What is the keto diet (and what is it NOT)?
Have you wondered what is the keto diet? What is equally important is what the keto diet is NOT! Let’s dive into both to get a clear understanding of healthy keto.
What is the keto diet (and what is it NOT)?
I know this seems like an elementary topic that I would have discussed back when I started The Keto Living Podcast or The Keto Option blog, but you’d be surprised.
The good information sprinkled with misinformation is profound.
Sometimes I feel like it is the misinformation sprinkled with the information.
We are going back to basics here to lay it all on the line.
It breaks my heart when people jump into keto and have absolutely NO idea how to do it properly. They end up giving up or decreasing their health (even if they ARE losing weight).
Don’t let that happen. Understand what keto the keto diet IS and what it is NOT!
What IS Keto?
The ketogenic (keto) diet is a lifestyle that involves eating high fat, moderate protein and very low carbs. I think most of us know that already.
It is different from a regular low carb diet in that the keto diet strives to induce a metabolic state called ketosis.
Ketosis is when your body burns ketones for energy. This happens when your glycogen reserves (from eating carbs) have been depleted and your body burns fat.
Ketones are a bi-product of burning fat. A Ketogenic Lifestyle, when done correctly, will result in a state of ketosis. Fasting for extended periods of time can also result in ketosis.
Basically, our bodies can be sugar burning machines or fat burning machines. We want them to be fat burning machines when eating keto, although they prefer to be sugar burning machines because it is easier to burn sugar.
Eating higher fats, is, unfortunately, counterintuitive to what most of us have been taught our whole lives. Healthy fats are not the enemy. Sugar and processed foods are what you should be more concerned with in my opinion.
With keto, you need to be concerned with things like macros, net carbs, etc..
What are macros?
In short – the term “macros” is short for macronutrients. Macronutrients are fat, carbohydrates (carbs) and protein.
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There are general macros guidelines and then specific ketogenic macros guidelines. They are different for every person and I suggest using a reputable keto macros calculator to figure out your specific calculator. This Macros Calculator from Perfect Keto is my favorite one.
According to generic ketogenic guidelines, your macros will be somewhere around 5% carbs, 20% protein, and 75% fat.
My suggestion is always to count NET carbs vs total carbs. My feeling is that people tend to neglect veggies when they count total carbs and veggies are important. If you want to know my feelings on veggies, please read about the importance of veggies on keto!
What are net carbs?
If you look on a nutrition label, you will see a total carb count and then it is broken down into things like fiber, sugar and a few others. When counting carbs, it can be a bit confusing. As I said, some people count total carbs and some people count net carbs.
I count net carbs because veggies are non-negotiable!
So, what is a net carb? Net carbs are calculated by taking the total carbs and subtracting the fiber.
You might be wondering why we do that and if it is cheating. Our bodies do not break down fiber and it does not affect our blood sugar (other than to help stabilize it). Therefore, we don’t need to count them the same way we would regular carbs. We want fiber. I’ll give you an example. A medium avocado is around 12g of total carbs but has 10g of fiber. So, the net carb count for an avocado is 2! We do not want to discourage eating fiber ever!
What does a healthy keto diet look like?
A healthy keto diet consists of lots of healthy fats, lots of non-starchy veggies, and protein.
Examples of healthy fats
Examples of good keto veggies
In general, try to stick mostly with above ground veggies. Some examples are:
Now, I believe in the importance of carb up days and these are the days I include below ground veggies like carrots and sweet potatoes.
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Examples of healthy protein
Keto doesn’t mean skipping the gym or not moving your body. I get asked all the time if people can lose weight on keto while not working out.
My answer is sure. But do you want to be healthy?
Keto is not an excuse to not move your body.
RELATED – Working out on keto
Keto is about healing our body and making it stronger. Working out on keto helps that process.
Remember, keto is a lifestyle change. Moving your body daily should be part of a healthy lifestyle.
What keto ISN’T
Keto is not bacon and butter.
RELATED – Episode 17 from The Keto Living Podcast: Keto is just bacon and butter, right? WRONG!
Keto is NOT a bacon and butter diet. And this egg fast thing? Ugh. To each their own, but let me dive into both of those as those are the most prominent gray areas I see people wander into.
So, bacon and butter. Keto is not this free for all where you can suddenly stuff your face with unlimited saturated fats. Now, I do not think saturated fat is the enemy, but everything in moderation.
Fats should be coming from animal sources AND non-animal sources. And other than bacon. You need a healthy variety.
Now, this egg fast thing? I don’t even get it. The way I look at dieting is as follows:
Doing anything that is not a sustainable lifestyle is not going to work. You aren’t going to eat only eggs for the rest of your life, so why do it for 3 days straight?
These lose weight fast schemes are just not healthy. That is one of the main objections with keto is that people are using and abusing it as a way to drops pounds in an unhealthy way.
I argue my side of it but the fact of the matter is that person can point out all these people THEY know that are doing eggs fasts and only eating bacon and butter. Right?
So, in the end – just be sensible. Vary your foods. Eat your veggies. Have more than eggs. And listen to your body.