What is the Keto Diet?
Understanding the ketogenic diet requires a basic understanding of how the body works. The body is a machine, and like any machine, the body requires an energy source to function. Think of this energy source as fuel that helps your body perform day-to-day functions like walking, exercising, and breathing. So where does this fuel come from?
The majority of modern day diets have one thing in common: they use carbohydrates as fuel. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose which is used to power the brain and body. When you eat carbohydrates, you introduce glucose into the system. When you expend energy, you burn glucose. It’s a recurring process of fueling up and depleting energy. The process is similar to filling up your car’s gas tank, driving, and repeating the process. So, what if there were a more sustainable energy source?
As you probably guessed, this is where the ketogenic diet comes in. A ketogenic diet utilizes fat as a fuel source. This fat is broken down into ketones, which can be used to power the brain and body. This allows you to tap into your body’s fat reserves and use them for energy. Let’s go back to the car analogy and compare a gas-powered vehicle to a solar-powered vehicle. The gas-powered vehicle requires constant refueling, whereas the solar powered vehicle taps into an already abundant fuel source.
Of course, this is an oversimplification, but the main point is important. The purpose of a ketogenic diet is to adapt your body to burning fat (ketones) instead of carbohydrates (glucose). This is done by maintaining a low-carbohydrate, high fat diet. This may seem counterintuitive to what you’ve heard about nutrition. After all, fat makes you fat right? Wrong. By restricting your carbohydrate intake, you force your body to adapt to burning fat as a fuel source. The results are more sustained energy, better focus, and a long list of other benefits.
Keto Diet Macros
There are three macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Your macronutrient breakdown is the percentage of each you intend to consume every day. For example, a typical American diet may consist of 50% carbohydrates, 20% protein, and 30% fat (by caloric intake).
On the ketogenic diet, it’s important to understand your macronutrient profile, as it will affect your daily eating habits. You are allowed some wiggle room, but the standard breakdown is:
- 75% Fat
- 20% Protein
- 5% Carbohydrates
Assuming you planned to consume 2,000 calories every day, you would have:
- 167g Fat
- 100g Protein
- 25G Carbohydrates
For most followers of the ketogenic diet, this is an ideal macronutrient breakdown. You can increase/decrease your macros within reason, but you should be purposeful. For example, a weight lifter may increase the protein intake and lower the fat intake. A runner may increase the carbohydrate intake and decrease the protein or fat intake.
The important thing is choosing an appropriate macronutrient breakdown and sticking with it. This breakdown will serve as a guide that lets you know what you can and can’t eat every day. It allows you to take a structured approach to the ketogenic diet, which will ensure you actually get into a state of ketosis and achieve the results you’re looking for.
How to Get Started
To get started, make sure you have a plan. If you have questions or concerns, do your research ahead of time. Your plan is what will make or break your success on the keto diet. You should know what you plan to eat and how you plan to stick with the diet.
You have to be calculated if you want to enter and stay in ketosis.Ketosis is a very “delicate” state. Something as simple as having a beer with friends or eating a slice of cake at work can throw off all of your hard work. This isn’t intended to deter you – the benefits of keto are well worth it.
Here’s what we recommend for new keto’s:
- Choose Your Macronutrient Breakdown – This will serve as the guide for your entire diet. You can reference it when meal planning or deciding whether a food is compatible or not.
- Create A Meal Plan – Think about the foods you plan to eat and when you will prepare them. You don’t need to turn into a chef overnight. Simply figure out a few keto-friendly foods and keep them around the house.
- Plan Your Snacks – The best way to stick with your diet is to be proactive. If you wait until your starving to eat, that little voice in your head will convince you that one slice of pizza is okay. Plan some snacks throughout the day so you can be prepared to tackle the cravings and silence the evil pizza monster in your head.
- Track and Test – Seeing results is what will keep you going. Track your daily nutrition using a free app like My Fitness Pal. We also highly recommend testing your ketone levels to ensure your plan is working. This step isn’t required but it’s very helpful.
Don’t forget to have fun! The ketogenic diet is actually one of the most exciting diets. It’s the only diet where you transition yourself from one fuel source to another. Enjoy the process, keep doing your research, and have a great time doing it!