The Keto Diet – Everything You Need to Know and Foods to Keep You in Ketosis
The ketogenic diet, better known as the keto diet, is one of the most popular ways to lose weight today. Keto is a high-fat, moderate-protein, very low-carbohydrate diet, like a turbocharged Atkins diet. It’s not the easiest diet to follow, for reasons we’ll soon get into, but it can be a safe way to shed belly fat and feel healthy.
We asked the Product Director of Bulk Powders Supplements if the keto diet is safe and how to get started with keto. Given that Bulk Powders makes specific keto supplements, he was understandably quite interested. But should YOU try the keto diet?
Looking at all the before and after photos, we were interested and even intrigued to learn more about the keto diet. Many people claim to have lost weight by following this strict diet, seeing results sooner rather than later. Could this be true? Is there really a magic pill that will melt the fat off your body while you’re eating lots of fat? Can you get in shape while using this method to get lean?
First, you may also want to check out some potential side effects of the keto diet. While there will certainly be no carbs before Marbs, whatever that means, there will be a fair amount of protein and a whole lot of healthy fats, and that’s something your digestive system may need some time to adjust to.
We asked Simon Jurkiw, who is not only the Product Director of Bulk Powders but also a performance nutritionist AND a powerlifter. Should you try the keto diet? Keep reading and decide for yourself…
WHAT IS A KETO DIET? “A keto diet is essentially a method of eating that changes the substrate your body uses as fuel,” says Simon Jurkiw. “In this case, by following a very low carbohydrate diet, the liver produces ketones from fat, which the body uses as energy.”
A keto diet essentially forces your body to produce ketones from fat, throwing it into a state of ketosis. Yes, it’s really that simple. Ok, here’s the clever part: in ketosis, your body will use fat as energy, rather than carbs, no matter the source, so it will use the fat from the food you eat, but also the fat you have stored in your body.
The goal of the diet is to maintain the state of ketosis for longer periods by not eating too many carbs. And when we say not too many, we mean hardly any. For an effective keto diet, you should not cover more than 5% of your daily calorie intake from carbs.
WHAT DO YOU EAT ON A KETO DIET? “Anything that’s low in carbs! Especially avoiding sugar. Typically, the goal is to go under 30 grams of carbs per day.”
The tricky part is that, for an average person, carbs tend to form the majority of their energy intake, and shifting from a high-carb diet to a high-fat diet will require some willpower.
The good news is that you can indulge in good fats during the keto diet, like certain types of cheese and avocados. Also, if you’re a seafood fan, you’re in for a treat: foods like clams, oysters, and squid contain very few carbs and can therefore be consumed more liberally when doing keto.
Nuts are a good source of protein and fat, so they can be consumed more, as well as cottage cheese and Greek yogurt. Mostly the plain variety, though, as reducing sugar intake is crucial for keto success.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN BENEFITS OF THE KETOGENIC DIET? “The main reported benefit of a keto diet is rapid weight loss. Counterintuitively, many people report being less hungry,” says Simon Jurkiw.
In addition to these, keto can reduce acne and may also improve heart health and protect brain function, although these benefits have not been proven by rigorous laboratory testing, so we can’t say for certain.
IS THE KETO DIET SAFE? Simon Jurkiw: “A keto diet should be avoided if you’re on medication; especially if you’re on medication for diabetes. If you’re on medication, it’s best to discuss the premise with a medical professional.”
In any case, before you start buying boxes of avocados, and especially if you have obesity issues, you should consult a medical professional and get their advice and guidance. Everyone’s needs are different, and what works for the vast majority of people may not work for you personally.
Be safe and sensible, and always ask for help if you’re unsure.
HOW DO YOU GET STARTED WITH KETO? Simon Jurkiw: “First, do your research. You need to figure out what foods are highest in fat and protein with minimal carbs. Popular choices are nuts (Brazil nuts, walnuts, almonds), avocados, coconut oil, eggs, meat, and fish.”
In addition to keeping an eye on fat content, you should also consider protein when choosing foods. You only need moderate protein in your keto diet – roughly 20% of your daily calorie intake should come from proteins – and certain nuts tend to have high protein content.
“From a vitamins and minerals perspective, make sure to incorporate fibrous fruits and vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, and cauliflower. Many people opt to buy keto strips, which detect ketones in urine. That way, you can make sure you’re truly ketogenic.”
Some vegetables can also be quite high in carbs, and fruits can also contain high amounts of sugar – looking at you, apples – so always check the label before deciding what to include in your diet.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR THE KETO DIET TO WORK? Simon Jurkiw: “It takes around 2-4 days to enter ketosis (assuming carbs are low enough), depending on the individual. The carb content required to reach ketosis also varies from person to person.”
“Initial weight loss will be very rapid, but bear in mind that most of it will be stored with glycogen (carbs) and water. Steady weight loss will follow due to being in a calorie deficit and burning more fat as fuel.”
Slow and steady wins the race, as the saying goes, and it’s especially true for diets. You’ll lose weight quickly on keto, but for long-term effects, you’ll need to be patient and let your body adjust to your new diet.
Even after you’ve finished doing keto, it’s no use going back to your old, presumably unhealthy, diet. Try to keep at least some of the healthy aspects of your keto diet, like increased fruit/veg/nut intake, post-keto as well.
CAN YOU WORK OUT ON A KETO DIET? Simon Jurkiw: “Exercise can complement the benefit of a keto diet. It is possible that training intensity may initially drop, and strength may decrease. However, you would normally expect strength to drop as bodyweight drops (assuming you’re not a beginner).”
DOES THE KETO DIET MAKE YOU WEAKER/SLEEPY? Simon Jurkiw: “Many who follow the keto diet say they have more energy than before.”
Obviously, if you feel tired and weak, consider that keto might not be for you, or at least look again at how you’re trying to follow a keto diet.
ARE KETO SUPPLEMENTS SAFE? Simon Jurkiw: “Absolutely, of course. The main benefit of supplements is that higher fat, moderate protein, and low-carb foods are quite hard to come by if you’re on the go. From a convenience angle, supplements provide a quick and easy way to add fat and protein to your diet, without too many carbs.”
Simon works for a company that sells supplements, but there’s no evidence that they’re bad for you. The main risk with any supplement-based diet is boredom, but then no one is suggesting you live on nothing but supplements. That’s why they’re called ‘supplements’ and not ‘dinner’.
So, to sum up, the keto diet is safe and beneficial for your health and weight loss if you’re careful and attentive enough about it. The easiest way to track your keto efforts is to use a nutritional tracking app like MyFitnessPal, where you can simply set the macro nutrient/macro split percentage (in keto, it’ll probably be 75% fat, 5% carbs, and 20% protein) and scan the barcodes of the foods you’d like to consume.
Most importantly, as with any lifestyle change, give yourself some time to adjust. As Simon mentioned, you’ll see some quick results almost immediately, but to keep that weight off, you’ll need to stick to the diet, even if progress slows down a bit.
The slowdown doesn’t mean the new diet has stopped working; it just means your body is readjusting to accommodate the new diet. The weight loss, or rather the loss of unnecessary extra weight, is just a side effect of a healthier new lifestyle, which will benefit you in the long run, not just the short term.