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Ketogenic Diet: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners

Understanding Keto and Why It Might Be for You

The keto diet is a low-carb, moderate protein, and high-fat diet. That’s the gist of it but you probably want to know more so let’s dive into it.

Everyone is always looking for a diet that is going to work for them. They want to find the diet that is going to give them results fast.

Who can blame them? When you are unhappy with your body or want to make a change you don’t want to wait around for results.

That’s the problem with people looking for diets, though. They want results immediately and when they don’t get the results they are looking for right away, they assume the diet doesn’t work.

So maybe the problem is with the diets.

Unfortunately, most healthy diets aren’t going to make you drop 10 pounds in a couple days. Diets are designed to help you sustain a healthy lifestyle.

Unfortunately, you don’t want a diet that just produces results. You want a diet that you can enjoy.

Habits Are Hard to Change

When you have been eating a certain way your entire life, it’s nearly impossible to make your body see the benefits of a diet in a couple days. That’s like asking a smoker of 30 years to quit cold turkey and feel the benefits the next day. It’s just not going to happen.

You have to give things time to develop and take effect.

Yes, there are short duration diets that can give you results fast, but they aren’t going to change your body in the long run because you will go back to your old ways.

You want a diet that is going to change your body for the rest of your life because that diet has now become part of your life.

This is where a keto diet will come in handy.

A keto diet is going to change your body so you’ll be able to have a sustainable, healthy lifestyle.

Sugar Burner vs Fat Burner

Most people don’t understand that their body is a sugar burner. This is important to know. It’s also important to understand that we were never meant to be sugar burners because sugars weren’t readily available in most parts of the world.

Our ancestors lived off of meat and vegetables. While you can get carbs from some vegetables you aren’t going to get enough to where your body needs to learn how to burn it for fuel.

Instead, our bodies were designed to be fat burners. Really efficient fat burners at that.

It is only recently in human history where humans started to go crazy with carbohydrates. The change in our diets to encompass more carbohydrates caused our bodies to adjust.

When you consume carbohydrates your body converts them into glucose and uses that as fuel. It’s why we reach for a quick candy bar or a soda when we feel we need a burst of energy. It’s also why you start to feel drowsy in the afternoon.

Your body has used up its glucose reserves and you need to replenish.

If your body runs out of glucose why can’t it use its other energy source, fat?

Great question!

Insulin Is the Issue

Insulin is a hormone that is used to help glucose travel through your bloodstream so that your body can use it as energy. Insulin also prevents fat stores from being released which is why your body can’t just switch from sugar burning to fat burning on a whim.

The fat isn’t made available!

When you don’t consume carbs or only consume a low amount of carbs and your glucose levels drop, there is no need for your body to produce insulin anymore making it easier for the fat cells to be released.

This is when your body enters a metabolic state known as ketosis.

What Is Ketosis?

Ketosis is a natural state for the body that helps us survive. When your body is in ketosis it produces ketones which the body uses for energy.

This is where the ketogenic diet comes into play.

What Is the Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, moderate protein, and high-fat diet. Its goal is to continually starve your body of carbohydrates so it can stay in a constant state of ketosis allowing it to burn fat instead of sugar for fuel.

A keto diet will change your body from a sugar burner to a fat burner. You will start to eat more fats and fewer carbs.

More fats? Sounds weird right? How can you lose fat by consuming more fat?

It’s true. Sometimes the key to losing fat is to consume more fat.

The real problem isn’t fat when it comes to losing weight, it’s sugar.

By consuming low carbs, some protein, and much more fat, you are going to change your body into a fat burning machine.

Benefits of the Keto Diet

Originally, the keto diet was designed to fight epilepsy. Did it help? Yes, it did, but it was later discovered that this diet had so many more benefits.

Since a keto diet will reduce inflammation around your body, your total body fat content will decrease. Your blood pressure and blood sugar will decrease as well. These are all helpful when it comes to heart disease.

In fact, recent studies have shown that fats aren’t the cause of heart disease. Sugar is the enemy.

Keto diets have also been known to help treat cancer.

Cancer cells can only use glucose as a fuel source to grow. When you remove glucose stores or keep the levels to a minimum, the cancer cells don’t have their fuel source to grow.

Brain injuries can be healed faster a lot faster as well on the keto diet because our brains are composed of 60% fat!

Keto diets have been known to speed up the healing process of people that have experienced any kind of brain injury, most notably, concussions. The diet can help reduce the risk of brain injuries as well. There is no definitive answer as to why, but there is a reduction in the possible risks.

What Do I Eat on the Keto Diet?

Remember, the ketogenic diet is a low-carb, moderate protein, and high-fat diet. I know I’ve said this a number of times already but it always bears repeating.

The general caloric breakdown is 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs.

What does this mean? It means that if you find that your daily recommended caloric intake is 2000 kcal a day then 75% of those calories need to come from fats.

That sounds a bit crazy because the word “fat” has a bad connotation associated with it but you’ll quickly find that this works in your favor because fats are delicious!

That means you get to eat eggs and bacon without any worries.

Like your coffee? Throw in some heavy cream.

Butter? Slather it on everything.

When fat becomes your fuel source you’ll find creative ways to incorporate it into every meal.

Foods to Avoid on the Keto Diet

Carbs are the enemy. Really, carbs are the enemy no matter what type of diet. Every weight loss program will have you reduce the number of carbs you consume in one way or another.

In fact, the fastest way to lose weight this weekend is to not consume any sugar. I lost 3 lbs one weekend just by not drinking a soda a day or eating any candy.

Knowing what foods have carbs and how to read carbs is very important. On the keto diet, you are only concerned about net carbs.

What Are Net Carbs?

If you look at a nutrition label in the US, you will see that there is a section labeled Total Carbohydrates. This is broken down into two subsections: fiber and total sugars. Net carbs are the total carbohydrates minus fiber.

Where Are Carbs Hiding?

The following foods should be significantly reduced from your diet or eliminated completely:

  • Sugary Foods
  • Grains and Starches
  • Beans or Legumes
  • Fruit
  • Root Vegetables
  • Diet Products
  • Unhealthy Fats
  • Alcohol
  • Sugar-Free Diet Products

Sugary Foods

Keto diet

Your body isn’t going to turn into a fat burner if you’re eating sugary foods still. You need to cut this out of your diet completely. Foods like candy and sodas should already play a very insignificant role in your diet, but if you have those quite frequently, you need to ease yourself away from them.

Grains and Starches

Wheat based products are something that will stop you from losing the weight you want to lose. All the pasta, rice, and cereals are going to give you carbs, which will be converted to sugar in your body. This will prevent you from dropping the excess fat on your body.

Beans or Legumes

Legumes and beans have the same effect as grains on your body and how it breaks down in your it.

Fruit

Fruits may be surprising to this list. We are trying to turn your body into a fat burner. Fruits have that sweet taste because it has sugars in it. Yes, they are healthy for you, but they aren’t going to help you burn fat as fast as you can.

Root Vegetables

Keto diet

Most root vegetables are going to provide you with a lot of starch and carbs. Both of these are going to turn into glucose when it’s broken down in your body. This keeps your body as a sugar burner, something that we are trying to get away from with a keto diet.

Diet Products

A lot of diet products are going to be highly processed which will put a bunch of chemicals in your body that you don’t need. Now, they may seem like they’re providing your body a great service, but they are going to give you a lot of carbs. Remember, we are wanting more fat, not carbs.

Unhealthy Fats

By unhealthy fats, I mean processed fats. Processed foods are going to give you the unhealthy fats. Mayonnaise is another example of a food that will give you unhealthy fats. Do what you can to stay away from the processed foods.

Alcohol

Keto diet

Most alcohol will have a large carb content which will throw any keto diet out of whack. Does it suck? Yes, but if you are determined to stick to a keto diet, alcohol needs to be cut significantly.

Sugar-Free Diet Products

Most sugar-free diet products are highly processed which will put a lot of unnecessary things in your body that will slow down any progress you made during a keto diet. The lack of sugar tends to be balanced out by more carbs which will turn into sugar that your body will use anyway.

Foods to Eat

Below are going to be foods that you should look into eating on a regular basis for a keto diet.

  • Meat
  • Fatty Fish
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Nuts or Seeds
  • Healthy Oils
  • Avocados
  • Low-Carb Vegetables
  • Condiments

Meat

Ham, pork, bacon, turkey, chicken, and red meats are good to have. They are going to provide you with the type of protein you need for your diet. You aren’t going to get too much protein, which can set just like sugars and carbs can.

Fatty Fish

Salmon and tuna are good examples of fatty fish. These fish provide your body with protein and the “good” fat. The fat in these is nothing like the kind you’ll find in processed foods. The fats in fatty fish aren’t going to be harmful to you.

Eggs

Keto diet

Don’t just look for any kind of eggs, look for ones that are pasteurized or are high in omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for almost any diet. Our bodies need them, but they cannot produce them on their own.

Butter

Butter is going to provide you with a healthy balance of saturated fats that will make your keto diet that much more effective.

Cheese

Unprocessed cheese is preferred for the keto diet. You’ll be getting more fats and possibly some protein depending on the type of cheese you choose to eat. Cheese is great too because you aren’t going to get any carbs from it.

Nuts or Seeds

Keto diet

Many nuts are going to have the same benefits of the eggs you eat because of the omega-3 fatty acids they have. Some of the eggs you get may have a diet that is primarily in flaxseeds, which is a seed high in omega-3’s. Most nuts are high in protein as well, so you’ll get more than enough protein from any nut or seed you eat.

Healthy Oils

Healthy oils include extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil. These are going to give you the healthy fats that you need.

Avocados

Keto diet

Avocados are low in carbs and provide you with the same fat the healthy oils do. There are numerous other health benefits when it comes to avocados as well, but for purposes of the keto diet, you only need to worry about the fat it provides.

Low-Carb Vegetables

Nearly all vegetables are going to provide you with some amount of carbs. You just need to know the specific veggies that’ll provide the minimal amount of carbs. Green vegetables will be able to do this. Tomatoes, onions, and peppers are going to be low carb options for you as well. Remember, we want low carb intake for the keto diet.

Condiments

Keto diet

You are allowed to use salt and pepper and other spices to provide more flavors to your foods. Don’t go crazy with the condiments, though. For example, too much salt in your diet is going to have negative effects on your body in the long scheme of things (i.e. clogged arteries and heart problems).

Want to Eat Out?

Many people falter on diets when they decide to go out to eat. That’s because it’s easy to forget everything about your diet and feel as though since you’re eating out, you can reward yourself. With a keto diet, you can make any night eating out into one that isn’t going to ruin your diet.

Most restaurants are going to be able to provide you with some kind of meat option (unless you’re in one of those new hipster style restaurants that are all vegan). You should also have the option to replace any kind of high carb food with extra vegetables. It’s honestly that simple.

Side Effects

Side effects? Yes, just like every other diet. Your body is going to be going through some significant changes in a short amount of time. It’s safe to say that your body is going to need some time to adjust to what will be happening.

If you’re used to eating a certain way your entire life then decide to change it up out of nowhere, your body will try to fight you a little bit.

When you start a keto diet, you could experience poor energy levels and poor mental function at first. This is part of your body adjusting to the diet. This isn’t going to be fun to get through but after the first few days, you should have normal energy levels and be thinking like your old self again.

Because of the poor energy, you are going to have, you’ll more than likely experience some sleep issues, become nauseous, and have more digestive issues. These symptoms should subside after a few days.

Your body is so used to having carbs and more sugars that when you decide to go almost cold turkey, you’re going to experience some issues.

Become the Fat Burner

A keto diet is something that may be difficult to get the hang of at first. Most people don’t understand that their body is a sugar burner. They may lose some weight but they aren’t losing the fat that’ll help keep the weight off their body.

The hardest part of the diet may be cutting out carbs. Sugar is probably easier to cut out because your body may not crave them. People struggle to realize how many carbs they consume in a day. You won’t truly recognize this until you actually cut out carbs from your diet.

For those that are looking to drop weight and keep it off, a keto diet is the way to go. If you are looking to gain large amounts of muscle weight, a keto diet can still work, but it may not be the most ideal route to go.

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