The Ketogenic Diet Plan: Best way to Lose Weight Quickly
The ketogenic diet plan is not new by any stretch of the imagination. It was popularized as a treatment for epilepsy in the 1920’s and 1930’s, but by no means was this the first iteration, since there is mention of treating diseases through “fasting” as far back as Ancient Greece.
There are many benefits to the ketosis diet plan, ranging from increased mental clarity, blood glucose stability, and the most popular nowadays, weightloss.
There are also important things to keep in mind if you are thinking about beginning a keto diet plan, whether you suffer from diabetes, or you have any specific food allergies.
My aim in this article is to give you a wide spectrum view into ketogenic diet plan, and answer some of the more frequent questions. I will help you navigate the vocabulary, help you understand what exactly goes on in your body when you follow this diet plan, answer the “what is a ketogenic diet” question, and give you information that will help you decide whether the ketogenic diet is right for you.
What is a ketogenic diet?
Let’s tackle the “whole chalupa” (too soon?) right off the bat. The ketogenic diet meal plan consists mainly of eating high fat/low carbohydrate foods and moderate protein, emphasis being more on the low carb than the high fat.
Although it’s always difficult to begin limiting your food choices, the good news with this diet is that fats and proteins keep you feeling full longer, so you don’t need to be so concerned with counting calories like on other diets.
When eating fats, it’s important to be aware of what types of fats to eat, since there are fats that are not good for your body. Saturated, natural polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats are all recommended, while refined fats and oils, and trans fats such as margarine should be avoided.
Saturated Fats: (best for cooking) lard, tallow, chicken fat, duck fat, goose fat, clarified butter / ghee, butter, coconut oil, cocoa butter
Polyunsaturated Fats: (to avoid free radicals and inflammation, don’t cook with these – best for cold use) extra virgin olive oil, nut oils, sesame oil, flaxseed oil, avocado oil
Monounsaturated Fats: avocados, olives, beef and nuts (especially macadamias)
Refined/Processed Fats: (stay away from these, they’re not really good for anyone!) sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, canola, soybean, grapeseed, corn oil
With so many fats to pick from, it might feel difficult to know where to begin. In short, your best bet for cooking is probably coconut oil, since it’s easily found in bulk and easy to use. Butter is good, too, but in my experience it tends to burn more easily. Coconut oil will also help you lose fat faster because it has MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides), which are used by your body as an immediate form of energy.
Vegetables that are low-carb are harder to find than one would imagine, though they aren’t so high that you would need to completely cut them out of your diet. The best direction to go with this category is dark green, above ground, and leafy. Spinach and kale are examples of good keto vegetables.
You can technically eat any proteins, but it’s wise to make sure to check the ingredients since there are some processed meats that contain fillers, and may be cured with sugar.
Of course, with any healthy eating plan it’s always better to choose real, whole foods over processed foods and those with additives and dyes. The best rule of thumb that makes it very simple is, the fewer the ingredients the better – or at the least, stick with ingredients that you actually know what they are!
The bottom line is to avoid food that is high in carbs, eat lots of fat, and some protein, but for what purpose ?
What is ketosis and why does it matter?
Ketosis is a state in which the lack of glucose in the body forces the use of ketones instead of glucose in the production of energy.
In a normal diet, the body doesn’t have to do anything out of the ordinary to produce energy. Carbohydrates are easily turned into glucose, which is then transported to the muscles and tissues with the help of insulin.
During a ketogenic diet, the lack of carbs forces the body to look for a different source of energy since the easy source is not present. The way the new source of energy is found is when the muscles and tissues in your body release stored up fats into the bloodstream, which are then carried to the liver and transformed into ketone bodies. Ketone bodies are molecules that the muscles and different bodily tissues can use as energy.
The ketogenic diet results are to induce the body into a state where it uses fat as energy rather than the traditional glucose. The benefits to this diet plan, particularly in regard to weight loss, are obvious. Nevertheless, it is always wise to check with your doctor when starting a new diet since there could be some adverse side effects.
Ketogenic Diet Side Effects and Concerns
If this low-carb keto plan is resonating with you, there are some issues you should know about.
First and foremost, if you are diabetic, then you need to understand the difference between ketosis and ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is ketosis gone berzerk due to the lack of insulin in your blood. This mainly happens when the patient does not receive the adequate dose of insulin, or there is a mechanical failure with their insulin pump. In ketoacidosis the body makes so many ketones that it essentially poisons the blood, by changing its ph. As a great rule of thumb, if you have had any kidney or diabetic conditions, check with your physician before starting the ketogenic diet.
Some other, smaller, concerns to keep in mind are the headaches, flu symptoms, and just general crappiness in the way you feel when your body is getting into ketosis. This is the norm, since your body is learning to function with a different type of fuel. So, other than the physical symptoms how do you know if you are getting close to ketosis?
Get a ketone meter.
As I mentioned earlier, ketones are molecules that the muscles and tissue can use to produce energy, and are created when by the liver from fat. There are three different ketone molecules acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and acetone. The goal of the keto meal plan is to get your body into ketosis, and a great way to tell if your body has reached that state is to measure the level of ketones in your body. There are a three ways to measure ketones in your body: through urine, breath, and blood.
The least accurate of these is the urine measurement, as there are many factors that can affect the concentration of ketones in your urine. The urine measurement will give you a vague picture of where you are, and can be helpful to beginners, but if you are looking to really track your blood ketones, then the blood or breath methods are how you will get the best results.
A blood meter is the most accurate way of testing your ketone levels since it gives you a precise reading of the ketones in your blood. The issue with measuring ketones in your blood is that it is expensive, and honestly a bit of a rigamarole. The procedure is exactly what you do when you test your blood glucose as a diabetic – you prick your finger, draw some blood, and then run it through a little machine that gives you a reading. I’m not a fan of having to prick my finger on a daily basis, or even a weekly one for that matter. That, coupled with the fact that this is the most expensive solution, leads us to the breath method.
The breath method sits at the median level for both accuracy and price. Breath ketone meters measure the levels of acetone. The readings can be affected by food or alcohol consumption, so you have to be careful not to test right after doing either of those things.
Frequently Asked Questions about Ketogenic Diets
What is the difference between a keto diet for men and one for women?
There is a lot of information out there that does not touch on this subject, but let’s face it, women and men are wired differently with different plumbing and chemistry.
There are several important things to take into consideration, particularly if you are a woman considering the keto diet plan. First and foremost, man or woman, if you have too much protein in your diet, your body will transform the extra protein into glucose, keeping you out of ketosis, so be sure to pay special attention to make sure you’re getting the right amount of protein.
There are several important things to take into consideration, particularly if you are a woman considering the ketogenic food plan. First and foremost, man or woman, if you have too much protein in your diet, your body will transform the extra protein into glucose, keeping you out of ketosis, so be sure to pay special attention to make sure you’re getting the right amount of protein.
It’s helpful to note that women do not need to ingest as much protein as men do. It is also good for women to realize their estrogen levels could be affected due to the change in diet. It’s not a bad idea to test your levels and see how they’re doing. If you don’t want to make trips to your doctor for this, you can also order tests online, although it seems a little inefficient to have all the back and forth in the mail. Again, it’s best to work with your doctor on diets like this.
Lastly, women will be wise to make sure to start a keto diet when it doesn’t overlap with their menses. You don’t want to add to an already more uncomfortable time with the possibility of “keto flu” as your body adjusts to using a different fuel source. Also be sure to not eat any foods that will cause undue stress on your body.
Will all the fat I am consuming cause me to have cholesterol problems?
The short answer is no. There are actually studies that say that following the ketogenic diet results in better test results for heart problems. In fact, there have been numerous studies done that have found correlations between heart disease and higher overall blood sugar levels associated with higher carb diets.
If we look at it from a simplistic point of view, it would make sense that the reduction of fat through using it as fuel would have a beneficial effect on your heart in general.
Will all the weight come back if I stop the ketogenic diet?
Unfortunately, the the truth is probably yes, but realistically this is the norm for everyone that diets as a one and done thing.
When you do a diet only for a period of time, and fail to make it an actual lifestyle change, your body will return to the place that it was at before your diet began. This is why it is important to truly weigh your reasons for doing a diet in the first place. It may be wise to not just make it a temporary thing, but make it a choice to eat better, or eat in a more informed way, long term. A good way of thinking about it is to permanently change your eating habits.
Our bodies don’t all function quite the same way, and some people will adapt better to a permanent drastic reduction to carbohydrates, but there are some people who actually need to have some carbohydrates to maintain ketosis. It’s all a matter of listening to what your body is telling you and feeding it with better things.
I would encourage you to look into some alternative variations of the low carb keto diet, like the cyclical ketogenic diet, or to do keto for a while and gradually go low-carb for another while, then go back to a ketogenic eating plan and cycle in that way.
The Ketogenic diet is one of the better alternatives to dieting since it has many health benefits in addition to losing weight. It might not be the easiest diet to follow because of the discomfort during the early stages of your body adapting to using the “new” kind of fuel, nevertheless if you stick with it, the benefits could far outweigh the short period of discomfort. Tracking your progress during the ketogenic diet has also never been easier, especially with the advent of the breath ketone meter. Even though many may benefit with this diet plan, as always it is a wise choice to consult your physician before starting any diet plan.
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