If you have no clue what Ketogenic means, this “Keto Diet Explained…” article is made for you.
The keto diet is one of the most efficient scientifically proven regimens you can be advised to follow nowadays.
Indeed, whereas we have been striving to get rid of the fat-rich foods in our plates, it appears our belly fat partner-in-crime is more carbs than fatty acids.
So now, you may come to think, what’s all this hype around the keto diet? And more importantly, does it actually work?
In this article I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to get started with your new world-class fat-burning diet. So, without further due, let’s dive into it.
What is a keto diet?
A keto or ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that can help you burn fat more effectively. To give you a big picture, a normal diet is broken down as follows:
- 15-20% protein
- 20-30% fat
- 50-65% carbs
On the flip side, below how a standard ketogenic diet (SKD) is split:
- 20-25% protein
- 75% fat
- 5% carbs
This split is the standard one. You’ll find other declinations of this one just down below and in other articles, but I have to say that I’m rather a fierce proponent the standard method since it’s the only scientifically proven as working.
Here are the different versions of the keto diet you may find across the web:
- Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD): In this one you’ll cycle on and off your carb intakes. For instance, you may go for 6 ketogenic days followed by 1 cheat day.
- Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): In this one, you’ll implement carbs in your pre/post workout meals or shakes.
- High-protein ketogenic diet: In this one you increase your amount of protein. A split may be like 30% protein, 60% fat, 10% carbs.
The list goes on, but since we’re in a fitness centered article, I just talked about the few that are most often used in the frame of bodybuilding.
The “keto” in a ketogenic diet comes from the fact that it
allows the body to produce small fuel molecules called “ketones”. This is an
alternative energy source for the body, used when blood sugar (glucose) is in
The liver produces ketones from fat and certain amino acids. These ketones then serve as an energy source throughout the body, especially for the brain.
On a ketogenic diet, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run mostly on fat, burning fat 24-7. When insulin levels become very low, fat burning can increase dramatically. It becomes easier to access your fat stores to burn them off.
So, to sum up, ketones are the body carbs substitutes and are generated from fatty acids and some amino acids. The ketones generation and release trigger occur when the blood has been low in sugar for a long period of time.
Why you potentially don’t store fat eating fat?
Eating fat won’t necessarily make you store more fat in adipose tissue. Indeed, the process is a bit more complex than that, and to understand it you must get a grasp of what actually a lipid aka “body fat” is made of.
In the body, fat is stored as what is called “triglyceride”. This molecule is composed of two parts:
- One called glycerol which is a derivative of sugar.
- The second part is made of three fatty acids.
Simply put, if you mix carbs and fat in your food, you give your organism all the material to potentially build body fat…
The benefits of a keto diet
The main reason why people follow the path of a keto diet is because of its efficiency to burn fat. Prevent the organism to have access to carbs begets an insulin drop – the carbs and fat storing hormone, among other things.
Doing so, fat burning is significantly increased since the body is in need for food and then left with no other alternative but picking in its stock. So, the organism will first use the carbs it stored in the muscles and liver – what is called glycogen.
But more or less fast, the body will miss this glycogen and will have to find an alternative fuel to keep functioning properly. This is when the fatty acids come into play.
Fats and proteins are the two longest macronutrients to digest. Indeed, they first have to be broken down into respectively fatty acids and amino acids. Then those simple molecules or acids can pass the intestine wall.
This process of decomplexifying food and then sucking it can take up to 6 hours sometimes more. That means during all this digestion time you won’t feel hungry, unless you have a hormonal disorder for example those dealing with binge eating.
Since keto diet meals are usually not composed of processed food, the digestive system achieves its work more easily and disposes less residue. This results in a calmer stomach, you’ll get less gas, cramps and pains.
keto diet: The does
I’m not keen of doing things halfway. I know that nothing is either black or white, but as I told you earlier, I’m following scientific evidence, so the does are related to the standard keto diet.
Keep your carbs low, at about 5 digestible grams per day – to be
honest it’s hard. When I say digestible, I mean fibers don’t have to be
restricted as they are not carbs. It might even be a good complement to ketosis
since it will enhance digestion.
Your protein intakes must comply with your requirements but don’t substitute carbs for proteins. You should aim to eat the protein you need, that’s it. This is because excess protein may be converted to glucose in the body, reducing ketosis.
Eat healthy-fat food, in other words, non-processed food containing a high quantity of fat, notably essential fatty acids: omega 3, 6 and 9. This is the big difference between a keto diet and deprivation, that also results in ketosis. A keto diet is sustainable, but starvation is not.
Here’s a list of food you should aim for when in a keto:
- Meat: Red meat, chicken, turkey, steak, ham, sausage, bacon…
- Fish: Salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel…
- Eggs: any, but omega-3 whole eggs are best. If you kill 10 eggs in a row, don’t eat all the yolks…
- Cheese: Unprocessed cheese like cheddar or mozzarella. (Not my cup of tea personally)
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, … Eat them raw, not processed in oil, salt or any other condiment.
- Oils: olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil… Try not to heat oil because it denatures it and convert part of the healthy fats that it contains in less healthy ones called trans-fat.
- Avocados: they are a must.
- Low-carb veggies: Most green veggies, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.
- Condiments: You can use salt, pepper and various healthy herbs and spices.
keto diet: the don’ts
Here’s what you should avoid on a keto diet – carb foods containing a lot of sugar and starch. This includes starchy foods like bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. These foods are very high in carbs. Also avoid processed foods.
Here is a list of foods that need to be reduced or eliminated on a ketogenic diet:
- Sugary foods: Soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.
- Grains or starches: Wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.
- Fruit: All fruit, except small portions of berries like strawberries.
- Beans or legumes: Peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc. Root vegetables and tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
- Low-fat or diet products: These are highly processed and often high in carbs.
- Some condiments or sauces: These often contain sugar and unhealthy fat.
- Unhealthy fats: Limit your intake of processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
- Alcohol: Due to their carb content, many alcoholic beverages can throw you out of ketosis.
- Sugar-free diet foods: These are often high in sugar alcohols, which can affect ketone levels in some cases. These foods also tend to be highly processed.
How to get started with a keto diet?
Once again the diet is high in fat, and moderately high in protein, since protein excess may be converted to sugar in the body. Avoid low-fat diet products as you on one hand it may contains more carbs to compensate, and on the other hand you’ll have to more food which may beget some digestion discomfort.
The standard is about 5% calories from carbohydrates (the fewer carbs, the better), 15-25% from protein, and around of 75% fat.
The most important thing for reaching ketosis is to avoid eating too many carbs. You’ll probably need to keep carb intake under 30 grams per day of net carbs, meaning without taking into account fibers. The fewer carbs, the more effective it appears to be for reaching ketosis and then losing weight.
If possible, stay at about 1.5 gram of protein per day, per kg of body weight if you’re in muscle maintenance phase, and about 2 to 2.2g of protein per kg per day if you’re bulking or cutting.
If you’re a competitor or model
If you’re making money out of your physique, you may want to be more accurate to get aesthetically as perfect as possible. In that case here how to do a custom diet
- Calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): this is the number of calories you would use if you slept all day.
- Calculate your Physical Activity Level (PAL): this is a coefficient applied to the BMR to give you the number of calories you usually consume in a day.
- Calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE): TDEE = BMR + PAL.
For more details, check out my article on how to calculate your daily intakes.
Example of Keto meals: What a keto looks like
I know it was a long journey so far, but this the part where you are going to like me again. I crafted a whole (FREE) fitness plan containing a workout routine, some supplement guidance, and a keto diet based one day diet plan containing less than 30g of carbs.
So, download the fitness plan and if you ever try it, I’ll be thrilled to read your feedback.
If you want more keto diet recipe ideas, check out allrecipe.com, there’s an enormous bundle of meals you can customize out there. I’m sure there are other great cooking sites, but this one is pretty straightforward and give you everything you want at a glance: ingredients, preparation, tips, calories and so on…
Type of workout in a keto diet
When you’re on a keto diet you’re not filling your muscles with what they need most: carbs. Indeed, carbohydrates are your body’s fuel when it comes to short-term high intensity training.
On the flipside, other types of workouts better fit a keto diet. So, what are those types of workout?
First you have what’s called aerobic workouts that are low intensity and long-lasting sessions. In this box you can put up to 140 BPM cardio sittings, or 15-20 reps weightlifting exercises.
Then you’ll find flexibility and stability workouts like Yoga or Pilates which are really good joint health, muscle range of motion, among other benefits.
Now, if you’re a woman who want to keep her muscles toned while losing weight, that’s fine cause you can start off lifting some weights, staying in the range of 15 to 20 reps, and then go hit the cardio sticking to 120-140 BPM.
But if you’re bulk guy wanting to get shredded while preserving the hardly gained lean mass you have, then you’ll be left with no other choice but taking in some carbs. Which is adverse to a keto diet.
Fortunately for you, there are multiple type of keto diet as mentioned earlier above. You just have to implement some carbs around your workout. Kick off with 20g before and after and increase gradually if needed to find the amount that best suits you.
This will allow to lift heavy and stimulate your muscle to keep their lean mass.
Potential side effects of a ketogenic diet
Keto flu Most people who start a ketogenic diet will experience some symptoms of the “keto flu“. This is what you may feel, more or less, a few days after you’ve started a keto diet:
- Light nausea
- Difficulty focusing (“brain fog”)
- Lack of motivation Irritability
These initial symptoms usually disappear within a week, as your body adapts to increased fat burning. The main reason is carbs begets a higher water retention in the body, which is beneficial because it keeps your body hydrated more easily.
When you start a low-carb diet -not only a keto one – much of this excess fluid is lost as well as some salt. Doing so, you may notice increased urination. This can result in dehydration and a lack of salt, before your body adapts.
This appears to be the reason behind most of the symptoms of the keto flu. You can reduce or even eliminate these symptoms by making sure you get enough water and salt.
Well, I hope this keto diet article was good food for thought. If you want to get in touch, hit me on socials or via email on the “about” page. And don’t forget, if you give a shot to my free fitness plan let me know what you think. This is the only way for me improve my content, and more importantly give you the info you need to achieve your own goals! See you!