What Is The "Keto"/ Ketogenic Diet?

Its January 1st which means lots of new interest in the Ketogenic Diet or for short, Keto.  And its easy to get overwhelmed when googling it. There are thousands of websites/blogs/products that want to tell you what it is and how to do it or what to buy. So I figured I would summarize it for you and make it as simple as possible, here it goes:

What Is Keto?

The ketogenic diet (also known as “Keto Diet” or “Very Low Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet”) revolves around the body entering into a metabolic state known as ketosis.  Getting your body into this state requires knowledge of what your body actually needs in terms of calories, carbohydrates, fats, and protein but largely works off drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and moderately limiting protein intake. We will talk more about this in another post about understanding your macros.  In this state, your body does a few things differently.  The main things to focus on relate to the utilization of fat (both the fat in your body and the fats that you consume as food) and the production of ketone bodies.  There are multiple different ketones that the body is capable of producing, which takes place in the liver. However, the important thing to know is that your body creates these as a new source of energy that can be used by the whole body – including the brain!  These ketones, as well as the fat in your body and the fats that you are eating, take the place of glucose as the main source of energy (aka calories).  This new source of calories burns cleaner and longer in the body than glucose and helps most individuals to experience more consistent energy levels throughout the day, decreased inflammation in the body, and helps to shed excess body weight.

While this way of eating is remarkably successful in reducing excess weight, there are many individuals who maintain their current healthy weight by adapting the number of calories they get from Fats, Proteins, and Carbohydrates. This way of eating requires a certain level of commitment on the part of the individual looking to become ketogenic because it requires you to know your body and what it needs to feed it.  There are a number of macronutrient calculators available online that can help you determine based on your height, weight, age, gender, and activity level how many calories, grams of fats, carbohydrates, and protein are required to fuel your body based on your nutrition goals (weight loss, weight maintenance, or even bulking). We personally like the Ruled.Me calculator. For many people, changing to this way of eating will require a reduction in total calories – the majority of which will come from the elimination of carbohydrates in the diet – and some may also need to limit their protein intake.  Again, this will be discussed in my next post in detail.

The Ketogenic diet has been utilized in a number of different countries around the world for a number of different reasons.  In the United States, much of the medical/dietary research on this diet revolves around its use for patients with seizure disorders because of its predilection for reducing seizure activity in the brain.  However, with the increasing incidents of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and other chronic diseases in the Unites States and around the world, more research is being done on this diet and its applications for multiple chronic diseases – obesity and diabetes being among the most studied. It is important to know that not all people react to things the same and that this way of eating is no exception to that rule.  Factors such as age, gender, family and personal medical history, and genetics can influence your body’s response to eating the specific macronutrients to keep your body in ketosis, and should be discussed with your medical provider or with a medical provider that knows your health history and has an understanding of the ketogenic diet. 


Do I Just Eat Bacon And Butter Coffee?

This is a big misconception. The Keto diet when done properly is full of fresh vegetables, good fats, dairy, and meats. There are many great vegetables that provide vital vitamins, fiber, magnesium, etc that are low carb/keto friendly( see a list below of some common veggies and their macros)

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In addition to veggies you can also have some berries in moderation. Unfortunately many fruits are just to high in carbs so they are not good options for those following a Keto Diet. Next comes meats/proteins. While you do want to be taking in a high amount of fats a day on the ketogenic diet you do NOT want to be eating too much protein. This is a common misconception with the diet. You can not have whatever you want when it comes to protein. Even though meat is generally 0 carbs, it has calories and protein (both of which needs to be tracked and consumed to meet your specific macros). For this reason I generally eat chicken thighs, chicken breast, bacon, and pork. I do also  a few times a week use red meat( I LOVE it) but due to the high amounts of protein in it I have to limit my servings to not exceed my protein goal for each day according to my macros. When I am meal planning I tend to do some type of bulletproof beverage for breakfast at around 10ish( tea, coffee, hot cocoa, broth) then a veggie and protein for lunch, and dinner veggies and protein. If you follow my recipes you will know I love desserts, and if my macros allow for it I also will have a keto friendly gatbomb or other dessert. These desserts are as a snack and not meant to take up a majority of your allotted macros. 

So there you have it. The next few posts will focus on what are macros, how do I know I am in ketosis, and how to track. Stay Tuned!