ketogenic diet what is keto and why do it

The Ketogenic Diet is no new Fad

The Ketogenic Diet or as it’s often known, “Keto Diet”  was originally used to control seizures amongst people who suffered epilepsy. It isn’t some new trend or “in” thing. The diet has been around since the early 1900’s and has well established itself in the sciences of nutrition and medicine.

The Ketogenic Diet consists of eating high portions of fat while keeping carbohydrate consumption to a minimum with a moderate amount of protein added to sustain muscle mass. A keto diets primary aim is to have your body rely on fats for energy in a state called ketosis.

Here is a short and simple explanation of the Ketogenic Diet for a more in-depth run down continue reading.

Ketogenic Diet Infographic Ketosis

A simple Ketogenic Diet Infographic. Feel free to use it on your site with attribution and link to this page.

What is Ketosis and how does a Keto Diet bring it about?

Ketosis occurs when your body ceases to rely on carbohydrates as fuel. Your liver begins to convert the fat stored in your body into fatty acids and ketone bodies, these ketone bodies then replace glucose as the bodies energy source.

Shifting from carbohydrates or glucose for energy to fats as the bodies fuel source is beneficial in the fact that;

  • You attain a longer lasting, sustained energy
  • You have sharper concentration and mental focus.
  • You don’t require more frequent refeeds as your bodies energy source is now much longer lasting and constant.

Opposed to the short spikes, up’s and downs and eventual crashes that you get with simple carbohydrates and even that of complex carbohydrates.

This is one reason many elite sports people that compete in events of endurance have switched to this way of eating, but it’s not the only reason.

Keto Diet and Hunger Control

A ketogenic diet also has the added benefit of reducing even eliminating hunger pangs due to the effect ketosis has on suppressing the hunger inducing hormone ghrelin.

What is Ghrelin?

As stated in the last paragraph Ghrelin is a hormone, secreted when your stomach is empty. When empty Ghrelin signals hunger, and it stops secreting when your stomach is full.

Keeping the “ghrelin gremlin” under control when you’re eating portions of carbs and protein the size of your fist on a restrictive food pyramid diet is near impossible due to how carbs in particular work.

No doubt that carbohydrates temporary satiation and near zero effect on ghrelin is the reason many nutritionists and dieticians have slowly invented the notion of eating six times a day.

Eating six meals a day is no requirement for healthy living. Eating when you’re hungry is the best approach.

They probably figure as long as you have food in your mouth, you’re not whining to them about how terribly hard their diets are.

If you’re eating healthy as prescribed on a ketogenic diet, you won’t want to eat six meals a day. Ketosis’ ghrelin control takes care of that.

Diets shouldn’t consume you; you should consume them.

Hunger is a huge obstacle not only for those people requiring focus in sporting events or at work, but it is without a doubt, the biggest speed hump to those of us struggling to lose body fat.

Trying to stick to a calorie-reduced diet while dealing with the stress of hunger consumes the majority of our thoughts throughout the day.

Hunger is powerful it affects all of us whether we’re trying to trim down or not, it;

  • Makes you cranky and irritable. Usually, a displeasure to be around.
  • It has you making rash, sabotaging decisions. Reaching for the Chocolate or Ordering a Pizza
  • Has a powerful effect on mood and reason
  • Inhibits cognition, logic, and focus
  • And is probably one of the biggest inhibitors of enjoyment there is.

Hunger see’s most dieters at their wits end; tired, cranky and constantly in need of something to satiate them. The high fat in a ketogenic diet will keep you satisfied for much longer with a far smaller portion of food than other diets.

Controlling Hunger is Essential to Maintaining your Diet and SANITY

Failing to understand the psychology and immense stress that many “specialists” lump upon their clients through starvation with a calorie restricted food pyramid diet is a recipe for failure. It’s akin to a mechanic changing the oil without filling the radiator; “the car will start, but it won’t get far.”

Just regurgitating standard old catch phrases such as;

  • food groups
  • the food pyramid
  • portion control
  • and moderation

That are carbon copied from the last person who sought their advice, leaves the client anticipating, “in their mind”; misery, misery, misery, and starvation. That kind of advice isn’t any Robinson Crusoe moment nor is it knowledge unique to a specialist, we’ve all heard it before and failed at it time and again.

Keto Diet or any diet aside, dieticians and nutritionists must take into account not only the potential impact that their prescribed meal plans will have on a persons physical health, but also what such a drastic change will have on a persons mental health and how that affects their ability to maintain the diet.

Having people constantly hungry, stressed out and craving food is no way to expect them to stick to any diet plan. 

Luckily there are those out there who accept that “science develops” just as technology develops, they’re constantly upskilling and are being proactive in keeping up with the latest research to best advise their clients in a holistic approach (mind and body).

The video above by Australias, ABC Catalyst program is a case in point. Here we have Professor Tim Noakes, Professor Katherine Samaras – Endocrinologist Diabetes and Obesity specialist, Associate Professor Tim Crowe, Dr. Peter Brukner OAM the Australian Cricket Teams Doctor, Dr. Steve Phinney and Dr. Zeeshan Arain. Presenting the research, benefits, facts, and science of high fat, low carb diets.

How to get into Ketosis

Ketosis is achieved by eliminating sugar, sugary fruit, grains, bread, pasta, root vegetables and replacing them with non-starchy vegetables, meats, eggs, full creams, healthy oils, high fat – low carb nuts such as Walnuts, Brasil Nuts, and Macadamias, and a whole bunch of other high fat low carb foods.

The Keto Diet is anything but boring. Once you conquer your addiction to sugars, you’ll be eating like Royalty.

However, ketosis only occurs once the body no longer has the means to use carbohydrates or more pointedly glucose as its first choice energy source. Just one large dose of carbs will see you spiking your insulin, processing glucose and ceasing to be in ketosis. (Your body will always use carbs first).

Therefore, it is imperative that you keep your carb intake below 30grams or less of net carbs (net carbs = total carbs – fiber carbs) per day to remain in ketosis.

Some people will need to restrict their carbs to even less than that due to:

  • size
  • gender
  • and plain old genetics

If you can manage 15 grams of carbs a day, you’ll see yourself in ketosis in no time. This very low carb intake is the main difference between just any low carb diet and a ketogenic diet.

how long does it take to get into ketosis

Read our in-depth article on how to get into ketosis here.

Don’t Budge, Stick to the Ketogenic Plan

Low carb diets are not necessarily ketogenic, but the ketogenic diet is most definitely low carb. When you learn to read nutritional labels, it is not at all hard to stay in ketosis.

Most of, if not all of, your carbs should come from vegetables grown above the ground and low carb containing nuts. DO NOT TRADE OFF YOUR VEGETABLES FOR 30gram of Carbs from a block of chocolate, the nutrients that vegetables and nuts provide are essential to your health.

The Ketogenic Diet is not a game it’s your new way of nutrition.

Do you hear anyone advising recovering heroin addicts to have just a little cheat injection on Sunday? No of course not. Why? Because they’re right back to square one tormenting themselves with that rush that they love so much.

Anyone that suggests to you a cheat meal or “just a little won’t hurt”, may be trying to be nice but they are sabotaging your goals, politely decline. 

You want to train yourself away from sugars and just forget about cheat meals. Sugar and other carbs are an addiction, thankfully much easier than cigarettes to kick. You don’t eat that rubbish anymore!

Oils ain’t oils

Healthy fats and oils are essential for total wellbeing and a well rounded Keto Diet. But not all oils are equal. There are suggestions that some oils, such as MCT oil that is made up of the fatty acids helps you get into ketosis faster.

MCT oil containing:

  1. Caprylic acid
  2. Capric acid

and Coconut Oil which contains all four medium chain fatty acids:

  1. Caprylic acid
  2. Capric acid
  3. Caproic acid
  4. Lauric Acid

You can now get Coconut Oil in both liquid and capsule form here.

Coconut oil has the added benefit of Lauric acid which further staves off cravings, boosts immune function and enhances cognition.Read about coconut oils ketogenic benefits in this article.

There is also Fish Oil where you should be more interested in the amount of EPA and DHA content than the actual milligram of oil per dose. It is EPA and DHA that have the anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits that fish oil is known for.

You should make it a point to ensure that you make room in your diet to get a good intake of these essential nutrients.

Fat, Protein and Ketosis

Ok firstly, I’m not here to debate on a bodybuilders level of protein consumption and what is too much or too little to become Mr. Olympia.

What I will say is this, if you are somebody going to the gym wanting to lose weight, tone up and keep healthy (which I highly recommend that you engage in some sort of exercise). It will be to your enormous detriment if you seek out any dietary advice or secrets from bodybuilders (or other athletes for that matter).

It will be to your enormous detriment if you seek out any dietary advice or secrets from bodybuilders or other athletes who might possess the physic you desire.

The goals of athletes and bodybuilders are different, and they’ll only confuse you, they are not for you at this point. Besides many have done no research themselves and merely follow the “Bro Science” grapevine.

Too Much Protein Will Kick You Out Of Ketosis

What you do need to know is, that you should be highly aware of your protein vs. fat consumption just as you are aware of your carbohydrate consumption.

Ketogenic diet what is it and why do it

Learn to read nutrition labels

That means you should not over consume protein either. Too much protein can most definitely give you a spike in insulin and throw you out of ketosis.

If you need to work out exactly how much protein you should be consuming, use our Keto Calculator here.

Your protein intake on a ketogenic diet should be 25% of your daily calories compared to fats 70% and carbs 5%. Stick to that and you will have ample protein for muscle building and muscle retention.

As long as you feed your body plenty of energy in the way of fats it will have no reason to become catabolic and start breaking down muscle.

Read this article on Ketogenic Diet Weight Loss, Ketosis Done Properly for more info on the weight loss side of things.

What will happen when I start a Keto Diet and enter Ketosis?

keto-flu-symptoms-low-carb-flu-ketosis

There is no need to suffer Keto Flu if you do the Ketogenic Diet properly.

The first weeks on your ketogenic diet will be the most difficult as you start to ween yourself of carbohydrates; you will crave sugar, bread and pasta like any person addicted to a substance would. This is the period of time that you spend becoming keto adapted.

Many people feel lethargic and have cold or flu-like symptoms. This is due mostly to a lack of electrolytes and our learned fear of salt. When you rid your body of carbohydrates your body flushes itself from a build up of sodium that is required to process carbs.

Salt is the Bodies Primary Electrolyte

So to avoid Keto Flu you should replenish yourself with Electrolytes often. We wrote an article on Keto Flu, read it, follow it and you should be fine. Keto Flu Symptoms, Low Carb Headache and Fatigue in Ketosis

You should also consider that you are in effect also detoxing from sugar. Sugar is a very power substance and highly addictive, so you can expect some response from your body while you become accustomed to living without it.

Rapid Weight Loss

On the plus side, you will notice a dramatic shift in weight, for which most will be water loss. This sudden drop in water retention is because for each gram of carbohydrate your body holds onto, it holds onto 3 grams of water.

Edema, water retention or bloat is responsible for a myriad of health issues. We won’t get into them at this time but take it from me it will only be of benefit to bring that beast under control.

Just be prepared to be urinating a lot while your body flushes out this excess baggage.

From this point on you will continue to notice changes in your body.

Note: I urge you to resist using scales as much as possible. Scales can be temperamental, and disheartening, especially on a keto diet where you won’t be losing muscle mass.

Instead, use body measuring tapes around:

  1. mid section
  2. chest
  3. thighs
  4. arms

Take photos of yourself in your underwear take them:

  • weekly
  • on the same day
  • at the same time of day
  • in the same position
  • with the same lighting if you can help it

You will be pleasantly surprised. This will be a great tool and motivating factor to your ongoing, new found freedom.

I’m confident that if you stick to the Ketogenic Diet, do it right and DO NOT CHEAT. You will find ketosis easy to maintain. You won’t ever feel hungry or have the desire to overeat and you’ll feel great!

Just be sure if you have any ailments what so ever to consult your doctor no matter what changes in diet you may be thinking of making, whether it be a Ketogenic Diet, Paleo or others.