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How to start a ketogenic diet – All the resources you need to start a keto diet effectively and safely.
Republished with the permission of our Friends of Nutrition Authority. Original article here.
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How to start a ketogenic diet.
The ketogenic diet is a diet low in carbohydrates and high in fat which has many health benefits. Once you learn more about the ketogenic diet and how to get started, be sure to check out this ultimate Keto Resource Guide to help you with every step of your new ketogenic lifestyle.
More than 20 studies have shown that this type of diet can help you lose weight and improve your health (1).
Ketogenic diets may even have beneficial effects on diabetes, cancer, epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease (2, 3, 4, 5).
This article is a detailed beginner's guide to the ketogenic diet.
It contains everything you need to know.
What is a ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet (often called keto) is a very low carbohydrate and high fat diet that shares many similarities with Atkins and low-carb diets.
This involves a drastic reduction in carbohydrate intake and its replacement with fat. The reduction of carbohydrates puts your body in a metabolic state called ketosis.
When this happens, your body becomes incredibly effective at burning fat in energy. It also converts fats into ketones in the liver, which can provide energy to the brain (6, 7).
Ketogenic diets can lead to massive reductions in blood sugar levels and insulin levels. This, along with the increase in ketones, has many health benefits (6, 8, 9, 10, 11).
Final result: The ketogenic diet (keto) is a diet low in carbohydrates and high in fat. It lowers blood sugar and insulin levels and moves the body's metabolism from carbohydrates to lipids and ketones.
Different types of ketogenic diets
There are several versions of the ketogenic diet, including:
- Standard ketogenic diet (SKD): It is a diet very low in carbohydrates, moderate in protein and high in fat. It usually contains 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbohydrates (1).
- Cyclic Ketogenic Diet (CKD): This diet involves periods of high carbohydrate meals, such as 5 days ketogenic followed by 2 days rich in carbohydrates.
- Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): This diet allows you to add carbohydrates around workouts.
- High protein ketogenic diet: it looks like a standard ketogenic diet but contains more protein. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbohydrate.
However, only standard and high protein ketogenic diets have been studied extensively. Cyclic or targeted ketogenic diets are more advanced methods, mainly used by bodybuilders or athletes.
The information in this article applies primarily to the standard ketogenic diet (SKD), although many of the same principles apply equally to other versions.
Final result: There are several versions of the ketogenic diet. The standard ketogenic diet (SKD) is the most studied and the most recommended.
Ketogenic diets can help you lose weight
A ketogenic diet is an effective way to lose weight and reduce risk factors for illness (8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13).
In fact, research shows that the ketogenic diet is far superior to the recommended low-fat diet (2, 14, 15, 16).
Plus, the diet is so plentiful that you can lose weight without counting calories or following your food (16).
One study found that people on ketogenic diet lost 2.2 times more weight than those on a low calorie diet. Levels of triglyceride and HDL cholesterol also improved (17).
Another study found that participants in the ketogenic diet lost 3 times more weight than those in Diabetes UK's recommended diet (18).
There are several reasons why a ketogenic diet is superior to a low fat diet. One is the increase in protein intake, which provides many benefits (14, 19, 20).
Increasing ketones, lowering blood sugar levels and improving insulin sensitivity can also play a key role (21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 ).
For more details on the effects of a ketogenic diet on weight loss, read this article: A Ketogenic Diet to Lose Weight and Fight the Disease.
Final result: A ketogenic diet can help you lose a lot more weight than a low-fat diet. This often happens without hunger.
Ketogenic diets for diabetes and prediabetes
Diabetes is characterized by changes in metabolism, elevated blood glucose, and impaired insulin function (27).
The ketogenic diet can help you lose excess fat, which is closely related to type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and metabolic syndrome (28, 29, 30).
One study showed that the ketogenic diet improved insulin sensitivity by 75% (29).
Another study of patients with type 2 diabetes found that 7 out of 21 participants were able to stop all diabetes medications (28).
In another study, the ketogenic group lost 24.1 kg (11.1 kg) compared to 15.9 kg (6.9 kg) in the high carbohydrate group. This is a significant benefit when considering the link between weight and type 2 diabetes (2, 31).
In addition, 95.2% of the ketogenic group were also able to stop or reduce antidiabetic drugs, compared with 62% in the richer carbohydrate group (2).
This article has more details on low carb diets and diabetes.
Final result: The ketogenic diet can increase insulin sensitivity and cause fat loss, resulting in a drastic improvement in type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.
Other benefits of the ketogenic diet
The ketogenic diet has actually been designed as a tool to treat neurological diseases such as epilepsy.
Studies have now shown that diet can have beneficial effects on a wide variety of health problems:
- Heart disease: The ketogenic diet can improve risk factors such as body fat, HDL levels, blood pressure and blood glucose (32, 33).
- Cancer: The diet is currently used to treat several types of cancer and slow tumor growth (4, 34, 35, 36).
- Alzheimer's disease: the diet can reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and slow down the progression of the disease (5, 37, 38).
- Epilepsy: Research has shown that the ketogenic diet can lead to a significant reduction in epileptic seizures in children with epilepsy (3).
- Parkinson's disease: A study found that diet helped to improve the symptoms of Parkinson's disease (39).
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome: The ketogenic diet may help reduce insulin levels, which may play a key role in polycystic ovary syndrome (40).
- Brain injury: An animal study has shown that diet can reduce concussions and facilitate recovery after brain injury (41).
- Acne: Reducing insulin levels and eating less sugar or processed foods can help improve acne (42).
However, keep in mind that research in many of these areas is far from conclusive.
Final result: A ketogenic diet can have many health benefits, especially in cases of metabolic, neurological or insulin-related diseases.
Foods to avoid
In short, any high carbohydrate food should be limited.
Here is a list of foods that need to be reduced or eliminated with a ketogenic diet:
- Sweet foods: sodas, juices, smoothies, cakes, ice creams, sweets, etc.
- Grain or starch: wheat products, rice, pasta, cereals, etc.
- Fruit: All fruits except small portions of berries such as strawberries.
- Beans or legumes: peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
- Root and tuber vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
- Lean or Diet Products: These are highly processed products that are often high in carbohydrates.
- Some condiments or sauces: they often contain sugar and unhealthy fats.
- Unhealthy fats: Limit your intake of processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
- Alcohol: Because of its carbohydrate content, many alcoholic drinks can make you leave ketosis. Check out this post for an excellent list of low-carb alcoholic beverages.
- Dietary foods without sugar: they are often high in sugar alcohols, which can affect ketone levels in some cases. These foods also tend to be highly processed.
Final result: Avoid carbohydrate foods such as cereals, sugars, legumes, rice, potatoes, sweets, fruit juices and even most fruits.
Foods to eat
You should base the majority of your meals on these foods:
- Meat: Red meat, steak, ham, sausage, bacon, chicken and turkey.
- Oily fish: such as salmon, trout, tuna and mackerel.
- Eggs: Look for whole pastured or omega-3 eggs.
- Butter and Cream: Look for grass-fed foods where possible.
- Cheese: Unprocessed cheese (cheddar, goat, cream, blue or mozzarella).
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.
- Healthy Oils: Mainly extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil.
- Avocados: whole avocados or freshly made guacamole.
- Low carbohydrate vegetables: most green vegetables, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.
- Condiments: You can use salt, pepper and various healthy herbs and spices.
Final result: Base the majority of your diet on foods such as meat, fish, eggs, butter, nuts, healthy oils, avocados and many low carb vegetables.
An example of a ketogenic meal plan for 1 week
To help you get started, here's an example of a week-long ketogenic meal plan: Click here to sign up for your FREE one-week meal plan with low carb and gluten levels.
Always try rotating vegetables and meat over the long term as each type provides different nutrients and health benefits.
Final result: You can eat a wide variety of tasty and nutritious meals on a ketogenic diet.
Healthy ketogenic snacks
If you are hungry between meals, here are some healthy snacks approved by the keto:
- Oily meat or fish.
- A handful of nuts or seeds.
- Cheese with olives.
- 1-2 hard boiled eggs.
- 90% dark chocolate.
- A low carb milkshake with almond milk, cocoa powder and nut butter.
- Whole yogurt mixed with nut butter and cocoa powder.
- Strawberries and cream.
- Celery with salsa and guacamole.
- Small portions of leftover meals.
Final result: Pieces of meat, cheese, olives, boiled eggs, nuts and dark chocolate are great snacks for a keto diet.
Tips for eating the ketogenic diet
It is not very difficult to prepare most meals in restaurant restaurants when you go to the restaurant.
Most restaurants offer meat or fish dishes. Order this and replace the carbohydrate foods with extra vegetables.
Egg-based meals are also a great option, such as an omelette or eggs and bacon.
Another favorite is the hamburgers without bread. You can also leave the bread and swap the fries for vegetables. Add a fresh avocado, cheese, bacon or egg.
In Mexican restaurants, you can enjoy any type of meat with extra cheese, guacamole, salsa and sour cream.
For dessert, ask for a mixed cheese platter or double cream with berries.
Final result: When eating out, choose a dish of meat, fish or eggs. Order extra vegetables instead of carbohydrates or starchy foods and take cheese for dessert.
Side effects and how to minimize them
Although the ketogenic diet is safe for healthy people, some side effects may occur early in the adjustment of your body.
This is often called "keto flu" and usually ends after a few days.
Keto flu includes poor energy and mental functions, increased hunger, sleep problems, nausea, digestive disorders and decreased physical performance.
In order to minimize this, you can try a regular low carb diet for the first few weeks. This can teach your body to burn more fat before completely eliminating carbohydrates.
A ketogenic diet can also alter the fluid and mineral balance of your body. It may be useful to add salt to your meals or take mineral supplements.
For minerals, try taking 3,000 to 4,000 mg of sodium, 1,000 mg of potassium and 300 mg of magnesium a day to minimize side effects.
At least in the beginning, it is important to eat up to the fullness and avoid too much limiting calories. Generally, a ketogenic diet causes weight loss without intentional caloric restriction.
Final result: Many side effects of the beginning of a ketogenic diet can be limited. Relaxing the diet and taking mineral supplements can help.
Supplements for a ketogenic diet
Although no supplement is necessary, some may be useful.
- MCT Oil: Added to drinks or yogurt, MCT oil provides energy and helps to increase ketone levels.
- Minerals: The addition of salt and other minerals can be important when getting started, due to changes in water and mineral balance.
- Caffeine: Caffeine can have beneficial effects on energy, fat loss and performance.
- Creatine: Creatine offers many health and performance benefits. This can help if you combine a ketogenic diet with exercise.
- Whey: Use half a spoon of whey protein in shakes or yogurt to increase your daily protein intake.
Final result: Some supplements may be beneficial on a ketogenic diet. These include exogenous ketones, MCT oil and minerals.
Frequently asked questions
Here are the answers to the most common questions about the ketogenic diet.
1. Can I ever eat carbs again?
Yes. However, it is important to eliminate them initially. After the first two or three months, you can eat carbohydrates on special occasions. You just have to resume the diet immediately after.
2. Will I lose muscle?
There is a risk of losing a little muscle with any diet. However, high intake of protein and ketones can help minimize muscle loss, especially if you lift weights.
3. Can you develop muscles on a ketogenic diet?
Yes, but it may not work as well as with a moderate carbohydrate diet. More details: Low carb / ketogenic diets and physical performance.
4. Do I need to refuel or load carbohydrates?
No. However, a few days high in calories can be beneficial from time to time.
5. How much protein can I eat?
Proteins need to be moderated because very high consumption can raise insulin levels and reduce ketones. About 35% of total caloric intake is probably the upper limit.
6. What if I am constantly tired, weak or tired?
You can not be in ketosis or use fat and ketones effectively. To counter this, decrease your carbohydrate intake and return to the points above. A supplement like MCT oil or ketones can also help.
7. Does my urine smell like fruity? Why is it?
Do not worry. This is simply due to the excretion of byproducts created during ketosis.
8. My breath smells. What can I do?
This is a common side effect. Try to drink naturally scented water or chew sugarless gum.
9. I heard that ketosis was extremely dangerous. Is it true?
People often confuse ketosis with ketoacidosis. The former is natural, while the latter only occurs in uncontrolled diabetes.
Ketoacidosis is dangerous, but ketosis of a ketogenic diet is perfectly normal and healthy.
10. I have problems with digestion and diarrhea. What can I do?
This common side effect usually disappears after 3 to 4 weeks. If this persists, try eating more fiber rich vegetables. Magnesium supplements can also help with constipation.
A ketogenic diet is good, but not for everyone
A ketogenic diet may be ideal for people who are overweight, diabetic or who wish to improve their metabolic health.
It may be less suitable for elite athletes or those who wish to add large amounts of muscle or weight.
And, as with any diet, it will only work if you are consistent and stick to it in the long run.
That being said, few things are as proven in nutrition as the powerful benefits of a ketogenic diet on health and weight loss.
Once you learn more about the ketogenic diet and how to get started, be sure to check out this ultimate Keto Resource Guide to help you with every step of your new ketogenic lifestyle.
This article has been republished with permission. Find the original article here