You may have heard about the Keto Diet from friends or on social media.
Maybe you’re interested in trying it for yourself, but don't know where to get started.
The goal of this blog post is to help you understand exactly what a Keto Diet is, and how it can help you reach your goals.
The Keto Diet - Put Simply
There are a lot of diets out there, but most of them require you to simply count calories, or food units (“syns”, etc.).
The Keto Diet is different because it focuses primarily on the amount of carbs you eat rather than your caloric intake. The goal is to keep carb intake to between 20-50g a day, choosing unprocessed whole foods. This makes it easy, not just for busy people, but also people with diabetes, insulin resistance and other metabolic conditions to follow since calorie counting is not the focus.
In addition to being easier than many other diets, the Keto Diet can also help make weight loss faster and more sustainable because it’s satisfying and doesn’t leave you feeling hungry all day long like some low-fat diets do. It has been shown to work better than low-fat diets for weight loss over time by promoting satiety (fullness) while reducing hunger levels at the same time which helps keep those cravings at bay!
10 Ways the Keto Diet has Changed My Life
1. I lost a significant amount of weight - 80lbs (5st 10lbs) / 36kgs.
2. I eliminated the foods that were causing inflammation, leading to debilitating lower back pain.
3. My skin, hair & nails are better at 50 yrs old than they ever were in my youth.
4. My energy levels increased so much I wanted to exercise - something I never did before.
5. Food is interesting and I now enjoy cooking as I can be creative, rather than re-heating or grabbing fast food.
6. Grocery shopping is far simpler, as I keep to a small list of ingredients that I know work well for me.
7. My confidence is boosted and I feel so much better in myself, suffering less with dark moods and self doubt.
8. I am physically more comfortable, with less aches and pains, and my overall health is much improved.
9. I have made many new friends through learning about, and teaching others about, the benefits of Keto life.
10. Clothes shopping is now easier as I’m not restricted to choosing from the Plus Size sections.
These are just 10 of the ways my Keto Diet has changed my life in 5 years.
What could it do for you?
How Does it Work?
The Ketogenic diet has been around since the 1920s and is a low-carbohydrate, high fat diet. It was originally used as a treatment for epilepsy in children who were not responding to medications. It essentially forces your body into a state of ketosis by limiting carbohydrate intake and increasing fat intake.
The goal is to teach your body to burn fat for fuel instead of glucose, which comes from carbohydrates.
When you eat carbohydrates, they break down into sugar molecules which enter the bloodstream so that cells can use them as energy - this process is called glycolysis. Carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy for most cells in your body and when you stop eating them, your body will turn to other sources like protein or fat for fuel.
Burning fat for fuel is more efficient than burning carbs - you get 9g of energy per 1g of Fat, compared to 4g from carbs.
Fat cells store energy, so when you burn them, that stored energy is released as heat and calories (energy) - when I’m in Ketosis I sometimes literally feel this process happening. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like I can feel my body breaking down those stored fat cells, the energy bursting out of them, and yes, it can make me a little hot!
Burning fat for fuel can lead to weight loss - you are literally turning your body into a battery, using stored fat for energy. I find myself saying “I’m eating my body” and it’s true!
A surprising benefit of this type of diet is that it may also have positive effects on various other health conditions like diabetes and heart disease because it’s so good at regulating blood sugar levels.
Is it Safe to follow a Keto Diet?
Ketogenic Diets are becoming increasingly popular. They’ve been shown to have many health benefits, like promoting rapid weight loss and improving your mood. However, there are some drawbacks that are worth considering before jumping into this type of diet.
Some pre-existing health conditions, mainly ones involving pancreatitis, liver failure, disorders of fat metabolism, are prohibitive to choosing a Keto Lifestyle. Always check with your Doctor before starting a Keto Diet if you have any pre-existing health conditions, are taking medication, or you have a family history of these types of disorders.
The Ketogenic Diet is not for Everyone
Understanding and getting used to a Keto Diet requires some time. It’s not something to jump into without thought and planning. It's a high-fat, low-carb diet that can help you lose weight and improve your health, but it requires you to ‘give up’ certain foods, which some people can feel is impossible - it’s not, believe me!
You'll need to avoid carbs like breads, pasta, rice, potatoes and sugar, so that means no cakes or chocolates too. Eating too many carbs can lead to weight gain and insulin resistance over time, making losing weight even harder.
It took me until I was 45 to truly understand these foods were destroying my health and wrecking my attempts at weight loss. Every time I managed to lose weight, lots of weight, it just eventually crept back on - because I was making poor food choices.
The Keto Diet can seem restrictive in terms of food choices.
However, once you realise just how many mind-blowingly delicious things you can concoct in the kitchen from just a few ingredients, you’ll see it’s not restrictive at all - it’s just choosing alternative foods.
I call it the K.I.S.S. approach to cooking - keep the ingredients simple, which makes food shopping for your Keto Diet a breeze. Then just Google away, or check out Instagram for all the Keto recipes out there - you’ll be amazed at just how many people are killing it at Keto, eating food that you will drool over.
You need to be careful about what you eat, and how much of it.
Yes, you do need to pay attention to what you are eating, especially at the start of your Keto Diet, so you can get used to making the best food choices. Following a Keto Diet means choosing mostly natural, wholesome foods, over processed and packaged foods.
You will learn to ‘calculate your Macros’, which will tell you how much of each nutrient group to eat - Fat, Protein & Carbs. Typical Keto macros are 70-80% Fat, 15-25% Protein and 5% Carbohydrates. There are different schools of though when it comes to the exact figures, but to be honest, it comes down to your individual body and what your goals are.
Macros are an ideal guideline only, not something you have to comply with 100% each and every day. i.e. if you can’t eat that much fat on occasion it’s fine, but just don’t over-do the carbs or protein to make up. You’ll find that eventually this all seems quite natural and you automatically make food choices that fit these macros.
For instance, where lunch used to be a sandwich and a packet of crisps, you’ll find yourself craving bacon, egg & avocado.
Once you understand what you can eat, the next thing is to pay attention to how much of it you are eating. Remember, you want to try and keep carbs between 20-50g a day.
For example, 100g of broccoli is 7g of carbs, making a head of broccoli around 30g.
I used to run screaming from anything green - well not literally, but my family teased me endlessly about my aversion to vegetables - but now I could gobble up that whole head of broccoli easily! Yum! So take care to pay attention to portion sizes and as I like to say - ‘keep it small’ on your plate.
It can take a while to get used to the restrictions on carbs and sugar.
Once you are up to speed with what to eat and what to avoid, the next step is to stick to it. Too many times I hear people asking “Is it OK to have a cheat day?” - No! Why??!!
Seriously, you are teaching your body to do something new, better, beneficial to your health and to help you achieve your goals. Why would you want to wreck that process?
Imagine doing laundry by hand. It’s something you have to do, so you get on with it. Then along comes a washing machine that’s faster, and gives a better result than hand washing. You want that, right? So you start to do your laundry in the washing machine. All your laundry! Would you ever choose to go back to hand washing when that machine is sitting there waiting to do the job for you, better than you can do it? No!
OK, so eating cakes & chocolate is a lot more fun than doing laundry, but hopefully you get what I mean. Once your body learns a new way to produce energy, from fat rather than from carbs, why would you ask it to go back to the old, inefficient way? Especially when that means you’ll be putting yourself back in terms of making progress, meaning your body will have to start that learning process again, taking longer to get the benefits you want.
Some people find that they don't have enough energy when they're following a Keto Diet.
When you first start any new diet it’s common to have side effects, like headaches and hunger pangs as your body adjusts. Low energy levels are also common in the first few days.
Here are some simple tips that can help you boost your energy levels.
Drink plenty of water
Eat more fat
Eat plenty of salt (for sodium)
Get enough sleep and exercise
Consider electrolyte supplements like magnesium and potassium
Are there any side effects associated with following this type of diet plan?
The positive side effects are the rapid weight loss, enhanced mood and increased energy levels, you’ll experience once you reach ketosis.
Along the way you may experience some of the less fun side effects like constipation, bad breath, nausea, and muscle cramps. These tend to be fleeting, only for the early days while your body gets used to different foods and maybe a different eating schedule - 2 or 3 good meals a day, rather than constant snacking and eating.
These side effects are not insurmountable. Sure, they may seem off-putting, but not everyone experiences all, or even one of these - my husband didn’t. I got a little crampy in the early days, but once I sorted out my electrolytes I was fine.
Whatever piqued your curiosity in this lifestyle, after weighing up the Pros and Cons people choose a Keto Diet for a multitude of reasons - all positive.
Choose Keto for Weight Loss
• Promotes weight loss with a diet that can help make it faster and more sustainable
• It reduces hunger levels and cravings, satisfying you all day long like some low-fat diets can’t
• Has been shown to work better than low-fat diets for weight loss over time
Choose Keto for Health
• Helps regulate blood sugar levels
• Reduces the symptoms of diabetes
• Improves cholesterol ratios
• Reduces heart disease risk
As a good friend once said to me…
“The treat is not what you teat, but how you feel in your jeans.”
Not how you FIT in your jeans, but how you FEEL in your jeans.
So regardless of whether you are looking to lose weight, or choosing Keto for the health benefits, you too can FEEL FANTASTIC IN YOUR JEANS!