The Ketogenic Diet: The Low-Carb Fat-Burning Diet

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The Ketogenic Diet_
The Ketogenic Diet_

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Introduction

The ketogenic diet is a low-carb fat-burning diet that focuses on the intake of fats rather than carbohydrates to supply our bodies with the needed energy.

Are you looking to lose a little weight? Perhaps you have recently been to the doctor and realize you need to get healthier, by changing what you do and do not eat. For whatever reason, you may be considering a ketogenic diet for you and or your family. This type of approach to nutrition is good for so many health rewards, and positive changes can occur rapidly.

Since 2 out of every 3 adults in the United States is now overweight or obese, (with similar statistics in other modern nations) and eating keto is an excellent way to lose unhealthy fat and excess body weight, this simple eating regimen can help you avoid the many health hazards linked to being overweight.

In this special report on the ketogenic diet, you will first discover exactly what is required, as well as what foods will be avoided. You’ll find out what signs are present when your body enters ketosis, the many considerable benefits of this eating plan, and why you may develop flulike symptoms during your first transition week.

This report also provides you with a sample ketogenic diet plan, as well as some tips to minimize the negative side-effects of this low-carb, high-fat eating style. Let’s get started by defining exactly what a ketogenic diet is.

What Is a Ketogenic Dietary Approach to Nutrition?

Some diet plans explain in their name exactly what you are going to be eating. In the 1970s and ’80s, the grapefruit diet was popular. It doesn’t take deductive powers of reasoning on the scale of Sherlock Holmes to understand that approach to nutrition was going to have you eating lots of grapefruits. Other dietary plans are not as revealing. Such is the case with the ketogenic diet.

If the word ketogenic sounds technical and science-based, there is a very good reason for that. This approach to eating is taken in an effort to get your body into a state of ketosis, a scientific term which describes a type of fat-burning instead of carb-burning for energy.

By consuming dramatically fewer carbohydrates, you enter a natural state where your body produces more ketones. Since carbohydrates, a principal form of injury for human beings, are restricted, your body begins to produce ketones as an alternative energy source. You do this by eating fewer carbs and more good, healthy sources of fat.

In ketosis, your body realizes that its favorite energy source, carbohydrates, are no longer available in large supply. Your brain then gives your liver marching orders, telling it to begin producing ketones to be used for energy. You change the types of calories you put into your body. Simple carbohydrates are restricted or eliminated, and healthier forms of carbs, protein and good fats are chosen instead.

An Eating Plan That is Thousands of Years Old

The earliest reference to using a ketogenic diet for health benefits dates all the way back to 500 BC. That is when ketogenic dieting was first recorded as a medical treatment for epilepsy. In modern times, the traditional medical community has been recommending a low-carb high-fat diet plan since the 1920s. A ketogenic diet returns your body to a proper glucose balance, and this happens when ketosis has been achieved.

Signs & Symptoms of Ketosis

Anyone turning to some type of new approach to nutrition for health reasons can use a little motivation from time to time. Recognizing symptoms of ketosis can positively motivate you to stay on track, making the transition to this new way of eating as easy as possible. If ketosis is the goal, what are the signs you have achieved this fat-burning, ketone-producing state?

Here are a few of the short-term and long-term signs that your body has begun producing ketones for energy.

  • Frequent urination urges
  • You are constantly thirsty
  • Stomach pain, vomiting, nausea
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Shortness of breath, rapid breathing
  • Your breath is “fruity”, or smells like nail polish or nail polish remover

These all happen for one reason – your body recognizes a limited number of carbohydrates are available for energy, and it has to burn fat for energy. This is what happens during ketosis. When you limit the number of carbs and other forms of glucose that enter your body, you automatically begin to produce chemicals called ketones. Ketones effectively burn fat for the energy that is required by every cell in your body.

Excess ketones are passed out through your urine, and are not stored as fat, which is what happens with excessive carbohydrate consumption. This process is what makes ketosis, and a ketogenic diet, so effective at burning fat and excess body weight. However, weight loss is just one of the many very real and very considerable health benefits of this eating plan.

What Are the Benefits of a Keto Diet Plan?

Diabetes Prevention, Better Blood Sugar Control

Because a high-carb diet is linked to diabetes, this simple eating approach can help prevent the development of diabetes. Your physical health and well-being is dictated in large part by nutrition. When you eat certain types of foods, you can expect one set of results. Change those foods, and you change the results which are evidenced by outward, physical changes in health.

The foods you are going to be eating and avoiding on the ketogenic diet naturally lower your blood sugar level. As a matter of fact, there are multiple studies which show a low-carb, ketogenic eating plan is more effective than a low-calorie approach for controlling blood sugar. It is also easier to follow a ketogenic plan over time, rather than an unhealthy restriction of calories.

Weight Loss

If you have struggled to lose excess body weight, the ketogenic diet can certainly help in that regard. People that have tried for years or even decades to lose unwanted, unhealthy fat and body weight have found success with a ketogenic approach to eating. This automatically happens because of the switch to fat burning for energy, which is accompanied by a dramatically lower number of carbohydrates consumed.

Improves Mental Focus

Weight loss and diabetes prevention are two honorable benefits of this low-carb, high-fat diet plan. If those were the only rewards you could expect, that would be enough reason to go keto. On top of those substantial benefits, you can also expect better mental clarity and focus.

The ketones you will begin developing in excess are the perfect energy source for your brain. When you lower the amount of carbohydrates you consume, this leads to fewer spikes in blood sugar. Elevated blood sugar levels are linked to poor mental performance and brain function. You will also increase the number of healthy fatty acids you are going to be eating, which has been scientifically proven to benefit brainpower.

All-Day Energy

When you begin to burn fat and lose excess body weight, your energy will improve. The way your body processes fat for energy leads to a steady release of energy over time, not the highs and the lows you get when you consume a lot of carbohydrates.

You Return to “Normal” Feelings of Hunger

When you eat a lot of simple carbohydrates, you often suffer from a nutrition deficiency. When your body is not getting the nutrients, vitamins and chemicals it needs to function properly, your brain sends out a hunger signal. Nutrient-poor simple carbohydrates can be very addictive, so you may reach for the foods that got you into this unhealthy nutrition picture in the first place.

You begin converting those simple carbohydrates to fat and gain body weight, and you constantly feel hungry. This is what happens when you consume too many carbohydrates and not enough of the nutrients you need to stay healthy. It creates abnormal hunger which is present much of the time you are awake. The ketogenic diet makes you feel full longer after you eat, thereby normalizing your hunger episodes.

 

Clears up Skin Conditions like Acne, and Leads to Healthier Hair

Simple carbohydrates are the enemy of your skin and hair. You may not be aware that excessive carbohydrate consumption is causing your skin and hair problems. Get on the ketogenic diet and you can begin to notice improvement with skin conditions like acne, as well as healthier, stronger, younger looking hair.

 

Treatment of Epilepsy

As you learned in the introduction, the ketogenic eating approach has been used for more than 2,500 years to treat epilepsy. Especially with children who experience uncontrollable epilepsy symptoms, achieving ketosis by eating this way is often successful in improving health and reducing symptoms of epilepsy.

Doctors often prescribe the ketogenic diet for children because it has been shown to reduce the number of medications children need to take to establish control over epilepsy. In the 21st century, traditional medical professionals have also begun recommending this healthy eating style to adults who have epilepsy.

Helps Level Out Your Cholesterol and Blood Pressure

Going keto improves your triglyceride levels. This leads to an effective control of your cholesterol level. That reduces the chance of buildup in your arteries, which can lead to several cardiovascular problems. Keto and other low-carb, high-fat diets increase the amount of good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol levels, which positively impacts your blood pressure and heart health.

Is There More Than One Ketogenic Diet?

As with any diet plan, you can tweak the ketogenic diet to fit your personal preferences. Strictly speaking, there is just one way to follow this plan that leads to ketosis, weight loss and other health benefits. Your meals should look like this:

  • 40 to 60% fat
  • 35 to 40% protein
  • 10 to 25% healthy carbohydrates

That is the macronutrient ratio which forms the Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD). This could look like 110 g of protein, 150 g of fat and 15 g of carbohydrates. While the basic ketogenic diet will keep you at or around these fat/protein/carbohydrate ratios, there are a couple of variations.

  • Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)
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A Cyclical Ketogenic Diet is generally low carb, but you enjoy intermittent periods of medium or high carbohydrate eating. A Targeted Ketogenic Diet follows standard ketogenic dietary rules, but allows for the consumption of extra carbohydrates before and after intense exercise.

Now you know what ratios of macronutrients you should be eating. Use these ratios as guidelines. Experiment with them until you are reaching the results you’re looking for. Every person is uniquely different from everyone else. That means what works for someone else on the ketogenic diet may not work for you.

Begin your ketogenic diet by adhering to the standard ratios listed above. Give it 2 to 4 weeks. If you are not achieving the results desired, eat fewer carbs and more protein or healthy fats. Now let’s take a look at the foods you should be eating and avoiding.

Foods to Eat & Avoid on the Ketogenic Diet

Success with any dietary approach means eating certain foods and avoiding others. To improve your chances of success, drink lots of water. The average person needs to consume roughly 1 gallon of water each day. Water is a great filtering agent, and a crucial part of the waste removal process.

Dehydration can cause a long list of very serious health problems. To show how important it is to stay hydrated all day long, consider this. If you stop eating food altogether, you can go more than 30 days before you die. On the other hand, if you stop taking water into your body, you stop breathing after about 3 days. That is how essential proper hydration is for the success of any diet plan.

It is just as important to get lots of rest every night.

You need at least 7 hours of sleep each night for your body and brain to recover and rest. We still don’t know exactly why humans and other animals require sleep. What we do know is that a lack of sleep can cause physical and mental health problems which are very serious. If you want your keto diet plan to work, you need to get plenty of rest. When you are considering what to eat and what to avoid, take a look at the following lists.

What You Will Be Eating

  • Fish, shellfish and other seafood
  • Leafy greens and vegetables with low net-carbohydrate accounts like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts
  • Your favorite cheeses
  • Avocados
  • Meat, pork, poultry
  • Eggs
  • Coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil
  • Butter, cream and ghee
  • Bacon
  • Dark chocolate, cocoa powder
  • Plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Berries
  • Olives
  • Mayonnaise, catchup, pesto, mustard
  • Pickles and other fermented foods, like sauerkraut and kimchi
  • All-natural spices and herbs
  • Dry red and dry white wine
  • Coffee and tea
  • Water

What You Will Not Be Eating

  • All grains, with no exception. This includes food containing wheat, rye, oats, corn, as well as white flour, such as pastries, bread, cookies and crackers
  • Factory-farmed or farm-raised fish and poultry
  • Quinoa
  • White potatoes
  • Sugar and artificial sweeteners
  • Processed foods
  • Refined fats and oils such as canola, grapeseed, corner and sunflower oil
  • Dairy milk
  • Sweet alcoholic drinks like beer, cocktails, sweet wine
  • Tropical fruits such as bananas and pineapples, mango and Papaya
  • Food with high carbohydrate accounts like grapes and tangerines
  • All fruit juices
  • All soy products

Looking at those lists, you can see you are going to have to cut back on how many trips you make through a fast food drive-through window. Restaurant food, fast food, fried foods and other foods you do not prepare for yourself have to come under close scrutiny. Eat foods minimally prepared whenever you can, as most food begins to lose more nutrient value the longer it is cooked.

Choose organic vegetables whenever you can. As far as meat is concerned, grass-fed is the way to go. Eggs and poultry products should not be grain-fed, and should be pasture-raised. The best seafood is caught in the wild, not raised on a fish farm. Supplement with lots of water or tea, spice things up with your favorite herbs and spices, and don’t forget to add exercise and plenty of healthy sleep to achieve the most benefits.

Sample Ketogenic Diet Meal Plan

One simple way to stick to the ketogenic diet is to use your smart phone. There are plenty of free and paid applications which list what you can and cannot eat when you go keto. Remember, you CAN eat …

Meat, poultry, pork, fish, vegetables, nuts, eggs and seeds, and occasionally fruit. Coconut oil, butter, olive and avocado oils are a few of the healthy fats you can consume.

You CAN’T eat …

Processed foods, pastries, breads, full-fat dairy products, any grains, refined fats like soybean, corn and sunflower oil, tropical fruit, soy products and any food touted as low-fat, low-carb or zero-carb. You should also avoid sugar and artificial sweeteners, and any pork, fish, poultry or beef that is not farm-raised or grass-fed.

Here are some sample meal plans to get you started. Choose one from each meal.

Breakfast

The ketogenic diet
The ketogenic diet
  • Mushroom and cheese omelet
  • A breakfast smoothie with avocado and a small handful of blueberries
  • Bacon and tomato wrapped in lettuce leaves
  • Fried eggs and sautéed vegetables

Lunch

  • Tuna salad wrapped in lettuce leaves
  • A large salad dressed with coconut oil and vinegar, including your favorite vegetables in a protein source
  • Grass-fed burger on baked  portabella mushroom caps instead of a bun
  • Grilled chicken or salmon and broccoli
  • Chicken broth soup with chicken or turkey and a couple of your favorite vegetables

Dinner

  • Pork chops with white mushrooms and butter
  • Baked salmon and vegetables, dressed with sour cream, butter or coconut oil and a side of steamed veggies
  • Taco salad
  • Lettuce-wrapped beef and cheddar cheese
  • Spaghetti with noodles made from spaghetti squash or zucchini
  • Bacon-wrapped meatloaf

Snacks & Eating Out on the Ketogenic Diet

The best advice regarding eating away from home on the ketogenic diet is to ask a lot of questions. You can’t know exactly what is in the food you are eating unless you prepare it yourself. This means most of your meals will be fixed and eaten at home. However, you are going to want to get out to have dinner with your friends or just as a change of pace from time to time. Don’t be scared to ask as many questions as you need to so that you discover exactly what is in the foods you will be eating.

Speak with your server or restaurant manager and let them know you are on a ketogenic diet plan. If they are not aware of what that diet entails, give them a quick breakdown. You can also refer to a ketogenic diet application on your smart phone to see just what you can and cannot eat.

As far as snacks go, you should keep the 2 ketogenic diet food lists on you at all times. When you feel a rumbling in your tummy, pop a handful of nuts or seeds. Drink water all day long and you won’t feel the need to snack as frequently. Here are a few more healthy snacking options that won’t take you out of ketosis.

The ketogenic diet
The ketogenic diet
  • Pork rinds
  • Sardines
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Olives
  • And avocado
  • Dark chocolate
  • Nut butter
  • Beef jerky
  • Full fat string cheese
  • Slices of pepperoni
  • Kale chips

When purchasing any of the above listed snacks, make sure you read your food labels.

Dealing with Side-Effects of the Ketogenic Diet Plan

Anytime you change what you eat, you can expect there to be some speed bumps. Your body is going to have to learn to cope with this new way of eating. Especially if the change is dramatic, and you have been eating a lot of carbohydrates, going to a ketogenic diet takes some time for your system to understand. You also have to be concerned about habitual behaviors that are going to change.

If you start each morning off with a bagel to accompany your coffee, you are not going to be doing that anymore. So you are definitely going to have to deal with mental and habitual side-effects of changing the way you eat. Also, the carb flu is a situation where the changes going on inside your body trigger symptoms that may make you think you have come down with a cold or flu.

This is the most notable-side effect of adopting a keto diet.

What Is the Carb Flu?

The carb flu hits the majority of the people that take on a ketogenic diet plan. It only lasts from 3 to 7 days, the symptoms can be mild or extreme, and even though this may make you uncomfortable or frustrated, it is a very good sign. It means you are changing physiological processes inside your body, and doing so in a positive way.

The ketogenic diet
The ketogenic diet

As you can tell by the name, this experience could have you showing the signs and symptoms that are present when you catch the flu. These include but are not limited to …

  • Irritability in your stomach, and your emotions
  • Problems getting to sleep
  • Strong cravings for sugar, pasta, bread and other unhealthy, simple carbohydrates
  • Dizziness, nausea
  • Difficulty focusing, a condition known as “brain fog”
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness

Also called keto flu, this set of symptoms can have you feeling miserable. However, the last thing you should do is think that as long as you eat the ketogenic way, the symptoms will persist. As mentioned above, they usually go away in a few days, and are almost never present after the first week of adopting a keto diet.

The 6 Answers to Keto Diet Side-Effects

These unwelcome symptoms of eating keto-style are pretty easy to deal with. There are 6 things you want to do to limit the impact of the keto flu.

1 – Exercise

2 – Get more calories into your body

3 – Slowly and gradually increase the number of “clean” carbs you are eating

4 – Eat more fatty foods, good fats

5 – Drink plenty of water

6 – Get more salt in your diet

These are all proven tactics for beating carb flu. The negative side-effects of this healthy eating style develop because your body is learning how to deal differently with glucose, starch and dramatically fewer carbohydrates. You still get carbs, but since you are steering clear of unhealthy fast food and other processed food, you are not consuming lots of simple carbohydrates which are linked to disease, illness and other health hazards.

Changing the type of carbohydrates you put into your body takes a while for your system to adjust to. When symptoms arise, go through the 6-step checklist above, and you can minimize or entirely eliminate frustrating side-effects of this healthy eating plan.

Frequently Asked Questions, Myths and Facts About the Ketogenic Diet Plan

How many carbs will I be eating each day?

If you get less than 150 grams of carbohydrates in the foods you eat each day, this can be considered a low-carb eating plan. To reach ketosis, you generally have to consume under 50 g of carbs on a daily basis.

How long will it take before I stop craving simple carbohydrates?

Simple carbs are so bad for you in so many ways. Unfortunately, the way your body processes them can lead to addiction and unhealthy carbohydrate cravings. It generally takes anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks before you reprogram your body to dislike unhealthy simple carbohydrates.

Does everyone get the keto flu?

One of the myths in the dieting community is that if you go on the ketogenic diet, you will develop flulike symptoms. We covered this earlier. Because of the way your body processes the foods you will be eating, you could develop symptoms which mirror the flu. However, many people find this doesn’t happen at all.

Is there any medical way to track ketosis?

Your doctor can test your ketone levels. You can alternately purchase ketone urine strips and test yourself at home.

Aren’t carbohydrates essential? Am I in danger if I limit them?

You were probably taught that carbohydrates are necessary for good health. Actually, carbohydrates are not a required part of a healthy diet. There are essential proteins and essential fatty acids, but there has never existed an essential carbohydrate.

If I eat a lot of fat, won’t that make me fat?

This myth has been around for a long time, because it seems to make sense. However, scientifically, eating fat does not make you fat. Eating sugar and other simple carbohydrates is what creates fat in your body. Eating healthy fats will not make you fat, no more than eating a cheeseburger will turn you into a cheeseburger.