What is the Ketogenic Diet

what-is-the-ketogenic-dietHey, welcome to LettuceWrapped.com. If you’re here because you want to learn more about the Ketogenic Diet you’re in the right place. If you didn’t want to and you ended up here by accident, well, hopefully you’re the curious type. If you want to lose weight or feel better and conventional methods aren’t working for you, the Ketogenic Diet might be the solution to your dilemma. I know that there are some really in depth, super technical explanations of the Ketogenic Diet out there, but this isn’t one of them. My goal is to give you a layman’s overview of the Ketogenic Diet so that you can learn how and why it works without me giving you a biochemistry lesson.

The Ketogenic Diet is a unique diet because of the high amount of dietary fat consumed and the lack of carbohydrates eaten. The diet has been around for a long time and was used to treat people who suffered from epilepsy back in the 1920s. Since then, the Ketogenic Diet had been largely forgotten about until probably the last five to ten years.

Ketosis is what makes the Ketogenic Diet work and is the process that the diet is named after. Ketosis is a process in which your body metabolizes the fat you eat and the fat stored in your body into ketones, which are used for energy. Normally your body uses glucose, which is made from carbohydrates, as its main source of energy. Once Ketones replace glucose as your body’s main source of fuel you are said to be “in ketosis.” You can look at this as your body being in constant fat burning mode.

How do I Get Into Ketosis

Being in a constant state of fat burning sounds great, right? So how do you get there? You get into ketosis by cutting carbs and increasing your fat intake. It doesn’t happen immediately though. Your body has glycogen stores in your muscles and liver, basically stored glucose, that it uses (from the liver) when you haven’t eaten food in a while. The glycogen in your liver has to be depleted before you get into ketosis. It takes 3-5 days of high fat low carb eating for the average person to get into ketosis. You need to get 70% of your calories from fat, 25% from protein, and 5% or less from carbs. As a word of caution, be sure to watch your protein intake. If you eat too much protein it could hinder you from getting into ketosis. Some people have reported being sluggish and having brain fog and/or headaches while trying to get into ketosis. This is normal and is merely your body’s reaction while it switches to using ketones for energy. This shouldn’t last longer than a day or two. The good news is once you’re there, you’re there, and all you have to do is keep getting most of your calories from fat to keep yourself in that fat burning state. There are 3 ways to tell when you’re in ketosis: the taste in your mouth, the smell of your urine, and by using ketone test strips. Some people report having a sweet taste in their mouths, some say it tastes like metal. Your pee will smell pretty strong, too. The easiest way to tell is by using the test strips. They take the guesswork out of trying to tell whether or not you’re in ketosis. All you do is pee on them and compare the color on the strip to the color on the bottle.

What Happens now that I’m in Ketosis

So you’ve done everything right and even tested yourself with positive results. Congratulations, you’re now in ketosis!! Welcome to the world of rapid fat loss. Now that you’re in ketosis your body will be constantly making and using ketones for energy whether you eat or not. The excess will get excreted in your urine. You’ll feel more energetic and have a better functioning brain than you did before. You’ll find that you’re less hungry due to fat being more filling than carbohydrates and protein. The Ketogenic Diet is a very protein sparing diet as well. This means that your body is much less likely to break down its own muscle for energy if you miss meals. This translates into less stress for you because you won’t have to worry about eating every few hours like you do with traditional diets. So if you don’t have time or don’t feel like packing a lot of food, don’t worry about it.

Things to Remember While in Ketosis

Now that you’re in ketosis the last thing you want to do is fall out of ketosis. To stop that from happening and for general health you need to keep a few things in mind.
1. Your macros- A rule of thumb is to eat 70% of your calories from fat, 25% from protein, and 5% from carbs. Everybody is different so start here and adjust as needed.
2. Your carb intake- I’ve been eating Keto long enough to know that throughout the day, if you don’t pay attention, the small amounts of carbohydrates in the foods you eat can add up. This is less of a problem if you do resistance training.
3. Your protein intake- The same way carbs can put you out of ketosis, so can protein. Getting knocked out of ketosis due to excess protein often goes hand in hand with not eating enough fat. Sometimes the Ketogenic Diet accidentally turns into the high protein moderate fat diet. This happened to me when I first started.
4. Your water intake- You need to make sure you drink enough water on a daily basis, especially if you exercise.
5. Don’t be afraid of fruits and veggies- Vegetables and fruit are packed with nutrients we need for good health. This is common knowledge. However, many people think that just because you’re on a high fat low carb diet you can’t eat vegetables. The reason may be the macro-nutrient content of a vegetable. Most of them have little to no fat and protein, with the majority of calories coming from carbs. Fruit, in addition to being known to pack important nutrients, is also known for its sugar content. There are fruits out there, such as strawberries and raspberries, that are relatively low in sugar compared to other fruits. Fruits like these can be enjoyed in small amounts.

Exercising While in Ketosis

  • Aerobic Activity – running, biking, swimming, rowing, etc.                        If your exercise of choice is running, biking, or something similar, your current level of endurance will not be affected now that you’ve switched to the Ketogenic Diet. You won’t need to change anything as far as your exercise routine goes and you can continue to exercise as normal. There are numerous studies out there that show the Ketogenic Diet to be highly beneficial to people who train for endurance competitions such as triathlons, marathons, and ultra marathons and even if you don’t train or compete at these levels, you will still reap the same benefits they do.
  • Anaerobic Activity – bodybuilding, power-lifting, sprinting, etc.              One of the things about the Ketogenic Diet is that your body has little to no glycogen stores. The liver glycogen gets used once you stop eating carbs. Your muscle glycogen doesn’t, until you go to the gym and hit the weights. Now because of the nature of the diet (extremely low carb) you will probably never eat enough carbohydrates to replenish the glycogen stores you’ve used. This is a problem for someone who’s workouts of choice lean more toward the anaerobic side of the spectrum, but only at first. After a while your body will adapt to the lack of glycogen and you’ll be able to train as normal. Once this happens, your body is “keto-adapted.” Being keto-adapted and being in ketosis are not the same thing. You can think of keto-adaptation as the next level of ketosis and it normally takes between 2 weeks and a month to get there.

So that’s it. As stated before, the purpose of this post is to give you an overview of the Ketogenic Diet and what you can expect while in ketosis. The next step is to go to the grocery store and do some food shopping to replace those high carb foods with some high fat ones. You can view my starter shopping list here. If you have any questions or comments in general, I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading, see you on the next post.