Earlier this week I spoke about the benefits of intermittent fasting and like this Im sure you will have heard people talking about a ketogenic diet which is commonly referred to as ‘keto’. So how does a keto diet differ from intermittent fasting.
Well basically intermittent fasting is controlling the timing of when you eat and not specifically controlling exactly what you eat. Whereas a ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb eating plan that has the potential to turn your body into a fat-burning machine. So you may be asking yourself how can I eat more fat and turn myself into a fat burning machine. Well this is the beauty of how the body quickly adapts to different fuel sources.
The keto diet changes the way your body converts food into energy. Normally, your body turns carbohydrates (think bread and pasta) into glucose for energy. Eating a lot of fat and very few carbs puts you in ketosis, a metabolic state where your body burns fat instead of carbs for fuel. It does this through the use of ketones
So what are ketones? When your body can’t get glucose from your diet, your liver turns body fat and fat from your diet into molecules called ketones, an alternative source of fuel. As mentioned above this puts you into a state called ketosis. Once you enter this state your body is primarily using the fat you eat along with your stored body fat to fuel itself. You can remain in this state indefinitely however if you consume a large amount of carbohydrates the body will resume its default setting of breaking down carbohydrates to glucose and use that instead.
So Im sure your asking yourself how do I get into ketosis? There are various ways to get into ketosis. One of the ways is to fast like we discussed in the previous article. When we fast the body uses all its glucose stores to fuel the body. Once they are depleted the body has to find its next best available source of fuel which are fats from your food and body fat. The liver then starts to convert these fats into ketones to use as fuel. In conjunction with this during your next feeding window you supply your body with more fats and protein to then continue the fat burning process. All the time the body has insufficient carbohydrates to convert it will default to burning fats from your food and body fat.
If you don’t want to fast to initiate the process you can just reduce the amount of carbohydrates you eat. The aim is to keep your net carbohydrates below 50 grams per day. I’m sure your now wondering well how do I know when I’m in a state of ketosis.
Well it can take anywhere from 2-3 days to a few weeks to enter ketosis, depending on your body’s ability to adapt to burning fat for fuel. Once you’ve entered ketosis, your body will naturally produce ketones — molecules that fuel your brain and body with fat, not carbs.
You can usually tell if you’re in ketosis if you have steady, lasting energy, better focus, and a reduced appetite.
You can test your ketone levels using urine sticks which are cheap to buy on the internet.
However, just tracking how your body feels is a simple way to know whether you’ve hit that ketosis sweet spot. Here are signs you may be in ketosis:
- Reduced hunger: Ketones suppress your hunger hormones, helping you feel fuller, longer.
- Keto breath: People often experience a metallic taste in their mouth due to raised ketone levels.
- Weight loss: The keto diet burns fat, so if you’re losing weight, you’re likely in ketosis.
- Flu-like symptoms: When you first start out, you may experience symptoms of the keto flu, like headaches, chills and lightheadedness. Don’t worry this is pass it only occurs while the body adapts to the lack of carbohydrates for fuel.
In order to enter ketosis your don’t need to count all of your calories but your definitely going to have to keep track of your net carbs. There are numerous online applications that can help with counting net carbs. A net carb is the total amount of sugar in a carbohydrate minus the fibre content.
So for example a medium size avocado contains 17.1 grams of total carbs of which 13.5 grams are fibre. Therefore the net carbs are 3.6 grams. As mentioned earlier the goal is to keep your net carbs below 50 grams. The lower your carb intake the quicker you will enter ketosis.
So having understood the basics of a ketogenic lifestyle what are the benefits to eating quality fats instead of sugar loaded carbohydrates. This is a list of what you should experience.
Reduced appetite: Ketones suppress ghrelin — your hunger hormone — and increase cholecystokinin (CCK), which makes you feel full. Reduced appetite means it’s easier to go for longer periods without eating, which encourages your body to dip into its fat stores for energy.
Reduced inflammation: Inflammation is your body’s natural response to an invader it deems harmful. Too much inflammation is bad news because it increases your risk of health problems. A keto diet can reduce inflammation in the body by switching off inflammatory pathways and producing fewer free radicals compared to glucose.
Increased energy: When your brain uses ketones for fuel, you don’t experience the same energy slumps as you do when you’re eating a lot of carbs. When your metabolism is in fat-burning mode, your body taps into its readily available fat stores for energy. That means no more energy crashes or brain fog. Ketosis also helps the brain create more mitochondria, the power generators in your cells. More energy in your cells means more energy to get things done.
Curbed cravings: Fat is a satiating macronutrient. You will eat more smart fats on a keto diet therefore you will feel fuller for longer
Loss of body fat: When your in a state of ketosis your body uses stored body fat and fat from your diet as fuel. The result being weight loss in the form of fat cells.
So now you have an understanding of the benefits and what you need to do to get into ketosis you now may be wondering what exactly can you eat.
The keto lifestyle is pretty simple: Eat mostly healthy fats (75 % of your daily calories), some protein (20 %) and a very small amount of carbs (5 %). This is the breakdown that a lot of keto beginners follow, but you may have to adjust your numbers and test your ketones to see what works for you.
The following are some of the types of foods you need to eat to form the basis of your lifestyle
Oils and Fats
MCT oil, virgin coconut oil, grass fed butter, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, ghee and fish oils.
These are your main smart fats. Try to avoid margarine, vegetable oils and commercial dressings.
Collagen peptides, free range eggs, free range chicken, fish, pork, shellfish, fatty cuts of grass fed meat, offal and whey protein concentrate.
Be aware that if you get more than 20-30% of your calories from protein your body will begin to convert the protein to sugar through a process called gluconeogenesis and thus kick you out of ketosis.
Asparagus, avocado, red and green cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, kale, lettuce, olives, radish and spinach.
Be aware that root vegetables such as parsnips, carrots and potatoes are higher in starch and sugar and should be avoided.
So to summarise a ketogenic lifestyle has a multitude of benefits and I hope this article has given you an insight into if its something you would like to try.
There are different methods of following the ketogenic lifestyle which I will cover in more detail in a further article but for now I will leave you with the basics.
Our products are developed to assist you with this process. They contain collagen proteins along with MCT fats and have minimal sugar content all designed to keep you in ketosis. Our Diet collagen is ideal to take as a bulletproof coffee and our Keto protein tastes great as a hot chocolate drink. You will notice that chocolate is not listed in the listed foods due to its high sugar content.
This way you can get your chocolate fix and remain in ketosis. :)
Why not give the ketogenic lifestyle a try. Even better why not try intermittent fasting only eating ketogenic foods. This is the ultimate fat burning lifestyle.