06 Aug What Is the Ketogenic Diet and How Do You Get Started On It? (Guest Post by Louise Hendon)
This is a guest post by Louise Hendon, co-host of The Keto Summit and author of The Essential Keto Cookbook. She is so knowledgeable about Keto, and I am so excited to have her here today, sharing all of her knowledge with you all!
What exactly is the ketogenic (or keto) diet? That’s something most folks are confused by, as keto is about more than just which foods to eat and which foods to avoid.
If you’re currently grain-free, it’s definitely a way of eating worth exploring.
Keto combines with paleo very easily, which is why it’s so popular among paleo experts like Mark Sisson and Robb Wolf, who both took part in the Keto Summit. In fact, you get a whole host of awesome health benefits by putting the two diets together.
We’ll go over: what keto is, what you can eat on the keto diet, how keto combines with grain-free eating, reasons you should go keto, and 5 steps to get you started.
What Is Keto?
The keto diet focuses on putting your body into a powerful metabolic mode called ketosis, which is when your body burns fewer carbs/sugar for energy and starts burning more fat instead.
You can reach ketosis by altering the types and ratios of the foods you eat and you’ll know you’ve gotten there because the levels of ketones in your blood will increase.
History of keto:
Most folks are surprised to learn is that keto isn’t a new diet. It’s actually been around since the 1920s.
Back then, it was developed as a highly effective way to treat children with epilepsy – which is a little different from what most of us use keto for today. It’s recently increased in popularity as more and more people become aware of its fantastic health benefits.
What Do You Eat On Keto?
So how do those principles translate into what foods you can and can’t eat?
Foods to eat include non-starchy vegetables, meats, organ meats, fish and shellfish, nuts and seeds, berries, and healthy fats.
Foods to avoid include starchy vegetables, grains, beans, sugars, soy, vegetable and seed oils.
For a more detailed list of foods to eat on Keto (as well as foods to avoid), check out the Keto diet food list here.
Is Keto Grain-free?
Absolutely, and avoiding all grains is an important part of the keto diet.
You’ll still be cutting out grains like wheat, corn, barley, rice, rye, and oats. And you should avoid even pseudo grains like quinoa as they can cause some inflammation and are high in carbs.
In fact, your diet won’t change much from Paleo if you focus on doing keto the healthy way by eating lots of unprocessed nutrient-dense whole foods.
The main difference will be the amount of carbohydrates you consume. As the keto diet is much lower in carbohydrate levels, you’ll be avoiding starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes as well as Paleo sugars and sweet things like honey, maple syrup, and dried fruits.
Why Should You Go Keto?
Most people try keto for all its great health benefits. Here are just some of the main ones:
- It can eliminate your cravings as you’ll be avoiding all the sugary foods we can so often be addicted to. Fruit juices and naturally sweet products like honey can still trigger cravings and keto gives you the chance to break free from these.
- It can balance your energy levels throughout the day and many folks report feeling more alert and focused once they start the keto diet.
- It can stop overeating because the keto diet naturally decreases your appetite by affecting the levels of your ‘hunger hormones’. This means you’ll feel less hungry and will eat less without even trying.
- It can stabilize your mood helping your mind become healthier, as well as your body. A study looked at the impact of a ketogenic diet on animals and found that it could have an antidepressant effect. So don’t be surprised if you find yourself feeling more cheerful!
- It can help you lose weight. This is perhaps the benefit people love the most, and if you commit to a healthy nutrient-dense version of keto, then you’ll get the benefits of both Paleo and keto at the same time.
5 Steps To Get Started On Keto
If you’re ready to give keto a try – here are five steps to help you get started.
1 – Get together some great keto recipes and go shopping for ingredients. This will keep you focused on all the tasty things you can eat instead of fixating on the foods you’re avoiding. Plus, you’ll find that some of your favorite grain-free recipes are already keto like Sadie’s Coconut Green Smoothie Bowl. You can also check out my keto cookbooks here for more recipe ideas.
2 – Start by eating unlimited protein/fat but decreasing your carbohydrate intake to under 25g per day. Ease yourself into the keto diet gradually and then adjust your protein/fat ratios once you’re comfortable. Taking things slowly in the beginning will stop you feeling overwhelmed.
3 – Tell your friends/family before you start to help keep yourself accountable. Sharing your goals significantly increases your chances of success. Plus, maybe some of them will join you – which will make sticking to the diet a whole lot easier.
4 – Start during a week when you’re not so busy so you can really focus on keto. The first few weeks can be tough as you adjust to not eating so much sugar and other carbohydrates. Make sure you eat enough food and take in enough salts.
5 – Don’t get stuck on high ketone levels. While measuring your ketone levels can definitely be helpful, don’t despair if you can’t get them high enough. If you’re looking for weight-loss, then it’s the results you should care about and many people find they lose weight on keto even without high blood ketone levels.
I think of keto as a helpful tool rather than as a new diet. It’s a way of optimizing your existing grain-free or Paleo diet to get rid of sugar cravings and drop some more weight. Just make sure you still eat a healthy diet full of nutrient-dense foods regardless of which diet you’re on.
Thanks so much for this lovely post, Louise!