Fad diets come and go, but it seems like the keto diet has taken the Internet hostage and is here to stay. You can't look at your Facebook or Pinterest without stumbling across new "keto-friendly" recipes or seeing that your childhood neighbor has lost an outrageous amount of weight by "going keto." So what exactly is this strange diet that's sweeping the nation?
Basically, keto is an ultra-low carb diet that forces your body to break down fat and protein as energy because it has no sugar fuel from carbohydrates. You begin to lose weight as your body goes into "ketosis" and burns fat stores in place of glucose. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, it might be a little trickier than you'd think. The keto diet restricts users to less than 20 grams of carbohydrates a day, and an everyday person typically should consume between 200 and 300 grams a day. How do keto dieters do that, and where do they start?
We're answering 10 of the most common question you may have about this diet. So, before you start this seemingly extreme diet, here are the 10 things you need to know about keto.
Since the goal of the keto diet is to stop your body from using carbohydrates as energy and start using fat, you must keep your carb consumption low and your fat consumption high. However, we all know that the amount of food we consume every day is different. So, it makes the most sense to break down how many carbs we're allowed to eat by percentage instead of specific amount. If you're looking to do the standard keto diet, follow these percentages for your daily intake:
Let's break this last one down a little, since it's so central to this diet. On average, there are 4 calories in one carbohydrate. So, if you plan to eat a standard 2,000 calories a day, you can only have 100 calories from carbohydrates (2,000 x 5% = 100). This all means that you can eat about 25 carbs on any given day.
Even though you won't be able to indulge in your favorite starchy foods, there's still a lot you can eat! Try sticking to a diet of primarily animal products like meat, eggs, and cheese, as well as low-carb veggies. Healthy oils like olive oil and coconut oil are essential to your daily goal of 75% of your calories from fat. This makes avocado an absolute life saver when you're looking for something to snack on. Stay away from heavily processed foods, and learn how to cook so you can closely monitor exactly what goes into your meals.
Because the keto diet is suddenly all the rage, it's opened up all kinds of opportunities to popularize our favorite starches in low-carb forms. So, how do they make keto pasta and bread? There are keto flours made out of ground-up almond or coconut that you can use to make pastas without loading up on all the extra carbs and sugars. Keto bread is loaded with fats and proteins to help you meet those guideline-based dietary percentages. Eat up!
No, you aren't dreaming. Finally a diet where you can indulge in your favorite guilty pleasures and satisfy your sweet tooth. As far as eating keto chocolate goes, try sticking to a dark chocolate that's 70% cocoa solids. One serving of this kind of chocolate has three net carbs, so it's a perfect treat to reward yourself for all your hard work.
If you're anything like the rest of us, you've been carb-loading for your entire life. As your body adapts to your new diet, you could experience a variety of flu-like symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting. However, not everyone experiences this "keto flu." If you do catch the keto flu, don't worry; it won't last forever! Symptoms typically begin within the first few days of your change and will go away after about a week. If you're trying to avoid these symptoms like the plague, stay hydrated, get plenty of sleep, and keep your fat consumption high.
It's a good idea to keep a record of what you've been eating, your weight, and how much sleep you get in a notebook or on your phone to make sure you're reaching your goals. That way, if you're not losing weight, you can check to see what the culprit is. Sometimes certain sleep patterns or stress can inhibit your weight loss, and eating too much dairy can prevent you from losing weight.
If you've been following an intense, high energy workout plan, it might be time to ditch it. Since your body is accustomed to burning carbohydrates during your workouts, high intensity and strength training exercises could suffer. So, you should consider keeping them to a minimum. Opt for low impact exercises like jogging and swimming instead.
Trying to cook a keto meal on the fly won't be easy, especially when you're just starting out. Taking one day a week to meal prep is a bulletproof way to track how many carbohydrates you consume. Some delicious meals you can make (that still make great leftovers) include tuna salad, buffalo chicken, and broccoli any way you like it.
The keto diet cuts out a lot of foods you're used to eating. These foods could have been primary sources of vitamins, so it's probably a good idea to take a supplement to help fill in the gaps when you go keto. Plus, taking supplements loaded with electrolytes is a good way to fight off the keto flu! Some particular vitamins and minerals to consider include magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D.
Spontaneously altering your entire diet has the potential to come with dangerous side effects ranging from constipation to nutrient deficiency. Having a pre-existing condition can make adverse side effects even worse. Always consult with your doctor or nutritionist before you make any drastic diet changes.
The keto diet is a fantastic way to lose weight fast, and making the change doesn't have to mean giving up all of your favorite foods. If you're looking to go low-carb, use these tips for making the adjustment a breeze. Enjoy your carb unloading!
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