Will Keto Work for Me?

The Keto diet has been gaining in popularity over the last few years due to celebrities, actors and athletes praising its results through social media and TV interviews. If you’ve watched celebrity chefs make meals out of bacon and cheese you might have thought that this diet looks like that you can get on board with. However, how do you know if the Keto diet will work for you? The following article will look at what’s involved in Keto, its selling points and its drawbacks in order to help you decide if Keto is the right diet for your lifestyle and goals.

What is the Keto diet?

Despite its recent rise into the spotlight, Keto is not a new diet. It was first developed by doctors as a way of helping customers with diabetes to control their blood sugar levels. Its recent popularity is due to this same effectiveness at controlling the level of glucose your body produces.

The Keto diet manages this by changing the way that your body fuels itself. The typical diet in North America today consists of a large number of carbohydrates. When your body receives this influx of carbs it changes the carbs to glucose which it uses as fuel. Glucose is your body’s preferred fuel source because it’s a relatively fast process to turn the carbs into fuel.

However, it’s as quick to be used up as it is to be created. This means that shortly after eating a high-carb meal you’ll feel a sugar high, or a rush of energy and then a few hours after eating your meal you’ll experience a crash or a drop in your energy levels. After you experience this drop you’ll begin to feel hunger pains as your body is sending you a request for more fuel. This can make it difficult to lose weight.

The other obstacle to weight loss is actually found in your body’s survival mechanisms. Due to our ancestor’s inability to find steady sources of food your body stores away any glucose that it doesn’t use immediately in the form of body fat. Because your body is preparing for a time of scarcity and fasting it won’t release this stored fat unless it’s tricked into it. This is where Keto comes in.

The Keto diet helps you burn this stored fat by creating a fuel source known as ketones in your liver. In order for your body to produce ketones, you need to limit your carbohydrates to 20-25g of net carbs a day. This makes it so that your body doesn’t have enough carbs to rely solely on glucose as fuel so it switches to using your stored fat to make ketones.

What can you eat on the Keto diet?

So what does the Keto diet actually look like? If you can’t eat carbs, what can you eat? The Keto diet doesn’t actually forbid carbohydrates, it just asks that you keep your net carb count to 20-25g or lower per day. The average slice of white bread contains 12-14g of carbs which means that although you could eat carbs if you did it would limit the number of other foods that you can eat since even fruits and vegetables have a gram or two of carbs.

The main focus of the Keto diet is non-starchy vegetables, lean meats, full-fat dairy, healthy nuts and fats and low sugar fruits. If you’re creating a Keto meal plan you can choose some of the following foods:

  • Lean meats such as turkey, chicken, and cuts of beef
  • Fish, especially fish that’s high in healthy fats and Omega 3’s such as salmon and sardines
  • Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, kale and collard greens
  • Low-sugar fruits such as blackberries, raspberries, lemons and avocados
  • Healthy oils such as extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil
  • Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, brazil nuts, cashews, macadamia and chestnuts
  • Seeds such as chia, flax and hemp
  • Above ground vegetables such as cucumber, tomatoes, celery, asparagus, cauliflower, cabbage, green beans and brussels sprouts
  • Full-fat dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt
  • Some low carb alcohols
  • Sugar substitutes

What foods should you avoid on Keto?

Although there is no food group that’s specifically forbidden on the Keto diet, there are foods that you should either limit or avoid in order to make it easier for you to keep your net carbs at a low enough level for your body to produce ketones instead of glucose. The following is a list of a few of the foods that you should steer clear of if you can.

  • Starchy vegetables that grow undergrounds such as carrots, beets, radish, parsnips, potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Grains such as pasta, bread, quinoa, flour, wheat, cereal, oatmeal and buns
  • Fatty cuts of red meat that might raise your bad cholesterol levels
  • Sugary fruits such as melons, strawberries, bananas and kiwi
  • Sugar
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Sugary alcohols
  • Beans, lentils and peas
  • Sugary drinks such as pop or juice
  • Processed foods and junk food

What do you have to do in order to follow a Keto diet?

So what does it look like when you put the Keto diet into daily practice? For starters, you’re going to be spending a lot more time meal planning. This will allow you to make sure you have Keto-friendly foods in stock in order to make meals. It’s a good idea to sit down at the beginning of the week on a Sunday or Monday and figure out what you want to eat, and what you’ll need to buy in order to make your meals.

As you’re calculating your foods you should use a carb counter or an app such as MyFitnessPal to figure out the number of net carbs that each of your daily meals has in it. Doing this at the beginning of the week will prevent you from encountering issues in the middle of the week when you’re busy. There’s nothing worse than eating a meal that you think is Keto friendly and then adding up your daily carbs at the end of the day and finding out that meal put you way over and knocked you out of ketosis.

The tracking and planning is the main thing that you’re going to have to worry about on a daily basis and if you get this all done and over with at the beginning of the week then the rest of your time you should be able to follow a Keto diet without any stress. Every once in awhile it’s a good idea to check in on your ketone levels. You can do this by using inexpensive Keto urine strips that test for the presence of ketones or you can purchase a blood meter or breath meter if you want to get more detailed results and you plan on testing frequently.

What can you expect from a Keto diet and when will you see results?

When you begin the Keto diet the biggest thing that you need to be aware of is that you might experience something known as the “Keto flu”. This happens when your body suddenly stops getting carbohydrates as it takes you a few weeks to a month for your body to get used to using ketones as opposed to glucose for fuel. You might feel tired and draggy, have headaches, stomach pains, muscle aches and other symptoms that are usually associated with the flu. The important thing to remember is that this is temporary and you will feel better if you stick with it.

The Keto diet isn’t a 30 day plan. It’s important to stick with it if you’re looking to lose weight, improve your energy and stabilize your blood sugar levels. You should see results fairly quickly but if you stop the Keto diet there’s a good chance that your weight might come rushing back. The Keto diet really is a lifestyle change.

Who is the Keto diet for?

If you’re willing to put in a bit of effort in order to see long term results and you’re more interested in a lifestyle change over a quick fix diet then you might be a good fit for Keto. Some of the other signs that you’d be perfect for Keto are:

  • You love healthy fat sources such as nuts, seeds and fish
  • You were never really that into bread and other carbs
  • You enjoy cooking your own meals
  • You’re an organized person that delights in details, planning and tracking
  • You already track your meals using an app such as MyFitnessPal
  • You want better energy levels and less brain fog
  • You’re looking to burn stored fat or lose weight

Who is the Keto diet not suited for?

Not everyone is suited for the Keto diet, if you fall into any of the following categories you might want to speak with your doctor to find a better option for you.

  • If you don’t like planning or tracking
  • If you want a quick fix
  • If you can’t imagine giving up carbs
  • If you have a pre-existing medical condition, especially one such as diabetes that deals with your blood sugar levels (*note, this doesn’t mean that you can’t do Keto, you just need to talk with a doctor before you make any dietary changes)

Conclusion

The Keto diet can be a fantastic way to improve your energy levels, increase your mental clarity and lose weight. If you’re willing to put in the work you’ll see lasting results with this low carb high fat lifestyle change.

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