Are you looking to start a keto journey? Check out our ultimate guide for keto beginners.
The ketogenic diet is a way of eating that restricts carbohydrates and increases the intake of fats. Essentially, this can signal the body to gradually switch primary energy sources from glucose to ketone bodies.
- Restrict carbohydrate intake between 20g to 50g per day. This means on a keto diet avoiding sugary foods completely. Also, starchy foods such as bread, pasta, rice and potatoes.
- An ideal ratio of macronutrients in a balanced keto diet would be roughly 5% carbohydrates, 15-25% protein and 75% fats. A lot of people eat far too much protein in ketosis. Protein also breaks down into glucose and gets used as energy i.e kicking you out of ketosis.
EAT MORE OF THESE FOODS:
- A balanced keto diet is very high in vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables. Other keto vegetables include – avocado, asparagus, zucchini, eggplant, olives, mushrooms, cucumber, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes.
- It also includes a good amount of meat, fish, eggs and some full fat dairy such as cheeses.
- It can also be useful to add fat in the form of mct oil, coconut oil or butter into your coffee. The combination of coffee along with fats, has a stimulatory effect which can help drive the body into ketosis.
- Snack on high fat / low carb nuts such as Brazil nuts, macadamias, or pepitas. This can help to suppress hunger and provide your body with energy.
- Include fats like olive oil, grass fed butter, ghee, coconut oil, and mct oil. Also try oils with a good omega 3-6 ratio such as, flax seed oil, hemp seed oil and fish oil.
FOODS TO AVOID:
- Try to avoid vegetable oils such as sunflower oil, canola oil, and soybean oil. These can have a very high ratio of omega 6 fatty acids, which have been shown to increase inflammatory markers.
- Avoid high carbohydrate foods such as sugar, grains, beer and fruit, along with starchy vegetables, like potatoes.
Your body takes time to become keto or fat adapted when switching what you eat. A lot of people are put off by the keto diet as they have attempted it and have not made it past their adaptation period. This is not surprising as adverse symptoms can occur in the adaptation period such as, fatigue, weakness, brain fog, muscle cramps, irritability and nausea.
Every person is different, but these symptoms normally subside within a week to 10 days. People will then generally start to feel the positive effects such as, increased mental clarity, stamina and vitality and decreased hunger and food cravings.
TO HELP GET OVER THE FIRST WEEK OF CARBOHYDRATE CRAVINGS AND TO HELP YOUR BODY GO INTO KETOSIS:
- Eat lots of fat and fibre
- Drink lots of water and increase salt intake. Add some salt to your water when in keto. Some electrolytes in muscles are lost due to the lack of carbohydrates as carbohydrates take water into cells.
- Don’t overtrain during adaptation period. Medium to low intensity exercise is the best during your adaption as your body isn’t use to using fat as an energy source. Over-training and using all your stored energy may worsen the side effects.
Some athletes that engage in a lot of physical activity find that their ketosis is stable if they eat more than 50g of carbohydrate per day. My recommendation is the best time to eat carbohydrates is directly after a hard workout. Your cells can more readily absorb carbohydrates at this time.
Whether you maintain a strictly keto diet long term, or switch in and out, it seems the more often your body goes into ketosis the better it becomes at going into ketosis and using fat as energy. This increased ability to switch between energy sources fast and efficiently seems to be beneficial regardless.
Remember, it is important to consult your doctor or naturopath before beginning a keto diet to ensure you are meeting all your dietary needs.
By Joshua Gaudry ~ Food Scientist