-80% fats, 20-25% protein, and 5-10% carbohydrates.
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What are the benefits of a ketogenic diet?
You may have wondered what are the health benefits of a low carb high fat diet, besides weight loss.
And is it really worth sacrificing your favorite ravioli or pizza?
Considering the numerous side effects of excessive carbohydrate and sugar consumption, it does make sense to lower carb intake.
But what are the advantages of adopting the keto diet lifestyle by cutting out carbohydrates drastically?
Well, there are several benefits of a body fueled by fat rather than glucose, which we will look at today.
Curbs your appetite
The advantage of a keto diet over other kinds of diet is that it does not make you reduce the number of calories drastically.
It just requires that you find other ways to get the calories so you don’t stay hungry.
The keto diet is not a starvation diet like most fad diets. For this reason, it can be easier to sustain a ketogenic way of eating in the long term.
When your body is fat adapted, it learns to use fat as a source of energy. Unlike carbohydrates, you will stay fuller for longer and can easily prevent overeating.
Achieve significant weight loss
This type of low carb diet promotes a much more significant weight loss in comparison to other diets.
According to recent studies, low-carb dieters achieve more weight loss than low-fat dieters, even when the low-carb dieters are consuming more calories.
Belly fat reduction
There are many kinds of accumulated fat in the body, and not all of it is bad.
For instance, the fat under the skin, called subcutaneous fat, is a vital skin tissue and helps in maintaining body temperature.
However, the stored fat in the abdominal cavity makes a person look overweight, and that fat does more harm than good.
The advantage of low carb high fat diet is that most of the unnecessary fats are lost in those areas.
And since excess abdominal fat is linked to heart disease and type 2 or late-onset diabetes, the keto diet can mean a healthier outcome.
Reduced blood sugars
When fewer amounts of sugars are consumed, there is a significant reduction in the amount of glucose transported around the body, so the risk of developing diabetes is reduced.
In patients with type-2 diabetes, the keto diet can be very helpful, as when they don’t take high amounts of glucose, the blood glucose concentration remains relatively low.
According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, diabetics who went on a low carb diet were able to reduce the use of medication compared to the diabetics who went on a low glycemic diet.
Preventing metabolic syndrome
The metabolic syndrome is a term used to describe collective symptoms that are usually associated with heart diseases and diabetes.
- Abdominal obesity
- Elevated blood pressure
- Elevated blood sugar levels
- High triglycerides
- Low HDL levels (High-Density Lipoproteins)
The ketogenic diet may improve these conditions better than a low-fat diet.
What to eat on a keto diet
The ketogenic diet consists of low carbs, high fat and moderate protein.
- Low carb vegetables
- Low carb fruit (avocados, berries)
- Meat and poultry
- Dairy (cheese, plain yogurt, cream, butter)
- Olive and coconut oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Shirataki noodles
- Unsweetened coffee and tea
- Dark chocolate and cocoa powder
What foods to avoid on a keto diet
The main thing to avoid on a ketogenic diet is of course foods that are high in carbohydrates and sugar.
For starters, all processed and sugary foods such as biscuits and candies, cakes, milk chocolate must be avoided.
Starchy vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, beetroot), grains (breakfast cereal, pasta, rice) should be avoided.
Avoid all sugary drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), legumes, and vegetable oils.
Most importantly, most sauces and condiments tend to contain large amounts of sugar.
Instead, use fresh herbs and spices, or even better, make your own low carb versions of your favorites.
What is ketosis?
Once you get used to ingesting more fat than carbs and protein, your body enters a state that a nutritionist terms as ketosis.
The body takes two to seven days to adapt to this state when it realizes that it doesn’t have sufficient carbs, and begins to oxidize fats for more energy. And that’s where the magic of fat burning begins to occur.
The state of ketosis is named after the organic compound ketones. Our body converts fats into ketones, and the ketones are used as the primary source of energy, thus the term ketosis.
How do I get into ketosis?
Achieving a state of ketosis is not as easy as it may seem. You are providing your body with a new fuel.
Your body, which has consumed carbs all your life to provide you with energy, has to adapt to a whole different lifestyle.
As mentioned above, it takes the body between two to seven days to properly enter ketosis, and the variation is due to the difference in levels of body activity and lifestyle as well as carb intake for each individual.
However, there are a few ways through which you can speed up the whole process of getting into a state of ketosis.
For starters, you may choose to decrease carb intake to the lowest level which is 20g or less, rather than 50g. However, it’s important to bear in mind that you can start at 50g a day and still be able to achieve ketosis.
The following are some steps which you can follow to enter ketosis relatively quicker:
Increase fat intake
Since you’re making the body adapt to a new source of fuel (fats), you have to provide the right amount of foods high in fats. Your daily dietary intake should mostly comprise more fats and fewer carbohydrates.
Some healthy fat containing foods are plant oils, such as coconut or olive, fatty meats, egg yolks, and butter.
Cut out the carbs
Since you want to switch your body into becoming fat fueled, providing your body with very few carbs is the best way to achieve ketosis quickly.
The maximum general limit for carb intake is around 30-40g per day. The more you cut out carbs, the faster you can enter ketosis.
You may not realize how many foods contain refined sugar or even natural sugars with a high glycemic index.
All of these ingredients can cause you to easily go above your daily carb limit. For this reason, it’s very important that you familiarize yourself with reading labels (ingredient list, nutrition profile) of various foods and snacks.
You can avoid most of these mistakes by making fresh food as often as possible so that you know what’s in it.
It’s also a good idea to track what you are eating through the day as it will be easier to visualize how many carbs you’re consuming.
For more ideas on succeeding on a keto diet, be sure to check out these simple tips for weight loss success on a ketogenic diet.
Consider taking exogenous ketones
Exogenous ketones are supplements that can potentially help you get into ketosis faster than usual, sometimes even within 24 hours.
It is extremely possible to achieve ketosis without any other supplements. Exogenous ketones are not a necessity on the keto diet.
However, many people do take these supplements for their positive effect on achieving ketosis quicker.
When you exercise, the body uses up the stored glucose in the form of glycogen in the muscles and the liver.
So the more quickly you rid your body of the sugars, the quicker you can achieve ketosis.
Try intermittent fasting
Fasting is very helpful on the keto diet, as it decreases stored-up sugar in the body. When fasting is combined with a keto diet, it produces the desired results quickly.
However, if you have never tried a low carb diet, it’s best to first ease into a keto lifestyle before introducing intermittent fasting.
It will be easier to successfully fast and lose weight even faster when your body is already fat adapted.
How do I know when I’m in ketosis?
After all that hard work you put into transitioning to this low carb way of eating, you will want to see it pay off.
So how do you know when the keto diet is beginning to assist your body into becoming a fat burning machine?
Well, it’s usually quite easy to tell since your body goes through huge changes and biological adaptations.
Due to less sugar intake, insulin levels in the body decrease, fats are broken down more than usual, and the liver starts to produce a lot of ketones to meet the energy requirements of the body.
Here are a few other signs of ketosis to look out for.
Since your body is oxidizing fats, whenever you get hungry, the body looks for new sources of fat.
And the most readily available is the fat stored under our skin.
So due to loss of these fats, there is a significant reduction in the weight of the body.
Though weight loss is not the earliest sign of ketosis, it is a surefire way to know that your body is using fat as a source of fuel.
Increased ketone levels in the blood
Since the body is using ketones for energy, the blood transports ketones to all the cells of the body for respiration.
Therefore, glucose levels in the blood take a hit, and the ketone levels start to rise. The level of ketones in the blood may be measured by using special meters.
In an ideal keto condition, the concentration of ketones ranges from 5–3.0 mmol/L.
Increased ketones in breath and urine
Other ways to measure the level of ketones is to use breathalyzers to test the breath, or indicator strips, for monitoring level of acetone, the primary ketone in blood.
They’re not as accurate as blood monitors, obviously, but they do give a pretty fair estimate.
The increased levels of ketones in the breath will make your breath stink, and the upside of this is that you don’t need a test for it – your friends will surely let you know.
When you just get into ketosis, you might have the feeling that you’re tired much more easily than before you were on keto.
This is because your body is switching over to fat burning mode and it can take some time to fully get comfortable with the new way your body starts to function.
To get around the fatigue, you might have to take electrolyte supplements, which are basically, magnesium and potassium.
A lot of ketogenic dieters have difficulty falling asleep, especially during the initial stages of ketosis.
When they first change their diet, a lot of people report insomnia or waking up in the middle of the night.
Try to stick it out. It gets better in a matter of a few weeks, and some ketogenic dieters claim to sleep even better than before they were on keto once they’re fat adapted.
Enhanced focus, more energy
Once the body starts to settle into ketosis over time, you may notice an increase in focus and concentration as well as energy.
The keto flu
The keto flu is a symptom of ketosis. It happens because the body is adapting to an environment where sugars are no longer present in high amounts, and it’s forced to utilize fats.
The drastic reduction in carbs comes as a shock to the body and can cause some symptoms which resemble the flu to some extent, hence the name, keto flu.
Because the body is experiencing change, the transition from a normal to keto status can be somewhat difficult.
The symptoms of keto flu might be mild in some people, and severe in others.
When you’re entering ketosis and experiencing keto flu, you may begin to observe one or more of the following signs and symptoms.
- Poor concentration
- Muscle soreness
- Sugar cravings
These symptoms usually persist for a week, but in some people, it might take longer.
Tips to remedy keto flu
Intake of water in sufficient amounts is absolutely necessary for a healthy lifestyle, not just during the keto diet.
In keto dieters, it is common to become easily dehydrated as the body loses a lot of water when a person cuts out carbs drastically.
Drinking enough water prevents fatigue and muscle cramps, and if you happen to experience diarrhea as well, then water is all the more necessary.
Try exogenous ketone supplements
Keto supplements (specifically exogenous ketones) help increase ketone levels in the blood to get your body into ketosis easily.
The main thing to keep in mind is that not all keto supplement products are created equal. Most products have fillers, sugars, and other unnecessary additives.
If you decide to take exogenous ketones, choose a high-quality product like Perfect Keto to get the most out of your supplement.
You can add it to your smoothies, your coffee or just use water to make a tasty drink and set your body up for optimal weight loss.
And since it is free from gums and fillers, and only uses keto-friendly sweeteners like monk fruit, Perfect Keto tastes better and is more effective for getting your body into a state of ketosis.
Avoid vigorous exercise
Exercise is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but when you start experiencing keto related flu, you should not increase the burden on the body by doing strenuous exercise, such as weight lifting and running.
These exercises may put an enormous pressure on your body which is already trying to adapt to a new way of fueling the body.
If you experience keto flu, then light exercises such as yoga and walking might be preferable.
Get adequate sleep
It’s no secret that a good night’s rest has numerous health benefits, one of which is weight loss. And it’s all the more important when keto dieting.
Lack of sleep makes the body release cortisol, a stress-hormone that can negatively impact the mood and make keto flu symptoms even worse.
To get an adequate amount of sleep, caffeine and other stimulants should be avoided six to eight hours before bedtime.
It also helps to limit screen time at least an hour before you settle into bed.
Curb your cravings
Your cravings for carb-dense meals and sugary treats will likely be at their highest during this transition period.
The best way to reduce cravings is to simply eat more of the right foods. Try making fat bombs, and eating only when you’re hungry.
Allowing yourself to focus on enjoyable activities unrelated to food is also a great way to take your mind off of the cravings.
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