“I had carried extra weight for most of my life” says . She decided to try Keto -- not to lose weight, but to experience its effects. “After about 3 weeks, I felt fantastic, I had so much energy, and kept going,” she says. After doing Keto for two months, Steelsmith’s energy started to lag, “I started having headaches, muscle cramping and this eye twitch that wouldn’t go away” Steelsmith reports. As she researched, she quickly learned about something called “The Keto Flu,” which described what she was feeling. She realized she needed to know more about Keto and began to learn.
LET'S START FROM THE VERY BEGINNING: What does Keto do?
The Keto way of eating changes your metabolism by shifting your body’s fuel source from carbohydrates (blood glucose) to fats (ketones). Ketones are the result of your body burning fat to generate energy. It is important to know that a perfectly healthy human body can switch from one fuel to the other as needed, much like a hybrid car that uses either gas or electrical power. By eating so many carbohydrate-rich foods, we teach our bodies to primarily use carbohydrates as an energy source, which eventually blocks fat from being used as an energy source.
BREAKING NEWS: The Keto way of eating forces the fat-burning switch to turn on!
“With Keto you burn the fat, which is in your diet, but you also open up pathways that allow you to burn fats your body has stored previously. Your brain senses the extra energy available, bringing with it many of the positive effects people talk about with the ketogenic way of eating ,” says Dominic D’Agostino, PhD, a neuroscientist at the University of South Florida who has been researching keto diets and supplements for over 10 years. “If you tend towards a high-carbohydrate diet and you go four or five hours without food,” he adds, “your brain senses an energetic crisis, because it doesn’t have quick or easy access to the fat.” When you are in ketosis (the fat-burning mode) your brain simply uses stored fats to manage the need for energy.
THE KETO SECRET: Why Keto triggers weight loss
Scores of dramatic before-and-after photos, shared online by Keto adherents, might give you the idea that there’s something magical about eating a lot of fat. But this is not why the keto way of eating can lead to weight loss. “Keto helps you lose weight, but it actually does it by calorie restriction, because Keto naturally helps you regulate your appetite,” says D’Agostino. “Keto changes your brain chemistry,” he adds. Just think about it . . . On a carbohydrate-rich diet:
- You’re body is used to having all the quick energy it needs from the carbs
- Your brain is running with the blood glucose (sugar switch) turned on
- When you don’t eat for a few hours, your body craves energy and the brain says, “I need carbs now!”
- You experience cravings for carbs
- You eat carbs
- Cycle continues
When you turn on the fat-burning (Ketosis) switch by eating a Keto fat-rich diet:
- Your body begins to use fat stores for energy
- When you don’t eat for a few hours, your body craves energy and the brain simply directs your body to use stored fats as energy.
- No cravings, because the brain does not experience an energy crisis
D’Agostino explains, “Instead of your appetite controlling you, the Keto way of eating allows you to control your appetite, to moderate your intake and to more easily regulate what you consume.”
GETTING STARTED: Keto Basics
Our purpose here is not to give you all the nutritional details for the Keto way of eating, but we do want to get you started on your journey! There is a lot to learn! Be assured that if you stay with Keto, you’ll learn it and adapt to a new lifestyle! We recommend giving yourself some time to learn and integrate the information into a way of eating that works for you. Listen to your body and let it teach you. It has a wealth of knowledge to share with you. That said, here are some basic pieces of information that will help you get started:
1) Give your body time to adjust
When you are first starting into the Keto way of eating it’s important to go slowly. Reduce your carbohydrate intake over time -- don’t go “cold turkey”, as your brain and body will experience this “glucose withdrawal” as a major crisis and most people will then have negative symptoms that can turn them away from Keto. The trick is to teach your body to metabolize fats instead of carbs. Like most things we learn, it helps to do it in bite-sized pieces. So how do you do that?
2) Getting on the Keto wagon
Steelsmith’s pre-keto diet was a pretty healthy, gluten-free diet. But once she started looking into the Keto way of eating she realized how carb-rich her diet really was. By researching low-carb foods she was able to make some substitutes and work out a keto plan that suited her own style of eating. “Now I have a very satisfying diet,” she says, “and it all tastes great.”
“The trick,” Steelsmith says, “was in removing all of the carb-rich foods I had in my pantry and fridge. I had a day of cleaning and gave all of those foods away to friends. Then I took my low-carb food lists to the store and restocked my pantry and fridge with low-carb alternatives. The great thing is that now, there are lots of great alternatives available in the stores. This solved the first hurdle - having lots of low-carb choices available.”
3) Carbohydrate counting basics
Some people believe in counting carbs and others don’t. You can experiment and see what works for you. If you want to count your carbs, here are some basics:
The carb content of the Keto way of eating is typically counted as net carbs:
Net carbs = The amount of total carbs in a food minus its fiber content
Total net carbs per day to remain in Ketosis range between 20 and 50 grams, depending on your particular metabolism and how active you are. This is much lower than the typical American diet, which generally contains between 200 and 300 grams of total carbs.
4) Eat fats but not just ANY fats
You can send your body into ketosis by eating any fats including fast-food burgers without the buns or fries, for example. In fact there is a whole style of Keto called “Dirty Keto” that just says, eat fats and protein, not carbs, period.
Since people usually try the Keto way of eating because they want to feel better and improve their health, it makes sense to try your best to make the fats you eat, healthy fats. As an example, grass-fed meat, organic butter or ghee, and organic full-cream dairy products are popular. (Milk is discouraged because it contains significant amounts of lactose, a form of sugar.)
5) Remember your fruits & vegetables - especially Keto-friendly ones
It’s also important to know that you do need to continue to eat fruits & vegetables while doing Keto. Knowing which are best for Keto is part of the learning process. There are countless Keto recipes, Keto cookbooks, Keto menu plans and other resources to help you on the internet and on instagram.
It’s a journey and it can be a lot of fun!
5) Watch your protein
On Keto, the calories you used to get from carbs are replaced mostly by fats. The levels of protein you take in shouldn’t change and shouldn’t be too high. The thing to know about proteins is that if you take in an excess of protein (while on a low-carb diet), your body will convert the excess protein into glucose (sugars). This process will turn on that glucose burning switch and prevent fat burning. Although our bodies don’t usually turn protein into blood glucose, it can happen when you are on a low-carb, high-protein diet.
A good proportion for a Keto way of eating is:
MANAGING KETO SIDE EFFECTS: The Keto flu
Many people who don’t follow the tips above fall into an experience that has been called the “Keto flu”. It can include many symptoms including lagging energy, headaches, achiness, irritability, sleep issues, camping and more. While mostly easy to solve, these side effects should be taken seriously as they are a sign of imbalances in the body, that if unchecked can cause real problems long-term.
What is Keto flu?
Basically Keto-Flu is a set of symptoms that are telling you that your body is in depletion. Your body is struggling to have enough electrolytes and micronutrients, at a cellular level, to maintain optimal system functions.
Let’s go back to Laurie Steelsmith, who felt so great initially when she started doing Keto, then her energy began to lag. “I was frustrated, because I just wanted that great feeling back, but nothing I did seemed to help.” Laurie needed to understand some fundamentals of ketosis and the Keto way of eating.
Keto and Electrolyte Depletion
Electrolytes are minerals that allow your body to maintain important functions, such as muscle contraction and heartbeat regulation. Electrolytes exist in your bodily fluids and are lost on a regular basis via sweat, urination and breathing. On a Keto diet the body burns electrolytes much faster than normal. Most of us are already low on electrolytes, so reduction of electrolytes in the body during ketosis, can cause Keto flu symptoms. Some of the symptoms as they relate to specific Electrolyte depletions are as follows:
The easiest method for replacing electrolytes is to use an electrolyte supplement. We recommend Keto-BEAM’s 100% bioavailable liquid electrolyte supplement - Electrolyze™. Keto-BEAM’s fulvic electrolyte mineral complex provides a full spectrum of electrolytes and 70+ trace minerals and amino acids.
Fulvic electrolyte minerals provide foundational cellular support for the body, stimulating optimal metabolism by providing transport for nutrients into and bio-waste out of the cells. Electrolyze™ boosts the body's innate energy production systems, by delivering nutrients directly into the cells.
Keto and Micronutrient Depletion
While many people know about electrolyte depletion and the Keto way of eating, many people don’t know that Micronutrient depletion can be a serious side effect of the Keto diet.
Micronutrients, also called "trace minerals" are an important part of maintaining healthy cell function in the body. Each one of the 37 trillion cells in your body require trace minerals to complete their most basic tasks. As the body goes into ketosis it begins to utilize much greater levels of micronutrients to burn fat stores. Micronutrient supplementation is an important part of Keto maintenance because micronutrients provide the cellular system with everything it needs to function properly while in Ketosis.
Information about the need for Keto electrolyte supplementation is readily available, but supplementing with a full-spectrum of micronutrient minerals is equally important.
We recommend Micro-BOOST™ because it is so effective. Micro-BOOST™ is a liquid, plant-based, humic & fulvic complex of 70+ minerals, electrolytes, trace elements and amino acids in a highly bioavailable format that won’t break a fast. Just ½ an ounce of this mild and pleasant tasting liquid provides daily micronutrient support for the entire body.
Fulvic and humic complexes are naturally occurring substances that are the byproduct of decomposed freshwater plants. They are the strongest electrolytes known to man and they are the absolute best antioxidants available.