Eating healthy and following a diet - no matter what kind - requires a decent amount of willpower and discipline, especially as a beginner.
When times get tough and the cravings kick in, eating junk food is almost inevitable.
After all, it’s virtually impossible to eat healthy 100% of the time.
Most diets - including keto - allow you to have a couple cheat meals here and there as it’s been shown to help you stick to your goals in the long term.
In this Keto Beginners Series, you’ll find out whether cheat meals are necessary on keto (and the effect it has on your body).
The Downsides to Cheat Meals on Keto
Having cheat meals every once in a while won’t set you back too much in the long-term, as long as they aren’t a regular occurrence.
On the ketogenic diet, the more you cheat at the beginning, the harder it will become to turn this way of eating into a sustainable lifestyle.
Here are the disadvantages to having cheat meals on keto:
Hinders Your Fat Adaptation
Your body has to make specific changes in the body to ensure effective fat-burning on the ketogenic diet. It can only run on one fuel source at a time:
The more you eat carbohydrates, the less you efficient your body becomes in using fats as a primary source of energy.
This means more frequent cheat meals make it more likely to lessen the health benefits that come with being in a state of ketosis.
Your taste buds get used to certain foods the more they’re exposed to it. That’s part of the reason why following the ketogenic diet gets easier over time.
The more you eat real food sources, the more your taste buds get used to eating healthy foods…
Conversely, eating unhealthy, processed junk food has a similar effect. When you eat junk food, it can interrupt all the work you’ve done to get used to enjoying real food sources.
That’s why if you’re a beginner, cheat meals should be avoided at all costs until you’re fully fat adapted.
Increases Keto Flu Symptoms
Symptoms of the keto flu like headaches, brain fog, and low energy are likely to exacerbate when you teeter between eating lots of carbohydrates and back to the ketogenic diet.
Cheat meals can cause you to fall into a vicious cycle of going back and forth between eating keto and junk food. This constant teeter can worsen your keto flu symptoms.
Knocks You Out of Ketosis
The only way to get stay in a state of ketosis is by keeping glucose stores empty. When you cheat with carbohydrates, you’re temporarily refilling your body’s glycogen storages.
Getting kicked out of ketosis constantly will delay your health and fitness goals on the low carb, high fat diet.
The Right Way to Have Cheat Meals on Keto
There are a few ways to approach cheat meals when you’re eating a low carb, high fat diet.
Here are three effective methods that will allow you to enjoy a cheat meal here and there without having to sacrifice your ketosis efforts.
#1: Eat Keto Foods During Your Cheat Meals
Instead of binging on processed carbs like donuts and bread to satisfy your cravings, consider eating ketogenic-friendly foods instead.
For example, if you have sugar craving, make yourself a quick keto fat bomb instead of reaching for cookies.
#2: Incorporate a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet
The cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) allows you to eat carbohydrates one to two days out of the week to help with athletic performance.
If you’re experienced with keto and live an active lifestyle, adopting a CKD is a great way to backload your cravings for one day out of the week while still experiencing the benefits of a fat-burning state.
#3: Exercise After Cheating
Your body’s insulin sensitivity is dramatically improved after working out. This means you can tolerate and deplete glucose (from carbs) more effectively by exercising.
If you accidentally had a large cheat meal, exercising a couple hours later will help you burn off those carbohydrate calories so you can start burning ketones for energy again.
Cheat Meals Should Be a Rare Occurrence
As you’ve seen in this article, regular cheat meals can be detrimental to your ketogenic goals.
If you’re a beginner, it’s best to avoid cheat meals until your body is fully keto-adapted. We suggest waiting at least a month of strict ketogenic eat before having a cheat meal.
Following the steps above will help you enjoy the occasional cheat meal without ruining your health and weight loss goals.
Protein consumption is widely debated in the ketogenic community.
Since a standard ketogenic diet encourages “moderate” protein intake, there’s a fine line between how much is too much or too little. Some people believe too much protein can kick you out of ketosis whereas others think too little can hinder your health and fitness goals.
So how much protein should you consume on keto?
In this Keto Beginners Series, you’ll learn exactly how much protein you need for optimal brain and body function.
Protein is the Most Important Macronutrient
Protein is an essential component of every diet known to man. Of the three macronutrients – protein, fat, carbs – protein and fat are the only two that are essential to live.
Adequate protein consumption is crucial for:
On keto, it’s better to eat more protein than it is to eat too little.
This macronutrient is one of the hardest food sources to get right on keto but after this article, you’ll have a better grasp at your own individual protein requirements.
Protein Sources to Eat on the Ketogenic Diet
The best sources of protein on the ketogenic diet should come from animal and whole food sources.
If you aren’t hitting your daily protein intake through whole food sources, consider supplementing with whey protein.
Is There Such Thing as Eating Too Much Protein on Keto?
Many keto-ers believe eating too much protein is bad for keto because it can cause gluconeogenesis.
Gluconeogenesis (GNG) is when your liver and kidneys make glucose from non-carb foods such as protein.
Since the goal of the ketogenic diet is to deplete any glucose stores your body has, people assume that too much protein will prevent your body from running on ketones.
But the truth is, our body needs some glucose to survive. This does not mean you need to eat carbohydrates to maintain your health.
Gluconeogenesis allows your body to make just enough glucose that your body needs.
On keto, GNG is essential for:
Bottom line: Your body needs some glucose to survive but it shouldn’t come from a high carbohydrate diet. Instead, increasing protein intake on keto will give your body just enough glucose to fuel your body while still benefiting from running off ketones (fats) for everything else.
How Much Protein Should You Eat on Keto?
Before we dive into how much protein you need on keto, it’s important to note that some people may need more depending on activity level. Here’s what we recommend:
The first (and most important) step is to calculate your protein requirement.
If you live a fairly inactive lifestyle, you should eat around 0.7 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass at the very minimum.
If you live an active lifestyle (exercise more than 3 times a week), you should eat up to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, not lean body mass.
To calculate your lean body mass, you can purchase calipers off Amazon or get a DEXA scan. Once you have that number, simply multiply it by 0.7 to get your protein intake.
The second step is to keep carbs under 50 grams total.
Keep your carbohydrate intake under 50 grams no matter what. Your glucose should come from the process of GNG that we mentioned previously.
The last step is to fill the rest of your calories with healthy fats.
Once you’ve calculated your protein and carbs, you will consume the rest of your calories in healthy fat sources.
Bottom line: Protein should be your first priority and should be calculated first before fats and carbohydrates to formulate an effective ketogenic diet.
When in Doubt, Eat More Protein
Now that you understand that protein can be consumed in adequate amounts on the ketogenic diet, you’ll find it much easier to adhere to.
If you’re a beginner to the low carb, high fat lifestyle, the best course of action is to prioritize protein intake and consume at the very least 0.7 grams per pound of lean body mass.
Make sure you are also filling in the rest of your calories with healthy fats.
If you’ve recently hit a weight loss stall or feeling lethargic on keto, increasing your protein can almost guarantee you blast through any plateaus.
You decide to remove carbs from your diet to see what all the hype is about…
But instead of experiencing all the health benefits you keep hearing about, you feel fatigued, mentally foggy, and start experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Does this mean going keto isn’t for you? Not at all!
As you’re about to find out, the “keto flu” is a common set of side effects that often occur after removing carbs from your diet. And knowing these symptoms are normal is half the battle.
In this article, you’ll learn exactly why keto flu occurs and how you can prevent it altogether.
Symptoms of Keto Flu
There are several common symptoms of the keto flu that you should be mindful of when you first start the low carb, high fat lifestyle.
These symptoms include:
It’s important to note that these symptoms are not uncommon and does not mean the ketogenic diet won’t work for you.
Keto-flu symptoms should last 1 to 1.5 weeks max. People who are experienced with dieting may not show signs at all.
Note: If these symptoms last for more than one week, consider seeking out a physician or readjusting your ketogenic diet.
Why Does Keto Flu Occur?
Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred energy source. When you restrict carbs, the body must go through several metabolic changes to start using fat for energy rather than glucose (from carbs).
This transition is good because it means you’re following the ketogenic protocol correctly but, this is also how the “keto flu” occurs. During the transition process, your body will change how your brain functions and how it fuels the body.
Drop in Blood Glucose
Adopting a ketogenic diet means your body is forced to switch from using carbs as energy to using fats. This transition period results in temporary hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar.
When your body isn’t used to using fats for energy yet, energy is temporarily sacrificed, which is a result of low blood sugar.
After you’ve adjusted, the body will become much more effective in using fat as energy.
Water and Electrolyte Excretion
Electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium are crucial for maintaining healthy bodily functions.
These minerals are excreted through when carbs are restricted which also leads to insulin release. Lower levels of insulin results in less water stored by your kidneys.
It’s crucial that you maintain adequate water intake and replenish these essential minerals when you first remove carbs from your diet.
Preventing Keto Flu Symptoms
There are a few ways to combat symptoms of the keto flu. Here are the best approaches you can take to minimize (or even prevent) these flu-like symptoms altogether.
Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of the keto flu which usually occurs as a result of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
Make sure you consume adequate amounts of water and green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and collard greens to ensure proper electrolyte levels.
Additionally, add pink himalayan sea salt to your water and food you eat since sodium is the mineral excreted most when carbohydrates are restricted. This will help mitigate any symptoms of headaches.
Constipation is more common in people who have a poorly formulated ketogenic diet.
Eat plenty of fiber-rich vegetables, drink large amounts of water, and exercise every day to help prevent constipation symptoms.
Cramps are a common sign that you have an electrolyte imbalance. Low magnesium and potassium can worsen cramps so it’s imperative that you maintain adequate electrolyte levels.
Eat high magnesium and potassium food sources such as avocados, green leafy vegetables, and consider adding magnesium supplements into your diet to ensure you’re getting the correct amount.
Fatigue and Energy Issues
As your body adapts to ketosis, a decrease in energy is common in many beginners.
To lessen the symptoms of fatigue:
More often than not, people will eat much less fat than they think they’re supposed to when adopting the ketogenic diet.
Don’t Worry – Keto Flu is Temporary!
Anything worthwhile is worth waiting for and the ketogenic diet is no exception. While the flu-like symptoms may seem unbearable for some, the drastic benefits that come with being in a state of ketosis is unprecedented.
As long as you are carefully monitoring your water consumption, electrolyte intake, and eating enough calories in healthy fats and protein – the keto flu will diminish much sooner than you think – leaving you with only the healthy, beneficial aspects of being a fat-burner!
Are supplements required when you’re on the low carb, high fat ketogenic diet?
Just like with any other diet, supplements should be used to help you optimize your health instead of relying on it as a means to fill any gaps in your nutrition regimen.
The truth is, there are a few supplements that will make your keto journey much easier to stick to and get better results.
In this Keto Beginners Series, you’ll discover which supplements will help you maximize your ketogenic efforts.
#1. MCT Oil
MCT’s, also known as medium-chain triglycerides is a type of fat your body can use for energy immediately after consumption.
Unlike long-chain triglycerides - which are the most common fat found in food - MCT’s are broken down by your liver and enters the bloodstream to be used as energy by your brain and muscles right away.
Supplementing with MCT oil will help you get adequates amount of healthy fats, increase your ketone levels, and improve energy immediately after consumption. It’s been shown to help with weight loss and even regulate appetite levels.
Note: Start off with a small dose (14g or less) of MCT oil and assess how your body tolerates it. Too much MCT can cause diarrhea so it’s imperative that you work up to larger amounts.
#2. Electrolyte Supplements
When you first cut carbs out of your diet, your body begins to flush out essential vitamins and minerals. If you don’t replenish these electrolytes, you’ll fall victim to the dreaded keto flu very easily.
There are four main electrolytes that must be monitored constantly, especially as a beginner. These minerals include:
Replenishing the electrolytes mentioned above is crucial for optimal health and neglecting to do so can result in symptoms like brain fog, headaches, fatigue, and other flu-like symptoms.
While these minerals can be easily consumed from green leafy vegetables and other whole food sources, using an electrolyte supplement is a great way to ensure adequate micronutrient levels.
The most common electrolyte deficiency on keto is magnesium. Many beginners who aren’t following a properly formulated ketogenic diet, find themselves lacking in magnesium more than any other mineral.
Supplementing with 300-500mg per day is a great way to avoid magnesium deficiency symptoms like muscle cramps, irritability, and problems sleeping.
#4. Fish Oil
Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are known for their profound health benefits. These include reduced inflammation, prevention in mental decline, and decreased risk of heart disease.
Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation is extremely useful for ketogenic dieters because it helps maintain a good omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. Too much omega-6 without omega-3 increases inflammation and can be harmful to your health.
Additionally, studies have shown that ketogenic dieters who supplemented with fish oil experienced an overall decrease in insulin and inflammations compared to those who didn’t[*].
#5. Exogenous Ketones
Imagine having ketones in a bottle, ready to be consumed and used as energy right away. That’s exactly what exogenous ketones are.
They are considered the most popular supplement in the ketogenic community because it has the ability to help you get into ketosis almost immediately (even if you previously had carbs).
Studies have shown that exogenous ketone supplementation can regulate hunger levels, improve athletic performance, and speed up muscle recovery[*][*].
Many keto-ers also use exogenous ketones to help prevent the keto flu. By supplementing with them, you are priming your metabolism to rely on ketones for energy rather than glucose from carbohydrates.
#6. Greens Supplement
Everyone knows how important it is to eat your vegetables. But many beginners on the ketogenic diet don’t eat nearly enough greens to maintain sufficient levels of essential micronutrients.
Supplementing with a greens powder will help you get all of the essential vitamins and minerals that are typically flushed out after cutting carbs out. Adding greens powder into your diet is an easy way to ensure you get proper amounts of vegetables in your keto diet.
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t substitute eating vegetables for a greens powder. Instead, use it in addition to eating your greens.
These Supplements Will Help You Optimize Your Ketogenic Diet for Best Results
Adding the supplements mentioned above can help you reach ketosis faster and reach your health and fitness goals.
Remember, instead of using them as a replacement for food, supplements should be taken in addition to a properly formulated, whole-food ketogenic diet.
There are several approaches to the ketogenic diet. As you’re about to find out, some methods are better than others depending on past experience and fitness level.
All of the the variations explained in this article will still focus on a low carb, high fat protocol but as you’re about to find out, carbohydrates can be introduced at certain times.
In this Keto Beginners Series, you’re going to discover which type of ketogenic diet is best for you.
Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)
The SKD is the most common ketogenic diet perfect for beginners. If you are new to keto and dieting in general, this is the best place to start.
The standard ketogenic diet is for anyone who wants to lose body fat or improve overall health and mental well-being. It’s also great for anyone looking to improve metabolic disease such as type 2 diabetes or obesity.
Macros on the standard ketogenic diet include:
Most people who aren’t actively exercising and live a fairly sedentary lifestyle won’t need to alter their ketogenic diet at all. This is the perfect ketogenic protocol to follow as a beginner.
Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)
The TKD is designed for people who exercise often and have experience with the ketogenic diet. Many athletes like to incorporate the TKD because it gives them extra fuel to grow muscle, increase strength, and improve overall athletic performance.
It is considered an advanced approach for people at the intermediate level of fitness and dieting.
To start the targeted ketogenic diet:
The goal of TKD is to consume just enough quick carbohydrates pre-workout to give you the extra boost of energy you need for your exercise. When done correctly, you should enter ketosis soon after your workout since you’re using up those quick carbs during exercise.
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)
The CKD is the most advanced ketogenic dieting protocol. It’s considered a step above from the TKD because it requires more careful planning.
You should only consider the cyclical ketogenic diet if you have already successfully adopted a targeted ketogenic diet and want to take it a step further.
Here’s how the cyclical ketogenic diet works:
The purpose of these carb-ups is to fill your glycogen levels to fuel your muscles throughout the week. Additionally, eating larger amounts of healthy carbohydrates during these days will help regulate your hormones and thyroid functioning.
It’s crucial to keep fat low during the CKD days because eating high in fats and carbs is a recipe for weight gain. Yes, that means you can’t just pig out on junk food!
High Protein Ketogenic Diet (HPKD)
This version of keto is less common in the ketogenic community. It’s designed for people who want to lose excess body fat while still maintaining a good body composition.
Having higher protein to fat ratio will help you build muscle while using your own stored body fat for energy, instead of using dietary fat for fuel.
The HPKD is simple:
Choose the Ketogenic Diet Type That Suits Your Goals Best
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced ketogenic dieter, there’s a protocol that should suit your needs perfectly.
If you’re just starting out, the standard ketogenic diet is the perfect place to start.
But if you’re an athlete, someone who wants to build more muscle, or simply take your ketogenic diet to the next level, the HPKD, TKD, or CKD is your best bet.
Fats make up more than 65% of the ketogenic diet. But many beginners make the mistake of assuming they can eat any fatty food source as long as it doesn’t contain any carbohydrates.
But the truth is, not all fats are created equal.
In fact, many fats used in restaurants, fast food chains, and in processed foods at the food market contain unhealthy fats that can cause more harm than good to your health.
Luckily, we’ve created an extremely useful list you can refer to when you’re shopping for healthy ketogenic-friendly fatty foods.
In this Keto Beginners Series, you’ll learn everything you need to know the difference between good fats and bad fats.
What are Good Fats to Eat on Keto?
There are a few types of fats that should make up the majority of your calories on keto.
Healthy fat sources to eat on keto include saturated fats, monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), and polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs).
Sticking to foods that contain the fats mentioned above is the best way to approach your ketogenic diet when creating your low carb, high fat meal plan.
Monounsaturated fats have been proven to improve insulin sensitivity, decrease the risk of heart disease, and even lower blood pressure.
Polyunsaturated fats should be consumed with a little more caution. When PUFAs are heated, they can form harmful compounds such as free radicals which have been shown to increase inflammation in the body. This means you should never use PUFAs for cooking and these fats should always be eaten cold.
But what about saturated fats? Aren’t they unhealthy?
New Studies Debunk the Saturated Fats Debacle
For decades we were taught that saturated fats - from foods like red meat - were bad for your health. But new research shows the complete opposite[*].
Saturated fats are actually good for you and come with a host of benefits. They include:
Best Fats to Consume on Keto
Here is a list of our recommended, healthy fat sources to eat in large amounts on keto:
Healthy saturated fats include:
Healthy monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) include:
Healthy polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) include:
Note: Naturally-occurring trans fats including grass-fed animal foods and grass-fed dairy products like butter are perfectly fine to consume.
Unhealthy Fats to Avoid at All Costs On Keto
Now that you understand the good fats to consume, let’s quickly go over fat sources you should avoid at all costs.
Unhealthy fat sources to avoid include processed trans fats and vegetable oils. In fact, some trans fats are banned by some health departments like the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA).
Trans fats are typically used as a cheap substitute for natural oils. This means you must be very careful when purchasing packaged foods that may contain processed trans fats. Additionally, many restaurants will use processed trans fats to fry their foods so try to be extremely cautious when you’re going out to eat.
Research shows that processed trans fats are linked to metabolic disease like obesity and type 2 diabetes, inflammation, cancer, and heart disease[*][*].
These fats contain large amounts of omega-6 which can increase the risk of developing blood clots and has also been linked to cancer.
Avoid consuming these unhealthy fat sources at all costs:
Stick to Natural Fatty Sources at the Right Ratio
Now that you understand the difference between good fats and bad fats on keto, you can make much better decisions when it comes to planning out your meals for the week.
As long as you stick to the natural fatty sources listed above, you’ll start experiencing the benefits of ketosis and reach your weight loss goals without worrying about it ruining your health in the long run.
Intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet work extremely well together, especially when it comes to overall weight loss and increased energy.
In fact, combining these two protocols have synergistic effects that produce results greater than if you were to follow one of the two separately. A quick browse on the internet and you’ll quickly realize that many people are seeing dramatic results by incorporating fasting into their ketogenic lifestyle.
In this Keto Beginner Series, we’re going to talk about what intermittent fasting is and why it should be included in your low carb, high fat diet.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting (also known as IF) simply involves eating between time restraints. This means you will have certain “eating windows” followed by periods of time where you don’t eat or drink anything that contains calories.
For example, following a 16 hour fasting protocol, if you decide to have your last meal at 8PM, you won’t eat anything that has calories until 12PM the next day.
The 16:8 intermittent fasting protocol is the most common because it is the easiest to incorporate into your diet regimen. As mentioned above, this means you will fast for 16 hours followed by an 8 hour eating window.
Ketosis While Fasting
Fasting while on the ketogenic diet helps you enter ketosis faster because you’re depleting any glucose stores you may have accumulated from carb consumption.
Ketosis allows your body to be more efficient during your fasting periods which makes the ketogenic diet the preferred eating method in conjunction to IF.
People who eat a normal high-carb diet may experience various negative symptoms such as crazy hunger pangs because their body isn’t used to being in a fasted state.
Fasting Without Keto is Not Sustainable
There’s a reason why fasting and keto are often paired together. And it’s because ketosis is also known as mimicking a “fasted state”.
When you follow a high carb diet and attempt to incorporate intermittent fasting, you’ll experience unstable blood sugar. It will rise and fall drastically throughout the day since you’re consuming large amounts of carbohydrates in a shortened eating window.
Fasting on a high-carb diet results in:
Benefits of Fasting on the Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet is known as a “fasting-mimicking” diet because your body undergoes similar beneficial mechanisms that occur while you’re in a fasted state.
Here are three major advantages to fasting on keto:
Improved Weight Loss
When you’re in ketosis, your body is already used to using fats for energy. If weight loss is your goal, fasting on keto will help you burn more body fat while consuming less calories.
Ketones have the profound ability to suppress hunger by regulating your body’s hunger hormone, ghrelin. This helps you kick cravings and makes fasting much easier to stick to.
Although you’re technically “breaking” your fast when you eat a low carb, high fat meal, eating keto foods keeps you in a fasted state.
Since keto is known as a “fasting-mimicking” diet, you’ll still experience all the health benefits of a fasted state while at the same time providing your body with essential vitamins and minerals.
Improved Mental Cognition
Attempting to fast on a high carb diet will often lead to fatigue and brain fog due to the drastic swings in blood sugar.
Running on ketones is the preferred fuel source for the brain. When you’re in ketosis while fasted, you’ll experience sustained focus and mental clarity without the crash that comes with high carb diets.
Intermittent Fasting with the Ketogenic Diet Will Supercharge Your Results
It’s important to note that fasting on the ketogenic diet isn’t required to see results. But, when these two methods are used together, you’ll be surprised at how much faster you’ll reach your health and fitness goals.
Adopting a ketogenic diet along with intermittent fasting is one of the quickest ways to reach your weight loss goals and experience the benefits that come with the low carb, high fat lifestyle!
The ketogenic diet has garnered the attention of the nutrition space due to its profound ability to shift your metabolism into a fat-burning mode.
When you follow a properly formulated keto diet, your body begins burning ketones for energy instead of glucose from carbohydrates.
This fat-burning mode is also known as ketosis.
If you’re a beginner, this article we’ll teach you everything you need to know about ketosis.
What is Ketosis?
Ketosis is a metabolic state where your body burns fat - both dietary and stored body fat - for energy.
This occurs when there is little to no glucose left in your body. Glucose is the main fuel source that comes from carbohydrates. When you restrict carbs from your diet and increase healthy fats, your body seeks out other sources of energy.
Eventually it will turn to fat stores and break them down to produce ketones.
Once ketones are formed in your body, you can finally use it for energy.
To get into ketosis, you need to consume less than 50g of carbohydrates per day. This means you must remove grains, potatoes, fruits, and other high-carbohydrate food sources.
How Do You Know When You’re In Ketosis?
The most effective way to find out if you’re in ketosis is by using a blood glucose meter. While this may be the most accurate method, it’s also the most expensive.
Testing with urine strips cost must less but it’s nowhere near as effective as a blood glucose meter. This is because when your body gets used to using ketones for energy, it excretes less ketones through urine, which often gives inaccurate results from the strips.
You can also determine whether or not you’re in ketosis by how you feel. Once you’re in ketosis, you’ll notice that you get hungry less often, you have more energy, and experience mental clarity.
You may also notice that you’re frequenting the bathroom more often and your breath may have a metallic taste to it. These are two tell-tale signs that you’re in ketosis.
Benefits of Ketosis
The ketogenic diet was initially used back in the early 1900’s to help treat seizures that epileptic children experienced. Many studies have proven keto to be a remarkable treatment for this disorder[*][*][*].
Science and anecdotal reports are now proving that there are several other health benefits that come with being in ketosis.
Ketosis is a Fantastic Weight Loss Tool
The ketogenic diet is highly supported by science. Many studies have found that the ketogenic diet leads to much greater weight loss compared to low-fat diets[*][*].
People who are in ketosis benefit from satiety effects and feel less hungry throughout the day, which both contribute to faster weight loss.
Additionally, ketosis primes your metabolism to burn fat. This means your body will burn more stored body fat compared to any other diet even if calorie intake is the same.
Ketosis Improves Brain Function
When you burn ketones for energy, you’ll soon realize that brain fog diminishes and your mood is lifted. Research has proven that the brain actually prefers ketones as an energy source compared to glucose[*][*].
Being in ketosis will help you gain mental clarity, improve your mood, and even help you focus for longer periods of time.
Ketosis Improves Athletic Performance
Many elite marathon runners are now using the ketogenic diet as a tool to improve exercise performance. During long runs, many athletes would crash mid-run because their glucose stores were fully depleted.
But when you’re in ketosis, your body can harness its own stored body fat for energy.
Picture it like this: Carbohydrates can only store up to ~2,000 calories in the body for energy. But when you run on ketones, you’re tapping into an energy source of up to ~40,000 that can be used for fuel without stopping.
Ketosis is the Preferred Energy Source For Your Body
Science is finally catching up to the benefits of the being in a state of ketosis. From the profound weight loss benefits, to the mental clarity, it’s no wonder that the ketogenic diet has become the most popular eating protocol.
As long as you follow a properly formulated ketogenic diet, being in a state of ketosis will help you reach your health and fitness goals in no time!
The ketogenic diet can be an extremely simple and effective nutrition regimen once you’ve gotten the basics down.
It requires you to have a general understanding of nutrition, specifically macronutrients.
To achieve the full benefits of keto, you must restrict certain macros while increasing others.
If you are a complete beginner, this article will get you up to speed on what macronutrients are and which ones to avoid to successfully incorporate a ketogenic lifestyle.
But first, it’s important that you understand what macros are in the first place.
What are Macronutrients?
Macronutrients are molecules our bodies use to create energy. They are found in all foods in different amounts, which are measured by grams.
The three main macronutrients all foods are comprised of are:
Calculate Your Macros for Weight Loss
Before we go into the macronutrient ratio for the ketogenic diet, it’s important that you understand how weight loss works, no matter what nutrition protocol you’re following.
To lose weight, your body must burn more calories per day than you are eating. This is also known as being in a calorie deficit.
For example: If your body needs 2,100 calories to maintain your current weight, consuming 1,900 calories per day will result in steady weight loss.
If you’re trying to lose weight, setting your deficit at 10% to 20% of your caloric maintenance is a great place to start.
What are the Macros on the Ketogenic Diet?
A successfully formulated ketogenic diet consists of low carbohydrates, moderate protein, and high fat intake.
This means you must keep carbohydrates down to a minimum while consuming healthy fats and proteins for the bulk of your diet.
The standard ketogenic diet macronutrient ratio is as follows:
With the ratios above, you will now use these percentages and allocate them based on your calorie allowance goal.
This is the fastest way to enter ketosis and lose weight because you aren’t leaving anything up for guessing. Instead, you’re following a calculated approach to help your body burn fats for energy and lose weight long term.
Let’s quickly go over each macronutrient and how they should be approached on keto:
For most people on keto, carbohydrates should stay under 50g of total carbohydrates or under 30g of net carbohydrates.
Net carbohydrates = total carbohydrates - fiber - sugar alcohol
How to calculate: If your total calorie allowance is 2,000, 10% of carbs means you should only consume 50g per day. This is calculated by multiplying 10% by 2,000 = 200. Then divide 200 by 4 because there are 4 calories per gram of carb.
Protein should come mostly from animal meats and whole food sources.
How to calculate: If your total calorie allowance is 2,000, 25% of protein means you should consume 125g of protein. This is calculated by multiplying 25% by 2,000 = 500. Then divide 500 by 4 because there are 4 calories per gram of protein.
Fats should make up the majority of your macronutrient breakdown on the ketogenic diet. It’s important that you consume healthy sources of fat and avoid vegetable oils or processed fats at all costs.
How to calculate: If your total calorie allowance is 2,000, 70% of fats means you should consume 155g of fats. This is calculated by multiplying 70% by 2,000 = 1,400. Then divide 1,400 by 9 because there are 9 calories per gram of protein.
Note: If you want to gain weight and build muscle on keto, increasing your fat intake should be your priority.
How to Calculate Macros on Carb Manager
Tracking the amount of macros you consume is extremely simple on Carb Manager.
First set your specific goals and let the app calculate your recommended macro ratio.
Once you're on the homepage, simply press the "+" sign at the top right of the app, search for the food you just ate, and you'll be presented with the exact macronutrient breakdown.
Counting Macros is the Fastest Route to Success on Keto
Once you gain a better understand on your own individual macronutrient breakdown, you’ll be surprised at how fast you’ll start to hit your goals.
Additionally, counting your macronutrients on keto will allow you to enter ketosis (and stay there) much faster. Remember, becoming a fat-burner means you need to deplete your body of any carbs.
Counting your macros is the fastest way to see results because you’re measuring everything you eat.
One of the biggest struggles for people when they first start the low carb, high fat lifestyle is maintaining a high level of athleticism.
Individuals who lift heavy weights, train at high intensities, or need to perform at their best during competition may feel like their workouts are suffering on the ketogenic diet.
But does this mean people who live an active lifestyle can’t benefit from the ketogenic diet? Not at all!
In fact, the targeted ketogenic diet is the preferred method for people who want to build muscle or increase their overall athletic performance.
What is the Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)?
The targeted ketogenic diet is a low carb, high fat eating protocol similar to the standard ketogenic diet. But the difference is, carbohydrates are consumed a few minutes before exercise and/or after exercise.
A TKD gives your body the necessary glucose it needs to lift heavier weights and exercise for longer periods of time.
Even though ketones are more efficient as an energy source for overall brain and body function, some exercises require glucose from carbohydrates to achieve peak performance. This allows your body to benefit from a quick supply of fast-acting carbohydrates.
On the days you aren’t working out, you are encouraged to stick to the standard ketogenic diet (with minimal carbohydrates).
Who Should Incorporate the Targeted Ketogenic Diet?
Following a targeted ketogenic diet isn’t suited for everyone. In fact, if you are a beginner to keto, it’s advised to stick to the standard ketogenic diet to ensure that you are priming your metabolism to run on fats as its main source of energy.
The targeted ketogenic diet is suitable for:
The targeted ketogenic diet is not recommended:
Benefits of the Targeted Ketogenic Diet
Most athletes have found that the targeted ketogenic diet is highly effective when it comes to overall exercise performance.
The targeted ketogenic diet allows you to perform exercises at a high level.
Studies have shown that carbohydrates consumed pre-workout help increase performance short term but no research has been conducted on the effects of it in the long run[*][*].
This is because muscles need glucose to fuel anaerobic training. When you provide your muscles with the glucose it needs through a TKD, they’ll function better to power through exercises.
When the muscles used during anaerobic activity don’t have glucose, your strength and endurance will become hindered during exercises that require extreme exertion for 15 seconds to three minutes.
Endurance athletes and regular exercisers can benefit from the TKD when performing any activities that last an hour or longer. Research has demonstrated that supplementing with carbohydrates before long endurance exercise like competing in a half marathon can improve overall performance[*].
Consuming carbs right before working out helps you build more muscle[*]. While high insulin levels is not the goal on keto, having elevated insulin around your workout can help you build muscle. This is because higher insulin levels before exercise induces an anabolic effect which promote muscle growth.
Bottom line: If you’re an athlete or someone looking to build muscle, the targeted ketogenic diet is a great way to do so. Otherwise, it’s best to stick to a standard ketogenic diet.
Will the Targeted Ketogenic Diet Kick Me Out of Ketosis?
In order to enter a state of ketosis, you must restrict carbohydrates to ensure that your body starts burning fats for energy. With that said, some carbs before or after exercise will not ruin your ketosis efforts.
The goal of TKD is to ensure that you are using the carbs you just ingested to fuel your workout. When done correctly, your body will burn through the glucose storages and you should re-enter ketosis soon after.
Many people will find that they get knocked out of ketosis for a few hours after exercise because of the increased insulin levels.
Fortunately, working out will increase your insulin sensitivity which means less insulin will be needed to take care of the 25-50g of carbs that you consume on a targeted ketogenic diet. Cell membrane proteins known as glucose transporters are also more active as a result of working out.
The combination between these two functions will ensure that the carbs you consume will be used for energy and enter ketosis soon after exercise.
What to Eat on the Targeted Ketogenic Diet
On the days you’re working out, you will consume 15-50g of carbohydrates 30 minutes before your workout.
Many keto experts suggest eating simple, fast-acting easily-digestible carbohydrates such as high-glycemic foods. These foods include candy, white bread, gummy bears, and gatorade.
The most popular carbs to consume are dextrose and glucose dominant sources. To get the purest form, consider supplementing with dextrose tablets or glucose gel packets before your workout.
Make sure you avoid fructose because it will go directly into replenishing liver glycogen. The goal is to replenish muscle, not liver glycogen.
It’s important not to eat any fats around your workout when you consume these quick carbohydrates. Fats will slow down the digestion of carbs which will make the TKD approach less effective.
How Do I Start the Targeted Ketogenic Diet?
If you are relatively experienced with keto, adopting the targeted ketogenic diet can be very simple.
Here is a quick summary of the key points you’ll need to follow to successfully improve your exercise performance with the TKD:
One of the only downfalls to the ketogenic diet is the lack of overall athletic performance. Fortunately, the TKD approach will help you reach all of your exercise goals while still benefiting from a fat-burning state.
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.