The opinions on how to do keto are as different as our bodies are. Here are a couple of the different ways to look at it – Some even mix and match theories, but if it works for them, that’s all that really matters. Do not think because someone tells you what “is” or “is not” keto that it has to apply to you.
FACT – Ketogenic diet is not a new “fad” it was discovered in the 1920’s as a way to control epilepsy. Since then it has been researched as a way to help and control all kinds of medical issues from cancer to Alzheimer’s. In its original form, all that mattered was the lack of carbs and the ratio of Carbs:Fats:Proteins
Our body does not need carbs, it functions and even thrives when burning fat instead.
The little bit of glucose we do need will be manufactured by our liver.
FACT – Keto is a Low Carb, High Fat (LCHF) diet. Some people follow a high protein version, this is mostly meant for body builders and building muscle, not necessary for toning and shaping.
Generally, the macro-nutrient ratio varies within the following ranges:
60-75% of calories from fat (or even more),
15-30% of calories from protein, and.
5-10% of calories from carbs.
FACT – Ketosis does not equal weight loss. You can maintain or gain while in ketosis.
Ketosis is a metabolic state created by removing the carbs from your diet to cause your body to burn fat instead.
It is NOT related to Ketoacidosis, Ketoacidosis can usually only happen to diabetics (and a few others with serious medical issues).
Ketosis is (by blood measurement) 0.2 mml to 5.0 – Ketoacidosis is 15 mml
Common terms and their common definitions:
Strict Keto – Everything counts. Stick to your macros, count everything and ingredients matter as much as the carbs themselves. (To me, this is actually a keto diet plus an elimination diet or an anti-inflammatory diet)
Lazy Keto – Seems to mean different things to different people. To some it means no tracking anything but carbs. To others, it means the same as DIRTY KETO.
Dirty Keto – This means nothing matters except following your macros. (To me, this is the real keto)
Do not think because someone else believes something or tells you you’re wrong, that you have to change. It is all up to you. Here is some science to help you decide how to keto your way. I will throw in a few opinions too, but I will be clear as to what are just opinions.
- Some people think that ingredients are just as important as the macros…for example any grain or sugar should be avoided in even microscopic amounts.
- They believe in eating completely clean, no soy, no vegetable oils (Except olive or avocado) in any amounts.
- Some think artificial sweeteners can’t be consumed, others think even natural alternatives should be avoided.
OPINION – The weight loss part comes from calorie deficit and for some people their macro ratios.
The commonly accepted limit on carbs is 20…but depending on your body, you might be able to go as high as 30, 40 or 50. Everyone is different and you can only test yourself to find out your limit. This is important when it comes to maintenance.
The science part:
Ketones do not burn fat, they are the by-product of our body burning fat instead of carbs.
Carbs are turned into glucose during digestion…then our bodies use the glucose as fuel and our liver turns it into glycogen to be stored and used later..
When there are no carbs, the liver will convert fatty acids into ketones for our bodies to use as fuel instead.
As long as you do not consume too many carbs (from any source), your liver has no choice but to burn fats instead.
Ketogenesis – How it works
Fatty Acids (from our food and from stored fats) are converted in our liver to a ketone called…
Acetoacetate – Our bodies can use this as a fuel source, but it’s not the best one.
Acetoacetate is then converted to…
Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB’s) – An efficient fuel source for our bodies, cells, and brains. This is actually 70% more efficient than glucose as fuel for our bodies. This is also the ketone we test for in blood testing.
Acetone – Excreted as waste. This acetone is what we are testing for in urine strips, it’s also why our breath, sweat and urine can be stinky.
OPINION – This is why I believe that 1 or 2 carbs from sugar or 3 or 4 carbs from wheat will NOT kick me out of ketosis. As long as I am under my limit, I will remain in ketosis.
FACT – The only thing that can kick you out of ketosis is GLUCOSE. This can mean eating too many carbs (easy to determine)
- This can also happen if you consume something that your body converts to glucose.
- Too much protein in some people can be converted to glucose (and technically too much fat too, though not as common) This is usually an “on demand” process, meaning IF you need glucose, your body CAN make it from protein, some people will go through gluconeogenesis with extreme high amounts of protein.
- An artificial or alternate sweetener that causes an insulin response in your body.
Testing for Ketones –
Urine sticks only test for acetone, the waste product of ketones. We want BHB’s, that’s what our bodies use. BHB’s can’t be tested with urine strips. Also, once you are fat adapted and using your ketones efficiently, you will not have much acetone left to test. Only blood and breath can be used to test BHB’s.
FACT – 1 gram of FAT = 9 calories, 1 gram of PROTEIN or CARBS = 4 calories.
This can help you determine how much of each to eat.
OPINION – Calories matter – To lose weight, you must have a calorie deficit. This is also a common opinion among scientists and doctors. Ketosis itself will not cause weight loss, it’s only a metabolic state that can help you lose weight. You still need the correct macro ratios and calorie deficit to lose weight. Adjust your macros. Track everything.
FACT – Electrolytes are super important.
- Carbs retain water, therefore when we limit carbs, we need more water and electrolytes.
- Keto Flu is caused by an electrolyte imbalance and can happen at anytime, not just at the beginning.
- You don’t have to get the Keto Flu, keep your electrolytes in line from day one and you will not suffer.
- Muscle cramps, dizziness, nausea, and some other symptoms can all be caused by an electrolyte imbalance.
FACT – Hidden carbs exist in many forms.
- The USDA says if a product has less than 1 gram of any nutrient (CARBS) they can list it as zero on the nutrition label.
**For example, heavy whipping cream has .4 grams of carbs per tablespoon, but most brands list it as zero. If you put a tablespoon in your coffee, it’s not a big deal…but if you make a whipped dessert or a cream sauce where you would consume a 1/2 cup or more…you are adding real carbs to your daily count (almost 4) and when you have a limit of 20, that can mess up your macros.
- This is super common with things that can be used in small quantities. Lemon juice labels say 0 carbs per tsp, but if you up that to TBSP, it becomes 1 carb each
- Hidden sugars are also everywhere. There are 61 (maybe more) names for sugar. Dextrose and Maltodextrin are in so many things, including the alternate sweetener we aim for on keto. These 2 can actually be worse for you than real sugar.
Besides most meats and pure fat, almost EVERYTHING has at least a tiny bit of carbs that can add up in a day.
- Mollusks (Clams, oysters, squid and such) have carbs, while fish and crustaceans don’t.
- Eggs and dairy have small amounts. (0.4 per egg)
Net Carbs vs. Total Carbs –
OPINION – I use 20 net carbs as my limit each day, some people would rather use total carbs. Some people think they don’t need to count carbs from vegetables at all, especially leafy green vegetables.
FACT – (Commonly accepted fact anyways) – Our bodies do not absorb or utilize or absorb the carbs in fiber, it flows on through.
- This is why some believe it doesn’t count towards our carb intake for the day.
- Therefore – Total Carbs – Fiber = Net Carbs
- This allows us to eat the veggies we need and that will help fill us up. It also allows for the fiber we need to help with potential bathroom issues from all the dairy and protein.
FACT – Not every body/metabolism is the same. That would be too easy!!
- Some sweeteners work for some people.
- Some taste like crap to me and you could love it.
- One might give you an insulin response but not me.
- Dairy can stall some people.
- If you don’t know if this is you…stop eating it for a week. See what happens.
- Some people will lose 2 pounds a week, some people will lose a pound a month.
- Some people NEED the higher fats to lose, some people do better with higher proteins.
- Eating sweets, even if they are keto can cause cravings in some people. Others can eat them just fine.
- Some people can drink alcohol with no issues, some can drink a little bit here and there…others cannot drink a drop. (See the ALCOHOL section below)
FACT AND OPINION
Alcohol is not forbidden on this diet, but there are a few things you might want to know.
Lots of alcohol has carbs and some is sugar filled. If you’re going to drink, stick with dry red wines, low carb beers and unsweetened spirits like vodka, rum and whiskey…flavored alcohols may be sweetened.
Rule of thumb says, if it is 70 proof or more, it’s carb free.
You will not have the tolerance you normally would while eating keto, and you will likely have one hell of a hangover the next day. Drinking can also stall your weight loss and possibly kick you out of ketosis (temporarily) because your liver can not process ketones and alcohol at the same time.
Heavy or frequent drinking is not recommended. Know your new limits and be safe.