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!
#1: What Is Keto?
"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!
- Thomas Delaurer Keto Crash Course:
- Domanic D'Agostino Joe Rogan Experience:
#2 What Is The Ketogenic 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, check these out.
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 all together. 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 depend 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.
However, for fitness, longevity and general wellbeing, 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.
#3 Why On Earth Would I Eliminate Carbs?
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. 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 even eliminating them all together!
#4 What's The Difference Between Ketosis and Low Carb?
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 fueled via a combination of fatty acids and glucose.
Therefore, ketosis is actually very different, as it's an entirely different metabolic process all together, in which your body becomes conditioned to.
#5 Can I Gain Muscle On A Ketogenic Diet?
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.
#6 How Do I Get Into Ketosis
There are three ways to enter Ketosis:
- Nutritional Ketosis. By eliminating carbohydrates and keeping protein modest (100g-150g max), the average individual will enter ketosis within 3-7 days. This is a murky experience as the body will go through sugar withdrawal, and the user will often experience "keto flu", which is a combination of sugar withdrawal and low electrolytes.
- Fasting. By completely eliminating ALL calories, Ketosis will be entered within 24-48 hours, with deeper ketosis achieved at around the 60 hour mark. This will be dificult if your body is not conditioned for fasting, which is why we recommend:
- Keto Supplements. If you want to get a taste of what Ketosis has to offer, we reccomend 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!
#7 What Do I Eat On The Ketogenic Diet?
Generally, you want to focus on foods and meals which have a minimum of a 2:1 ratio of fat to protein + carbs.
Keeping your carbs to around 20g on rest days and 50g max 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 which you can enjoy in abundance on a ketogenic diet! Our favourite keto friendly meals include:
- Steak smothered in butter, served with salad with your choice of high-fat dressing
- Whole egg omelette served with avocado, organic sausage and mushrooms
- Chocolate protein shake with organic coconut milk
- Blueberries with heavy whipping cream
- Coconut chicken curry with cauliflower rice
- Big Breakfast with fried eggs in butter, bacon, chorizo and spinach
- Coffee blended with butter/ghee + coconut oil
- Ketogenic Meal Replacement Supplement
#8 Is The Ketogenic Diet Bad For Me?
It's actually incredibly healthy, when performed correctly. While there are questions relating to long term usage of the ketogenic diet, it's a fantastic tool to improve your metabolism, decrease stored body fat, and improve cognitive function.
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.
The healthiest sources of fats on a ketogenic diet (or just in general!) are:
- Macadamia Nuts
- Olive Oil
- Avocados & Avocado Oil
- Coconut Cream, Milk, Flesh & Oil
- Grass-fed Butter & Ghee
- Animal Fat
- Fatty Fish
So there you have it! Now that you know everything there is to know about all things Keto, are you ready to drop the carbs and up the fat?