What is the Keto Diet and 2 Sample Meal Plans

Being tired all the time has become the new norm. Most people get enough energy from food, so why are they so tired all the time?

The problem is that they’re not eating the right stuff. They’re eating sugar laden carbohydrates which is spiking their blood sugar and causing crashes not long after.

When you reduce your carbs and replace it with fats, your energy levels are more stable and you have more focus and mental clarity. This is what a ketogenic diet does.

It has also been shown that ketogenic diets can help you lose more fat, especially around your waist, than the standard low fat diet.

What is the Ketogenic Diet?

A ketogenic Diet is high in fats and super low in carbs with moderate protein. A Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD) is 75% fats, 5% carbs and 20% protein.

Most people do not need to use a SKD to get results. Most people are able to eat more carbs and still maintain the benefits of keto. If you exercise, you might be able to eat even more! Some people are able to eat close to 20% carbs and still reap the benefits of the ketogenic diet.

A ketogenic diet is based on getting into ketosis which is when you body begin producing ketones from the fats you are eating. Ketones are an energy source that are made in the liver when glucose is not available. Ketones can be used by the body when glucose is not available, but it does take a while, like a few months, for your body to get good at using ketones. Ketones that are not used by the body will be excreted by the kidneys and urine.

How Does a Ketogenic Diet work?

When you reduce your carbs, you force your body to use another fuel source, so it turns to its preferred source, fats.

Instead of eating carbs, which raise your blood sugar, causing insulin secretions by the pancreas which shuttles those carbs right into storage (aka. Body fat). On a ketogenic diet, you’re reducing your carbs, which reduces blood sugar, insulin secretion and thus fat storage.

Now you may be thinking that you will be hungry all the time without carbs, because they’re what make you feel full.. but you wont. Protein and fats are more satiating than carbs, although carbs are more temporarily filling.

Think about the last time you had a big bowl of pasta, or even better, Chinese food.. you were hungry a few hours later, feeling shaky and kinda hangry, right?

Now think about the last time that you had a big salad with some lean protein and went crazy with the full fat dressing.. you didn’t feel that crash a few hours later when you started to feel hungry again.. you were in a better mood despite still being hungry.

This is because your blood sugar was not spiked by the food and then when all the blood sugar has been used and stored as fat, you’re not crashing.

Your body has been running on carbs for so long, it craves them as an energy source. It wants more energy, but it’s not very good at using it.. it just wants to hoard it. This is why you crave carbs typically. You’re craving energy.

But what if you could change the energy source your body craves to one that it prefers using and that burns cleaner?

That’s what a ketogenic diet does.

Over time, anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, your body can transition to using fats instead of carbs for energy. This process is called becoming fat adapted, or keto adapted.

What is Ketosis and the Keto Flu?

Before we get into fat adaptation, I want to touch on Ketosis versus Ketoacidosis…
When you reduce carbohydrates, the body begins to produce ketones. When your body is producing ketones at a slightly elevated level (0.5-3.0 millimoles per liter) you are in ketosis. You can check your ketone levels by using test strips that you pee on or by a small pin prick blood test.

The blood test is obviously more accurate, but at the same time more expensive and invasive. I picked up a bottle of test strips to pee on for like $6. A typical meter, like this one, can cost upwards of $50 plus the cost of the test strips.

Being in Ketosis means that your body is producing ketones from the fats that you are eating. It may be using some of them, but at the beginning, because your body still isn’t very good at using them, you will pee a lot of them out. Which is why your ketone levels may be higher in the beginning than 6 months down the road.

Benefits of Being in Ketosis

·         Improved metabolism
·         Migraine relief
·         Weight loss
·         Reduced inflammation
·         Better mood
·         Improved mental clarity

When you are just starting out, you may experience some symptoms that don’t line up with the amazing benefits that you’ve heard about from people on the keto diet. This is because your body needs time to adapt. This transition can take time, but the worst of it is typically over within a week. This is what people call the Keto Flu.

Symptoms of Keto Flu:

·                  fatigue
·                  weakness
·                  poor concentration or memory problems
·                  changes in mood
·                  anemia
·                  feeling cold
·                  getting ill more frequently
·                  bad breath
·                  weight loss
·                  headaches
·                  thirst
·                  stomach cramps/ discomfort

The keto flu can last for about a week, sometimes even up to 3 weeks if you previously ate a high processed carb diet. Some people may not experience the keto flu.. and to you, I snub my nose. (kidding… kinda.. not really  😊)

The longer that you stick to the keto diet, the better that you will feel. Some people say that they felt the same/ a little worse for a few months before they had the mental clarity that is touted about online..

Give it time.

One thing that I do want to address is that Ketosis is different from Ketoacidosis.

What is Ketoacidosis?

Ketoacidosis (DKA) is a concern for people with Type 1 Diabetes. In case you don’t know the difference between the two types of diabetes (because I didn’t).. Type 1 Diabetics cannot produce enough insulin on their own and must supplement with insulin. Type 2 Diabetics are insulin resistant, which is when muscles, fat and your liver ignore insulin signals and can’t uptake glucose from the blood stream.

Ketoacidosis occurs when your body thinks its starving and begins to break down fats and protein too quickly and turns them into glucose. With low levels of insulin in their body already (from having Type 1 Diabetes) the glucose just hangs out in the blood stream causing high blood sugar and VERY high ketone levels.

When insulin is reduced, blood sugar rises and the excess ketones, blood sugar and low insulin levels can become life threatening.

DKA is different from ketosis because the levels of ketones in the body are lower in a healthy person. In addition, most healthy people cannot experience ketoacidosis because their body will produce enough insulin.

Symptoms of Ketoacidosis

The symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis include:
·                     high blood glucose levels
·                     rising levels of ketones in the urine
·                     thirst and frequent urination
·                     exhaustion
·                     dry or flushed skin

As ketoacidosis progresses, symptoms can include:
·                     nausea and vomiting
·                     stomach pain
·                     trouble breathing
·                     a fruity odor in the breath
·                     confusion and difficulty paying attention
·                     loss of consciousness

How do to a Ketogenic Diet?

As I mentioned before, the typical SKD is 75% fats, 20% protein and 5% carbs. This is not sustainable for most people and is not needed to be able to reap the benefits.

The most popular version of the keto diet is 65-75% carbs, 5-10% fats and 20% protein. This seems to work well for most people because their carbs aren’t so low that they continuously feel restricted. This ratio gives people a little more leeway to have things like fiber rich vegetables which are not only rich in fiber, but tons a vitamins and minerals too.

Another method is to focus on only carbs or net carbs instead of all of the macros. With this method, you count your total carbs and aim to stay below 30-50grams (depending on who’s website you read). You can also focus on net carbs, which are carbs minus fiber. Typically you can aim for 20-25grams of net carbs. When you count net carbs, this is also putting a focus on how much fiber you are getting.

A reason why there are so many different ways to do keto is because everyone has a different amount of carbs that their body can tolerate while creating and using ketones. For some this limit is lower than others. If your carbs are too high, it may take you longer to get into ketosis, or you may only barely get into it. This isn’t a bad thing! You can still reap the benefits of ketosis while barely being in ketosis.

The goal of a ketogenic diet is to reduce carbs enough over a long enough period of time to maintain a state of ketosis.

Ketosis is when your body begins producing ketones, which are made from fats. These ketones are the energy source that your body uses when it doesn’t have carbs, or glucose. When you become fat adapted, or keto adapted, your body prefers using ketones over glucose. This is when you really start to feel amazing, because your body is no longer wanting glucose for fuel.

Benefits of Become Fat Adapted

·         Reduces inflammation
·         Can go 4-6 hour between meals without hunger
·         Consistent energy
·         Easy to complete workouts without loss of strength or endurance
·         Store less fat after meals because your using more of it
·         No more mid-day naps wanted

Keto Meal Plans

I’m kind of lazy when it comes to meal plans, so I typically make one for the week and have maybe 1 or 2 different dinners planned. Below are two meal plans that you can use, one contains 3 meals a day and some snacks, the other contains 2 meals and 1 snack utilizing intermittent fasting.

3 Meals with Snacks

Breakfast: 3 eggs cooked in butter, ghee, or coconut oil, 2-3 slices of bacon and half an avocado

Lunch: Chicken Caesar Salad: 4 oz chicken, a large handful of romaine and kale or spinach mix, 2 TB shredded parmesan cheese, 4 TB Creamy Caesar dressing (full fat)

Dinner: Philly in a Bowl: 4-5 oz ground beef browned with peppers and onions. Top with ¼ cup mozzarella cheese.

Snacks: 1-2 TB of Peanut Butter without added sugar, cheese stick (flat ones only, round ones contain carbs), broth, fat bombs

2 Meals and 1 Snack

Lunch: Chicken or Ham Caesar Salad: 4 oz chicken (3 oz if Ham), a large handful of romaine and kale or spinach mix, 2 TB shredded parmesan cheese, 4 TB Creamy Caesar dressing (full fat)

Dinner: Creamy Ranch Pork Chops from 730 Sage Street (Click here for recipe), 1-2 cups broccoli with butter

Snack: Chia Seed Chocolate pudding: 2 TB chia seeds, 2 TB heavy Whipping Cream, 1 TB sugar free Chocolate Syrup

***A NOTE ABOUT DAIRY: dairy is ok on the ketogenic diet with the exception of milk because it has too many carbs that come from sugar.
If I get super hungry I may have a snack from those listed above. Remember to adjust serving sizes to meet your needs and lifestyle.

Westman, Eric C et al. “The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus.” Nutrition & metabolism vol. 5 36. 19 Dec. 2008, doi:10.1186/1743-7075-5-36 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2633336/
Sumithran, P et al. “Ketosis and the appetite-mediating nutrients and hormones after weight loss.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23632752
Halton, TL, Hu FB. “The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15466943

Johnstone, AM, et al. “Effects of a high-protein ketogenic diet on hunger, appetite, and weight loss in obese men feeding ad libitum.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18175736