You may have heard of the ketogenic diet, but have no idea what it means. Or you’re looking for a new diet low in carbs that will actually give you results. Here’s our all-inclusive guide to this low-carb dietary lifestyle which includes keto diet reviews from REAL people at the end.
The ketogenic diet plan is a low-carb, high-fat diet that aims to alter your metabolism so that your body relies primarily on fat for an energy source instead of quick-burning carbs.
Whenever you eat something high in carbs (a doughnut), your body will produce glucose and insulin.
Glucose – Almost everything we eat can be converted into glucose. Carbs are sugars, and all sugars are easily converted to glucose.
Since glucose is the easiest source for your body to convert to energy, it will be chosen over any other energy source to fuel the body. If you consume more sugar than your body needs to function, the excess glucose your body generates then gets stored as fat.
Insulin – Insulin is released while eating. It notifies your body to start taking glucose out of its bloodstream, which then lowers blood glucose levels. If not for insulin, you would go into hyperglycemic shock from something as simple as eating a few slices of pizza.
Since glucose is used as the primary energy source, fats aren’t needed, and instead they’re stored. Hence, people become overweight and increase their chances of health issues.
The idea behind the ketogenic diet is to change your body’s main fuel source from carbohydrates to ketones, which are the products of fat metabolism.
What are Ketones?
When you deprive yourself of glucose, the liver will begin to break down fat into glycerol and other fatty acid molecules. The fatty acid is then broken down even further into what’s called ketogenesis. This is the process where ketones are first created.
There are 3 types of ketones:
- Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB)
These ketones are all produced by the liver and are used as energy whenever glucose isn’t present. Once your body adapts to carb restriction, your muscles and brain start using ketones as fuel.
Transitioning Into a Ketogenic Diet
Switching from your current diet to a ketogenic diet transitions your body into a state of ketosis, which means your body is deriving the majority of your energy from ketones instead of from glucose (sugar). Your body is then forced to run off (and burn) fat, this metabolic transition is to thank for the ketogenic diet weight loss many people experience.
In this article, you’ll find further information about the ketogenic diet, a low-carb diet plan, keto diet before and after pictures, along with ketogenic diet tips.
Ketogenic Diet Plan Review
How does one go about transitioning to a fat-burning, ketogenic state? In a sense, you have to completely retrain your body with your diet. The standard American diet consists of fast-burning simple carbohydrates.
We eat a healthy breakfast of oatmeal and blueberries and by mid-morning, we’re starving and having a horrendous energy slump. This is due to blood sugars spiking then plummeting.
If instead, you reach for half an avocado and a large handful of nuts, you’ll find your energy levels stay relatively balanced and you’re not about to eat that entire box of donuts in the conference room. Fat takes awhile to break down and turn into energy, which means it stays in your system longer and gives you a steady stream of power.
Another potential positive aspect of the ketogenic diet meal plan is the ability to go longer between meals.
Let’s break that down…
Fats are shown to be the most effective macro nutrient to burn as fuel. Fats take longer to metabolize, which in turn, gives your body a more efficient and reliable energy source keeping you energized throughout the day. Staying satiated from a high fat diet will curb your mid-day hunger pangs and keep you from adding unneeded calories.
Unlike relying on a steady intake of carbs to fuel you throughout the day, your body can tap into those glorious stores of fat you’ve been trying to get rid of all these years. The fat cells of an average size person store over 70,000 calories of fat, which means if you can train your body to burn fat, you have a ton of energy at hand.
It’s not uncommon for followers of the ketogenic diet plan to be able to go four to six hours, or longer, between meals before hunger pangs kick in.
Ketosis is a metabolic state where ketones are used as the body’s energy supply instead of using glucose. After the body has switched it’s fuel supply to fat, insulin levels drop very low and increased fat burning begins.
How do you know if you’re in a state of ketosis? Aside from judging by how you feel (i.e. no plummeting energy levels), you can keep tabs on your ketone levels by checking the levels in your blood or urine with ketone testers, available at many pharmacies.
Signs that you’re in ketosis
- Dry mouth and feeling thirsty– Make sure to drink lost of water.
- “Keto breath” – This happens due to acetone (type of ketone) escaping through your breath. It’s a pungent odor that smells like alcohol. Good news it’s only temporary when you first get into ketosis.
- Increased urination – When you’re transitioning into ketosis, you’ll notice that you have to go to the bathroom more often. This is mainly from you having to drink more water due to the the dry mouth you’re experiencing.
- Appetite suppression – Most people experience reduced hunger once in ketosis. This is caused because the body is now being fueled by fat stores.
- Extra energy – Majority feel increased energy throughout the day with the ability to focus at a higher level.
6 Benefits of Ketosis
- Weight loss – Since your body is using fat as energy, your fat stores will start to melt away. You won’t feel hungry as often, which will help keep your caloric intake down.
- Increased mental focus – While in ketosis, you’ll receive a constant amount of ketones feeding your brain. No more spurts of blood sugar to the brain, which results in improved mental focus and concentration.
- Reverse type 2 diabetes – The main culprit of type 2 diabetes is high insulin levels. You couldn’t be in ketosis without having very low blood sugar levels, which means your insulin levels are extremely low. In fact, recent high quality studies have shown to reverse type 2 diabetes.
- Controlling epilepsy – Using a ketogenic diet allows people with epilepsy to stay seizure-free. There are multiple controlled studies that show how effective the keto diet is for decreasing seizures.
- Fight Brain Disorders – Ketogenic diets have shown to treat and even help reverse brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
- Reduce acne – Eating less sugar and cutting down on processed foods can help clear up your acne.
Other Common Benefits
- Reduce Migraines – Studies have shown that a ketogenic diet can help mitigate migraine headaches.
- Less Sugar Cravings – A keto diet without sweeteners can help compress sugar urges.
- Less Heartburn – Going on a ketogenic diet has shown that acid reflux victims became considerably better.
- Balance Blood Pressure – Increased insulin levels have shown to increase blood pressure. Adhering to a ketogenic diet has time and again shown to lower insulin levels and lower blood pressure.
Possible Ketogenic Diet side effects or Known as “Keto Flu”
Whenever you decide to jump into a ketogenic state, you may encounter some side effects – aka “keto flu” for the first few weeks. Some potentials include: low energy, grouchiness, “keto breath,” headaches, constipation, irregular heart beats, and leg cramps. They are usually minor, so don’t go thinking you are going to get a heart attack if your heart beats a little faster than normal.
However, there is a solution to counter these issues…
You can combat these minor issues by:
- Increasing your intake of water and salt.
- Cut back on your intensity when working out
- Eat snacks high in fat, ex – nuts, coffee with grass fed butter, avocado, eggs, nut butters
- Avoid processed foods
If you make this a priority when you’re first starting out on the ketogenic diet, you’ll prevent most of these issues from keto flu from the start.
Ketogenic Grocery Shopping List
Here is a list of the best ketogenic food choices you can add to your low-carb shopping list so you can prepare delicious meals, rich in healthy fats and muscle-building protein.
- Grass-fed beef, lamb, pork
- Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck)
- Olive oil, vegetable oil, salad dressings
- Fish and seafood
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole eggs (whites and yolks)
- Nut butter (except peanut)
- Full-fat dairy products (cheeses, creams, yogurt)
Does the Ketogenic Diet Work?
- Because you will be eating tasty, low-carb foods higher in protein and fiber (the fiber comes from the vegetables), you won’t be so hungry so often. You will be much less likely to overeat.
- Eliminating processed foods means dumping fewer added sugars and other potentially harmful ingredients into our bodies, which helps us feel better in the short term and helps us maintain our health in the long term.
- Diets lower in carbs (without trying to eliminate them completely) have been shown to promote healthy weight loss because of fewer sugars and higher amounts of protein, fatty foods and veggies.
Keto Diet Before and After Weight Loss Results
Ketogenic diet weight loss does exist, just ask these lovely ladies. In addition to fat loss, the ketogenic diet has also proven to be successful for other non-weight loss side effects, including clearer thinking, clearer skin and no more sugar crashes.
“I have been on keto for a little over a week and received phenomenal results! I have lost 12lbs in one week following the ketogenic diet. I haven’t measured myself but I can tell you that I am down at least one pant size. It’s incredible! I have so much more energy on this diet. It may sound strange, but by having a high-fat diet but I feel like I’m on top of the world. Another incredible change that I’ve noticed is that I have always had a really hard time focusing and never did great in school, but I recently tried an online course and I read a lecture. I almost cried because I didn’t have to re-read it. I understood it the first time. That has never happened to me before. My body and brain are adapting very well to this diet. My brain feels so at ease… Like it took a breath of fresh air. I know I sound crazy but it’s the truth.
The most difficult part of the diet was that I faced the “keto flu”. It lasted a couple days and I was miserable but I knew I had to push through it and I’m glad I did. The outcome so far has been fantastic. The easy part is being able to enjoy food and not be bored with a typical salad and veggies all the time like you see in other diets.
If you want to give keto a try, don’t give up! You may face some challenges like this (plank challenge ) as I did but push through and you won’t be disappointed.”
“I have been on the Keto diet now since January of 2015. I have experienced weight loss, with my highest weight being 162 and my lowest being 128lbs. I have also seen changes in my energy levels, I used to crash after about 3 hours without a snack. I would get shaky and cranky and feel like I could faint. Now, if I am being true to this diet, I do not have these crashes and I can go 5, even 7 hours during the day without really needing to eat. I also see that my skin is clearer and brighter, and my nails are stronger. Cutting sugar out is a lifestyle choice for me, and I plan to maintain it.
The most difficult thing about the diet was the adjustment in the beginning. Cutting out all of the delicious bread and ice cream 🙂 After really cutting the sweet flavor, I no longer had cravings for it at all and was not tempted by those types of foods. After maintaining this diet for a year and a half now, I have (unfortunately) introduced some sugar substitutes into my diet… and it has been hard for me as my cravings for sweet has returned. The easiest part of the diet is finding delicious meal options and not feeling like I am starving myself. This isn’t a diet for me, it has just become a lifestyle. My friends, coworkers, and family are all on board and very supportive.
If you are at all interested in this diet, give it at least a month! And, do your best to cut out the sweet flavor entirely for a while. I lost the bulk of my weight when I had zero artificial sweeteners in my diet. Also, do your reading! It makes it easier to explain to friends and family, and having that support is so important.”
“I have been following the Keto Diet since April of 2015. I’ve lost 46lbs and about 20 inches overall. In addition to the inches and weight loss, my overall well-being has improved. I wake up with more energy, my acne on my face and back has cleared up enormously. I use to have cystic acne on my back from the age of 13-31 and now I don’t even get blemishes. My hunger levels are more in control and I never get “hangry”.
The easiest thing about the diet is that you can find food at almost every restaurant. It isn’t a hard diet to follow because, for the most part, you can eat as much protein and fat as you want, and just cut out carbohydrates. It would be hard to find a restaurant that doesn’t have a burger that you can ask for without the bun. The most difficult thing about any diet is overcoming your previous mentality when it comes to food. Sticking to any way of eating or exercise plan is more of a mental game than a physical one.
If you’re thinking of trying the keto diet, I would suggest you do your own research. Read up on a Ketogenic way of life and see if it will fit your needs. I’ve introduced about 4 others to this way of eating since I started and point them in the direction of some good resources to get them started.”
Keto Before and After Success Stories
Below we will explore the success stories as well as see the keto before and after pictures. These women have had amazing success with the ketogenic lifestyle, see for yourself!
Our first keto before and after story will inspire you! “I’ve been following a ketogenic diet for 2 years and have lost 198 pounds – over 100 inches (since I started keeping track), 10 dress sizes, and 1 shoe size!
The most difficult part of transitioning to a keto lifestyle is the mindset – realizing that I had an addiction to carbs and sugar and that moderation wasn’t an option. I choose to eat clean and I choose to stick to my plan.
The easiest part is that because Keto is high fat, I’m not constantly hungry – so food doesn’t rule my thoughts or my life. It’s incredibly liberating.
My advice to anyone interested in trying keto for the first time: You have to commit to this – it’s not a diet – it’s a lifestyle change. You won’t see the results you want if you treat it like a diet. The health benefits are enormous- weight loss is the bonus.”
Our second keto diet before and after story is one of success. “I started the Keto diet last October after having ACL surgery. So far, I have lost 90 pounds.
The hardest part of making the move to keto for me was learning that eating fat was okay and that veggies have carbs in them. I was so used to low-fat diets where you can have an unlimited amount of vegetables that I was shocked to learn everything I thought was wrong.
Easiest part is eating bacon. Seriously, I eat all the bacon and then some.
The keto lifestyle doesn’t take a ton of effort, I started this diet while on bed rest. I was in a wheelchair for weeks after that and without really moving around I was able to eat cheese, butter, bacon, and other fats while losing weight. If you’re looking for a little keto inspiration, you can find a ton on my website, Love at First Spice!”
How can you tell if you are in ketosis on the ketogenic diet?
When you are in ketosis, your body produces ketones. In people without diabetes, ketones are produced when the body begins to burn fat to use as fuel. This process can begin as early as 3 to 4 days after cutting your carb and/or calorie intake. For people with diabetes, ketones are the result of consistently high blood sugar, and are a sign you are insulin deficient.
There are several ways to test your ketone levels at home. The easiest and most straightforward are by testing your urine or your blood. You can purchase a device that will test your blood and provide a ketone reading, or you can purchase urine strips and test your urine that way. Urine tests are available at most drugstores without a prescription.
You ideally want your ketone levels between 1.5 and 3.0 mmol/L.
Is the Ketogenic Diet Safe?
The ketogenic diet has been in the lime light over the last few years. Proponents of the diet rave about all the positive benefits with weight loss and how they feel. On the other hand, opponents state that many negative health affects can come from the diet. Overall, many health experts suggest that a ketogenic diet is safe for the majority of the population.
Individuals with diabetes need to be cautious with the ketogenic diet. Insulin levels and blood glucose levels will be affected greatly while being in ketosis. This can lead to ketoacidosis.
Is a keto diet helpful for people suffering from psoriasis?
This is one of those cases in which some people may benefit from changing their diet, and some may not. Some people find that certain foods trigger psoriasis symptoms, and sometimes those foods happen to be high in carbohydrates. If someone with psoriasis goes on a ketogenic diet, and their condition improves, there’s no telling exactly which foods may have been causing flare-ups. Many doctors recommend supervised elimination diets to help psoriasis patients figure out which foods cause flare-ups and which don’t. In the end, if high-carb foods turn out to be problematic for you, you might benefit from a lower-carb diet.
Always remember that you won’t know what works for you personally until you test the results for yourself. Changing your diet may improve your symptoms — and it might not. Unfortunately, at this point, evidence is strictly testimonial. There is no scientific research that can provide a yes or no answer to this question. However, changing your diet, making healthier food choices and avoiding the foods that trigger flare-ups in your psoriasis, may prove effective.
When should one do a keto diet?
There are a few reasons, medical and non-medical, a person might start a ketogenic diet. Medically, a doctor will sometimes prescribe a ketogenic diet for a child with epilepsy. It’s much more common for adults with diabetes to follow a ketogenic diet to control their carb intake and maintain normal blood sugar levels.
However, many people also prefer following a ketogenic diet for weight management purposes. Reducing the amount of sugar (carbs) in your diet can certainly help you lose weight if you’re eating the right foods. Just be aware that you’re going to be eating a lot of fat — this isn’t a bad thing, but don’t be surprised if you notice your percentage of calories from fat is higher than normal.
Why am I gaining fat on a keto diet plan?
The simplest answer to this question would be that you’re following a high-fat diet. A ketogenic diet is designed to provide very low amounts of carbs and protein, and, therefore, very high amounts of fat. You’re eating more fat to compensate for fewer grams of carbs and protein.
The science of fat is much more complex than this, of course. However, you may want to consider evaluating the types of fats you are consuming. How much of your fat intake is saturated versus unsaturated? You want to try to eat as much healthy (unsaturated) fat as possible throughout your day.
Also consider your calorie intake. If you are trying to lose weight, you still need to consume an average of 500 calories fewer than your recommended daily energy intake. If you are consuming a large number of high-calorie foods, that could also explain why you might be gaining fat. You can still gain weight from excess calories, regardless of where they are coming from.
What amount of fat per meal is recommended on a keto diet?
How much fat you eat on the ketogenic diet depends on a few specific things — mainly, your gender, age, weight, height, activity level, and the like. It also depends on your purpose. Are you trying to maintain your current weight, or lose it?
In general though, you should prepare to consume anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of your daily calories from fat. You can portion that out for each meal as well — at the most, 80 percent of your breakfast should come from fat, 15 percent from protein, and 5 percent from carbs. Keep in mind that you should be eating as many healthy fats as possible as part of this percentage.
Always remember, before beginning any diet, that healthy eating does not always mean instant results. But it is possible to lose 15 pounds in a month while being on this diet. Be patient. Go slowly and don’t forget to enjoy your food!