February 28

What Is a Ketogenic Diet? Beginner’s Guide to Keto.

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Reading time 7 minutes

Much hype has been generated about ketogenic diet, or simply ‘keto’, over the last year. Over twenty studies revealed unspeakable benefits for general health as well as for treating more specific ailments such as diabetes, epilepsy, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Below is a synopsis on why this high-fat, low-carb diet might deserve its popularity and recognition.

What is a ketogenic diet?

Ketogenic diet is aimed at changing the body’s fuel source from glucose, or blood sugar, to ketones. Ketones are by-products of the breakdown of fatty acids. They are produced in a process called ketosis – a metabolic state of increased fat burning. Ketogenic diet brings carbohydrates down to less than five percent of the daily caloric intake by eliminating legumes, sweets, fruit, starchy vegetables and most grains. These calories are replaced with calories from fat that easily turn into ketones and lead to a 24 hours a day fat burning state resulting in massive weight loss.

Ketogenic Diet: Weight Loss & Other Benefits

What distinguishes keto from other low-carb diets? The primary goal of the most popular alternative diet, the Atkins Diet, is weight loss, while for keto, the end goal is overall health. However, keto diet has shown to be more effective in losing weight for two main reasons. The first is due to the Atkins diet maintaining carb intake and second reason, the body keeps burning sugar as its energy fuel versus fat. Researchers recognize ketogenic diet as a better choice in terms of overall health benefits and safety over the long-run.

Here are keto’s main benefits:

Ketogenic diet is very effective at weight loss because ketones suppress hunger hormones and boost levels of cholecystokinin – a hormone responsible for satiety, the absence of hunger. We eat less without counting calories and body extracts more energy from its fat.

• The constant flow of ketones to the brain charges it with energy and helps create more power generators, mitochondria, to keep you energetic, increase focus and concentration. In fact, one reason certain individuals go on keto is specifically to enhance their mental performance.

Ketogenic diet may reduce or eradicate diabetes fully through the lowering of blood sugar and stabilizing insulin levels. A 2008 study done in the United States found that 95.2% of diabetic patients in the ketogenic group eliminated or reduced their medication compared to 62% in a low-glycaemic diet.

Some of the other benefits include decreased risk of heart disease, reductions in epileptic seizures, improved recovery from Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and polycystic ovary syndrome, reduction of concussions and faster healing post brain injury, acne improvement, fewer migraine attacks. Ketogenic diet is currently being tested for treating and reducing risk of cancer.

What to eat and what to avoid? Ketogenic Diet Foods & Taboos.

Fats constitute 75% of the daily caloric intake on keto, protein is at 20% and the rest is carbs. To reach ketosis, carbs daily intake must be reduced to at least 50 grams, but ideally below 20 grams. To keep record of your carb intake and overall progress, you can start a journal. View a nice selection of specially designed keto journals to make your diet fun and effective here.

Here is a ketogenic diet foods list that will keep you on track:

• Meat: select unprocessed meats to keep your diet low-carb.

• Fatty fish and seafood: stick to salmon, tuna, and trout with avoiding breaded or deep-fried options.

• Eggs: feel free to eat as many eggs as you want in any way, fried, boiled or scrambled.

• Cheese: choose high-fat unprocessed cheeses like mozzarella, cheddar or blue cheese.

• Low-carb vegetables growing above the ground: fresh or frozen, all should be leafy and green. The best for keto is avocado, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and zucchini.

• Oils: use unlimited olive, coconut and avocado oil to get your fat calories.

For drinking, water is your top choice, coffee with a small amount of milk or cream occasionally is fine too as well as tea, but strictly without sugar!

What to avoid:

• Anything with sugar: soda, juice, candy, cookies, cake, or ice cream.

• Starch: bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, beans, cereal, etc. This one may sound extreme, but there are plenty of keto alternative recipes substituting bread and pasta that are delicious and easy to make.

• Fruit: fruit are very high in sugar so it’s better to eliminate them from your diet.

• Diet Products: these are usually processed and high in carbs.

Ketogenic diet plan

Below you can find a sample ketogenic diet plan to help you get started. You can find keto books with more meal plans and delicious healthy recipes here.

Day 1

Breakfast: bacon and eggs

Lunch: grilled salmon and spinach salad

Dinner: meatballs with cheese and vegetables of choice

Day 2

Breakfast: almond milk smoothie with greens and almond butter

Lunch: chicken salad with feta cheese in olive oil

Dinner: pork with a side of cauliflower mash and red cabbage

Day 3

Breakfast: omelette with cheese and vegetables

Lunch: tuna salad

Dinner: salmon with asparagus in butter

Day 4

Breakfast: sugar-free yogurt

Lunch: miso soup

Dinner: trout with butter

Day 5

Breakfast: scrambled eggs with vegetables

Lunch: stir-fry beef with vegetables in coconut oil

Dinner: burger in a lettuce ‘bun’ with egg, bacon, avocado and cheese

Day 6

Breakfast: ham and cheese omelette

Lunch: shrimp salad with avocado in olive oil

Dinner: roasted chicken with broccoli

Day 7

Breakfast: eggs baked in avocado cups

Lunch: chicken cooked in almond flour with greens and tofu cheese

Dinner: grilled beef with peppers

Tips: how to reach ketosis and know you are there

Limiting your carbohydrates to 20 grams per day is essential to reach ketosis. To get there faster, you may also want to restrict your protein intake to moderate levels due to excess converting into glucose and reducing ketosis. Eat enough fat and do not starve yourself. Adding balanced exercise and sleeping is also helpful for producing ketones.

There are some common signs for ketosis such as reduced hunger, increased energy, dry mouth (don’t forget to drink enough water!), metallic taste in your mouth due to increased ketones and weight loss. If you have any of those, you are likely in ketosis. If you want to know for sure, there are some common tools you can use to check your level of ketones.

Potential side effects

Ketogenic diet is perfectly safe, but as your body changes its metabolism, you might need a couple of days to adapt. This adaptation period is called keto flu because its symptoms are similar to those of the common flu and include headaches, fatigue, dizziness and difficulty focusing. This happens due to loss of excess fluids that were retained because of carbs. Even though these symptoms last only a few days, you can still prevent them by making sure you get enough water and salt. You can easily do that by drinking bouillon or broth.

Ketogenic diet is a new standard for a healthy lifestyle and is not only safe, but is highly beneficial for overall wellbeing.

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