Defining a Keto Diet + How to Get Started

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How to get started on a keto diet…

The ketogenic (keto) diet is an increasingly popular way of eating that is gaining more followers every day. The weight loss results are indisputable with people shedding several pounds in the first few weeks.

Stars like Halle Berry have been crediting the keto diet for their fit bodies.

The keto diet is a high-fat low carb diet plan. The diet doesn’t demonise healthy fats like other diets have done in the past. Although it may seem counter-intuitive to consume more fats while trying to burn fat in your body, that’s precisely how the diet works.

Keto diets have been very successful in weight loss and the best part is that keto meals are often very filling. So people following this way of eating often don’t feel hungry between meals. Another added benefit is increased mental alertness and higher energy levels that you will experience within a few days of being on the diet.

Getting started with the Keto diet might seem daunting due to its restrictive list of ingredients.  However, with a little imagination and a little research there is a variety of meals that can be prepared using keto friendly ingredients.

What is a ketogenic diet?

In short the ketogenic diet is a High fat, low carb, moderate protein diet. The goal is to restrict the consumption of calories from carbohydrates to under 10%. The remaining daily calorie needs are provided from fats and proteins.

The diet is designed to push the body into the metabolic state known as ketosis. In this state the body becomes very efficient at burning fats for its energy needs. This leads to overall reduction in weight, increased insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels.

How does a ketogenic diet work?

The human brain and body primarily uses glucose for its energy needs. Glucose is generally made in the body through the digestion of carbohydrates and proteins.  The keto diet cuts out this primary source of fuel.  The brain then triggers the body to use ketones for its energy needs. Ketone bodies are made in the liver by using up the fats stored in the body. The state where your body uses ketones for its primary energy source is known as ketosis.

Being in a state of ketosis is also linked to increased mental alertness, higher energy levels and reduction in appetite.  Studies have shown that people on keto diets feel less hungry than people on other low-carb diets. The feeling of satiety comes from eating fats and proteins.

In short, the keto diet places the body in a high fat burning state. This state is extremely beneficial for those trying to lose weight or just be more healthy.

What can I eat on a ketogenic diet?

A keto diet starts off by reducing carbohydrate intake significantly.

Typical keto friendly foods are rich in healthy fats, moderate in protein and have very little carbohydrates. Apart from the usual suspects that are culled at the beginning of most diets like sodas, juices, processed foods, junk foods, desserts etc. the keto diet also restricts the consumption of cereals, legumes, pulses and carb-rich fruits and vegetables.

The only fruits allowed on the diet are small quantities of berries.  Starchy vegetables and root vegetables like carrots are also off limits, instead keto dieters consume a lot of green leafy vegetables.  So with all these foods off the table, what can you actually eat?

Some keto friendly foods are eggs, meat, oily fish, butter, cream, cheeses, nuts and leafy vegetables like spinach. Following a ketogenic diet requires some planning, but that applies to all types of healthy eating. Though the ingredients may seem limited at first there are a variety of tasty meals still available to you. If you need some more inspiration here is a great list of keto recipes.

Getting Started

To get started you will first need to calculate your daily calorie consumption from fats, carbs and proteins.  In the beginning it is better to consume a normal amount of calories and not put yourself in a deficit until your body has adjusted to ketosis. Here is a handy tool to help calculate your macronutrients.

The initial few weeks can be tough as a result of the changes in your food habits. It helps to clear out foods that are not keto friendly from the pantry where possible. Planning and preparing low carb meals in advance makes sticking to the diet easier.

Some people starting out on the keto diet might experience ‘Keto-flu’. Symptoms include nausea, lethargy, digestive discomfort and sleep trouble. This is caused as your body is not used to operating without a high level of carbs. These symptoms clear up on their own in a few days. Taking some mineral supplements for sodium and potassium helps in minimizing the initial side effects of keto.  

The keto diet is a fast acting diet. Results are visible in just a few days and people have experienced significant increase in their mental alertness, increased energy through the day, weight loss and better metabolic health. There are numerous case studies of people who have completely turned their lives around on this diet.

Check out more on KETO.

This is a guest post from Kyran Doyle!

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