What is a Low Carb diet (Ketogenic diet)?
A low carb diet is just what it sounds like- a diet low in carbohydrates. What makes a ketogenic diet unique, however, is its high fat content. Yes, fat! Years and years of misconceptions have taught us to avoid fats at all costs. Everywhere you turn, you can find food labels shouting “fat free” or “low fat”. But the sad reality is that when companies remove fat from their foods they must replace it with something else to maintain a flavorful product; in most cases, that something is sugar and a ton of chemicals.
“Healthy fats” (found in oils, nuts and fish just to name a few) have long been recognized as fine in moderation. Strangely, they’re still found at the very top of the food pyramid, deeming them as unhealthy as sweets. Fats play some of the most important roles in our bodies, including organ support, joint health, vitamin absorption and maintaining brain functions1.
Losing Weight on Keto
Studies today are shedding more light on fats and producing some interesting and unexpected results. Read about low carb scientific studies which have concluded that low carb diets often cause more weight loss than low fat diets, and that they improve cholesterol, blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular risk. That’s huge! What was once deemed disastrous is now, through research and studies, shown to cause major improvements in individuals’ health.
A ketogenic diet consists of 75% calories from fat. That means most of the things you will be eating will be very high in fat content. Foods like butter, dairy, oils, red meats, cheeses, nuts and fish become staples in your daily meals. You may be surprised how hard it is to actually meet your daily quota for fats when you first start. Maybe just as hard as it is avoiding that morning doughnut!
Where does the name “ketogenic” come from?
Ketosis is the state in which your body begins to use fat as a source of energy instead of the carbohydrates it’s used to2. This point bears repeating: your body begins to burn fat for energy instead of relying on carbohydrates! When your body is relying on carbs (and their byproduct- glucose) for energy, the state is called glycolysis. In this state, higher levels of insulin promote fat storage. Another point that bears repeating: excess glucose, produced from all the carbs you eat, is stored as excess fat!
It’s especially hard for us to shed this excess fat because today, we rarely experience starvation. Excess fat is stored for the unfortunate situation of starvation, where the body can still function by using its fat reserves. Ketosis, on the other hand, regulates the levels of insulin (a miracle for Type 2 Diabetes sufferers3) and encourages the body to use its fat reserves for energy!
Ketosis naturally occurs when you sleep because you’re essentially fasting and your carb energy sources have long since depleted. When your body breaks fat down it produces ketone bodies. These bodies are what the body uses for energy instead of glucose (when you’re eating lots of carbs).
Fun fact: the ketogenic diet was first used to alleviate harmful seizures in people with epilepsy. These patients (who reported more than a 50% drop in frequency of seizures!) also reported weight loss4. This prompted studies for the application of the diet for individuals with weight loss problems and here we are today.
Benefits of a Low Carb Diet
Studies consistently show that compared to people on a low fat diet, people who eat a high fat, low carb diet
- lose more weight and body fat
- have increased levels of good cholesterol
- show reduced blood sugar and insulin levels (great for people who suffer from Type 2 Diabetes)
- have lower blood pressure
- experience a decrease in appetite (less snacking and less over-eating)
Along with these benefits, in our experience eating keto, we’ve also found ourselves
- being more alert
- waking up more easily
- in a general optimistic and happy attitude
- getting our creative juices pumping creating new dishes
- spending more time cooking together
- eating out less and saving money!
But what’s the catch?
If you have a sweet-tooth, you’ll have to avoid desserts and candy for a while (at least for the first few weeks)! Once your body and taste buds are adjusted to the new regimen, you’ll find you experience a lot fewer sugar cravings and won’t even think about sweets anymore. But if you can’t live without dessert, there are also some mouthwatering low carb desserts you can whip up using sugar and flour substitutes (spoiler alert: cheesecakes!). For example, substitute Stevia or erythritol for sugar, use almond meal instead of regular wheat flour, the list goes on!
Taking Your First Step!
|Do some more research! We recommend joining a few communities or forums online. The Keto Subreddit is a gold mine of information and advice from real and very friendly people! Facebook also has lots of groups dedicated to the low carb, high fat (LCHF) lifestyle. Here‘s one of our favorites. Make sure to also consult a doctor if you have existing medical conditions (especially Diabetes).|
|Learn about macronutrients and figure out your body’s nutritional needs. Use our Keto Calculator to determine how much fat, protein and carbohydrates you should be aiming to eat each day. In the beginning, it helps to track the nutritional content of the food you’re eating. A food scale really helps in meal prep and macronutrient recording. With time, you’ll find you need to use the scale less and less and you’ll be able to recognize an ounce of nuts when you see it.|
|We’ve got tons of low carb recipes right here on Tasteaholics.com! Check out all the amazing things you can make and get creative! Warning: you will get hungry seeing all the delicious things you can eat! Get familiar with keto staple foods like cheeses and avocados; they can be found in most keto recipes. You can also check out our Low Carb, High Fat Pinterest Board and see what you can make right now!|
|Cut out high carb foods! Foods that contain the most carbs include sugars, breads (bagels, pizza, etc.), fruits, candy, pasta, cereals, cookies, cakes, flour, potatoes. There are lots of easy substitutions for all of these, especially in baking! Sticking to the keto lifestyle, these substitutions are mostly higher in fat content (we make a low carb pizza crust that’s more delicious than the traditional doughy crust!)|