Studies consistently show that a keto diet helps people lose more weight, improve energy levels throughout the day, and stay satiated longer. The increased satiety and improved energy levels are attributed to most of the calories coming from fat, which is very slow to digest and calorically dense. As a result, keto dieters commonly consume fewer calories because they’re satiated longer and don’t feel the need to eat as much or as often.
Why Go Keto?
In addition to those benefits, eating a keto diet in the long term has been proven to:
-Result in more weight loss ( specifically body fat)
-Reduce blood sugar and insulin resistance (commonly reversing pre diabetes and type 2 diabetes)
-Reduce triglyceride levels
-Reduce blood pressure
-Improve levels of HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol
-Improve brain function
Getting into Ketosis
In contrast, a low-carb, high-fat diet puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. Your body breaks down fat into ketone bodies (ketones) for fuel as its primary source of energy. In ketosis, your body readily burns fat for energy, and fat reserves are constantly released and consumed. It’s a normal state—whenever you’re low on carbs for a few days, your body will do this naturally.
Most cells in your body use ketones and glucose for fuel. For cells that can only take glucose, like parts of the brain, the glycerol derived from dietary fats is made into glucose by the liver through gluconeogenesis.
The main goal of the keto diet is to keep you in nutritional ketosis all the time. For those just starting the keto diet, to be fully keto-adapted usually takes anywhere from four to eight weeks.
What to do if you have Diabetes
Always consult with your doctor before beginning a low-carb diet, especially with type 1 diabetes, because if you take medications, you may have to immediately decrease your doses. Your doctor may recommend doing a trial under their supervision so they can monitor your blood glucose levels and insulin doses. Additionally, for type 1 diabetes, you should eat over 50 grams of carbohydrates per day to prevent ketoacidosis.
Living in Ratios
Macronutrients are what foods are made of. They are fat, protein and carbohydrates. Each type of macronutrient provides a certain amount of energy (calories) per gram consumed.
-Fat provides about 9 calories per gram
-Protein provides about 4 calories per gram
-Carbohydrates provide about 4 calories per gram
Keep in mind that 2000 calories is just an example—the number of calories you consume daily should be tailord to your body, activity levels, and goals. The number of calories you should eat depends on a few factors, including:
-Current lean body weight (total body weight minus body fat)
-Daily activity levels (do you work in an office, wait tables, compete as a professional athlete?)
Workout regimen? If so:
-The types of workouts (weight lifting, cardio, or both)
-Hours per week of each type
There are many ketogenic-based macro calculators available online, such as tasteaholics.com/keto-calculator and ketogains.com/ketogains-calculator. You can also find plenty of others through a quick Google search for “keto calculator.” You’ll be able to easily and quickly plug in your numbers and get an immediate estimation of your body’s caloric needs.
One of the great things about the keto diet is that it’s not necessary to track each and every number to hit your goals. Yet if you want to track, it’s a great way to speed up your progress, and tracking will give you a visual reminder to stay on course every day.
Additionally, the reduction in carbs reduces insulin levels, which in turn tells your kidneys to release excess stored sodium. Between the reduction in sodium intake and flushing of excess stored sodium, the body begins to excrete much more water than usual, and you end up low on sodium and other electrolytes. When this happens, you may experience symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, coughing, sniffles, irritability, and/or nausea.
Getting Ready to Go Keto
Go Keto in Five Steps
Step 1: Clean Out Your Pantry
If you don’t live alone, be sure to discuss and warn your housemates, whether they’re significant others, family, or roommates. If some items must be kept (if they’re simply not yours to throw out), try to agree on a special location to keep them out of sight. This will also help anyone you share your living space with understand that you are serious about starting your diet, and will lead to a better experience for you at home overall (people love to tempt anyone on a diet at first, but it will get old and they’ll tire quickly).
Straches and Grains
Sugary Foods and Drinks
Get rid of all refined sugar, fountain drinks, fruit juices, milk, desserts, pastries, milk chocolate, candy bars, etc.
Get rid of beans, peas, and lentils. They are dense with carbs. A 1-cup serving of beans alone contains more than three times the amount of carbs you want to consume in a day.
Processed Polyunsaturated Fats and Oils
Get rid of all vegetable oils and most seed oils, including sunflower, safflower, canola, soybean, grapeseed, and corn oil. Also eliminate trans fats like shortening and margarine—anything that says “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated.” Olive oil, extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil are the keto-friendly oils you want on hand.
Also Checkout: Home Remedies for Weight Loss
Step 2: Go Shopping
With these basics on hand, you’ll always be ready to prepare healthy, delicious, and keto-friendly meals and snacks.
- Water, coffee, and tea
- All spices and herbs
- Sweeteners, including stevia and erythritol
- Lemon or lime juice
- Low-carb condiments like mayonnaise, mustard, pesto, and sriracha
- Broths (chicken, beef, bone)
- Pickled and fermented foods like pickles, kimchi, and sauerkraut
- Nuts and seeds, including macadamia nuts, pecans, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
Any type of meat is fine for the keto diet, including chicken, beef, lamb, pork, turkey, game, etc. It’s preferable to use grass-fed and/or organic meats if they’re available and possible for your budget. You can and should eat the fat on the meat and skin on the chicken. All wild-caught fish and seafood slide into the keto diet nicely. Try to avoid farmed fish. Go crazy with the eggs! Use organic eggs from free-range chickens, if possible.
You can eat all nonstarchy veggies, including broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, peppers, tomatoes, garlic (in small quantities—each clove contains about 1 gram of carbs), Brussels sprouts, zucchini, eggplant, olives, zucchini, yellow squash, and cauliflower. Avoid all types of potatoes, yams and sweet potatoes, corn, and legumes like beans, lentils, and peas.
You can eat a small amount of berries every day, such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. Lemon and lime juices are great for adding flavor to your meals. Avocados are also low in carbs and full of healthy fat. Avoid other fruits, as they’re loaded with sugar. A single banana can contain around 25 grams of net carbs.
Eat full-fat dairy like butter, sour cream, heavy (whipping) cream, cheese, cream cheese, and unsweetened yogurt. Although not technically dairy, unsweetened almond and coconut milks are great as well.
Avoid milk and skim milk, as well as sweetened yogurt, as it contains a lot of sugar. Avoid any flavored, low-fat, or fat-free dairy products.
Fats And Oils
Avocado oil, olive oil, butter, lard, and bacon fat are great for cooking and consuming. Avocado oil has a high smoke point (it does not burn or smoke until it reaches 520°F), which is ideal for searing meats and frying in a wok.
Make sure to avoid oils labeled “blend”; they commonly contain small amounts of the healthy oil and large amounts of unhealthy oils.
Step 3: Set Up Your Kitchen
When you’re trying to hit your caloric and macronutrient goals, a kitchen food scale is a necessary appliance. You can measure any solid or liquid food, and get the perfect amount every time. Used in combination with an app like MyFitnessPal, you’ll have all the data you need to hit your goals sooner. Food scales can be found online for $10 to $20.
Food processors are critical to your arsenal. They are ideal for blending certain foods or processing foods together into sauces and shakes. Blenders don’t cut it, power wise, for many foods, especially tough vegetables like cauliflower. One great food processor/blender is Nutri Bullet. The containers you blend in come with lids or drink spouts so you can take them to go or use them as storage. They’re also easy to clean, making the whole system extremely convenient. They typically sell for about $80 online.
Spiralizers make vegetables into noodles or ribbons within seconds. They make cooking a lot faster and easier—noodles have much more surface area and take a fraction of the time to cook. For example, a spiralizer turns a zucchini into zoodles, and with some Alfredo or marinara sauce, you can’t tell you aren’t eating noodles. Spiralizers cost around $30 and can be found in large retail stores and online.
Electric Hand Mixer
If you’ve ever had to beat an egg white by hand until you get stiff peaks, then you know just how difficult it is. Electric hand mixers save your arm muscles and massive amounts of time, especially when mixing heavy ingredients. You can find a decent one online for $10 to $20.
Cast Iron Pans
Knife Sharpening Stone
Most of prep time is spent on cutting. You’ll see your cutting speed skyrocket with a sharp knife set. It’s also a pleasure to use sharp knives. Aim to sharpen your knives every week or so to keep them in good shape (professional chefs sharpen their knives before every use). Sharpening stones cost under $10 and can be ordered online.
Step 4: Meal Plan
Meal plans work well because they give you goals and direction. If you know what you need to make next without thinking about it, you’re less likely to give up, change your mind, and order food from your favorite takeout spot. Also, since you know what’s coming next, you can look forward to it throughout the day and week.
After using the meal plans for a few weeks, you set your body up to have the right expectations for how much food you’ll provide it and what type of food it will get (high in fat and protein and low in carbs). Even if you don’t continue to use meal plans, you’ll be familiar enough with the diet to know what you should be eating and how much.
Customizing Your Meal Plans
The daily caloric goal in the meal plans is about 1700 calories, give or take 100 calories. If your caloric needs are higher or lower (don’t forget to use an online keto calculator before you start), adjust accordingly with some of the ingredients in the meals by simply taking out a little or adding a bit more. Additionally, you can always use an extra tablespoon of olive oil or butter when cooking to get an extra 100 calories or so.
Both of the meal plans in part 2 include shopping lists. You’ll notice the quantities are not based on the quantities stores sell them in. Look for what would be closest to those amounts when buying the items. As you get more comfortable with your new diet and know the quantities you need, you’ll rely less on shopping lists.
Step 5: Exercise
Increase the amount you exercise relative to what you do now. If you don’t exercise at all, start taking short walks or slow jogs, or a combination of both, for 15 minutes every other day. If you already go to the gym or lift weights, add an extra exercise or start doing cardio. It doesn’t matter what level you’re at, try to do a little more than you’re doing now. That’s all it takes to become healthier. Exercise is incremental, and every increment is a boost to weight loss and feeling better.
If you have the time, try taking a class or doing an activity that involves moving, like a step class or dancing, or start playing a sport like basketball. It doesn’t have to be competitive, nor do you need to be good or have any previous experience. Such activities are an easy way to get on your feet, and you can learn a new skill in the process.
Staying fit through regular physical activity has been proven to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as reduce risk for various heart diseases and type 2 diabetes. In combination with the keto diet, your health will improve dramatically, and so will your energy levels.