A Beginner’s Guide to a Ketogenic Diet
Now that I have solidified my choice that keto is my number one choice for a post op bariatric diet, I think it’s only fair for me to elaborate on this diet a little further. Many readers come to my blog for my keto recipes, but many aren’t sure exactly what it is. We understand that you can eat lots of fat, and low carbs, but how does it all work? In this guide, I’m going to explain how a ketogenic diet works. Just remember, while reading this, don’t over think it: You just have to stay under around 20 carbs to maintain ketosis.
I really tried to simplify this guide as much as possibly, I know it’s a lot of information, but a few things you need to know, and what to expect. You may need to reference this guide multiple times and that’s okay! Once you understand the basics, it really is incredibly easy.
Last thing, if you are a post bariatric patient, I will have a separate post on how we need to adjust our ketogenic lifestyle to fit our post weight loss surgery needs.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, and you should always consult with a physician before making any dietary changes. I do my best to base everything on science in facts, but ultimately this guide is based on my personal experience with keto. Do what works for you.
Explaining The Ketogenic Diet
Keto, Atkins, Low Carb in a nutshell is a diet consisting of very low amounts of carbs, moderate amount of protein, and high amounts of fat. To get started on keto, you will need to take a look at the labels, and it will get a little overwhelming at first, especially once you realize a slice of bread has the amount of carbs you need in a day. Then panic sets in, and feel like you can’t eat anything anymore. But once you understand keto, it gets easier.
All aspects of keto are equally important, but you need to place emphasis on being low carb and high fat, at the very least. What is low carb? Low carb in a ketogenic aspect is 20 grams of carbs per day. So yes, a piece of bread can easily put you over your carb intake for the day, if not more. With that said, you will need to drop all breads, grains, & sugar from your diet. It sounds scary at first, but once you’re keto adapted (when your body accepts fat as fuel) the carb cravings are cut down quite a bit.
High fat really is important: Understand that 60% of your diet consists of fats (more on that later), sure you can eat bacon all day, but I recommend you try to get some of your fats from healthy sources (olive oil & coconut oil especially). But basically, if it is low in carb you can eat whatever you want (keeping calories in mind). Meats, sausages, avocado, and cheese are the primary sources for fat on a ketogenic diet. You need to get your fat in because instead of your body converting carbs to energy, it going to convert fat to fuel. You will need adequate amounts of fat to keep you energized, to keep your mind clear, and so fourth.
Finally, the last part of keto is obviously protein. You need to get an adequate amount of protein in your diet as well. You want about 30% of your diet to consist of protein. When you choose a meat, you don’t need to get super lean meat. I would recommend no high than 85% lean ground meat, generally speaking. You can eat leaner meats, but if you consume more fatty meats it will help you meet your fat macros better.
A ketogenic diet has many benefits it helps lower your cholesterol & triglycerides, helps improve mental clarity, and reduces bloating. It was actually originally a designed meal plan in the 1920 as a way to help patients who suffered from epilepsy. It also is the preferred diet for women who suffer from PCOS and other auto immune diseases. Keto also is also an invaluable way to help you maintain a caloric deficit. Fat has 9 calories per gram, while carbohydrates and protein have 4 calories. This is actually a good think because the higher calorie content keeps your fuller per gram of food you ingest. So for example, if you have trouble controlling portion sizes, keto will make you fuller while consuming less amounts of food.
What are macros, and why do they matter?
Alright, this is what completely threw me off in the beginning: Macros. I had no idea what they were, how to calculate them, and how could one person possibly have the time to make sure they hit their macros every day. Macros are just a way of observing how much fat, carbs, and protein you are eating in a day. It’s a way to make sure you are after the keto path. In the beginning, you don’t understand just how much fat you need, so this helps keep you on track. I highly recommend keeping track of macros in the beginning: Once you get the hang of how keto works, you don’t need to focus on those macros as much; we often refer to that method as “lazy keto”.
So, keto macros are typically 65% fat, 30% protein, and 5% carbs (but no more than 20g carbs a day). I’ve seen many variations on this. Some people’s diet go as high as 80% of fat on the daily, so just adjust to your needs. I wouldn’t recommend anything lower than 60% fat though. The best way to keep track of you macros is to track your daily calories on MyFitnessPal. It’s a great app, and website that helps track your calories, and even shows you a visualization of your macros, so you can understand if you need to get more fat in for the day. Here is a guide on how to set my fitness pal to track your macros. This makes the process a lot easier.
Simply Put: To meet your macros, eat no more than 20g of carbs per day. Eats lots of fat, and moderate protein. You can be as specific about this as you want. Try to use MyFitnessPal in the beginning so you can easily understand what a typical ketogenic day looks like. Do not over think this!
Keto Flu and Keto Breath
Not to overwhelm you any further, but it’s important you at least know what’s going on when you first enter ketosis. To begin, there is a symptom called keto flu which is when your body is first adapting to keto. Since it is used to using carbohydrates as fuel, it is adjusting to the high amounts of fat, the result of that is keto flu. Keto flu symptoms may consist of, headaches, lethargy, dizziness, irritability and nausea. Most people experience this 3-7 days after starting keto. It’s not permanent, it’s just what happens when your body first enters ketosis. Stay hydrated, and try to consume electrolytes to help reduce the symptoms: Drinking a cup of chicken broth/knorr, or using potassium salt in place of regular salt is a great way to supplement electrolytes.
Keto breath or acetone breath is also a common symptom when you are entering ketosis. It’s a very metallic, copper taste in your mouth. This too goes away. It’s not the most pleasant experience, but it goes away. For me, I notice that eating helps reduce this. Chewing gum, and sucking on some sugar-free candies like Werthers helps get the taste out of my mouth between meals.
Ketosis & Keto Stix
The above paragraph really is the best indicator of going into ketosis. The signs aren’t too subtle. Some people like to use Keto Stix to better decide if they’re in ketosis. It’s a little stick you urinate on, and if it turns purple, you are in ketosis. The package will show you varying levels of purple, but as long as a color appears on your stick, you are in ketosis. It does not matter how dark the stick turns, no matter what people thing. Keep in mind this sticks are not specifically made for keto, so just look at the deeper colors as an indicator of ketones.
Also, I know many of you get really excited when you’re deep into ketosis. But please, if you take away one thing from this post, DO NOT post pictures of your keto stix online. No one wants to see your pee sticks!
Even with that, I know that eating such high amount of fat doesn’t feel right in the begining. You feel that you possibly can’t lose weight by eating this, you must be failing.