Keto Diet 101: The Ultimate Guide to The Ketogenic Diet
Have you heard the Keto diet can help you lose weight? Improve brain function? Live longer or more passionately? Have fewer diseases like diabetes and epilepsy? Then the Ketogenic diet might be the transformative way forward for you.
This is a high-fat, low-carb diet (LCHF) that is taking the world by storm. Unlike other diets, the Ketogenic diet mimics the metabolism of fasting to aid in weight loss, hormonal balance, and stable blood sugar levels.
Over the past 15 years, there has been an explosion in use and scientific interest, but this is not a fad diet. In fact, the foundations of the Ketogenic diet can be seen as far back as 500 BC - we humans would consume a high-fat diet and eat only when hungry. It is only in modern times that sugars, grains, and “three meals a day” have invaded our lives. Add the obesity epidemic, and it is easy to see why people want another food plan.
Enter the Keto diet. What started predominantly as a hospital plan for children suffering from acute epilepsy, has become a worldwide talking point. The original therapeutic diet for pediatric epilepsy provided enough protein for body repair, and sufficient calories to maintain the correct weight for age and height, but only minimally. Today, there have been changes and more scientific research to devise a more sustainable and optimal plan.
Keep reading to discover more about the Ketogenic diet.
Table of Contents:
- What is the Keto Diet?
- The 4 Types of Ketogenic Diets
- Keto Diet Macros
- Is the Ketogenic Diet Safe?
- Benefits of the Keto Diet
- What is Ketosis?
- How to Get into Ketosis
- How to Tell If You're in Ketosis?
- Will Ketosis Help Me Lose Weight?
- What Should I Eat on the Ketogenic Diet?
- Foods to Avoid on a Ketogenic Diet
- Vegetarian & Vegan Ketogenic Diet Options
- Keto Flu
- Ketogenic Diet Supplements
- Ketogenic Diet and Physical Performance
- Parting Words of Advice
What is the Keto Diet?
The Keto diet is an effective lifestyle choice that enables the body to return to a state of being “fat-adapted,” where it burns fat for fuel. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is high in carbohydrates - not fat - and converts carbs into glucose. Your body then makes insulin to move the glucose from the bloodstream into the cells for energy. This process isn’t nearly as efficient, but we’ve become reliant on using carbs as a cheap way to add bulk to meals (potatoes, rice).
People who follow a Keto diet eat a restricted number of carbohydrates and consume many fats and a moderate amount of protein. The rewards are plentiful, and many people use a Ketogenic diet for managing diabetes, epilepsy, and other medical conditions thanks to its ability to reduce the impact of inflammation and disease.
The Ketogenic diet recently surged in popularity after a handful of celebrities, influencers, and athletes accredited "Keto" for their success.
The 4 Types of Ketogenic Diets
Many people follow the broad-scope of the Ketogenic diet, which is a high-fat low-carb diet (or LCHF); but in fact, there are four recognized variations of Keto. The purpose of these variations is to put the body into a fat-burning state called Ketosis or to provide an improvement in the quality of life or advance cognitive brain function. In many cases, more than one of these benefits is achieved at the same time.
The Four Ketogenic Diets Are:
- The Standard Ketogenic Diet (SDK) - this is usually what people mean when they say Keto, and is ideal for most people. 75% of your diet comes from fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs.
- The Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD) - For athletes, this modification is ideal and boasts the benefits of the Ketogenic diet without excess weight loss. Carbs are restricted to 20- 50 net grams per day.
- The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD) - This adaptation follows the SDK for a period and then switching to a high-carb diet for a few days before restarting your cycle. Generally, this is not an effective method of Keto, but some people feel that adding “cheat meals” to their diet makes it more sustainable over the long-run.
- The High Protein Ketogenic Diet (HPK) - This version of Keto is designed for athletes or bodybuilders who require additional protein (when seeking to gain lean mass). This is 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs plan, and should be used cautiously as typically the Ketogenic diet is not effective when consuming high amounts of protein.
Keto Diet Macros
When we talk about being Keto, we are really talking about the Standard Ketogenic Diet: where 70-80% of your calories per day come from fat, 20-25% from protein, and 5-10% from net carbs. Net carb is a significant distinction; these are how many grams of carbs a portion of food has minus the grams of sugar alcohols, fiber, and glycerine.
Check out 'The 3 Golden Rules of Net Carbs' to learn more.
In Terms of Grams, These Percentages May Look Like:
- 208 grams of fat
- 125 grams of protein
- 30 grams of carbs
If you’re familiar with the GI Index (or Glycemic Index), you will know that certain foods trigger a larger insulin response than other foods do. Many sweeteners, for example, are 0 GI, meaning they don’t raise your blood sugar. The baseline is insulin, which measures up to 100. You want to use the foods and sweeteners that are the lowest in GI to remain in Ketosis.
As fiber can slow the insulin response, seeking high-fiber foods is an easy way to make the Keto diet feel less restrictive. You should also consider swapping out sugar alcohols like Xylotol and Maltitol with natural sweeteners like Erythritol and Monkfruit which do not raise blood sugar or insulin.
You may recognize Monkfruit and Erythritol; we choose these low-GI sweeteners for our Keto Kookies because they are perfect for the Ketogenic diet and are high-quality.
Sweeteners to Avoid:
- Table Sugar
To find out what macros (macronutrients) you ought to eat, check out the Ketogenic calculator that will use your height, weight, and other indexes to determine your ideal ratio.
Is the Keto Diet Safe?
Many people question the advice of a Keto diet due to its high-fat properties. From bacon cheeseburgers to red steaks and rich, blue-cheese sauce, it’s easy to understand why some people may have reservations about going Keto. And why many more people are confused how eating a high-fat diet can promote efficient fat-loss. In short: you must eat fat to lose fat. If you eat a Standard American Diet and struggle with weight loss, carbs may be the reason why.
Similarly, some people have questions about high Ketone levels or the effects on blood tests or even dealing with “Keto Flu.” This induction phase sometimes affects people who withdraw from carbs, until their body becomes fat-adapted. While this may only take a few days or weeks, it is a controversial symptom. However, many people in the Keto community believe Keto Flu to be like a vaccine: your body is merely adapting, and learning how to build new defenses.
Researchers now agree that being in Ketosis offers many health benefits, including improved autophagy and apoptosis, which is where your body purges dead cells to allow for new growth - this has innumerable benefits, and is thought to help improve your quality of life and even help you live longer. The trick to maintaining a safe Keto experience is to follow the nutritional plan accurately, drink a lot of water and consider using Keto supplements (as shown below).
Symptoms of Keto Flu Include:
- Brain fog
- Stomach pain
- Low motivation
Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet
One benefit we can all gain from is improved heart health. The Ketogenic Diet has shown to reduce arterial build up, by lowering cholesterol and improve triglyceride levels. The Keto Diet does this by increasing in HDL (good cholesterol) and a decreasing HDL (bad cholesterol). It’s an important distinction to make as many people fear for their heart health when they see the list of bacon, eggs, and high-fat foods on offer.
Although various studies have examined the short-term effects of a Keto diet in reducing weight in obese patients, its long-term effects on various physical and biochemical parameters are not yet known.
Generally, there is no “one-size-fits-all-solution” when it comes to nutrition, but the following are a reliable guide to what most people expect to experience when following a Ketogenic diet.
- Body composition
- Physical performance
- Mental focus
Ketosis is also used within the medical community to manage:
- Alzheimer's Disease
- And many more
Ketones and the brain (cognitive and hormones):
- Heart health
- Insulin resistance
- Hormone regulation
- Weight loss
What is Ketosis?
In order to get the physical, mental, and medical benefits of the Ketogenic diet, you must be in a state of Ketosis. This is often considered the optimal state of being for humans. However, it isn’t enough to simply eat one high-fat meal. Getting into Ketosis require you to cut the total number of carbs you consume for a prolonged period of time. Eating carbs, even only one time can kick you out of Ketosis. This is why everyone isn’t following the Keto diet.
Ketosis is a natural process the body initiates to help us survive when food intake is low. During this state, we produce ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver. The goal of a Keto diet is to force your body into this metabolic state. We don’t do this through starvation of calories but through starvation of carbohydrates. Once Ketosis is achieved, most people naturally feel satiated and less hungry.
How to Get into Ketosis
In its most simplest form, Ketosis is achieved by restricting your carbohydrates. You cannot reach Ketosis if your body still has access to glucose.
- Eat less than 20g-30g net carbs per day
- Restrict your protein per your macronutrients
- Stop worrying about fat - eat more fat
- Move more often - exercise has shown to speed up Ketosis
- Drink more water
- Avoid snacking
If you’re serious about getting into Ketosis quickly, you may wish to consider Intermittent Fasting or IF. This is when you consume most of your calories during a time restricted windo (like 8 hours). This might sound strange, but we do this already: breakfast literally means to break-the-fast of a night time without eating.
Because we don't enter the fasted state until 12 hours or so after our last meal, it's rare that our bodies are in a fat burning state. This is one of the reasons why people who start intermittent fasting will lose fat without changing what they eat, how much they eat, or how often they exercise. Fasting puts your body in a fat burning state that you rarely make it to during a normal eating schedule.
By prolonging the time you eat and skipping breakfast at 9 am to noon, you could be looking at 16 hours between dinner. This is not only achievable for most people, but it is comfortable and gives you an incentive not to snack. In many cases, our desire to snack comes from dehydration or even boredom. So, drink more water, move more often, and eat fewer snacks to get into a fat burning state.
How to Tell If You’re in Ketosis
The most basic rule for Ketosis is this: if you eat between 20-50 grams of carbs per day, you can usually assume you are in Ketosis. However, this number can vary from person to person, and while you may eliminate high-carb foods from your diet (such as soda, candy, processed grains, and flours), you would be surprised how many carbs are hidden in foods as filler. Without reading every ingredient, you cannot be sure you only ate 20-50 grams of carbs that day.
Another common mistake people make is eating fruit in a Ketogenic diet - or starchy vegetables - both act like carbs and spike your insulin, and can kick you out of Ketosis. The only way to know for sure if you are in a fat-burning state of Ketosis is to take a test and find out for yourself. The good news is you can do this from home.
In Ketosis, we achieve a higher number of Ketones and can test these areas to see if excessive Ketones are present. If they are, you are probably in Ketosis.
Measuring Ketones in urine:
- Use a Ketone urine test strip, like ReliOn, and follow the packaging instructions - after 45-60 seconds, you should notice a color that indicates the presence of Ketones in the urine. However, this method is not reliable in the long-term. Your body becomes efficient at using Ketones (especially acetoacetate) when it’s adapted, so the strips might show a lower level of ketosis than you’re actually in. But beginners may find this very useful while learning what works for them (and only costs a few cents per test).
Measuring Ketones on the breath:
- If urine testing isn’t your thing, a breath test is a great option. You can purchase a Ketone breath kit, like Ketonix Breath Monitor, from most pharmacies. The breath monitor is powered by a USB and measures your ketone production by painlessly analyzing your breath. This method is often used to supplement a urine or blood test to confirm Ketone levels. However, much like a urine test, once you become fat-adapted this method of testing loses its efficiency. Devices may also be expensive.
Measuring Ketones in the blood:
- While slightly more invasive, blood testing is the most reliable way to answer definitively if you're in Ketosis and is comparable to testing for insulin. You can purchase a blood glucose meter, like Precision Xtra or NovaMax, to test for Ketone BHB. Since there are very few factors that alter results derived from blood, it’s an accurate way to measure your Ketone levels. Typically, testing your blood costs around $5-10 per test once you have purchased a device.
Will Ketosis Help Me Lose Weight?
By far the biggest reason people hear about the Ketogenic diet is its weight loss properties, but the diet is often mistaken for Ketosis. A Keto diet can help you lose weight, but only when used to put the body into a state of fat-adaption called Ketosis. Once in Ketosis, the Ketogenic diet has proven itself to be an extremely efficient (and delicious) way to lose fat. Ketosis helps to reduce weight for number reasons.
- Breakdown of fat stored in the body: in Ketosis, the body uses stored fat for fuel. This is extremely efficient and encourages the body to burn its own fat reserves.
- Increases satiation or feeling full: in addition to burning fat, Ketosis can also make you feel less hungry overall. This leads to fewer calories consumed. Many people don’t even count calories once they are in Ketosis, as the body regulates itself.
- Blood sugar regulation: other diets cause a spike in blood sugar levels, which can lead to drops in mood, hunger, and promote general fat storage. You are also likely to crave sugar, which creates an addiction.
- Hormone regulation: when your body is in Ketosis, your hormones become balanced and enable the core systems of your body to perform optimally. Weight loss is merely a side effect of fine-tuned mechanics.
- Eating delicious foods: Ketosis stabilizes the blood sugar levels, which moderates hunger, and enables you to eat food fats and vegetables without starving yourself. In fact, many Keto foods are rich and luxurious.
What Should I Eat on the Ketogenic Diet?
A daunting thought going into the Ketogenic diet is, “What should I eat?” While it is true there are many foods you should never eat, there are plenty more delicious foods waiting for you. The reason the Keto diet is so effective is it is so different from what we typically store in our pantries and fridge. While this sounds scary, the truth is the Ketogenic diet is also considered a return to the basics, with natural, simple foods taking precedence. So, remove packaged foods and make way for fat-burning foods.
To learn more foods you should eat on the Keto diet, click here.
Staple Foods on The Keto Diet Includes:
- Meats: fatty cuts like grass-fed beef, chicken, poultry, pork, lamb, goat, turkey, veal, and fish sources like salmon, sardines, catfish, tuna, and trout
- Dairy: full-fat cheeses, sour cream, full-fat (unsweetened yogurt, and heavy cream. No cow milk.
- Low-carb vegetables and fruits: kale, broccoli, leafy greens, asparagus, strawberries, raspberries, avocado, and cauliflower.
- Oils: olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, ghee, nuts and seeds, grass-fed butter.
Next, it’s important to consider how much food to eat. For most people, 20-50 grams of carbs per day is ideal. Some people can eat as many as 80 grams a day and stay in Ketosis. You will need to test for Ketones to know for sure what works for you. 20 grams of carbs could be a cup and a half of blueberries, a banana, or 3 cups of strawberries. Moderation is key, and learning how to spot carbs is critical for success.
Fats are the building blocks of the Keto diet. Fats are satiating, taste delicious, and when eating it with a low-carb diet, can put the body into a fat-burning state of Ketosis. However, not all fats are created equal. In order to comply with the Keto diet, you must eat fat as your primary source of energy, so its best to look for quality fats (grass-fed, free-range fats).
Healthy Keto Fats Include:
- Butter or ghee
- Egg yolks
- Cocoa butter
- MCT oil
- Animal fats
Since fat is the main source of energy in the ketogenic diet, ensuring you have a quality supply and eat enough fat is important. Many times, people feel demotivated or lacking in energy, only to reach for carbs or protein. This is incorrect. According to the Keto diet, you should eat a high-fat snack such as cheese or meat to replenish your body. Keto supplements can also help you to regulate your energy needs while retaining Ketosis.
Protein should also be restricted, although not as fiercely as carbs. Protein can be undesirable if eaten in large amounts as our bodies have a metabolic process called gluconeogenesis, which keeps you in a glucose-burning state rather than a protein burning state. Gluconeogenesis can convert excess protein rather than fat. Finally, your remaining 70-75% should come from fat. For most people, this is much more than they might consider.
Healthy Keto Proteins Include:
- Wild caught fish
- Grass-fed meats
- Whole eggs
- Offal or organ meats
- Nut butter
Full-fat dairy and unsweetened yogurts are also a great addition. Full-fat dairy products like unsweetened yogurt, butter, heavy cream, and sour cream are okay on the Ketogenic diet but avoid other milk and low- and reduced-fat dairy products. Also avoid processed meats like hot dogs and delicatessen meat as they likely contain preservatives, large quantities of salt, and filler carbs and sugar to add flavor. If it says low-fat on the container, this is also a no-go.
Remember: You want to seek out high-fat and often high-calorie foods to get into Ketosis. This will help you feel fuller for longer. Keto is all about quality over quantity, and surprisingly, it’s very possible to eat fast food and remain in Ketosis. Click here to find out how.
Our modern lives make it almost impossible to go without snacks. If you want to be successful on Keto, it’s best to memorize this list of Ketogenic snack foods to avoid any fallout. These are go-to snacks for when you get caught between meals, or that may serve as a small portion. The purpose of a snack is not to cure your hunger, but to give your body enough energy to get to a nutritional and well-timed meal. In many cases, drinking a glass of water will kill the urge to snack. And, over time, being in Ketosis will reduce your snack cravings.
When Grocery Shopping, Stick to Foods That:
- Don’t say low-fat
- Don’t make health claims
- Have less than five total ingredients
- Are stocked on the outer ring of the grocery store
- Go in the fridge or go off (and do not go in the pantry)
Delicious Keto Snacks:
- Jerky (but look for hidden carbs in the seasoning)
- Nuts or nut butter
- Cacao nibs (a low-carb alternative to chocolate chips)
- Veggies sticks
- Ice coffee (prepared with MCT oil, black, cream, or butter)
Foods to Avoid on a Keto Diet
In the snack world, packaging and disclaimers can cause a lot of confusion and wrong signal. Just because it says low-carb does not mean it is Keto. Remember, food is supposed to go bad. Artificial preservatives and fake ingredients have not been in the human diet until recently, and we are not equipped to handle them. The body’s response is to create inflammation to ingredients that it deems “foreign.”
Avoid the following at all costs:
- Grains: wheat, oats, rice, quinoa, bread, pasta, cookies, crackers, pizza.
- Beans and legumes: kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans, peas, lima beans.
- Almost all fruits: bananas, papaya, mango, pineapple, fruit juice, dried fruits.
- Underground veggies: carrots, potatoes, corn, peas, squash, artichoke.
Vegetarian & Vegan Ketogenic Diet Options
For many people, the lure of weight loss and indulgent foods like cheeseburgers and bacon are an obvious choice, but what about people who are vegetarian or vegan? With an open mind and some flexibility, it is possible to avoid meat or dairy while staying in Ketosis. This is especially important if you’re considering the Ketogenic diet to aid your quality of life, to lessen seizures, or to reduce inflammation or diabetes.
At its foundation, the Keto diet is a high-fat diet. Whether you consume animal fat or plant-based fat doesn’t really matter. What matters is the quality and quantity of fat, and following your carb restrictions. Many non-vegetarian and non-vegan Keto fans rely on plant-based fats such as nuts, avocado, oils, and coconut oil. The Ketogenic diet also highly encourages other vegan goodies such as berries, seeds, and lots of dark leafy greens.
For vegetarians, focus on quality grass-fed fat found in butter, cream, cheese, and other dairy products to supplement a plant-based diet. For vegans, use nuts and seeds to get healthy fat while also gaining some protein. Be wary of foods with negligible amounts of carbs. Overall, these can add up quickly and may kick you out of Ketosis. It’s easy to go over your net carbs when you require larger portions of low-carb foods.
Vegan Ketogenic Foods
- Meat Substitutes – Tofu, Tempeh, Seitan, Quorn (although look for carb fillers)
Vegan Ketogenic Foods
- Dark Leafy Greens – Spinach, Collard Greens, Swiss Chard, Kale, Spring Mixes
- Nuts – Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Macadamia Nuts, Hazelnuts, Pecans
- Low Carb Vegetables – Broccoli, Cauliflower, Mushrooms, Zucchini, Asparagus
- Seeds – Chia, Pumpkin, Sunflower, Sesame, Flax Seed, Hemp
- Low Carb Berries – Raspberries, Blackberries, Strawberries
- Vegan Dairy – Coconut Yoghurt, Almond Milk, Coconut Milk, Coconut Cream
- Nut Butters – Almond Butter, Coconut Butter, Sunflower Seed Butter
- Vegetable Oils – Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil, Olive Oil, Sesame Oil
As with everyone on the Keto diet, it’s important to avoid carbohydrates found in wheat, grains, high-sugar fruit and starchy vegetables. This doesn’t change, and many meat-lovers may find the Keto diet opens them up to new flavors and foods. The biggest difference you’ll face on the Vegan Keto diet is how you use your net carbs.
Typically, net carbs allow people to indulge in treats, but for you, low-carb berries, seeds, and nuts may cut into this allowance as you will eat them in much higher quantities to meet your daily calorie consumption.
When following the Standard Ketogenic diet, many meats and dairy products are zero carbs, and are very satiating, so make sure you take into consideration foods with a “less than 0g carb” or low-carb foods as these fractional amounts can quickly add up.
Ketogenic Diet Recipes
In the wake of popularity has sprung hundreds, if not thousands, of Ketogenic recipes, which feature new foods, comfort foods, sweet foods, and just about any other recipe hack imaginable - long gone are the days of “you can’t eat that on Keto.” Almost all recipes can be recreated to some degree thanks to crafty food bloggers, and with a bit of flexibility in the ingredients. Don’t believe us? Check out this Keto chocolate truffle recipe.
It’s a great idea to read up on Keto recipes before you begin the Ketogenic diet, as waiting until you are hungry to prepare food is never a good idea. Many recipes call for substitutions, such as cauliflower for rice or Stevia for sugar, and you may want to prepare your pantry ahead of cooking. If you love to cook, the Keto diet offers tons of exciting ingredients. And, if you don’t love to cook - you can stick to bacon and eggs or other simple fare.
See also: 5 Keto friendly snacks you need right now.
Check out these delicious Keto dessert recipe:
Can I Drink Alcohol on the Ketogenic Diet?
Generally speaking, it is best not to consume alcohol on the Ketogenic diet. This is for several reasons. First, drinking alcohol slows Ketone production. Secondly, alcohol is largely sugar, and this can kick you out of Ketosis. Many people in Ketosis report it takes less units of alcohol to feel the effects. So, if you do drink, consider what mixer you choose (most are sugar or syrup) and how many you consume.
It is Best to Avoid:
- Wine (especially sweet variations)
- Sugary mixes or soda, fruit juice
- Flavored alcohols
- Any sweet flavored drinks
If You Would Like to Drink, Opt for Low GI Alcohols:
- Scotch, Bourbon,
Where possible, serve with ice or a sugar-free soda mixer.
Keto Flu is an experience that many people feel when they transition from a Standard American Diet to a Standard Ketogenic Diet, or one if is variations. Much like the regular flu, Keto Flu is a broad-spectrum term for a series of symptoms that make the person feel exhausted, fatigued, and generally unwell. Unlike the regular flu, Keto Flu is brought on by an electrolyte imbalance (every time you urinate, you lose electrolytes).
The Ketogenic Diet is a diuretic, which means it forces your body to flush out more water. This has the benefits of making you feel more invigorated, but it can take a little getting used to. If you do not replace the lost electrolytes, you may start to feel shiverish or fatigued. The answer is to replace the lost electrolytes. You can do this by drinking a hot cup of water with a chicken or beef flavored bouillon cube (which contains lots of sodium).
Specific Symptoms of Keto Flu Include:
Anyone can experience Keto Flu at any time, but if you maintain your electrolyte levels and drink lots of water, there’s no reason you should feel unlike yourself for very long.
For tips on how to overcome Keto Flu, click here.
Ketogenic Diet Supplements
If you feel lethargic, unmotivated, have headaches, or generally feel off, you might be suffering from Keto Flu - a series of symptoms that may indicate your body is changing. One way to help overcome this sensation is to use supplements in addition to following a Keto diet to help your body adjust. Keto supplements can range from water, salts, fish oils, and fats - to low-carb microgreens, MCT Oil, collagen, or Ketones.
Supplements, as the name suggests, are not intended to override food, but to go hand-in-hand with your Ketogenic lifestyle. To find out what Keto supplements we support, please read this article.
Important Supplements to Consider Are:
- Exogenous Ketones
- Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT’s)
- Collagen Protein
- Pre-Workout Exercise Drinks
- Exogenous Ketones
- Exogenous ketones - from external sources
Many people turn to exogenous ketones if they want to get into Ketosis quickly and without the usual few-day delay. You can take them in between meals if you need extra energy, or before a workout. Think of this like caffeine, but without the “ups and downs.” Exogenous ketones also offer a variety of lifestyle benefits that can help improve your physical and mental wellness. In general, you do not have to take exogenous ketones, but many Keto warriors love to.
The Cognitive Benefits of Exogenous Ketones:
- Heightened focus
- Mental clarity
- A clean course of continual energy (no peaks)
The Physical Benefits of Exogenous Ketones:
- Increased fat-burning
- Boosted energy for exercise
- Increases satiety and a feeling of being “full”
The Psychological Benefits of Exogenous Ketones:
- Sense of well-being
- Emotional balance and stability
- Disease prevention
The Ketogenic Diet and Physical Performance
Most experts agree that 30 minutes of daily exercise is pretty necessary for everyone. And it’s no exception if you’re on the Keto diet. Exercise is still incredibly beneficial and is the best way to change your body composition. However, one of the biggest myths is that you need to eat lots of carbs when working out for energy. This is even more prevalent in gyms where athletes are often told that carbs can help them “bulk” and add body mass.
When you follow a Keto diet, your body uses glycogen for energy during a process called gluconeogenesis. This is a much more efficient energy source and can actually help propel your workout, rather than hinder it, and give you better long-term “gains.”
During gluconeogenesis, the liver (and occasionally the kidneys) turns non-sugar compounds like amino acids (the building blocks of protein), lactate, and glycerol into sugar that the body uses a fuel. When glycogen (your body’s sugar storage) is low, protein intake is high, or the body is under stress, amino acids from your meals and your muscle become one of your main energy sources.
This research paper concluded that marathon cyclists were able to use a high-fat low-carb Keto diet to sustain their energy over prolonged periods of time. The athletes were fed a strict diet of green vegetables, olive oil, and high-quality proteins (fish and meat). In all of their physical tests, they performed the same as when the initial tests were done. Each athlete decreased their body weight, body fat, and kept their muscle mass near the same. None of them had negative effects on their strength performance over the course of the study.
The only caveat to this research is for those athletes, such as bodybuilders, who require specific and “explosive” bursts of energy to create new muscle mass. For these people, the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (as noted above) should be followed.
Parting Words of Advice
While the Ketogenic diet is far from perfect (it can feel restrictive and somewhat micromanaged at times to sustain Ketosis), millions of people are opening their mind to this new way of being and the results speak for themselves. The Keto diet, when followed consistently and with the correct macronutrients and supplements, is at the forefront of fighting many of the symptoms plaguing our modern world. If you want to regain your lost energy, feel motivated, or manage the symptoms of many diseases - eating a Keto diet can help you achieve your goals.
And finally, the keto diet isn’t easy peasy. If it was, everyone would be looking and feeling their best. It takes time, effort, and planning. There will be temptations, but once you experience the rewards, the temptations become fewer as time goes on. The second most important thing to remember (after eat lots of healthy fat) is it’s never too late to try again.
If you go over your macros or find out your not in Ketosis, don’t quit. Just refresh your menu and keep going one meal at a time.
Here’s a quick recap:
- Decide what version of the Keto diet is right for you (most people will eat a SKD)
- Check your macronutrients using a Ketogenic calculator
- Check if you are in Ketosis using a urine, breath, or blood test
- Calibrate your macronutrients regularly if losing or gaining weight
- Drink lots of water and eat salt to avoid the Keto Flu
- Everyone can benefit from exercising while on a Ketogenic diet
- It’s ok to fall off - so long as you get back up again
For more information on the Ketogenic diet, check out one of the many books, podcasts, and publications. For everyone else, the only thing left is deciding what flavor Keto Kookie is your favorite.