What is the Ketogenic diet? A Beginner’s Guide to Keto

After losing 40-pounds that I gained from my third pregnancy I have people asking me "How'd you lose the weight so fast?" and I'd say "I do the ketogenic diet!" or the shortened "I do Keto".  This is soon followed by "What is the Ketogenic diet?".

I'm writing up a keto beginners guide for all of you newbies out there or current ketoer's that want to learn more. Listed below is all of the common keto diet questions I get on a regular basis. I'm on Instagram now and I share all of my daily keto meals on there - It would be totally awesome if you followed me. Plus, I'm showcasing my ketogenic lifestyle journey on my brand new YouTube channel.

What Is The Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet (most commonly termed keto by the keto community - Yes, we have a community, and we're an awesome, supportive, fun group of ladies and dudes) is similar to the low carb diet and Atkins but is very low carb and high in fat. Our primary goal is to get our bodies into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state that turns our bodies into a fat burning machine that turns our fat into ketones in the liver which supplies the brain with energy.

There are numerous health benefits to a ketogenic diet as it can reduce the insulin levels and our blood sugar. The ketogenic diet has our bodies switching its fuel source from glucose to fat and ketones.

Various Types of Ketogenic Diets

There are a variety of versions fo the ketogenic diet and I will break it down for you as you can make the ketogenic diet an individual experience tailored to fit your specific needs and goals.

Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): Is a strict low-carb diet with moderate protein and high in fat containing 5% carbs, 20% protein and 75% fat.Carbs restricted to 20g or fewer per day. Some folks will up their intake to 30g or 40g once they're fat adapted or keto adapted, more on that later on. Many keto dieters will play with their carb limit to see what is the threshold before they get kicked out of ketosis. Any carbs eaten should be from fiber-rich vegetables - the greener the better.

High Protein Ketogenic Diet (HPKD): Is almost like the SKD diet but dieters will include more protein with a ratio of 5% carbs, 60% fat, and 35% protein.

Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): If you're a gym-goer this one is for you as it allows the ketoer to add carbs around their workouts as it will allow for the re-synthesis of glycogen without having to interrupt ketosis for an extended period.

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD): If you plan to spend a lot of time at the gym working out intensely like athletes or bodybuilders this version is ideal for you - Not for the average jogger or speed walker. Due to the high intensity and volume of the training, the CKD will optimize the diet. CKD folks will have five keto days and two high-carb (or commonly referred to as a carb refeed) days. This version helps to deplete the muscle glycogen in between the carb loads.

Ketogenic Diet Diabetes

People that have type 2 diabetes can benefit from the ketogenic diet since the body will change the way it uses and stores the energy  - it may relieve some of the diabetes symptoms. Since the body converts fat instead of sugar into energy, the ketogenic diet may improve the blood glucose levels while simultaneously minimizing the need for insulin. Always talk with your doctor before starting any diet as the ketogenic diet is a drastic dietary change, and those with type 2 diabetes should need monitoring.

Most people with type 2 diabetes are overweight and may think that a diet high in fat may be counterproductive. However, the primary goal is having the stored fat used as an energy source instead of the glucose or carbohydrates. Try not to load up on saturated fats as you want to focus on heart-healthy fats such as MCT oil, avocado, salmon, nuts, seeds; olives, and nuts to name a few.

My father who has Diabetes recommends the book Dr. Bernsteins Diabetes Solution: The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars for more information as I'm not a doctor and don't have enough information about the diabetes side of the spectrum in regards to the ketogenic diet.

Ketogenic Diet for Diabetes Type 1

There isn't too much research found on Type 1 diabetes and the ketogenic diet. However, the book mentioned above written by Dr. Bernstein's who has Type 1 Diabetes recommends the LCHF diet. Again, always check with your doctor and be monitored to avoid diabetic ketoacidosis which is a life-threatening condition that happens when someone who has diabetes is unable to get the glucose they need for enough when there isn't enough insulin. The sugar will stay inside the blood if it can't get into the cells and the kidneys will filter some of the sugar from your blood and get rid of it through the urine stream.

If the cells can't get the sugar for its energy, your body will then begin to break down muscle and fat for its energy source and when this happens fatty acids or ketones are created and will enter the bloodstream creating a chemical imbalance (metabolic acidosis) referred to as diabetic ketoacidosis.

What Causes Diabetic Ketoacidosis?

When your body isn't producing enough insulin or having another illness. Other ways of getting the condition include dehydration or severe infection, and it mostly affects those with Type 1 diabetes, but it can affect Type 2 diabetes, as well, if blood sugar levels are high.

What are the Symptoms of Diabetic Ketoacidosis?

The symptoms are experienced when the blood sugar levels are already high.

  • Rapid breathing
  • Flushed skin
  • Fruity breath
  • Blurred Vision
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Always thirsty
  • Frequent Urination
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Stomach Pain

I can't stress it enough the importance of talking with your doctor before starting any dietary plan and to have your ketone levels monitored until you have it under control and understand how your body will react.

Keto Flu

When you begin the ketogenic diet most will experience infamous keto flu. The keto flu occurs when you eliminate process foods reducing your salt intake substantially, and a few keto flu remedies include drinking pickle juice, one teaspoon of salt per day, and some magnesium supplements. The addition of salt will help prevent your blood pressure from getting low which causes fatigue, dizziness, and weakness. I don't have the exact science behind the keto flu, but when we stop eating sugar (or carbs altogether), the body will go through a carbohydrate withdrawal. Symptoms include:

  • Irritability & Mood swings - due to hormone surges, or lack thereof.
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Cough
  • Sniffles
  • Nausea

If you don't experience the keto flu you're one of the lucky ones as it can last a few days to weeks, but when it's finished doing a number on our weight loss motivation you will wake up with a burst of newfound energy that will continue on for as long as you stay keto-adapted. When I went through the keto flu it lasted for almost seven days and I was not a fun person to be around when I'm usually that annoyingly bubbly chic as everything was too draining to achieve in that state. It's worth the keto flu for the rewards you experience on the ketogenic diet. I lost 40 pounds fast and I was NEVER HUNGRY as I would be on my former low-fat and low-calorie diets - I'll be doing the ketogenic lifestyle for a long time. I don't have any more weight to lose so I'm maintaining my weight on this diet versus stopping to gain the weight back.

Common Ketogenic Diet Questions & Answers

Here are some of the ketogenic diet questions I get asked on a regular basis or that I see asked in forums I frequently visit.

Q - How Many Carbs Can You Eat on a Ketogenic Diet?

When in ketosis your body will be getting its fuel from the fat you eat and the net carbs to enter ketosis is 20 - 100 grams per day. The average keto dieter reaches ketosis eating in the carb range of 20 - 50g per day, but it's recommended that you aim for 20 - 30g to see what your body needs and readjust accordingly. You can test your body for ketosis using ketostix and follow the picture guide. Ketostix is urine strips with a reagent area that you urinate on to see the levels of ketones allowing the operator to see if they're keto adapted. Ketostix can be found at every pharmacy on bought conveniently on Amazon. Since they're costly, I would only use them in the beginning until you're keto adapted to where you can gauge your ketoness (it will be a word soon 🙂 ) by how your body feels.

Q - What Does it Mean When Your Body is in Ketosis?

When your body enters the state of ketosis, it is a metabolic process that keeps your body running, and since you're no longer supplying your body with a carb-filled diet, your body takes your stored fat for energy, instead. During this process, your body is making ketones. You can get into ketosis overnight since your body is fasting while it sleeps, the reason the term "breakfast." 🙂 But for your body to stay a fat burning machine, you need to be keto adapted or fat adapted to remain in ketosis without worrying about getting kicked out of ketosis.

Which brings me to...

Q - What Does "Getting Kicked Out of Ketosis" Mean?

I think getting myself kicked out of ketosis is a part of a keto hysteria. Ha. It's something over analyzed and creates a frenzy. If you stay within your calorie level to lose weight (yes, you still have to count calories, that's the next question.) and don't go crazy on carbs, you won't be kicked out of ketosis. As long as you get back to your carb limit the following day you should be okay. It is recommended to start this diet at 20g of carbs and gradually increase your carb count in 5-gram increments to see what you cut off is before the almighty "kicked out of ketosis" happens. Even the Atkins diet starts off that way using the induction phase to see what levels people can work with as this diet is based on individual experience. No two individuals are the same and can eat the same, and I'm not getting into that - another day.

Q - Do You Count Calories on Low Carb Diet?

Just like a low carb diet, you do count calories on a ketogenic diet, as well. I aim for 1500 calories a day with 20 net carbs, but it all depends on your activity levels and if you're maintaining on actively trying to lose weight. Calories in versus calories out do still apply to the keto lifestyle.

Ketogenic Diet Food List

  • Avocado
  • Beef tallow
  • Butter
  • Chicken Fat
  • Ghee
  • Non-hydrogenated Lard
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Mayonnaise (Full fat)
  • Olive Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Coconut Butter
  • Red Palm Oil
  • Peanut Butter
  • Fish - Catfish, cod, flounder, halibut, mackerel, mahi-mahi, salmon, snapper, trout, and tuna.
  • Shellfish. Clams, oysters, lobster, crab, scallops, mussels, and squid.
  • Whole Eggs - Have fun with them, deviled eggs, scrambles, bacon egg cups (I linked the bacon cup recipe I made)
  • Meat - Beef, Veal, Goat, Lamb, and along with other wild game.
  • Pork - (Look out for any added sugars like honey ham, etc.)
  • Poultry - Chicken, Duck, Quail, Pheasant
  • Bacon and Sausage - avoid products cured in sugar
  • Peanut Butter - eating moderately
  • Heavy Whipping Cream
  • Hard and soft cheeses – (Cheddar, Mozzarella, Cream Cheese, Mascarpone Cheese, etc.)
  • Sour Cream
  • Cottage Cheese

That's all I have for right now but if you're looking for easy peasy lemon squeezy ketogenic diet meal recipes join the keto community on Instagram as we share our breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinners, and desserts on there that are SUPER easy to make. If your cooking skills peak at toasting bread, no worries, the dudes and ladies of Instagram post two - three ingredient recipes that can be made in minutes - some in seconds! Just search for the popular keto hashtags such as #keto #ketogenic #ketogenicdiet #ketorecipes #ketomeals etc, and you will find yourself in the middle of food porn. 🙂

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