Starting anything new can be a little overwhelming. This article is going to walk you through how to start a keto diet for weight loss and give you some background on keto.
The keto or low carb diet is an effective tool for weight loss. While many people use it for that purpose, more importantly, it will improve many other health conditions as well and losing weight is merely a side effect!
By choosing a low carb diet, you will lower your triglycerides (high levels put you at risk for a stroke), reduce blood sugar and insulin levels, lower your blood pressure and increase the level of good HDL cholesterol (helps remove the bad cholesterol) in your blood.
Keto has also proven to be an anti-angiogenic, anti-inflammatory and pro-apoptotic diet.
So, let’s get going and find out what a low carb diet is, how it works and how to start!
- The Keto or Low Carb Diet
- Insulin Resistant
- Is Keto a Safe Way to Lose Weight
- Ketosis and Ketoacidosis Explained
- What are Ketones
- Keto Side Effects
- What is Keto Breath
- Keto Flu
- Foods Allowed on a Low Carb Diet
- What Foods to Avoid on a Low Carb Diet
- How to Start a Keto or Low Carb Diet
- What is Intermittent Fasting
The Keto or Low Carb Diet
A keto or low carb diet consists of high/moderate protein, high fat and NO sugar – at least for the first few weeks. It is an effective plan to reduce carb intake, lower blood sugar levels and lose weight.
By lowering your carb intake, your body must find a different source of fuel for energy. This diet forces your body to change its metabolism from burning sugar (glucose) to burning fat – STORED FAT – for energy.
According to the CDC, over 100 million adults in the US are living with diabetes or prediabetes today.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body’s blood sugar levels are too high due to the hormone, insulin, being under produced by the pancreas or resisted by cells in the muscles and liver.
Insulin resistance is the body’s ineffective use of insulin at the cellular level. When the cells can’t absorb glucose, sugar builds up in the blood, i.e weight gain, high blood sugar, prediabetes and diabetes.
Is the Keto Diet a Safe Way to Lose Weight?
It just so happens that ketones in a healthy individual can be used as an alternate energy source for the brain and body.
Lowering your carb intake mimics starvation, throwing your body into a NORMAL metabolic state known as ketosis. This forces your metabolism to burn stored fat and your liver and body tissues to produce or secret ketones in the blood.
Once your liver runs out of glycogen, the body converts over to a back-up energy source known as ketones.
The liver produces ketones from processing fatty acids from the foods you eat and the stored fat in your body. Excess ketones are passed in urine.
Ketosis and Ketoacidosis Explained
As stated above, ketosis is a normal metabolic process that occurs when the body doesn’t have enough glucose to burn for energy and instead, will turn to burning stored fats resulting in a build-up of ketones or blood acids within the blood and body tissues.
Ketoacidosis is a serious, diabetic heath condition that happens when your body produces high levels of ketones in the blood and urine from burning fat for energy instead of sugar due to your pancreas not producing enough insulin or your cells not receiving the required amount of insulin.
It can happen if a diabetic allows their blood sugar to get too high for too long. Due to the lack of insulin, your cells can’t use the glucose in your blood for energy, so they turn to using the fat instead.
Burning fat for energy causes ketones in the blood to build up. That mixed with the high glucose can change the chemical balance of your blood and it could become life-threatening.
Can the keto diet cause ketoacidosis? No, not in a healthy person. But, if you are a diabetic and/or are taking prescribed medication for diabetes there is a risk of ketoacidosis. You should always consult with your physician if you have any questions or concerns.
What are Ketones?
Ketones are blood acids that are made up of hydroxybutyrate (BHB), acetoacetate and acetone. They are a product of the liver when burning fat as an alternative fuel source. As the liver releases them into the blood stream your body uses them as fuel.
Keto Diet Side Effects – 3 Most Common
- Constipation – Due to not eating enough fiber and not drinking enough water.
- Great sources of fiber that won’t knock you out of ketosis; almonds, pecans and avocados
- Keto Flu – Occurs when your metabolism changes from burning carbs to burning fat.
- DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
- Start salting your food
- Add a little more fat to your diet during those few days of flu symptoms
- Keto Breath – Fruity-scented breath due to acetone release
- Acetone is one of the components of a ketone
- When a ketone is used for fuel, acetone is released in the urine and breath
What is Keto Breath?
Keto breath is a common side effect of a low carb diet.
A ketone is made up of 3 components, acetone being one. As a ketone is used for energy by the body and ketones are broken down, acetone is released in the urine and breath. The sweet, fruity after effect is keto breath!
While keto will help you lose weight, it can be hard on your liver and make you feel sick. This is commonly known as the “keto flu”.
This flu like condition is not dangerous and usually occurs in the beginning of your keto journey when your body starts using ketones as an energy source rather than sugar.
Although unpleasant, the keto flu is not contagious or dangerous and only lasts for a few days at most.
Symptoms of Keto Flu
- Fatigue and Weakness
- Irritability and Loss of Motivation
- Dizziness and Nausea
- Sugar Cravings
- Muscle Cramps
Foods Allowed on the Keto Diet
The USDA daily recommended allowance for carbs is 225 to 325 grams on a 2000 calorie diet.
If you choose to start the lazy/dirty keto diet, in the first two weeks you should only be taking in 20 – 30 carbs a day. Half of those daily carbs should come from vegetables. This will jumpstart you body into ketosis and you will start losing weight right away.
Carb Friendly Foods
- Meat, Poultry and Seafood
- Low Carb Veggies
- Eggs and Cheese
- Heavy Cream
- Cottage Cheese
What Foods to Avoid on Keto?
After your second week on lazy/dirty keto you can start to introduce natural sugar and dairy back into your diet – in moderation of course.
Anything that contains refined sugar, bread or pasta (unless it’s Low Carb Pasta) should be avoided and eaten only on special occasions.
Avoid these foods
- Starchy Veggies
- Most Fruit
- Whole Grains
- Bean and Lentils
- Most Dairy
How to Start a Keto Diet
There are several variations of keto. Some are used by athletes to get their bodies ready for competition and others are used for therapeutic solutions, such as cancer treatment, autism, acne, sleep disorders, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and pediatric epilepsy.
Instead of listing all the variations of keto, we will assume you are only interested in learning about a low carb diet for weight loss.
To lose weight and keep it off successfully on a low carb diet, the first step is to do your research, set your personal goals for weight loss and begin to incorporate low carbing into your lifestyle.
If you’re a list person, someone that prefers step by step guides to help you stay on track, The 28-Day Keto Challenge may be for you. You could search the internet for weeks on the Keto Diet and still be getting it wrong. Why not just get it right the first time?
As with any diet, consult your physician – especially if you have any underlying health conditions such as diabetes or regularly take prescribed medications – before you began your keto journey.
Low carbing is not a fad diet. It is a healthy lifestyle change to be practiced for the rest of your life. Once you start to see and feel the benefits of being on a low carb diet, you will never go back to eating sugary and carb loaded foods every day.
Lazy or Dirty Keto
If you are new to keto, lazy/dirty keto is the best way to start a low carb diet. There are fewer rules to learn and no macro counting.
To start, just lower your carb intake to 20 – 30 carbs a day. Your diet should consist of 35% protein, 60% fat and 5% carbs.
Vegetables do not count toward your total. Raw or steamed are best. Just stay away from starchy vegetables until you get closer to your weight goal.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day and only eat when you are hungry.
In a couple of weeks you will have to buy a belt!
What is Intermittent Fasting on the Keto Diet?
Intermittent fasting is great for dropping weight fast, especially when paired with a low carb diet.
Fasting causes the insulin levels in your blood to drop and burning of fat to accelerate.
Chances are you have practiced intermittent fasting already! Have you eaten dinner around 7pm and not eaten again until lunchtime the next day? That is intermittent fasting!
Go at least 16 hours with nothing but water…..and you can count the time that you are sleeping.
Couldn’t resist that cheat meal? Try intermittent fasting the next day.
Conclusion – Proven Results
The keto diet works for losing weight! It won’t happen overnight, but you will see results in your first week.
It’s not hard to stay committed to keto. You just have to make better choices to live a healthier life. Once you start to see the weight coming off it completely changes the way you feel about carbs.
The slick food industry is bombarding us with hidden sugars in our food causing an epidemic of insulin resistant diabetes. A low carb diet will help turn the numbers around.
The Keto Diet is Safe
Keto is a safe and effective diet for most healthy adults. Anyone with an underlying health condition should consult their doctor before starting a low carb diet.
Ketosis is a normal metabolic state your body uses to process alternative sources for energy. Ketoacidosis is a serious health condition of diabetics that can be life threatening. While similar, one has nothing to do with the other.
Ketones can be safely used as an alternative to glucose for energy by the body and brain.
While the 3 most common side effects – Constipation, Keto Breath and Keto Flu – of a low carb diet are inconvenient, none are dangerous and most can be avoided by taking extra precautions.
Foods high in protein and fat are allowed on a low carb diet, while foods high in starch or sugar are not.
Lazy/Dirty keto is best for beginners that wish to start a low carb diet. There are fewer rule as not to overwhelm someone new to low carbing and NO counting of macros!
Intermittent fasting combined with a low carb diet is great for shedding those unwanted pounds faster than low carbing alone. Intermittent fasting jumpstarts your body into ketosis even while you sleep!
Thanks for Reading!
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