Keto diet or ketogenic diet or lchf diet (low carb high fat) is a very low carb diet with up to 20 - 50 grams of net carbs that you can consume daily to reach ketosis. Carb allowance on keto depends individually and some people will have to keep the net carbs under 20 grams per day to reach ketosis.
Ketosis is a natural metabolic state in which your liver, due to a very low carb intake, produces chemicals called ketones. When your body is in ketosis, it burns the fat that you consume and the fat from your body instead of carbs, and that leads to a quick and effective weight loss. Some people can reach ketosis even with a higher carb intake, depending individually.
On average it takes 2 - 4 days of very low carb consumption to reach ketosis but it is different from person to person. To keep your body in that fat-burning mode, you should keep your carb consumption low and consume a higher level of healthy fat and a moderate level of healthy protein.
The best sign of ketosis is of course weight loss but for some people, cutting the carbs comes with a list of other carb withdrawal symptoms that are also known as The keto flu.
Keto flu symptoms
Constipation / digestive issues
Symptoms of keto flu usually begin within the first few days and you could have all of them or hopefully none except the weight loss, it again depends on your body.
The good news is that the keto flu is temporary, it usually lasts from 2 days to 2 weeks until your body adapts to your new diet.
You can reduce Keto flu symptoms by starting some new habits:
1. Stay hydrated - drink plenty of water or unsweetened tea
2. Take sodium, magnesium and potassium supplements
3. Add enough healthy fat to your meals
4. Sleep as much as you can and take a 30-minute nap during the day if possible
5. Light exercise - take a walk or do some light training
6. Try to meditate - just sit back in silence and concentrate on your breath for about 15 minutes to reduce stress
Once you push through the keto flu, you should feel more energetic and focused.
If you want to make sure you are in ketosis, you can also test ketone levels in your body with ketone strips that you can purchase online or in your pharmacy.
The first important thing on the Keto diet is to learn how to count your carbs.
The number that you'll need when looking at the carbs is a total of net carbs that a certain food contains.
Net carbs are the total number of carbs minus the fiber. Fiber passes through the body without being used for energy so there is no actual need to count those grams.
Net carb calculation example
100 grams of broccoli
Total Carbohydrate 7 g
Dietary fiber 2.6 g
Net carbs: 7g - 2,6g = 4,4 g net carbs per 100 g of broccoli
Most food packages should have the nutrition facts label on them, which makes it easy to calculate net carbs. If it's not on the package, it is definitely on the internet where you can use various free tools to check the nutrition of almost everything.
General rule on keto is to keep the net carbs at minimum (up to 20 - 50 net carbs per day), eat moderate healthy fats, and low amount of proteins but there are several types of keto diet that you can follow. Before you decide about your version, it's important to know that they all work as long as you follow the basic rules.
On Strict, Clean or Standard keto diet, as the name says, you should strictly follow the keto diet rules:
Less than 20 net carbs per day and careful monitoring of fat and protein intake to keep the perfect macros
Minimum or no processed food or drink
Food should be organic, grass-fed
Most carb should come from low carb vegetables
Lazy Keto is easier to follow and to transition to:
Less than 20 net carbs per day but you don't have to count other macros
Food doesn't have to be organic, grass-fed
You can consume some processed food
Dirty Keto is super convenient to follow and to transition to because you can eat almost anything, as long as you watch your macros:
Less than 20 net carbs per day and following the macros rules
Processed and unhealthy food is allowed as long as it's in the keto macros (you can eat fast food)
Whichever diet plan you choose, it's always best to consult with your doctor before starting.
Daily calorie intake should consist of 70 - 80% of healthy fat, 20 - 25% protein, and 5-10% net carbs with net carbs kept to 20 - 50 grams per day (depending individually).
Healthy fat has the highest percentage because fat plays a very important part in your body. For example, healthy fat helps the body to absorb some fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E), it's a great source of energy for the body and it also reduces the appetite.
Before you get confused about the high-fat sources, some of the healthy foods containing high-fat ratios are almonds, avocado, eggs, olive oil, salmon. In keto diet, it's al about combining your food to get the nutrition you need.
You would have to give up certain foods if you are trying to stay in ketosis but there are ways to combine and prepare healthy food into delicious low carb meals.
You can start by gradually cutting your carb intake day by day, which would make your transition easier, or just do it!
Before you start, weigh yourself and if possible, take your measurements (chest, waist, hips, thighs, and arms).
Sometimes you won't see any big progress on your scale but your clothes might fit better or feel looser.
This happens when we lose body fat but we gain muscle.
To get started and embrace your new diet it's best to:
1. Eliminate the unhealthy processed food from your menu
Ditch the sugary drinks and food, pastries, white bread, cookies, pizzas, and replace them with low carb options (there is a low carb pizza!)
2. Replace grains and fruits that are high in carb with low carb food, healthy fat and protein and log it
Check the nutrition facts before consuming any food and keep a record of your intake. You can use the free apps or just write it down in your notebook. It will help you to stay aware of everything you eat during the day.
3. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
With a low carb diet, your body will get rid of the excess water so it's important to stay hydrated. You can also drink coffee, unsweetened tea or diet sodas (don't overdo with the sodas because they are not healthy)
4. Eat whenever you feel the need
When you just start, it is possible that you will have different cravings and it may be hard to keep away from food. It's good to always have some keto-approved snacks with you, it will help you fight the cravings and hunger. Some of the options are chorizo, cheese, olives, almonds, pork rinds.
5. Check the recipe choices
Low carb version of pizza, fried chicken, pancakes, cakes, bread - they all exist in the low carb world.
Recipes on this page are the ones we cook in our home. We love good food so we are always trying to get the tastiest meals out of the allowed food list. Since this page is pretty new, for now there is a limited collection of recipes as we are adding them as we prepare them, day by day. There are lots of recipes available online so explore the options and opt for the food that you will enjoy.
The whole transition to low-carb may feel uncomfortable at times but try to keep your goal in mind and remember that those symptoms are just temporary and the results will be visible in a few weeks if you just push through it.