Are you thinking about going on a low-carb diet? It’s a significant lifestyle change, that’s for sure, but it’s one that could lead to some incredible and healthy results! One low carb diet, in particular, called the ketogenic diet — a high-fat and very low-carb eating plan — can be challenging to start. For most people, it’s quite the switch from what many eat now (an American diet is typically high in carbs and processed foods). However, people are trying the keto diet, which we get into in the Body Reboot book because it transforms the body from being a carb-burner to a fat-burner, which can to many positive results from weight loss to experiencing less body inflammation. If you’d like to prepare yourself before going on the keto diet, it’s important to stock your fridge and get yourself ready mentally for the big change. Here are some tips to get you started before you start your amazing keto journey.
Firstly, we thought we’d give you a broad overview of what the keto diet is all about according to LowCarb Yum.
The ketogenic diet originally started as a way to control seizures. About 100 years ago, researchers discovered if you deprive the body of glucose from carbohydrates, the brain’s electrical signals relax. And it turns out that when the body uses ketone bodies (ketones) for energy instead of glucose from carbs, you can burn body fat more efficiently.
When you’re burning your own body fat by limiting carbs, your body is in a state of “ketosis.” Ketosis is great because not only can burn bodyfat more efficiently, ketones will reduce your appetite.
But to get into ketosis takes discipline. Within the keto diet, there are a few different options. As a general rule though, keto allows for only 20-30 grams of net carbs per day or 50 grams of total carbs. (Net carbs is grams of carbs minus fiber and/or sugar alcohols.)
On a keto diet, about 70-75% of your calories comes from fat. About 20% from protein and only 5% from carbs.
Before starting the keto diet, you should analyze your relationship with fat. If you’re having a hard time making fat “your friend” perhaps you should read more studies that argue that a high-fat diet has better weight loss results as opposed to a high protein diet, for example. Plus, cutting carbs has massive benefits as well! Everyday Health explains further why it’s vital to understand your relationship with fat:
“People are afraid of fat because they’ve been told that it’ll kill them,” says Mancinelli. To prepare for a high-fat diet, which can be uncomfortable at first, start making small adjustments to what you eat every day, she suggests, like ordering a burger on lettuce leaves and subbing green veggies for fries.
Instead of potatoes or rice with your meal, opt for a nonstarchy veggie. Start cooking with more oil. Realize that old dieting habits — like making a plain skinless grilled chicken breast — just don't make sense on a keto diet because you won’t get enough fat.
“Slowly start pushing out carbs and getting in fat. If you’re afraid of fat, a ketogenic diet won’t work for you,” she says.
Ben Greenfield Fitness says if you’re going to be on keto you must get rid of processed foods. If you've been eating processed foods most of your life, it may be challenging to cut them out at first, but once you start doing it regularly over time, it should become a habit. Soon your body will be craving healthy, non-processed foods and you’ll wonder who was that person?!
I mentioned this in my last article that typical “low carbohydrate” meal replacement bars and shakes, ice creams or ice cream sandwiches, and other low carb or sugar-free snacks often contain potentially unhealthy ingredients like maltitol, and are chock full of preservatives and highly processed ingredients. If your low carbohydrate diet involves boxed, wrapped and packaged food, it probably falls into this category.
Get this through your head – whether a food is low carbohydrate or not, if it is something you see advertised on TV, magazines, or newspapers you probably shouldn’t eat it. If it’s something you can easily recognize and identify where it grew and how it got to your plate, it probably is OK to eat.
This means that avocados are cool. Guacamole from your grocery store that has (and this is a popular brand):
Skim Milk, Soybean Oil, Tomatoes, Water, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Coconut Oil, Safflower and/or Corn Oil), Eggs, Distilled Vinegar, Avocado Pulp, Onions, Salt, Nonfat Dry Milk, Egg Yolks, Lactic Acid, Sugar, Whey, Sodium Caseinate, Mono and Diglycerides, Gelatin, Soy Protein Isolate, Xanthan Gum, Corn Starch, Guar Gum, Mustard Flour, Black Pepper, Red Chili Pepper, Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Benzoate (Added to Retard Spoilage), Coriander, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Cellulose Gel, Cellulose Gum, Locust Bean Gum, Disodium Phosphate, Cilantro, Gum Arabic, Extractives of Garlic and Black Pepper, Paprika Oil, Oregano, Thyme, Bay Leaf, Calcium Chloride, Citric Acid, Dextrose, Artificial Color (FD&C Blue No. 1, FD&C Red No. 40, FD&C Yellow No. 5, FD&C Yellow No. 6).
is not cool. This is just one example, but I think it gives you a pretty good idea of what I’m getting at. Eat real food – not processed crap.
VeryWell Fit recommends tracking your symptoms when you go on your low carb diet. This will help you stay in tune with your body and figure out what you need to tweak. For example, some people can’t handle cutting down their carb intake to 20 grams a day right away. Slowly tapering down your carb intake may be a better fit for you. See how your body reacts and go from there.
It's a very good idea to keep track of symptoms you may have that often respond to a reduction in carbohydrate. You might just write a few paragraphs about your symptoms before starting your diet so that you will remember. It's very common for memory to fade about things like this. Also, any gastrointestinal symptoms are good to note More than one person has serendipitously found out about food allergies or sensitivities when changing their diet.
Things to pay attention to include energy level, mood, ability to concentrate, heartburn and other GI symptoms, allergy symptoms, compulsive eating, joint or muscle pain, PMS symptoms, acne and other skin problems, and headaches.
Have you heard of the keto flu? Low Carb Yum provides a great overview of this beastly flu and what you can do to cope. Also, if you drink plenty of water and electrolytes hopefully you can prevent the keto diet from happening altogether.
After the first two weeks of the induction/diving-in-the-deep-end phase, you’ll likely experience noticeable outcomes. Your pants might feel looser.
However, the first few days may be rough. This is especially true if you’re eating a high-carb diet right before you go low carb. When you deprive your body of carbs, your gut is going to signal to your brain that you need more carbs. (“Feed me, feed me!”)
And more problematic, when you start burning ketone bodies (fatty acids) for fuel, your body goes into a state of shock. Switching the major fuel source from carbs to dietary fat can produce what’s known as low carb or keto flu.
If you have a few days off from work and you can just hang around the house, having a mild case of keto flu can be tolerable. But if you have a stressful job and need to be on top of your game, the diving in the deep end approach will be more challenging.
There’s also things you can do to make the flu-like symptoms less severe. Drinking homemade bone broth helps and so does increasing electrolytes.
If you work out a lot, you may want to do some occasional carb loading, which is speculative in the keto world. However, Ben Greenfield Fitness says if you are going to eat carbs before or after an intense workout, it’s essential to time your carbohydrate consumption wisely.
This one is a biggie, so we’ll start with it. One of the main reasons for eating a low carbohydrate diet is because your blood sugar levels stay far more stabilized. But there is a time that you can consume carbohydrate without causing your blood sugar levels to go on a roller coaster ride – and that time is immediately before, during, or after exercise.
So if you are on a low carbohydrate diet, I highly recommend carbohydrate intake for exercise sessions that are 1) intense; 2) involve weight training; 3) are longer than 2 hours in duration.
Although many folks use this as an excuse to eat more carbs than they should there is certainly truth to the fact that “fat burns in the flame of carbohydrate” – meaning if you are constantly carb depleted due to zero calories of glucose intake, you can shut down your body’s natural fat burning capabilities. So if you’re planning on exercising, try get at least 500-600 calories of carbohydrate per day, and eat them before, during or after your exercise session if you want them to not affect your blood sugars levels in a potentially damaging way.
Are you ready to get going on the keto diet? Many people are transforming their way of living and in the process are losing tons of weight! We want to help you do the same. For a free copy of the Body Reboot book help us cover the cost of shipping, and we’ll send it your way. Visit this page and see if there are any copies left.
Sources: VeryWell Fit, Low Carb Yum, Ben Greenfield Fitness, Everyday Health
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