The same advice has been given to us for decades – eat less, avoid dietary fats, and exercise more. Today carbohydrates make up the majority of our diet. Which has significant implications for hormone imbalance. Insulin, which is also responsible for storing fat in our bodies, is greatly affected by excessive carb consumption. Meaning that carbohydrates are, without doubt, the most fattening elements in out diet.
However, the standard guidelines most of us are familiar with, advise that we follow a high-carb, moderate-protein, and low-fat diet. Whereas, the Keto diet is high in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbs. The nutrient ratio in terms of calories typically sits within the following ranges;
- 60-75% from fat
- 15-35% from protein
- 5-10% from carbs
The Keto benefits.
The Keto diet achieves weight loss and health benefits by inducing metabolic state known as Ketosis. Which is usually achieved at a level of about 50 grams of total Carbohydrates per day. Ketosis causes the liver to produce Ketone bodies – molecules created by the body for energy during periods of fasting or carbohydrate restriction. This shifts the body’s metabolism away from glucose and toward burning fat.
The Keto diet also enhances your ability to build and preserve muscle tissue. It is not only an effective weight loss tool; it has also been shown to improve several of the following health conditions;
A comparison of several scientific trials shows that low-carb diets outperform calorie-restricted diets in terms of long-term weight loss and lasting health effects. Restricting carbohydrates is a very effective way of controlling appetite, which explains why so many people successfully lose weight on a low-carb diet. Again, the key factor is Insulin. It is released when you eat carbs. It affects your appetite – eating fewer carbs means you will experience fewer cravings.
Do we really need carbs?
A common misconception is that our bodies – especially our brains – need glucose. However, apart from some basic functions, our bodies can use either glucose or ketones for energy. In fact glucose is nowhere near as efficient as ketone bodies. Provided you eat enough protein, your body can produce glucose for basic functions on demand via a process called gluconeogenesis. Whereby, it transforms non-carb sources into glucose.
The Keto diet approach is simple; it is a low-carb diet with a focus on eating real food.
With the growing popularity of low-carb diets, the food industry introduced many new low-carb convenience foods. While such foods may indeed be low in carbs, they are often laden with unhealthy ingredients. Such as artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and other additives. These ingredients will still allow your body to use glucose as an energy source. Meaning you will never actually go into a state of Ketosis. Leading you to abandon the diet through lack of results.
The basic principles.
Each person has a different carb tolerance level. Your challenge is to find your ‘ideal’ carb intake sweet spot. As you begin your Keto diet, start with a low level of net carbs to ensure you quickly enter Ketosis. The state in which your body produces ketone bodies. A good goal would be about 20 grams of net carbs per day. You can use a blood ketone meter that will allow you to measure your ketones after about two or three days of sticking to your low-carb diet. Start adding net carbs (about 5 grams each week) until you detect a very low level of ketones or none at all. This is usually the quickest way to discover your net carbs limit. You can find blood ketone meters and urine ketone strips anywhere online.
The amount of protein you need can be determined by your body weight and activity level. People who are physically active have higher requirements than those with a sedentary lifestyle. A more accurate estimate, especially for people with high body fat, can be reached by taking total body weight and subtracting body fat.
Eating enough protein is important for preserving and building muscle mass. However eating excessive amounts is likely to put you out of ketosis because your body will convert the extra protein into glucose. Make sure eat at least the minimum amount of protein to prevent loss of muscle tissue during the diet. In general, the more active you are, the closer you should be eating to your upper limit.
Your daily fat intake should make up your remaining energy needs. It acts as a filler for your energy requirements. Ideal fat intake varies for each individual and depends on your personal goal. In general, you won’t need to count fat intake or calories on a Keto Diet, as you will be unlikely to overeat. Eating foods naturally low in carbs, moderate in protein and high in fat will keep you satiated for longer. Studies have shown that proteins and fats are the most satiating nutrients, while carbohydrates are the least. Fat provides a steady supply of energy with no insulin spikes. Therefore you will not experience any cravings or energy and mood swings as you would on a calorie-restricted diet.
No matter how old you are, your body is probably used to sugar and glucose at this point in your life. Excluding it from your diet may lead to headaches, weakness, or fatigue during the first few days of your new Ketogenic lifestyle. These symptoms – sometimes referred to as ‘Keto flu’ – should die down after a few days or weeks. Increasing your intake of electrolytes can reduce these negative side effects. Eat foods such as avocados, nuts, fatty fish, dark leafy vegetables, spinach and mushrooms. These are all high in electrolytes.
Don’t knock it till you try it
So there you have it. There are always going to be people who are sceptical about changing diets, or following the most popular one at the current time. But what we say is that – if it doesn’t conflict with any individual preferences or costs – what is stopping you from at least giving it a try. Do not let other people’s opinions stop you from potentially changing your life with a particular diet. So if you want to give it a try, grab some recipes and have at it!!