Keto 101- everything you need to know on how and why the Ketogenic diet might be right for you!
Ok- so we’ve all heard about the Keto diet by now. It’s everywhere- all over your social media feed and your best friend’s boyfriend’s sister’s mom lost a million pounds and is in the best shape of her life. So, the question begs- Is the keto lifestyle actually a safe and healthy way to get in shape?
The Ketogenic (Keto, for short) diet has been studied, and studied, and studied, over and over again… and the results continue to come back the same: The Keto diet, when practiced correctly, can work wonders for our health. Yes… you’ll probably lose a bunch of weight, too, which is why it’s really become so popular. But, the benefits far outweigh going down a pant size. We’re talking about gut health, brain health, large amounts of energy, little to no inflammation… true internal physical health!
Did you know… the ketogenic diet was actually developed and practiced back in the 1920’s for people who suffered from epilepsy, multiple sclerosis (MS) and other autoimmune diseases- especially in children’s hospitals? Since then, it has been found that a keto diet can help improve your health and encourage weight loss. This high fat, moderate protein, and low carb diet has been seen to help battle other diseases like diabetes, cancer, and even Alzheimer’s while helping to improve triglyceride levels, cholesterol ratios, and cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Ok… but honestly, what does “Ketogenic” even mean? Ketogenic is to cause ketogenesis, or putting your body in an energy deficit state by limiting carbohydrates so much so that your liver begins to convert fat into ketone bodies. These ketone bodies become the new energy source for your brain and body.
You might be thinking “wait… I thought carbs were an essential part of a healthy and balanced diet.” You’re right, but here’s the thing- we eat too many carbs. The average American eats around 225-325g of carbs PER DAY… Considering 70% of the population is overweight, it’s safe to say this high amount of consumption is NOT recommended for those who live the standard sedentary American lifestyle. (ARTICLE)
Yes, when we eat carbs and use them for energy right away- like going for a run- they’re great for us and used efficiently. Unless you’re extremely active every day or a professional athlete, the number of carbs you need to eat are much smaller than what we’ve been led to believe. When we eat too many carbohydrates and don’t use them for energy they get converted by and stored on the body as fat. Netflix and chill (and snacks), anyone?
Here’s the thing, contrary to popular belief, FAT IS NOT BAD! Fat is, in fact, great for us! Our bodies prefer to use consumed fats as our energy source. Plus, when we eat the proper proportions of macronutrients (protein, carbs, fats), fat doesn’t get stored as fat! It’s used for, you guessed it, energy! In fact, you need to eat fat in order to lose fat. Healthy fats are used throughout our entire body for so many crucial metabolic functions it’s not even funny. To starve yourself of fat is to starve your body of essential, vital nutrients.
The human body can’t make essential fatty acids on its own, so we need to get them from our diet. Carbohydrates are not essential because we can make the carbs we need from other nutrients stored in the body. This is another reason the keto diet is popular. You eat barely any carbs, you convert the fat you have stored into energy for your brain and body, you lose weight, you feel fantastic. Our bodies do, in fact, work more efficiently this way, which is another reason the Keto diet is being touted as one of the healthiest around.
The process of becoming a keto powerhouse can be challenging, and some people even experience what’s known as the “Keto Flu”. Now don’t worry, this isn’t necessary or permanent, and there are ways to help combat experiencing symptoms! What’s really happening is you’re forcing your body to re-learn how to process foods in order for you to survive. This can take anywhere from two days up to a few weeks depending on how many carbs you consume, your activity level, lifestyle, and a little on your genetic makeup. The keto flu happens when the reduction in carbs is so drastic your body goes into shock and you experience withdrawal symptoms: headaches, fatigue, irritability and sugar cravings… just to name a few. You can slowly transition into a keto state by reducing your carb intake over time while increasing your fat and maintaining appropriate protein intake levels. Keep this up until you reach the recommended keto ranges and stay there. You can also add supplements to your diet that help your body begin using your fat stores more efficiently. (Check our lists of foods to eat and avoid on the Keto Diet below!)
Keto only works when done right… and that’s easier said than done. To get into Ketosis, the metabolic state of the ketogenic diet, you need to drastically reduce your carb intake to anywhere between 20-50g per day, or less! Remember, the average American eats around 225-325g of carbs per day… so like I said, easier said than done for most! What would a traditional keto macro breakdown look like?
Of your daily caloric intake requirements, to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle, you would want:
Carbs – 5%
Protein – 20%
Fat – 75%
Essentially, you’re going to starve your body of carbs- *NOT to be confused with starving yourself*- and eat a moderate amount of protein and a high amount of HEALTHY fats.
You also want to up your water intake! More water is never a bad idea, but increasing water is a great way to help your body transition into this new type of diet and lifestyle.
What You Can Eat On The Keto Diet:
•Low carb veggies (Greens, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions…)
•Healthy Oils (EVOO, Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil…)
•Nuts/Seeds (Chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, almonds…)
•Cheese – unprocessed (Goat cheese, mozzarella, cheddar)
•Butter/Ghee – Opt for grass-fed, no hormones, etc.
•Fatty Fish (Salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout…)
•Meat & Poultry (Chicken, turkey, steak, ham, sausage, bacon…)
•Fruit (Only small portions of berries are allowed)
-Supplements to help make the transition easier:
•MRM Egg White Protein (23g protein, no fat, 2g carbs- great macros for Keto!)
•MRM Smart Blend (Advanced Essential Fatty Acid Blend in ratios that balance your diet)
•MRM Acetyl L-Carnitine (Aid body in accessing fat stores to make energy, liquid or capsule available)
What Not To Eat On The Keto Diet:
•Sugary Foods (Cake, candy, pastries, soda, fruit juice…)
•Grains or Starches (Wheat products, cereal, rice, pasta…)
•Fruit (Besides berries)
•Beans/Legumes (Peas, kidney beans, lentils, peanuts…)
•Roots/Starchy Vegetables (Carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes…)
•Low-Fat Products (Carbs/Sugar are used to replace the lost amount of fat)
•Unhealthy fats (Processed vegetable oils, Mayo…)
•Alcohol (7 calories/g as carbs- the high carb content will throw you out of ketosis)
•Sugar-Free Diet Foods (Highly processed and full of sugar alcohols)
Take note– before transitioning into any new diet, especially one that almost eliminates an entire food group, it’s important to consult your doctor! Remember what you learned in pre-school: safety first, always!