If you read my very long and rambling introduction of myself you may have stopped and wondered: what is keto? Well, fret not! Keto is short for the ketogenic diet. This is a diet that is composed of high fat, moderate protein and low carbs. The best way is to not think of it as a diet but as a lifestyle. I know it sounds pretentious when you tell someone you “follow a lifestyle” but diets never last.
The ketogenic diet wasn’t even developed for fitness purposes or weight loss, it was developed for kids with epilepsy. But does it help with fitness and weight loss? Absolutely! When I’m in a state of ketosis my mind feels clear, I don’t crash after I eat, I have a steady amount of energy throughout the day and I don’t spend all day watching the clock for my next meal.
My husband got us on keto a few years ago and we’ve loved it ever since! (He never stopped but I did… whoops.) I had previously tried all kinds of diets: what fits your macros, high protein with low carbs and low fats, high protein with moderate carbs and low fats…. my head is already spinning. But the only one I was able to stick to and not turn into the Hulk was the ketogenic diet.
Okay, now you’re probably thinking that a high fat diet is counterintuitive to losing fat. The ketogenic diet puts your body into a state of ketosis which is when your body metabolizes fat for energy instead of glucose (carbs). Fat = energy.
Carbs spike your insulin, and when your insulin is spiked your body goes into sugar burning mode and stores fat. The purpose of ketosis is to not spike your insulin. This is why you have to stay away from carbs and sugar. If your body isn’t constantly in a state of trying to burn off sugar then it utilizes its fat stores instead.
So what should your diet look like? I have MyFitnessPal set to 70-75% fat, 15-20% protein and 5% carbs. A lot of people don’t find it necessary to count calories while on the ketogenic diet but I do. I like to make sure that I’m eating enough calories (it sounds weird, right?) because I find myself not hungry as often eating so many good fats. If you get to the point where you’re under-eating (like I was earlier this year) then it’s no longer a healthy lifestyle.
The most important thing about keto is making sure you get all of your micronutrients. This is so so so important! I’ve started keto and failed before because I missed this very important key. If you aren’t getting your micronutrients then you’re going to feel like crap. It’s called the keto flu, and trust me you can get it after the first week.
Micronutrients are found in vegetables. I know I said low carbs, but this doesn’t mean no vegetables. I count my net carbs (which means you don’t count the fiber in your food. MyFitnessPal makes this easy to calculate). I love vegetables and I make sure I eat plenty of spinach, kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli and any other cruciferous veggies I can find. If I knock myself out of ketosis briefly because of leafy green vegetable intake I don’t consider it to be a bad thing.
It’s also important to consume enough salt. I know this one sounds strange, but when you aren’t eating a bunch of processed foods you aren’t eating the added salt. This is going to cause your body to lose electrolytes. You need to up your salt intake (I use Himalayan pink salt) to keep your body feeling fresh.
This is a very basic overview of keto but I encourage everyone to take a look into the ketogenic diet if you’re looking for a new lifestyle.