The Ketogenic Diet: Beginner’s Guide

ketogenic diet guide and tips

The ketogenic diet is all the rage lately and it’s likely got you thinking if this super-low-carb eating plan is a bandwagon worth jumping on. The short answer? Yes. Numerous research and studies have confirmed that the keto diet is a healthy way to lose weight and maintain optimal health. It’s also sustainable and can be done on a budget, making it a realistic option for absolutely everyone. But perhaps you’re looking for the long answer as to whether or not it’s a bandwagon you want to take a ride on and well, that’s what we cover in this article.

What is the ketogenic diet?

First things first, what is the ketogenic diet? Commonly referred to as ‘the keto diet’, the ketogenic diet is one of the few “diets” that is commonly recommended by doctors due to its healthy, natural and powerful benefits for your physical, emotional and mental health. It’s an eating style that consists of a diet that’s high in healthy fat, and extremely low in carbs. But we aren’t just talking high. The keto diet consists of drastically lowering your carbohydrate intake and drastically increasing the amount of healthy fats you get from items such as avocados, eggs, nuts, seeds, fish, and so on and so forth.

It’s all done in an effort to get your body into a metabolic state known as ketosis. When your body is in this state, your metabolism shifts and relies on fat for fuel, which allows your body to burn fat at a much higher rate. Being in a state of ketosis also allows the body to turn fat into ketones found in the liver, which helps increase the energy supply for the brain.

What are the different types of keto?

The ketogenic diet is a diet in itself, but over the course of time, many different versions have been introduced. These versions still follow the low carb, high-fat approach, but they have slight variations to accommodate different lifestyles or preferences, such as a vegan diet or gluten-free diet. As you can imagine, there are many different versions now – from vegetarian options to keto plans that only use organic whole foods or that allow more carbs than the standard option or that use intermittent fasting, and so on and so forth. However, the four main types of keto are:

  • Standard ketogenic diet: low carb, moderate protein and high-fat diet that typically contains 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs
  • Cyclical ketogenic diet: consists of periods of higher-carb refeeds (for example, doing standard keto for 5 days and 2 days of a regular diet)
  • Targeted ketogenic diet: involves adding carbs around workouts
  • High protein ketogenic diet: low carb (5%), higher protein (35%) and high fat (60%) diet

The health benefits of the keto diet

If there’s one thing for certain, it’s that the ketogenic diet doesn’t fall short when it comes to health benefits. It’s one diet that has been vigorously studied and proven to be a good thing (most diets are not) with an abundance of mental and physical health benefits.

But the thing that makes keto diets so powerful is that their advantages go far beyond the typical, such as providing weight loss, increasing metabolism, etc. While these are all true for the ketogenic diet, (research shows it’s an effective, healthy and sustainable way to shed fat), numerous studies have also found that it can significantly improve the condition of people dealing with health conditions, including diabetes, cancer, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease. Not only that but following a ketogenic diet plan can also lower your risk of developing such diseases. It’s even been proven to have a plethora of mental health benefits as well, particularly for people dealing with depression and bipolar disorder.

As a quick recap, here are some of the top proven benefits of the ketogenic diet:

  • Weight loss
  • Reduced risk factors for heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Decreased blood pressure and triglyceride levels
  • Improved outcome of traumatic brain injuries
  • Lowered blood sugar levels
  • Improved insulin insensitivity
  • Helps diabetes and prediabetes
  • Fight against cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and epilepsy
  • Improved blood sugar management
  • Improved risk factors for heart disease

The things that separate the keto diet from others

There are some key differences that separate the ketogenic diet form the others. For starters, the fact that it is proven to be a natural, effective, healthy and sustainable style of eating is key. It’s like a lifestyle change or rather, it can be a lifestyle change for ongoing benefits and weight loss, whereas many other diets are only designed to be used for a short period of time.  Not only is this unhealthy but the second you go back to eating regularly, the weight you lost tackles back on.

The other major difference is that the ketogenic diet isn’t just for weight loss. While there’s no denying that weight loss is inevitable when your body is in ketosis, following a keto diet is proven to be a healthy way to eat that can also drastically improve your overall health and wellness, while also protecting you from potential diseases and illnesses.

Potential disadvantages of the keto diet

There are very few potential drawbacks of being on the keto diet. However, with any diet, there are bound to be some. For example, the ketogenic diet only became mainstream a couple of years ago, so there have yet to be studies conducted on the long-term effects of being in ketosis. On the bright side, there is enough information about ketosis and the body to understand the science (and benefits) of it. In other words, if you start eating an apple a day today, you won’t know the effects it’ll have on your body in 10 years but you know that eating an apple a day can’t be a bad thing. It’s kind of the same thing with ketosis.

The only other potential disadvantage is that the ketogenic diet can be expensive. It doesn’t have to be, but it can be. There are a lot of keto brands popping up on the market that have pre-made foods that are super convenient, but expensive. Fortunately, they’re optional and you can definitely go keto on a budget.

Starting your ketogenic diet

As you prepare to begin your journey, the most important thing you can do is research. You need to know what you can and cannot eat to get your body into ketosis and keep it there. You’ll also want to have a bunch of recipes on hand, extra tips for beginners, and so on and so forth. If you don’t want to do all the research and planning (who does?), there are many online keto programs out there that get you set up for success [check out our recommendation: 60 Day Custom Keto Diet Plan and the 28-Day Keto Challenge]. In the meantime, here’s a quick look at the types of foods you’ll want to start clearing out of your kitchen: 

  • Sugary foods
  • Grains and starches
  • Fruit (except berries)
  • Beans and legumes
  • Root vegetables
  • Low-fat or diet products, such as salad dressings and low-fat mayo
  • Unhealthy fat
  • Some condiments and sauces (most of them contain a lot of sugar)
  • Alcohol (there are keto-friendly versions)
  • Sugar-free food alternatives

You can’t really go wrong with the ketogenic diet. It’s scientifically proven to be a healthy diet that can improve your health, help you shed weight and enhance your overall health and wellness on a physical and mental level. It can fight off disease, prevent illnesses and potential health problems, and get you in the best shape of your life. It’s doctor-approved, based on science and easy to do once you get the hang of it. You just can’t go wrong with that.

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