Intro to the Keto Diet/Lifestyle
I wanted to touch a little on the keto diet for those that are not aware of it and then go in to more details of how I use it on a daily basis and in my training especially for the Ironman triathlon. The keto diet, also known as the ketogenic diet, is characterized for being an extremely low-carb eating plan based on higher-fat foods. Its goal is to get calories from fat than from carbs. In this article, we explain the keto theory, the food allowed in this diet plan, and its benefits as well as the complications that come with the keto diet.
How it works
This diet takes its name from a metabolic state called ketosis. You can reach this state when your carb ingest doesn't exceed 50 grams a day, thus running out of glucose - blood sugar -, the fuel source for your body. When this happens, your liver starts producing small alternative fuel molecules from fat known as ketones. These molecules travel directly to the brain to fill in for the lack of glucose.
When reaching this metabolic state through the keto diet, your whole body switches fuel sources, using fat as the main supply and eventually making your body burn fat all the time. This is a similar metabolic state as the one the body enters when it doesn't receive any food at all, So, ketosis has the same effect as fasting: weight loss.
Depending on your normal diet restrictions, allergies, your weight-loss goals, or which stage of the diet you're on, are the foods that you'll be adding or restricting in your eating plan.
Some of the most keto-friendly foods are fish and seafood, especially fatty fish like salmon and other fish rich in B vitamins, potassium, and selenium while being carb-free. Foods like lobster, crabs, or shrimp are also allowed in a diet for ketosis containing no carbs at all. On the other hand, there are shellfish and other types of seafood that do contain a low amount of carbs, even though they don't surpass 7 grams per serving, those carbs should be taken into account in your daily carb count.
Meat and poultry
Meat, along with seafood is the main protein source in the keto diet. Meat and poultry are foods free of carbs and rich in B vitamins and minerals, they'll help you preserve your muscles during this eating plan process. As the diet for ketosis is not a high-protein regime, meat consumption is regulated as well so that you don't exceed the proteins required.
High-fat dairy products
Most dairy products are allowed in the keto diet. Butter, creams, yogurts, and cheese are good fats for ketosis as they are low in carbs and high in fats and other healthy nutrients. On the other side, milk consumption should be limited as the sugar contained in it can quickly transform into carbs. You can consume milk in small quantities, but the best thing to do is avoid its consumption completely.
Vegetables that grow above the ground are allowed in keto diets. These are the ones that can provide you the right amount of nutrients and fiber that your body needs without the carbs that below-the-ground vegetables contain. Some of the most popular veggies among keto dieters include broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, eggplant, lettuce, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, bell peppers, asparagus, and leafy greens like spinach or kale.
Healthy fat and oils
In the keto diet, certain fat and oils are necessary for your body to get all the necessary nutrients to keep your energy up. Coconut oil, avocado oil, ghee butter, MCT oil, olive oil, or red palm oil will help you prepare more savory meals. Use them to fry your meat or your veggies and you'll be eating with all the flavor that you like, you won't even remember that the meals are for a diet.
Some nuts are known for containing a certain amount of carbs, so they should be consumed with moderation. The ones allowed in the keto diet are macadamia or pecan nuts, while nuts like cashews are forbidden.
Most fruits are restricted during the keto diet because of the high amount of sugar and carbs they contain. Berries, including all their variations - strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc. -, are one of the lowest-carb fruits you can find, thus being allowed in this regime.
Even though they're allowed in the diet, you should control the amount ingested, as one cup of berries may contain as many carbs as the ones you're allowed to eat in a day.
The keto diet is associated with weight loss, so naturally, its top benefit is how it helps people reach a certain number on the scale. But that's not the only good thing about this regime, keto regimes are also used to reduce the risk of chronic diseases including cancer and heart problems, there are even studies that suggest keto diets can prevent Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. It can also protect brain function, reduce seizures, and reduce the usage of diabetic medicines.
Keto diet it's proven successful in the past by benefiting people with all the advantages listed above. It's been gaining popularity over the past years and its positive results are making it more attractive for people.
A keto diet is a short term plan that has the main goal of losing weight, it's not a regime that people follow for its health benefits. It's important to work by the hand of an expert during the whole keto dieting process as getting into an eating plan of the sort deprives your organism from certain basic nutrients. It's key to monitor your nutrients during this journey and if needed take the supplements and vitamins that your body requires to stay healthy and not have further complications.
Human bodies are not prepared for a transition of the sort so it takes time for it to adjust completely to the new diet plan. While this happens, usually it takes a couple of days or a week, some people tend to experience flu-like symptoms. This phase is known as the keto flu. It comes with headaches, fatigue, constipation, dizziness, cramps, nausea, irritability, or insomnia. They are completely normal at the beginning of the diet. While waiting for them to pass, you must keep your body hydrated and well-rested.
I host a podcast called "Active Endeavours" where we talk about the daily rigors of life and how we deal with them. We can't wait to release our most recent podcastl about the keto diet with our guest Joseph Pascua. I will post a link and share on the blog once it is released :)