What are the Basics of The Keto Diet?

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Answered by: Christen, An Expert in the Diet and Health Category
Low-carb diet plans have gained popularity in the last few years as people have seen quick results from cutting out the carbohydrates. If you are deciding to go low-carb the first thing you should know is that they are all basically the same: increase fat and protein intake and severely lower your carbohydrate intake. The main goal of these diets is to deplete your body of its glycogen stores and allow the body to begin using fat as its main fuel source instead of carbs or sugars. This metabolic state is referred to as ketosis, therefore it is accurate to call these keto or ketogenic diets. Many people have had success with the keto diet and their stories can be very inspirational to those wanting to lose weight quickly, but before diving in head first there are some basics that everyone should know before starting this diet plan.

In order for your body to enter the state of ketosis you will need to begin by restricting your carbohydrates. This will allow the body to empty its glycogen stores and prepare the body for ketosis. The carbohydrate restriction literally means no more than 20g of carbs per day. This is the hardest part of the diet to adjust to because you will have to give up many of the foods that were in your previous diet. Fruit is off the menu, bread and pastas are definitely off the menu, and starchy vegetables like potatoes are no longer your friend. The body’s initial response to this abrupt change is to crave sugar. This diet plan will shock your body, but the cravings should only last 2-3 days. It is important to stay diligent and stick to your meal plan, cheat days will only hinder your results and make your body’s adaptation to ketosis take longer.

The basic meal plan for the keto diet consists of meats (beef, pork, turkey, or chicken), dairy (cheese, eggs, heavy creams), and dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, or romaine lettuces). You should arrange your meals around hitting goals for your macronutrients (fat, protein, and carbohydrates).

Using a tool like Myfitnesspal is the most helpful way to keep track of what you are eating and it allows you to adjust your nutrient goals to suit your diet. The basic rule of them when adjusting your Myfitnesspal goals is to first set your calorie goal, then adjust your nutrients by percentages which should be as follows: Fat- 60%, protein-30%, and carbs-10%. This will give you the number of grams of each that you should be consuming a day to stay within your calorie goal. Once you have your macronutrients adjusted you can log your foods into the app and then adjust meals accordingly in order to hit the goals you have established for yourself.

The next thing that should be considered when starting this diet is that you will have to pay much more attention to your electrolyte intake. Electrolytes are sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Myfitnesspal will give you a recommended amount for sodium and potassium, but not magnesium. It is highly recommended to supplement all three of these because if you begin to fall short of your daily goals this can result in what is commonly referred to as the “keto flu.” It will basically feel as though you have a cold, you will get headaches and you will feel tired and run down. This is easily remedied by drinking a beef broth or adding extra salt and potassium to the meals you have prepared.

If you can follow and adhere to the strict requirements of this diet you will be your own weight loss success story. Once you have let your body release its glycogen stores, you’ve worked through your sugary ravings, and you enter ketosis the diet will become increasingly easy. Although the initial changes are difficult and challenging, after the first couple of weeks you will be adjusted to your new diet plan, and carb heavy diets will be a thing of the past.

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