There are only a few reasons that you may have found yourself here -- Either you have started the keto diet, you’re thinking about starting the keto diet or you've been following the keto diet and are simply looking for more information. Regardless of your reason, you’re in the right place! The keto diet is gaining a ton of positive recognition in the world of health and wellness and as more people are looking to start, more information is being flooded out there. Well, here’s a one-stop-shop for you- an ultimate keto diet guide for beginners. And if you’re not a beginner then it’s always good to refresh your memory!
What is the Keto Diet
The ketogenic diet, also known as the keto diet, is a high-fat/low-carb diet that pushes your body into ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic process that forces your body to burn stored fat when it does not have enough glucose, also known as sugar, for energy. The keto diet has been positively life-changing for most people and it can for you too! However, there are some basics to know:
- No or very low carbs
- Know the difference between “good fats” and “bad fats”
- Limit your protein intake
The main concept behind the keto diet is to maximize the amount of time you spend in “ketosis.” That might sound a little intimidating, but it is actually very simple. Your body is trained to store the energy it gets from carbs and sugar in your fat cells for later.
The process of Ketosis is just a fancy name for convincing your body to use those fat stores for energy instead of the glucose it would usually use. We do this by limiting the number of carbohydrates we eat so there isn’t enough glucose for your body to use and it has to search for an alternative energy source. Once your body has started burning fat for its primary energy source, you are in ketosis.
Because you are breaking down fats in ketosis, you are able to decrease your body fat and ultimately lose body weight. Keto should be done in a healthy manner by using healthy forms of fat and ensuring you are eating quality foods that provide you the right nutrition.
How Does the Keto Diet Work
As discussed above, we know that the keto diet works by switching up gears from carb-burning to fat burning. This happens by intaking certain types of food and avoiding others. A good rule of thumb to remember when it comes to the keto diet is that you should only be eating 5%-10% carbs, 20%-25% of protein, and a whopping 70%-80% of healthy fats a day. Healthy fats are monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats that are found in foods like avocados and coconut oil. Unhealthy fats that you want to avoid are man-made trans fats and saturated fats which are found in peanut oil, donuts, cookies, etc.
Foods to Eat-
- Lean meat
- Nuts and seeds
- Raw full-fat dairy
Foods to Avoid-
- Processed foods
- Soda and Juice
- High Carb or Sugar Fruits
Following the basics and avoiding high carbs and sugars will lead your body into ketosis. Unlike many “diets,” the keto diet isn’t about depriving yourself and feeling hungry all day. It’s about fueling your body with the right foods that support ketosis.
Who is the Keto Diet For
Keto was originally intended as a therapeutic diet for people with specific health conditions. Specifically for people with epilepsy who weren’t responding to medication. However, you don’t have to have these conditions to experience the benefits of the keto diet. As long as you aren’t breastfeeding or taking certain medications, then doing the keto diet is a great option for you.
Keto is especially useful for people that are concerned about their weight. Many Americans suffer from obesity and the keto diet is an excellent way to resolve that in a healthy manner. If you suffer from diabetes then you might want to consider speaking with your doctor about the keto diet as it has a proven track record of eliminating diabetes in many patients.
Even if you don’t fall into one of those categories, the keto diet can transform your body and change your life. If you are unsure about where you stand regarding eligibility for the keto diet then ask your primary care provider and see what they have to say.
Why the Keto Diet-benefits
The reason the keto diet has been turning so many heads is because of all the amazing benefits that come with it. Simply put, people love the way they feel on it and they love the results they’re seeing. The benefits you can expect to experience from the keto diet are as follows:
- Reduces inflammation
- Enhance fat burning
- Weight loss
- Improved mental clarity and focus
- Increased energy
- Anti-aging effects
- May decrease risk of disease
- Lowers insulin levels
- Clearer skin
This is a pretty hefty list of benefits. These are the reasons the keto diet is being raved about in books and magazines, promoted by celebrities, and constantly trending on social media. We’ve all heard “you are what you eat” so by being cautious of the food you fuel your body with, you’ll find yourself reaping the benefits of all things ketosis.
What is the Keto Flu
The pros of the keto diet definitely outweigh the cons, but since this is a full guide we figured we should warn you about the keto flu. Entering ketosis is an adjustment for your body. When you are undergoing this transition into a state of ketosis, you may experience flu-like symptoms.
Think about it this way - The keto diet works by reducing glucose, the primary energy source your body uses, and increasing energy-rich fats for your body to burn instead. Removing carbohydrates from your diet and removing glucose as an energy source can be accompanied by some unwelcome symptoms while your body adapts to the loss of its main source of energy and must find a new source to keep everything running and operating smoothly. These symptoms are famously nick-named the keto flu:
- Muscle cramps
- Brain fog
No, you’re not giving yourself the flu or any type of virus. The ill-like feeling is just your body adjusting to your new diet. It typically will only last anywhere from a few days up to two weeks. Every person experiences the keto flu differently and some avoid it altogether.
How to Treat the Keto Flu
The keto flu symptoms are similar to those of being dehydrated, which essentially is what is happening. When you enter a state of ketosis you change from metabolizing glucose for your energy and instead start burning fat. This process causes your body to start producing something called "ketones" which causes your kidneys to process salt and water much faster than they usually would. This can result in dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
Thankfully there is a solution to this. By replenishing your electrolytes and staying hydrated you can alleviate and possibly avoid the keto flu altogether. However, instead of grabbing a sugary electrolyte drink that would kick you out of ketosis, you should look specifically for keto-friendly supplements that have the sodium, potassium, and magnesium that you need. Find a reputable company like Adapted Nutrition that supports a keto diet and offers keto-friendly electrolyte supplements that have no added sugars or fillers like maltodextrin that kick you out of ketosis (maltodextrin is in almost every electrolyte drink that doesn’t specifically say it doesn’t have it!).
Are You In Ketosis?
The more you know, the better off you are! So knowing what to expect will help you push through. One of the first signs that you have entered ketosis is the keto flu. Remember, if you maintain discipline then the symptoms are fleeting and should pass quickly.
It’s important to know if you are just starting ketosis then you will be tired because, at first, your body won't know what to do about the lack of glucose in your blood and will have to search for another energy source. You will likely experience soreness and cramps, you might be nauseous and dizzy sometimes. Due to how tired you feel you might be a bit irritable and unmotivated. This is ok and totally normal! Trust us, push through it.
These symptoms will pass soon and once you make it through the gauntlet you will start to experience all of the great things that come with the keto diet. After you have passed through your first interaction with ketosis you will have to maintain that state as long as you can to get the greatest benefits. That said, if you drop out of ketosis it isn’t the end of the world, you’ll just have to trigger it again as soon as possible. The best way to tell if you are in ketosis or not is to use a keto strip, which measures your blood or urine to see if you are currently in ketosis.
Tips, Tricks, and Recipes
Thankfully we live in a time where we have knowledge and support at the tips of our fingers. As the keto diet has increased in popularity, so have supplements to help support the keto diet. This includes supplements to help push your body into ketosis faster, help maintain ketosis, and even help to avoid the keto flu. Some supplements to consider looking into include collagen, MCT oil, BHB, and electrolytes. Between the four of those, you have yourself a recipe for success. It’s important to note that a lot of products out there will advertise collagen and electrolyte support, but they aren’t keto-friendly. To avoid supplements that are full of sugar and fillers that will kick you out of ketosis, consider finding a reputable company like Adapted Nutrition that only offers high-quality products.
This wouldn’t be an ultimate guide without tips and recipes to help you along your keto journey. With that said, keep in mind these few tips that will help you to maintain ketosis and keep you on track to reach your goal:
- Ramp up your exercise
- Utilize coconut oil
- Maintain proper protein intake
- Avoid getting too hungry
- Say no to carbs
- Try intermittent fasting
- Add MCT oil, butter, or coconut oil to your tea or coffee (you’ll thank us later for this one)
- Learn, live and breathe fat bombs
Ok, that last one may be a bit exaggerated, but you will come to find that fat bombs will become your best friend. When you need an extra boost of energy or you feel like you might crack and eat something that will kick you out of ketosis, then consider fueling up with a fat bomb. Fat bombs are essentially little snacks that provide you with a burst of healthy fats. Here is a fat bombs recipes to try out that also includes collagen powder-
Coconut almond butter fat bombs:
- ¼ cups of coconut butter
- ¼ cup of coconut oil
- ½ cup of almond butter
- 3 tablespoons of cacao powder
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
- ¼ cup of Adapted Nutrition collagen powder
Heat the oil and butter until melted, mix together the rest of the ingredients, pour into a small pan, freeze and when frozen cut into bite-size pieces.
The trick to being successful with the keto diet is to educate yourself and be prepared. The diet isn’t meant by any means to make you feel like you’re starving yourself. You want to fulfill complete nutrition, so to do so, you need to have keto-friendly options available at arms reach. Make sure to meal prep and have healthy snacks ready for when you need it.
As you can see, the keto diet comes with a ton of benefits and there’s a ton of support out there. It’s as easy as searching for recipes, asking for tips, and equipping yourself with the knowledge to maintain ketosis. Whether you’re a pro dieter, searching to improve your health, or simply looking for something new, the keto diet is a good place to start. Whatever your reason is for improving your health, the keto diet can help you get there.