Beginning the Keto Diet: Things to Know
There’s always a diet of the day. And, like clockwork, eventually the diet of the day changes. We’ve had the Mediterranian diet, the high-protein diet, the low-fat diet, the no-fat diet – and now the ketogenic (keto) diet. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll look at the ketogenic diet, beginning today with a discussion of what the keto diet is and what basics you should know before beginning.
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is busting the “fat makes you fat” mindset with its high-fat, low-carbs, moderate-protein guidelines. The purpose of the keto diet is to burn fats instead of carbs, putting your body into a fat-burning state.  On a keto diet your carbs intake is lowered, which causes your glucose levels to lower also. When you don’t have adequate glucose to convert into energy your body goes into ketosis – which is the basis of the keto diet. Ketosis is the state of using ketones for fuel instead of glucose. Whenever glucose is present in your body, your body will use that for energy. The body will not burn fat in the presence of glucose.
Ketosis has significant health benefits such as:
- Weight Loss – hunger and cravings are reduced; you stay full longer
- Reduced Risks of Disease – lowered risks of heart disease, type II diabetes and even some types of cancer
- Higher Energy Levels – due to reduced blood sugar spikes
- Increased Mental Focus
- Decreased Cholesterol
- Lowered Blood Pressure
- Lowered Risk of Insulin Resistance – which is the cause of diabetes
Wait…..Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat?
Most of us have heard this for most of our lives: fat makes you fat. This theory originates from 1970s nutrition research. The proposed perfect diet then was low-fat (or no-fat), high-carb. The problem was people were still gaining weight. An answer: the keto diet with its reversed methodologies.
The Keto Diet Breakdown
On the keto diet, you will consume macronutrients using the below percentages as a guideline. 
- Fats: 70-80%
- Protein: 20-25%
- Carbs: 5-10%
(NOTE: These are guidelines only. To find the right percentages for you, use a calculator such as this Keto Calculator. )
Getting Started on a Keto Diet
To begin, you want to throw your body into a state of ketosis. Here are the steps, in order, that you’ll need to take: 
- Restrict your carbs. Try to stay below 20g of net carbs and below 35g total carbs per day.
- Restrict your protein intake. Protein can lower your levels of ketosis so you’ll want to keep your protein intake in the 0.6g-0.8g of protein per pound lean body mass.
- Don’t obsess about fat! You need fats on the keto diet so you must provide adequate levels of fat in your daily diet.
- Stay hydrated. Try to drink a gallon of water per day. This also helps with hunger control.
- Stop snacking. Snacking tends to lead to insulin spikes and these spikes make weight loss more difficult. Cut out unnecessary snacking.
- Start fasting. Fasting can lead to daily consistent ketone levels. Research different types of fasting to find the right (and safe) kind of fast for you.
- Get moving. Add at least 20-30 minutes of exercise to your day. Exercise can help regulate both weight loss and blood sugar levels.
- Take your vitamins! Supplements can be helpful on a keto diet.
How to Tell if You’re in Ketosis
Here’s a short list of physical signs that tell you your body is in a state of ketosis: 
- Increased urination. Acetoacetate is a ketone body and is excreted in the urine. This can lead to increased urination for beginners.
- Dry mouth. Increased urination can cause dry mouth and increased thirst. Drink water! This will help with your electrolytes levels as well.
- Bad breath. Another ketone body, acetone, partially excretes in the breath. This results in the “fruity” breath smell present in diabetics. It’s temporary.
- Reduced hunger and increased energy.
It can be difficult to so radically reverse ways of thinking we’ve had for years, but that reversal is the foundation for the ketogenic diet. Fats are not the bad guy they’ve been made out to be (not all fats, anyway), and a diet of high-fat, low-carb and moderate protein will force your body to burn fats instead of the glucose it usually gets from carbohydrates in a process referred to as ketosis.
As usual before beginning anything new that affects your body and health, do your due diligence, research the types of keto diets, calculate what your macronutrient percentages should be, and consult with your healthcare provider first. Tune in next week for more information on the different types of keto diets, what foods you can and cannot consume on a keto diet, and a discussion on macronutrients!
Image Credits: lepfitness.co.uk.com