Ketogenic Diet FAQ

What is keto?
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carbohydrate way of eating

High Fat: When you limit your carbohydrates, you will your energy to come from another source. And on a ketogenic diet, that energy comes from fat.

Moderate Protein: Protein is a very important macronutrient in your body. It not only builds muscle, but every cell in your body has protein in a variety forms Your bones, your organs, even your hormones. Protein is not stored like fat and carbohydrates are so you need to make sure you are eating the right amount each day to repair and rebuild, and any extra if you have a goal to add more muscle

Low Carb: You transition your body into a Ketogenic state when you stop eating a high amount of carbs. This carb restriction is necessary to realize the benefits of a ketogenic fat burning state. This means less than 50g of carbs a day for most people, and at least until you hit your goal weight, ideally aim for 20g of carbs a day.

But the Keto diet is about more than just cutting carbs and losing weight. It’s a lifestyle that is focused on up-leveling your health. It is a focus on healthy, nutrient rich foods. This way of eating increases your energy consistently, balances and elevates your moods, and will transform your relationship with food.

How many carbs should I eat on Keto?
Aim for 20g of carbs a day at least until you hit your goal weight, ideally. Then a good maintenance mode would be around 50g of carbs a day for most people.
Do I count net carbs or total carbs?
Fiber is a carbohydrate that your body cannot digest. Because your body cannot digest fiber, it does not provide calories for energy or nutrients for cells. So therefore, it is not included in your daily carb counts, and you can subtract it from the total carbs listed on nutrition labels. This will give you NET Carbs.
How are Keto and low carb diets different?
Low carb is commonly defined as lowering carbs to around 100 grams a day. This is not low enough to allow your body to move into a state of ketosis. Many times, ‘low-carb’ diets over emphasize protein but keep the fats relatively low.

Some common issues associated with low-carb at around 100 grams, but not getting into a ketogenic (fat for fuel) stage, are:

– Low energy and fatigue
– Irritability and mood swings
– Hormonal disruptions
– Hunger pangs and intense cravings
– Weight gain
– Physical performance losses

How do I start?
Start by focusing on reducing your NET carbs below 50g, ideally to 20grams or less per day. Start by getting the daily NET carbs down to < 50g, preferably to 20g. Green leafy, fibrous vegetables are an ideal choice for carb intake.

Keep protein at a moderate amount, between 0.6 grams and 0.9 grams per pound of lean body mass. Going higher than 0.8 grams of protein is only necessary for people doing heavy strength training or endurance training.

To find out what your ideal protein intake numbers should be for you, you can use this calculator.

Increase the amount of healthy fat you are eating each day.

Increase the water you drink each day.

How do I know how many carbs are in my food?
In the beginning you will want to track your food in a food tracking app or software.  I recommend Cronometer. It will allow you to set your macronutrients to the exact gram. As you continue in this way of eating, you will become more familiar with what foods have higher carbs and you may not need to track. But definitely make sure you are looking at nutrition labels at the grocery store. Remember carbs and sugars are easily hidden in many foods!
Are there foods I should avoid?
Sugars and starches are to be completely avoided. Grains, including whole grains, breads, cereals, beans, sodas, pasta, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pizza crust, beer, cookies, bagels, candy, honey, tortilla and potato chips, pretzels, ice cream and popsicles, milk (except for heavy cream), crackers, most fruits and everything in between. Your body sees these foods all the same way. To your body, they’re all sugar, which breaks down into glucose in your bloodstream, increasing your blood sugar and causing an insulin response.

Yes, bread is sugar. Even the fancy multi-grain organic bread.

Fruit should be mostly avoided because it’s full of sugar, although small quantities of berries are ok because they are lower in carbs and are high in fiber.

Any food labeled “low-fat” should be avoided. Non-fat and reduced fat milk, reduced fat salad dressings, low-fat cheese and yogurts are full of carbohydrates. Many also contain additives and chemical compounds that are not good for your overall health.

Avoid milk. Milk is high in sugars (carbs). Use heavy cream (or double cream) instead. But be aware that heavy cream is quite high in calories, so don’t go overboard!

Once you start looking at labels and tracking food, you might be shocked at how much sugar you have been eating without knowing it, in salad dressings, sauces, and packaged foods.

What are macronutrients?
Macronutrients (“macros”) are what your body uses as fuel for life: fat, protein, and carbohydrates.
What can I drink and what should I be drinking?
WATER, WATER, AND MORE WATER! Your body is over 55% water. Water can suppress the appetite naturally and help the body mobilize fat out of the body. It helps keep your metabolism up. If you are chronically dehydrated, you will have a more difficult time reducing your body fat. Many times, water retention or bloating is a symptom of dehydration, because your body is holding on to the water you do take in. By drinking more, your body will release that water, and your bloating will decrease.

The actual amount you need will depend on many factors, but a good aim is 80 ounces of water each day.

Other common drinks are unsweetened soda waters, coffee, tea and bone broth.

What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are Sodium, Potassium, and magnesium. They can all be found naturally occurring in food. But can also be supplemented easily. Electrolytes are responsible for keeping the body properly hydrated so the muscles and nerves can function properly. They are also essential for proper kidney function.
Will I lose weight eating this way?
The short answer is YES. The long answer is every person’s body is different and will respond differently to reducing carbs. Some people thrive at less than 20 grams of carbs a day, some feel better on 30 grams per day. The more aware you become of what you are eating and how your body responds, the more capable you will be of making proper adjustments to maximize weightloss and improve your health.
Can I eat out?
Yes! There are some things you need to keep in mind when eating out, but to help you out, I wrote this post about all the great options when eating out.  Eating Out Keto Style
I’m on a tight budget, can Keto work for me?
Yes, it can be done very successfully on a tight budget. The key is planning and strategy. When you see a giant sale on meat at your butcher or grocery store, purchase extra and freeze it for later. Plan your meal around the cuts of meat, and vegetables that are on sale. Don’t eat packaged and processed foods as these are typically more expensive and leave you hungrier anyway. Stock up on non-perishables such as spices and herbs, when they are also on sale. Pay attention to foods that are typically less expensive because of where you live. In California, at farmers markets, avocados are cheaper than the grocery stores. You may live in an area where fish is cheaper than beef. Take advantage of those regional and seasonal price differences.

Here are a couple of tips for finding cheap food: Stores will often discount their meats if it’s close to expiration date, sometimes more than 50% off! Buy extra and freeze it. Shop online for things like nuts, almond flour and spices. Many times, you can find these types of foods for cheaper than your local store. 75/25 ground beef is cheaper than 80/20.

Farmers markets can be a source for less expensive produce too, just pay attention to prices and make friends with the vendors. I regularly get free avocados because I’ve been buying them from the same avocado grower for 7 years. You can explore options like buying a whole pig or go in with friends and purchase a quarter of beef. You may put out more money in the beginning, but it will save you quite a bit over time. No more soda so that will automatically save you quite a bit of money.

Eat out way less. Cooking at home will definitely save you money. One additional benefit of a ketogenic diet is that it is incredibly satiating, so you eat less!

What is insulin and how does fat storage work?
Insulin is one of the most important hormones in your body that a Ketogenic diet focuses on. It is secreted by the pancreas that regulates the metabolism of fat and carbs, specifically in the blood. It has several functions. One is to regulate the distribution of energy to the cells of the body from fat storage. The other is to regulate blood sugar by producing lipoproteins (or fat proteins) that trap fat cells in your body, once the excess glucose has been converted to fat. As you eat carbohydrates, your body must produce more insulin to keep up with the increased levels of glucose and eventually your body can begin to resist insulin which can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

When you eat less carbs, less insulin is required to regulate your blood sugar. This means you will store less fat as a result.

Keto Myths and Concerns

Aren’t whole grains good for me?
Whole grains are no different from sugar in your body and often have a higher glycemic index than sugar itself (meaning it raises blood sugar higher). Eating raw sugar will cause less of an insulin response than a slice of bread! Grains also lack the nutrients or energy provided by fats and proteins, in addition to being strongly associated with auto-immune diseases.
Won’t fat make me fat?
Fat making people fat has got to be one of the most misunderstood and detrimental pieces of propaganda in history. Fat makes us fat when its paired with high levels of carbohydrates, because the carbs increase insulin production, signaling to the body to store fat.
Can I exercise on Keto?
Of course you can. Adding exercise to your ketogenic diet will lead to better results than the diet alone. Because its common to have more energy on a keto diet, exercising can be easier.
Can Vegetarians/Vegans do keto?
Yes, if you are vegetarian or vegan you can still follow a ketogenic diet. It’s a little more difficult and you might require supplements to meet some of your nutrient needs, but it can be done. Seed and vegetable oils can replace the fats found in meat. Olive oil, flax seed oil, coconut oil and (if you eat it) oily fish are all excellent sources of fat with good anti-inflammatory properties. Nuts, fish (again, if you eat it), firm tofu, peanut butter and eggs (if you eat them) are also good sources of protein. You may still need to supplement your diet with EPA/DHA capsules.
What is fasting and how does it benefit me?
Fasting is when you abstain from eating anything containing calories for an extended period of time. Fasting leads to low insulin levels and high growth hormones. When this occurs, free fatty acids are released in your blood. This leads to an increase in fat burning.

Fasting periods can vary depending on personal approach and preference.

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a common tool used for decreasing the amount of time you spend eating each day. IF is typically fasting for at least 16 hours and then eating in an 8 hours window. 20/4 and 18/6 are other common fasting timeframes.

Extended Fasting is considered a period of over 24 hours abstaining from food.

Fasting has been done for both health and spiritual purposes for centuries.

It is VERY important to be certain to the best of your (and doctor’s) knowledge that you don’t have any health issues precluding you from attempting an extended fast (such as diabetes or heart conditions).

What is Autophagy?
Autophagy is probably one of the coolest benefits of fasting. Our bodies are constantly renewing themselves. Think of autophagy as essentially your body’s recycling system. It is the process by which your body discards the oldest, most worn out cells, so they can be replaced with new cells. When we fast, our insulin levels decrease, and autophagy will turn on.

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