This article provides information on some basics of a ketogenic diet. If you have any questions or concerns about your specific circumstances, please direct them toward a professional. Before starting this diet, you should consider contacting a professional for your specific diet needs. Some groups – such as children, pregnant women, and breastfeeding women – should have professional assistance and check-ins during this diet.
Humans have come up with a lot of different ways to change the way they eat to lose weight; we typically call this dieting. Sometimes you count calories. Other times, you have to cut specific food types out. But the definition of “diet” is actually just the food you consume. So shouldn’t a diet be sustainable over long periods of time, rather than just for two weeks or thirty days? I sure think so!
I’ve been doing a lot of research about different diets because I have a few more inches than I’d like right now, and I’ve come across so many ways to eat! After about a month of research (sorry, that’s part of the reason I haven’t posted much recently!), I decided to start on a ketogenic diet. So what is “keto dieting”? Well, it isn’t just a fad and it was officially developed as a classified way of eating in the 1920s. It’s about changing the way you eat – and a lot of professionals recommend to sticking to it for a long period for health, not just for weight loss. Without further ado, let’s get into the science behind the keto diet, what foods are and aren’t allowed, and even touch on some research that’s been done tying it in with long-term health, especially female health!
Keto dieting is not a fad. It’s not meant to be a short-term diet, though some treat it as such. Keto dieting is actually a way of life, and many who start eating this way commit to it for a long time – even for life. Science supports a keto diet because it is teaching your body how to transform and digest the foods you eat. The foods you’re now transforming – fats – are a more robust source of energy for your body, and many people find that they help with brain function, energy, and general health and happiness.
What is “Keto”?
Keto diet is short for ketogenic diet, which means that your body is in what is called ketosis. Ketosis is a process in which your body doesn’t have enough glucose (from carb-y foods) to process, so it reaches for fat instead. When you eat a lot of carbs, or even a moderate amount, your body has a hard time doing this because it has glucose available to use. However, the keto diet is a low carb, medium to high fat, medium protein diet.
Yes or No on Foods
I love the keto diet because, while restricting some of your food (carbs), you still have plenty of fatty, delicious foods available to you! Here’s a list of a few things that you’ll have to take off of your menu.
- All grains (not restricted to this list)
- Sugar (very small amounts of naturally occurring sugar is okay)
- Milk, because lactose contains a large amount of sugar
- Beans (except green beans)
The above list is not the complete list of foods you can’t eat, it’s just an example of some high-carb foods that are popular but not allowed on a strict keto diet. Before you get disappointed in losing your carbs, let me remind you of all the delicious foods you are still allowed, and even encouraged, to have.
- Cream cheese
- Heavy whipping cream (there are still .4 carbs per tablespoon, but it’s minuscule and considered small amounts of naturally occurring sugar)
- Chicken (especially thighs)
- Veggies (just watch the net carbs)
- Dark chocolate
- Nut milks
- Coconut/almond flour
Obviously, this isn’t a full list of food that is allowed. I don’t believe in diets that cut foods out just because you’re on a diet. The foods that have been cut from the keto diet are in that group because they provide carbs and/or are hard for our bodies to digest correctly.
In the keto world, you’ll hear the word “macros” – people are just talking about the macro nutrients you’re consuming, or the food that is giving your body energy. It’s a simple concept, but sometimes hard to find a definition. Macros are important because they show you how much to eat of what type of food. In total, your macros will equal your total caloric intake for the day. The internet is a wonderful place, and there are many keto macro calculators floating around that will help you figure out your macros. They will be different from the macros of anyone doing keto with you, so it’s important to do individually.
You should also be tracking your macros, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Some things you just need to measure by cups or scoops, but some things you need to weigh (meat, veggies, etc.). This means you should invest in a kitchen scale. Luckily, you can come by one of these on Amazon for as little as $10.
To follow a strict keto diet, you’ll want to track your macros rather than just eyeball them. These are carbs, fats, and proteins. Some track total carbs (usually up around 50 g), but I’m a bigger fan of tracking your net carbs and keeping them down around 20 g per person. The way you find net carbs is to take your total carbs and subtract the fiber. So if you have a piece of food that is 3 g carbs, 2 g fiber, you end up with 1 net carb. Not too difficult. The reason tracking net carbs makes more sense to me through my research is that you still need fiber in your diet – if you don’t have fiber, you can end up with digestive issues. Net carbs allows you to have more carbs as long as they’re offset by the fiber you’re consuming. Some studies have shown that women naturally need more carbs than men, so eat up on the carbs, ladies! Just make sure they’re balanced by fibers.
Obviously, you don’t want to consume exorbitant amounts of total carbs when going by net carbs only. There’s science behind this trade off, but it’s not the focus of this article, so I’m going to let you do some searching around to decide if you agree with the carbs or net carbs way of thought.
If you’re following a keto diet and hoping to lose weight, you need to eat enough fats to keep telling your body that it should be using fats as energy, but fewer fats than you need in your daily diet to get all of your energy. When your body runs out of fats you’re eating, it turns over to fat stored on your body. If you remember from above, the three main macros are net carbs, fat, and protein. As far as net carbs and fat, you should use those as a maximum. You need at least about 50 g of fat every day, but you don’t need to eat your full amount if you feel satisfied. You should be hitting your protein goal as calculated by your macros, though. This is because protein helps to build up muscles and gives you energy.
In my opinion, a better goal than weight loss is losing inches and gaining physical capabilities. If you weigh the same but have more muscle than fat, you’ll look much slimmer, and more fit to boot! Muscle doesn’t “weigh more” than fat, but it is more dense, meaning that the same weight is packed into a smaller space, and it’s actually useful to you!
Keto Diet and Women’s Health
This article is already getting long and I don’t want to write a whole article on the end of the already-existing article, but I’ll touch on a few points of women’s health (and health in general) that have been shown to benefit from a keto diet. I do plan to spend some more time on this subject in the future to go into more depth.
First of all, let’s address a concern. Some women believe that ketosis causes hormonal problems. This is not true. If you want to see a full article written on this subject, check it out here. It does not cause hypo-/hyperthyroidism, PCOS, endometriosis, or any other female health issue you have heard of, and in many cases it actually helps the pain or imbalances these issues cause. It is somewhat difficult to get enough food on keto because you often stop feeling hunger, so it is important to track your food. But keto itself does not cause the problem and if you follow the diet correctly, it cannot cause the problem.
Because keto is a low-carb diet, and therefore low sugar, those who are diabetic or even pre-diabetic/insulin resistant tend to benefit greatly from a keto diet. Rather than having problems controlling sugars, they are following a way of living that
There are four sub types of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), but the most prevalent type is insulin resistant PCOS. Because of that, many women with PCOS find that a keto diet helps them to manage the symptoms of PCOS, and sometimes even reverse it. While you will always have a tendency toward PCOS, some women have successfully gotten rid of its symptoms.
Some women with bad PMS symptoms have found that they’ve lightened as they convert to a keto diet. While the exact cause of this is hard to pinpoint, keto removes a number of inflammatory foods from the diet.
As of the writing of this article, I’m finishing up day 10 of my keto journey. I have missed a few things – like juice, fruit smoothies, potatoes, and caramel-filled chocolate – but I have also really enjoyed food that I wouldn’t have made otherwise. For example, I had a delicious alfredo with avocado served it over veggies instead of pasta. I’ve also had steak, salad, baked chicken, and some really good protein shakes. I made some fat bombs that are chocolate and peanut butter for times when I’m low on energy, and tonight I’m making keto fudge for guests tomorrow.
In the last 10 days, I’ve lost 10 pounds and a few inches in different place around my body, including my waist, hips, and thighs. Moreover, I have more energy throughout my day and have had fewer headaches (a major plus for me).
I know 10 days isn’t very long, but I like keto so far. Maybe someday I’ll reintroduce some carbs to my diet and try something like a carb up night once a week (where you have a moderate amount of carbs for a single dinner a week). I definitely give the keto diet a thumbs up!
Have you had an experience with keto? Do you have any questions? As always, feel free to chat with me in the comments!