It’s a fact that fad dieting doesn’t work for most people. In fact, over half of dieters who lose weight will gain it back. Even worse, most dieters will not only gain back the weight they lost, they’ll also pack on some extra pounds.
These fad diets only offer one or two food choices, such as the once popular cabbage soup diet, or the ice cream diet.
The ketogenic diet isn’t quite as popular, but it offers incredible, lasting results, not to mention impressive weight loss during the first month. The keto diet actually works because it suppresses your appetite, while supporting increased mental focus, energy, and a faster metabolism.
You won’t have to count calories or obsess about eating too much food because your appetite will be totally under control. The diet’s focus is on regulated appetite and satiety.
Unfortunately, because this type of diet is so restrictive, it can be very challenging to stick to, especially during the first two weeks when carb restriction may be limited to just twenty to fifty grams of carbs per day. Of course, once you begin to experience weight loss, you’ll be more likely to follow through with the keto diet plan, however, reaching the state of ketosis can take as long as one week.
The State of Ketosis
This diet can also help you to lose weight faster compared to other low carb diets. The diet is centered around the state of ketosis, a type of metabolic process in which the body burns fat for fuel instead of glucose.
When carbs are drastically cut out of the diet, there aren’t enough carbs in the body to convert to glucose, which means there isn’t enough fuel for the body to use for energy, so the body goes into the ketosis state and switches energy sources. It’s that easy.
Once the body is in ketosis, the liver utilizes the body’s fatty acids to create the ketone molecules.
So, what are the benefits of the keto diet?
When you follow a low carb diet, the body burns fat as its main fuel source, so you’re essentially in a fasting state, causing the body to use up fat stores in the body. People who are struggling with weight loss will benefit from the diet for this reason.
The state of ketosis can also regulate the hormones that affect weight. Cholecystokinin is a type of hormone that’s released by the intestines and it’s responsible for stimulating protein and fat digestion, preventing the emptying of the stomach, thus curbing your appetite. However, losing a lot of weight can also cause the body to secrete less of this hormone which can lead to increased appetite, but this is where ketosis can really help out. Ketosis can actually raise hormone levels back to where they were before you began losing weight.
This low-carb diet can work to reduce your appetite by altering the hormone levels that affect hunger, removing the need to respond to cravings for processed food.
Regulating Blood Sugar Levels
When you’re following the keto diet, your meals will consist of proteins and healthy fats, and veggies. This type of diet can stabilize blood sugar levels, much better than a diet that’s high in refined sugars, which can lead to a spike in blood sugar.
What to Eat on the Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss
So, how do you reach the state of ketosis? Reaching ketosis will start with minimizing your daily carb intake. On the keto diet, the goal will be to limit your daily carbs to just twenty to fifty grams a day. This includes carbs processed from whole foods.
The keto diet is broken down into the following percentages:
- Moderate protein intake should make up twenty to twenty-five percent of total calories.
- High fat will make up seventy to eighty percent of total calories.
- Carbs will make up five to ten percent of total calories.
These numbers can vary, depending on gender, lean body mass, level of activity, weight, and height, but typically, these percentages are the same for most dieters.
The foods to avoid:
Obviously, you’ll have to severely limit your carb intake and the types of foods you’re allowed to eat.
Steer clear of the following foods:
- Low-fat prepackaged diet foods
- Refined grains
- Flour-based baked goods, cookies, and candies
- Pasta and bread
- Low-fat diet products
- Sugary beverages
These foods are not only high in carbs, but they ‘re also empty calories.
Additionally, you must steer clear of the following whole carbs as well:
- Grains such as barley, rye, corn, rice, oats, and wheat.
- Fruits such as citrus, bananas, and apples. A small amount of berries is allowed.
- Legumes and beans including lentils, black beans, peas, kidney beans, and chickpeas.
- Starchy veggies including parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, and white potatoes.
Foods you can eat:
- Meat such as trout, tuna, catfish, salmon, veal, goat, lamb, pork, poultry, and beef.
- Dairy including full-fat yogurt, sour cream, cheese, and heavy cream.
- Low-carb friendly veggies include Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, peppers, and asparagus.
- Fats such as butter, olive oil, and sesame oil.
- Low sugar fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.
How to Measure Ketone Levels
Those new to the keto diet often struggle to identify when their body is in ketosis. Because of this, we recommend measuring the amount of ketones in order to determine if you need to alter or reduce your carb level to a lower daily amount. Commonly, people will purchase ketone test strips, which measure the level of ketones in the body through urine.
If the test shows you’re still not in ketosis after the first week of following this low carb diet, then you should decrease your carb intake by five to ten carbs and retest in a few days.
Signs the Body is in Ketosis
There are a number of signs and symptoms you can look for if you don’t want to purchase ketone test strips.
Bad breath: People often report bad breath during the ketosis state. The breath will smell fruity, which is a direct result of elevated ketone levels. The fruity culprit is acetone, a type of ketone that exits the body in breath and urine.
Weight changes: Many weight loss studies have shown that people on the keto diet will experience both short and long-term weight loss, especially during the first month. The first week you can lose anywhere from five to twelve pounds of weight, but this will be water weight only. Weigh yourself daily to keep track of your progress and to determine whether or not you’ve reached ketosis.
After the first week or two of rapid weight loss, you’ll begin to lose body fat consistently as long as you stick to the diet’s guidelines.
Change in appetite: Most dieters on the keto diet report decreased hunger once the body has reached ketosis. Researchers believe that a curb is appetite is due to the increase in veggie and protein consumption. The high levels of ketones are also thought to be responsible for decreased hunger.
Increased energy and focus: When first starting the keto diet, many people have reported fatigue and brain fog. This is often referred to as the keto flu or low carb flu.
When you start this low-carb diet, the body must adapt to this type of major change and learn how to burn fat for fuel.
When you reach ketosis, the brain begins to burn the ketones instead of glucose, but it can take up to one week for this process to work properly.
Studies have shown that ketones are an incredibly potent brain fuel source. Because of this, it’s not really a surprise that most dieters report improved brain function and mental clarity.
Increased fatigue: Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of ketosis. After several years of relying on carbs for fuel, the body struggles to adapt to its new fuel source. As you may expect, the total ketosis process won’t occur overnight. It often takes three to seven days to reach full ketosis. During this time, nutritionists recommend switching to electrolyte supplements. The rapid reduction of water weight is believed to be the main reason behind increased fatigue.
Trouble sleeping: As the body reaches the ketosis state, a lot of people report that they struggle to fall or stay asleep. This often improves over a period of a few weeks.
Basic Ketogenic Weight Loss Menu
Learning how to create meals on the keto diet is much easier than it sounds. You’ll avoid any packed or highly processed foods, fast foods, and stick to mainly meat, eggs, dairy, and certain veggies.
As an example
Breakfast: Eggs and Bacon
Lunch: Grilled chicken and a side of spinach that’s been sautéed in butter.
Dinner: Steak and onions with a side of Brussels sprouts.
Snacks can consist of a handful of seeds or nuts, ¼ cup of blueberries or a cup of full-fat yogurt.
Stick closely to the diet’s guidelines in the beginning, and keep close track of your carb intake per meal. For many, keeping the meals very simple in the beginning is the easiest way to reach ketosis. If you haven’t reached ketosis after four to five days on the diet, lower your carb intake, but do not go below twenty carbs a day.