Ketogenic diets, like most low carb diets, work through the elimination of glucose. Because most folks live on a high carb diet, our bodies normally run on glucose (or sugar) for energy. We cannot make glucose and only have about 24 hours’ worth stored in our muscle tissue and liver. Once glucose is no longer available from food sources, we begin to burn stored fat instead, or fat from our diets.
The classic ketogenic diet is a very low-carb diet plan that was originally designed in the 1920s for patients with epilepsy by researchers working at Johns Hopkins Medical Center. (1) Researchers found that fasting — avoiding consumption of all foods for a brief period of time (such as with intermittent fasting), including those that provide carbohydrates — helped reduce the amount of seizures patients suffered, in addition to having other positive effects on body fat, blood sugar, cholesterol and hunger levels. (2)
Here are a few of the most common side effects that I come across when people first start keto. Frequently the issues relate to dehydration or lack of micronutrients (vitamins) in the body. Make sure that you’re drinking enough water (close to a gallon a day) and eating foods with good sources of micronutrients. To read more on micronutrients, click here >
This is an adaptation period, where we’re essentially re-training our muscles and our brain to use fat as the primary fuel source instead of glucose. This adaptation can take a couple of weeks to a couple of months. As a hallmark of being keto-adapted and not just in ketosis, the skeletal muscles are able to burn fat directly for fuel, and the brain relies on the higher volume of ketones in the blood as its main source of energy.
Each of the above methods is good for its own reason; however, we would suggest only one: the blood test. The urine strips are cheap, yet not accurate. The breath analyzer is expensive, difficult to find and has definite quirks. The blood tests, while somewhat expensive, are fully reliable and testing your blood - the most accurate place to measure your ketones.
That's why I co-wrote the "Fat for Fuel Ketogenic Cookbook" alongside renowned Australian celebrity chef Pete Evans. This book combines research-backed medical advice with delicious, kitchen-tested recipes that will help make shifting to fat-burning much easier. Whether you're just a budding cook or a master chef, there's a delicious meal waiting to be prepared that'll take your health to the next level.
There are so many tricks, shortcuts, and gimmicks out there on achieving optimal ketosis – I’d suggest you don’t bother with any of that. Optimal ketosis can be accomplished through dietary nutrition alone (aka just eating food). You shouldn’t need a magic pill to do it. Just stay strict, remain vigilant, and be focused on recording what you eat (to make sure your carb and protein intake are correct).
Net carbs are what we track when following a ketogenic diet. This calculation is pretty straightforward. Net Carbs = Total Carbs – Fiber. For example, one cup of broccoli has 6g of total carbs and 2.4g of fiber. That would mean one cup of broccoli has 3.6g of net carbs. We count Net Carbs because dietary fiber does not have a significant metabolic effect.
Most condiments below range from 0.5–2 net grams per 1–2 tablespoon serving. Check ingredient labels to make sure added sugar is not included, which will increase net carbs. (Stevia and erythritol will become your go-to sweeteners because neither raise your blood sugar — combine for a more natural sweet taste and, remember, a little goes a long way!)
Beverages: It’s common to become dehydrated on the keto diet. Your insulin levels drop when you restrict carbs, and low insulin makes it harder for your body to retain sodium and water. Drink plenty of plain water, and sip on bone broth to replenish electrolytes, especially during the first couple of weeks when your body is adjusting to the new diet.
Sleep enough – for most people at least seven hours per night on average – and keep stress under control. Sleep deprivation and stress hormones raise blood sugar levels, slowing ketosis and weight loss a bit. Plus they make much it harder to stick to a keto diet, and resist temptations. So while handling sleep and stress will not get you into ketosis on it’s own, it’s still worth thinking about.
The biggest draw for me is how many of those who’ve tried it say they don’t get hungry. The possibility of that blows my mind, as someone who’s used to any sort of calorie restriction meaning hours of feeling hungry every day. It’s tantalizing enough that I at least want to try. And what have I got to lose, right? I’m already morbidly obese; it’s hard to imagine screwing this up so bad it makes that worse.
Basically, when you have alcohol in your body, the first thing that will be burnt is the alcohol. Only then, can your body begin to burn carbohydrates, and ultimately move on to fat-burning mode. By consuming small amounts of alcohol, the alcohol will be burnt quite fast and then move on to burning carbohydrates. The biggest tip here is to only include alcohol in your diet once your body is fully adapted to a high-fat diet.
This was a great read , Steve, thanks! I’m 19 days in but forever educating myself. Wish I’d been more prepared for the keto flu cos’ that hit me HARD! Out the other side now though and hoping to see some improvements in my cycling endurance and less reliance on the gels and goos! I’ll also be doing lots of HIIT for some racing that I’ll be doing this winter (in the UK) so looking forward to experimenting with that! As a former (and maybe still current) sugar lover, the dessert tips were especially useful. Thanks again!
Whatever the source of protein you consume, make sure they are organic grass fed and antibiotic-free, as they are generally healthier and safer for your body. In one study, researchers indicated that grass fed beef (regardless of cuts) contains more omega-3 acid and conjugated linoleic acid compared to grain-fed beef.21 As for non-meat sources of protein, try to look for organic and pesticide-free varieties.
You can use the Ketone Test Strips to test your ketone level. These are strips that use urine to measure excreted ketones. These are inexpensive and popular, but unfortunately highly inaccurate. They only measure the level of ketones that are excreted as waste, and not used by the body. They show that you’re producing ketones, but not necessarily using them for energy.
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The biggest shifts in your daily habits will be how you food shop and how you cook, and recipes that are ketogenic need to be followed rather than just low-carb. You will require the healthy fats in order to get into ketosis and have enough energy without the carbs. And you will be considerably more energetic and healthier when cooking your own keto-friendly food rather than buying supposedly keto foods off the shelf. So visit my page on keto recipes as well as keto snacks (including fat bombs!), and get started on a ketogenic meal plan!
You should know that the side effects of a ketogenic diet are still being studied. In addition, there have not been significant studies for long term dieters. There are plenty of people that have used the diet long term (10+ years) and very happy with it. It is up to the unique individual, so regular checkups with your doctor are recommended to check that "everything looks good".
Our bodies are incredibly adaptive to what you put into it – when you overload it with fats and take away carbohydrates, it will begin to burn ketones as the primary energy source. Optimal ketone levels offer many health, weight loss, physical and mental performance benefits.1There are scientifically-backed studies that show the advantage of a low-carb, ketogenic diet over a low-fat diet. One meta-analysis of low-carbohydrate diets showed a large advantage in weight loss. The New England Journal of Medicine study resulted in almost double the weight loss in a long-term study on ketone inducing diets.
A: There's no specific answer for this question, as it is dependent on many factors. However, you may be able to spot improvements right away. In a study that tested the ketogenic diet on obese people, researchers noted that after 24 weeks, the test subjects lost around 14 kilograms (30.8 pounds) of excess weight, going from an average 101.03 kilograms to 86.67 kilograms (222.7 pounds to 191 pounds).67
A “moderate keto diet” is an option that can still encourage substantial weight loss and other improvements in symptoms. A moderate keto diet includes more foods with carbs and, therefore, more fiber too. Carbs are usually increased to about 30–50 net grams per day, which means foods like more high-fiber veggies, some fruit or some starchy veggies can also be included.
The current hypothesis is that the brain functions differently on ketones than on glucose, and this is what causes certain brains to reduce epileptic seizures. I would then also hypothesize that certain people who feel that “brain fog” lifted on ketosis is due to either placebo effect OR their brain actually functioning differently on ketones vs glucose.
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Medical Disclaimer: The material on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Always consult your physician before beginning any diet or exercise program.
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