How Is Bacon Healthy?! An Introduction to the Keto Diet

Like many of you, I have been on-off dieting for years. I am a big believer in the Keto diet and highly recommend it to anyone looking for weight loss. I have pulled some sciencey things together to better explain why this diet is brilliant. I’m starting this diet today and always use it to kick start weight loss when I feel I’ve gone too far and want to drop some pounds fast without feeling restricted. Here’s how it works – 

What Is the Keto Diet?

A keto diet is a well known low carb diet, where the body produces ketones in the liver to be used as energy. When you eat something high in carbs, your body will produce glucose and insulin. Glucose is the easiest molecule for your body to convert and use as energy, so it will be chosen over any other energy source – meaning your fats (insulin) are not needed, and are therefore stored.

To summarise: on a normal, high carb diet, the body will use glucose as the main form of energy and Insulin will become fat. On a Low Carb diet, the body is induced into a state known as Ketosis – which is a natural process to help us survive when food intake is low. During Ketosis, we produce ketones and when you eat high fat/low carbs, your body will begin to burn ketones as the main energy source leading to weight loss.”

How to Get Into Ketosis?

What you eat really depends how fast you want to get into a ketogenic state. The more restrictive you are on your net carbs, the faster you will enter ketosis. Normally, anywhere between 20-30g of net carbs is recommended for every day dieting – but the lower you keep your levels, the better the overall results will be and the faster you will loose weight.

What’s a Net Carb?

The net carbs are your total dietary carbs, minus the total fiber. Let’s say for example you want to eat some broccoli (1 cup):

  • There are a total of 6g carbohydrates in 1 cup.
  • There’s also 2g of fiber in 1 cup.
  • So, we take the 6g (total carbs) and subtract the 2g (fiber).
  • This will give us our net carbs of 4g.

Aim for less than 15g of net carbs a day and you will loose weight faster. Your nutrient intake should be something around 70% fats, 25% protein, and 5% carbohydrate. Once you’re 3-4 weeks in, you can look at balancing these together with planned meals.

What Are the Side Effects?

Your body is used to the simple routine of breaking down carbohydrates and using them as energy. Over time the body has built up an arsenal of enzymes ready for this process, and only has a few enzymes for dealing with fats – mostly to store them. Suddenly your body has to deal with the lack of glucose and increase in fats, which means building up a new supply of enzymes.

As your body becomes induced into a ketogenic state, your body will naturally use what’s left of your glucose. This means your body will be depleted of all glycogen in the muscles – which can cause a lack of energy, and a general lethargy.

In the first few weeks, many people report minor cases of:

  • Headaches
  • Mental fogginess
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Dizziness
  • Aggravation

Most of the time, this is the result of your electrolytes being flushed out, as ketosis has a diuretic effect. Make sure you drink plenty of water and keep your sodium (salt) intake up. This will help with water retention, and help replenish the electrolytes. I personally feel very lucky that I don’t get any side effects. The quicker I get into Keto, the less I get any effects.

Benefits of a Keto Diet?

A keto diet has shownto improve triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels most associated with arterial buildup.

  • Weight Loss. As your body is burning fat as the main source of energy, you will essentially be using your fat stores as an energy source.
  • Blood Sugar. Many studiesshow the decrease of LDL cholesterol over time and have shown to eliminate ailments such as type 2 diabetes.
  • Energy. By giving your body a better and more reliable energy source, you will feel more energized during the day.
  • Fat is naturally more satisfying and ends up leaving us in a full state for longer.
  • Acne. Recent studies have shown a drop in acne lesions and skin inflammation over 12 weeks.

What Can I Eat?

I can only recommend this brilliant article here for what you can eat. As a general rule, anything high-fat and low carbs are acceptable. This means that butter, bacon and cheese are back on the menu. I told you this was unlike any other diet! You’ll need to check the net carbs for the first 3-4 before you’re comfortable with what you can and can’t eat. Below is a list of what’s allowed (although you’ll need to check portion control to ensure you don’t go over you’re daily allowance).

Meat: 

  • Bacon, chicken, beef, lamb, venison
  • *avoid sausages/ hot dogs that are filled with starch.
  • *avoid breaded meat

Seafood:

  • tuna, fish, mackerel
  • **avoid battered fish
  • **avoid shellfish

Dairy: 

  • eggs, butter, plain full-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, full cream
  • **avoid milk (only small amounts of raw, full-fat is allowed but beware of carbs)

Vegetables: 

  • kale, radishes, celery, asparagus, cucumber, zucchini, avocado, bok choy, spinach, lettuce. cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, courgette, swede, tomatoes, peppers, spring onion, leek, red onion, mushrooms, pumpkin, olives
  • **eat the above in moderation and count your carbs

Nuts/Seeds: 

  • macadamia nuts, pecans, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds.
  • **avoid all grains, (even whole meal) such as wheat, rye, oats, corn, barley, rice, quinoa and carbs such as white potatoes, pasta, bread, pizza, cookies, crackers, ice creams, cakes, sweet puddings and sugary soft-drinks.

Fruit:

  • blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries.
  • **avoid tropical fruit (pineapple, mango, banana, papaya, grapes, etc.)
  • **avoid fruit juice

Beverages:

  • still water, black coffee (or with cream or coconut milk), black or herbal tea.
  • **Use sweeteners not sugar in hot drinks. Count each tsp as 1g net carb.

Alcohol: 

  • Unsweetened vodka, rum, gin, tequila, whiskey (mix with water or diet soda to keep the 0g carbs as tonic contains sugar and carbs).
  • **Avoid alcoholic, sweet drinks such as beer, sweet wine, cocktails, etc

Condiments:

  • full fat mayonnaise, mustard, pesto, all spices/herbs
  • **avoid ‘low-fat’ condiments

Leave a comment below if you’ve tried this diet and how it went! I usually would never recommend a ‘fad’ diet but this is a scientifically backed diet that I’ve personally had work for me many time when I’ve strayed too far from my healthy ways!

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