Have you heard of the keto diet, but aren’t exactly sure what it is? Are you wondering if it might be a good fit for you and your weight loss goals? This article explains everything you need to know in order to make an informed decision about the keto diet!
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What Is The Keto Diet?
By now, it seems like everyone is pretty familiar with the keto diet. The keto diet has taken the world by storm in the last couple of years, and for good reason.
The keto (short for “ketogenic”) diet is a form of eating where carbohydrates are extremely limited and sugar, both natural sugars and especially added sugars, is completely eliminated. Once sugar and carbs are completely cut out of your diet, your body begins to go into a state of ketosis.
Ketosis is achieved when your body begins to burn fat for fuel instead of glucose. Once your body digests your food, the energy from that food is stored as fat. However, the reason that that stored energy is not always expended (i.e. the reason that stubborn fat sticks around) is because your body can also burn glucose for energy, leaving your stored energy unused.
For example, if you eat a large meal full of natural, healthy fats, your body will store the calories from that meal as fat so that it can burn that energy at another time. But, if you consume sugar on a regular basis, your body will never get around to burning the energy stored from your big meal because it can burn the glucose you consume instead. Thus, energy continues to be stored as fat, ready to be used for fuel at a later time, but your body never gets around to using that fuel because it is constantly running on sugar.
That’s where the keto diet comes in! By eliminating sugar and the carbohydrates that are broken down into sugar once consumed from your diet, your body is finally able to get around to burning the energy that has been stored in the form of fat. This of course results in weightless and reduction of body fat.
Exercise and the Keto Diet
Now that we understand generally how the keto diet works, a logical next question would be, “How does exercise fit into the keto diet?” That is a good question!
Exercise is always a good thing. Our bodies were designed to be active. Our bodies were designed to hunt for out next meal and run from predators and do all of the things that would be necessary if we did not live in a cushy, civilized society.
Since our bodies were designed to be active, bad things begin to happen when they are not. Since that may be another article for another time, we will suffice to say that exercise is always a good and necessary thing when possible.
But what about when it comes to the keto diet? Is exercise required? Well, yes and no. “Yes” because exercise is a good thing to do, keto or not, and “yes” because in order for your body to burn fat for fuel, your body must expend energy, and exercise is a great way to expend your body’s energy.
But on the other hand, one could say “no, exercise is not required” and be right. You can still lose weight on keto even if you do not hit the gym every day because your body burns fat for fuel just by existing. Your body is burning some sort of energy right now, even if you are just sitting on the couch or laying in bed!
Granted, if you are just sitting on the couch or laying in bed you are probably not burning all that much energy, but you are certainly still burning some. So I suppose the short answer to the question is this: you do not have to go to the gym to lose weight on keto, but it certainly helps to speed up the process.
So if you are physically unable to go to the gym, don’t worry, you can still lose weight on keto. Or, if you just don’t have time to go to the gym (or, let’s be honest, if you just don’t want to go to the gym), you can still expect to drop some weight on keto.
Do Calories Matter On Keto?
Just like the previous question, there is a sense in which “yes” is correct and a sense in which “no” is correct.
On a keto diet, the most important macronutrients (the information on a nutrition label) are typically fat, carbohydrates, and sugars. If you keep an eye on these three numbers and keep them within the optimal range (which is discussed below), you should lose weight. For the sake of clarity, again, a ketogenic diet is a diet in which your body begins to burn fat for fuel, so you will want to feed it fat and avoid feeing it sugars (and carbs which turn into sugars) because sugars will delay the rate at which your body burns stored fat.
That being said, it’s important to remember that calories represent the energy value of a food. So, a food with 1,000 calories is going to cause your body to store more energy in the form of fat than a 100 calorie food. Since we are trying to get our bodies to burn our stored energy (i.e. fat), we do not want to consume more energy that would need to be stored in the form of fat.
So in short, on a keto diet, counting calories is not required, but being mindful of the caloric value of the foods you eat can help you to burn stored fat quicker!
What is the Ratio for Fats, Carbs, and Proteins on Keto?
We have already talked about the necessity of eliminating sugar in order to achieve a state of ketosis, but how many carbs are acceptable, how much protein should you eat, and how much fat should you eat?
In order to get your body into a state of ketosis where you will begin to burn stored fat for fuel, 20 carbs per day is the optimal number that you want to try and stick as close to as possible. If that seems too drastic, your body may still be able to achieve a state of ketosis while consuming 50 or less carbs per day. However, it should be noted that this will slow the process of weight loss.
20 carbs per day is best for someone in weight loss mode. However, once you have reached your desired weight and you are looking to maintain your current weight, approximately 50 carbs per day should keep you in maintenance mode.
Like we’ve already said, you want to try and eliminate sugar completely, and that means sugar in all of its forms. And don’t forget, sugar is very sneaky. Sugar has over 50 names, so even if a product does not list sugar as an ingredient, know that glucose, corn syrup, honey, fructose, fruits juice concentrate, molasses, and any of the other 50+ ingredients that may be listed are all, in reality, sugar.
Instead of sugar, we prefer to use a 100% keto friendly sweetener called Monkfruit. Monkfruit is an amazing keto friendly sweetener that tastes a lot like sugar, is completely natural, has no aftertaste (which is HUGE) and will not affect your blood sugar at all! We use Monkfruit exclusively in all of our dessert recipes because it is by far the best keto friendly sweetener out there.
As a Butter Together Kitchen reader, we are able to offer you 20% off of your entire purchase of Monkfruit from our favorite Monkfruit brand, Lakanto. To take advantage of this discount, simply use our discount code, “BUTTERTOGETHER” at checkout and 20% off of the purchase price will automatically be deducted!
Next, we need to discuss the amount of fat and protein that should be consumed while on a keto diet. On keto, there is no real set number of fats or proteins that you should consume. Instead, there is a ratio that you want to try and stick as close to as possible. That ratio is this: for every 4 grams of fat you consume, you want to consume 1 gram of protein. Protein is important in building muscle and has many other important functions, but when it comes to feeding your body the fuel it needs, protein is not one that it can burn to lose weight since your body does not really store protein.
In other words, too much protein means that your body cannot continue to burn fat for fuel, which can stunt your weight loss. Of course, every day will be different. Some days it will be easier to stick to this ratio, and other days your ratio will be way off. Whatever happens, don’t stress.
Weight loss is already hard enough, don’t make it harder by stressing out over a couple of grams of protein, or a couple of extra carbs. Do what works for you and what feels comfortable and sustainable. One of my biggest struggles has been coming to the realization that I am not going to lose all of my weight over night. Weight loss takes time; it is a marathon, not a sprint. So, don’t stress out about the little things along the way, just keep your eyes on the finish line and stay on course and you’ll eventually end up where you want to be.
Checkout all of our delicious keto recipes that will fit into your macros!
Look at these Keto Freezer Meals to get some ideas for planning ahead and staying on track!