Keto: The Four Letter Word Even A Mother Could Love
Let’s face it. For most of us who have watched the scale yo-yo over the years and possess an entire wardrobe of “I’ll-Fit-Into-That-By-Summer” styles, diet is a four-letter word. The problem with most diets is the negative, though often deserved, connotation that people attach to the concept. We frequently labor under a common misconception that if something is referred to as a “diet” it must involve deprivation, doing without, or otherwise deep-sixing desserts and such. The good news is that the ketogenic, or keto diet, is not so much a diet as it is a different way to feed your body to make it work for you instead of threatening to send you binge-eating through the entire contents of your pantry because a week of salads has you feeling like you’ll sprout whiskers and a fuzzy, cotton-tail. If great-tasting options for every meal, a sated appetite, and the reality of fitting into a two-piece sooner rather than later appeal to you, here is everything you need to know to learn more about the lifestyle rage that is helping thousands to take charge of their bodies, ramp up their metabolisms, and melt away those stubborn love handles, muffin tops, and unwanted pounds.
Quit Counting Calories and Make Calories Count
As previously mentioned, the ketogenic diet is not so much about counting calories as it is about focusing awareness on the type of calories you intake daily. The human body is typically wired to run on glucose, a simple sugar normally found in the bloodstream and converted from many of the foods we eat. Some foods, such as white bread, baked potatoes, and watermelon have a high glycemic index (GI), a measurement of how a particular food will elevate blood sugar. The quick spikes in insulin and blood sugar that result from the intake of too many high GI foods over a period of time, however, can result in chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes. The ketogenic diet essentially rewires your body to draw fuel from a source other than glucose. Fat.
Yes, that is the first magical secret of the ketogenic diet. Fat. Contrary to what many have believed over the years, fat isn’t all bad. When glucose and insulin levels are low, such as occurs in a low-carbohydrate diet such as keto, the human body resorts to garnering its energy from another fuel source. Fat. This metabolic status is called ketosis. Ketosis happens when a metabolic shift occurs within the body wherein the liver converts fat into ketones, efficient molecules of energy which are readily absorbed by the brain, heart, muscles, and tissues for use as energy. This process effectively turns your body into a fat-burning machine. This is why many keto observers see a pleasant decrease on the scale as the body accesses its fat stores.
To keep the process going, however, your new way of eating should contain a substantial portion of healthy fats. According to Healthline, the standard ketogenic diet contains, in fact, nearly 75% fat. The remaining calories in a daily ketogenic diet are derived from approximately 20% protein and 5% carbohydrates. To achieve maximum effect of the ketogenic diet, these percentages vary slightly from person-to-person. Don’t worry about the number-crunching, however. Should you decide that keto is the plan for you, there are plenty of online calculators available to help you tailor your percentages based on age, height, sex, activity levels, and more. But before you go hog-wild and order that two all-beef patty burger with extra-cheese, and five strips of bacon, take heed.
Not all fats are created equal.
Load Up the Good Fats to Take a Load Off
Even though bacon is a common staple of the standard ketogenic diet, keto dieters still shouldn’t “pig-out” when it comes to adding fats to their new menu of food choices. Keto followers need to exercise prudence when choosing which fats to include. Over-consumption of saturated fats and/or trans fats can lead to health issues like cardiac disease and Type-2 diabetes. Instead, a well-planned keto menu will include items like monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, including Omega-3s which can be found in foods like fatty fish, nuts and seeds, avocados, and olives. Incorporation of these healthy fats as part of the keto lifestyle will help raise your high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) or, in other words, your “good” cholesterol.
According to WebMD, HDL is beneficial to the human body in a variety of ways including combating “bad” cholesterol, funneling it to the liver to be “reprocessed,” and keeping the endothelium, the lining of blood vessels, healthy to circumvent strokes and heart attacks caused by atherosclerosis. Eating a diet rich in “good” cholesterol therefore, like the ketogenic diet, is a boon to those who are interested in cardiac health.
Rebooting the Refrigerator without Revolting Your Taste Buds
So, what kinds of foods can you expect to eat on the ketogenic diet? The top ten kings of keto are:
- Meat, Poultry, and Seafood (particularly fatty fish, like salmon)
- Nuts and Seeds
- Olives (including olive oil)
- High Fat Dairy Products (Cheese, Butter, Cream)
- Dark Chocolate
- Cruciferous Vegetables
- Coconut Oil
“But, I love carbs! I can’t live without cake and bread!” I can hear you screaming. Oh, wait. That’s me. Well, the good news is that you don’t have to do without many of your favorites. Often, it’s simply a matter of exchanging a high-carb ingredient for a low-carb option – almond or coconut flour for wheat flour, for example. The beauty of the ketogenic plan is that the higher fat intake actually leaves you feeling sated longer which means you are far less likely to reach for the Marshmallow Munchies to satisfy a craving. Recipes for many of the tried and true favorites of American dinner tables have been given a keto tweak by the incredible and dedicated keto community that can be found on the web, on social media, and through many local meet-up groups. You can find or exchange recipes for chocolate lava cake, pizza, cashew-crusted salmon and many other keto-friendly menu ideas that will tantalize your taste buds and please your palate all while keeping your appetite in check and the pounds melting away. And don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen. There are many quick keto options available for the clock-conscious cook. Just be wary of prepackaged foods that claim to be keto-friendly. Some may, in fact, be over-processed foods you would want to avoid. Sensible Meals offers a Paleo plan and many of those options are in fact, Keto, for an easy and affordable option that makes getting started a breeze!
Kick the Carbs with Keto and Coast to a New You
Kick the carbs. It’s not an entirely new concept. The Sugar Busters Diet, the Atkins Diet, the Paleo Diet, along with tons of other plans like them, have looked toward carbohydrates and processed foods as the black-hatted reasons we have to notch our belts a little looser. In comparison to the Atkins Diet, the keto diet does hold a few more restrictions on types of food allowed. Research would seem to indicate that for weight loss, the keto diet may be the better choice. However, as with any lifestyle change, it’s always better to evaluate and experience for yourself to make the best decision for you.