What Is A Keto Diet?

What Is A Keto Diet is an article was written by Libby Jenkinson, MPS and reviewed by Raphi Sirtoli, MSc.

So many readers ask me “What Is A Keto Diet? How do you start? How strict do you have to be?

This is the complete beginner’s guide.

What is a keto diet? The complete beginner's guide.

What Is A Keto Diet?

Let’s face it, if you have been seeing “Keto Diet” titles, recipes and success stories all over magazine covers, websites and everywhere in between, you may be wanting to try the keto diet for yourself.

So what exactly is the ketogenic diet?  

That is the question on a lot of people’s minds right now as the ketogenic diet is one of the top diets and eating plans of the year.

You may hear that it’s simply a high-fat diet and an extremely low-carb diet. You may have heard you drink bulletproof coffee and eat keto protein bars.

FREE low-carb and keto 5-day meal plan mockup on yellow background

Keto & LCHF Diet Explained

What is the keto diet, keto food pyramid AND free keto shopping list

The ketogenic, or keto diet can be described as a very low-carb and high-fat diet (LCHF).  

You may also find that the keto diet is said to have similarities to other low-carb diets such as Atkins, but the keto diet is formulated quite differently.

With the keto diet, you will be reducing your carbohydrates dramatically and replacing them with healthy fats.

Generally, a keto diet is considered to be:

  • less than 20g net carbohydrates per day
  • high in healthy fats
  • moderate to high protein (1.5 – 2.5 g/kg of lean body mass). In imperial units that’s 0.7 – 1.4 g/lbs of lean body mass)

Read more: The Ultimate Guide To Healthy Fats

What is a keto diet? The complete beginner's guide.

By lowering your carbs to this level, it will put your body into a metabolic state called nutritional ketosis.  This state of nutritional ketosis is what allows your body to become extremely efficient at burning fat.

Ketogenic diets are incredibly successful at producing stable blood sugar levels and therefore reducing insulin demand from the body.

What Is A Keto Diet – Why Low-Carb?

healthy pantry stock

When we eat digestible carbohydrates such as sugar and starch, they are converted into sugars in our bodies.

To keep our blood sugars from rising too high, insulin is required – whether it is produced in our body, or injected by those who cannot produce their own.

Insulin is our fat-storing hormone, acts as a fat-burning switch and helps to regulate our appetite.

Insulin is like the foreman overseeing and signing off on the blood sugar-regulating work carried out by the hormone glucagon, your liver, your fat cells and others.

Eating low carb foods can help stabilize blood sugars and reduce cravings. Fat burning is encouraged.

You will become a fat burner, not a sugar burner.

In addition, chronic high levels of insulin which will eventually lead to insulin resistance and inflammation. 

Why High Fat?

Low-carb and keto pantry guide

By enjoying plenty of healthy fats, you will keep your hunger under control. Healthy fats keep you fuller for longer and supply all the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K that are lacking in so many low-fat diets.

The one factor that is never addressed with calorie counting or low-fat diets, is appetite control. By increasing (but not over-eating) healthy fats, you are satiated for longer.

Low-fat and calorie-controlled diets are not sustainable. Being told to eat less and move more just makes you hungry and irritable.

Ketogenic diets ENJOY the following foods:

Salmoni mage
  • Cheese
  • Nuts and seeds (limited quantities)
  • Eggs
  • Low-starch veggies
  • Healthy fats and oils
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Meats

Ketogenic diets AVOID the following foods:

Bread image
  • Grains and starchy foods
  • Diet foods/fake foods
  • Fruits
  • Root vegetables
  • Beans
  • Sugar, sugary foods and drinks

Why Follow A Keto Diet?

What is a keto diet? The complete beginner's guide.
FREE low-carb and keto 5-day meal plan mockup on yellow background

So what is a keto diet and why do so many people have incredible success with keto?

There are many reasons to follow the keto diet, including, but not limited to:

  • Incredible fast and sustainable weight loss
  • Stable blood sugars for all forms of diabetes – pre-diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2
  • Neurological disorders such as epilepsy and Alzheimer’s
  • Appetite control
  • Reduced cardiovascular risk factors
  • Reduced risk of certain cancers
  • Reduced inflammation caused by a high-carb diet

Living keto or low-carb, helps reduce inflammation and reduce the risk factors of the big 4 – cancer, heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

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Side Effects Of A Keto Diet

What is a keto diet? The complete beginner's guide.

It is, of course, important to speak to your doctor about any major diet or lifestyle changes, especially if you have any underlying health issues.

It is important to remember that while the ketogenic diet is safe and works well for most people, for some, there may be side effects that occur while your body adapts to this new eating style.

These transient keto side effects can present themselves as what some call “keto flu.”

Read more: How to avoid the keto flu

Water jug

Keto flu sufferers usually report an initial sluggishness, lack of focus, headache, digestive distress and other complaints.

These symptoms can often be minimised by slowly transitioning your way into the keto diet.  This can be done by starting with a typical low-carb diet as opposed to jumping straight into keto.

You can also help minimise these symptoms by making sure to stay hydrated and keeping your mineral levels (potassium, sodium and magnesium) at a normal balance.

You can do this by drinking to thirst and increasing your salt intake upwards of 4-5 g in a day, as well as supplement with potassium and magnesium if need be.

You can also drink bone broth.

What Is A Keto Diet – Summary

A ketogenic diet is a great choice for many reasons and has been shown to have numerous health benefits.

Like any eating plan or lifestyle change, you have to stick with it to see results. But for me, I have worked with millions of readers, all of whom tell me this is the easiest and most sustainable way of eating for long term weight loss and improved health.

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