KETO DIET – Everything you need to know about keto
- The keto diet is made up of mostly fats, moderate protein and a small amount of carbs.
- Eating a lot of fat and very few carbs puts you in ketosis, a metabolic state where your body burns fat instead of carbs for fuel.
- There are different types of keto diets, including the standard diet, cyclical keto and dirty keto.
- Keto works for a lot of people, but it may also cause side effects like fatigue and digestive issues.
WHAT IS THE KETO DIET?
The keto diet is short for “ketogenic diet.” It’s a high-fat diet that has the potential to turn your body into a fat-burning machine.
The keto diet changes the way your body converts food into energy. Normally, your body turns carbohydrates (think bread and pasta) into glucose for energy. Eating a lot of fat and very few carbs puts you in ketosis, a metabolic state where your body burns fat instead of carbs for fuel.
When your body can’t get glucose from your diet, your liver turns body fat and fat from your diet into molecules called ketones, an alternative source of fuel. This puts you into ketosis, aka prime weight loss mode.
According to some metabolic experts, you’re in the state of ketosis when your ketone levels measure 0.5-3.0 millimoles per liter. The keto diet is one way to get your body to make ketones. Other ways to run on ketones include intermittent fasting and using up your glucose reserves by exercising.
KETO DIET BENEFITS:
- Burns body fat: When you’re on keto, your body uses stored body fat and fat from your diet as fuel. The result? Weight loss.
- Reduces appetite: Ketones suppress ghrelin — your hunger hormone — and increase cholecystokinin (CCK), which makes you feel full. Reduced appetite means it’s easier to go for longer periods without eating, which encourages your body to dip into its fat stores for energy. More research needs to be done in the area of appetite and ketosis, but it seems a lot of people experience reduced hunger.
- Reduces inflammation: Inflammation is your body’s natural response to an invader it deems harmful. Too much inflammation is bad news because it increases your risk of health problems. A keto diet can reduce inflammation in the body by switching off inflammatory pathways and producing fewer free radicals compared to glucose.
- Fuels your brain: Ketones are so powerful that they can provide a good portion of your brain’s energy needs, which is way more efficient than the energy you get from glucose. Did you know your brain is made up of more than 60 percent fat? That means it needs a lot of fat to keep the engine humming. The quality fats you eat on a ketogenic diet do more than feed your day-to-day activities — they also feed your brain.
- Increases energy: When your brain uses ketones for fuel, you don’t experience the same energy slumps as you do when you’re eating a lot of carbs. When your metabolism is in fat-burning mode, your body may tap into its readily available fat stores for energy. That means no more energy crashes or brain fog. Ketosis also helps the brain create more mitochondria, the power generators in your cells. More energy in your cells means more energy to get stuff done.
- Curbs cravings: Fat is a satiating macronutrient. You eat a more smart fats on keto, so you feel fuller, longer.
HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT ON KETO
WHAT TO EAT ON KETO
The keto diet is pretty simple: Eat mostly healthy fats (about 75 percent of your daily calories), some protein (about 20 percent) and a very small amount of carbs (about 5 percent). This is the general breakdown that a lot of keto beginners follow, but you may have to adjust your numbers and test your ketones to see what works for you.
Choose lower-carb foods such as meat, fish, eggs, vegetables and quality fats. Check out this detailed keto food list and browse these keto recipes for meal ideas. Most people do best eating somewhere between 30-150 grams of net carbs daily.
“Net carbs” means you can subtract fiber and sugar alcohols (like xylitol) out of your daily carb count — they don’t affect your blood sugar or get stored as glycogen, the storage form of glucose.
- OILS & FATS
- NUTS, SEEDS & LEGUMES
TYPES OF KETO DIETS
- Standard keto: Standard keto dieters eat very low carb (less than 50 grams of net carbs a day), every day. Some keto followers eat as few as 20 grams per day.
- Cyclical keto: People who follow a cyclical keto diet eat a high-fat, low-carb (less than 50 grams of net carbs per day) five to six days a week. On day seven, they will have a carb refeed day (approximately 150 grams of net carbs). The Bulletproof Diet falls into this category, but tweaks keto for even better performance with intermittent fasting, protein fasting and an emphasis on nutrient-dense, low-inflammation foods.
- Targeted keto: You follow the standard keto diet, but eat extra carbs 30 minutes to an hour before a high-intensity workout. The glucose is meant to boost performance, and you return to ketosis after the workout. If your energy is suffering in the gym during keto, this style of eating might work for you.
- Dirty keto: Dirty keto follows the same ratio of fats, proteins and carbs as the regular keto diet, but with a twist: It doesn’t matter where those macronutrients come from. Dinner could be a bunless Big Mac with a Diet Pepsi.
- Moderate keto: Eat high fat with 100-150 grams of net carbs every day. Women who experience problems with other forms of keto sometimes do better with this diet — restricting carbs can sometimes mess with hormonal function. Also, some athletes find they burn out with fewer than 100 grams of carbs on workout days.
KETO SIDE EFFECTS
- DEHYDRATION AND MUSCLE CRAMPS
Carbs require water for storage. Fat does not. On a keto diet, you store less water, and your kidneys actively expel sodium instead of holding onto it. That means it’s easy to get dehydrated eating keto, especially during the first few weeks. With dehydration and low electrolytes, your muscles can start cramping, too.
Do this: Ask your doctor about supplementing with magnesium, sodium and potassium, your body’s three main electrolytes, and make sure you drink extra water. This is particularly important if you work out while on keto. Staying hydrated will also help you avoid symptoms of the keto flu (more on that below).
- DECREASED METABOLIC FLEXIBILITY
A lot of people report struggling to process carbs when they eat a strict keto diet long-term, which makes sense. If you hardly ever eat carbs, you have no need to keep your insulin pathways running. It’s like keeping the lights on during the daytime — a waste of energy.
Do this: Experiment with carb cycling (aka cyclical keto) by eating approximately 150 grams of net carbs one day a week.
There isn’t research on keto and sleep problems, but some people report waking up in the middle of the night on keto. If you find you have trouble sleeping on keto (and Bulletproof sleep hacks don’t help), you may be better off eating some high-quality carbs at night.
These issues are common on strict keto, and are a big part of the reason why the Bulletproof Diet includes some quality carbs.
Do this: Take 1 teaspoon of raw honey before bed to provide your body with carbs through the sleep period.
- NOT ENOUGH FIBER
If you’re eating fewer than 20 grams of carbs a day, it can be hard to get enough fiber. Fiber intake that’s lower than the recommended amount can contribute to constipation and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Be sure most of your carbs on a keto diet come from leafy, colorful vegetables.
- Experiment with a cyclical keto diet so you can eat more foods like sweet potatoes and butternut squash.
- Try a keto-friendly prebiotic fiber like Bulletproof InnerFuel, which feeds beneficial gut bacteria.
- Salt your food to taste with Himalayan pink salt to make sure you’re retaining enough water to keep your bowels regular.
- Stay hydrated, and load up on magnesium and potassium — vital electrolytes you can find in spinach, avocado and supplements.
- Keep a food diary. Track what you eat and make a note of what you do and don’t digest well.
- Exercise can help you stay regular and support your digestive tract.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, some people experience diarrhea on keto, especially if they aren’t used to consuming a higher-fat diet.
- Start slowly with MCT oils: MCT oil is a saturated fatty acid that gives your body fast energy in the form of ketones. It helps fuel your body, especially as it adapts to keto. It can take a little bit of time for your digestive system to get used to MCT oils. Start with 1 tsp at a time and work your way up from there.
- Add a digestive enzyme: You may not be properly digesting fats. Try lipase, an enzyme that digests fat in the body, or hydrochloric acid (HCL), which helps increase stomach acid and support digestion.
- KETO RASH
For a very small number of people who try keto, this diet change can bring on an itchy, red rash on the back, chest, neck or armpit area. Also known as Prurigo pigmentosa, keto rash is not life-threatening or dangerous. The exact causes still aren’t understood, but a small study points to differences in hormones, gut bacteria or exposure to allergens as potential triggers.
Do this: Check with your doctor, and try these tips to deal with keto rash:
- Bring back (some) carbs: You don’t need a full-blown bread-binge, but if a sudden switch to a keto lifestyle brought on a rash, you may want to reintroduce some healthy, high-quality carbs like sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, pumpkin and butternut squash.
- Avoid irritants: Like most rashes, keto rash can worsen with friction, sweat or heat. Avoid aggravating the irritated skin by wearing loose-fitting, breathable clothes, and avoiding perfumes, scented products or sweat-inducing exercise until the skin can heal.
- Support your skin: Supporting your skin with anti-inflammatory foods and supplements can help boost your healing time and calm the rash. Try incorporating foods like this turmeric latte or a DHA omega-3 supplement.
- KETO FLU
The keto flu is a natural reaction your body undergoes as it switches from burning sugar to fat for energy. The keto flu, aka carb withdrawal, generally kicks in at the 24- to 48-hour mark. Symptoms include brain fog, headache, insomnia, irritability, muscle soreness, poor focus and sugar cravings.
The keto flu affects some people more than others. If you ate a diet low in refined sugar and starches before going keto, you’ll likely experience only mild symptoms. A diet high in sugar and carbs may set you up for greater withdrawal symptoms (especially from the sugar).
Do this: To beat the keto flu, try these remedies.
- Hydrate all day. To determine the minimum amount of water you need, use your current body weight and divide it by two. That’s how many ounces you need. For instance, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should aim for 70 ounces of water a day. Bone broth adds a serving of water to your diet and a dose of electrolytes (sodium and potassium) which will offset some of the discomfort you feel at a cellular level.
- Supplement with electrolytes. Replenishing your electrolytes is a great way to start feeling better fast. Take note of the key players: potassium, magnesium and sodium. If you aren’t getting enough of them from your diet, which can be difficult to do on lower-carb diets, incorporate them by way of supplements.
- Eat more fat, especially MCTs. Upping your quality fat consumption can speed up your adaptation phase. One caveat: Most fats have to pass through your lymphatic system to your heart, muscles and fat cells before they reach the liver. Only there can they be turned into ketones for the body to use as fuel. MCT oil is different in that it goes straight to the liver after digestion — just like carbs — so it can be used immediately.
- Get good rest. A sound night’s sleep is a very good thing when it comes to conquering keto flu. It keeps your cortisol levels in check, which will likely lessen your flu symptoms. Aim for 7-9 hours a night.
- Exercise (mildly) and meditate. Note the second word: mild. Yes, mild. The goal here is to reduce cortisol levels (especially initially), so anything that relieves stress will help you. Yoga or gentle walks can do the trick. If exercise isn’t your thing, try meditating. Bottom line, it’s probably best not to go full-on in the gym until you adjust to the keto diet.
- Take an exogenous ketone supplement. Exogenous ketones aid with fatigue and boost energy levels by raising the ketone levels in your blood. Note that they are not a replacement for a proper keto diet, though they may help you take it up a notch — especially on the flu. If you choose to go this route, aim for smaller doses of your supplement spread throughout the day for the first three to five days of the keto flu.