Today I took the leap and decided to try something that I’ve been toying with for the last two years. It’s called the Ketogenic Diet. You probably have heard about a friend or a friend of a friend who has lost an incredible amount of weight easily by following this diet. When Keto first blipped on my Pinterest feed about two years ago I was immediately intrigued. I had never heard of it before, and I had never heard of anyone that I knew trying it. That’s what kinda scared me about trying it- it seemed difficult (plus the rumors I heard about Keto Flu), and also why I haven’t tried the Keto Diet until now.
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Keto for Weight Loss and Health
I’m no stranger to odd diets. In the past I have followed and loved the Weston A. Price diet. I still keep my copy of Nourishing Traditions handy despite having Minimized our bookshelf. The issue I had with the WAPF’s diet was the large quantity of meat it recommends. Large quantities of meat don’t sit well with me physically (too heavy on the stomach), or ethically.
I’ve been considering going vegan for a while. One reason besides the aforementioned two is because I have been mostly dairy-free since breastfeeding my oldest, and have continued to be dairy-free while extended breastfeeding by youngest. Eliminating dairy felt like the most difficult step toward a vegan diet. Do you agree?
I’ve stayed dairy-free because of the sensible information I’ve encountered along the way both online and in my personal life experiences. I won’t get into all that here. I haven’t taken the leap into veganhood mostly because I feel like small amounts of meat are necessary. You don’t have to agree with me. I’m not asking you to. I understand the views by those who are vegan for the animals. You are superstars! I’m speaking strictly from my own views and opinions about nutrition (& nope, I’m not a doctor or medical professional). I just think the nutrition our bodies can receive in the form of grass-fed, pastured animals is hard to pass up.
So that brings us to what this post is all about….
The Keto Diet For Beginners
The Keto diet in a nutshell is a way of eating that puts your body into a mode called ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state characterized by raised levels of a substance known as ketones in the body. When you reduce your carbohydrate intake your body must turn to an alternate energy source to create energy. When you achieve ketosis your body is burning fat as energy instead of carbs. Sounds good, right? You can check to see if your body is in ketosis by using urine strips that check for ketones. Ketosis Urine Test Strips are available on Amazon Prime here.
From my research and word of mouth from friends, I think this is a great diet (besides that I’ve heard it is easy to lose weight quickly) because it is touted to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce hunger so you never feel like you’re dieting. You can read more about the specifics of how ketosis works by clicking this link to read a more detailed article about this metabolic state of the body cause by the Keto Diet.
You may have heard that the state of ketosis is dangerous. The condition you’re thinking of is actually called ketoacidosis. These are two different metabolic states. Ketoacidosis is an extreme form of ketosis that can be dangerous for people with diabetes, but don’t let that scare you away. The Keto diet can be very helpful for diabetics. Consult a doctor who is familiar with the diet and your conditions before beginning.
Helpful Keto Diet resources:
Let’s get down to business. For day one of the Keto Diet you’re going to need to know one big piece of information.
What the heck are Macros?
The term “Macros” sounds high-tech, but it’s just the shortened version of the word macronutrients. Macronutrients are molecules our bodies use to create energy: they are fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Our bodies also need other substances called micronutrients, a word to be explored another day.
To determine what your ideal Macros are for achieving ketosis you can use a Keto Calculator like this one (I like it because it gives you pictures so you can visually determine your body fat %), this one, or this one. They are all pretty similar, but the basic principle is eating very low carb, high fat, and moderate amounts of protein. Your carbs should come mostly from vegetables- no grains, and your protein count should be kept moderate because too much protein can throw your body out of the ketosis state.
Keto appeals to me because of the high amounts of healthy fats it suggests. The Weston A. Price Foundation’s diet taught me that fats are great for the body, and I’ve been reluctant to give them up ever since. I love fat! The key to consuming fats healthfully is by checking the quality of the fat or oil.
Just because an oil is labeled as olive oil does NOT mean that it is actually 100% olive oil. You can’t trust labels. Seriously. Do. Not. Trust. Labels. Do your research before you buy. Here’s an example as to why. In America, MOST olive oils are cut with cheap vegetable oils. Those cheap vegetable oils are not what you want your body using to form cell walls and fuel your brain and other body systems. One oil that was tested pure and proven to be 100% olive oil is my favorite Kirkland’s Olive Oil from Costco or you can buy it on Amazon Prime by clicking here.
If you’re consuming fat from an animal that animal should be raised on grass with plenty of room to roam and do what animals do. Chickens should be able to scratch and catch bugs. Cows should be free ranging with little to no grain in their diet. If an animal is fed grain GMO-free feed is the preferred choice. When shopping for fish, like the glorious fatty salmon, do not buy farm-raised. You want to purchase sustainable, wild-caught fish.
How much fat do I have to eat?
Everybody is different, and the amount you choose to eat may change as you continue on the Keto Diet. Overall, the amount of fat you are eating should be the highest of the three macronutrients. Using a Macro Calculator can give you an idea of where to aim, but you should use testing strips to ensure that your body is, in fact, in ketosis. Go by how your body feels, too. If you follow the Keto Diet correctly you should have a lot of energy and overall feel very good. If you don’t, consult your doctor.
You’ve probably been taught throughout your life that protein is the best of the three macronutrients and therefore you should be eating a LOT of protein. While that’s not necessarily untrue (all three Macros are good for you because they are required to sustain life) protein should not be your highest Macro while on the Ketogenic diet.
On the Keto Diet you should aim to eat a moderate amount of protein. Too much protein can send your body out of ketosis, and that’s the opposite of what you want. Too little protein though may cause muscle loss and very low energy. Your body may feel achy and it may be difficult to recover from your usual exercise routine. Pretty much you’ll feel yucky. If you feel tired and yucky then something is off. Use Keto test strips to ensure that you are in a Keto metabolic state.
While following the Keto Diet you’ll shoot for a low carb intake. The reason for this is because you’re trying to tell your body to burn fat instead of using carbohydrates as an immediate energy source. When you eat something high in carbs your body creates glucose and secretes insulin.
In loose terms insulin is a hormone your body secretes in order to control high blood sugar levels cause by glucose in the bloodstream. It’s a normal function of the body, but when we eat a typical American diet high in carbs and sugars we are abusing this function and it will eventually begin to manifest in the form of disease. Plus- it can lead to feeling fatigued on the daily.
Glucose from carbs is super easy for your body to grab and go use as a source of energy. Your body will choose it over any other energy source every time because of how easy it is for it to use. When you’re eating a significant amount of carbohydrates your body is not using fat and therefore it gets stored for later. In caveman days this was helpful because when the easy-to-use carbs ran out our bodies could rely on the fat we had stored up.
The Keto Diet recommends a low carb count for these reasons. You should avoid grains and aim to get your carbs from vegetables and certain fruits.
Okay- I think I get it now- but how to I keep up with my Macros through the day? This sounds too hard.
I got you, girl. I’m a stay-at-home mama to two little wonders and aside from that the thought of checking labels and counting every single Macro throughout the day sounds devastating. LOL I knew I’d never last if I had to do that much work.
I wanted to start out on the right foot. When I decide to do something I research it throughly before beginning and do my best to stick to it exactly so I looked for an app to help me out. I downloaded a free app called Stupid Simple KETO and I looooove it.
Stupid Simple KETO
After you download this app you’ll set up an account where you input the amount of Macros you want to be your daily goal and the app will take it from there. It tracks your Macros and your calories for the day and keeps a longterm record of your progress.
The thing I love about this app is that you aren’t scrolling through rows and rows of specific foods trying to find the exact one that you ate. Instead, you click ingredients. Since Keto is a primarily whole foods diet this is easy. You won’t be eating processed foods on this diet so it isn’t difficult to input each ingredient.
As the day goes on certain food items in the app turn red letting you know that you can’t “afford” to eat those now. This is seriously stupid simple. One quick glance at the app and I know that I can snack on a handful of cashews before bed, or that I need to add 2 TBS of butter to my lunch to increase my fat intake for the day.
I’m a total newbie to Keto, but I knew I’d be doing a ton of research as I go through this process and I want to share it here with you if you’re interested. Do you want to see more? Let me know in the comments!
Read the next post in this series: Keto Diet Day Two: Is Keto Flu Real?
Keto or no go? Let me know in the comments!
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