This little section of my blog is dedicated to my diet as I thought it might be of interest to some of you. Whether you want to start the Keto Diet for weight-loss like me, for it’s many health benefits (I’ll touch on this later) or whether you’ve just heard the term and just want to find out more, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve compiled some information below. It’s worth noting though that if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you shouldn’t follow the Keto Diet unless you have your doctor’s permission and close supervision.
Disclaimer: I am in no way forcing you to follow the Keto Diet. I am purely providing some information I have found out along the way. The end decision is yours and I cannot be held liable or responsible for your own actions.
What is the Keto Diet?
The Keto Diet is actually surprisingly scientific in a ‘biology’ kinda way. In order to explain it fully, let me give you some of the useful terminology and their definitions so you can follow along.
Ketone – A Ketone is a small molecule that is naturally produced within the body from the breakdown of fat. It is a water-soluble fuel source that can supply a LOT of energy, (one ketone molecule can supply the body and brain with 32 units of energy) compared to other sources such as glucose (the fuel source derived from carbohydrates that our bodies are used to running on). That’s why if you eat too much carbohydrate you will feel ok for a while but start to feel sluggish because it just doesn’t supply our bodies with enough energy.
Ketosis – When the body is ready to burn a ketone, we say that the cell is in ketosis. It’s a metabolic process which happens in the mitochondria (the place within your cells where you burn energy) and is when the body uses fat as it’s primary fuel source.
In the Western world, we have a lot of carbohydrates in our diet, from bread, cakes and crisps, to chips, rice, jacket potatoes and sugary sweets. Our bodies are so used to using these as an energy source that we end up gaining the fat from foods on our bodies instead of burning it.
In order for the body to start burning fat rather than glucose and enter a state of Ketosis, we need to deplete its glucose supply and force it to start producing ketones. This means reducing our intake of carbohydrates and increasing our protein and fat intake.
What Is Keto Flu?
It takes a couple of days for the body to use up its glucose supply and start producing and burning ketones, and it doesn’t feel great. ‘Keto Flu‘ is basically the name given to the feeling of carbohydrate withdrawal and only lasts a day or two while the body is transitioning.
Symptoms of keto flu MIGHT include:
- difficulty with tolerating exercise
- bad breath
Of course, everyone is different and therefore each person’s body will have a different response. Personally I didn’t get many of these symptoms al all. I only felt fatigued and constipated, but after a day or two this disappeared and I was full of energy.
What Food is Allowed on the Keto Diet?
Most foods contain traces of carbohydrates – even vegetables! So rather than avoiding them altogether, some foods are best eaten in moderation.
- MEAT & FISH (any)
- Black tea
- Green tea
- Herbal tea
- Brussels Sprouts
- Green beans
- Salad leaves
- Butter and ghee
- Avocado, olive, macadamia and coconut oils
- Duck fat
- Full Fat cheese
- Greek Yogurt
- Cream cheese
- Sour Cream
- Spirits such as brandy, gin, vodka, red & white wines, rum, whisky and tequila
- ANY processed foods
- Sweets & snacks
- Hemp, Grapeseed, Flaxseed, Corn, Sunflower, Soybean, Vegetable or Canola Oils
- GRAINS & STARCHES
- barley, cereals, porridge, rice, couscous, flour etc
- Sweet liquors
- ‘Reduced Fat’ or ‘Fat Free’ dairy products
What Are Macros?
Once you get a handle on what foods are and aren’t allowed on Keto, you will need to start tracking your macros so that you can keep within your daily allowances. Macros stands for Macronutrients, which are Carbohydrates Protein and Fat.
The ratio of these macros works out at 5% Carbs, 20% Proteins and 75% Fat (since fat is our fuel source)
An individuals exact macro allowance is calculated based on a range of factors, such as your BMI, how much weight you want to lose, how many calories you want to eat per day and so on. But don’t worry, there are plenty of websites and apps you can use to calculate your own personal allowance.
As an example, my daily allowances are:
- Calories = 1,537kcal
- Fat = 126g
- Protein = 82g
- Carbs = 19g
Since proteins keep you feeling fuller for longer I don’t actually feel hungry, so it’s easy to stay within my calorie allowance, although it’s sometimes difficult to stay under my carb allowance – particularly at a certain *ahem* time of the month, or if I’m having a bad day.
How Do I Know if I’m in Ketosis?
There are a few ways to tell if your body is in Ketosis.
- Blood test
- Breath test
- Urine test
Both the breath and blood tests require a gadget, which gives a numerical result. Although the urine test is cheapest, the result is shown on a colour scale, therefore it is a less precise reading.
The Health Benefits of the Keto Diet
According to a wide number of sources, the Keto Diet has many proven health benefits including:
- Reduces harmful abdominal fat around the organs
- Levels of Triglycerides (fat molecules that circulate in your bloodstream) drop drastically
- Increased levels of ‘Good’ HDL Cholesterol and improved ‘Bad’ LDL Cholesterol levels, therefore lower risk of heart disease
- Reduced blood sugar and insulin levels
- Lowers blood pressure, which should reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney failure
- Effective against Metabolic Syndrome (a condition highly associated with your risk of diabetes and heart disease)
- Can reduce numbers of epileptic seizures (Very low-carb and ketogenic diets are now being studied for other brain conditions as well, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease)
As with anything though, there are critics of the diet. Since these are claims and not proven facts YET, I’m not going to focus on them. I’ll leave that to you to research and draw your own conclusions.
The only real danger is if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. For people with diabetes, ketosis can trigger a dangerous condition called Ketoacidosis. This occurs when the body stores up too many ketones and the blood becomes too acidic, which can damage the liver, kidneys, and brain. If left untreated, it can be fatal. Therefore you shouldn’t follow the keto diet unless you have your doctor’s permission and close supervision.
Helpful Hints & Tips
If you decide to follow the Keto plan, there are lots of resources to help you such as free and paid apps like ‘Carb Manager’ and ‘KetoDiet’ as well as numerous Facebook groups where communities share recipes, tips, advice and generally motivate others.
If you’re feeling inspired, check out some of my Low Carb / Keto Recipes
All images from istock