Imagine this: You’ve just been invited to a trip to Hawaii with a group of friends in only a few weeks. Once the excitement wears off, you remember that you no longer fit into your swimsuit. The last time you wore that suit, you were ten pounds lighter.
You panic and think to yourself, “How am I going to lose ten pounds in a month?”
Enter: the keto diet.
The ketogenic diet, commonly known as the keto diet, is a high-fat, low-carb diet that has gained immense popularity in recent years due to its rapid weight loss results.
Researchers discovered that this diet had a positive influence on blood sugar, metabolism and weight loss.
The key feature of the keto diet is drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. When there are few carbs in the bloodstream for the body to burn as fuel, the body begins to burn stored fat as its fuel source, leading to quick weight loss.
The standard keto diet typically contains 75 percent fat, 20 percent protein, and only 5 percent carbohydrates (or under 50 grams per day). Since some amino acids (the building blocks of protein) can be converted into glucose, too much protein can be counterproductive to achieving the metabolic state of ketosis.
Ketosis and How Do We Achieve it?
Ketosis is a metabolic state where the body burns ketones (from fat) rather than glucose (from carbs) as its energy source.
The body typically burns fuel in this order: carbohydrates, fats and then proteins. But, if we consume minimal carbs we reduce glucose levels in our bloodstream and the body starts to burn fat first—which is the primary goal of the keto diet.
Specifically, this is what happens in the body when we start the keto diet:
- Lowered carbohydrate intake causes reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels.
- The drastic restriction of carbohydrates results in the body quickly using up its glucose (blood sugar) reserves in muscle tissue and the liver.
- This puts the body into a “fasted” or “semi-starvation” state, resulting in the formation of ketones by the liver as it burns fat for energy.
- The body shifts from using glucose to ketones as its primary energy source and becomes very efficient at burning fat.
- The brain begins to use ketones rather than glucose for energy, which causes increased focus and clarity.
The time it takes to enter ketosis varies from person to person, but it typically takes between two to four days if you eat only 20 to 50 grams of carbs per day. However, for some people it can take a week or longer to achieve ketosis depending on age, metabolism, physical activity level and prior diet. One quick way to know you’ve entered ketosis is when you have bad breath, which is caused by elevated ketones in the blood.
Keto Diet Foods
There are many delicious options on the keto diet, and due to the high-fat content of these foods, most people don’t feel hungry on this diet.
Here is a list of low-carb, high-fat foods for the keto diet:
- Seafood (fish and shellfish)
- Meat and poultry (grass-fed is the healthiest choice)
- Coconut oil
- Plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese (full-fat!)
- Olives and olive oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Butter and cream
- Shirataki noodles (for your “carb” fix)
- Unsweetened coffee and tea
- Dark chocolate and cocoa powder (you read that right!)
Here is a list of low-carb, high-fiber foods for the keto diet:
- Berries, like strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries (other fruits are too high in carbs)
- Low-carb vegetables, like bell peppers, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, zucchini, spinach, cauliflower, green beans, lettuce, garlic, kale, cucumbers, Brussel sprouts, celery, tomatoes, radishes, onions, eggplant and cabbage
Many people on the keto diet have figured out how to use low-carb veggies as a substitute for higher-carb, starchy foods. For example, cauliflower can be used to mimic rice, pizza crust or mashed potatoes. Also, zucchini can be spiraled into “zoodles” as a low-carb replacement in your favorite pasta recipe.
Foods to Avoid on the Keto Diet
The quickest way to achieve ketosis is to drastically reduce your carb intake to under 50 grams per day. The easiest way to do this is to eliminate the following high-carb foods:
- Sugary foods:Soda, fruit juice, cake, ice cream and candy.
- Grains or starches:Wheat-based products, bread, rice, pasta and cereal.
- Fruit:All fruit, except berries.
- Beans or legumes:Peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, lima beans, black beans and black-eyed peas.
- High-carb vegetables:Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, corn and squash.
- Low-fat or diet products:These are highly processed and often high in carbs.
- Some condiments or sauces:These often contain sugar and unhealthy fat.
- Unhealthy fats:Limit your intake of processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
- Alcohol:Due to their carb content, many alcoholic beverages can throw you out of ketosis.
- Sugar-free diet foods:These are often high in sugar alcohols, which can affect ketone levels in some cases. These foods also tend to be highly processed.
Common Challenges on the Keto Diet
As the body transitions from using glucose to ketones as its energy source, you may feel like you have the flu, which is why these symptoms are called the “keto-flu”. While some may transition with no side effects, others may experience one or more of the following as a result of the diet:
- Gas and bloating
- Poor concentration
- Stomach discomfort
- Difficulty sleeping
- Sugar cravings
For most people, these uncomfortable symptoms last for only a week, although some have them for a longer period of time, particularly those who’ve had a high-carb diet previous to starting keto.
Switching to the keto diet is a major change for most people. Some have a lot of trouble adjusting to this new fuel source and want to quit before they see results.
Luckily, there are ways to reduce these side effects so that you don’t throw in the towel. Here are a few tips to help you get through this transition period:
- Staying hydrated
- Avoiding strenuous exercise
- Replacing electrolytes
- Getting adequate sleep
- Eating enough fat to curb carb cravings
- Taking a lipase supplement to help digest fat
- Taking a probiotic to help reduce brain fog
Enzymedica’s Digest Keto Supplement
To help ease discomfort and maximize the benefits of keto, Enzymedica offers Digest Keto, a dietary supplement specially formulated to support those on the keto diet.*
Digest Keto contains lipases, which are enzymes that break down fats. It also contains proteases, enzymes that digest proteins. Each serving of Digest Keto contains enough enzymes to break down up to 44 grams of fat and 20 grams of protein.* To put this amount into perspective, one Florida avocado has 31 grams of fat and 7 grams of protein. Three large eggs have 14 grams of fat and 19 grams of protein. Therefore, one dose of Digest Keto is able to break down a typical keto breakfast of eggs and avocado.
Digest Keto also helps relieve digestive issues, such as occasional constipation, that occurs on the keto diet beyond the transition period.*
Digest Keto also addresses the brain fog, lack of concentration and irritability that many experience when starting keto.* Digest Keto does this because it contains a clinically-tested probiotic, Bacillus subtillis, that promotes bowel regularity, as well as a healthy microbiome that helps improve mental clarity and mood.*
“When on the keto diet, you eat more fat than a normal diet, and the body can’t keep up,” says Dr. Michael Murray, Chief Science Officer of Enzymedica. “Similar to someone without a gallbladder having trouble digesting fat, those on a keto diet don’t have enough enzymes to break down the additional fat they are consuming. This is where Digest Keto can help.”
By adding Digest Keto supplements to your keto diet, you are able to stay committed and succeed in your weight-loss goals. With swimsuit in hand, you’ll be ready for that trip to Hawaii!