What is Keto?
A Low-carb, high (good) fat, moderate protein lifestyle
The ketogenic diet refers to a way of eating that can be described as low-carb, high good fat, and moderate protein. In terms of macronutrients, the standard ketogenic diet is 70-75% fat, 20% protein, and 5-10% carbohydrates. To make things simpler, some people focus on eating less than 20g net carbs each day. For me, focusing on eating low carb has been what’s necessary to stay in ketosis.
What is ketosis?
One of the goals of the ketogenic diet is getting into what is called ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body is burning fat for fuel. I consider myself to be in ketosis when my ketone levels have a reading of 0.5 mmg/l; however, I experience the most benefits on the ketogenic diet when my ketone level readings are 1.5-2.5 mmg/l.
What are some benefits of keto?
Even though there are people who follow a ketogenic diet to lose weight, there are other benefits. For me, eating keto has helped me manage my eating disorder and increased my mood and energy. Specifically, I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my life. I was always the person in the “non-normal” range on the height and weight chart so I spent a lot of my childhood and adult life on some sort of “diet”: the nothing at all diet, all fruit diet, liquid diet, Atkins, Weight Watchers….the list goes on. For me, none of those diets were sustainable so they often resulted in a pretty consistent, unhealthy cycle.
Since there are a ton of keto-friendly and low-carb food swaps, being on keto has allowed me to eat food that tastes good without having to feel sad that I’ve completely ruined all of my hard work and progress. Further, once my body became used to burning fat for fuel, I could also have a non-keto meal or snack occasionally without having a huge setback on the scale or a tough journey to get back on track.
What do you eat on keto?
Following keto, means that my shopping cart is filled with lots of whole foods: berries, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, grass-fed meats, and eggs. As shown in the chart, it also means that I largely avoid bread, sugar, pasta, and other grains. Even though this sounds like it might be restrictive, there are plenty of ketogenic and low carb foods, which make eliminating most carbohydrates somewhat easy.
How is keto different from the Atkins & low-carb diets?
I have followed the low-carb and the Atkins diets. In my experience, the primary difference is how to divide your macros between protein and fat. When I was following a strictly low-carb diet or Atkins, I focused on eating more protein. In fact, I often described it to people as a protein & veggies diet. On keto, I have moderate protein and high healthy fat since too much protein can cause your body to burn protein for fuel.
Keto is high good fat, not the processed kind we’re all used to
When I tell someone that I am following the ketogenic diet, one of the first things that people mention is that this diet must be so unhealthy. They wonder how anyone, including me, could experience benefits from eating so much fat (70-75% of your daily intake is a lot of fat). For most of the critics, they think I’m eating a ton of processed fats like those found in fast food, cakes, and cookies. In reality, as part of keto, I’m eating lots of avocados, coconut oil, MCT oil, olive oil as well as fat from organic and grass-fed meats.
How do you get started on keto?
I got started on keto by first exploring all of the keto snack foods. For me, if I could find some snacks that I liked then I could possibly eat following keto for other meals. When I was ready, I made a game plan that included finding recipes, getting ketone testing tools and stocking up on supplements. Since there are a lot of supplements, I started with electrolytes. These helped reduce the negative side effects of keto flu! Keto Flu is a period of less than a week in which you are basically in withdrawal from sugar and carbs! For me, some of the side effects included getting a headache, being irritable, and being tired.
What other keto resources are useful for beginners?
- Perfect Keto: What is the Ketogenic Diet
- Perfect Keto: Macronutrients Calculator
- The Keto Reset Diet: Reboot Your Metabolism in 21 Days and Burn Fat Forever
- The Magic Pill (A Documentary About People’s Experiences with Keto)
- Ruled.me Keto Recipes