A keto or ketogenic diet is a very low-carb diet, which turns the body into a fat-burning machine. It has many proven benefits for weight loss, health and performance, as millions of people have experienced already.
On a ketogenic diet, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run almost entirely on fat. Insulin levels become very low, and fat burning increases dramatically. It becomes easy to access your fat stores to burn them off. This is great if you’re trying to lose weight, but there are also other less obvious benefits, such as less hunger and a steady supply of energy, keeping you alert and focused.
What “keto” means
The “keto” in a ketogenic diet comes from the fact that it makes the body produce small fuel molecules called “ketones”. This is an alternative fuel for the body, used when blood sugar (glucose) is in short supply.
Ketones are produced if you eat very few carbs (that are quickly broken down into blood sugar) and only moderate amounts of protein (excess protein can also be converted to blood sugar).
Ketones are produced in the liver, from fat. They are then used as fuel throughout the body, including the brain. The brain is a hungry organ that consumes lots of energy every day, and it can’t run on fat directly. It can only run on glucose… or ketones.
When the body produces ketones, it’s said to be in ketosis. The fastest way to get there is by fasting – not eating anything – but nobody can fast forever.
A keto diet, on the other hand, can be eaten indefinitely and also results in ketosis. It has many of the benefits of fasting – including weight loss – without having to fast.
3. Why eat keto – the benefits
The benefits of a keto diet are similar to those of other low-carb diets, but it’s more powerful than liberal low-carb diets. Think of keto as a super-charged low-carb diet, maximizing the benefits.
Turning your body into a fat-burning machine has obvious benefits for weight loss. Fat burning is vastly increased, while insulin – the fat-storing hormone – levels drop greatly. This creates ideal circumstances in which fat loss can occur, without hunger.
More than 20 high-quality scientific studies show that, compared to other diets, low-carb and keto diets result in more effective weight loss.
On keto you’ll gain a new control over your appetite. When your body burns fat 24-7, it has constant access to weeks or months of stored energy, dramatically reducing feelings of hunger. It’s a very common experience, and studies prove it.
This makes it easy to eat less and lose excess weight – just don’t eat until you’re hungry. This makes intermittent fasting easy, super-charging efforts to reverse type 2 diabetes and speeding up weight loss. Plus, you’ll save tons of time and money by not having to snack all the time. Many people only feel the need to eat twice a day skipping breakfast, and some just once a day.
Not having to fight feelings of hunger can also potentially help with problems like sugar or food addiction, and possibly some eating disorders, like bulimia, as well. At least feeling satisfied can be part of the solution. Food can stop being an enemy and become your friend – or simply fuel, whatever you prefer.
Constant energy and mental performance
Ketosis results in a steady flow of fuel (ketones) to the brain, and you avoid big blood sugar swings. This often results in the experience of improved focus and concentration. Any brain fog will be long gone!
A lot of people use keto diets specifically for increased mental performance. Also, many people experience an increase in energy when in ketosis. It’s fueled 24-7 by ketones, a perfect brain fuel for focus and energy.
Control blood sugar and reverse type 2 diabetes
A keto diet controls blood sugar levels, and is excellent for reversing type 2 diabetes. This has been proven in studies.
It makes perfect sense since keto lowers blood-sugar levels and reduces the negative impact of high insulin levels
As a keto diet may even reverse existing type 2 diabetes, it’s likely to be even more effective at preventing it, or reversing pre-diabetes.
Improved health markers
There are many studies showing that low-carb diets improve important health markers, including the (HDL, triglycerides), blood sugar levels, blood pressure.
This has been shown in many studies.
These commonly improved markers are connected to something called “metabolic syndrome”, and improvements in weight, waist circumference, diabetes type 2 reversal etc.
My health markers after 10 years on a keto diet
Keto can result in a calmer stomach, less (or no) gas, less cramps and pains, etc.
For quite a few people this is the top benefit, and it usually only takes a day or two to experience it.
Increased physical endurance
Keto diets can vastly increase your physical endurance by giving you constant access to all the energy of your fat stores.The body’s supply of stored carbohydrates (glycogen) only lasts for a couple of hours of intense exercise, or less. But your fat stores carry enough energy to easily last for weeks or even months.
How to get into ketosis
There are many things that increase your level of ketosis. Here they are, from most to least important:
Restrict carbohydrates to 20 digestible grams per day or less – a strict low-carb diet. Fiber does not have to be restricted, it might even be beneficial.
Note that quite often, just restricting carbs to very low levels results in ketosis. So this may be all you need to do. But the rest of the list below will help make sure that you’re successful.
- Restrict protein to moderate levels. On a keto diet you should eat the protein you need, but not much more. This is because excess protein is converted to glucose in the body, reducing ketosis.If possible, stay at or below 1 gram of protein per day, per kg of body weight – about 70 grams of protein per day if you weigh 70 kilos (154 pounds).
The most common mistake that stops people from getting into ketosis is too much protein. Our keto recipes are designed with the right amount of protein.
- Eat enough fat to feel satisfied.
This is the big difference between a keto diet and starvation, that also results in ketosis. A keto diet is sustainable, whereas starvation is not.
When starving you’re likely to feel tired and hungry and give up, but a keto diet is sustainable and can make you feel great. So eat enough to feel satisfied, and if you’re hungry all the time, you should probably add more fat to your meals (like more butter, more olive oil, etc.). Our keto recipes have the needed fat included.
- Avoid snacking when not hungry. Eating more often than you need, just eating for fun and because there’s food around, reduces ketosis and slows down weight loss. Though using keto snacks will minimize the damage, and is fine when you’re hungry.
- If necessary, add intermittent fasting. For example, skip breakfast and only eat during 8 hours of the day, fasting for 16 hours (i.e. 16:8 fasting) . This is very effective at boosting ketone levels, as well as accelerating weight loss and type 2 diabetes reversal. It’s also usually easy to do on keto.
- Add exercise – adding any kind of physical activity while on low carb can increase ketone levels moderately. It can also help speed up weight loss and diabetes type 2 reversal slightly. Exercise is not necessary to get into ketosis, but it may be helpful.
- Sleep enough – for most people at least seven hours per night on average – and keep stress under control. Sleep deprivation and stress hormones raise blood sugar levels, slowing ketosis and weight loss a bit. Plus they make much it harder to stick to your chosen diet, and resist temptations. So while handling sleep and stress will not get you into ketosis on it’s own, it’s still worth thinking about.
Bottom line: To get into ketosis, restrict carbs to very low levels, preferably below 20 net carbs per day. This is by far the most important thing for ketosis to occur.Should you need to increase the effect, implement more steps from the list above, starting from the top.
Keto tips and guides
To make keto truly simple and enjoyable requires a few new skills. For example, how do you cook keto breakfasts that you love? How do you eat more fat? And what’s important to think about when dining out?
Here are all the guides you need.
Breakfast is a great time to eat keto. Who doesn’t love bacon and eggs? If you don’t, there are great keto options with no eggs at all.
Another strong option is to just have a cup of coffee, as many people get less hungry on a keto diet and don’t really need breakfast. There are many other options – both delicious and fast.
So, what’s for lunch and dinner? You could for example have meat, chicken dishes with vegetables and a rich full-fat sauce. There are a million alternatives.
Check out this guide to learn to cook amazing keto meals.
How to make keto cheap
A keto diet doesn’t have to be expensive. In this guide, you’ll learn how to make it super cheap
How to eat more fat
Fat is filling and an amazing flavor enhancer. But how do you get enough of it in your diet? And how much fat should you really eat? Hint: enough to feel satisfied and not hungry.
Do you have a hard time living without bread?
There are good and bad keto options. Spoiler: you’ll probably want to stay away from “low-carb” bread from the grocery store! Here’s why, and what to do instead.
How do you eat keto at buffets, at a friend’s house or at fast-food restaurants? Avoid the starchy foods (like bread or pasta) and ask for additional natural fat, like butter or olive oil, if you need it.
To cheat or not to cheat? This guide will help you decide, and if you do decide to cheat, it will help you do it smarter.
Avoiding special products
Another common mistake on a keto diet is being fooled by the creative marketing of special “low-carb” products. Remember: An effective keto diet for weight loss should be based on real food.
Low-carb products like chocolate, candy, pasta and bread often use all kinds of deceptive marketing, while being just junk food – including carbs – in disguise.