What to know about the high-fat, low-carb diet
By Christelle Tolisora | Photo by Brooke Lark/Unsplash
What really makes the keto diet so popular?
Ketogenic or keto diet is similar to Atkins (aptly called “Atkins on steroids”) as it follows a strict low carbohydrates and high fat diet. Since the body tends to use glucose as energy instead of fat, the latter accumulates and causes weight gain.
Keto’s main objective is to shift the body’s main fuel source from glucose to fat. This metabolic process is called ketosis, which happens when the body’s glucose levels don’t reach a certain point, leaving the system to burn stored fats and release ketones to produce energy. There’s a lot of science (and math) going on in this diet, so we’ve listed down the important facts to make it a little less complicated.
Start from the macro
The keto diet requires changes in all three macronutrients—fat, protein, and carbohydrates. The recommended intake for all three is 75 percent fat, 20 percent protein, and five percent carbohydrates. Because the body will use fat as the main source of energy, an increased fat intake is necessary. Although keep in mind that consuming fat after working out is not recommended as it slows down the digestion of protein, which you normally need after training.
Protein plays an important role, too, but it can be complicated since the body can lose muscle mass if you don’t eat enough or if you exceed the ideal portion; otherwise your body will break away from ketosis. For the diet to be effective, the body needs to stay in ketosis.
Though carbohydrates has the least amount in this diet, it’s key for ketosis to be a success. Carbohydrates below 25 to 30 grams per day is ideal, but the lesser carb intake, the better and the faster your body will enter ketosis.
Do you know that your body is in ketosis the moment you wake up? That’s because you haven’t eaten anything while asleep. Does that mean you’re successful with your keto diet? No. Ketosis is just a stage. Your main goal is to maintain it and be keto-adapted.
Keto adaptation can take a few weeks to a month depending on how strict you follow your diet plan. The first few weeks are the most difficult as the body starts to change. You may experience keto flu, which includes fatigue, headache, and nausea but will eventually go away after a few days. These are natural signs that your body is in ketosis.
You can also do a couple of tests to know whether your body has entered ketosis such as the blood ketone meter, urine ketone strips, and breath testing. Once your body has keto-adapted, aside from weight loss, your focus and concentration will increase, your triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels will improve, and your skin condition will get better.
Working out while on a low-carb diet can be a challenge but that doesn’t mean you need to stop. You can still train while in ketosis with a few modifications. Lessen your reps and increase weights as long as you can safely control it. For intense endurance training, duplicate it with cardio workouts. Carbs and protein are vital after workouts but only consume small amounts. You can monitor your intake with a ketogenic calculator app to accurately compute your macros.
To achieve optimal ketosis, this diet would require strict compliance and tracking in nutrition and training for the body system to make a dramatic shift. But if you’re up for the challenge, why not try going keto?