Why start the keto diet
There are many well documented health benefits of the keto diet, but it’s true to say that for many people the reason for wanting to try the keto diet plan is for it’s amazing ability to help them lose weight and keep it off.
You can read more about the health benefits here heath benefits of keto diet
The keto diet plan weight loss style of eating does differ slightly from the plan for those people who want to improve their health, or to reverse an existing health problem.
Keto and weight loss
In the case of weight loss, the most obvious point is that you will want to make sure that you are eating enough for your daily energy needs.
Eat until you feel full, but don’t overeat. There is no need, and the diet itself will help you to stabilize your way of eating.
Carbohydrates are kept below 20g per day and just 5% of your daily intake.
This very low carb intake will cause your body to switch it’s metabolic pathway to meet your energy needs.
After several days of low carb eating your body changes over from burning glycogen for energy to burning fat.
At this point you will be in ketosis and will be able to lose weight fast.
Calories do not need to be counted, and there is a strong case for saying that the old calories in/ calories out model of weight loss is outdated and just plain wrong.
There are now numerous scientific studies to show that eating a keto diet can and will lead to fast weight loss while preserving muscle mass and improving health.
Weight loss is kept off and not only is the appetite reduced but you will feel more alert and energetic as your body enjoys all the benefits of being in ketosis.
What foods can you eat on the keto diet
The keto diet is divided into the three main food groups of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
These are known as your macros. You should aim to have a macro balance of high fat ( about 70% -75% of your intake) medium protein (approx 0.8g per pound of body weight) and low carb, about 5% of daily intake, and always less than 20g per day.
That’s 20g of net carbs, the total carb count minus any grams of fiber as fiber is passed through the body.
To discover your personal macros use this calculator.
Base your meals on these foods:
Grass fed meat, wild fish, avocados, nuts, above ground vegetables, eggs, full fat cream, healthy fats such as olive oil and coconut oil, butter and some cheeses especially the lower carb hard cheese.
The role of insulin and why it’s important to keto dieters
It is now understood that the type of food you eat causes changes in your hormones.
It’s not simply a case of how many calories you consume.
Any food you eat is turned into glucose to supply your body’s energy requirements. However, different types of food have differing effects on insulin.
When you eat carbohydrate heavy food your levels of blood/glucose quickly rise.
In response to the quick increase in blood/ glucose levels, insulin levels shoot upwards.
Big suppliers of carbs to your body are grains, potatoes and starchy vegetables.
Dairy products also contain some carbs, but meat, fish and eggs contain no carbs or very few.
When carbs are eaten your body converts them to glucose which is then sent to your bloodstream where it can be used to meet your body’s energy needs.
Insulin is produced to help this glucose pass through the various cells walls and keep your body fueled at all times.
However, there is only so much glucose that your body needs and excess glucose is turned into glycogen and is stored in your muscles and liver.
Once your muscles and liver have all the glycogen they can store, the rest is stored as fat.
This made sense back in the days when we lived in caves. That mammoth we just caught and cooked enabled us all to pig out for a few days, but it didn’t last forever.
When it was gone we had to go hunting for another one which might have taken days.
For this reason, we’ve evolved to lay down fat when times are good so that we don’t die of lack of nutrients the moment supplies have run out.
The trouble is most of us no longer live in caves. We still have our cavemen bodies, but it’s a rare day now that we are unable to find anything to eat at all.
We are surrounded by supermarkets, 24/7 stores, fridges, restaurants and take away places.
We seldom are so hungry that we need to call on those fat supplies, and so we continue to gain weight.
Apart from fat storage, insulin is also an issue for dieters as it quickly causes blood/glucose levels to fall and one of the effects of this is that it makes us feel hungry.
So, even after we have had a big meal and we’ve eaten until we’re full ( and sometimes past that point) after a short time we feel hungry again.
Are we just plain greedy? No, not at all and people who are overweight are simply responding to the carbs in the type of foods they eat.
The basic problem is not that they are overeating but WHY they are overeating.
You may do this yourself, and you’ll already know that time and time again you feel hungry when realistically you know that your body doesn’t need more food.
Due to eating a carb heavy diet, insulin can cause too much fat storage, and also make us feel hungry.
So why is this happening?
The old calories in/ calories out model stated that you are simply eating more each day than your body needs for its daily energy requirements.
Studies now show us that the science of losing weight isn’t that simple.
I bet you’ve already tried cutting calories, and let me guess….you were so hungry that you tried it for a while and then went right back to your old way of eating.
This is because in the past, people have focused on the amount of food you eat each day, and not the type of food.
You need the right amount of protein for your weight, and as much fat as you need to feel full.
These macro nutrients won’t cause the big insulin spikes that carbs do, and will reduce your need to over eat.
Protein and fats are also the nutrients that are not often binged on. Sure you can over eat on anything, but be honest: What would tempt you to overeat the most? A plateful of eggs or a plateful of donuts?
The people who make donuts know that the mix of sweet and fat is irresistible to us – it’s our old caveman traits making life hard for us again.
So if you’ve tried cutting your calories you’ll know how hard this is.
A low calorie diet will leave you feeling hungry, deprived and miserable.
You might be able to put up with the pain for a few days or even a few months if you’re made of very stern stuff, but eventually that burger/pizza/ice cream will shout your name and you won’t be able to resist.
Why does this happen? If you’ve ever asked this question of yourself you may have come up with a few very negative reasons. “I’m just too greedy”, “I don’t have any will power”, “I’m addicted to food”.
All of which are guaranteed to make you feel bad, and probably go on a food eating event that could win you prizes.
Now here’s the good news!
This is not happening to you because you are weak and greedy. It’s happening to you because you are eating the wrong type of foods and those foods are setting up a cycle of overeating and fat storage in your body.
This is no surprise when you realize how we are all bombarded every single day with advertisments for just the sort of carb filled foods that cause this problem.
Too many carbohydrates are not your friends, they should be rationed, as in the keto diet.
Protein is your friend, and fats are your best friends!
Walk away from the sugar !
When you eat sugar you send insulin levels in your blood very high, and as we’ve seen, this signals your body to go into storage mode.
Your body converts all the carbohydrates you eat into glucose ( and sugar is 100% carbohydrate!) and the spare glucose all ends up stored.
This is what happens when you eat a suger filled food:
You’ve just had a sugar topped donut. It was 200 calories and you figured that it would fit in well with your diet of 2000 calories a day.
Hell, you could eat nothing else all day and enjoy ten of them right? Wrong!
When you eat so much sugar at once, your body reacts quickly to this surge of blood/glucose.That donut, aka a high carb snack, will play havoc with your insulin levels and you are going to pay the price.
For all the reasons that we’ve already discussed,soon after eating that donut you’re going to be feeling pretty rough. Plus now your muscles and liver have topped up their glycogen stores to capacity.
Remember the cavemen? This store of glycogen is what they used when the mammoth had been eaten and it would be days before they caught another one.
So, if you’re not a caveman, those donuts (now glycogen) will end up stored as fat in your fat cells.
Those are the cells that are making your clothes too tight, and might even be (probably already are ) causing you some health issues.
And here’s the thing: The feel good factor that you get with a carb hit is very short lived. Before you’ve even finished digesting your snack you’ll feel sluggish, tired or thirsty, and ready to eat all over again.
Ever notice how one donut makes you want another? This is part of the reason why.
The other reason is that we are programmed to go after sugar. There was a time when sugar was really only around when it was summer and fruits were ripe on the trees.
Time to do a bit of fat storing for the rough winter ahead, so we are designed to go after that fruit and eat what we could. Yeah I know, times have changed…
Read here for a 100% natural and tasty alternative to sugar Erythritol sweetener – reviews and uses 2019
Was that donut worth it?
Sugar produces the brain chemical dopamine. The exact same chemical hit that heroin users get.
See why that second donut was forcing you to eat it? Just plain greedy? I don’t think so.
Sugar can be every bit as addictive as hard drugs. Now you’ve eaten that donut and possibly the entire box, you will be feeling the effect.
Sugar is all around us, in sweets and baked goods. In almost all ready meals and processed meat. In drinks and even in bread.
Sugar is in the obvious things, and hidden inside the types of food that you’d imagine to be sugar free.
You need to avoid all sugar if you want to follow the keto diet. This review for the natural sweetener Erythritol is a good place to start.
It can be hard to resist, but sugar is damaging to our bodies, causes obesity and causes inflammation in our bodies which has been implicated in just about every disease.
Too many carbohydrates are not good for you
Even foods that aren’t 100% carbohydrate (such as sugar) can still deliver a glucose load to your body that is way too much for you to be able to use for energy needs alone.
Just like the carbs from a donut, the excess glucose from all carb heavy foods ends up as fat and extra weight.
Grains, and I’m talking about bread, potatoes, starchy vegetables, legumes and pasta, all contain way too many carbs for your body to use unless you’re really eating a very tiny amount and who wants to do that?
For this reason those foods are not on the list of foods you can eat on the keto diet.
The aim of the keto diet is to limit the amount of carbohydrates your body gets and by doing so, lower the amount of glucose it can make and stop the storage of glycogen as fat.
When you are following the keto diet, your body not only has insufficient glycogen to store as fat it also does not have enough glucose to use for your daily energy requirements.
When you begin the keto diet, your body will first of all use up all the glycogen that you have stored in your liver.
Once this has been depleted, which can take from a few days to a week, your body will convert to it’s second metabolic pathway: burning fat for fuel.
Your body begins to use either the fat you eat, or the fat you have stored for fuel.
This metabolic pathway is completely natural but is seldom if ever used if we eat too many carbs. Once your body has made the switch you’ll start using your fat stores for energy, instead of just adding to them and causing your weight issues.
Your liver works hard at metabolizing your fat (fatty acids) into acetyl-CoA giving your body ketones to be used generally and giving the keto diet it’s name.
Eating the low carbohydrate keto way forces your body to run on fat. Not only will you lose weight but fat is a very stable supply of energy so you will not experience the highs and slumps of a high carb diet.
This also causes a decrease in your appetite because you are not having big drops in insulin.
Fat also tends to make you feel more satiated than other types of food.
This is why calorie restricted diets don’t work
So you can see the problem with focusing just on calories.
The real problem is too many carbs, not too many calories.
Binge on carbs and you are setting yourself up to fail on a cycle of dopamine hits. Your blood sugar levels will be swinging from high and low and you’ll be feeling hungry every few hours.
Stop beating yourself up about failing on this sort of diet.
A low calorie diet will cause you to lose weight, but will also be very difficult to keep to and does not ensure that you are eating a nutritious diet that is good for your body.
How the keto diet can help you loose weight
When you shift your focus to eating the keto diet way, you will be concentrating on getting nutrient rich foods.
Plenty of healthy fats and no more that 20g of carbohydrates each day.
Forget about the “low fat” diet treats in the store.
These are filled with sugar and processed unhealthy fats. Their carb count is high.
Read the label and see how many carbs are in a single tiny pot. Worry if there are a lot of ingredients that you can’t even pronounce, let alone should be putting into your body.
Sadly, the food industry is still turning out ever more of these “low fat” treats, all of which will play havoc with your blood sugar levels and/or be giving you a lot of unhealthy processed foods.
Everywhere the idea is pushed that the basis of a healthy diet is carbohydrates. It’s way over due to look at the science and say that isn’t true.
Our bodies do require a small amount of carbs each day, but nothing like the 200 plus grams per day in the standard western diet.
What we need is fresh whole food.
As your motivation for starting the keto diet plan is weight loss you will want to eat until you’re feeling full, no more no less.
Make sure that the food you eat is fresh and nutrient rich. Become a friend of fat, fatty cuts of meat, fatty fish (salmon is great for your omega 3 fatty acids too) butter on your steak, olive oil on your salads.
Egg mayonnaise, and yes..as you probably have already heard, you can eat bacon. Don’t over do it though, bacon is processed and so not the best choice although it is allowed on the keto diet.
After your first week weigh yourself. Note that most of your weight loss is probably going to be water.
Those fat cells that are getting emptied for energy contain a lot of water. You might have noticed that you’re going to the bathroom much more often than normal.
Note your new weight and then carry on for another week and weigh yourself again.
This will give you a much more accurate idea of the amount of weight you are loosing each week. If you have lost too much increase your intake of foods, especially fats which your body is now loving.
If you don’t see a weight loss it’s possible you’ve been enjoying your fats just a bit too much! Cut back a little until you see the weight loss you’re hoping for.
Don’t cut back on the other food macros of proteins and carbs. With a little trial and error, you will find the right amount for you.
Each person has a slightly different metabolism, starting weight and activity level so amounts needed are always approximate.
Start with the amounts suggested but know that you will have a little wriggle room to find out just what is right for you.
Keto is an amazing way of eating, and done correctly your weight issues will be a thing of the past.
You will be losing weight and finding this plan easier to keep to than you ever thought possible.
If you’re vegetarian this will interest you vegetarian keto diet plan
Vegans can get some more information here vegan keto diet plan
Good luck as you start your keto weight loss journey.