Secrets of the Ketogenic Diet
Do you need to know how to start ketogenic diet for weight loss? What is a ketogenic diet? A ketogenic diet, also known simply as keto, is a diet where you cut carbohydrates to the bare minimum. Some of you may be asking, “but if we cut out carbs, where are all of our calories going to come from?” This is a good question since most people’s eating habits average out to something like this: 60% from carbs, 30% from protein, and 10% from fats. The reason for this is because conventional wisdom (Incorrectly) tells us that eating fat makes you fat. The opposite is actually true. By eating more fat and limiting carbs we can switch our bodies to fat burning mode and once we have achieved this it is much easier for your body to draw from its fat stores.
The Science-y Stuff
Before we go into the how I want to explore the why. Most diet plans, especially the notorious crash diets, don’t offer any type of scientific backing. This means they can claim anything they want, but I’m not going to do that. I want you to know as much as possible before getting started. The more you know up front the more likely you are to succeed.
As I have already mentioned most people eat 60% carbs, 30% protein, and 10% fat on an average day. The reasoning behind this is actually pretty sound because while your body is used to consuming carbs it is going to be more likely to store the fat since it is more difficult to convert into usable energy. By reversing this and tweaking it slightly we get the ratios for you typical keto dieter, 65% fat, 30% protein, and 5% or less carbs. You will notice that this amount of carbs is nowhere near enough to fuel your body for the day, or even a few hours. Because of this your body will start the transition by depleting your blood glucose levels. This only takes a few hours. The next step is depleting the glycogen stored in your liver. The reasoning behind this is your body is still used to using glycogen for energy as opposed to ketones. Glycogen is generated by the body from carbs. Ketones on the other hand are produced by the body breaking down fat and can be used as a direct energy source by the brain.
That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Once you start keto you will go through a 2-3-week period where you will lose a bunch of water weight as the glycogen in your body is depleted. Unfortunately, since this is all water weight we won’t be maintaining this level of loss, but don’t worry, you will lose weight if you follow keto properly. A fair warning up front, some people experience what is known as “Keto Flu.” This is a series of flu-like symptoms that sometimes occurs when you are in the transitioning phase. For me personally, this lasted about a week and was mainly limited to feeling “foggy” which makes sense because your brain is in the process of transitioning to a new energy source.
How do I start?
When you are first stating out the most important thing to remember is that you must be consistent. If you cheat every other day or if you are consuming more than 40g of carbs a day you are never going to enter ketosis and you will just be making yourself miserable. Now, you will notice I said 40g, but this is the absolute top end to what you should be consuming. Most ketoers try to keep their consumption somewhere below 20g a day.
What Should I Buy?
Some of you may be tempted to take this as a free pass and run out and buy a fatty steak with a side of fried cheese (yes, you get to eat fried cheese on this diet), but don’t get ahead of yourself just yet. While a fatty steak is a great meal on keto you have to consider the cost. A ketogenic diet is going to cost a good bit more than your typical diet because you are buying more of what is considered “luxury” foods, meats, cheese, butter, and we are buying better brands. Think about it this way, you can go out to Wal-Mart and buy their budget meat for a cheap price, yes, but what are these cows eating? Usually mass market meat like this is fed old gummy bears, molded corn meal, old whiskey mash, you get the idea. The point here is, these cows eat garbage. You aren’t going to get nutritious meat from cows eating trash. Spend a little more and buy organic, or grass fed beef. You will also want to do this for your butter. Avoid anything with vegetable oil in it, and especially canola oil. You are going to cut both of those out right now. Personally I use Kerrigold butter. It is grass fed and you can really taste the difference. Be sure to buy the silver packs though, the gold packs have canola oil mixed in.
I keep talking about canola oil and avoiding it, but why? Canola oil is full of damaged fats which can’t be properly digested. Is it going to kill you? No, it’s not, but it will make you feel sluggish and can slow you weight loss. Instead get some coconut oil. Coconut oil is a solid at room temperature, but at around 80 degrees becomes a liquid. Since it has such a low melting point coconut oil can be used in place of any other type of cooking oil and, best of all, it is filled with good fats and will help you along your way in keto. Another oil you can use, but I still recommend coconut oil as much as possible, is olive oil. A good brand olive oil is going to be significantly better for you than vegetable or canola oil.
Moving on from oils, a few other things you will need are coconut flour, almond flour, and stevia sweetener. You will want the coconut flour and almond flour for baking since they are both low carb. The reason for getting both is because they work best when mixed. Alone coconut flour is VERY thirsty and will soak up more water than you would imagine. This makes the flour very dense and will make your baked goods dry when they are cooked. Almond flour on the other hand doesn’t soak up nearly as much water and will be nice and moist, but it does not bind well. By combining these two you wind up with a flour that is not too dense, but also holds its form well once cooled. You may also be wondering why I specifically recommend Stevia and not sweet and low or splenda. The reason for this is because they both have minute amounts of carbs in them, up to half a gram per packet. This is statistically insignificant to people who are not on keto, but say you use 10 packets to sweeten a fat bomb, well, now you keto fat bomb has a quarter of your carb allowance for the day.
What is a Fat Bomb?
Most people discover pretty quickly that maintain our ratios on keto can be difficult. The reason for this is because most foods that are high in fat are also high in protein. Don’t get me wrong, you need to get enough protein, but too much can hurt your diet just as much as too many carbs. To avoid this, you will need what is known as “fat bombs.” These are small snacks that are almost exclusively fat. Some people will just eat a block of cream cheese. Others will make different recipes. This is a good place to experiment since you can easily track your macros and come up with something delicious.
The second reason for at bombs is to make sure you are getting enough calories in a day. When you are eating carbs your blood sugar skyrockets after eating a carb rich meal. This gives you a burst of energy followed by a crash and an extreme feeling of hunger once your blood sugar drops again. When on keto your blood sugar is going to stay flat. There aren’t going to be any spikes, so there won’t be any crashes. Without these crashes you won’t be getting that overwhelming feeling of hunger a few hours after eating. It is all too easy to go an entire day without eating on keto and never even feel hungry. Personally, I ran a Warrior Dash after not eating for two days and felt great. I don’t recommend this, however, since I was doing intermittent fasting at the time as well which let my body adjust a bit further, but the point remains valid that it is all too easy to starve yourself and not even realize it. This brings us to our next point.
Recording you Progress
While on keto keeping accurate records of what you eat and when is important. As I just mentioned it is all too easy to starve yourself on keto and not even realize it. Many people find out when they start that eating a high fat diet actually makes them feel fuller longer. This is because, as previously mentioned, without your blood sugar spiking and subsequently crashing you are not getting sudden hunger pains, you are also not having energy crashes and will be able to go longer without eating because when you are in ketosis your body is able to readily draw on fat reserves. This is not to say that starving yourself will not slow your metabolism to a crawl, however, which is why it is so important to make sure you are getting at least 1100 calories a day.
What Should I Eat?
As we have already mentioned, you are going to be eating way more meat and cheese than before. That’s not to say that is all you can eat though. With the right ingredients you can actually enjoy some really good baked goods. Chicken is a good option as well, but is a bit lean for keto. If you plan to eat a lot of chicken and fish, you will need to add in some butter or oil to up the fat ratios. Beef and pork are both good options, especially fatty cuts, but make sure they are organic if possible. If you can’t find organic beef, try to at least get grass fed. You can find plenty of recipes in “The Essential Ketogenic Cookbook”.
I had mentioned earlier as well that you can eat fried cheese. For those that are interested, this is one of my favorite things to eat while on keto. Get a block of queso fresco or queso blanco. It MUST be a round block, not a package of “queso”. The packages of “queso” are what you would get at a restaurant on nachos. What you need is real queso fresco or blanco. These cheeses don’t melt, but instead cook. Simply get a small skillet, cut you a few slices at about a quarter of an inch, and heat some oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil gets hot enough toss your cheese in and leave it until it turns golden brown on both sides. Personally I like to dip it in salsa, but this will add to your daily carb intake.
What Can I Expect?
In the end you can expect to get out of this diet exactly what you put into it, just like anything else. The difference here is that keto is super easy to stick with and actually lose weight because you are not starving yourself to lose weight and you are not having to eat meals that taste like cardboard, you get to eat real food. There is not secret, no hidden cost, just eat a high fat, low carb diet, and stick with it and you will lose weight.
I encourage feed back and would love to hear your story about your Ketogenic Diet.