Today’s article is less about the science of why you should do keto and more about the practical execution of how to do the diet. It might sound overwhelming at first, but once you understand the fundamental building blocks, you can use them to incorporate foods you actually love eating into your diet.
I’ll be sharing everything you need to follow a standard keto diet in this article, so if you are interested, keep reading.
The avenue to ketosis on the ketogenic diet is through ONE fundamental thing: the right balance of macronutrients. The three macronutrients (fat, protein and carbohydrates) work together to fuel the body. Normally the body accesses carbs to create energy first, but the keto diet flips that on its head. On this diet, you will be burning FAT for fuel, which is why carbs need to be very limited.
How much of each macronutrient do you need on keto? A common guideline is as follows:
As you can see from this breakdown, not only is keto a low-carb diet, it is a HIGH-fat and MODERATE-protein diet. That means you’ll be loading up on healthy fats and keeping protein to a lower amount than you might expect to be successful on this diet.
You will find the most success by limiting carbs as much as possible. When you do eat carbs they should come from sources like green leafy vegetables and unprocessed complex carbohydrates. Keeping your carbs low enough to stay in ketosis may be an adjustment to your routine, but you will feel satisfied once you transition into ketosis by fueling up on a lot of good fats.
A common roadblock when transitioning to keto is the belief that fat is harmful. This is a big myth that was perpetuated during the “fat-free” phase of the 90s and through the food pyramid. Fat is your friend! The brain is made up of 75% fat and fat can even act as a hormone balancer because of the way it behaves on hormone receptors in the body. So don’t be afraid of fat. You won’t be able to be if you want to follow this diet.
I believe the best sources of healthy FAT are:
- Coconut oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Butter (organic and grass-fed)
Incorporate fat at every meal and cook with it to get your fat macros up.
In my opinion, here are the best sources to get moderate amounts of PROTEIN from:
- Dark meat chicken
- Wild-caught fish
- Beef and bison (organic and grass-fed)
- Cheese (be careful with this if you have a dairy sensitivity)
When you eat CARBS let them be from:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Low-glycemic fruits
- Unprocessed grains (but be aware of how many you end up eating)
Limit your carbohydrate intake or your body won’t be able to get into or maintain ketosis.
A helpful way to learn about macros is to track your food intake in an app like MyFitnessPal.com . When you track your food intake you are also able to see a breakdown of your macronutrients. Start tracking your current diet to see what the breakdown looks like. Transitioning to a diet like keto will be a lot more actionable once you are aware of the macronutrient breakdown of food and what you are used to eating.
Remember: the macros you should be aiming for while following keto are:
Doing keto means staying within these macros. As long as you are doing a purely ketogenic diet, your daily macros will be in this range.
Transitioning to Ketosis: Something to be aware of when transitioning into ketosis is a set of possible symptoms called the keto flu. This is only a temporary experience caused by coming off of using sugar and glucose as energy, and can be aided with the help of exogenous ketones found in supplement form.
Staying in ketosis: Many people feel different after their body transitions into ketosis and staying there. Here are some benefits you will most likely enjoy when you enter the fat-burning zone:
- Appetite and hunger control, stemming from balanced hormones
- Healthy weight loss
- Mental clarity and increased concentration and focus
- Sound, restful sleep
- Optimized metabolic function
- Healthy inflammation levels
- Normal blood sugar levels and insulin response
- Healthy blood lipid levels, including cholesterol and triglycerides
- Increased feelings of happiness and well-being
- Healthy digestive function
- Balanced immune system function
- All-day energy
Getting into ketosis can take days and it comes from starving your cells of glucose. So eating a cupcake WILL take you out of ketosis.
But don’t worry, there are some really delicious, good-for-you keto recipes out there that are begging to be eaten.