There are many skeptics to the ketogenic diet because it goes completely against all of the nutritional beliefs we have been taught. After all, consuming a healthy portion of carbohydrates was always encouraged for a “well-balanced diet”.
But thanks to modern science, we have discovered that following a low carb, high fat lifestyle may just be the most effective weight loss regimen known to man. In this article, we’re going to dive deep into why following a ketogenic diet can help you drop fat faster than ever.
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a low carbohydrate, moderate protein, high fat diet that was initially prescribed to children with epilepsy back in the 1920s. But it wasn’t until the past couple decades did scientists start researching the weight loss and mental clarity benefits that come with restricting carbohydrates.
Successfully following a keto diet means you must eliminate most carbohydrates from your diet and replace it with healthy fats and protein. Studies have proven that saturated fats and dietary fats in general are not the culprit for weight gain or heart disease. In fact, they are actually healthy for you (when consumed from the right sources)[*].
How Does Keto Work?
There are two main energy sources that your body can run on, glucose (from carbohydrates) or ketones (from fats).
The only way to use ketones as a fuel source is by restricting carbohydrates and increasing healthy fat intake. By doing so, you enter a fat burning mode also known as a state of ketosis. This is because glucose takes priority for energy if there are carbohydrates present in your body. When you remove carbs, you use fats -- both dietary and stored body fat -- for energy instead.
Ketones are molecules that can supply the brain and body. In fact, your body prefers this fuel source over glucose. Not only do you receive the benefits of weight loss by becoming a fat-burner, but you’ll begin to experience mental clarity and improved mood.
The ketogenic diet also decreases insulin levels. High insulin levels contribute to weight gain and certain metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.
Aren’t Fats Bad for Your Health?
There is a common misconception that eating fats make you fat and unhealthy. However, advice from nutritionists and researchers in the past failed to mention that there are good fats and bad fats.
Additionally, we were conditioned to think that saturated fats cause heart disease. Recent studies have debunked this and have demonstrated that saturated fats are actually healthy for you[*].
In fact, our bodies actually prefer to run on fats rather than carbohydrates. It’s been shown to improve your mitochondria, produces more energy, and supplies the brain with a more efficient energy source.
Good fats to consume on keto include saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as:
Conversely, unhealthy fats such as vegetable oils and certain polyunsaturated fats can increase the risk of heart disease, harm your gut health, and increase LDL “bad” cholesterol.
Avoid consuming unhealthy vegetable oils including:
Studies Prove that Keto is the Most Effective Weight Loss Diet
Scientific literature has proven that adopting a ketogenic lifestyle is the most effective weight loss diet.
One randomized control study looked into the effects of keto in conjunction to a Crossfit training routine to see determine its efficacy. The results found that the participants who followed a ketogenic diet experienced a significant decrease in body fat percentage, body weight, and overall fat mass compared to the group who consumed carbohydrates[*].
Following a low carb, high fat lifestyle helps you preserve muscle mass and improve various markers of metabolic disease such as inflammation, high blood pressure, and obesity[*][*][*][*].
5 Reasons Why Keto is the Best Diet for Weight Loss
There are various mechanisms that occur in the body when you enter a state of ketosis, all of which allow you to burn fat more efficiently and lose weight faster. Here’s why the keto diet is the most effective weight loss protocol:
#1) Appetite Suppression
Think back to a time where you tried to a diet that requires an extreme calorie restriction. Chances are, you felt very hungry and ended up binge eating soon after.
The ketogenic diet is proven to help you feel satiated because it positively alters your hunger hormones, ghrelin and leptin[*].
#2) Higher Protein Intake
A standard ketogenic diet is higher in protein compared to the standard American diet. Against popular opinion in the keto community, higher protein intake is actually good for you and will help you lose weight.
There’s a common fallacy that eating too much protein on keto will knock them out of a fat burning state. Some people believe this is due to excess protein turning into sugar -- kicking them out of ketosis -- through a process called gluconeogenesis (GNG).
But the truth is, GNG is an important metabolic pathway of the body. There are some organ function that can only survive off glucose. GNG will not ruin your ketogenic diet goals.
Protein is known as the most filling macro out of the three (protein, carbohydrates, fats). Higher protein consumption will help you stay fuller for longer periods of time[*].
#3) Preserves Muscle Mass
Being in a state of ketosis prevents your body from breaking down muscle for energy. When compared to standard, carbohydrate-heavy diets, the ketogenic diet provides muscle sparing effects when calories are under maintenance[*].
#4) Improved Fat Burning Abilities
When you restrict carbohydrates and increase your fat intake, you’re priming your metabolism to rely on fats for energy. This means your body uses both dietary and stored body fat as a fuel source, which makes losing weight much easier.
#5) Keto Increases Your Energy Levels
Think back to the times where you ate a high carb meal. Sure you may have had energy for one or two hours, but it typically leads to extreme burnout and hunger shortly afterwards. This occurs because your spiking your body’s blood sugar which causes extreme tiredness.
Conversely, ketones provide more ATP (energy) molecules per calorie. So when you’ve become keto-adapted, you’ll begin to experience sustained energy levels throughout the day without any crashes.
The Ketogenic Diet Will Help You Reach Your Weight Loss Goals Faster Than Any Other Regimen Out There
The ketogenic diet is one of the most widely studied nutrition protocols for a reason, because it works and it’s our body’s preferred way of eating.
While other diets may help you lose weight, it usually comes with negative consequences. Calorie restriction diets can lead to excessive binge eating shortly afterwards whereas other diets don’t have tasty foods.
Thankfully, science is finally proving to us that a low carb, high fat lifestyle isn’t just the most effective weight loss regimen, but it’s also the best diet for overall health.
By Jessica L.
It won’t be long before the leaves begin to change color and pumpkin-everything takes over! With changing seasons, from warm to cool, comes a new set of produce you’ll see readily available in grocery stores and farmers’ markets. Late summer to early autumn brings us more flavorful above-ground vegetables, spicy peppers, and the arrival of some root vegetables.
Unfortunately, the keto diet excludes some of these iconic fall foods from our plates, but that’s okay! There are many ways to enjoy what this transitional season has to offer without ruining states of ketosis.
Listed below are three selections of seasonal produce: foods that are perfect for the keto diet, foods that are okay in moderation, and foods that should be avoided. If you’re not sure what to do with some of these ingredients, check out the Carb Manager Premium Recipes for suggestions, nutritional info, and delicious flavor combinations.
Here are a mix of late summer and early fall veggies that you can jive with! Once you’ve portioned your fat and protein you’ll eat in a meal, you can fill up any remaining hunger with the produce listed below. You’ll find a lot of Vitamin A, C, K, and Folate in this list. These are great vitamins and nutrients for fighting off the cold-weather flu!
Okay In Moderation
Listed below are vegetables, berries, and nuts that can be consumed in occasional, small portions. Nuts will be your healthiest option, since most nuts are still very nutrient-dense. This means you can get a full nutritional serving from consuming a small amount, such as B vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium. Nuts also have varying degrees of healthy oils!
These are the foods that should be avoided at all times. They are high in carbohydrates, especially sugar. Unfortunately, you may have to skip out on the apple pie at Thanksgiving, but there are plenty of dessert alternatives that you can still enjoy on the Keto diet! Check out the Dessert section in the Carb Manager Premium Recipes for ideas.
Hopefully this handy guide can help you explore the possibilities of your keto diet and find creative ways to enjoy what late summer and early autumn have to offer. Sound off in the comments below, and let the Carb Manager community know what your favorite keto seasonal foods are!
As always, the Carb Manager team is available to answer questions or provide cooking tips. You are welcome to ask our team in the comments of specific recipes as well, and we will be happy to help!
by Priscilla Chamessian
When the weather gets warmer and Summer rolls around, you can bet that your local farmers market, grocery store, and vegetable garden will be filled with zucchini. Zucchini squash is a favorite in the Keto community as a low carb vegetable that is incredibly versatile. Roasted, steamed, and spiralized are just a few ways enjoy these tasty veggies! Aside from its chameleon abilities, zucchini is also very nutritious and a great addition to any Keto lifestyle.
One cup (124g) of chopped zucchini has 4 grams of carbohydrates and a little over 1 gram of dietary fiber. The unassuming and versatile vegetable is a great source of vitamin B6, which is helpful for healthy skin, digestion, sleep and more! Zucchini provides good sources of other B vitamins, like riboflavin and folate. In addition to B vitamins, a cup of zucchini provides 325mg of potassium, which is about the same amount of potassium as a small banana! This is extremely important as many well known sources of potassium are not Keto, and potassium is critical for heart function, electrolyte balance, and muscle function. Last but certainly not least, zucchini is a vitamin C powerhouse! One cup provides 35% of your daily need of vitamin C, assisting with immunity and more.
Now that we know zucchini is basically a Keto superfood, what are the best ways to enjoy zucchini in meals? We’ve compiled some of our favorite and most popular zucchini recipes below. When selecting zucchini for your meals, look for small to medium-sized squashes, about 4-8 inches in length. Small to moderate sized zucchini will have fewer seeds and typically be less watery. Look for zucchini that are firm and have no dents or soft spots, especially at the ends. If you have zucchini plants in your garden, be vigilant about checking each day for new squashes and picking them prior to getting too large. If you end up with a monster zucchini, no worries! These zucchinis taste best if you scrape out the seeds and cube up the remaining flesh to use in recipes.
Let us know what you think!
1. Low Carb Chicken Alfredo Zoodles
The Keto lifestyle may cut out pasta made from grains, but we promise you won’t miss pasta once you try making zucchini noodles, or “zoodles.” Zoodles are a cinch to make with any type of vegetable spiralizer! When paired with the homemade alfredo sauce, you get a rich and extremely Keto-friendly dish!
2. Keto Zucchini Rolls
In addition to your typical zucchini pasta, you can also slice zucchini into long thin strips to make lasagna or rollatini. These zucchini rolls are filled with a rich and flavorful tomato pork mixture and then baked. Top them with some mozzarella cheese and broil and you’ll forget about regular manicotti and lasagna.
3. Keto Zucchini Stuffed with Lamb
If you want to use zucchini in a more hearty way, you can core out small to medium-sized zucchinis and stuff them. This Middle Eastern-inspired dish pairs ground lamb with tomatoes, herbs and spices in a tender and delicious zucchini boat.
4. Zucchini Fritters
If you have a grater, you can make delicious snacks like these zucchini fritters! Combining zucchini with some cheese and almond flour ensure they are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
5. Parmesan Zucchini Fries
Last but certainly not least, zucchini can be used in place of potatoes to make delicious zucchini fries! These fries are coated in a delicious parmesan mixture and baked for a crispy outside and tender inside.
By Jessica Lewandowski
If you have ever been around anyone on a diet before (which you have), you have probably heard the term “cheat day.” When you close your eyes, what do you imagine a cheat day to look like? For most of us, images of calorie-loaded foods like pizza, takeout, and sweets flash behind our eyelids. As appealing as those images are, you’ve probably questioned yourself if a cheat day is worth risking your ketogenic diet.
To put it quite simply: no matter what diet you take part in, “cheat days” are a flat out no-no. Don’t move on to a different article in disappointment just yet! There are plenty of ways to treat yourself while on a keto diet. Let’s go over a brief explanation of why cheat days don’t work on a keto diet and the other ways your can indulge.
Ketosis is Consistent
To put your body in a state of ketosis, you have to remove unhealthy carbohydrates from your diet. This way, instead of your body using sugar for energy, it will use the fats you consume. Instead of fat being stored in your body, that fat will power you through the day, resulting in weight loss. When you “cheat” on your diet, and eat foods with more carbohydrates than normal, you more or less sabotage all the work you’ve been putting into your keto diet. Your body will naturally choose the sugars you consume for energy first. Where does all the fat go then? It gets stored in all those areas you’re trying to lose weight in. This leads to bloating, sluggishness, and sometimes even headaches. So much for enjoying a cheat day, right?
Why We Cheat
The main reason so many people indulge on cheat days is because they are starving their bodies of certain foods they crave during most days of the week. While someone may look happy while biting down into something they shouldn’t on a Sunday, they’re doing more harm than good. Instead of using a cheat day to reward yourself, try reshaping your mindset. Don’t make yourself miserable by limiting the foods you like. This way, you aren’t battling cravings by the end of the week and you can focus on keeping your ketogenic diet consistent. Check out the CarbManager Recipes and Premium Recipes for a variety of ketogenic dessert options. Read on in the CarbManager Blog as well for tips on how to enjoy tasty treats like chocolate, baked goods, and fruit!
Eat to Your Heart’s Desire
You may be surprised at how innovative keto dieters can be! You don’t need a cheat day to enjoy ketogenic pizza, pasta, and burgers. Whatever your taste buds may be tempted towards, there is a keto substitution for it that won’t ruin all your hard work!
The key to avoiding cheat days is to make sure you’re satisfying what your body wants to eat while still following the guidelines of the ketogenic diet. Whether you are craving something sweet, salty, or in between, CarbManager can help you choose the right foods that will keep your happy and healthy.
By Jessica Lewandowski
Whether celebrating a special occasion, or you just happen to have an intense craving, it’s sometimes impossible to get dessert off your mind! It may seem tricky to figure out ways to include dessert in your low carb or ketogenic diet, but it can be done! There are many recipes within the CarbManager app for delicious, low carb desserts that won’t ruin your diet. Read on to learn how to wisely include a few popular types of once-in-a-while-treats while still satisfying those cravings.
When you are thinking of ways to enjoy dessert on a low carb diet, one of the first ideas you may have is chocolate. This is a great starting point, but you’ll be surprised to learn that carbohydrates can sneak their way into your cocoa treats! By learning some basic Chocolate 101, you can avoid overly sweet chocolate desserts while maintaining your diet.
There are three main types of chocolate, which you’re probably very acclimated with: dark, milk, and white. These types are separated by the percentage of dairy mixed in with the natural cacao bean when chocolate is being made. White chocolate has the highest dairy content (in fact, it has no cacao in it at all - it’s just milk solids, cocoa butter, and sugar)! Milk chocolate usually has around 50% dairy mixed in, and dark chocolate will have 40% or less dairy.
To put it simply, the darker the chocolate you choose, the more chocolate you can actually enjoy. There are many great dessert recipes in the CarbManager app, and you’ll see dark chocolate makes multiple guest appearances.
You may notice there is little to no fruit in a low carb or ketogenic diet. Since most fruit is loaded with natural sugars (carbohydrates), it is very tricky to include it in your low carb desserts. While you are unlikely to get your hands on fruit pies and cakes, there’s a couple ways you can sneak in a little fruity sweetness to your dessert.
One way to enjoy a fruit dessert on a low carb diet is with a smoothie. CarbManager has a growing selection of fruit smoothie recipes, and some even sneak in vegetables as a low-carb way to have a sweet treat. If a smoothie doesn’t quite say “dessert” to you, the best suggestion is to include citrus into your desserts. Lemon makes an excellent complement to desserts, such as a low-carb cheesecake!
As mentioned, it will be difficult to include classic desserts, like pies and cakes, into your low carb diet. However, there are alternatives to enjoying the next best thing as a dessert.
If gluten products is your concern when making a low carb dessert, search for gluten free flours, like almond or coconut flour. Even just a tablespoon of these alternatives can significantly improve your baking. If sugar keeps popping up in your dessert ingredients, look for sugar alternatives in specialty baking aisles at your grocery store. You may also be surprised to learn how less common dessert ingredients, such as avocados and eggs, are fantastic substitutes when making dessert favorites like ice cream, mousse, and cakes!
By Jessica Lewandowski
Any exercise or workout can be taxing on the body, no matter what level you’re working at. It’s important to give your body nutrients before and after your workout, so your body doesn’t eat away at your muscles for energy. It’s always a good idea to have a light snack that is dense in quality nutrients before heading to the gym. Below are the best choices for those on a LC or Keto diet.
There are many nuts easily accessible at grocery stores that are low on carbs and high in healthy fats and protein. Generally, nuts make a great snack (especially before a workout) because they’re full of nutrition without filling your body temporarily with empty calories. There are many nuts that are also known for improving your body’s HDL cholesterol (the good kind) and reducing LDL cholesterol (the bad kind).
Which nuts should you be grabbing a handful of on your way to the gym while on a low carb diet? Brazil nuts and pecans both have only 4g of net carbs per 100g of munchies. These will be the healthiest option. Walnuts and peanuts are also good choices, at only 7g per 100g. Other popular nuts, like pistachios and almonds, start to tip the scale. While it’s okay to include a small amount of higher-carb nuts in your meals, they’re not the best choice eating a handful of.
The best part about a low carb diet is you can still eat addictive cheese! String cheese makes a great snack before a workout because it’s mainly composed of fats and protein and hardly any carbs. Eating one or two before you change into your gym shorts will provide you with slow burning energy that you can use throughout your workout.
When selecting string cheese at the grocery store, make sure to pick the whole milk brands. Check the ingredients list to make sure you’re picking 100% real cheese and not one of those sneaky brands that tricks you into thinking it’s all natural.
Eggs are a staple of any high protein diet. While frying up a couple eggs before a workout may not be convenient, preparing hard boiled eggs in advance makes an easy go-to snack you can pop in your mouth before you break a sweat!
At the beginning of the week, you can hard boil a dozen eggs for an easy snack. Beet-pickled eggs are also a delicious snack that takes hardly any time to prepare. If you’re just trying to add extra protein to an existing meal, slice up a cooked egg over your afternoon salad. Just make sure you chew a piece of minty, sugar-free gum before you chat up your friends at the gym!
There are many great snack recipes you can find on CarbManager, from easy to more complex and flavorful options, that will be friendly to your ketogenic diet and any low carb lifestyle. Always make sure to stay hydrated during your workout and refuel when you’re done!
By Jessica Lewandowski
Since the ketogenic diet requires a lot of healthy fat and a lot of protein, one of the easiest ways to satisfy both those needs is with meat. A diet doesn’t seem so bad if you can still eat steaks, pork chops, and chicken, right? It’s easy to get carried away, and many people don’t know what the actual recommendation for consumption of meat is. Use this handy guide to plan your weekly meals and still enjoy your favorite foods.
Fish is notoriously known as one of the healthiest meats you can eat on any diet, but particularly for ketogenic diets. Fish provides the body with Omega-3 fatty acids, which help fight bad cholesterol. The meat on fish is also incredibly lean and low in saturated fat. While you can feel safe eating just about any store-bought fillets, the healthiest fish to choose are salmon or tuna.
How often should you be eating fish? The American Heart Association suggests limiting your seafood intake to twice a week.
Unfortunately, you still need to avoid eating fried chicken (sorry, KFC), but chicken is another lean protein that can be enjoyed every week. The healthiest way to devour your poultry is to grill or bake skinless, white meat. Chicken breasts or thighs will be the most health-conscious cuts. Also, try to remove any extra fat before cooking your bird.
Poultry in general is safe to consume 2-3 per week. This includes turkey or game birds.
Red meat can be a tricky subject for dieters, since there is so much to choose from. What cuts of meat are healthy and which aren’t? How much beef should a person really consume? Typically, “lean” ground beef has only 15% fat content or less. Anything higher should be avoided. Also, look for cuts of meat that have “loin” in the name, like sirloin. Additionally, seek out the “choice” and “select” grades of beef. While “prime” grades are technically higher in quality, there is more saturated, unhealthy fat.
Red meat should typically be eaten no more than twice per week. Each serving should be about 3 ounces. You heard that right, the AHA suggests each serving of red meat be about the size of a deck of cards.
The question everyone wants to know the answer to: is bacon healthy for you? The short answer is: it’s okay. Moderation is key when it comes to pork. Pork is one of the lesser healthy options for anyone trying to lose weight, whether they’re on a low carb diet or not. Similar to red meat, you should stick to cuts of pork that have “loin” in the name. Ribs and, yes, bacon have much more saturated fat. While they’re not terrible options for ketogenic diets, they’re not the best choice.
Typically, most should limit their pork intake to once per week. Don’t go over two servings of pork per week.
For non-vegetarians, it’s easy to get large doses of protein in your diet. However, it’s easy to go overboard! Pay close attention to portion sizes, and you can healthily consume your favorite proteins every week.
By: Tiffany D. Davidson
The time of temptation is upon us, keto allies! We've made it past the bags of Halloween candy, and it just gets more difficult from here with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner.
The holidays are a common time of year to fall off the diet wagon, reassuring yourself that you'll get back on track with the new year.
But as we all know - once you fall off, it's not always easy to get your blood sugar, your cravings, your weight, and your health back on track.
That said, let's go ahead and do some preventative planning, shall we? As the saying goes: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that's never been more true...
At this point, multiple studies have confidently concluded that low-carb diets truly are the best approach for weight loss, not to mention improving overall health and preventing disease. In this article, we’ll dive into the top 10 low-carbohydrate foods that are especially helpful to lose weight, and that promote optimal health, as well.
Honey has been touted as a superfood in the world of health and nutrition, and it is undoubtedly a far healthier choice than refined sugar. There are conflicting opinions as to whether or not honey really can be part of a healthy diet, or if it is no better than other types of sugar. In this article, we’ll compare the health benefits of honey to more processed sugars, and also consider whether it has a place in your low carb diet.
Carb Manager is the easiest and most powerful way to count carbs and live the low carb life. In this blog, we've invited experts on LCHF to contribute their views on everything low carb.