What is The Keto Diet? An Introduction for Beginners

The ketogenic diet or keto diet is the general name for low-carb diets that turn the body into a fat-burning machine. While ketogenic diets have many benefits in terms of weight loss, health and performance, they can sometimes have side effects at the beginning stage.

Ketogenic diets are similar to other low-carb diets such as the Atkins diet or LCHF (low-carb, high-fat) because all of these diets have ketogenic properties. The main difference between LCHF (low-fat diets) and ketogenic diets is that protein intake is restricted in ketogenic diets.

Ketogenic diets (Keto Diet) are designed to put the body into ketosis mode. In addition to health and weight loss, it is possible to reach the necessary and sufficient ketone level that the body needs in order to increase physical and mental performance. Whatever your goal is, you can find all the details on how you can apply ketogenic diets below. Also, Read – 5 Ways To Control Cholesterol: Get Rid Of High Cholesterol By Sitting At Home

Introduction: What is ketosis?

The “keto” in the name of the ketogenic diet (Keto Diet) comes from the fact that this diet produces small energy molecules called “ketone” in the body. Ketones are an alternative energy source used when blood sugar, or glucose, is low.

What is ketosis
What is ketosis

Ketones, when you eat very few carbohydrates or small amounts of protein; It is produced in the liver using oil. It is then used as an energy source for all organs of the body, including the brain. Although the brain is an organ that uses a high amount of energy every day, it cannot use fat directly. The energy source for the brain can only be glucose or ketones.

When you follow a ketogenic diet, your whole body changes its energy source and starts using almost exclusively fat. Insulin level drops considerably and fat burning is greatly increased. It is easier for the body to reach fat cells for burning. This is an excellent opportunity to lose weight. Ketogenic diets also have less visible benefits; such as feeling less hungry or providing the body with a stable source of energy.

The mode in which the body produces ketones is called ketosis. The fastest way to enter ketosis mode is to fast, also called fasting; so don’t eat anything. However, it is not possible for you to stay hungry forever.

Ketogenic diets, on the other hand, are viable forever and put the body into ketosis. In other words, when you follow a ketogenic diet, you will not be hungry, although you will have all the advantages of fasting, including weight loss.

Who should not follow the ketogenic diet?

While ketogenic diets are a safe eating plan for most people, some special circumstances may require caution:

  1. Diabetes patients who require insulin or medication,
  2. In people being treated for high blood pressure
  3. In people who are breastfeeding.

What to eat while on a ketogenic diet (Keto Diet)?

In the table below, you can see the foods you can eat while on a ketogenic diet. The numbers in the table show the net carbs per 100 grams.

The most important condition for achieving ketosis is to stop carb consumption. While getting less than 50 grams of net carbs per day is enough to enter ketosis, the ideal figure is 20 grams. The fewer carbohydrates you eat, the more effective your diet will be.

What to eat while on a ketogenic diet

Do not eat:

We can summarize what you should not eat in ketogenic diets as foods rich in starch and sugar, and starchy foods (such as bread, pasta, rice, or potatoes). Because these foods are rich in carbohydrates.

The numbers in the table show the net (digestible) carbohydrate amounts per 100 grams.

When you look at the chart, you can see that in addition to sugary foods, you should completely avoid starchy foods such as bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes. In ketogenic diets, the basic rules of low-carb diets apply, but your diet should be rich in fat, not protein. You can set up your diet so that your body’s energy sources are under 10% carbohydrates (the less, the better), between 15-25% protein (the less, the better), and 70% fats.

What to drink?

So what to drink on a ketogenic diet? Water is a great option, and so are coffee and tea. Of course, ideally, your drinks should be sugar-free. You can consume your tea and coffee with a small amount of milk or cream; You can also have a glass of wine from time to time.

The fewer carbohydrates you eat while following a ketogenic diet, the more your diet will affect your weight and blood sugar. The keto diet is a very strict low-carb diet and is highly effective.

Why a ketogenic diet (Keto Diet)?

The benefits of the ketogenic diet are similar to the benefits of any low-carb diet. However, ketogenic diets are more effective because protein is more restricted. Decreased protein intake increases ketone production and decreases insulin, a fat-storing hormone.

Why a ketogenic diet

Keto Diet Weight loss effect

Of course, ketogenic diets are very effective in losing weight, as they turn your body into a fat-burning machine. While on a ketogenic diet, insulin levels are greatly reduced and fat burning accelerates. Thus, ideal conditions are created for you to lose weight without feeling hungry.

The results of more than 20 scientific studies show that ketogenic diets are more effective than other diets in weight loss.

Type 2 diabetes

Ketogenic diets are also very effective in fighting type 2 diabetes, as they counteract the negative effects of high insulin levels.

Increased ability to focus

In the state of ketosis, there is a regular flow of ketones, or energy, to the brain. Ketogenic diets also eliminate large fluctuations in blood sugar. This often results in increased focus and concentration. This effect of ketosis is the main reason many people go on a ketogenic diet.

According to the common belief, it is necessary to consume carbohydrates in order for the brain to function properly. However, this only applies in a scenario where there are no ketones. Once your body gets used to the ketogenic diet (you may experience loss of concentration, headaches, and restlessness during the acclimation period), the body and brain can now benefit from ketones effortlessly. This will increase your energy and concentration.

Keto Diet Physical performance increase

Ketogenic diets greatly increase your physical endurance, as they provide unlimited access to the energy produced in your body’s fat stores. While the body’s carbohydrate stores in the form of glycogen last for only a few hours during exercise, your fat stores can last for weeks or even months.

When the body is accustomed to burning carbohydrates primarily, your fat stores are not readily available and therefore unable to feed your brain as an energy source. This causes you to have to eat constantly before exercise, during exercise, and after long workouts. Most of the time, you have to eat constantly just to prevent hunger and generate the energy needed for your daily activities.

Keto Diet Physical performance increase

In ketogenic diets, this problem disappears. The body and brain can be fed 24/7 by your powerful fat stores. Provided you take in enough salt and fluids and give your body the time it needs to get used to the ketogenic diet.

Metabolic syndrome

There is a lot of research showing that low-carb diets improve indicators of metabolic syndrome. We can list these indicators as blood lipids, insulin level, HDL, LDL particle size, and fasting sugar. These effects have been observed to be even greater when you are in a state of ketosis by regularly eating low-carb and low-protein diets.

Epilepsy

The ketogenic diet is a proven medical therapy for epilepsy that has been used since the 1920s. It is generally applied to children in cases of epilepsy that cannot be controlled despite treatment.

Ketogenic diets have recently been tested in adults with epilepsy and positive effects have been observed. Many controlled experiments on the subject have shown how effective ketogenic diets are in reducing epileptic attacks.

In the treatment of epilepsy, the ketogenic diet allows patients to take fewer anti-epilepsy drugs while reducing crises. It has also been found that with the ketogenic diet, the crises completely disappeared without the use of drugs. Reducing drug use is important, as all anti-crisis treatments have side effects such as drowsiness, low concentration, personality changes, and lowered IQ.

Benefits of ketogenic diets (Keto Diet)

Ketogenic diets have many benefits besides the ones listed above. For example, did you know that low-carb diets normalize blood pressure, promote less acne formation, and control migraines?

Ketogenic diets and low-carb diets:

  • It relaxes your stomach
  • Balances blood pressure,
  • It reduces the problem of acne,
  • Ketogenic diets reduce stomach inflammation,
  • It reduces migraine attacks,
  • Reduces sweet cravings,
  • Keto Diet is good for polycystic ovary syndrome,
  • It can be used in the treatment of brain cancer.

It is also used in the treatment of common and difficult-to-treat diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and cancer.

Benefits of ketogenic diets
Benefits of ketogenic diets

How do you know if you are in ketosis?

You can tell whether you are in ketosis with a urea, blood, or breath test. Here are some indicators of ketosis that do not require testing:

  • Dry mouth and an increased need to drink water: When you do not drink enough water, you cannot take electrolytes such as salt in the water, so you feel a dry mouth. Make sure to drink enough water.
  • Increase in toilet needs: Acetoacetate, a type of ketone, increases your need for toileting while allowing ketosis to be tested with urine sticks. The increased need for the toilet, especially at the beginning, is one of the main reasons for your thirst.
  • Keto breath:  Keto breath is a condition in which a type of ketone called acetone is created as it exits your mouth through your breath, causing your breath to smell sweet at times.

We can list other positive indicators that will help you understand that you are in ketosis:

  • Decreased hunger: Many people who follow the ketogenic diet report a noticeable decrease in appetite and hunger. This is because the body’s ability to burn fat stores increases during the ketogenic diet. Many people practice a form of intermittent fasting by eating once or twice a day. While this saves both time and money, it also accelerates weight loss.
  • Increase in energy: When you start a ketogenic diet after you get rid of the tiredness called keto flu that can last for a few days, there is a significant increase in your energy level. This can also be felt as an increase in concentration and consciousness.

How do you measure ketosis?

There are 3 different ways to measure ketosis, that is, the ketones in your body:

  1. Urine sticks
  2. Breath ketone analysis
  3. Blood ketone scale

Urine sticks are the easiest and most affordable way to measure ketosis; especially for beginners. To administer the test, dip the swab into your urine and wait for 15 seconds. The subsequent color change will indicate the presence of ketones.

You can find urine sticks at affordable prices in pharmacies. However, urine sticks can be misleading depending on your fluid intake. While these tests don’t show the exact level of ketones in your body, they can also be unreliable as the body accustomed to keto reabsorbs ketones from your urine. Finally, when you have been in ketosis for a long time, there is a chance that the tests will come back negative.

Breath ketone analysis is another effortless way to measure ketone levels. While more expensive than urine sticks, it is cheaper and more reusable in the long run than blood tests. While these tests do not give you a clear ketone level like urine tests, they do show a code color that allows you to understand your overall level. However, breath analysis may not always give reliable results.

The blood test allows you to measure the ketone level in your blood instantly and numerically. Blood tests, which are the clearest way to measure ketones in your body, are unfortunately quite expensive compared to other options. On the other hand, you need to draw blood from your finger in order to do the test.

How to reach optimal ketosis?

The state of being in ketosis is not as clear as black and white; So there is no such thing as whether you are in ketosis or you are not. You may be at different levels of ketosis, depending on your diet.

According to the ketone levels in the blood, we can summarize the state of ketosis as follows:

  • Although below 5mmol/L level is not considered ketosis, the transition to ketosis around 0.2 is considered to have started. However, at this point, your body is not burning fat at the maximum rate.
  • You are in low ketosis at 0.5-1.5 mmol/L . Although this situation affects your weight positively, the body still has not started to burn fat at the maximum level.
  • Around 1.5-3 mmol/L is considered optimal ketosis. At this point, you are at your maximum mental and physical performance. Fat burning is maximized and weight loss is accelerated.
  • While 3 mmol/L and above is not considered essential, its effects can be positive or negative. Sometimes this level can mean that you are not eating enough. While it can be caused by insulin deficiency in people with type 1 diabetes, it may require intervention.
  • 8-10 mmol/L is often a level you can’t reach on a ketogenic diet alone. It could mean something is wrong with your body; Type 1 diabetes can be caused by a lack of insulin. Nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain may be one of the symptoms. It can result in a condition called ketoacidosis that requires intervention. When you encounter such a result, it would be beneficial to see a doctor.

How to eat ketosis?

Here are the different ways to increase your ketosis level, from the most effective to the least effective:

  • Restricting carbohydrate intake: 20 grams or less per day is considered a strict low-carb diet. You don’t need to restrict your fiber intake to achieve ketosis.
  • Reducing protein intake: If possible, adjust your protein intake to 1 gram per kilogram of body weight. Especially if you are overweight, you can aim for 1 gram per kilo you aim to reach. The biggest mistake people make when trying to reach their optimal level of ketosis is often to eat more protein than necessary.
  • Get enough fat to be full. Fat consumption is the biggest difference between ketogenic diets and hunger; Also, fat intake is necessary to reach ketosis. Fats are also the main difference that makes ketogenic diets sustainable and separates them from hunger.
  • Don’t snack when you’re not hungry. Unnecessary snacks slow down weight loss and reduce ketosis.
  • If necessary, do intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is highly effective at increasing ketone levels, as well as accelerating weight loss and recovery from type 2 diabetes.
  • Exercise. Doing any physical activity while on a low-carb diet also increases ketone levels.

Advice on the ketogenic diet

There are many ways to make ketogenic diets easy and enjoyable. So how do you make the keto breakfasts you love? How can you consume more fat? And what should you pay attention to when eating out?

Keto Diet Breakfast

Breakfast is the perfect meal for your ketogenic diet. Because almost all of us love to eat eggs.

Another option might be to just have a cup of coffee for breakfast. Low-carb and high-fat – you may not need breakfast most of the time, as your feeling of hunger will also decrease when following a keto diet.

Keto Diet Eat lunch and dinner

So what to do for lunch and dinner? You can consume it with meat, fish, or chicken, with a sauce rich in saturated fat and plenty of greens.

When eating Keto Diet at the buffet

How can you eat keto at the buffet, at a friend’s house, or at a restaurant? The main point; satiate your plate with natural oils like butter or olive oil, while avoiding starchy foods like bread or pasta.

Bread consumption

If you have trouble not eating bread, you can try low-carb bread recipes that you can find in different sources.

How do you eat more fat?

Fat is the main factor that makes the ketogenic diet satisfying. You can increase your oil consumption by cooking your meals with oil, preparing oily sauces, and adding oily flavors such as cheese or avocado to your recipes.

Caution: One of the most common mistakes made when following a ketogenic diet is to fall into the trap of ready-made “low-carb” products. Remember, an effective ketogenic diet should be based on real foods.

Potential side effects of ketosis

When you suddenly stop taking sugar or starch, you may experience some side effects until your body gets used to it. Although the side effects of the ketogenic diet are usually mild and severe problems that last for a few days, it is possible to reduce these effects.

To reduce the side effects of ketosis, your first option may be to slowly reduce your carb intake day by day. Still, it’s often more effective to quit all at once. Eliminating sugar and starch from your life makes a noticeable difference in your weight even within a few days. Although the initial weight loss is usually edema, it is a good motivation to start.

When you first start a strict Keto diet, you may experience the following side effects:

Keto Flu

By far the most common side effect in people following a Keto Diet is the initial symptoms, also called keto flu. The most common symptoms of keto flu are:

  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Tension

While these symptoms will lessen as your body gets used to the new diet, the effects usually disappear completely within a week. At this stage, fat-burning also accelerates.

The main reason for keto flu is that foods rich in carbohydrates increase edema in the body. When you stop consuming high-carbohydrate foods, you will need to go to the toilet more than usual, as large amounts of water and salt are excreted from your kidneys with edema. This situation, which was felt intensely, especially in the first week, is the main reason for the things we mentioned above.

You can minimize the effects of keto flu by drinking more fluids and salt.

Other issues you may encounter while in ketosis

When you eat ketosis, besides keto flu, you may experience these issues:

  • Leg cramps,
  • Constipation,
  • Bad breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Performance degradation

Just like with keto flu, you can solve these problems by getting more water and salt.

Less common side effects

  • Gout
  • Gallbladder problems
  • Temporary hair loss
  • High cholesterol
  • Decreased alcohol tolerance
  • Itching

Misconceptions about ketogenic diets

When you first start the ketogenic diet, it is possible to encounter the side effects listed above. However, there are many misconceptions and unfounded fears about ketogenic diets; like your brain doesn’t work when you don’t get carbohydrates, and these diets cause kidney or thyroid problems.

Another problem is that ketosis, which occurs when you follow a ketogenic diet, is confused with ketoacidosis, which is a dangerous health condition. While these two are very different things, ketoacidosis is not a condition that can only occur with a ketogenic diet.

Frequently asked questions about Keto Diet

What is the difference between low-carb diets and ketogenic diets?

Ketogenic diets (Keto Diet) are very strict low-carb diets; While it requires the restriction of protein intake, it allows your body to primarily use fat stores.

A properly implemented low-carb diet often results in ketosis. However, ketogenic diets are programs that are more sensitive to ensure positive results. In short, the keto diet; It can be called a fairly strict low-carb diet.

Why couldn’t I get into ketosis?

There may be two main reasons why you cannot enter ketosis: excessive carbohydrate and/or excessive protein consumption. At this point, it is useful to remember that the number of carbohydrates and proteins required to enter and stay in ketosis varies from person to person.

Need a high Keto Diet level to accelerate weight loss?

Both yes and no. Eating fewer carbohydrates, less protein, and intermittent fasting support weight loss as it lowers insulin levels and increases ketone levels.

However, adding extra fat to your diet to increase ketones will not accelerate weight loss. Take an MCT oil supplement or take a ketone supplement. These methods slow down the weight loss process as they will offer different energy sources for your body.

What time of day should one measure Keto Diet levels?

In order to make an accurate comparison, it is useful to measure the Keto Diet level in your body at the same time every day. When starting the day in the morning, measuring before eating anything can be more productive for observing results.

Your morning numbers are the lowest of the day; It is higher in the evening. If higher numbers motivate you, you can also measure in the evening.

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