The ketogenic diet, or keto for short, is the latest trend in the nutrition world. The principle behind it is to force the body to rely on ketone bodies instead of carbs for energy. And, the only way to do this is by almost eliminating carbs from the diet. While this may sound extreme, carbs are not essential for your body to function, and there are some benefits to going keto that have to be considered. It has been shown to help reduce the chances of developing diabetes, for instance, which is nothing to scoff at. It’s not for everybody, however, and you have to be ready before trying such a restrictive diet. Let’s take a look at a few things you should know before you embark on the keto diet.
It Can Get Complicated
You not only have to make sure that you stay under a specific carb threshold in order to achieve ketosis, but you have to take into consideration everything else that you eat. You’re going to have to constantly calculate the macro mix for your keto diet in order to get the exact amount of carbs vs protein and fats that you need per day to reach your goals. So, you might want to invest in a reliable food scale and document everything you eat.
The Keto Flu
Another thing you’ll need to be ready for is the infamous “keto flu”. This usually happens when you first start experiencing ketosis. Your body is not yet used to using ketone bodies, which come from fat, as a primary source of energy. As a result, you might feel like a mess in the first few days or weeks, but you can expect to feel better after a while.
Gaining or Maintaining Muscle Mass Will be Tougher
One of the common issues people report with the ketogenic diet is that they have difficulty gaining or maintaining their muscle mass. The tricky thing here is that you may need more carbs to perform your exercise. You can also add more carbs to your diet when you are more active and still maintain ketosis. Finding your sweet spot for ketosis will be a bit tougher, however.
In this case, you might want to invest in a ketone meter. This will allow you to check how many ketone bodies are in your blood and if you’re in a state of ketosis. You have meters that will use a sample of blood to assess it and others will allow you to breathe into them and get a reading. These tend to be more convenient and less intrusive.
You will also need to increase your fat and protein consumption. Since the body cannot rely on carbs alone, you will have to compensate. You have to make sure that you consume enough protein so you can make gains and hold on to them.
Be Ready for a Lot of Fat
You hear a lot of crazy things from people on the keto diet, like putting butter into coffee in the morning instead of sweeteners. This is not something you absolutely have to do, but you have to be ready to consume a lot of fat on this diet.
This means that you’ll have to look at your current relationship with dietary fat. A lot of people have difficulty digesting fat and suffer from acid reflux. The keto diet would not be the best suited for them. This also means that you need to be familiar with different fats and make sure you get enough of them. The best thing you can do is vary your food and fat sources so you can get as complete a profile as possible.
It Can Be Tough
You also have to accept that not everyone will be able to stick to this diet. Giving up bread and pasta may seem like an impossible task for some, and it might be to you. This also means that you may not be able to go for drinks with your co-workers or friends as often or have to go for alcohol/sugar-free alternatives. If that is too much of a sacrifice for you, then don’t do keto. There’s no point in following a diet if it makes you feel horrible. Instead, you can cut your carb intake and get some of the benefits of going low carb without virtually eliminating them from your diet.
As you can see, there are tons of things you need to know before starting this diet. Above all, it’s essential that you’re ready for the major changes this diet imposes.