Simply put, a ketogenic diet typically derives about 70-to-80% of total calories from healthy fats. The remaining 20-30% of calories come from carbohydrates and proteins. Eating this type of diet puts your body into a state of what’s known as “ketosis”, in which it primarily burns fat for energy.
To get into, and importantly stay, in ketosis, you must restrict carbs and sugar – less than 50g per day. This initiates your body to burn the remaining carbohydrates present, after which it moves on to stored glucose, before finally tapping into ketones. Ketones are produced by the liver, and are readily used by the body for potent energy production and critical brain-related functions.
Ketones are cellular “superfuel”, and one in particular – namely beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) – drives powerful, beneficial processes. Beta-hydroxybutyrate is important for regulation of the expression of important genes, inflammation regulation, immune system activity, and even antioxidant function. This important ketone is one of the fundamental reasons the keto diet is so beneficial.
Prior to any dietary change, you should consult your GP – particularly keto diet beginners. But with that in mind, a ketogenic diet may be a good fit for you.
Key health benefits of a ketogenic diet
Supports weight loss
Studies demonstrate that people who follow a ketogenic diet, with exercise, lose weight. In fact, one long term study of people who followed a ketogenic diet for a 24-week period found significant reductions in overall weight as well as BMI. These results were achieved by following a ketogenic (high-fat, low carb) eating plan.
Supports cardiovascular health
If there’s one health myth that’s worth dispelling, it’s the long-standing falsehood that fat clogs the arteries, resulting in coronary heart disease. The underlying cause of heart disease is inflammation, which triggers the buildup of plaque. Eating a ketogenic diet supports the body’s healthy response to inflammation.
Helps maintain blood sugar levels
Due to the beneficial effects of the ketogenic diet on glycemic control, it’s not surprising that studies continue to find this low carbohydrate diet (ketogenic) helps your body maintain healthy blood glucose levels.
Promotes brain health
One major benefit of following a ketogenic diet is that it effectively produces and releases ketones. Ketones stimulate the synthesis of new neuronal networks in the brain and support overall brain function.
Increase energy levels
Keeping energy levels up, especially during a workout or as your busy day goes on, is difficult if you rely on carbohydrates. When your body is in ketosis, it uses fat as fuel, and fees the brain with ketones to keep energy levels high.
How to get started: the keto diet for beginners
Step 1: Fasting
Start with fasting for one-to-two days. Be sure to drink plenty of water during this time. This will force the body to burn through all of its available carbohydrates—an excellent way to kick-start your body into ketosis. Also, check with your healthcare practitioner before starting your fast.
Step 2: Find the right foods for ketosis
Now it’s time to stock your pantry with plenty of keto foods so you’re prepared to start your journey once your fast is completed. You’ll need plenty of healthy fats, like avocado and coconut oil, as well as proteins. Simple foods to begin with include mushrooms, broccoli, seafood, poultry, eggs, cheese, and Greek yogurt.
Step 3: Find a keto supplement
Pick up the Garden of Life’s Keto and low-carb line of products. They’re a great way to make your ketogenic diet more convenient. These easy-to-mix powders take the guesswork out of counting fats, protein and carbs. Use as a meal replacement or add to shakes, smoothies and use in cooking or baking. The options are endless.
Step 4: Meal prep
Plan your first week of menus so you’re prepared. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll develop your own combinations of keto-acceptable foods and ratios that are pleasing to your palate.
Step 5: Move your body
Be sure to get your body in motion. Whether you are trying to lose weight or achieve optimum health with your ketogenic lifestyle, exercise is an extremely important piece of the puzzle. If you don’t already have a fitness routine, do something you enjoy. Just walking briskly for 30 minutes, three-to-four times per week is a great way to get moving. Go skating, biking, hiking—have fun! Exercise and movement will also help with digestion—very important when adopting a ketogenic lifestyle.