Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Difference Between Low Carb and Keto?
Don't make the mistake of thinking that low carb and keto diets are the same kind of diet. While both diets aim to reduce the overall intake of carbs, this is where the similarities end. A low carb diet aims to simply reduce the number of carbs ingested without specific guidelines for protein and fat macros. The keto diet offers much more specifics on the amount of fat and protein that should be ingested in the diet. While both diets are designed to shed fat and get into a ketogenic state, the keto diet offers some specific advantages.
The term low carb is vague. An individual can go on a low carb diet without maintaining a selectiveness about the types of carbs ingested. The most effective versions of these diets will specify the types of carbs that are acceptable. Individuals should get the majority of their carbs from fruit, vegetables and beans. A low carb diet may not be very low at all by keto standards. Consuming less than 300 carbs is considered low carb for most of the population. In contrast, the ketogenic diet is specific. It defines the amount and type of carbohydrates, protein and fat that can be consumed.
How do I Know if I am in Ketosis?
Since ketosis is the goal of any serious keto diet, it's crucial to understand how to identify when ketosis begins. Ketosis can be accurately detected with tests using a ketone urine testing strip. These are extremely inexpensive, and it's essential to secure these strips to ensure you know how far into ketosis you actually are. While there are certain symptoms associated with ketosis, judging your state based on how your body feels is less reliable. It can also be unsafe if you don't maintain the right balance between starvation and staying in ketosis.
Some of the symptoms associated with ketosis are a distinct change in how their breath smells. The smell can cause slight discomfort, but it isn't something to be concerned about. Many liken the smell to a metallic or fruity smell, but the smell is the result of excess acetone getting released from your system. Sugar-free gum and water may alleviate some symptoms. However, be aware that if you drink too much water or not enough, testing strips may not work accurately. A dehydrated person may show higher levels of ketones even if they are not yet in ketosis, which can result in a false positive.
How Long does it Take to Get into Ketosis?
The most accurate response to this question is that it depends on your own chemistry and physical makeup. The first-time keto dieter will need to give the body some time to adjust to burning fat as a fuel source. Your whole life, you've been eating carbohydrates in high quantities and your body is used to using carbohydrates as energy. Carbohydrates are not actually the best source of fuel, but they burn like sugar and can give you immediate energy. From an evolutionary standpoint, this is ideal because the carbs will give you the immediate energy needed to secure a better food source. Fat offers a more consistent fuel source, and it is the preferred source of fuel for systems like the heart.
It can take anywhere from a few weeks to six months for the average person to enter ketosis. Don't worry about how long it will take to enter ketosis. Control your diet and enjoy the keto lifestyle and the results will come. When you experience more satiety, sugar cravings vanish and you have a sharper memory, you'll know you've suddenly entered the keto state.
What is Keto-Adaptation?
Keto-adaption occurs when your body switches from using glucose to fat-based sources of fuel. This is the ideal state on a keto diet, and it will help you oxidize and burn fat at a higher rate. During keto-adaption, your body will also begin to produce enough ketones to be used as a source of fuel. Derived from partially metabolized fat, ketones are able to be used in much the same way as glucose. The only exception is the brain. The brain relies on some glucose to function. However, the body can produce its own glucose.
Essentially, there are two main ways the body can secure the glucose it needs to function. The first option is to increase your carbs and ingest the glucose needed. The problem with this approach is that you have to continually feed your body since your system only stores a limited amount of glucose. The feeding approach also prevents the body from using other sources of fuel. The other option is to use protein to make the required glucose through a process known as glucogenesis. The result is that you can skip a meal every now and then and not experience a crash since your blood sugar remains steady.
Will I Lose Weight on a Keto Diet?
It seems paradoxical that a diet that is high in fat can help you burn fat, but that's exactly what the keto diet does. Don't get confused by the studies that state fat loss isn't significant on a keto diet. The research does support that low carb diets don't work well enough to justify the side effects, but news agencies that report the studies are missing a crucial fact. One study that seems to suggest that the keto diet doesn't work lasted only six weeks and the carbohydrate levels were well over the limits on a true keto diet. The study uses a literal interpretation of low carb, and it allowed for 40 percent of calories to come from carbs.
Meanwhile, more reputable research by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the British Journal of Nutrition followed long-term dieters and found better weight control and reduced hunger. These studies were more in line with a true keto diet, which makes it possible to burn fat by depleting the main source of glucose in the diet. The research also found that the dieters had better blood pressure, triglycerides and good cholesterol compared to those who followed a low-fat diet.
What are Macros and How do they Relate to a Keto Diet?
Macronutrients, which are often referred to as macros, are the components in food that give our body energy. There are three kinds of macros that you need to track on a keto diet. These macros are fat, carbohydrates and protein, and they must be consumed in the right proportions. Without a careful approach to managing your macros, you will find it more difficult to enter a state of ketosis.
Carbohydrates are a great way to get an immediate boost of energy, but they aren't ideal if you want the benefits of a keto diet. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that doesn't count against your total carbohydrate percentage.
Protein is essential to rebuild your muscles and start the process of glucogenesis on a keto diet. It's important to check your protein levels and not exceed the total percentage of allotted protein in your diet. Excess protein is turned into glucose and may sabotage your efforts as much as carbohydrates.
While it's hard to consume too much fat in your diet, it's very easy to consume the wrong kinds of fat. Avoid trans fats and aim to get the majority of your fats in the form of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
Can I Eat Too Much Fat?
The short answer is yes, you can eat too much fat on a keto diet. However, when it comes to weighing the lesser of two evils, excess fat on a keto diet is less of an issue than excess carbs or even protein. People believe that fat clogs the arteries and cause heart disease, but it's sugar that actually clogs arteries and not fat. While fat on a keto diet is safe for the heart and body, you do need to maintain an appropriate level of fat to ensure you're getting a good balance between fat, protein and carbohydrates.
People who eat too much fat won't give the body a reason to burn its fat stores. The body will simply burn the excess fat that is consumed, and it's possible to gain weight in this manner. It's also important to keep your fat content consistent across all your meals. While you may be limiting your carbohydrates, if you ingest all of your carbs in a single meal, the rest of your meals will not be properly proportioned. Maintain from 20 to 40 grams of fat per meal to enjoy the benefits of keto.
Do I Need to Count Calories?
There is some debate amongst keto dieters on whether to count calories on a keto diet. Many feel that simply maintaining the right proportion of macros will enable an individual to lose weight. However, the body isn't this simple, and if you consume too many calories, it's very likely that you will not lose weight. In some instances, you may even gain weight. There is some evidence to suggest that the mechanisms of a keto diet naturally burn additional calories. Ketones that are lost in the breath and urine may result in a minor loss of calories, but you're unlikely to burn more than one extra pound per month.
While it may be possible to avoid significant weight gain during the initial few weeks, once the body enters ketosis, the fat gain may increase. Entering ketosis is the ideal state for an individual, and the body begins to operate extremely efficiently. Once the body stops using a large level of ketones to power the tissues and organs in the body, the excess calories will likely turn into fat. If you're concerned about being hungry on a keto diet, you should realize that the keto diet will change your desire for food.
Can I Drink Alcohol on Keto?
Few adult activities provide as much enjoyment as a bit of alcohol at the end of a long day. Many keto dieters worry that alcohol will be strictly forbidden on a keto diet. If you enjoy hard liquor, the good news is that you won't have to worry much about limiting your intake. One thing to keep in mind is that the body will burn through alcohol before it burns any fuel from your recent meal. This could have an impact on your diet goals. Wine and especially beer are more problematic choices.
Liquor does have the ability to take you deeper into ketosis since additional ketones are produced when you drink. However, you should limit your intake to one or two units of alcohol, and it shouldn't be something you engage in every day. Since you're also likely to get drunk faster, you should consume more water when you drink alcohol. In short, if you drink beer, aim for beers that are low in carbs. For wine lovers, go for a dry red wine or a Sauvignon Blanc and do a search online to find out about residual sugars. Many wineries add sugar to sweeten their wines.
Carbs vs. Net Carbs, Which One Do I Count?
Not all carbs are created equal. It's important to realize that the term net carb has been created for keto dieters to get a better idea of the number of digestible carbs in a food. Nutrition facts labels only break food down into dietary fiber and sugar. Carbohydrates can be broken down into rapidly absorbed carbohydrates and slow-moving carbohydrates that aren't absorbed well. The idea behind net carbs is that fiber listed on a label doesn't count against your total carb intake. While this is true, you must still take into account the quality of ingredients.
One issue with counting net carbs is that sugar alcohols are often ignored. While sugar alcohols generally don't absorb well, they can have an effect on your diet. Roughly half of the sugar alcohols that you ingest will get absorbed by the body. While you should be counting net carbs on your keto diet and not total carbs, many keto dieters are now recommending that you include sugar alcohols in your calculations. In addition to counting net carbs, you should also make certain you don't ingest more than 30 grams per day of sugar alcohols. Otherwise, you may experience increased gastrointestinal problems.
Can Kids be on a Keto Diet?
According to Children's National, a ketogenic diet us helpful for treating seizures. It can help treat seizures even when symptoms are not controlled well by anti-seizure medications. However, when used as a medical treatment, it's important to note that a doctor must oversee the treatment of the child. Most medical professionals don't believe that a ketogenic diet is safe for kids. While it can be useful in limiting sugary foods and steering the child toward a healthier lifestyle, children need carbohydrates in their diet as their dietary needs are higher than adults.
With growing brains and bodies, it's important to provide children with the right degree of nutrients. The body can produce glucose in small amounts to power the brain, but a child needs much more than the body can produce on its own. Children on a keto diet may end up with deficiencies, especially in the area of B vitamins and fiber. Even when a keto diet is indicated for children with epilepsy, there are some negative side effects. The diet may not work with children who have metabolic disorders and the negative side effects of ketosis may become more pronounced in a small child. If you're considering a keto diet for your child, it needs to be carefully monitored with the support of a doctor.
Can I Eat Fruit?
On a keto diet, the carbs are restricted so heavily that fruits may become difficult to add. However, berries are a low-carb fruit that can be implemented into your diet. Not only are they low in carbs, they are high in fiber. Getting adequate amounts of fiber is crucial on a keto diet, and berries offer an enjoyable way to do that. Raspberries and blackberries have tons of antioxidants, which can help to reduce inflammation and help protect you from disease.
There are several key nutrients in berries, and you can enjoy them year-round while on your keto diet. Blackberries have only 5 grams of net carbs and are the lowest carb option of the berries. Next up are raspberries and strawberries with 6 grams of net carbs. Blueberries are the highest at 12 grams of net carbs, so they may be a good option to avoid. It's better to stick to the lower carb berries and save some of your other carbs for carefully selected nutritious carbs that will help promote your overall health and nutrition.
Can I Eat Nuts?
There are some pros and cons to eating nuts on a keto diet. On the positive side, nuts are healthy and they can provide many of the nutrients you need to stay healthy. They are also very high in healthy fats. Nuts can make you feel full for a longer period of time, and some nuts consist of mostly fat. For the keto dieter who has trouble getting their intake of fat, this can provide an optimal solution. Almonds contain 14 grams of fat for a one-ounce serving and macadamia nuts offer 21 grams of fat.
Nuts are also low in carbohydrates if you limit your intake. Almonds have less than 3 grams of net carbs per serving while macadamia nuts have less than 1.5 grams. While this may seem somewhat high, it's extremely low in proportion to the fat content. Some nuts have higher carb counts and should be avoided. Most specifically, you should avoid peanuts, pistachios, cashews and chestnuts. Chestnuts have nearly 14 grams of carbs per serving, cashews have about 8.4 grams of fat, pistachios have 5.8 grams and peanuts have 3.8 grams. While nuts are an excellent option, try to stick with pecans, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, walnuts, coconuts and hazelnuts. In case you were wondering, coconut is actually a dry drupe. But, it can be loosely defined as a fruit, nut or seed.
Can I Eat Too Much Protein?
It is possible to eat too much protein on a keto diet. This is why it's important to ensure that you count your macros. When you eat too much protein, the excess protein can be turned into glucose. This makes protein act essentially in the same way as a carbohydrate. On your ketogenic diet, you should be getting most of your energy from fats. Around 75 percent of your diet should come from fat sources. This doesn't leave much room for protein to make a dent. If you change the proportions of fat to protein, your body won't enter ketosis, which means you won't see the physical and mental benefits associated with ketosis.
Your body can live without carbohydrates because it can make the glucose necessary for survival through glucogenesis. Still, the body can't create enough glucose to maintain a full supply of glucose for all the body's needs. The body's fastest acting source of healthy energy comes from glucose, but the body can also turn to other sources for energy.
On a keto diet, you want the body to use your existing fat as fuel. If you go above the 75 percent fat rate, you'll end up burning the fat your taking in and not burning your existing fat. If you up the protein levels in your diet, the body will end up using protein for fuel. This means your fat stores aren't being used for fuel and it will keep you from entering ketosis.
What is Keto Coffee?
Keto coffee is a type of meal replacement drink that gives you coffee and breakfast in one delicious nutrient-packed beverage. This coffee goes by many names, and some refer to it as butter coffee. While coffee naturally has antioxidants and can help improve your health in reasonable quantities, bulletproof coffee takes it to the next level.
While there are many recipes, most concoctions call for coffee, grass-fed butter and MCT oil. The nice thing about keto coffee is that your energy levels will stay high. It tastes great and will give your coffee a creaminess that half-and-half can't match. The drink is also designed to help keep you full for hours so you don't end up going off your diet.
I Have Stopped Losing Weight on Keto, Why?
At some point during a keto diet, you may feel like you've stopped losing weight. You're doing everything right and you can't figure out why your weight loss has suddenly halted. First, it's important to realize that as you lose weight, it becomes harder to lose additional weight. Somebody who has a lot of weight to lose will lose weight more easily at first and then the weight loss will begin to taper off. So, even if you're doing everything the same exact way, there are certain adjustments that have to be made as you continue to lose weight.
The first issue is calories. When you lose weight, your energy requirements will also go down. You need to constantly monitor your weight and body fat percentage to determine what your caloric needs are to continue losing weight. Just because you're eating virtually no carbs, it doesn't mean you can eat anything you like. Another issue is exercise. When you start out, even moderate exercise will be enough to help you lose weight. As you continue to enjoy the benefits of better health, you'll need to up your exercise routine to continue burning fat. Finally, you also need to incorporate refeeding days every now and then to ensure you maintain a fast metabolism.
I've Just Started Keto and I Feel Horrible
When you initially start a keto diet, your body may experience something known as the keto flu. It's not really the flu in the sense that a virus is attacking your body, but it may feel just like the flu. Common symptoms include dizziness, cravings for bread products and sugar and possible nausea. The problem is that your body is adjusting to a sudden loss of carbohydrates, and these major changes are manifesting in the form of a sickness.
Not everybody gets the keto flu and most people recover in a week. While some people may take longer to recover, it depends on your current state and experience with low-carb diets. You can often cure the keto flu by ingesting more fats, increasing calories, check the healthiness of your carbs, add salt, drink more water and exercise. All of these steps can help you resolve the symptoms of the flu, but you should be feeling better within a week.
Can Keto Help those with Diabetes?
When you have a known medical condition, you have to be careful about any changes you make to your eating habits and lifestyle. If you have diabetes, you may be able to see improvement on a keto diet. However, you must work with your doctor to ensure that none of the changes you make will negatively impact your health. Insulin dosages may need to be adjusted and you'll likely need more frequent testing to ensure you're healthy.
When approached in a systematic manner, your blood sugar levels can become more consistent under a keto diet. When you focus on fats as the main source of energy, you reduce the number of carbohydrates that you're consuming, which can provide you with a safer diet. Eating too many carbohydrates can be dangerous when you have diabetes.
There are some serious conditions that could complicate your progress. You must test your blood sugar throughout the day and ensure your ketones are at the right level. Diabetic Ketoacidosis is a dangerous condition that may occur when ketone levels get too high. So, a keto diet may increase your chances of developing DKA before you have a chance to reap the health benefits.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting involves skipping occasional meals to help lose weight. Studies have shown that it can dramatically improve health, brain function and longevity. The system of intermittent fasting involves periods of eating and fasting on a regular cycle. There are a few different methods that can be used on an intermittent fast.
The 16/8 Method involves skipping breakfast and restricting your eating to an 8-hour period. This effectively provides you with a fast of 16 hours. Some people also alternate days with one day fasting and the next day eating. Another option uses a form of calorie restriction two days out of the week. On two days, you'll eat 500 to 600 calories, and then you eat normally on the rest of the days.
Will I Always be Hungry on Keto?
When the keto diet is working as it should, you shouldn't be experiencing hunger. Once you reach the desired state, you should stop feeling hungry. Most people who are hungry on a ketogenic diet haven't yet reached ketosis. This can cause you to feel like the diet isn't manageable. When you eat the right amount of fats and eat the right foods, you'll experience less hunger and greater success in meeting your goals. To stop the hunger cravings, you must reach ketosis.
The body naturally tries to maintain the same weight. CCK is secreted by the intestines, and it tells your body when it's full. If you lose weight, the body secretes less CCK because it thinks you're in a famine situation, and it wants to get you back to your baseline weight. This causes hunger, but it can be avoided if you enter ketosis and follow a ketogenic diet. Additionally, ketosis suppresses Ghrelin, which is a hormone that makes you hungry.
Can I Have Cheat Days?
Cheat days are not always ideal, but if completed in a smart manner they can boost your diet. However, a cheat day on a keto diet can also be more damaging than with other diets. The fact is that if you're going to cheat you will be taken out of ketosis. This means you'll have to get back into ketosis. If you do cheat, you should check your ketone levels to see if you left ketosis. Sometimes you might get lucky and remain in ketosis. In most cases, cheating will spike your blood sugar and affect your fat adaptation. You'll also risk having to go through the keto flu again and your cravings may begin to increase. If you do cheat, you need to do it on a regular basis or cheat with diet-friendly foods.
Is There a Minimum Amount of Carbs I Need per Day?
Generally, it's recommended that you don't go lower than 20 grams per day of carbohydrates. Eating too many or too few carbs can affect the success of your diet. The keto diet is reliant upon the balancing of your macros in a smart manner. The body can produce much of the glucose needed for the brain and other systems to operate effectively, but it still needs some carbs from food to maintain optimal health. Lowering your carbs beyond the recommended limit will not help you achieve your goals any faster.
If you're considering lowering your carbs to get into ketosis faster, it likely won't work in your favor. If you lower your carbs too much and increase fat, then the extra fat you're taking in will be burned before the fat on your body is burned. If you increase your protein to compensate for lower carbs, then the protein may be turned into blood sugar. The keto diet works because the macros are in balance with each other. Keep your fat at about 75 percent, your protein at 20 percent and your carbs at 5 percent of your daily caloric needs.
Can I Build Muscle on Keto?
Too many people feel that you have to take in carbs to build muscle. While this is certainly one way to build muscle, there are other options available as well. Carbs are good for promoting the release of insulin and helping to restore glycogen stores. Ingesting carbs will help you build muscle, but there will also be a large proportion of fat. Building muscle requires that you eat enough protein, eat a calorie surplus and work out properly.
If you want to stay on the keto diet, you'll need to bring in more protein. You should be eating about 1 gram of protein for every pound of lean body mass. This means you'll have to take a bit off your other macronutrients. It's best to take the excess from both your carbs and your fat. Raising your protein a small amount while lowering your carbs and fats can make it so that you'll be able to stay in ketosis and build muscle at the same time. You'll also have to increase your total calories. Without the right amount of calories, your body won't be able to build the muscle that is required.
What is Insulin and What Does it Do?
Insulin is a hormone that lets your body use sugar glucose in an efficient way. The hormone is made in the pancreas, and it lets your body use glucose for energy. It helps to keep the overall blood sugar from getting out of balance. If your blood sugar is too high or too low, you enter into a state of hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. This can be harmful to your system, and it can cause long-term complications. When your blood sugar levels get too high, insulin is released into the bloodstream where it sends a message to cells to absorb sugar from the blood.
Without insulin, sugar can't get into the cells. Insulin works to help store sugar in your liver, and it releases the sugar when your blood sugar levels are low. If you need sugar, the liver can then release its reserves to help you maintain a steady blood sugar level. When you go into ketosis, your blood sugar remains stable because the body is producing the right amount of glucose to keep your system balanced. A keto diet reduces the need for the pancreas to release more insulin into the bloodstream.
How do I Figure Out my Keto Macros?
Before you can figure out how much protein, carbs and fat you need to get from your daily calories, you need to discover what your baseline calorie needs are. The World Health Organization publishes tables to make it easy for you to check your requirements. You can also use an online calculator to determine your needs. There are also calculators to help you determine your keto ratios. However, once you have determined your caloric needs, you can adjust your keto macros using a simple percentage of your daily calories.
In general, a keto diet should have 60 to 75 percent of its calories coming from fat. Another 15 to 30 percent should come from protein and 5 to 10 percent should come from carbs. If you're trying to build muscle or maintain an active lifestyle, go for the higher levels of protein. Using ketone test strips, you can adjust your macros until you're able to get into ketosis. While you're on the diet, you should continue to test your levels and adjust as necessary to stay in ketosis. The keto diet is fairly simple once you figure out your baseline calories. Make sure to continually update your figures as you begin to lose weight.