The keto diet is slowly becoming America's favorite followed diet. With big-name celebrities including Vanessa Hudgens and Kourtney Kardashian all claiming the keto diet has worked for them.
It’s time to dissect if the keto diet really does its job and where to start.
Keto Diet: What Is It?
Now prepare yourself for a heavy science-based article that may get a little bit intense but will explain everything that you need to know about the keto diet. Even though keto has become a popular trend in recent years it's actually a diet that is very very specific in terms of yielding the results that you see in the media. We’ve set out to answer some of the main questions and concerns surrounding the keto diet and how you yourself can get the most out of it.
Who Created The Ketogenic Diet?
Originally invented as a treatment for epileptic seizures, the first-ever ketogenic diet meant dwindling carbohydrates down to 10 to 15 g a day. Even more strict was that protein was to be kept to 1g per day per kilogram of bodyweight. So if you were to weigh 80kg you would need to eat 80g of protein per day.
Effectively, what these restrictions do is force the body to switch from using sugars as your source of energy to fat. So, with the absence of carbohydrates (which convert to the sugar glucose) for energy, your body begins to metabolize fat for energy instead.
Modern variations of the keto diet such as the Atkins diet have been modified to allow you to consume a slightly higher intake of predominantly healthy carbohydrates like vegetables and don’t restrict protein. Unlike the traditional Keto diet, the modern Keto diet guidelines have been newly structured with weight loss as the primary goal.
Keto Diet Guidelines
To start off your keto diet journey, you need to understand your food intake. More importantly, you need to understand your macronutrients. In simpler terms, your intake of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Once you’ve got the hang of how many calories you should be eating of each macronutrient, it will be easier to follow the diet and obtain the results you aim to achieve from it.
How many carbs with keto you need? Much like the original keto diet, the modernized version still limits carbohydrates- just not as dramatically. The modern keto diet states that you should be eating the following macronutrient ratios to consume the right amount of carbs on keto diet:
Keto Diet Carb Limit
5% of your daily calories
15% of your daily calories
The remainder of your daily calories totaling 80% .
If math isn’t your vibe and you’re seeking to convert these percentages to calories and grams you can use this keto diet calculator.
Where Do I Get My Fats?
Healthy fats. Yes, fats that are healthy genuinely do exist. Fat is still very much a fear word for most of us. We say to ourselves “but I don’t want to get fat!” and so we stay well away from not just the word, but anything associated with it. However, what many people get wrong about the keto diet is that they understand the body begins to use fat as its source of energy and so they assume it will start to use the fat stored on our bodies. Actually, the keto diet requires us to replace those lost carbohydrate sources with a higher intake of fats. So if you cut out the carbs and don’t go hard on the fat intake, the body won’t respond in the way that you want it to.
Keto Diet - What Can You Eat
Here are some primary sources of healthy fats in food you can eat on the keto diet:
- If you follow a plant-based or vegan diet you can refer to our comprehensive Keto Vegan Guide here
Full-fat Greek yoghurt
(QUICK TIP: pair with our MiiRO maple syrup for a sweet keto treat)
It’s also worth noting that you CAN eat all high fat foods on the keto diet. That includes sausages, bacon, red meats, cheese and butter. However, as you know we don’t like to promote an unhealthy lifestyle. Most of these foods contain forms of both trans and saturated fats. So to help your heart, and your body, stay clear of them and eat healthy fats on keto.
So The Killer Question – Does The Keto Diet Make You Lose Weight?
If followed correctly, yes. However, there are two key points to consider.
1. You Need To Get It Right
While many people want weight loss to be the primary result from following the keto diet, it only works if your body enters a state of ketosis.
Now initially you may see quick weight loss results, but this can be down to many other reasons that aren’t linked to ketosis. For the keto diet to work, you need to give it time to work. It can take up to 1 week or longer to enter the state of ketosis. Ketosis is the scientific word (ahh science, I did warn you!) to describe that metabolic state I mentioned earlier. The one that occurs when the body’s energy starts to draw from ketone bodies in the blood (fats), rather than from glucose (carbohydrates).
2. You Can’t Cheat
Like all things surrounding weight loss, even diets, it takes time. Keto is not a quick fix, despite what all the other articles are saying.
I think we can all relate to cheating on a diet. We go out for a drink with a friend that ends up becoming dinner, or cravings kick in at the supermarket and before you know it your cupboards are filled with sweet treats (not a bad thing if they're from MiiRO by the way). The problem with this is, if you are following the keto diet you won't enter that state of ketosis. This can be a major problem considering the amount of fats you're consuming. The crucial point is that for the keto diet to work, your body needs to completely eradicate carbohydrates. If you cheat at any point your body will reset and no longer be in ketosis. Then you will have to start over again.
Does Ketosis Raise Cholesterol?
With the emphasis on fats, it’s not just weight gain that’s a concern. We usually associate fats with cholesterol- that stuff everyone always says will clog our arteries and cause problems.
For years we’ve been told to stay away from fats. However, cholesterol itself can be super beneficial for our bodies, helping with sex hormone production, supporting cognitive functions and brain structure, and aiding absorption of fat-soluble nutrients (including vitamins A, E, D and K).
Now to answer your question. Yes, the keto diet will most likely increase your cholesterol levels. Too much cholesterol, again, sourced from trans and saturated fats are bad. But good cholesterol that stems from a higher intake of healthy fats like avocados and nuts have been scientifically proven to positively affect cholesterol levels, heart health and metabolic health.
Does The Keto Diet Make You Lose Muscle?
The keto diet and its effects are not related to losing muscle. Losing and building muscle is all down to protein and how much of it you consume. Typically, it is recommended that to build muscle you need to eat around 1-2g of protein per kg of body weight. So if you weighed in at 80kg, you should eat between 80-160g of protein per day. The keto diet does accommodate this amount and so there should be no reason for you to start losing muscle. If you do find that you are struggling to build or maintain muscle, you simply need to increase your protein intake. No need to worry about switching diets!
Can Keto Affect Your Period?
Many would answer this question with a strong yes. But that’s not necessarily true.
For all the ladies out there, we know changes to your period can be a concern. Nutrition has an immediate impact on how our bodies function and perform, so it should be no surprise that following a strict keto diet would affect your period also. The key point here is that everyone is unique. Some may find that switching to a keto diet strongly affects their period, while others will report no changes at all.
For those that may experience changes, and are wondering how the keto diet will affect your period, here’s what has been found:
Keto Diets Can Help Infertility And Irregular Periods For Those With PCOS
Research into how the keto diet affects your period isn’t extensive yet, but one small study has found that following a keto diet could help with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) - one of the main causes of female infertility.
Increases Menstruation And Libido
Thanks to all those additional fats, a keto diet boosts estrogen production. Women who have normal estrogen levels reported a surge in estrogen within the first week of following a keto diet. After 3-4 weeks, those same women reported a significant increase in their menstruation and libido.
So while you can see how and why the keto diet has risen in popularity, it's probably best if following a keto diet to do it under guided supervision from a registered nutritionist. Although many people are choosing to willingly follow a keto diet themselves, just be prepared to know that it's a strict diet that needs to be followed correctly. Otherwise, you might not get the results you're after and will probably explain why some people, if using it for weight loss, haven't found it very successful.
So now you know who created the ketogenic diet, where to start on the keto diet, and how the keto diet can affect you and your body.
We’re supporters of a keto diet and think that low-carb, low sugar foods are super beneficial for your health. It’s one of the reasons we make keto-friendly treats, chocolate, maple syrup and more!
Have you tried the keto diet before? If so, what was your experience?
Keep us informed and keep an eye out for our next article!