Let’s talk about the ‘dirty’ little secret of keto, I promise to keep it ‘clean’. (My full Keto guide is included below for more in-depth information)
So, what is keto or anyway?
Restricting (NOT eliminating) carbs to put your body into ketosis — a metabolic state where you burn fat, not glucose, for fuel.
Clean keto diets focus on organic vegetables, grass-fed meat and butter, and healthy fats like coconut oil and olive oil, while dirty keto lets you wallow in pork rinds and Cheez Whiz.
Let me eliminate a common misconception: to lose weight on Keto a calorie deficit IS necessary. Ok? Ok.
My favorite macro calculator and daily tracker is “Keto Diet” - it has free functionally and options to upgrade for more detailed tracking. Simply enter your personal information (weight, height, activity level...) and your wellness goals and this app will calculate your specific macros.
Macros is basically shorthand for macronutrients, a term used to describe the three key food groups we all require for our bodies to function: carbohydrates (to fuel energy), fats (to keep you satiated) and proteins (to build and repair muscle).
• Macro ranges for women on a Keto diet:
5/10% net carbs
One of my biggest secrets on Keto (and even when I’m not doing Keto) is how I make my coffee! - My favorite creamy add-ins boost my brain function/energy, blast away my belly fat and add LIFE to my skin while I lose weight. (This momma doesn’t want sagging boobs, butts and tummies as a result of rapid weight loss!)
Keto Bullet Proof Coffee Recipe:
- 1 cup of black coffee (caffeinated or non is your choice)
- Collagen /CLA Trim
- Mct oil - https://amzn.to/2SSEMo4
- Natural sweetener (keto approved!) Swerve http://amzn.to/2omnxy2
Viola!! You’ll FEEL the boost almost immediately!
Keto can be easy, as with anything there is a learning curve. Once you get your rhythm down ... boom, baby!
So, What Is Keto Anyway?
The keto diet is well known for being a low carb diet, where the body produces ketones in the liver to be used as energy. It’s referred to as many different names – ketogenic diet, low carb diet, low carb high fat (LCHF), etc.
When you eat something high in carbs, your body will produce glucose and insulin.
•Glucose is the easiest molecule for your body to convert and use as energy so that it will be chosen over any other energy source.
•Insulin is produced to process the glucose in your bloodstream by taking it around the body.
Since the glucose is being used as a primary energy, your fats are not needed and are therefore stored. Typically on a normal, higher carbohydrate diet, the body will use glucose as the main form of energy. By lowering the intake of carbs, the body is induced into a state known as ketosis.
Ketosis is a natural process the body initiates to help us survive when food intake is low. During this state, we produce ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver.
The end goal of a properly maintained keto diet is to force your body into this metabolic state. We don’t do this through starvation of calories but starvation of carbohydrates.
"How Does A Keto Diet Work?"
Macronutrients and Keto
The general guideline for keto is high fat, moderate protein, low carb. So what exactly does that entail? I want you to know what you should be eating and why.
Generally, macros in a Keto diet ranges from:
70-80% of calories from fat
20-25% of calories from protein
5-10% of calories from carbs.
So if you are eating 1500 calories a day, you should be consuming:
117 grams of fat
92 grams of protein
20-25 grams of net carbs (subtract grams of fiber from grams of carbs consumed)
You can easily adjust these goals in MyFitnessPal, Senza, KetoDiet, etc (they do all the math for you!).
A Little Deeper Explanation:
This is the one people tend to focus on the most. Carbs are going to make up less than 5% of your caloric intake. For getting started less than 20g daily is recommended. Before we go any further we have to cover how we calculate carbs when following a keto diet.
Net carbs are what we track when following a ketogenic diet. This calculation is pretty straightforward. Net Carbs = Total Carbs – Fiber. For example, 1 cup of broccoli has 6g of total carbs and 2.4g of fiber. That would mean 1 cup of broccoli has 3.6g of net carbs.
Why Do We Use Net Carbs?
Net carbs are used because dietary fiber does not have a significant metabolic effect. We are trying to get as accurate of a picture as possible when tracking macros, therefor net carbs is what makes the most sense.
What Does 20g of Net Carbs Look Like?
Your daily 20g of net carbs should ideally be coming from vegetables. A couple servings of leafy green veggies as well as 1-2 servings of cruciferous veggies like broccoli or cauliflower. You’ll also be picking up trace carbs throughout the day in things like dairy and seasonings. Trace carbs are items that are very low carb(often even listed as 0 carb on the nutrition label) but add up to a couple of carbs per day when tallied up. The remaining daily carbs might come from a handful of nuts or a new keto dessert recipe you wanted to give a try.
The Golden Ratio
A good ratio to go by when keeping tabs on your daily carb intake is the following:
1.5g Net Carbs Per 100 calories
This ratio is a good way to gauge if something is “keto friendly” or not. Of course there are exceptions, like most vegetables, but this ratio works for just about anything that comes in a package. If it isn’t delivering a whole lot of vitamins and minerals and it doesn’t fit this ratio, it’s probably not a part of a solid keto diet!
This is the most often overlooked aspect of a sound keto diet. When removing carbs from the diet, it is easy to replace them with protein. That is not a ketogenic diet! It is important to remember that a percentage of the protein consumed will be converted to glucose, so eating a high protein diet does not promote a state of ketosis. You want to view protein as a minimum requirement. Every day you should be looking to hit your protein target, but you should be just as sure to not exceed it by too much. Sure, going 20% over isn’t a big deal, but if you’re doubling your protein target everyday you’re going to have problems getting into a consistent state of ketosis.
The high fat aspect of this diet is what pulls it all together. Fat is what makes you full, gives you energy(when in ketosis), and tastes delicious. Weeks of eating a high fat diet has a way of naturally correcting eating patterns to better align with when your body is actually hungry. It’s easy to get caught up on the “low carb” part of this and not give enough attention the the “high fat” part.
For most people this figure should be north of 70% of daily calories. A good way to approach things is to start by keeping carbs low, often under 20g per day. Next you want to make sure you’re hitting your protein goal. Once those 2 are covered you can fill in everything else with fat. The approach we like to recommend is to eat fat until you’re full, once the other 2 macros are met. At first you may be overeating calories, but overtime the low carb, high fat way of eating will auto correct that.
How Do I Get To 70% Fat?
It can definitely be a tough task at first, but it gets easier over time. Here are some quick and easy ways to up your fat:
•Buy Fattier Cuts of Meat – Simple right? Switch from chicken breast to thighs/wings/legs. Go for the 80/20 ground beef instead of the 99% lean. Bacon is your friend. Your crispy, delicious friend.
•Add Fat to Veggies – Don’t like broccoli? Try drenching it in healthy oils, grass fed butter or cheese! Seriously, start viewing veggies and sponges for all the delicious fats you’ll be eating on the regular.
•Fat Bombs – Fat bombs are small, pre-made snacks that pack in a lot of fat and very little protein or carbs. These are a great way to up your fat intake if you’re struggling.
"What do I eat?"
My Top Tips for Keeping It Simple
— Go for quality, not quantity. You don’t need to buy everything you see to start out on a keto diet. I love Keto because it’s simple, so stick with that mindset! Get a nice cut of meat, a good quality butter & some dark green veggies – you’re done and you won’t feel like you’re dieting!
— Complicated recipes are deceiving. Recipes with 15+ ingredients are fun to make sometimes, but on the daily, it’s unrealistic. Keep the ingredient countdown and you’ll be happy
— Stop with the dupes (at least at first). When I first started the diet, I saw recipes to keto-fy all my favorites like bread, fast food & rice. Again, this is fine once in awhile, but on your daily grind, just stick to the basics to make you sane and your wallet happy.
"I want to maximize my results."
5 things you can do to Increase your Ketone Levels
Admit it, even though technically we aren't supposed to Obsess over KETONE levels, we do. There is nothing more satisfying than getting and staying in Ketosis and watching that number rise. Anything over .5 is technically ketosis however 1.0 - 1.5 is a solid Nutritional Ketosis and personally where I like to be. Although I found it difficult to maintain that level of ketosis until I implemented these things...#4 & #5 got my Ketone Levels to 2.6!!!
✨Spread out your protein and Carb Macronutrient throughout the day - Meaning, if you are allotted 70 grams of protein for the entire day, do not "save" them and consume a huge steak all at once, instead break it up and consume some protein in every meal. Use this same concept with your carbs. If you are allotted 20 grams of carbs and consume them all at one time you are pretty much guaranteed to be kicked out of ketosis and your ketone levels will plummet 😞
✨Intermittent Fasting - Nothing too extreme, a 16/8 Fast meaning you eat all of your Macros within an 8 hour period and fast the remainder of the day (Most of which is while you are sleeping anyhow) In a state of nutritional ketosis, it is normal to be comfortable going 16-18 hours with no food… daily. Because our blood sugar is no longer dictating when we’re hungry. And, when we do this, our bodies produce MORE ketones.
✨Reduce your Protein - If you are having a hard time getting your Ketone levels up, reduce your protein in take by 5% . Protein cannot be stored in the body what we do not use is converted to glucose causing your ketone levels to drop!
✨MCT Oil - Ok Guys, I have saved the BEST for last! I have to say I noticed an immediate change in my energy and more specifically my Mental Focus and productivity. Ready for the best part?!? My ketone levels have been steadily rising everyday since.... Previously on good days/weeks I float between 1.0 -1.5 , since using the MCT Oil I have been testing consistently above 2.0, this morning I was 2.6.
UH OH... Keto Flu!
Here's How To Alleviate Symptoms/Avoid Completely
So, you’ve started a new Ketogenic diet plan; you’re working out, eating right, and waiting for those gains your buddies have been raving about, and then it strikes – Keto flu! Instead of feeling on top of the world and ready to fight tigers, you’re suddenly crippled with headaches, nausea, fatigue, and brain fog – leading you to wonder why you have the flu in summer.
Keto flu gets its name due to its strong resemblance to regular flu; and while not everyone gets affected, there is a chance while getting into Ketosis you might experience a brief bought of feeling under the weather. The trick is to learn how to identify Keto flu, as opposed to the traditional flu and understanding when to take preventative measures to stop you from feeling down.
Let’s look at what causes this annoying condition and what you can do to rest and recover, and stop it from happening to you next!
First things first; Keto flu is not contagious and is not actually a real disease. It’s a term widely used in the Keto community to describe what some people believe to be the side effects of carb withdrawal. As this flu strikes when you first go into Ketosis, the idea is that Ketogenic flu is caused by your bodies need or perceived threat of running out of fuel.
People can experience symptoms such as a headache, fatigue, and nausea, for a few days or weeks, and symptoms will ease as you become Keto-adapted, and your body learns how to use fat for fuel. If your flu symptoms return or last for a long time, it is always worth consulting with a Doctor. The good news is this is a worthy fight and one you can easily win with some easy conditioning.
Here is how to prevent Keto flu:
Hydrate! The Ketogenic diet is a diuretic diet, and you need to exaggerate your water intake to account for this change in urination (this resolves the problem in many cases).
If you are severely dehydrated, you will need to rebalance your electrolytes. You can achieve this by drinking a zero-carb sports drink or by taking magnesium and potassium.
Lower your carb intake in stages if you are susceptible to the flu; many people go from hundreds of grams of carbs per day to almost zero. This will terrify your body, go slow.
KETO FLU SYMPTOMS
To successfully treat Keto flu, you need to understand how to identify the real symptoms so that you can take those preventative steps we discussed earlier. In our modern lives, it can be difficult to spot when we are sick, when we are tired, or when we have flu caused by a low-carb diet. If your symptoms coincide with a reduction in carbs or dietary changes, you can assume Keto is to blame.
Another way to tell is if anyone else in your house is also sick. This type of flu is not a real disease and is not contagious; so, if you are the only person feeling the symptoms, it could be your bodies reaction to the change in diet. Hang in there and make sure you are hydrated and consuming enough salt to balance your body and revitalize your senses.
HOW TO CURE KETO FLU
As your Keto flu is likely caused by a sudden reduction in carbohydrates, you have one of two options; you can increase your carb intake, and risk being kicked out of Ketosis, or you can buckle up and ride through the storm. In our humble opinion, it’s better to weather out the flu and remain in Ketosis than to flip-flop back and forth. Once you are Keto adapted, your body will thank you!
How to cure your symptoms:
Increase your fats: Your body is shocked by the lack of carbs and needs to locate a source of fuel to power you up. Increase your fats to make sure your body has adequate access.
Eat more calories: Restricting carbs can send a starvation signal to your brain to panic, instead, increase your calories during the flu to let it know your body know everything is ok.
Add Salt: The Ketogenic diet is a diuretic, and you can quickly lose salt, which is a necessary part of your core function. Dehydration and salt imbalance will quickly trigger severe flu symptoms.
Exercise: Avoid the temptation to give into the fatigue, and fight fire with fire. Being active will get your body focused on meeting your energy requirements, and off feeling fatigued.
Remember, these symptoms won’t last forever if you take action, and if you listen to your body's needs, you might be able to avoid it altogether.