The Keto Diet: How to Take a Safe, Healthy Approach
If you’ve been searching for a way to lose weight, chances are you’ve looked into more than a few different diets. And while they might all promise to slim you down, some are more appealing than others when it comes to how they enable you to lose your weight.
Some diets are heavily restrictive of when you eat; others dictate very specifically what you can eat. Some diets even go so far as to make you count your calories. However, limiting the amount of food that goes into your body by decreasing portion sizes and calorie intake can be not only unsatisfying, but also unhealthy. It’s why many people have begun to opt for diets that, despite restrictions, still keep you full, like the keto diet.
The Keto Diet Explained
The keto diet is a more extreme form of the classic Atkins Diet. It focuses on cutting out carbs and instead, relying more on fats and some proteins for your primary diet. The idea is to shift your body into a metabolic state known as ketosis, where your body, now lacking carbs to burn for energy, will instead turn to burning fat. This breakdown of fat produces ketones, byproducts that are important fuel sources for your brain. As your body is effectively re-trained from burning sugar to burning fat for energy, most people experience successful weight loss. Still, keep in mind that initially, it is common for this weight to be water weight, due to the keto diet causing fat cells to release water.
The Right Approach
The keto diet is not about starvation, but about carbohydrate restriction. In fact, due to the high protein and fat diet, a lot of people experience weight loss simply due to a decrease in cravings and an increased feeling of fullness. No more sugar spikes! This feeling of satiation is often the reason lots of people have little trouble staying on the keto diet long-term.
But the keto diet is also rarely a “zero-carb diet.” A popular rule of thumb is to limit your diet to have 5% carbohydrates, or about 20-30 grams, to ensure ketosis. Combined with the fact that the primary foods of the keto diet are meats, cheeses, fish, veggies, eggs, butter and oil, it’s easy to see the appeal of this diet! But you can’t just dramatically shift your eating habits over to these foods and expect a positive outcome. It’s important to approach the keto diet properly, to keep you healthy and so you can see the outcomes you want from it.
Consider if the Keto Diet is Right for You
The keto diet is very popular due to its impact on weight, mental focus, blood sugar, and cravings. People with Type II diabetes often turn to the diet because it naturally leads to lower blood sugar levels. However, keep in mind that not a lot of research has been done on the long-term impacts of the keto diet and, depending on your body, relying on fatty and high-protein foods may have consequences, too.
It’s important to have a long-term mindset. You’re going to be shifting your body’s natural processes and training it to accept fat instead of carbs, so there’s naturally a longer time horizon. Don’t rush into this diet without realizing that the journey could be a long one.
Be Open to New Foods, Say Goodbye to Others (Hint: Carbs!)
You need to get familiar with keto-friendly foods and determine, really, if this diet is for you. Since carbs account for about 50% or more of the typical American diet, it can be challenging to make a significant change in nutrition. Consider all of the carb-loaded foods you’re going to be giving up and make sure you can truly leave them behind. On the surface, this means no pizza, cereals, burgers, chips, fast food or pasta. But, beyond this, it also restricts your intake of grains, legumes, and high carb fruits and vegetables. Spoiler alert: this means no rice, quinoa, corn, bananas, apples, or potatoes either!
Modify Your Lifestyle to Fit Keto
Finally, be prepared to adapt most aspects of your lifestyle around the keto diet. Things like social drinking are a no-go for the diet and “cheat days” have major ramifications for keto dieters, making it best to avoid them. You’ll also need to adjust your exercise levels accordingly and be more rigorous in your eating habits, not skipping meals or snacking too heavily. On the surface, keto looks like an appealing diet choice and for many, it is! Just make sure you’re understanding all of the underlying expectations before you dive right in.
Exercise and Nutritional Supplements
As is evidenced by the list of foods involved in the keto diet, there are quite a lot of important vitamins and nutrients missing from everyday meals. Supplementation is a must! You’ll need to make sure you’re getting enough Vitamins C and D, as well as electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium).
Most important, however, are omega 3 supplements. While two omega-3 essential fatty acids called EPA and DHA are found in fish, many foods in the keto diet that are high in omega-3 are also high in omega-6, which has pro-inflammatory effects on the body. Therefore, it is crucial to combat them with a natural anti-inflammatory omega-3 supplement. Since omega-3 also has numerous other health and wellness benefits, it’s important you don’t slack on its supplementation while on keto.
When it comes to exercise, make sure you’re staying hydrated at all times and always be sure to eat pre- and post-workout meals (up to 1 hour before and after working out). Your body is going to need all of the extra energy it can get! The trick here is to avoid exercising on an empty stomach, and some nutritionists even recommend using your pre-workout snack to insert that small amount of carbs the keto diet allows, to give you a boost. Of course, the amount depends on your exercise type and personal goals with the keto diet.
If you’re planning on shedding weight through ketosis, be aware of what the keto diet entails before you start. And, make sure you’ve got the right approach to exercise and supplementation so you don’t hit any roadblocks on your quest for a healthier weight!