If you've been wondering about starting a ketogenic diet, then the beginners' guide to the keto diet is perfect for you .. how it works, how to start AND even how to avoid the keto flu!
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The keto diet has become extremely popular over the last couple of years and that is for good reason. It works!
Once you get started, there are tons of keto-friendly recipes you'll love right here on Ditch the Carbs. So browse the site and bookmark some of your favourite keto recipes. Click here for the recipe finder.
A Beginners' Guide to the Keto Diet
So what exactly is the ketogenic diet?
Well, as the name would suggest, the keto diet is based on the idea that the diet helps your body produce molecules called “ketones” from your stored fat.
When you keep your carb levels low and your body starts burning lots of fat for fuel (instead of sugar), ketones are created.
This state is called "nutritional ketosis".
These ketones act as an incredibly clean energy source for your body and brain. They also perform important 'signalling' tasks, like dampening chronic inflammation (1).
When your body is fuelled by a keto diet, it switches from using glucose as its energy source to burn fat more efficiently. When you lower your dietary carbohydrates, you begin to use your glycogen stores and lower your insulin levels (the energy storage hormone).
You can then achieve stable lower blood glucose levels and your body will switch from being a sugar burner to a fat burner.
When you are fuelled by ketones, you experience more stable energy levels, improved mood, decreased hunger, reduced inflammation and incredible mental clarity. No more afternoon energy slumps!
Read more: Mistakes when starting low-carb and keto
What are the health benefits of the keto diet?
Some people may find incredible improvements virtually immediately, and for others, within just a few days or weeks. A good rule of thumb before you begin any new diet or eating plan is to get the okay from your doctor, especially if you have any underlying health issues.
As with any major lifestyle change, you may experience a marked improvement in your health. So be sensible and ensure your medication and blood results are reviewed regularly. Once you have gotten the okay from your doctor, you can start to plan out your new menu.
Read more: The Advantages Of A Low-Carb Diet
What do you eat on a keto diet?
If you are wondering what you will be eating once you switch over to a keto diet, don't worry. There is absolutely no-deprivation in living a keto lifestyle. We live like kings!
We base all our meals on whole food that is low in carbs, moderate protein and high in healthy fats. Think meat and simple veggies with some healthy fat thrown in for good measure. It really is that simple!!!
So you can plan to have plenty of quality meats, healthy fats, full-fat dairy, non-starchy veggies, nuts, seeds, berries and more.
I’m sure that you are aware that you need to avoid carbs with the keto diet and that is true. You can expect to cut high-sugar fruits, all sugars (yes even honey and coconut sugar - spoiler alert - they're all sugar), bread, grains, starchy foods, root vegetables and beans/legumes from your diet.
Once you get used to it though, you will find that you feel much better and don’t miss those other foods at all. It is these dietary changes that will get your ketones moving!
This is a simple example of a daily keto diet.
How does the keto diet help weight loss and diabetes?
Studies have shown that the ketogenic diet can help in numerous ways.
These may include weight loss, increased energy, reduced inflammation, less intestinal distress, incredible mental clarity, improved cholesterol profile, stable blood sugar levels and more.
The keto diet can reverse insulin resistance, an unhealthy metabolic state at the root of many modern chronic diseases. It can do that in part by lowering high insulin and blood sugar levels, as well as stabilise blood sugar swings.
These reasons alone make the keto diet a great choice for those who are trying to improve their health.
- Of all the weight-loss dietary interventions, research studies using low-carb interventions lost greater weight (and fat) than participants on low-fat interventions. (2)
- By lowering carbohydrate intake, blood sugars are controlled and insulin levels are minimised. This is incredibly beneficial for those with diabetes (type one or two) and those with insulin resistance.
- Low-carb diets normalise appetite, in part by minimising blood sugar swings which often lead to cravings. (3)
- Low-carb diets have a beneficial impact on a whole host of heart disease risk factors such as reduced inflammation, reduced triglycerides, increased HDL, just to name a few.
What is the keto flu and how do you prevent it?
It is important though to remember that shocking your system with diet changes can sometimes have its drawbacks. Some people report they experience "keto flu".
The keto flu is not a real "flu" but actually just symptoms that include dizziness, lethargy, nausea, muscle cramps etc. These symptoms are often mild and can easily be remedied by starting your new low carb lifestyle out slowly, staying hydrated and keeping your mineral levels ups.
Read more: What is keto flu, and how to avoid it.
Your FREE keto meal plan
Are you thinking about starting yourself on the keto diet?
- Grab your FREE low-carb 5-day meal plan & shopping list - CLICK HERE.
- Why not join my FREE Low-Carb Support Group. You will get all the help you need along this incredible journey to becoming a new you. I'll see you there!
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References and citations:
- The ketone metabolite β-hydroxybutyrate blocks NLRP3 inflammasome–mediated inflammatory disease
- Effects of a low carbohydrate diet on energy expenditure during weight-loss maintenance: randomized trial.
- Ketosis, ketogenic diet and food intake control: a complex relationship
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