The trending keto diet has been headlining in the health world and for good reason. From A-list celebrities to the average American, images of the dramatic weight loss transformations have been plastered all over social media and reported on by reputable news outlets.
It’s no secret that the ketogenic diet works to help its followers drop pounds quickly, but it’s not so obvious as to how it does just that. Especially since the diet allows for the indulgence of fatty foods such as bacon and cheese, it’s hard to see how weight loss is possible.
So, let’s break down how the ketogenic diet works and why this method of eating can positively change your body and your life.
What Is Keto?
Although keto is referred to as a trending diet by many, the truth is that it’s more accurately categorized as a lifestyle change; one that affects your day-to-day routine, and your physical, mental, and emotional bodies.
The keto diet is a way-of-life that impacts your entire being by remodeling your carb-fueled body to run, instead, on ketones. Ketones are a chemical that the liver makes by breaking down fat. This process happens when the body is low on sugar. This normal process occurs in everyone’s body overnight, and when dieting or fasting.
By following a strict keto diet, the body is put into a constant state of ketosis, or in other words, constantly burning fat as the main energy fuel. When the body uses fat as the primary source of energy, it experiences a more long-lasting and efficient fuel source that differs from the typical carb-fueled American diet.
Benefits Of Keto Diet
Even with the plethora of scientific studies that have been done on the benefits of a ketogenic lifestyle, people are often still skeptical about the results they will receive after making the switch. Seriously, it seems crazy that bulking up on fatty food can actually be beneficial to your health and your waistline. But, it’s true; a ketogenic lifestyle can improve many areas of health.
Of course, because it is labeled a diet, one of the main reasons people take up this way of life is because of the fact that it provides drastic and rapid weight loss results. With the substitution of fat for fuel rather than carbs, essentially the body becomes a fat-burning machine. Using fat as the primary source for energy helps to keep you feeling full and satisfied. That’s because fatty foods are naturally more filling and it takes longer to burn fat than it does to burn sugary carbs.
Furthermore, a typical diet that is high in carbs can actually promote bloating and weight gain, as you will be more likely to binge these carby foods and crave more without feeling fully satisfied.
Inflammation is a natural and vital process in the body. The process of inflammation is your body’s way of helping to fight and heal infection. But, too much inflammation can cause unpleasant symptoms and recurrent conditions such as joint pain and stiffness, swelling, and fatigue.
The supply of ketones the body produces while following a ketogenic diet, especially BHB (B-hydroxybutyrate), provides the body with a powerful anti-inflammatory chemical that can help to relieve inflammation symptoms. In addition, the keto diet works towards healthy inflammation on another level by encouraging anti-inflammatory foods such as fatty fish, eggs, and olive oil.
More Sustainable Energy
The 2PM slump is no stranger to the everyday person. This afternoon shift in energy often demands a quick-fix such as a short catnap or another cup of coffee. This crash during the day is essentially a sugar-crash. It’s completely normal and it means that your body’s blood sugar levels are responding to the food you’re ingesting. But, wouldn’t it be great to eliminate this tired feeling from your day?
With keto, you can! That’s because the ketosis diet creates a more sustainable energy source that’ll fuel the body throughout the day, rather than allow it to run in short sprints.
Western medicine has taught us to cut out or limit fatty foods in order to avoid high cholesterol levels. However, in recent years we’ve discovered that processed carbohydrates are what we should really be fearing in regards to high cholesterol.
It’s important to note that cholesterol is not an entirely bad thing, but like many things in life, moderation is key. Our bodies require blood cholesterol in order to build the structure of the cell membrane and make hormones such as oestrogen, testosterone and adrenal hormones, as well as help to produce essential vitamins such as vitamin D. Cholesterol also aids the metabolism and keeps it working optimally.
However, too much cholesterol can put you at risk for heart disease as it can result in fatty deposits that block the arteries, restricting blood flow.
Many people following a keto diet see a dramatic decrease in both triglycerides and total cholesterol. Simultaneously, they also experience an increase in HDL (high-density lipoprotein), which is categorized as the ‘good’ cholesterol.
But, be warned because there may be a temporary spike in LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol at the beginning of the diet, resulting from the substitution of the body’s fuel source. This is why you should wait until at least six months to get an accurate reading of your lipid panels.
Blood Sugar Control
It’s not hard to understand why a ketogenic lifestyle could positively impact your blood sugar levels. Since sugar is so limited on this diet, followers of keto do not experience the same blood sugar spikes as a follower of the average carb-heavy diet, which spikes blood sugar immediately after eating. Blood sugar spikes are normal, but they can lead to unpleasant side effects such as lethargy, hunger, and mood swings. Plus, if your blood sugar is constantly spiking, your body could essentially forget how to lower levels properly which could potentially lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.
Keto, naturally, lowers the body’s insulin levels significantly by burning fat for fuel, rather than sugar. Think about it: if you aren’t ingesting sugar your sugar levels cannot spike.
High blood pressure or hypertension affects approximately half (45%) of the adults in the United States. When ignored or overlooked, high blood pressure can result in the hardening of arteries, which can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and aneurysms. That’s why keeping an eye on blood pressure is vital to keeping us safe and healthy.
High blood pressure is caused by a number of lifestyle factors. Toxic habits such as smoking and drinking can encourage the development of high blood pressure. Overworking and undersleeping have also been proven factors. But, like most things, diet is at the heart of the issue and obesity is a main contributor to high blood pressure.
Keto works on two different levels to lower high blood pressure. Firstly, its weight loss results proactively fight obesity, and in turn lower blood pressure. Secondly, the keto diet promotes a more stable mood because of the lack of blood sugar spikes, so one’s stress level decreases, which then results in the decrease of blood pressure.
Brain & Mind Health
As we mentioned above, putting your body into ketosis can result in a boost in your mood. Not only does your stress level drop because of the elimination of sugar spikes, creating a more balanced mood, but it also aids in brain health as well. Ketones work as the body’s natural antioxidant neuroprotectors, which help to increase the efficiency of the mitochondria, protecting the cells of the brain from diseases such as Parkinson’s and dementia.
Many followers of the ketogenic diet claim that their hair, skin, and nails are much stronger and healthier due to the high level of healthy fats required in the diet. Fats help to keep the skin moisturized by helping to build and protect the natural oil barrier. This is vital for hydrated, plumper, and young-looking skin.
The skin is made up of collagen and elastin; both work together to make our skin soft and supple. When too much sugar is ingested, it causes a cross-linking of collagen, which as a result, aids in the loss of elasticity of the skin.
This is why ketosis can aid in clearing skin, healing acne, as well as remedying dry skin, keeping it more supple and glowing.
While doing research before starting the ketogenic diet, you may be overwhelmed with the number of foods you cannot consume. It’s true that keto is a rather strict diet, however, there are plenty of foods you can eat and enjoy in many different ways.
Here are some foods you can enjoy while following a ketogenic diet:
- Protein – Eggs, beef, chicken, bacon, lamb, turkey, fish, ham, sausage, or any other meat are perfect fuel sources for a ketogenic follower. It’s important to note that although many meats do not have carbs, some processed meats, as well as some shellfish do contain a small amount of carbs.
- Dairy – Full-fat dairy products such as hard and soft cheeses, sour cream, butter, cream, cottage cheese, and plain Greek yogurt are great staples for keto. Avoiding low-fat or skim dairy products is vital to remaining in ketosis.
- Vegetables- Leafy greens, broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus, zucchini, cabbage, cauliflower, spaghetti squash, peppers, cucumbers, green beans, eggplant, and other low-carb veggies are vital to include into your keto lifestyle. Higher-carb vegetables such as onions can be eaten in moderation, sprinkled in more complex dishes.
- Fruits – Low-sugar fruits such as avocados, raspberries, strawberries, and olives can be eaten more often than other fruits while following a keto diet. Higher-carb fruits such as tomatoes, blueberries, kiwis, peaches, plums, cherries, clementines, and cantaloupe can also be eaten now-and-then in moderation while still remaining in ketosis.
- Oils – Healthy oils such as olive oil, MCT oil, red palm oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil are all keto-friendly.
- Nuts & Seeds – Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, sesame seeds and many others are all acceptable on the keto diet. Nuts and seeds have many important nutrients, but the amount of carbs in each varies. It’s important to track how much of each you are eating while snacking.
- Condiments – Low-sugar sauces, mustard, lemon and lime juice, cider and wine vinegars, most hot sauces, mayonnaise, pesto, horseradish, dill relish, low-sugar fatty creamy dressings, low-sugar jams, and spices are a good way to add some flavor to your keto meals.
- Beverages – Coffee and tea are acceptable options as long as you do not opt to include sugar. Seltzers and sparkling water are a good way to get your bubbles in without compromising your diet. Unsweetened milk substitutes such as almond milk and coconut milk are great to add into keto-friendly smoothies and protein shakes. Many diet sodas can have zero-sugar options, however, these diet sodas do contain sugar alcohols which can be included in a keto diet, but is not recommended as they can spike blood sugar. Clear alcohol and low-carb beers and wines can also be enjoyed in moderation. Alcohol produces ketones which can put your body into a deeper state of ketosis, however, the liver treats alcohol as a toxin so it prioritizes processing the ketones of the alcohol over the ketones of the foods you are fueling your body with. Drinking too much alcohol on keto can result in slower weight loss.
Foods To Avoid On Keto
Obviously, keto eliminates many foods from your diet because of the high carb-count. It’s no surprise that foods eaten frequently on the American diet such as potatoes, bread, and bananas are strictly off-limits. But, there are some other off-limit choices that you may not have considered.
- Grains- Oats, wheat, rice, quinoa, pasta, rye, barley, corn, and anything with flour are a big ‘no’ on keto.
- Legumes- Black beans, baked beans, lima beans, chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, and many other legumes do not align with a keto dieter’s carb-count.
- Dairy- Any low-fat dairy is usually high in sugar compared to full-fat dairy, which is what is recommended while following a keto diet.
- Vegetables- Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, corn, peas, carrots, and other high-carb veggies will quickly kick you out of ketosis.
- Fruit- Apples, bananas, grapes, pears, mangoes, raisins, dates, and other high-sugar fruits cannot be consumed when following a keto diet.
- Condiments- Many condiments and sauces are packed with hidden sugar. Ketchup and BBQ sauce are two common condiments that are not keto-friendly. However, low-carb options for these are available. It’s best to check the nutrition information of all salad dressings and condiments before purchasing.
- Beverages- Soda, milk, energy drinks, many iced teas, and other pre-made drinks you can grab at the local convenience store are packed with sugar and carbs. Alcoholic mixed drinks and craft-cocktails typically include sugar syrups, as well.
How To Get Into Ketosis
A lot of people hate the thought of calorie-counting, and though it is always important to take note of your calorie intake, the ketogenic diet is not hyper focused on that method of tracking. In fact, on a keto diet, if you are eating properly, you may not need to calorie-count at all because the high levels of fat satisfy your appetite more effectively than carbs, so you will naturally find yourself eating less than before.
When it comes to calories, it’s important to know that not all are created equal. Calories that are derived from carbs trigger the hormones that create and store fat in the body and the calories ingested through fatty foods trigger those fat-storing hormones the least.
Instead of tracking calories on the ketogenic diet, macros should be the primary focus.
The term “macros” stands for macronutrients. The macronutrients our bodies consume are broken down into three separate categories: carbs, fats, and proteins.
Every person’s body is different and some people need more protein, carbs, or fats than others in order to stay in a constant state of fat-burning ketosis. These differences are usually due to lifestyle factors, activity level, weight and height, as well as genetics. The trial-and-error of discovering what works for your body can take some time, but this is a good place to start:
Tracking your macros is simple with an app, many of which can be found easily through a search on your phone’s store. At the beginning of the diet, this can be super helpful in developing a proper eating plan, that will show you just how many grams of each marco you need each day. Once you become accustomed to the diet, it’ll be easier to follow it without worrying about having to track everything that you ingest.
Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand and if you want to optimize your life on a ketogenic diet even more, it is recommended that you incorporate fitness as well. Fitness can help you enter ketosis at a much faster rate, it also can encourage more weight loss.
If you choose to incorporate a fitness routine into your diet, note that you may need to readjust your macros to better fuel your workouts. For example, if you are strength-training, you may need to add a higher percentage of protein to your daily diet.
How Do You Know If You’re In Ketosis?
There are many tell-tale signs that people experience when they are in ketosis. It’s important to note that going in and out of ketosis throughout the day when practicing a keto diet is not abnormal.
However, if you are strictly following a keto diet with the correct macros for your body, your system will remain primarily in a fat-burning fuel system for the majority of the day. In other words, going in and out during the day does not ultimately hurt your goals, nor will it hurt your body as your body is equipped to burn whatever fuel is easiest and most convenient at that specific time, whether it be carbs, fat, or protein.
If your body is in a state of ketosis, here are some symptoms, some pleasant and some unpleasant, that you’re likely to experience:
- Bad Breath- The term ‘keto breath’ was coined by keto followers because of the ketone, acetone, that exits the body through both breath and urine when you’re in ketosis. Keto breath has been described most commonly as a spoiled fruit smell.
- Higher Ketone Count- Ketone levels can be tracked through urine, breath, and blood. Home-tests are commonly used among strict keto followers to ensure they remain in a state of ketosis.
- Weight Loss- One of the main attractions of the keto diet is weight loss, so if weight loss is occurring consistently, then chances are your body is running on fat for fuel.
- Minimum Cravings Or Loss Of Appetite- Fat makes you feel more full and satisfied which results in feeling full longer and diminishing appetite. The lack of sugar eliminates cravings for carb-filled foods.
- Increased Energy- Because fat is a more efficient source of fuel for the body, your energy will increase and you’ll feel less fatigued throughout the day.
- Keto Flu Symptoms- Keto flu symptoms such as stomach issues and a decrease in energy are only temporary, but they’re a surefire sign that your body is transitioning from one fuel source to another.
- Trouble Sleeping- Because of the increase in energy many keto dieters experience insomnia, especially at the beginning of the transition.
Beating The Keto Flu
Many people are cautious of the ketogenic lifestyle because they have heard unpleasant rumors about the ‘keto flu.’ Although it sounds terrible, think of it as just a temporary symptom, similar to those of a regular cold or flu. The keto flu is a short period in which your body is adjusting to the substitution of carbs for fat. This period usually occurs in the first two to seven days of starting the diet, but it’s not typically long-lived and it comes sporadically rather than acting as a consistent illness throughout those days.
The symptoms most people breaking into ketosis report are low energy, headaches, brain fog, nausea, difficulty sleeping, and constipation. With any diet change, diarrhea and fatigue can occur as well. The keto flu can be easily remedied by drinking more water, replacing electrolytes, adding some more fat to your diet, or by incorporating vitamins and supplements into your diet that you may be missing while following keto.
Supplementing Missing Vitamins On Keto
Naturally, when you make a diet change, you eliminate, decrease, or increase certain vitamins and nutrients. When entering a keto diet, it’s essential to note that you’re not only increasing healthy vitamins and nutrients, but that you’re also eliminating and decreasing some important minerals from your diet.
Thankfully, it’s easy to incorporate these essential vitamins and nutrients into your diet, without breaking ketosis by taking them in the form of supplements. A multivitamin is a staple for any diet, but before starting any additional supplemental vitamins, it’s a good idea to get tested by your doctor to determine what your body is lacking, rather than just going at it with a blind-eye. This will save you a lot of frustration brought on by trial-and-error.
Depending on the meals you’re consuming while practicing a keto lifestyle, your levels could be low in a number of areas. Calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins B, C, and D are all common vitamins and nutrients that may need extra support on this diet.
The Power Of Keto Collagen
A top secret that not all keto followers know is that keto collagen can optimize ketosis and its results. Recently, it has become a game-changer among loyal keto followers of all kinds, from serious athletes to yoga junkies to people combatting health issues to the average person just trying to live a healthier life.
Collagen makes up around 30% of the tissue in the body. And when you start to age, the collagen in your body begins to decrease. This can result in sagging skin, wrinkles, stiff limbs, the decrease of muscle mass, thinning of the intestinal lining, and joint pain. By incorporating keto collagen into your diet, you can slow the clock of natural aging while reaping the benefits of keto.
Collagen and keto have recently become a perfect match, firstly, because collagen contains zero carbs so it’s an ideal supplement to add to a keto lifestyle. It’s been proven that collagen promotes bone, muscle, and joint recovery, which is ideal for keto followers who are naturally active, incorporating a fitness regimen into their newfound diet, or have pre-existing health conditions relating to joint pain.
Collagen has also been shown to promote a healthy gut, which can act as a lifesaver when eliminating and decreasing certain foods from your diet. Collagen actively helps with digestion by promoting the health of the body’s gut lining and keeping it functioning at an optimal level.
Incorporating Keto Collagen Into Your Diet
There are a few different ways in which to incorporate keto collagen effectively into your lifestyle. A keto collagen coffee drink is a great way to kickstart your day with an adequate amount of protein, fats, and collagen to keep you going. Simply blend together your favorite coffee brew, butter, ghee, coconut oil, or even just cream with a serving of keto collagen. This easy and delicious drink may just become your daily go-to. However, if you’re not a coffee drinker, you can easily add it to any beverage of choice such as a hot tea.
Keto collagen is also the perfect addition to smoothies and shakes. It can optimize your meal-replacement by adding more protein, fats, and collagen to make sure you’re gaining all of the health benefits possible.
If you’re in a rush, opting to add keto collagen to water and shaking it in a water bottle is also a solid choice and will ensure that you receive the same benefits as the methods of consumption above.
Choosing The Right Keto Collagen
With keto being such a hot topic right now, products claiming to be keto are popping up everywhere. But, it’s important to know that not all of these products can truly claim that name. That’s why you should always check the ingredients on the back and do your diligent research before jumping on board with any of these products. If something seems too good to be true, it’s probably because it is and the product is loaded with sugar alcohols and hidden carbs.
So, when choosing a keto collagen to help protect your hair, skin, and joints, all while adding in some extra healthy fats, it’s essential to look at the label. NutraCollagen’s Keto Collagen Protein is a prime example of a keto collagen that is legitimately keto and contains limited ingredients, which is something you should be looking for in the foods you consume. NutraCollagen’s Keto Collagen Protein contains grass-fed bovine protein collagen peptides, MCT oil, gum Arabic, natural flavors, and natural stevia extract.
By utilizing animal protein, rather than whey, it cuts down on the chances of digestive issues, as many people have unpleasant reactions to whey protein including but not limited to bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Also using natural stevia extract helps to sweeten the collagen while adding to the natural flavors without resulting in blood sugar spikes.
The MCT derived from coconut oil, that is used in NutraCollagen’s Keto Collagen Protein, is absorbed faster than other fats, which results in immediate and positive results on energy and focus.
As mentioned before collagen impacts the hair, skin, and nails. It leaves hair shinier, helping it to grow longer, and strengthening it all at the same time. With collagen, dry skin is a thing of the past, and many acne-sufferers receive amazing results over time. Nails, also, become shinier, stronger, and less brittle with everyday collagen consumption.
If you’re serious about your ketogenic lifestyle NutraCollagen’s Keto Collagen Protein is a must. Containing 16 grams of collagen in every serving, this is truly a way to level-up in your health journey. All you have to do is sip on this delicious product that’s jam-packed with the support you need. It’s diet-friendly, but it definitely doesn’t taste like it, so you’ll definitely feel the urge to check the label before drinking it all down!