What Is Keto?

What is Keto?

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, and very low-carbohydrate diet which transitions (forces) your body to use fat as your primary source of fuel.

Ketosis is a state the body enters when it breaks down fat for energy.  The body can effectively use the ketones produced from fats as fuel in place of glucose.

 

The Ketogenic Diet / lifestyle is one which, when well formulated & followed correctly, complete nutrition is very possible without micronutrient deficiencies and negative consequences associated with other diets in which calories are severely limited or restricted.

In general, the Diet is:

  • Low in Carbs (5%)
    • Less than 20g of net carbs per day
      • To calculate net carbs: Subtract Fiber from Total Carbohydrates. Green Leafy Vegetables are highly encouraged on the keto diet.

 

  • Moderate Protein (20%)
    • Avoid eating too much protein. The keto diet is a high fat, low carb, and moderate protein diet.  What exactly is moderate protein and why should you care?
    • Too much protein can kick you out of ketosis
      • Your body can convert excess protein into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis.
    • You want to teach your body to use fat as fuel.
    • So how much protein?
      • Between 0.6 and 1g of protein per pound of lean body mass is what the generally accepted ratio is.
      • There is mixed information on protein out there and each individual reacts differently to proteins.
      • For example: a lightly-active person with 150 pounds of lean body mass, 30% body fat, would eat between 63 to 103 grams of protein per day.
      • However, when starting the diet, you want to be in the 70-90g of protein per day. Once you have adapted (4-6 weeks), then you can test how higher or lower levels of protein effect you and your goals.
      • Another important considering is how much protein per meal: As important as protein per day is to staying in ketosis, protein per meal may be even more important. When starting the diet, keep your protein intake below 30g per meal.  Once you have a better feeling for how protein affects you, then you can test out how different amounts of protein effect your ketone levels.

 

  • Enough Fat
    • Majority of energy
    • Variable depending on goals of weight loss or maintenance
    • The Right Kinds of Fat (butter, olive oil, coconut oil)
    • Limit the Wrong Kinds of Fat (plant sourced fats – soy, corn, cottonseed)

 

  • Consume enough Water and Electrolytes
    • When you eat low-carb, your body doesn’t retain water the same way. Important electrolytes get flushed from your quickly. You need to replenish these or you will feel awful.
      • The recommended dose of these crucial electrolytes are:
        1. 5000 mg of sodium (salt)
        2. 1000 mg of potassium
          1. Morton’s Salt Lite is a great way to get both Sodium and Potassium into your diet.
        3. 300 mg of magnesium

  • Eating enough electrolytes and drinking enough water will significantly help you decrease the effects of the KETO-FLU and may even help you avoid it all together.

 

  1. GLUCOSE and KETONES
    • When eating a very low-carb diet you will deplete your stores of glucose and eliminate your primary dietary source of glucose. When your body has no access to dietary glucose your body will burn fat and create molecules called ketones and some glucose. Your body needs glucose to perform certain functions. Your liver will ensure that you have enough essential glucose by converting protein and fats ingested through a process called gluconeogenesis.  Many functions of your body previously running off glucose happily use ketones as a fuel instead. Both muscles and the brain effectively use ketones as fuel in the absence of glucose.  A big bonus to producing ketones for fuel is that your brain actually prefers ketones to glucose as ketones are a more efficient source of fuel.

 

  1. GLUCONEOGENESIS
    • This normal metabolic process creates glucose by converting the excess amino acids from protein and fat to create glucose. This process is essential for normal function in a ketogenic diet.  However, if you were to eat too much protein in one sitting or over the course of a day, your body would convert that excess protein into glucose as well.   This could potentially kick you out of ketosis.   This is why it is important to understand that the keto diet is a not a high protein diet.

 

 

To find out your nutrition needs when starting a ketogenic diet, I recommend using a calculator to find your needs:  https://keto-calculator.ankerl.com/

The First 4 Weeks

When starting a Ketogenic Diet, we recommend that you start with:

  • Less than 20g Net Carbs (How to Calculate Net Carbs: Total Carbohydrates minus fiber and sugar alcohols)
  • Between 70-100g of Protein (Every individual has different needs – check the calculator and lean towards the lower end when starting)
  • Fat until full.  This fat is approximately 75-80% of your diet during the first 4-6 weeks
    • There are many out there that will tell you if you are overweight that you can just use your body fat as fuel and do not need to eat more fat to adapt to the keto diet.

“The Road to Fat Loss is Paved with Good Intentions”

In a ketogenic diet, your body will use your own fat as fuel. This is a truth, however, there is an adjustment period.  In order to train your body to efficiently and more importantly to learn to enjoy the keto diet, eat fat until you are full during the initial weeks of the diet.

 

Myths, Confusions, and Tips

One of the biggest mistakes people make early on is trying to do too much with the diet.  Many people start this diet in order to lose weight, and that will happen.   However, some of the mistakes many make are:

  • Trying to restrict calories while adapting to the keto diet.
    • Early on it’s about eating enough to be fully satisfied.
    • Do not be concerned about calories initially – The key is teaching your body this new way of eating and getting into ketosis.
      • Lots of fat, not a lot of carbs. That is all.
    • Eating too much protein. Again, this is a high fat, low carb, and moderate protein diet.  What exactly is moderate protein and why should you care?
      • Too much protein can kick you out of ketosis
      • Your body can convert excess protein into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis
      • Again, you want to teach your body to use fat for energy.
      • So how much protein?
        • Between 0.6 and 1g of protein per pound of lean body mass is what the generally accepted ratio is.
        • For example: a lightly-active person with 150 pounds of lean body mass, 30% body fat, would eat between 63 to 103 grams of protein per day.   When starting the diet, you want to be in the 70-90g of protein per day. 
        • Another important considering is how much protein per meal: As important as protein per day is to staying in ketosis, protein per meal may be even more important. When starting the diet, keep your protein intake below 30g per meal.  Once you have a better feeling for how protein affects you, then you can test out how different amounts of protein effect your ketone levels.

 

When starting Keto KBKeto recommends:  Under 20g of net carbs and under 90g of protein with the rest of your calories coming from fat.  

Calories should not be a consideration when starting the Ketogenic Diet.  Get adapted to eating this way and then begin test how your body reacts to lower calories or fat intake and/or higher protein numbers.

Here is an outstanding guide created at the Duke University Medical Center.

And to learn more about the Ketogenic Diet join the Ketogenic Forums Community.

For additional reading and information check out our Books and Documentaries Page

Before making any major, long-term changes to your diet, it’s best to check in with a doctor or registered dietitian. Should you decide you’d like to try a ketogenic lifestyle for weight loss, health benefits or whatever your goals are; this is a guide to get you started.