Basically, the purpose of the ketogenic diet is to force the body into burning fats instead of carbohydrates. Those who follow it eat a diet that contains high amounts of healthy fat, moderate amounts of protein, and very low levels of carbohydrates. Through this breakdown of macro-nutrients, you’re able to change how the body uses energy to produce some pretty awesome benefits. There are three types of ketogenic diets, although not all are suited for most people. The difference in each is fully dependent on carb intake and lifestyle choices, here they are explained:
The Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): most common and recommended version of the diet where you stay within 20-50 grams of net carbs per day and focus on moderate protein intake and high fat intake.
Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): involves eating around 25-50 grams of net carbs or less around 30 minutes to an hour before exercise. This process absorbs the carbs mainly for energy.
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD): involves higher-carb periods where you eat a low-carb, ketogenic diet for several days followed by a couple days eating high-carb. You can use exogenous ketones with this diet type!
As always, what works for you may not work for others. Some people simply do better with some pre-workout carbs – especially if they do high-intensity exercise that requires explosive actions. Try and see how you feel with no carbs – keep in mind it will take about a month before you get keto-adapted. Until then, take it easy with your workouts. If you need help give us a shout, we can at least point you in the right direction!
FAT FOR ENERGY VS CARBS FOR ENERGY
Normally, when you eat a diet rich in carbohydrates, your body converts the carbs to glucose for energy and makes insulin to transport the glucose into your bloodstream. Glucose is another energy source of the body, and if it’s is present, the body will turn to it first.
When you lower your carbohydrate intake through a ketogenic diet, your body doesn’t have that same amount of carbs for fuel. Without prior knowledge, this might seem like a bad thing, but it actually produces remarkable results — because this sends your body into a state known as ketosis, which is the basis of a ketogenic diet.
Ketosis happens when the body turns to fat, instead of carbs, for fuel. Specifically, the liver converts the fatty acids in your body into ketone bodies, or ketones, to be used for energy. So when you overload the body with fats as the main energy source, it adapts and becomes “keto-adaptive,” or more efficient at burning fat! (more on Ketosis here)
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LOW CARB DIETS VS KETOGENIC DIETS
The keto diet often gets lumped in with any type of low-carb diet, but there are differences that should be noted. Some low-carb diets are not ketogenic, and the biggest difference is the level of carbohydrate intake.
For example, a low-carb diet might involve a moderate decrease in carbohydrates but not a large enough decrease to send you into ketosis. For example, the more modern version of Atkins often involves people adding in more carbs over time, which may be too much to go into ketosis or stay in ketosis for long periods of time.
Another difference between some low-carb diets and the keto diet is the amount of protein eaten. Those on the standard ketogenic diet, as described above, eat only a moderate amount of protein, which is less than what’s called for during other low-carb diets. This is because the body can also break down protein for glucose (known as gluconeogenesis) and prevent the body from reaching full ketosis.
The goal is to eat enough protein to main muscle mass and have your body turn to fat stores for energy. Also, when the body goes through gluconeogenesis and starts using protein for fuel, it can raise your blood sugar and insulin levels — and these higher levels of insulin can affect the production of ketones. On the other hand, fats have little, if any, effect on your blood sugar and insulin. And again, eating more fats prevents the body from pulling from your lean muscle mass, which is important for a lean, healthy body.
The Ketogenic Diet Breakdown
The general structure of the Ketogenic Diet usually looks something like this:
It is important to note that the Ketogenic Diet is NOT a high-protein diet. In order for you to properly form a healthy ketogenic diet, you must be within the noted ranges of carb intake daily (above).
Carbohydrate Intake: For most people, a range of 20-50 grams of carbohydrate intake per day is ideal for the keto diet. Some people can go as high as 100 grams per day to stay in ketosis, but the majority should stay in the initial range.
Protein Intake: Some factors to take into account when determining your protein needs of the keto diet include: lean body mass, ideal body weight, gender, height, activity level. As mentioned before, too much protein intake can impede ketosis. To avoid the breakdown of protein instead of fat for glucose, you’ll want to avoid eating more than 1.5 to 2 grams per kilogram of lean body mass.
Fat Intake: After you’ve calculated your carb and protein requirements, the remaining caloric intake will come from fats in the diet. Counting of specific calories are generally not required on a ketogenic diet (since a diet high in satisfying fat rarely leads to overeating), but you do want to make sure you’re keeping general track of your macronutrient percentages versus how much you eat, since big changes in calorie intake can affect those percentages.
Don’t forget that the type of fat is important when eating a ketogenic diet. Be cautious about consuming a lot of oils, as they are usually high in omega-6 fatty acids, which are inflammatory in large amounts. Instead, opt for fat sources that are high in monounsaturated and saturated fats and low in polyunsaturated fats.
Common sources of fat for a Ketogenic Diet:
- MCT Oil or Coconut Oil (they can easily be converted into ketones)
- Butter (Preferably organic, from grass fed cows, anti-hormone)
- Organic Olive Oil (Extra-Virgin, pressed)
- High Oleic Sunflower and Safflower Oils
- Full-Fat Cheese and other Dairy products
- Full Plant-based fats like Avocado
Health benefits of a Ketogenic Diet:
Since a low-carb diet has been shown to have greater effects on weight loss than other diets, it’s a good option for obese people who are looking to reduce their weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol over a short period of time. Plus, a ketogenic diet may also help improve insulin resistance and lower glucose levels.
More Resources for Ketogenic Diets:
Recommended Food for a Ketogenic Diet:
- Meats including: beef, chicken and other poultry, pork, lamb, goat, turkey, veal, and fish sources like salmon, sardines, catfish, tuna, trout, etc
- Fats and oils including: nuts and seeds (whole or as butters), oils like olive oil, sesame oil, or high oleic sunflower and safflower oils, ghee, and grass-fed butter
- Eggs (preferably free-range, organic)
- Dairy products including: cheeses, sour cream, yogurt, and heavy creams
- Low-carb vegetables including: spinach, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, peppers, and onions
- ONLY lower-sugar fruits including: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and avocados (and only in small amounts)
- Herbs and spices as long as they have no added sugars.
Foods to Eliminate on a Ketogenic Diet:
- Beans and legumes including: kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans, lentils, and green peas
- Grains including: whole grains and breads and pastas made from grains like oats, wheat, barley, rice, rye, and corn
- Fruits besides small portions of berries
- Starches including: potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, and carrots
- Low-fat diet products that are packaged and processed
- Sugar-laden products including: smoothies, sodas, fruit juices, ice cream, cookies, cakes, and candies
- Unhealthy oils including: mayonnaise products and processed vegetable oils
- Alcohols, as they can take you out of ketosis from the high carb content
- Artificial sweeteners, which can sometimes affect blood sugar levels
- Condiments that contain added sugar or unhealthy oils.
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