The ketogenic diet is confusing. That confusion has sparked a growing craze in the diet by all kinds of zealots and gurus that preach the Holy Gospel according to Keto.
Here's what it was originally intended for.
The classical keto diet is a diet that is 90% fat. This is actually not feasible and not recommended unless you are receiving help from a medical professional. It was used to treat children with epilepsy.
The keto diet that your roommate is doing is probably somewhere around 60-75% fat and has been shown to help fat loss and boost energy levels. Although an analysis of the research has shown no super special metabolic advantage of diets high in fat. It simply tricks you into eating fewer calories, that's the common factor of all diets that work.
When you eat this much fat and less than 50 grams of carbs a day, your body creates an alternative fuel source called ketones.
The whole point of the diet is to get yourself to the point in which your body is running off of ketones rather than glucose, which is its normal form of fuel. This is where the disease-fighting benefits come from and where some claim that the real benefit of the ketogenic diet comes from. But it isn't easy to get to a state of ketosis. Here's some guidance to help you actually get there so you can test the suggested benefits for yourself.
To do keto right, you need to test
Ketosis is like an exclusive hipster nightclub. If you don't pass the test, you aren't getting in...
How do you know if you're running off of ketones for fuel? There are some signs that will help you. These include:
- Experiencing the Keto flu
- Having bad breath
- Being extremely thirsty
But none of those things are a guarantee that your body is in a state of ketosis. You may just be a sick person with bad breath that is constantly neglecting their hydration requirements.
In order to know if you are actually in ketosis, you need to test your blood, urine, or breath with a device that is calibrated to do just that.
Otherwise, you may just be on a low-carb diet and not running on ketones. This would mean that you have little glucose in your system, since you get it from carbs, and you have no ketones in your system. This is a recipe for low performance and low energy.
Calories still count
So many people fall for the lie that "calories don't count" on a keto diet. The mythology falls in line with the carbohydrate-insulin model of obesity, which has been basically completely disproven.
You may have heard a false correlation like this:
Insulin stores fat → if you don't produce insulin, you won't get fat.
Since carbs cause insulin to be secreted, the thinking is that if you don't eat them, your body can't store fat. This is very misleading and not even close to the full story of fat storage.
This is a very scientifically deep topic, so I'll just sum it up like this.
There is NO process in the body that is 100% attributable to one process or substance alone.When you are on a keto diet, you can eat too much. If your goal is to lose some fat or maintain your current weight, it is in your best interest to count and measure what you're eating.
Some keto-friendly foods you can find on base
Learn to love these small, fatty fish. They will help you bring some variety into the keto diet.
If you are ready to test daily that you're in ketosis and ensure that you are meeting your macronutrient ratios for the day, then you may be ready to start picking out the foods you will eat.
This is where the ketogenic diet thrives actually and how most people are able to achieve fat loss on the diet. Because it is so restrictive, it is quite easy to pick the foods you should eat.
Here is a list of some foods you could find even in the seven-day store on base.
- Sardines in oil (the fattier, the better)
- Nuts and nut butters
- Any keto approved snack bars like products by Ketobrownie
- Smoked salmon jerky (ensure it is fatty and not lean)
- Butter (don't eat a stick of butter though, that's gross)
- Fatty cheeses
- Egg yolks (the whites are okay as long as you don't exceed your protein intake)
Butter? Yep. Coffee? Sure! Cookies? No Friggin' Way!
That's pretty much it. Most keto diets consist of lots of fatty meat and plenty of butter. Avocados are a staple; if you don't like them, keto is not for you.
In addition, most keto diets have you eating close to 50 g of carbs a day. These should come from fruits and vegetables, not rice or bread. You need the micronutrients from these foods, or you run the risk of getting weird diseases like scurvy, as if you're some dirty pirate circa 1632.
Just to hammer home the types of things you shouldn't be eating on a keto diet, here's a short list. Be prepared to say goodbye to all the good junk foods…
- Basically all snack chips
- Large quantities of fruit
- Ice cream (unless it is minimally sugared and just high in fat)
- Energy drinks with real sugar
- Salad dressing
- All grains
To sum everything up, keto may be perfect for you if you:
- Want to test your blood or pee on a stick every day
- Enjoy counting your macros to ensure you don't overeat on the wrong things
- You hate all things delicious