Historically, a targeted ketogenic diet consists of limiting carbohydrate intake to just 20“30 net grams per day. œNet carbs is the amount of carbs remaining once dietary fiber is taken into account. Because fiber is indigestible once eaten, most people don't count grams of fiber toward their daily carb allotment. In other words, total carbs “ grams of fiber = net carbs. That's the carb counts that matter most.
In a standard American diet, the diet is composed of a lot of carbohydrates - enough to keep the body using glucose as its main energy source. This is fine, but requires frequent eating (every few hours) to keep energy levels up and during this time your body stores extra glucose as fat.[1] This state prevents the body from burning its fat stores as energy because it is constantly using glucose.
During week 1 (and sometimes week 2) your body is transitioning to this whole new metabolic state, and there may be some initial side effects. These are collectively known as the "keto flu". The good thing is that if you don't take them for granted and think you're "superman" and that your body will be different, you can easily prevent these symptoms.
Aside from carb flu, be warned that staying in long-term, continuous ketosis may have drawbacks that may actually undermine your health and longevity. To stay on the safe side, I recommend undergoing a cyclic ketogenic diet. The "metabolic magic" that ketosis brings to the mitochondria actually occurs during the refeeding phase, not during the starvation phase.
Some people just cut out the bulk of carbohydrates from major sources like breads, pastas, and sodas, and these people are on a Low Carbohydrate plan. There isn't anything particularly strict about it, it's more about being mindful of overall carb intake, often without tracking. This can be a good place to test the waters of a keto diet, though many people on this kind of plan never get into ketosis without further restriction.
Ketogenic diets, like most low carb diets, work through the elimination of glucose. Because most folks live on a high carb diet, our bodies normally run on glucose (or sugar) for energy. We cannot make glucose and only have about 24 hours' worth stored in our muscle tissue and liver. Once glucose is no longer available from food sources, we begin to burn stored fat instead, or fat from our diets.
The ketogenic diet is based on the principle that by depleting the body of carbohydrates, which are its primary source of energy, you can force the body to burn fat for fuel, thereby maximizing weight loss. When you consume foods that contain carbohydrates, the body converts those carbohydrates into glucose, or blood sugar, which it then uses for energy. (1)
Thanks for the very informative article. This was the push I needed to at least try it. Starting next weekend, my partner and I will be trying keto for 30 days. I'm all for small changes, in theory, but what I sometimes discover is that sweeping changes can have their place, too, if they produce positive results. Often, what will work for me is trying a big change, and even if I then throw out 80% of it, at least the remaining 20% sticks. By contrast, any backsliding from a small change can often mean just throwing it out entirely.
Although a standard ketogenic diet is even more restrictive in terms of carb intake, a œmoderate keto diet (just as some folks have followed a modified Atkins diet) is another option that will very likely still be able to provide substantial weight loss results and other improvements in symptoms. Including slightly more carbs can be very useful for maintenance, allow for more flexibility, provide a higher fiber intake, and overall may feel more sustainable long term socially and psychologically.
The keto diet works for such a high percentage of people because it targets several key, underlying causes of weight gain ” including hormonal imbalances, especially insulin resistance coupled with high blood sugar levels, and the cycle of restricting and œbinging on empty calories due to hunger that so many dieters struggle with. Yet that's not a problem with what's on the keto diet food list.

The transition is rougher for some people than others, though it's worth it to KCKO, or Keep Calm and Keto On. Once you're keto-adapted, weight loss becomes easier, your body feels like it moves more smoothly, your energy levels and appetite are easily regulated, and your thoughts are clear and fast. Performance in the gym also begins to improve at this stage, since it sometimes suffers during the adaptation period.
I'm honestly a little skeptical about it the idea of keto permanently. My brief glance at the literature seems to imply that it can have side effects of kidney stones, skeletal fractures, and slow the growth rate of children, but that was a study on kids with epilepsy (which it treated very effectively), so who knows how that applies to adults. And the other studies I found dealt with overweight and obese subjects, so it may be hard to find something on the long term effects on otherwise healthy adults.
If you need to eat more or fewer calories per day, you can adjust accordingly by simply taking out or adding a bit more of the ingredients already included in a recipe. For example, adding/removing a tablespoon of olive oil or butter will add/remove about 100 calories. If you like or dislike certain recipes, feel free to shift things around. Make sure to keep an eye on the calories so you're still falling within an acceptable range of your daily goal.
¢ Restricted ketogenic diet ” As mentioned earlier, a ketogenic diet can be an effective weapon against cancer. To do this, you need to be on a restricted ketogenic diet. By restricting your carbohydrate and calorie intake, your body loses glycogen and starts producing ketones that your healthy cells can use as energy. Because cancer cells cannot use these ketones, they starve to death.12
Okay, I'll admit I bailed just after the sriracha covered chicken costume, so maybe I missed it, but I wanted to ask: is Keto intended to be a permanent diet change? It seems very challenging, and as I was reading, I kept asking myself œHow is this consistent with the concept of small sustainable changes? Is it? I think it's a great topic to cover, but how would you describe the relationship between the keto diet and NF philosophy regarding sustainability? Thanks!

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