A Ketogenic Diet for Beginners (Weightloss)

A Detailed Beginner's Guide to Keto

The ketogenic diet or keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that offers many health benefits.
Over 20 studies show that this type of diet can help you lose weight and improve your health
Ketogenic diets may even have benefits against diabetes,  epilepsy, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease
A keto diet can be especially useful for losing excess body fat without hunger and for improving type 2 diabetes. Here is a detailed beginner’s guide to the keto diet.

What is a Keto Diet?

A keto diet is well known as low carb diet, where the body produces ketones in the liver to be used as energy. It’s referred to as many different names  ketogenic diet, low carb high fat,  low carb diet,  etc.
When you eat something high in carbs, your body will produce glucose and insulin. Glucose is the easiest molecule for your body to convert and use as energy so that it will be chosen over any other energy source. Insulin is produced to process the glucose in your bloodstream by taking it around the body. Since the glucose is being used as a primary energy, your fats are not needed and are therefore stored. Typically on a normal, higher carbohydrate diet, the body will use glucose as the main form of energy. By lowering the intake of carbs, the body is induced into a state known as ketosis.

Ketosis is a natural process the body initiates to help us survive when food intake is low. During this state, we produce ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver.
Goal of a properly maintained keto diet is to force your body into this metabolic state. We don’t do this through starvation of calories but starvation of carbohydrates.
Our bodies are incredibly adaptive to what you put into it – when you overload it with fats and take away carbohydrates, it will begin to burn ketones as the primary energy source. Optimal ketone levels offer many health, weight loss, physical and mental performance benefits.

What “keto” means

A “keto” or “ketogenic” diet is so named because it causes your body to produce small fuel molecules called “ketones.” This is an alternative fuel source for your body that can be used when blood sugar is in short supply.
When you eat very few carbs, your liver produces ketones from fat. These ketones then serve as a fuel source throughout the body, especially for the brain. The brain is a hungry organ that consumes lots of energy every day, and it can’t run on fat directly. It can only run on glucos.

On a ketogenic diet, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run mostly on fat, burning fat 24-7. When insulin levels drop very low, fat burning can increase dramatically. It becomes easier to access your fat stores to burn them off..
This is great if you’re trying to lose weight, but there can also be other benefits, such as less hunger and a steady supply of energy, without the sugar peaks and valleys that often occur when eating high-carb meals. This may help keep you alert and focused.

When the body produces ketones, it enters a metabolic state called ketosis. The fastest way to get there is by fasting – not eating anything – but nobody can consistently fast forever.
A keto diet, also results in ketosis and can be eaten indefinitely. It has many of the benefits of fasting – including weight loss – without having to fast long term.

How does it work?
The keto diet aims to force your body into using a different type of fuel. Instead of relying on sugar  that comes from carbohydrates,  the keto diet relies on ketone bodies, a type of fuel that the liver produces from stored fat. Burning fat seems like an ideal way to lose pounds. But getting the liver to make ketone bodies is tricky:
It requires that you deprive yourself of carbohydrates, fewer than 20 to 50 grams of carbs per day
It typically takes a few days to reach a state of ketosis. Eating too much protein can interfere with ketosis.

Different Types of Ketogenic Diets

There are several versions of the ketogenic diet, including:
Standard ketogenic diet. This is a very low-carb, moderate-protein and high-fat diet. It typically contains 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbs.
Cyclical ketogenic diet. This diet involves periods of higher-carb refeeds, such as 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high-carb days.
Targeted ketogenic diet . This diet allows you to add carbs around workouts.
High-protein ketogenic diet: This is similar to a standard ketogenic diet, but includes more protein. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs.
Only the standard and high-protein ketogenic diets have been studied extensively. Cyclical or targeted ketogenic diets are more advanced methods and primarily used by bodybuilders or athletes.
The information in this article mostly applies to the standard ketogenic diet, although many of the same principles also apply to the other versions.

What to Eat on a Keto Diet

All of the food above sticks to the strict 5% carbohydrate allowance that we use on keto. In general, you can eat from the following food groups:
Fats & Oils. Try to get your fat from natural sources like meat and nuts. Supplement with saturated and monounsaturated fats like coconut oil, butter, and olive oil.
Vegetables. Fresh or frozen doesn’t matter. Stick with above ground vegetables, leaning toward leafy/green items.
Protein. Try to stick with organic, pasture-raised and grass-fed meat where possible. Most meats don’t have added sugar in them, so they can be consumed in moderate quantity. Remember that too much protein on a ketogenic diet is not a good thing.
Dairy. Most dairy is fine, but make sure to buy full-fat dairy items. Harder cheeses typically have fewer carbs.
Beverages. Stay simple and stick to mostly water. You can flavor it if needed with stevia-based flavorings or lemon/lime juice.
Nuts and Seeds. In moderation, nuts and seeds can be used to create some fantastic textures. Try to use fattier nuts like macadamias and almonds.

Who should NOT do a ketogenic diet?

There are controversies and myths about a keto diet, but for most people it appears to be very safe. However, 3 groups often require special consideration:
Do you take medication for high blood pressure?
Do you take medication for diabetes, such as insulin?
Do you breastfeed?

Ketogenic Diet Risks

A ketogenic diet has numerous risks. Top of the list: it's high in saturated fat.  Keep saturated fats to no more than 7% of your daily calories because of the link to heart disease. And indeed, the keto diet is associated with an increase in "bad" LDL cholesterol, which is also linked to heart disease.
Other potential keto risks include these:
Nutrient deficiency. If you're not eating a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, and grains, you may be at risk for deficiencies in micronutrients, including magnesium, selenium,  phosphorus, and vitamins B and C.
Kidney problems. The kidneys help metabolize protein, and McManus says the keto diet may overload them. (The current recommended intake for protein averages 46 grams per day for women, and 56 grams for men).
Liver problems. With so much fat to metabolize, the diet could make any existing liver conditions worse.
Fuzzy thinking and mood swings. "The brain needs sugar from healthy carbohydrates to function.
Constipation. The keto diet is low in fibrous foods like grains and legumes.
Low-carb diets may cause confusion and irritability," McManus says.
Those risks add up — so make sure that you talk to a doctor and a registered dietitian before ever attempting a ketogenic diet.

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