What is the Ketogenic Diet? A Beginners Guide
The Ketogenic Diet.
Im going to give you a basic overview of my experience with the keto diet (its been my lifestyle for over a year now) and some basic facts about how it works and how you could try it for yourself.
Along with some resources for you to check out.
All my life I struggled with my weight, and only once did I come close to achieving my fitness goals. How did I do it?
I starved myself by cutting calories and exercising more, just like all the fitness gurus, magazines, and experts always said. Sure it worked temporarily, but I wouldn’t be writing this article had I been able to maintain and sustain it.
From a lean mean 205 lbs, I eventually gained back 10, 20, and at one point 30+ pounds, pushing 240 lbs (I am 6’3″ and was a pro athlete at the time, so I had a good amount of muscle as well, body fat was around 20-25%)
I was constantly looking for new ways to achieve the results I had gotten, but without starving myself. Tried different things here and there, lose a couple, gain a couple, lose a few gain a few, but nothing sustainable.
It seemed impossible at times and I used to have thoughts like, “maybe it’s my genetics”, or “maybe I’ll never be lean again”.
Years went by repeating this same cycle over and over and never getting to where I wanted to be, until I discovered The Ketogenic Diet.
This diet has allowed me to make progress towards my goals, without counting calories and starving myself, while also getting to eat amazingly delicious flavorful food, and while never feeling like your are on a “diet”.
Let’s get started.
THE KETOGENIC DIET is a..
High Fat (75-80%)
Low carb (5-10%),
Moderate protein (20-25%) diet
So when we consume foods high in carbs and/or sugars, our body will convert them into glucose for energy which raises blood sugar, insulin levels spike to bring blood sugar down to normal.
Once our liver’s and muscle’s glycogen stores are full, excess sugar in our blood is then converted into fat.
Glucose is easily broken down by the body to be used as quick energy. As long as sugar is present in our body or in the food we eat, our body will choose sugar as an energy source over fats and proteins.
By lowering the intake of carbs, the body is induced into a state called ketosis.
Ketosis is a built in survival mechanism that the body initiates to help us survive when food is not available by tapping into our stored body fat for fuel. During this state, our liver produces and releases ketone bodies into the bloodstream, which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver.
Ketones are a far more efficient and steady fuel for the body and brain.
An athletic man with a relatively low body fat percentage will carry around 2,000 calories of energy in the form of glycogen. At the same time that same man can have up to 20,000 calories worth of energy stored on his body in the form of fat.
So why not tap into that potential energy?
Check out “The Art of Low Carb Living” here.
Lets look at some of the many Benefits of Ketosis…
- Lose body fat
- Improve nsulin resistance
- Mental focus
- Drastically reduces hunger and cravings
- Sustained energy throughout the day
- Improve triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels
- Clear up acne
- And list goes on…
FOODS TO EAT
Meats – fish, beef, lamb, poultry, pork (yes, bacon)
Leafy Greens – spinach, kale, anything green and leafy.
Above ground vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower.
Drinks – Water, black coffee, keto coffee, bone broth, teas, carbonated water.
Sea Salt – Pink Himalayan, Redmond “Real Salt”
Full Fat Dairy – cheese, high fat cream, butter, eggs.
Nuts and seeds – macadamias, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pecans, pine nuts, (peanuts, pistachios, and cashews are higher in carbs, small quantities are ok)
Avocado and berries – raspberries, blackberries, and other low glycemic berries
Sweeteners – stevia, erythritol, xylitol, monk fruit.
Other fats – coconut oil, ghee, lard
Cooking Oils – Avocado oil, coconut oil, butter, lard, animal fat (no vegetable or olive oil, not heat stable)
(For Best results and Optimum Health Choose Organic, Non Gmo, Free-Range And Grass-Fed Sources)
FOODS TO AVOID
ALL vegetable oils
Extra lean meats
Yogurts (with added sugar)
Grains – wheat, barley, rye, oats, corn, rice, cereal, etc.
Sugar – honey, agave, maple syrup, jams/jellys
Drinks – sugary sports drinks, sodas, energy drinks, etc.
Fruit and juices– apples, bananas, oranges, ocasioanally
Starch – potato, yams, etc.
peanuts, pistachios, cashews higher carb nuts ok in small quantities
Getting started is simple: just dive in! It’s always good to spend some time cleaning out your kitchen pantry and adding in new staples.
Achieving ketosis is pretty straightforward, but it can seem complicated and confusing with all of the information out there. Here’s the bottom line on what you need to do, ordered in levels of importance:
LIMIT CARBS below 20g net carbs and below 35g total carbs per day.
(NOTE: Total carbs – (fiber + sugar alcohols) = NET CARBS)
EAT FAT. Fat is the primary source of energy on keto – not getting enough fat in the early stages is the most challenging part, so make sure you’re feeding your body enough of it. In order for our body to start utilizing fat for energy, we must feed ourselves fat to then be able to burn fat. This can range (depending on size) any where from 150g to 200g+ of FAT!! I’ll admit its a bit of a mental challenge to wrap your head around it. All our lives we’ve been led to believe fat makes us fat and causes heart disease, science has been proving otherwise.
Moderate Protein Intake. This is NOT the Atkins diet!! Too much protein can lead to a blood glucose spike which can bump you out of ketosis. Ideally for weight loss, you want to eat between 0.6g and 0.8g protein per pound lean body mass.
(I recommend using a calorie tracker such as MyFitnessPal to track MACROS Only, do not restrict calories in the beginning. As you become adapted, your appetite and cravings will drastically reduce naturally, as well as your daily caloric intake.)
Quality of calories, is far more important than quantity. Read about the calorie myth here.
Drink water. Make sure that you’re hydrating and staying consistent with the amount of water you drink. It not only helps regulate many vital bodily functions, but it also helps control hunger levels.
Minimize Snacking. Weight loss tends to do better when you have fewer insulin spikes during the day. Unnecessary snacking may lead to stalls or slows in weight loss. You can have keto-approved snacks from the list above.
Workout. It’s common sense lifting weights is good for your health. If you want to get the most out of your ketogenic diet, consider adding at least 20-30 minutes of exercise a day no more than an hour is required if you utilize your time well. For faster results, incorporate some HIIT training with your weight training. For beginners even just a small walk can help regulate weight loss and blood sugar levels on a keto diet.
If you’re eager to get started lifting or just need to mix things up a bit to reignite your workouts, then Check out JasonWittrock.com under his fitness programs (workout I am currently following). He has also been one of my main resources and guides through my keto journey. He also has a youtube channel with great info and additional guidance, workout tips, and keto-motivation.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comment section below!
***I am not a nutritionist or doctor and all information given has been gathered by personal experience and information that I researched and compiled over the years. Always consult a physician before starting a new diet, eating regiment, or workout plan.***
Note: This post does contain affiliate links. If you choose to purchase any products through my links, I will receive a small commission for the sale and at no additional cost to you.