Keto Diet Explained
The ketogenic diet is trendy due to its various health benefits. Besides how it helps to lose weight, there are many keto diet FAQs. Not all of them can be answered in a single article, but we will explain how the ketogenic diet works by covering the most common questions. And by the end of this article, you will get the opportunity to learn how to customize your diet by taking a simple quiz.
What is a Keto Diet? Keto Macros Percentage
The Keto diet is a very low-carbohydrate diet that is organized to uplift the metabolism and transform fat into ketone bodies (instead of carbohydrates into glucose) to provide the main source of energy to the body. A keto diet can be explained by these 3 simple principles: high in fat, a moderate amount of protein, very low in carbs (hardly any starch, and no refined sugar).
As you may find carbohydrates in many unexpected foods like dairy products, for example, it is impossible to follow a diet with zero percent of carbs. Instead, ketosis can be induced while eating these percentage of nutrients:
- Very low Carbs: 5-10%
- Protein: 10-20%
- Fats: 60-70%
What are the types of Keto diet?
There are four different types of Ketogenic diet that are shortly explained below:
1. Standard Ketogenic diet(SKD): This is an extremely low-carbohydrate, moderate-protein and high-fat diet(5% carbs + 20% proteins + 75% fat).
2. Cyclic Ketogenic diet(CKD): This diet includes sessions of higher-carbohydrate re-feeds, such as 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high-carb days.
3. Targeted ketogenic diet(TKD): This diet allows you to add fast-digesting carbs around workouts. Cyclical keto diets or targeted ketogenic diets are very advanced methods and mainly used by athletes or bodybuilders.
4. High protein ketogenic diet (HPKD): It is more like a standard keto diet, but involves more protein (5% carbs+35% protein+60% fat). Standard and high-protein ketogenic diets are widely used for clinical purposes (such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.) and weight loss.
How does the Keto diet work?
The aim of the keto diet to enter a ketosis state by lowering carbs intake and eat more fats, causing the body to burn ketone bodies instead of glucose to get energy. The question is: how to get in a ketogenic/ketosis state? Most diets usually include too many carbohydrates (such as grains, legumes, fruits, and some vegetables) with some protein and not enough fat. This is why ketosis does not occur.
When the average person eats carbs rich meal, the body converts those carbs into glucose for energy. Insulin moves that glucose into the cell. In the presence of carbs, the primary source of energy is glucose. But the scheme is different on the keto diet.
On the keto diet, the carbohydrate intake is very low and the body uses another source of energy to keep things working well. This energy comes from fats. In the absence of carbs, the liver takes fatty acids(stored fat) in the body and converts them into ketone bodies(ketones) as an energy source. This process is called ketosis and it’s the aim for those on a keto diet. The following infographic explained how food is transformed into energy on a keto diet compared to a higher carbs diet.
How to trigger ketosis
Ketosis can be trigger naturally but also by using keto supplements. All the methods revolve around the same idea: lower the amount of glucose in the blood and increase fat consumption. Here are some tips that can help you trigger ketosis:
- Reduce your daily carb intake: While many studies suggest eating 0.7 to 1.76 ounces (20 – 50 g) of carbohydrate per day, at the beginning the main goal is to cut back on carbs.
- Incorporate coconut product into your diet: Replace your traditional snacks with a cup of coconut milk or a piece of copra. Use coconut oil and coconut milk to prepare keto-friendly meals and drinks. In addition to providing healthy fat, USDA-certified coconut oil has plenty of health benefits and may contain around 60% of MCTs.
- Consume more avocado and unrefined oils: serving every non-fatty meal with a tablespoon of oil or a slice of avocado is a good way to get the required amount of daily healthy fat.
- Combine keto with intermittent fasting: this combination can help you trigger ketosis fast. This is also important for people who have reached a plateau in weight loss.
- Be active and exercise: Since the body needs more glucose to perform physical activities, this will help to lower blood sugar and keep a low level of insulin.
- Eat the right amount of protein: Getting 1/5 of your calories from protein makes you feel full for a longer period of time. This helps to prevent cravings and to build muscles.
- Use MCT oil or coconut oil capsules: MCT oils are usually made from coconuts or the fruits of oil palm trees. It is one of the most digestible fat. Coconut oil capsules are also supplements that could be used in a keto diet.
- Try exogenous ketone supplements: some people may not be able to produce enough ketone bodies to enter or stay in ketosis. In this case, exogenous ketone pills can be a good way to achieving good results on the keto diet.
How long does it take to go into ketosis?
Going into ketosis can take a day for someone doing extreme workouts or training with a low-calorie intake. It can also take several days, up to 7 days for most people that follow the concept: low in carb – moderate in protein – high in healthy fat.
However, producing ketone bodies is just the beginning and not the end goal. It is just one step towards keto-adaptation. The body needs time to learn how to use this new source of energy effectively and this may take a few weeks. The problem is not everyone will persevere and make the transition.
Weight loss and Keto Diet
The Keto diet is effective for weight loss because the body turns on the burning of your body fats on keto and your body mostly gets all energy from fats and ketone bodies. Less intake of protein fulfills other needs of the body instead of the energy source or building body mass. The Keto diet also reduces appetite and encourages lipolysis. Therefore, always burning of fats, no storage of fats, and no building of body mass leads to weight loss.
Note: If you are a bodybuilder and want to maintain body mass(Muscle) you may follow Cyclical or Targeted ketogenic diets.
How to start a keto diet
Following a keto diet is one of the best ways to positively transform your body and feel good. Getting started with keto is not hard but it still requires that you are dedicated to changing your eating habits. Here are the top 3 keys to start a keto diet on the right foot.
Eat the right foods: free your cupboards and your refrigerator off any high carbs foods, especially sweets and unhealthy snacks. Instead, eat more keto-friendly foods like meats, high-fat dairy, unrefined oils, avocado, and leafy greens, nuts and seeds, berries, and keto-approved sweeteners.
Eat fewer grains, sugary fruit, processed foods, and starchy vegetables. Find keto-friendly alternatives for common food like bread, pasta, rice, pastries, sweetened desserts.
Monitor your calorie count: It is important to know how much you eat because it will directly impact your weight. Know your recommended daily intake and keep track of your progress. Using the scale once a week or twice a month is perfectly fine to get started and check your progress. Make sure to follow the macronutrient ratio.
Get ready to experience the keto flu: Reducing drastically carbs intake may induce some non-permanent symptoms called the keto flu. For example tiredness, fatigue, blurred perception, sleeping issues. To minimize those negative effects, you can consume more mineral waters that are rich in sodium, potassium, and magnesium. There are also helpful food supplements like electrolyte powder or keto electrolyte. Thus, don’t forget to favor high-quality fat over unhealthy fat.
What are the types of ketone bodies or ketones?
Fatty acids fragmentation results in the production of 3 types of ketones:
- Acetoacetate: formed first during ketosis
- Acetone: formed as a side product of acetoacetate
- Beta-hydroxybutyric acid: produced from acetoacetate
After being produced into the liver, they are used as an energy source by other organs. Ketones are an effective source of energy particularly useful during a period of food shortage. When there is not enough blood glucose available, the body will melt fat to produce energy. Which explains why a person on a keto diet can have a leaner body than other people who consume more carbohydrate.
Ketone bodies in urine
People who follow this diet should know if their body has transitioned into the ketosis state. Using urine ketone strips is an effective way to check at home if someone pees ketone. If you are not peeing ketone then the diet is not working, there is something to fix.
What level of ketones in urine indicates ketosis and what is the optimal ketone level for weight loss?
The body can enter the ketosis state when the level of ketones exceeds 0.5 mmol/l. Between 1/2 and 1.5 mmol/l, there will be a moderate effect on your health and the ability to lose weight. Many researchers have shown that the ideal ketosis level for weight loss is between 1.5 mmol/l and 3 mmol/l.
A ketone level greater than 3.0 mmol/l is considered abnormally high and can lead to severe health issues. If that happens, it is recommended to consult a doctor as soon as possible. Aiming for 2 mmol/l is a safe way to avoid ketoacidosis and benefit from an optimal ketone level while following a low-carb diet.
|Benefits and risks
|Less than 0.5 mmol/l
|Negative to low ketone level
|0.5 to 1.5 mmol/l
|Moderate ketone level
|Nutritional ketosis begins
|1.5 to 3 mmol/l
|Optimal ketone zone
|Best weight loss results
|Greater than 3 mmol/l
|Risk of ketoacidosis
Best time to test ketones in urine
To get the best result, one should test ketone level around 2,5 hours after eating or first thing in the morning before consuming anything. It is better to use ketone strips for urine testing at the same time and in identical conditions.
For example, testing ketone after working may give a significantly different result since exercising influences the level of ketone bodies. People who combine keto and intermittent fasting should properly schedule ketone testing.
What are Macros? And What are the keto diet Macros?
“Macros” stands for macronutrients. Macros are the nutrients required in large amount in daily intake and we call them “the big three nutrients”
- Carbohydrates: 100% anti-ketogenic
- Proteins: 46% ketogenic and 58% anti-ketogenic
- Fats: 90% ketogenic and 10% anti-ketogenic
The anti-ketogenic activity of carbohydrates and proteins will impact our ketone level and make it difficult for us to transition into ketosis. And here jump the keto diet plans which help us to manage the daily utilization of macros. Dietitian/Nutritionists set out the daily intake percentage of these Macros and these Macros called are “Keto Diet Macros”.
How to calculate your Keto Diet Macros?
There is a simple formula to explain how many grams of carbohydrates, you should be eaten, let us say, a 1,500 calorie a day keto diet, but first you need to know that:
- Carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram.
- Proteins provide 4 calories per gram.
- Fats (lipids) provide 9 calories per gram
Let’s suppose you are aiming for a standard keto diet which is enough for most people to get into nutritional ketosis (10% carbs + 20% protein + 70% fat). Just use this formula to figure out how many grams of carbohydrates, protein, and fat you should take:
- Carbohydrates: Calories per day (1,500) x percentage of calories from carbs (.10) / Number of calories per gram in carbohydrates (4) = 37.5 grams of carbs per day
- Proteins: Calories per day (1,500) x percentage of calories from protein (.20) / Number of calories per gram in protein (4) = 75 grams of protein per day
- Fats: Calories per day (1,500) x percentage of calories from fat (.70) / Number of calories per gram in fat (9) = 116.6 grams of fat per day
You can check out how many grams of macros you need to take for any type of keto diet (SKD, CKD, TKD, HPKD) and for a different amount of calories (1400, 1500, or 1600) by using this formula.
What are the benefits of Ketogenic diet plans?
The benefits of these diet plans are:
Positive effects of Keto on the Brain
Cognitive benefits: Keto diet eating routine help in the treatment of neuro-degenerative conditions, such as, epilepsy(seizure), Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Deep sleep: Keto diet sets up the level of slow-wave rest (SWS) that is profound rest and has a therapeutic capacity. Sticking to a Keto diet for long can help you sleep longer, sleep deeper, and when you’ll wake up, you’ll feel progressively relaxed and rested.
Improve focus: Keto diet improves focus because glutamate is connected to excessive excitability inside the brain and ketosis, lowers glutamate metabolism, and increases glutamate conversion into a neurotransmitter “gamma-aminobutyric acid”, or GABA.
GABA inhibits the stimulatory, or excitability properties of glutamate and extends the stages of GABA that induce a relaxing effect on our brain. This counterbalance is basic to right mind work and any disturbance on this stability can possibly prompt various neurological issues.
Other brain benefits: Keto diet help in mood regulation, improve mental health, increase brain function and performance, and decreased brain fog.
7 extra health benefits of the Keto Diet
- Balances/controls blood sugar level: Keto diet has a potent antihyperglycemic effect therefore, it improves blood sugar level.
- Protects against cancer: Protect against some kinds of cancer or slow down the growth of cancer cells.
- Boosts the immune system and its functionality: T-cells that play an important role in activating the immune responses of the body. Keto diet boosts the functions of T-cells (immune cells) and this way it helps in fighting against infection.
- Improves acne condition(skin): Glycemic foods (high carbs) can stimulate acne outbreaks, and there are no such foods ketogenic diet plans. Therefore, a keto diet could be effective in reducing the severity and progression of acne.
- Anti-aging: The mechanism is that the keto diet decreases insulin levels that lower oxidative stress. Lowering oxidative stress is a way to increase lifespan and slow down aging.
- Restores fertility in PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome): Keto diet can help improve insulin resistance, body weight, testosterone, and LH/FSH ratio in women with PCOS. A lot of women who were on the keto diet got pregnant, it showed that the keto diet can help in Restoring fertility in PCOS.
- Improves heartburn: Keto diet improves gastroesophageal reflux(GERD) and its symptoms because keto diet plans have very low carbohydrate intake.
Example of keto-friendly foods
Here are a list of food allowed on a keto diet:
Fish and Seafood for keto: Fatty fish, white fish, salmon, lobster, crab, shrimps, mussels, octopus, oysters, squid, and scallops.
Meat and poultry for keto: Beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, eggs, pork, bacon game and veal, venison, hotdogs, organ meats (liver), and sausage.
Keto-friendly vegetables: Low-carbs and high-fiber vegetables are ideal for the keto diet.
- Greens (collard, kale, mustard, salary, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnip)
- Lettuce (butter, iceberg, endive, boston, field greens, matcha, watercress, and romaine)
- Eggplant, tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, celery, avocados, bok choy, herbs, kohlrabi, radishes, rapini (broccoli raab), and zucchini
- Cabbage, green beans, cucumber, artichokes, broccoli, broccolini, cauliflower, fennel, green jicama, Brussels sprouts, okra, turnips, snap peas, and snow peas.
Keto-friendly dairy: Cheese have about 1 gram of carbs per ounce, please don’t use more than 4 ounces per day (an ounce is about the size of a 1-inch cube). keto diet recommends choosing the full-fat varieties.
- Softer Cheese from-buffalo, goat, colby, mozzarella gouda, blue, brie, camembert
- Harder cheese from-mozzarella, pepper jack, Swiss, cheddar, muenster, Havarti, parmesan, and provolone
- Butter and ghee
- Cream cheese
- Sour cream
- Greek yogurt
Keto-friendly oils: These keto-friendly oils are free of carbs, the daily recommended intake of added oil is 2–4 tablespoons.
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Walnut oil
- Avocado oil
- Safflower oil
- Sesame oil
- MCT oil
- Coconut butter
Nuts and seeds: Low-carbs and high-fat, nuts and seeds are a great source of protein. You can make them a healthy snack or salad topping.
Nuts: Pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts.
Seeds: chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds
What are healthful fats and keto diet fats?
Fats are very important for the proper functioning of the body. The fats that are essential, beneficial, safe, good, and heal and help the body called healthful fats/healthy fats. These fats used in the keto diet are, Monosaturated, Polysaturated(omega-3 fatty acids), and medium-chain triglycerides oils.
What food to avoid on a keto diet?
- Avoid added sugar juices, smoothies, sweets, desserts, soft drinks.
- Avoid added sugar and use keto-friendly sweeteners.
- Avoid hidden sugar foods such as bread, dried fruits, sushi rice, breakfast cereals, canned vegetables, granola bars, yogurt, energy drinks, packaged food, coleslaw, sauces, condiments and dressing, tea, and beverages.
- Avoid high-carbs fruits and vegetables or use in less amount or use low carbs fruits and vegetables.
- Use fewer grains or use low-carb grains.
- Avoid or stop using highly processed foods and saturated oils.
- Avoid foods that contain gluten.
- Avoid dark chocolate.
- Avoid chips.
- Avoid margarine.
Remember to avoid starchy foods in general unless they are included in your daily carbohydrate intake (less than 10%).
We tried to give the best answers possible to the most frequently asked questions about the keto diet. To find more resources and get a customized diet plan that takes all your needs into consideration you can complete the questionnaire below.