A Beginner’s Guide to the Keto Diet

A Beginner’s Guide to the Keto Diet

One of the most popular lifestyle trends of the past year, the ketogenic diet is gaining the attention of celebrities and ordinary people alike. Also known as the keto or LCHF diet, it is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat eating plan. It just might make sense to incorporate it into your life.

The Role of Carbs and Fat

Carbohydrates (carbs) are known as a macronutrient. They are found in high-sugar foods, starches and grains. When you eat carbs, your body breaks them down into glucose that it uses for energy. No matter what type of carb you eat, it will inevitably lead to a spike in your blood sugar level. To combat this increase, your body secretes additional insulin. Over time, these constant insulin releases lead to fat storage, insulin resistance and can eventually bring on metabolic disorder such as type 2 diabetes. 

Many of us are conditioned to believe that fats are bad for us and should be avoided whenever possible. However, fats are actually vital to our survival. They are also the most efficient form of energy (each gram contains 9 calories compared to the 4 grams in carbs). That is why keto recipes promote the consumption of healthy fats and oils in conjunction with fresh, whole foods including vegetables, fish and meats. Perhaps most important, people who follow the keto diet stay away from processed foods whenever possible.

The Role of Ketosis

The goal of this eating plan is to enter into and remain in a state of ketosis by cutting carbs and eating healthy fats. Once you enter ketosis, your body derives its energy from ketone bodies produced by the liver instead of via glucose. These bodies come from fat and are a steadier and more stable way to get the energy you need. Generally, it takes three to six days after starting the keto diet for you to enter ketosis. Once you do, you will be burning calories from fat instead of from carbs. When you begin to use your stored fat resources, weight loss happens.

There are several ways to tell if you have gone into ketosis. Test strips are available that change color when they touch the urine of someone in ketosis. Alternatively, your breath and urine will smell stronger once you have gone into this metabolic state, and many people report changes in mood, enhanced alertness and improved sleep.

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