The ketogenic diet is a fairly simple approach to eating healthy foods that are low carb, high fat, and moderate protein. The lack of carbs forces your body to burn fat rather than glucose to produce energy. The result is ketone production, increased energy, and improved mental clarity, along with a myriad of other health benefits.
How do I get started?
The best way to get started on keto is to do what you’re doing right now, asking the right questions and doing your research. niKETO exists as a resource to help people who want to change their life using the keto diet. We breakdown every part of the keto lifestyle and answer all of the most important questions a new ketoer could have. Our mailing list and social media accounts – twitter, Facebook, and Instagram - are all designed around helping you get started and they are set up to answer any question you may have that’s not covered by the site.
Once you have the knowledge and you know what you need to do, it’s time to jump in. Go to the store, buy the keto foods you’ll need to support your new low-carb life and come see us here at niKETO if you need any recipe ideas or if you want to humble brag about your keto progress.
What are macronutrients?
Macronutrients are basically the main categories your daily calories fall into. There are 3 main macronutrients that keto is concerned with tracking:
FAT: Eat healthy fats and make them about 75% of your daily calories
PROTEIN: Used to grow and repair body tissue, this is a vital macro that must be limited to 20% on keto to avoid gluconeogenesis
CARBOHYDRATES: The only one of the big three macros that you can absolutely live without. Keto limits carbs to 5% of your daily calories so as to prevent glucose production.
What should my macros look like and which ones are important to meet?
Macros are the three main macronutrients we get from our food: Fat, Protein, and Carbohydrates. So when we say macro numbers, we mean what percentage of your daily calories should come from each of these three groups. The breakdown looks like this:
75% of daily calories should come from healthy fats.
20% of daily calories should come from protein.
5% of your daily calories should come from healthy carbs.
It’s important to meet all of these requirements as each macro plays a very specific role in keto.
A high percentage of fat ensures your liver will create ketones as your body’s new fuel, replacing the glucose that’s been causing weight gain and other issues.
Protein is important for muscle and tissue repair, but too much protein can result in gluconeogenesis which takes excess protein and turns it into the glucose we are trying to avoid on keto.
Carbs are severely restricted on keto, but you are allowed 20g per day. Those 20g should come from healthy, leafy greens and vitamin rich sources.
Use our calculator to get your personalized macro numbers.
How long does it take to get into ketosis?
It can take anywhere from 1 day to 2 weeks to reach a ketogenic state. It depends entirely on you and your physiology. Age, activity level, gender, and height & weight all play a role in your ability to reach ketosis.
The time it takes to achieve ketosis is spent burning off your body’s glucose stores, getting rid of all those saved up carbs. You can help speed the process along by exercising and forcing your body to burn the glucose for fuel at a quicker rate, and you can also speed things up by fasting or trying intermittent fasting.
The important thing is to not give up and to let the process happen. Even if it takes two weeks, be patient.
How can I tell when I'm in ketosis?
There are a few ways to tell when you’ve reached ketosis.
You can pay attention to your body. A metallic taste in your mouth, acetone breath, fruity smelling urine, and a drastic change in energy are all signs that you’ve hit nutritional ketosis and your journey has begun (all of these markers do go away).
For those who want a little more proof these are 3 different kinds of tests you can buy:
Ketostix – These strips are chemically-treated on the end and when they come in contact with urine containing a high level of ketones, will change color, letting you know you are in ketosis. But be warned, these strips are only good in the beginning of your keto journey to let you know you’re in. As you get deeper into keto, your body becomes more efficient with its ketones and fewer are left to deposit into your urine. Using a keto strip late into your keto journey will likely report a false negative.
Breath Meters – These little cigar-sized meters measure the amount of acetone in your breath. Because acetone is a ketone that’s made in direct correlation with the ketone we use for energy (BHB) it can be deduced that a high acetone reading means a high BHB level, which means entry into ketosis.
Blood Ketone Meters – These are the most accurate as they measure the actual amount of ketones in your blood and return an easy to understand number that can be compared to a chart to determine your level of ketosis. The only down side to these is cost and having to prick your finger every time you want to measure.
What does it mean to be fat-adapted?
Fat adaptation typically occurs 30 days into keto and means your body has become used to the process of turning your diet’s fatty acids into ketones for fuel and it has become so efficient at it that fewer ketones are needed strictly for energy and the fatty acids can be used to repair nerves, the brain’s synaptic function, arterial repair, and more.
Fat adaptation is the main goal of eating and living keto. Reaching keto is the first step in fat-adaptation, but it takes your body about a month to catch up to the idea of using this new fuel. Once your body figures out that ketones are the better fuel source, the major keto benefits start:
Improved mental sharpness
Clear, glowing skin
A better, more even tempered mood
Huge amounts of energy
The ability to exercise longer and harder on fewer calories
These benefits are a great indicator that you’ve hit the pinnacle of keto, which is fat adaptation. You can also use a ketone blood meter to see if your body is producing ketones in the 1.5 to 3.0 range. If your blood ketone readings fall into that spectrum, your body is fat adapted and cranking out the ketones as efficiently as possible.
What happens to my body on keto?
The nice thing about keto is that you decide what ultimately happens to your body. Keto is highly adaptable and can be used for weight loss, mass gain, or healthy maintenance.
In the short period between achieving keto and becoming fat adapted, your body can experience some carb withdrawals and other symptoms. Strong cravings for sugar may persist for the first month of keto. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a plan in place to attack the sweet tooth by making or picking up keto approved desserts, (like our niKETO fat bombs).
You may also experience a mental haze, lack of energy, and the dreaded keto flu. All of these are withdrawal symptoms that come with breaking sugar’s hold on you.
All three of these can be countered before you experience them. The main culprit in these scenarios is a lack of electrolytes. Keto is a diuretic that expels massive amounts of fluids that take your minerals with them. Eating more potassium, magnesium, and sodium will replenish your electrolytes and keep you from feeling the symptom of the keto flu.
Just remember that these little drawbacks are only temporary, but the benefits can last a lifetime.
Will drinking ketones help me get into ketosis faster?
Possibly. For some people it works to get their keto progress kick started. For others, exogenous ketones don’t do anything. Again, it depends on you.
If you want to take a supplement that will help, try MCT oil. Medium chain triglycerides are the best fatty acids for creating ketones quickly. They metabolize the fastest and create the longest lasting ketone bodies for more energy. You can find MCTs in oils like coconut oil or you can take a daily dose all in one shot with the MCT Boost supplement.
Will I lose weight faster if I incorporate intermittent fasting?
Most likely. I.F. as it’s called, isn’t a diet but a schedule by which you eat. Incorporating it into keto is simple and effective. Eat your normal keto foods, but restrict their consumption to an eating window of eight hours at the start. A typical beginner’s I.F. schedule sees you eat your first meal at noon and has you stop eating for the day by 8p.m. The remaining 16 hours are spent fasting, burning calories, and using up any extra glucose.
I.F. works for weight loss and has tremendous benefits when it comes to extending your life and repairing your body.
Can vegans have success on keto?
Yes, absolutely. It seems counter intuitive to think that a diet requiring 75% of your daily calories come from fat could show any kind of success for vegans, but the truth is, there are plenty of non-animal based fats in the vegan world: Avocados, nuts, nut butters, seeds, and oils all contain good, healthy fats that can help vegans reach their fat goals on a daily basis without having to rely on animal-based fats.
What is the keto flu and what can I do to relieve symptoms?
The keto flu is a set of symptoms brought on by a depletion of electrolytes, the vitamins and minerals that help your brain communicate with your muscles and organs.
Keto is a diuretic. You will urinate far more often while on keto, and in doing so, you’ll be getting rid of a lot of electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals that dissolve easily in water and help conduct electrical signals through the body using its 80% fluid make up.
When you urinate out too much of your electrical signaling minerals, your brain has a tough time controlling your bodily functions and your body responds with a false flu. Aches, woozy feelings, exhaustion are all brought on by a lack of Potassium, magnesium, and simple salt.
Eat nuts, leafy greens, and add a dash of table salt to your meals to stay ahead of the electrolytes being released from your body.
Also, make sure you drink lots of water to replace the large amounts your body is losing. Staying hydrated is a key factor in keeping the keto flu at bay.
If you find yourself feeling the keto flu effects, or if you’re having trouble getting enough electrolytes, try our Electrolyte Supplement designed to hit hard and fast against the flu.
Taking an electrolyte supplement from the start is a good way to ensure that the keto flu never has a chance to slow your keto progress or enthusiasm.
How do I deal with constipation on this diet?
Constipation is a real possibility on keto, but it’s easy to cure. Here are the best ways to keep things moving.
Hydrate. Drinking water will naturally soften things up.
Have a keto dessert sweetened with erythritol. This sugar alcohol has a slight laxative effect that can be used to start things up again.
Oil. Incorporate more, healthy oil into your daily calorie count. Coconut oil and other MCT oils will help alleviate constipation and promote ketone production.
Probiotics and fermented foods can help with gut health and keep things moving along.
If necessary, an over the counter laxative is acceptable as they don’t interfere with keto.
Why is my weight loss stalling on keto and how can I break a weight loss plateau?
A weight-loss stall is a halt in your fat loss that occurs for more than three weeks. If you fail to see the scale go down for that long it may be time to consider a plateau breaker.
Plateaus happen when your body becomes used to your diet and becomes incredibly efficient at metabolizing and using your energy. Your body is always looking for a way to break even, using the same amount of calories for energy as you’re eating. In that sense, you need to shake things up and trick your body to get it back to its fat-burning ways.
First, make sure your fat-loss pause is actually a plateau and not an accidental fall out of keto. This happens from time to time, and getting back into keto after a tiny slip-up is much faster and easier than achieving ketosis the first time. Reevaluate what you’re eating, take a close look at anything new you’ve introduced into your daily calorie count, and make sure there are no sneaky carbs sabotaging your progress.
Once you have determined that you’re still in keto, it’s time to switch things up.
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