Diabetes and obesity are two of the most common diseases in the United States. Many Americans suffer from these two diseases, which can be fatal if not treated. Obesity, for example, can lead to increased risk of high blood pressure and hypertension. The standard American diet contains high amounts of protein and carbs. And while the body needs protein, it doesn’t need carbs all that much. Carbs usually lead to inflammation, excess weight, and much more.
The solution, as in most cases, is to introduce changes to your diet and lifestyle. A state of nutritional ketosis is the basic principle of the keto diet. During this state, your body burns more fat, as it uses fat as a primary fuel. Just for clarification, in your normal state, your body burns carbs for energy.
To reach this ketosis state, you need to follow the ketogenic diet. Today, we will discuss the basic principles of the keto diet.
How to get into a nutritional ketosis
The basic principle is that you need to take a look at what you are eating and eliminate unhealthy items, including sugar, processed foods, fast food, and similar foods with excess salt and sugar. The next step is to introduce whole, organic foods that are high in healthy fats and moderate protein. Most of the foods you consume contain just the minimum amount of carbs.
There is no set time to enter the state of nutritional ketosis; it differs for each person. All of us react differently to the keto diet. Some experience side effects in the first 7 to 30 days, others don’t. Some of the side effects that might occur include constipation, frequent urination, and fatigue. Once your body begins to normalize, you’ll feel the benefits.
To be in the state of ketosis, the diet recommends that only 5% of your daily consumption is carb-based. Consuming more carbs throws your body out of the nutritional ketosis state. Athletes and bodybuilders can consume more carbs, but they follow a strict and targeted ketogenic diet.
Benefits of a ketogenic diet
The main reason people follow the keto diet is to lose weight. But this dietary approach offers many more benefits than that. Some nutritional experts recommend the keto diet as a basic principle for improving overall health. The diet is beneficial for people suffering from chronic conditions as well as the everyday Joe.
Here are some benefits of the diet.
1. Weight loss
As mentioned previously, the main reason people try the ketogenic diet is to lose weight. The keto is one of the best ways to lose weight because it helps your body burn fat, not carbs. According to studies, people following a strict keto diet shed two times more pounds than people not following the diet. Both groups followed a workout regime as well, but one of them followed keto, and the second group did not.
And the best part is that you can lose weight even though you are consuming more calories. The difference is you are consuming more healthy nutrients and calories, not “dead calories.”
2. Help with inflammation
Unlike sugar, fat is a better fuel source because it is cleaner and healthier. Even more importantly, when our body uses fat as fuel, it releases fewer reactive oxygen species (ROS) and free radicals. When you eliminate sugar from your diet, you eliminate the main inflammatory food. That is why the keto diet is considered to be anti-inflammatory.
3. Increase muscle mass
We mentioned previously that athletes and bodybuilders follow the keto diet. Their main goal is not to lose weight, but to increase muscle mass. And the beauty of the keto is you can do both, depending on the type of muscle mass and how you tailor the diet.
Nutrition and diet experts recommend that athletes use the keto to improve their athletic performance. The keto diet is rich in ketones, compounds that have the same structure as amino acids useful for building muscle mass.
4. Reduce appetite
Hunger and appetite are two complex aspects of our diet. The trick is to control hunger and appetite so that you don’t crave sugar and salt. Constant hunger will force you to consume more calories than you burn on a daily basis. Sticking to a keto diet will eliminate hunger, as you are eating fiber-rich and healthy nutrients, not empty carbs.
5. Lower risk of cancer
Cancer cells use glucose for fuel. But unlike normal, healthy cells, cancer cells don’t have metabolic flexibility. They can’t adapt to using ketones as energy. Because of that, once your body enters the ketosis state, cancer cells will starve to death. This is one of the reasons why some alternative medicines recommend using vegetables (low in carbs) as a cure for cancer. The goal is to starve the cancer cells to death, and you can do that by eliminating sugar.
6. Lower insulin levels
Carbs are broken down into sugars. It’s normal that when you eliminate carbs and sugar from your diet, you lower your insulin levels. It’s just the logical side effect. Lowering insulin levels will lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a condition that can be fatal.
Types of keto diets
We mentioned previously that you can alter the keto diet to fit your lifestyle and goals. You can use it to lose weight, or you can use it to build muscle. With that in mind, let’s break down the common types of keto diets.
1. Standard Ketogenic Diet
The SKD is the diet recommended for most people. This is the most effective type of keto, as it focuses primarily on high consumption of healthy fats. In the standard ketogenic diet, fats take up to 70% of your daily diet, while protein is at 25% and carbs at 5%.
The majority of your calories need to come from fat. But you should also limit the intake of protein and carbs so you can enter the nutritional ketosis state. The amount of fat might vary from person to person, however, mostly because of their different daily physical activities.
2. Targeted Ketogenic Diet
This is the keto diet for fitness enthusiasts. The idea of this approach is to use carbs as energy for exercise. You need to consume your carbs in one meal, usually 60 minutes before your workout. By doing this, you use carbs for energy (much better for exercise), without disrupting your ketosis state.
One trick to help you succeed is to eat carbs that have a high glycemic index and are easily digestible. After exercise, increase your protein intake to give your muscles the assets they need for recovery. Last, continue consuming fats afterwards.
3. Cyclic Ketogenic Diet
This is the keto diet for athletes and bodybuilders. The trick here is that you rotate between a normal keto diet and a few days of high carb consumption. During this period, you are entering a period known as “carb loading.”
The idea of the cyclic keto diet is to take advantage of carbs’ ability to replenish the glycogen lost during athletic activity. The standard principle is five days of SDK followed by two days of carb loading. During the SDK days, your carb consumption is limited to 50g, but it jumps up to 500g during the carb-loading period.
4. High Protein Ketogenic Diet
Don’t mistake the high protein keto diet for a bodybuilding diet. The goal here is to just up the intake of protein by 10% and lower the fat by 10%. Some studies have shown that trying this method has helped obese men lose weight by reducing their hunger and lowering their appetite.
Foods to avoid
In order to enter a ketosis state, you need to stay away from certain foods. You need to take a look at the foods you must eliminate so that you understand the challenges. In order to follow a keto diet, you need to eliminate sugars, starches, processed foods, and packaged foods from your diet. Entering the keto means you focus only on real, whole food.
In addition to eliminating certain food groups, you need to stay away from milk (it contains galactose). One glass of milk will be more than your daily recommended dose of carbs. Hydrogenated vegetable oils, like sunflower and canola, should be avoided, as well as soy products, sodas, and peanut butter.
Foods you can consume
With all the talk about what to eat and what to avoid, let’s finally take a look at the list of foods you should consume on a daily basis. This way, you get a glimpse of what you are entering into:
- Coconut oil
- Olives and olive oil
- Raw, grass-fed butter
- Animal-based omega-3 fats from salmon, sardines, and similar fish
- Seeds like pumpkin, sesame, hemp, and cumin
- Raw nuts, preferably almonds, pecans, and macadamia nuts
- Organic pastured eggs
- Leafy green vegetables
- Broccoli, parsley, zucchini, spinach
- Berries like cranberry and blueberry
- Lean meat and poultry
Keto salad example
Let’s take a look at what a salad looks like in the keto diet. This is just one example—there are many more recipes you can try.
- 2 ounces of ground organic lamb
- 1 avocado
- 1/3 red onion
- 2 ounces of sunflower seed sprouts
- 6 pieces of anchovies
- 2 ounces of fennel bulb
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon salmon fish roe
- 3 ounces of fermented vegetables
- 100g of red pepper
- Rosemary, finely chopped
How to make it:
- Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan. Add onions and ground organic lamb. Cook on low heat for 20 minutes.
- In another bowl, cut and mix the remaining ingredients.
- Add the onions to the salad. Rinse the salt off the anchovies and soak them for five minutes. Split them into three pieces and add to the salad.
- Add the lamb, and season to taste.
Are there side effects to the keto diet?
While there are positive, beneficial effects to a keto diet, there are also some possible side effects. Any time you undergo a major dietary change, there will be side effects. These are not harmful, and they might not even appear. But we feel obligated to warn you.
Bad breath is one of the common symptoms. Due to the increased acetone levels in your body, your breath will have a different odor. However, the good news is that once you detect acetone in your breath, you’ll know the keto diet is working.
In the short run, you’ll feel fatigued, which is the main reason why some people quit at the beginning. Fatigue is normal, as your body is adapting to the new way of life. You are now burning fat, not carbs, for fuel. Therefore, your body needs to adapt to the change. It might take between 10 and 30 days for your body to adapt and achieve full ketosis.
During the first few days, you’ll notice you’re going to the bathroom more often. Your body is dumping glycogen (the cause of frequent urination).
Sugar cravings and digestive problems are to be expected. Whenever your body makes a major change, such as eliminating sugar, it’s logical to expect some problems. Constipation is the most common digestive issue among people who start the ketogenic diet. But this will change as soon as your body adapts to the new diet. After all, your new diet is rich in fiber.