KETOGENIC DIET 101: 8 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
Time to read 6 min
Time to read 6 min
The Ketogenic Diet has been doing the rounds on the blogosphere lately, and for good reason.
In all corners of the interwebs, you'll see "keto" this and "keto" that flying around, with some seriously astounding health claims, all stemming from eating copious amounts of butter, bacon, eggs, coconut oil and steak?!
So what is this crazy diet, and is it just another fad diet, or something more?
We've rolled out our 8 things you need to know to induct you into the world of ketosis, and to find out if it holds up to the hype!
"Keto", the "Ketogenic Diet", or being in ketosis, refers to an altered metabolic state, where the body burns ketones, rather than glucose, for fuel.
"Ketones", the byproduct of the liver processing fatty acids, act as an alternate source of fuel for the body and brain. If you've ever fasted for a long period of time you might have even entered a low level of ketosis at some point in your life!
Once you go long enough without eating, and the body runs through all its stored glucose, it needs another energy source to continue to survive. We all know that "hangry" feeling when we haven't eaten after a few hours, but deep down, we all know that it won't kill us if we don't eat every 3-4 hours, right?! In fact, the human race most certainly wouldn't be here today if we had to eat that often in order to stay alive.
If you'd like a little more of the science behind how ketosis occurs within the body, these videos sum it up much better than we ever could!
The ketogenic diet is often referred to as a low-carbohydrate and high-fat diet. The ketogenic diet is a nifty way to manipulate your body's metabolic state to stay in ketosis, while still consuming ample calories to live a healthy, productive, day to day life. There is conjecture over the specific macronutrient ratio and carb allowances which will allow for long term ketosis, however, check these out below:
Strict Medical Ketogenic Diet
90% Fat, 8% Protein, 2% Carbs (woah!)
Standard Ketogenic Diet
80% Fat, 15% Protein, 5% Carbs
Modified Atkins Diet
65%-70% Fat, 30-35% Protein, 5% Carbs
As you can see, the common denominator here is the borderline lack of carbohydrates altogether. By keeping your net carbs (Total Carbs - Fibre) to between 20g-50g, depending on activity level, you can keep your body in this "fat-burning" state to reap the benefits! The difference, between the amounts of fat and protein depends ultimately on who you ask, your goals and how your body individually responds to being in ketosis. For medical reasons, an extremely high-fat content is encouraged, as excess protein can convert into glucose via a process called gluconegenesis. This effectively replaces the glucose you would receive from carbs with glucose from protein, which is required for healthy brain function. Without this, you cannot survive.
However, for fitness, longevity and general well-being, more ample protein amounts (around 20-25% is a good start!) will keep you in a state of nutritional ketosis, without impacting performance or causing muscle wastage.
Well, it depends on the individual. See, some of us absolutely thrive on carbs. Carbohydrates provide us with a quick, powerful source of energy which fuels the body's metabolism and keeps us functioning in tip-top shape!
Others, on the other hand, are not so lucky. Some of us run much better, or even thrive on a fat-for-fuel diet or a lower carbohydrate diet. If you're feeling sluggish and not at your best, notice whether carbohydrates tend to trigger an energy rollercoaster for you. You might do better cutting down or ‘clothing your carbs’ with fats and proteins to stabilise your energy levels and glucose levels throughout the day.
Low carb diets, again, depending on who you ask, will generally allow for 10-20% of daily calorie intake from carbohydrate sources.
This may cause the individual to cycle in and out of a state of mild ketosis throughout the day, depending on how they distribute their carbohydrates, but generally, the body will be fuelled via a combination of fatty acids and glucose.
Therefore, ketosis is actually very different, as it's an entirely different metabolic process altogether, in which your body becomes conditioned to, or in other words, forced into.
Absolutely. However, it is a slower and more gradual process than a carbohydrate-rich diet.
One thing that ketogainers often note, is that while muscle gain is a bit slower, it comes without the added fat, or the need for bulking and cutting cycles.
As it takes a while for the body to become "keto adapted", it's not uncommon to see a loss of strength and performance in the gym for the first few months, as the body has to build an entirely new metabolic pathway for the utilisation of energy.
However, once this pathway is established, users often report increased strength, performance and endurance.
There are three ways to enter Ketosis:
Keto Supplements. If you want to get a taste of what ketosis has to offer, we recommend consuming ONLY fats for a period of 24-48 hours with very minimal protein, as well as a ketone salt supplement. This will accelerate your body into deep ketosis, and will provide the fuel you need until your body catches up, and begins to produce ketones on its own accord!
Generally, you want to focus on foods and meals that have a minimum of a 2:1 ratio of fat to protein + carbs.
Keeping your carbs to around 20g on rest days and 50g on training days can be tricky, but you generally want to avoid any sugars, grains, fruits and starches. Eating out can be tricky, so we recommend planning ahead when eating out, otherwise prepping your meals at home.
Fortunately, there are plenty of delicious foods that you can enjoy in abundance on a ketogenic diet! Our favourite keto-friendly meals include:
Again, this depends who you ask. There is conflicting research and personal experiences on a ketogenic diet. Generally, it can be incredibly healthy, when performed correctly that is. While there are questions relating to long-term usage of the ketogenic diet and its effect on hormones, it can be a fantastic tool to improve your metabolism, decrease stored body fat, and improve cognitive function in the short-term.
While it will take some getting used to as we've been conditioned to think eating fat makes us fat, a big dose of healthy fats in the absence of carbohydrates (namely sugar) is an incredible source of energy, hormone precursors and fat-soluble vitamins. However, it is important to consider the calories per gram of each macronutrient if your goal is weight loss. For example, fats have 9 calories per gram while carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram.
The healthiest sources of fats on a ketogenic diet (or just in general!) are:
So there you have it! Now that you know everything there is to know about all things ketogenic diets, are you ready to drop the carbs and up the fat? Now, of course, this won't be for everyone and if you have any concerns it's always recommended to consult your trusted healthcare professional.