Our guide for keto diet beginners will help you learn and understand everything you need to know about keto: how it works, how to get started, what you should eat and what should you avoid on keto, what are the benefits of a ketogenic diet and so much more!
How does a Ketogenic Diet work?
Let’s start with what is a ketogenic diet, also called “keto diet” and how it works. In a standard diet, the body uses carbohydrates for energy, which are turned into glucose and are used for sudden fast bursts of energy. Carbohydrates are foods such as pasta, grains, oats, bread, sugar, etc. The process which turns carbohydrates into glucose to be used for energy is causing a spike in your blood sugar levels, hence the 3 PM energy crash and the craving of sugar or carbs. Since the body is using small amounts of glucose at a time, it stores it in the liver and in the muscles as glycogen. If you overeat carbohydrates, they will be stored as fat.
Now what does keto have to do with carbohydrates? Actually, the goal of the keto diet is to eat a very limited amount of carbs, mostly healthy fats and some protein. You might be thinking, if you don’t eat carbohydrates, what will your body use for energy? No worries! Your body has another energy source, which is called ketones, and the keto or ketogenic diet comes from. When carbohydrates are limited, the liver creates ketones which are used for energy. The process is called ketosis, and the keto diet is designed to help your body achieve this metabolic state by encouraging you to eat high-fat foods, some protein and very little carbs.
What’s super cool about ketones, is that they are created from stored fat, can you believe it? The energy which is created with ketones lasts long and is consistent, so you will not have an afternoon energy crush anymore. When this process starts, you already start losing excess fat, since it’s being used to fuel your body. As long as you keep your body in the metabolic state of ketosis, you’re basically a fat-burning machine.
How to reach Ketosis
You might ask yourself, what does it take to get your body into ketosis? Well, it’s about what you eat and how much of it you eat. We’re talking about macronutrients here, or “macros”. It’s pretty simple to understand even if you don’t have any background in this field. In the human diet, there are a total of 3 macronutrients: proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Different types of diets recommend a different percentage of the three main macros to be eaten daily. Daily macos breakdown on the keto diet should look like this:
- Fat – 75%
- Protein – 20%
- Carbohydrates – 5%
In comparison, general dietary guidelines for carb consumption are anywhere between 45 and 65 percent, so you will have to adjust to a whole new way of eating. On a ketogenic diet, about 75% of your total daily calories should come from fat. Fat is in fact the most essential nutrient that your body needs to live. It can help you increase satiety and fuel your body, and you definitely need it to take your body into ketosis.
If you follow the above macros ratio, depending on some personal details such as current glycogen supplies and activity level, you should be able to achieve ketosis in 2 to 7 days. Imagine that in 1 week you can already benefit from a ketogenic diet!
Prepare for the Keto Flu
When your body achieves ketosis, the next stage is quite straightforward: keep your carb intake at 5% and you can maintain ketosis, while feeling almost no hunger at all. However, when you transition to a keto diet, your body undergoes huge changes, and it will take some determination to adjust, especially during the days when you experience the “keto flu” or “low-carb” flu.
When your body doesn’t receive the usual carbs, you might start to have some symptoms which keto dieters refer to as the keto flu. It’s due to the flu-like symptoms which happen due to dehydration and the loss of electrolytes. Some other symptoms are nausea, headaches, sugar cravings and fatigue. Here are some ways you can do to prepare for the keto flu, and make these symptoms lighter:
- Slow transition to keto. Instead of suddenly limiting your carb intake from super high to 5 percent, start with about 100 grams of carbs per day, and decrease the amount gradually from here.
- Stay hydrated. It’s super important to drink enough water every single day. When you get dehydrated, all symptoms will seem so much worse than they actually are.
- Stay rested. Same as with other symptoms, if you are rested and get enough sleep, they will not seem so horrible. The more tired you are, the more every feeling you have will be exaggerated.
Keto diet beginners
Keto Diet Benefits
Fat loss is just one of the amazing benefits that come with a keto diet. People who reach and maintain ketosis, generally experience a range of other effects, like better sleep, improved focus, more energy, better skin, reduced hunger, better digestion and less mood swings.
When you cut simple, processed carbs from your diet, like candy, sugar and pastries, your skin problems diminish and so do energy crashes. All of this is happening thanks to keto. Other benefits of the ketogenic diet, based on scientific research are: possible protection of brain function and improved heart health, improved PCOS symptoms and possible reduced risk of several types of cancer.
For people who suffer from diabetes, keto can turn their life around. Several studies show that when the body is in ketosis, blood glucose control is improved along with weight loss. It means improvements in insulin sensitivity and reduced dependence on medicines, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Thinking of starting keto? It might be the best diet out there for you. Eat healthy and nutritious foods while you lose weight and improve your health.