What is a ketogenic (Keto) diet?
The ketogenic diet is a way of eating that differs from the standard Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The standard diet requires the majority of nutrients to come from carbohydrate sources, with relatively equal amounts coming from protein and fat. The ketogenic meal plan requires the majority of nutrients to come from fat sources, followed by a moderate amount from protein and a minimal amount from carbohydrates. You can see the standard American diet below as it compares to the ketogenic diet that I follow.
|2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans||20-35%||45-65%||10-35%|
|My Ketogenic Diet||80%||5%||15%|
How does a ketogenic diet work?
The primary source of energy for the body is carbohydrates (these are broken down into glucose). Your body stores around 24-36 hours of glucose for use in times when you are taking in carbohydrates in your diet. Once the stored glucose runs out, your body switches to its normal alternative energy source; FAT! Most of us have plenty of stored fat. Your body begins to break down the stored fat to support your energy needs. The Keto diet requires you to constantly keep your body in fat burning mode by restricting the amount of carbohydrates you eat. You eat mostly foods that are in the “fat” category. The fat that you eat in combination with the stored fat that you have become your body’s primary energy source3.
- What to eat
- How much to eat
- When to eat
What to eat…
When you begin your Keto Fab Lifestyle the first order of business is to remove high carbohydrate items from your current meal plan and replace them with low carbohydrate items. In some cases you shouldn’t replace them at all (this is rare and I can’t think of an example right now). Click here for a list of Keto friendly foods that you should keep on hand. Some of the items may be new to you or hard to find in your local grocery store. For your convenience I have assembled a kit that includes 10 non-perishable essentials to help you get started. You can get them all with one click here.
I don’t evaluate foods by calorie content. I hone straight in on the carbohydrate content. If it has carbohydrate grams of 8 or less per serving, then the item can be considered. We will get more into that later. Needless to say, label reading is unavoidable. Some find this tedious, but it has actually become fun for me. I have discovered that there is sugar or some version of it in practically everything we eat, particularly prepackaged items. Convenience=carbohydrate overload. Going forward convenience will be all things Keto!
How Much to Eat…
Portion control is for me, not governed by weighing and measuring. I eat until I am full; not until I can’t breathe, just until I feel full and satisfied. The goal is to “eat to satiety”2 and your body won’t steer you wrong. Always keep in mind that no matter what combination or source of nutrients you choose, in order to lose weight you must take in fewer calories than you use.
The tool that I use to determine how many calories I need to maintain, or lose weight is My Fitness Pal®. If you don’t already use it don’t worry, its super easy. Just download it to your phone and or computer. It will ask you for demographic information and weight loss goals, then calculate your daily calorie requirement to meet that goal. Tracking what you eat will let you know if you are within your nutrient and calorie range. Staying in range will help you efficiently meet your goal.
When to Eat…
Another benefit of the Keto lifestyle is that you are not bound by the traditional scheduled meal-times that are prevalent in the American diet. Many people following the Keto lifestyle eat 1-2 times per day, but most importantly, have varied times for those meals. I typically will have coffee in the morning, followed by my first actual meal around 2 pm. I may eat again around 8 pm and the cycle will begin again the following day. The main thing to remember when beginning Keto is that the timing of meals is of far less importance than the content of the meals. For beginners I recommend just starting with the content of the meals. Once you master what to eat, you can move to other Keto concepts around meal timing (e.g.like intermittent fasting).
Ready to begin? Join the “A Week in the KetoFab Life” Challenge. You will receive a full week of Ketogenic Meals, Shopping List and Cooking instructions. Each day I will send tips and encouragement, and as always you can ask me any questions at any time. I am committed to your success!
- The Charlie Foundation for Ketogenic Therapies https://www.charliefoundation.org/explore-ketogenic-diet/explore-1/introducing-the-diet
- US Department of Health and Human Services http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/
- Practice Paper of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Classic and Modified Ketogenic Diets for Treatment of Epilepsy DOI link: https://doi.org/10.1016/J.JAND.2017.06.006 Published: 2017-08