Getting keto diet benefits sounds really good but one of the most frustrating things about trying to lose weight is finding the right diet, that not only works but suits you and your lifestyle. Having been a serial dieter most of my life I have tested the truth of that statement so many times and ended up disappointed.
Then keto arrived on the scene. What a lot of people don’t realize is that the ketogenic diet isn’t a new creation and has been around for a lot longer than most people realize. But given it wasn’t promoted initially as a diet plan and was intended originally to be a method of helping people with epilepsy it flew under the radar of many weight loss enthusiasts.
But the critical question is whether keto diet benefits can be used to achieve successful weight loss for you? If you have read the papers or watched the news recently you will have seen the many reports of huge weight losses by those following a keto regime and I am sure you are asking yourself whether they are true or just another media hype?
What Are The Downsides?
One of the drawbacks to popular news stories is that there is so much written and promoted and it takes forever to sift through all the information and eliminate the facts from the fantasy.
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Using the guidelines and information in the book will save you lots of time and provide you with the basics to get started. Print it off or save to your desktop for a handy reference point.
Basically, keto is an abbreviation for ketogenic. A ketogenic diet is a recognized as a low-carb, high-fat diet that is intended to motivate rapid weight loss. Whilst you would have been used in the past to counting calories, that now changes to counting carbs instead.
If you are familiar with the Atkins diet, you will notice similarities but also a number of differences.
What Does Ketogenic Actually Mean?
When you are following a ketogenic diet, the objective is to put your body into a state of ketosis. Without getting too caught up on what that means the simple explanation is that you are going to teach your body to burn ketones (fat) for fuel and energy instead of glucose (sugar).
It’s not as complicated as it sounds. It’s really supply and demand, when you switch to a low carb high fat such as the ketogenic diet you are cutting off the carb (sugar) supply and thereby forcing your body to burn the next available source of energy which is fat (ketones) the end result being, you lose weight as the fat is used up.
Of course, having said that, don’t forget if you go crazy eating more fat than you need then of course existing fat on your body won’t be utilized. But it’s very hard to over eat on fat as it is simply too filling, and you don’t need as much before you feel satiated.
How Efficient Is Your Metabolism?
Of course, each person’s metabolism is different, but on average, a resting rate of metabolism will burn about, 1,800 calories per day. Carbohydrates are known ‘easy calories’ that quickly enter the bloodstream to be utilized as fuel.
Imagine how quickly chocolate dissolves in your mouth, and the resulting sugar high you get, and this might give you some idea of how simple it is to eat and use carbs. Research has estimated that the average person will consume around 300 grams of carbs each day.
Whereas protein and fat molecules release their energy more slowly and using a series of chemical reactions which are a lot more complicated. One notable difference to the Atkins program is that the Ketogenic diet doesn’t count carbs as diligently.
To give you a general idea, during the first phase of Atkins, you would be expected to eat no more than 20 grams of carbs per day (certainly not the average of 300). The induction part of the program lasts 2 weeks, and those who persevere have reported 10 to 20 pounds of weight loss.
Get Your Metabolism Fired Up
Your body will probably feel a bit sluggish a first, but once you kick off the ketogenic process, your metabolism will soon start to become very efficient at burning fat to supply your energy needs.
Another of the keto diet benefits (especially for diabetics) are the resulting blood sugar levels, and the related insulin production. You will find your cravings and desire for “sweets” will undergo a significant reduction as your tastes change.
Other Health Benefits
Studies have also shown that people with epilepsy and heart disease often do better on a ketogenic diet, and this despite the fact that dietary fat has for years been considered bad for the heart.
There have been a number of studies citing low carb and ketogenic diets as being potentially helpful in regard to treating:
- Some types of cancer
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Liver disorders
Research has also established that diabetics are very prone to dementia, and generally at a younger age than the average person. These are all good reasons to take into account if you are pursuing a fit mind as well as a healthy body, it might well be time for you to try a ketogenic diet.
Choosing the Right Ketogenic Diet for You
Whilst the ketogenic diet is recognized as a low carb diet, you need to be aware that not all low carb and keto diet benefits are necessarily the same. It is important to know the differences and what to expect and just how well your new keto lifestyle will fit in with your normal daily lifestyle.
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What is the Best Keto Diet?
The best answer is the keto diet that you can stick with and suits your lifestyle. There are a few steps you can take to give you better chance of success, such as planning out your weekly meals and shopping list in advance. Remove all non-keto temptations from your pantry and refrigerator.
You might be surprised how taking these small steps can improve your weight loss success. Examine your eating habits, look at how much cooking do you need to do each week, do you have a busy lifestyle? Do you work out regularly or do some form of consistent exercise?
4 Keto Diet Options
There are 4 different versions of the keto diet available, so read through the following carefully to see which one would most suit you. They are:
- Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)
SKD is a very low-carb, moderate-protein, high-fat diet. The ratio is 75% fat, 20% protein, and only 5% carbs.
- High-Protein Ketogenic Diet (HPKD)
HPKD works the same as SKD, but with more protein. The ratio is 60% fat, 35% protein, 5% carbs.
- Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)
In CKD, you follow keto 5 days on, 2 days off. The 2 days are (higher) carb days. They can be considered ‘cheat days’ by some people, and carb loading days by sportsmen and bodybuilders, who use the carbs to improve their athletic performance.
- Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)
TKD allows you to eat more carbs, but only before and after a workout, under the assumption you will need them for athletic performance and burn them off as you work out.
The most popular is the SKD keto diet and has proven to be successful in achieving weight loss for many people who have struggled in the past to maintain any diet consistently.
The Pros of Keto
The most obvious benefit of course is that you WILL lose weight and see Keto diet benefits providing you follow the guidelines. It is empowering to feel in control of your body, with fewer food cravings.
You will quickly notice that you feel fuller, because fat and protein are more filling than carbs. This often results in faster weight loss because you are eating less compared to previous meals. It follows the less food means fewer calories eaten and therefore more calories are burned.
Research indicates that eating a low carb high fat lifestyle helps you shed pounds a lot faster than counting calories.
Some of the other not so well-known benefits are improvements in hair, skin, nails due to having more protein in your diet.
The Cons of Keto
The most obvious hardship is reducing your carbs to a minuscule level. This can be difficult especially if you have a sweet tooth. Talking of teeth, you might notice in the early stages of your keto diet that your breath has a strange smell, don’t worry this is quite normal and doesn’t last,
Another issue is that you will probably find yourself running to the bathroom more frequently as your need to urinate is a bit intense during the first few weeks, again this will pass but looking on the positive side you often see a rapid weight loss in the first couple of weeks due to this water loss.
It’s not uncommon to become constipated or in some instances suffer with diarrhea, again this is something that will pass fairly quickly and there are a number of ways to minimize any discomfort, just remember you must drink lots of water and stay hydrated, since you are losing so much in the early days,
I have heard a few people say it’s expensive, but personally I can’t see that and compared to an average weekly shop I find mine comes in a lot cheaper without all the unnecessary extras.
It is a bit more complicated for vegetarians to follow a keto diet, but there have been many delicious recipes developed to enable them to participate whilst still getting all their essential nutrients and equally being able to see keto diet benefits.
Eating Guidelines for the Keto Diet
One of the keto diet benefits is that you don’t have to count calories, you do however need to watch your carb intake. Fortunately, there are a number of online calculator that enable you to work out what your daily macros are.
To make life really easy you can monitor these using a FREE app called MyFitnessPal, which takes all the difficulty out of the equation for monitoring your daily meals.
What can I Eat?
If you are following the standard keto diet rather your main focus will be on fats and protein. The following list will give you an overview of what foods you are allowed to eat.
Meat: Organic grass-fed meat is the best being both low carb and keto friendly. Keep in mind that this is a high fat not high protein diet, so you don’t need massive amounts of meat. You can have most red meats and also chicken and turkey. Just be aware that processed meats like ham and sausages can often have hidden nasties like sugar and salt.
- Fish and Seafood: Mackerel, tuna and even fatty fish like salmon
- Eggs: These can be fried, boiled, poached, scrambled.
- Dairy: cream, butter, cheese, coconut yogurt
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds
- Healthy oils: Extra virgin olive oil, nut oils and coconut oil (take this slowly at first until your stomach adjusts to it)
- Avocados: Avocados especially good in guacamole
- Low-carb vegetables: The general rule is above ground green leafy vegetables, some onions and peppers.
What Not to Eat
When you go low carb there are a number of foods that will be off the menu, particularly grains, sugary fruits and starchy vegetables like potatoes. Initially you will miss your rice and pasta but don’t despair there are lots of alternatives available and before you know it you won’t even realize they’ve gone.
- Foods and Drinks to Avoid Include:
- Foods with sugar: Soda, juice, cake, ice cream, candy, sweetened soy milk.
- Grains or starches: All grains and wheat products, such as rice, pasta, cereals.
- Fruit: Most fruit, except for small amount of berries.
- Beans or legumes: Peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas.
- Root vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots
- Pre-packed diet products: These often have hidden sugars.
- Some condiments or sauces: Ketchup, honey, mustard.
- Alcohol: Most alcohols are high in sugar.
Eating out with Keto
One of the most difficult things when dieting is eating out wither with family and friends or on special occasions.
Fortunately, because keto is so flexible you can usually find something on the menu that will suit and most restaurants these days are willing to accommodate if you ask for certain things to be left often that don’t meet your keto requirements.
Eating Out at a Restaurant
Once you get into the habit it become second nature to check what’s included in the menu and know which foods are likely to have hidden sugars. You need to keep in mind that sugar can often be hidden in salad dressings and sauces.
If you order a salad, you can ask for extra virgin olive oil or some vinegar on the side.
When ordering entrees try and choose items that are as close as possible to the original. For example, grilled salmon not, salmon burgers. Have steak, not burgers. Go for the grilled chicken or turkey breast.
In terms of the side dishes, explain that you are doing low carb. Most servers are very familiar with this eating lifestyle and will be happy to swap your starch such as potatoes or fries for extra vegetables such as broccoli and/or a green salad.
Quite often you will find that American meals consist of burgers and fries. Trying going bun less and ask for a side salad to be included. Steer clear of foods like fried chicken or macaroni and cheese. Instead opt for grilled or barbecued chicken with salad and a keto friendly coleslaw.
Mexican food is fairly easy to accommodate into keto with sizzling fajitas plus a protein of your choice, in addition to peppers and onions. You can have plenty of cheese, guacamole, salsa and sour cream on the side. Just remember to avoid the tortillas and the beans.
With a Chinese menu, settle for a tasty stir fry but steer free of the rice and noodles.
Indian food isn’t too much of a challenge, you can choose a meat dish with a yogurt sauce (korma) or a tomato-based sauce (madras). But no rice or papadums.
Italian food usually brings pizza and pasta to mind, but you will find there are quite a lot of salads, vegetables and cheeses, with meat and fish that you can choose from. Be careful with your sauces though and pick one that isn’t tomato based, such as pesto (fresh basil), lemon, black olive, and even walnut.
Dealing with Keto Side Effects
The ketogenic diet has been well-researched, but like any diet there can be a number of side effects. Fortunately, those found on the keto diet are usually of short duration and pass once your body becomes keto adapted. However, it is always better to be forewarned so you know what to expect.
Profound Chemical Changes in the Body
The keto diet triggers various chemical changes in the body due to breaking down fat and protein to use for energy and fueling your body. This process once it is achieved is known as being in ketosis and the by products of the breakdown are known as ketones.
One of the slight downside of changing to a keto diet is what is commonly known as “keto flu” The good news is this only lasts between 3- 10 days and not everyone gets it. I for one didn’t but I put that down to drinking lots of water, drinking bone broth twice a day and taking a magnesium supplement.
Keto flu is similar to regular flu, with aches, pains, headache and listlessness. There might be nausea, fatigue and “brain fog,” being unable to concentrate. Some people also report having sleeping issues, either too little or too much.
A ketogenic diet will change the water and mineral balance in your body, which can lead to dehydration. Make sure you drink lots of water and eat leafy green as flushing impurities out of your system helps relieve keto flu symptoms.
You will notice a more frequent need to urinate as a result of the changes taking place in your body. You might consider starting your keto diet just at the weekend and plan to be home near the bathroom.
Some people will experience nausea, gas, bloating or indigestion. This is only natural, since all dietary changes will have an effect upon one’s stomach. Cooking with coconut oil in particular can sometimes aggravate this so best start off with small amounts like a teaspoon and work your way up.
Lots of protein and fewer grains and vegetables for fiber mean can result in constipation. Try taking psyllium or flax and chia seeds, but make sure you drink plenty of water.
Bad breath is a common side effect as well due to the chemical changes. You can keep this at bay by drinking flavored water or chewing sugar-free gum.
I can hear you breathing a sigh of relief from here – she’s finally reached the end. But I hope now you have a clearer picture as to what exactly a keto diet is, what’s involved and the fact that seeing results in 30 days is quite normal when you follow the rules.
Just to share a fact I lost 5 kgs in my first 3 weeks when I started.
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