The Keto Diet involves a dramatic reduction in the consumption of carbohydrates while simultaneously increasing the amount of dietary fat a person consumes. This combination shifts the body’s metabolism away from burning carbohydrates and sugar for it main source of energy and instead uses fat for fuel.
Once this stage has been reached, a person is in “Ketosis,” due to the ketones produced by the liver, hence the “Keto” diet. If you are thinking of trying the Keto diet for yourself, here are seven things you should know before giving Keto a go.
1. Quality fats matter
In order to really participate in the Keto Diet, it is incredibly important to increase both the quantity and the quality of fat you consume on a daily basis. Going Keto isn’t an excuse to go all in on the bad kinds of fat, but rather the good, quality sources of fat like:
- Fresh avocado
- Pasture-raised eggs
- Wild caught fish like salmon and mackerel
- Grass-fed beef
- Nuts (i.e. cashews and macadamia nuts)
- Seeds (i.e. chia seeds and flax seeds)
- Unsweetened coconut
- Coconut oil
- Avocado oil
- Olive oil
- Animal fats (i.e. beef tallow and pork lard)
Carbohydrates are not inherently bad for you. Fresh fruit and vegetables are carbohydrates, so please don’t develop a fear of produce, but in order to achieve a state of Ketosis, it is essential to dramatically reduce your daily consumption of carbohydrates and sugars. If you simply keep your diet the same and only increase your dietary fat without lowering sugar and carbs, you actually put yourself at risk for creating a diet that is dangerous for your health. If you are serious about making the switch to Keto, reach out to your doctor or health coach to discuss a plan.
This may sound like a contradiction to the point listed above, but fat allows for the proper absorption of certain vitamins, especially vitamins A, D, E and K, all of which are fat soluble, meaning in order for your body to properly absorb them, they need fat to be present. Be sure to incorporate more healthy fats when eating your vegetables. For example, if a spinach kale salad at lunch is your favorite then add a Keto-friendly salad topping like avocado slices, a drizzle of olive oil or roasted sunflower seeds.
Too many carbohydrates can keep you from Ketosis, but so can too much protein. Although protein plays an important role in a healthy diet, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, especially when striving to reach a state of Ketosis. It’s a delicate dance, but there is no reason to be militant with your protein intake. Instead, eat a moderate amount of protein (about 20 percent of your diet) and try to get 70 to 80 percent of your diet from healthy fats, like those listed above.
We are not huge advocates of calorie counting, but it is still vital to be cognizant of your daily caloric intake. Some high-fat, Keto-friendly foods, like nuts and seeds, are extremely easy to overeat. Instead of monitoring calories or tracking macros, try single serving packets of your favorite snacks. For example, instead of grabbing a jar of your favorite nut butter and a spoon, purchase single serving packets to avoid overconsumption. Plus, they are easy to stash in your desk drawer, gym bag or car counsel for your on-the-go lifestyle.
Intermittent fasting is not a requirement of Keto, but many people find they are not very hungry in between meals. This is because healthy fat keeps you satiated, which means you stay fuller longer. Instead eating three or four small meals a day, some people notice they only need two or three meals. If you find yourself not that hungry in between meals, try intermittent fasting. For example, if you finish eating your last meal for the day at 7 p.m., wait 12 hours until you eat again. Everyone is different. Some people prefer going 14 or 16 hours instead of 12, but giving your digestive system a break, no matter for how long, is beneficial for your overall health.
Maintaining a Keto diet isn’t all about food. You should still practice proper hydration, exercise (don’t forget rest days), clocking quality sleep of at least 7-9 hours each night, manage stress levels and have healthy relationships with family and friends. All of these factors contribute to a healthy lifestyle, but a healthy lifestyle also includes living your life, so have the glass of wine with your friends and eat the chocolate, but know that you will most likely take your body out of Ketosis and that’s okay! Enjoy the moment and get back to your healthy lifestyle the next day.
If you plan on giving Keto a go, try these seven tips to help keep you in a state of Ketosis!