So I realized the other day that I've been posting Keto recipes like crazy since I started this blog, but I've never explained to you what a ketogenic diet is exactly. I've decided to run a 3 part series to cover the basics of a ketogenic diet and hopefully answer some of your questions!
In this post I will give you a quick summary of a ketogenic diet, go over some of the benefits, plus I will explain how I personally eat. So, if you are considering keto, are new to this way of eating or just want to know why in the world everyone is buttering their coffee these days - then read on. This is the series for you!
*Please note that I am not a doctor and the information in this post should in in no way be taken as medical advice. You should always consult with your physician before starting any new nutrition or fitness program.
In a tiny nutshell a ketogenic diet (AKA keto, LCHF, low carb high fat) is a way of eating that forces the body to burn fat for energy. Carbohydrates are kept super low (generally less then 20 net carbs per day), protein is kept adequate (but not high) and fat is used to fill in the rest of your caloric needs.
When you eat any form of carbohydrate - whether it be a snickers bar or a slice of whole wheat toast, your body turns it to glucose (sugar). For most people, glucose is the primary source of energy. When you are eating a traditional, non-keto, diet - you are burning glucose for energy. Any excess glucose is converted into body fat and stored for later use (unfortunately most of us never get around to using that "extra" fat).
When you significantly cut back on carbs (ala a keto diet) your body is depleted of glucose and must create another source of fuel. It does this by turning fat molecules into ketone bodies! Thus entering a state of ketosis 🙂
Your body is perfectly capable of running on ketones and, several studies actually show that this is the preferred fuel for the heart, muscles and particularly the brain.
In fact, Potential benefits from a ketogenic diet include:
- Normalized appetite and hunger. I have personally noticed that I am much more in touch with my hunger. When I am truly hungry, I want to eat - and when I'm not hungry, I don't. This sounds simple, but if you have been eating a typical diet that's higher in carbs, you have likely experienced the HANGRY - that feeling when your blood sugar drops - and you need. to . eat. right. now. or. you. might die. This is not a fun feeling (for you or those around you!) and often leads to poor food choices and eating in excess.
- Mental clarity and focus - This is another HUGE benefit for me personally. I am a mom and thus a multi-tasker. It's part of the gig and I accept that, but I don't thrive doing a million things at once. Something inevitably falls through the cracks. On a ketogenic diet, I feel so much more capable. I am more creative, more driven and actually FINISH projects instead of just starting them.
- More restful sleep - Thanks to a 3 year old who STILL doesn't sleep through the night I haven't felt this benefit fully 🙁 I do however, notice that I fall asleep MUCH faster and wake up easier most mornings. Since I am FAR from a morning person this is a HUGE win in my books!
- Stabilized blood sugar, and normalized insulin sensitivity. During my last pregnancy, I developed hypoglycemia, and unfortunately it never completely went away. That is, until I started keto! *if you are being treated for hypoglycemia or diabetes, It is especially important that you work with your doctor when changing your diet as some of your medications may need to be adjusted!
- Decreased inflammation - I never suffered with obvious inflammation, so I haven;t noticed this too much personally. Although, I do feel better and have far less bloating then ever before.
- Feeling happier and less stressed - When your blood sugar normalizes and you become more focused and better rested, it only makes sense that you will be a happier human 🙂
- Clearer skin - This has been HUGE for me. I have been an adult acne sufferer despite trying every product and skin treatment out there. Cutting the carbs has had a bigger impact on my skin then anything else I've tried. I still get one or two pimples around my cycle, but otherwise my skin is clear for the first time I can remember.
How do I personally eat KETO?
Ketogenic diets are different for everyone. There is no one rule book for eating a ketogenic diet. This is one of the reasons I love it so much, but in the beginning it can be tricky to get the hang of. I LOVE that it has forced me to think for myself instead of just blindly following a set system.
What I have found works best for me, is doing a combination of lazy keto and IIFYM (if it fits your macros) keto. Lazy keto just means that I don't always track every macro, I just make sure that my carbs stay below about 30g net carbs (net carbs = total carbs - fiber - sugar alcohols). This is usually how I eat when I am travelling or eating out - OR when I am having a "cheat day" (or during shark week 🙂 )
IIFYM keto, is how I eat 99% of the time. It just means that I have a target amount of fat, protein and carbs that I can eat each day, as well as a caloric maximum. I will eat pretty much anything as long as I can fit in into my macros. If I want to use my 30ish carbs on a bite of a donut, I could --- I don't, but I totally could!
Many people will have a set list of foods that they say "are not allowed on keto" but I say it's pretty much all allowed, as long as you keep those carbs low.
The most important thing, when you are following keto, or any diet for that matter, is figuring out how foods make you feel. If something makes you feel bloated, or just icky, then that's a great sign that you shouldn't be eating it. We have all been so programmed to just blindly follow "the rules" without much thought or attempts to determine what is best for us as individuals.
Below are some books and podcasts that I HIGHLY recommend if you want to learn more about a ketogenic diet. Just remember what I said, there is no ONE rule book for eating keto, even among the experts opinions vary. So educate yourself and figure out what works best for YOU!
These books are all great references! If you are like me and prefer audio books then you can use THIS LINK to get 3 FREE audio books with an audible free trial!
Podcasts to check out:
Keto for normies:
Livin' La Vida Low Carb
The Keto Diet Podcast