It is likely that you are familiar with the term keto. How many of your family members and friends are following a ketogenic diet? Perhaps you are as well. Unlike other diets, keto is not a fad and has some pretty solid science behind why so many people are successful following it.
About the keto diet
Eating a high healthy fat, low carbohydrate diet is not new. Benefits of eating this way have been documented for well over nine decades. Keto is not a fad that comes and goes like so many other diets. It is based on a solid understanding of human physiology and nutrition science.
The ketogenic diet has been used therapeutically to remedy conditions such as epilepsy, polycystic ovarian syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, dementia, and diabetes. There is even emerging science to support its use in the areas of cancer treatment, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and bipolar mental illness. Not to mention the fact that people who embrace the keto diet report feeling great overall, dropping pounds, having increased energy, and balanced hormones.
The Ketogenic Diet in a Nutshell
The ketogenic diet is successful for so many because it targets a number of underlying reasons for weight gain – including hormonal issues such as insulin resistance, with high blood sugar levels, and the vicious cycle of eating empty calories due to out of control hunger and cravings.
But what exactly is the keto diet? The ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet that actually changes the fuel source that the body uses from glucose (sugar) to dietary fat. Doing so switches your body into a state of “ketosis” where you become a fat burner as opposed to a sugar burner. The great thing about this diet is that it is delicious! Once you are fat adapted, you won’t have cravings, and you will be satisfied all the time. How much better could it get?
Following a basic keto diet is super simple as well. Here are the basic principles of the plan.
- Carbohydrates – Historically, this means limiting carbohydrate intake to 20-30 net grams per day or 5% of total intake. “Net carbs” is the number of carbs remaining after you subtract the dietary fiber from food. Fiber is indigestible once eaten, and it is best not to count this towards your daily carb intake.
- Healthy fat – This consists of things like olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, nuts, nut butter, butter, cream, cheese, etc. In the standard keto diet, 75% of calories come from healthy fat.
- Protein – Contrary to what you might think, the ketogenic diet does not overdo it on protein. Approximately 20% of daily intake should be from protein.
- No glucose – In the absence of glucose, your body will now be forced to burn fat and produce ketones.
- Ketosis – Once your blood level of ketones reaches a certain level, you will be in ketosis.
- Fat burning – In ketosis, you become an efficient fat burner and will drop pounds until your body reaches a healthy weight.
Success tips for following a keto lifestyle
Try intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is a way of eating that reduces the number of hours you eat by fasting for a portion of the day or week. There are a number of variations of intermittent fasting with the most popular being a plan where you skip breakfast and eat your first meal sometime after twelve o’clock and your last meal sometime before 7 pm. This is a good place to start when just beginning keto. Your body will burn excess glucose for energy which will supercharge your keto lifestyle allowing your body to dig into fat for fuel quicker.
A Harvard study revealed that intermittent fasting can manipulate the mitochondria in the same way as the ketogenic diet to increase lifespan.
Chronic stress can get in the way of your body entering ketosis. The stress hormone cortisol causes blood sugar to rise which prevents your body from using fats for energy because there is too much sugar in the blood. Doing all you can to mitigate the stress in your life will definitely help you be more successful on the keto diet.
Make sleep a priority
How do you sleep? If you are not getting enough sleep or your sleep quality is poor, your stress levels may be elevated. Some studies have found that not getting enough sleep can interfere with weight loss. One way to make sure you get the best rest possible is to keep to a regular sleep schedule; go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Sleeping in a cool room and turning off all electronic devices well before bedtime will also help improve the quality and duration of your sleep.
Sticking to regular exercise schedule while on the keto diet will help boost your ketone levels and keep you burning fat for fuel. Since exercise uses all different types of energy for fuel including fats, amino acids and carbohydrates, the more you exercise, the quicker you will deplete your glycogen stores and get into ketosis. It is best to include both high-intensity exercises as well as low-intensity exercises. This will help to keep your blood sugar balanced and keep you in ketosis.
Stop drinking diet soda and using sugar substitutes
Don’t be confused; there is nothing healthy about zero calorie drinks – they deserve no place in the ketogenic diet plan. When you drink diet soda it can send a signal to your body that a large amount of sugar is coming into the body – this raises blood sugar levels.
Studies support that the body reacts similarly to some sugar substitutes as it would to regular sugar. Besides, when you eat zero-calorie sweeteners, it will increase your cravings for sweet foods and drinks which will undermine your efforts on the keto plan. Keep in mind that one of the great benefits of the keto plan is that you alter your taste buds to like low carb, whole foods as opposed to sugary foods.
Note; If you are having a hard time giving up your soda fix, try sparkling water instead – it comes in many great flavors.
Drink plenty of water
Staying hydrated is a healthy option no matter what, but is especially important when you are on the ketogenic diet. This is due to the fact that the body excretes more water when carbohydrates aren’t present. Try to drink half your body weight in ounces each day and more if you exercise or are outside in hot temperatures.
Use MCT Oil
Using MCT oil as a supplement will help get your body into a ketogenic state even if your glycogen stores are not depleted. MCT’s are metabolized immediately into ketone bodies and used for energy instead of going through your stomach for digestion.
Coconut oil and MCT oil are not the same. MCT oil is comprised of 100% medium chain triglycerides – caprylic and capric acids -while coconut oil contains 35% long-chain triglycerides and 50% lauric acid. Coconut oil only has 15% medium chain triglycerides, so your body has to go through the digestive tract to turn coconut oil into energy compared to MCT oil that is converted into immediate energy.