Keto is very trendy these days.
You’ve all heard about it.
You see it everywhere.
Even that person on facebook that you have no idea why you’re friends with is talking about it.
But what is it really? A fad? A hoax?
Here’s everything you need to know!
And maybe a little bit that you don’t need to know, necessarily, but it’s kinda interesting…
The Keto, or Ketogenic Diet, is a way of eating that involves a lot of fat (75%), a small amount of protein (20%), and a tiny amount of carbs (5%).
That seems like a crazy amount of fat, doesn’t it? It kinda freaked me out a little at first. I was always taught that fat makes you fat.
But guess what? It doesn’t! As it turns out it’s all the sugar and all the carbs (that turn into sugar) that make you fat.
How Does Sugar Make Us Fat?
Unfortunately a lot of us eat more sugar and carbs than we can burn off in a given day.
When we have too much sugar (glucose) in our bloodstream it triggers our pancreas to produce insulin.
Insulin is kind of like blood sugar cowboys. It rounds up all the excess glucose and puts it into corrals.
Which are really fat cells.
And then locks the gate so that it can’t get back out.
It really does.
And as long as the insulin is roaming about, it keeps the fat from being released.
So when we eat a high carb lunch, (burgers, fries, and soda anyone?) all that free range blood sugar gets rounded up and locked away as fat.
And then we crash. Because our body is out of energy.
So then what do we do?
We head on over to the vending machine or the snack bar or Susan’s candy bowl that she always has out on her desk.
And the whole crazy blood-sugar-stampede/glucose-wrangling/fat-corralling rodeo starts all over again.
There’s a reason the Standard American Diet is called SAD.
So why in the world does all this happen, you might be wondering.
Our bodies were actually designed (or evolved, if you prefer that terminology) to burn fat for fuel.
Down through the ages people didn’t have access to all the sugary junk that is thrust upon us modern folk every time we go to the grocery store.
I would wager none of those people would even recognize most of our “groceries” as food.
But I digress.
People used to only get small amounts of carbs from fruits and veggies, so their bodies primarily burned fat for fuel.
Are You a Fat Burner or a Sugar Burner?
Over the years as we have added more and more sugar into our diets, our bodies mostly don’t get a chance to burn fat any more.
Since the glucose is a more readily available fuel source we burn that first.
In order to burn fat we have to stop the cycle.
And that is where the ketogenic diet comes in.
What is Ketogenic?
Ketogenic means that it cause ketosis.
And what is “ketosis”?
Ketosis is a metabolic state where the body unlocks the fat stores, converts it into ketones, and burns it for fuel.
So, just like sugar and carbs are converted into glucose, fat is converted into ketones.
And ketones are a much more efficient and steady form of energy for our bodies.
Ketone energy doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes. It doesn’t mess with our brain chemistry. And it doesn’t promote inflammation.
That means no afternoon crashes, no foggy thinking, and fewer aches and pains.
What are the Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet?
Other that the ones listed above, the major one is losing weight! If you’re reading this, I’m pretty sure that’s what you’re after.
Other benefits include:
- Increased and consistent energy
- Better sleep
- Normalizing blood pressure
- Lowering bad cholesterol
- No more food cravings
- Fewer mood swings
- Healthier skin and hair
The keto diet has also been associated with lessening the frequency of anxiety and panic attacks.
All of which sounds pretty cool, right?
But I know what you’re thinking. Because I thought the same thing.
You think that you’re going to have to give up all your favorite foods.
But that’s not true!
Unless your favorite foods are mini Reese’s and Dr. Pepper.
In which case you are 100% correct.
What Can You Eat on the Keto Diet?
Here’s what you’re going to have to give up. Take a deep breath. Picture yourself not overweight anymore. Got it? OK.
Foods to Avoid on the Keto Diet
- Grains and foods made with grains – wheat, corn, rice, quinoa, pasta, granola, etc.
- Sugar in all it’s forms – table sugar, soda, sports drinks, honey, agave, maple syrup, etc.
- Pretty much all fruits – apples, bananas, oranges, etc.
- Root vegetables – potatoes, yams, carrots, etc.
- Beans and Legumes – pintos, kidney beans, lentils, etc.
Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?
And there are some amazingly delicious substitutions for most of the things you can’t have.
But here’s what you really want to know.
Foods to Eat on the Keto Diet
- Meats – fish, beef, lamb, poultry, eggs, etc.
- Dark leafy greens – kale, spinach, etc.
- Low-carb vegetables – asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, and other low carb veggies
- High-fat dairy – hard cheeses, high fat cream, butter, cream cheese
- Nuts and seeds – pecans, cashews, walnuts, flax seeds, etc.
- Avocado and berries – blueberries, blackberries, and other low carb fruits
- Sweeteners – stevia, erythritol, monk fruit, and other low-carb sweeteners
- Healthy fats – coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, lard, tallow
The eat list is way better than the don’t eat list. That’s looking a lot more doable right now. That’s going to be pretty easy, right?
At least at home.
But what about when you go out?
How to Order on a Keto Diet
It’s actually pretty easy to eat out and stick to your diet.
You can’t go wrong with fish or meat as long as it’s not breaded or battered.
Then, of course, you’ll have to pass on any gravy because that has flour in it.
But most restaurants allow you to substitute other veggies for the starchy sides you might be used to ordering.
What about the bread? Just ask them to not bring any to the table so you won’t be tempted.
Trust me on this one…
One last thing we need to cover and you’ll be good to go.
The Transition to a Keto Lifestyle
What happens when your body is changing from a sugar burning machine to a fat burning machine?
You will most likely experience a lack of energy and difficulty focusing.
Along with that, many people experience flu-like symptoms from sugar withdrawal and general detoxing. It’s normal for those things to last for 3 to 5 days.
Some people experience this “keto flu” as it’s called, right away. For some it takes a few days to kick in.
The good news is that on the other side of that discomfort is a whole new world of health and well being that you may not have ever experienced before.
Or at least not in a long time.
I promise it will be worth it!
Peace, love, and keto on!