Frequently Asked Questions.
Your Top 10 Keto Questions Answered
What is the keto diet?
The ketogenic (keto) diet is a lifestyle that involves eating high fat, moderate protein and very low carbs. This is unfortunately counterintuitive to what most of us have been taught our whole lives.
The goal of the keto diet is to restore our bodies and reach a state of ketosis. Along with this generally comes weight loss and many other health benefits!
I’ll let you in on a little secret. Are you ready? Healthy fats are not the enemy. Sugar and processed foods are what you should be more concerned with than fat.
What are the health benefits of the keto diet?
There are SO many health benefits once you venture into a keto lifestyle. Some of these include lower blood sugars and insulin levels, reduction in appetite, weight loss (especially in the abdomen), therapeutic for brain disorders, and more (1, 2)!
What I can tell you from personal experience is the following:
lower blood sugars
lower insulin levels
less stomach pain
What foods are keto friendly?
The keto diet consists mainly of healthy fats and oils, meats, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Contrary to popular believe, dairy is entirely optional (and so it meat)!
Download the Ultimate Printable Keto Shopping List and use it to find keto friendly foods, plan meals and shop!
What is ketosis?
Ketosis is a metabolic state where your body burns fat for energy. This happens when your glycogen reserves (from eating carbs) have been depleted and your body burns fat instead. Ketones are a bi-product of this process. A keto 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.
According to DietDoctor.com, the many benefits of ketosis include:
- Higher mental focus and clarity. Our brains rather enjoy ketones.
- Reduction in hunger.
- Reversal of Type 2 Diabetes.
- Improvement in conditions such as acne and PCOS.
What are macros and how do I calculate them?
The term “macros” is short for macronutrients. Macronutrients are fat, carbohydrates (carbs) and protein.
There are general macros guidelines and then specific ketogenic macros guidelines. According to generic keto guidelines, your macros will be somewhere around the 5% carbs, 20% protein, and 75% fat.
Macros are specific to each individual though. To calculate your specific macros, I suggest using a reputable keto macros calculator to figure out your specific macros.
What is the keto flu and how can I avoid it?
The Keto flu is a state most people transition through in order to reach ketosis. It sounds worse than it. The keto flu happens to most people shortly after embarking on keto eating, but there are ways to mitigate it. Let’s first talk about why the keto flu happens.
If you begin keto eating immediately after a lifestyle that included a lot of sugar and gluten, then there is a high likelihood that you are going to feel yucky the first week. This is not the keto flu though. This is the breaking of an addiction.
Sugar and gluten are both incredibly addicting. When you stop eating them, it is like quitting smoking, for example. I think that is something we can all relate to even if we’ve never smoked. Most of us have heard of how addicting cigarettes are and how difficult quitting is.
Quitting sugar and gluten is difficult as well. Your body is literally going through withdrawal. It is not fun, but it can serve as a reminder of a place you never want to be again.
As for actual keto flu, that is due to something else entirely.
The following are what contribute to the keto flu:
- Dehydration – to be blunt, you are going to pee a whole lot more while enjoying the Ketogenic Lifestyle. I won’t go into the boring details of why it occurs, but just trust me that you will!
- Electrolyte imbalance – given the diuretic effect of keto, what often happens is that an electrolyte imbalance occurs. There are 3 electrolytes that are of particular importance. They are sodium, potassium and magnesium. Some people add salts to their keto foods to combat the sodium piece (I do). Some people also take magnesium supplements (I do). As for potassium, it is generally not recommended to take as a supplement unless under close monitoring of your doctor, so I get this via food (avocados and nuts are good sources). The magnesium helps with the constipation that goes along with the loss of liquids! Always speak with your doctor about supplements if you decide to go that route. My naturopath helped with the right dose of magnesium and gave me a range to play around in.
- Transition – here is one of the big reasons why we experience the keto flu. Our body is transitioning from burning glucose as its primary fuel to burning ketones. This transition is a not an easy one, but a rather clunky one. It is during this transition that we feel the worst. Usually, it is the worst right at the beginning of the transition into ketosis. Most people think that once they are in ketosis that there will be this wonderful switch and they will feel incredible immediately. Sadly, this is not the case. That incredible feeling comes a short while later once the body resigns itself to the fact that it is going to stay in ketosis.
What can you do?
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
- Make sure you are getting the right electrolytes. This might take some trial and error.
- Stay the course. If you eat some carbs to “feel better” then you are just resetting the entire process. Resist the temptation!
I haven’t lost weight in 2 months. Am I doing something wrong?
This is SO common, you wouldn’t even believe it. When it has been a few months without losing weight, it is often considered a weight loss stall. There are many reasons why this occurs as well as ways to combat it!
- Taking exogenous ketones – simple! If you are drinking ketones then your body is using those ketones for fuel instead of breaking down your own fat for ketones
- Stress – I know, I know, we hate to hear this. But it is true.
- Improper food choices – calories matter, food matters, and carbs hide everywhere.
- Not moving your body – yep, sitting still all day is not going to help accomplish your goal.
What to do about it?
- Carb Cycle – I am a BIG proponent of carb cycling. Check out the many Benefits of a Carb Up Day.
- Intermittent Fasting – this also helps cleanup crappy cells!
- Increase water
- Decrease stress.
To read in more detail, check out Top 4 Tips to Breakthrough the Weight Loss Stall
Can I drink alcohol on the keto diet?
Yes. That comes with a caveat though. Your liver is what metabolizes fat to produce ketones.
Your liver ALSO metabolizes alcohol. Did you know that alcohol is the 4th macronutrient? It is not an essential one, though, and your body views it as toxic. Sorry to burst your bubble. Given that alcohol is toxic, your liver jumps to the task to metabolize it and get it out of your system.
Therefore, it puts a temporary hold on burning fat in order to metabolize the alcohol. This can have an effect on your weight loss and fat burning efforts if you drink a lot.
Can I workout on the keto diet?
YES! And I highly recommend that you do! It doesn’t need to be an hour sweating lifting weights or running 5 miles. It could be as simple as walking to the mailbox twice or around the block if you are sedentary. It can all be based on your current lifestyle. The important thing is to move your body!
For more info, be sure to check out Working Out on Keto!
What is the difference between keto and low carb?
There is no definitive definition of low carb. My own personal definition is under 100g of carbs per day. Both keto and low carb diets are considered “low carb”.
The distinguishing factor, however, is that the goal of the keto diet is the metabolic state of ketosis whereas that is not the case with low carb.
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