A Guide To The Ketogenic Diet

Overview

The ketogenic diet focuses on consuming a lot of fat, a moderate amount of protein, and little to no carbohydrates. Many health benefits come with this diet compared to the regular western diet. Many people switch to keto as a weight loss solution, but some other health benefits include: lowering risks of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, and many more. Here is a basic outline of what a keto diet consists of:

  1. Low Carb
    • Under 50g per day for most, under 20g for true ketosis
    • Fiber isn’t counted in carbs
  2. Moderate Protein
  3. High Fat
    • Fat is your main energy source
    • Amount needed depends on your goals (weight loss or maintenance)
  4. Eat Good Fats
    • Eat more Mono & Saturated fats for energy (olive oil, coconut oil, butter)
    • Limit high Polyunsaturated fats (corn, soy, cottonseed)
  5. The Keto Flu
    • Increase your daily sodium intake (e.g. drink 1-2 cups of broth daily)
    • Replace magnesium to avoid muscle cramps
    • Drink lots of water

The Standard Approach

Premise

The ketogenic diet focuses on the premise of a low carb diet and while on it you may only eat a maximum of 50g of carbohydrates (carbs) each day. However, in order to truly start seeing the benefits of this diet, it is recommended that you limit your daily intake of net carbs to only 20g per day. This will restrict you from eating junk foods, refined carbohydrates, many processed foods, and sugary drinks and sodas.

The goal of the diet is more than just to a weight loss solution: it is a lifestyle with an overall focus on good health. It promotes long and intense surges of energy, an increase in healthy food, and provides an overall better outlook on life. Staying on the diet becomes fairly simple after the first few weeks and it provides a ton of options and solutions for improving health that many people struggle to understand in the beginning. Note, this diet isn’t a “get slim quick” diet and will test your willpower, but those who persist in it will achieve a better understanding of food, their bodies, their health, and life in general.

How to Start

These are the main points to follow when starting out on the ketogenic diet.

  • Eat under 50g of carbs a day, preferably under 20g. Don’t count the carbs from veggies high in fiber towards your total carb intake. The majority of these carbs should be from leafy greens.
  • Keep protein intake moderate: 0.6 – 1 grams per pound of lean body mass (1.3 – 2.2 grams per kilogram lean body mass)
  • Increase the amount of water you drink daily
  • Increase the amount of fat you eat daily
  • Increase your intake of salt, potassium, and magnesium
What to Eat

Although different people eat different foods when they do keto, these are some recommended foods that will give you a good idea of what to start with. Feel free to experiment on your own once you get a hang of it or check out some of our low carb recipes.

  • leafy green vegetables
  • fatty red meats
  • chicken with skin on
  • offal (organ meat)
  • eggs
  • seeds & nuts
  • full-fat dairy
  • olive oil, coconut oil, grass fed butter

Limit carbs, target protein, and consume as much fat as you need to satiate your hunger.

Tracking Fats, Proteins, & Carbs

As when first starting out any diet, it is most important to know how much carbs, protein, and fat you’re really consuming daily on your diet. Although you may think you have a good grasp on this, it is highly recommended that you use My Fitness Pal, a free and preferred food and nutrition tracking app. It will allow you to easily scan barcodes on food items and add them to your daily food diary, which will keep track of how much carbs, proteins, and fats you consume in easy to read tables and graphs. It will also keep track of your weight and other information, providing you with visual progress charts to keep you motivated and on track.

The Keto Flu

Although not everyone gets it, most people who are starting the ketogenic diet for the first time will get “the keto flu.” This “flu” is a term used to describe symptoms of sickness during the first few days of the diet while our bodies adapt to it. Your body is addicted to relying on carbohydrates as its fuel source: taking them away triggers withdrawal symptoms. As your body starts to learn to convert fat as its main energy source, you may feel sick and get headaches. This phase only lasts a few days to a week, and can easily be treated by replenishing the electrolytes in your body.

However, please note that you may experience fatigue, headaches, and muscle twitching, and leg cramps (most common) for as long as you remain on a low carb diet. These are all signs that your electrolytes are unbalanced. In order to combat this, you must increase your intake of sodium, potassium, and magnesium (these are electrolytes) in your diet.

The minimum daily intake of these three electrolytes is:

  • 5000 mg of sodium chloride (salt)
  • 1000 mg of potassium, in the form of potassium chloride or potassium sulfate
  • 300 mg of magnesium
Achieving Ketosis

Depending on your body and diet, you will achieve a state of ketosis anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks. Note, men are likely to reach ketosis faster than women.

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