What is Keto?
Keto diets are all the rage but what exactly is it besides a way to drop (seemingly) enormous amounts of weight?
Well, keto is short for ketogenic and this simply means that your body goes into ketosis and rather than burning carbs (carbohydrates), it burns fat instead. Ketone bodies are used for fuel instead of glucose (glucose from carbs).
It was actually developed originally to help children who had epilepsy until it was later popularised as a weight loss diet.
It has since been shown to optimise many areas of health and wellbeing such as:
- Increasing energy
- Helping to improve weight loss
- Helping to balance mood
- Helping to balance hormones
- Reducing appetite and increasing satiety
- Reducing inflammation
- Helping to control blood sugar
- Maintaining blood pressure
- May assist in heart health
- Known to help with brain health
- Can assist in helping skin issues/improving acne
- May help as a cancer treatment*
A Keto Diet is a Lifestyle
Going keto is not just about the food you eat, it's actually a lifestyle and a mindset. Being keto is embodying the keto philosophy and lifestyle/dietary principles and going all in.
It's important to commit yourself 100% (once you get through the transition stage of course) to this way of living otherwise, it may have detrimental effects to your weight loss goals.
In fact, if you yo-yo in between keto and other diets, it could cause confusion to your system and this may result in more weight gain than before as yo-yo-ing between diets can negatively impact your metabolism.
It's Not an Overnight Fix
Shocker! We unfortunately live in a world where many of us expect instantaneous results and we've lost the art of patience over time and want everything now, now, NOW!
Well, sorry to burst your impatient bubble but keto is a slow-burn rather than a race to the finish line. It takes time (like all good weight loss processes) to see and feel results and like just about all successes in life, it takes consistent daily action.
So if you are after a miracle fix, walk in the park, you might be better to do that at night when you're dreaming as they really don't exists and anyone selling you this, I would probably run a mile!
Keto is Customisable
In general, the keto diet is 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbs but what's important to know is that the ratio can change depending upon how the individual processes carbs, for example; you may require 20g-50g of carbs per day? Everyone is different!
It's not a one-size-fits-all cookie cutter magical number of carbs to take you into ketosis and it may take some time for you to work out what your ratio is for you. Again, keto diet is a slow-burn to become an effective fat-burner and no prizes are won for first to the finish line.
This ratio is only general and may be different for some people
It's also vital to mention that keto is not for everyone and may not even be good for everyone as there are contraindications to doing keto which you may wish to consider before jumping on the bandwagon and potentially causing more harm than good.
Who Should Avoid a Keto Diet?
- Diabetics I & II and women with gestational Diabetes
- People with kidney disease/kidney problems
- Anyone with liver or pancreatic issues
- Folks with severe muscular dystrophy or other conditions that potentially stress out the organs mentioned
- Hypoglycemic people
- People with an eating disorder or very underweight people
- Children under 18 years of age
- Pregnant women
- Anyone recovering from surgery
- Anyone suffering with severe mental health issues
- Women with period problems
- Anyone with fever or feeling sick
- If you have endocrine issues you might need to discuss with your doctor as this type of diet may affect your med's or the need to rapidly change them
- Anyone with gallstones
- Any person suffering with COPD or other restrictive lung problems
- Vegetarians and vegans for the most part as it is generally a fair amount of animal protein and animals fats
- Anyone on a plant-based diet (see above point)
Going cold-turkey hardcore keto (cutting carbs suddenly and drastically) can
That is why I am offering a keto recipe book soon which focuses on just keto breakfast recipes to help people transition gently and happily into the full-blown keto lifestyle.
Be sure to subscribe to our weekly email updates (bottom of home page on website here) to find out when this is launching.
For some people, going in too quickly and too hardcore can result in what's known as a keto 'flu' where you may feel terrible (like you do when you have a flu) because you have drastically cut your carbs and if you were previously into a high-carb diet, this may shock your body, resulting in this type of reaction.
If you've ever done a detox or gone off coffee, you may have felt really crappy or had a bad headache. This gives you an idea of how you may feel if you get the keto 'flu'.
Symptoms of Keto 'Flu'
- Feeling nauseas
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Feeling irritable
- Feeling weak or lethargic
- Muscle cramps/muscle soreness
- Feeling dizzy
- Inability to concentrate
- Pain in the stomach
- Trouble sleeping
- Sugar cravings
Oh, it sounds fun doesn't it? This reaction does not happen for every person but it is a possibility and it's better to go into things well-informed or you may not know what you're getting yourself into?
It was important to run through the risks and precautions for obvious safety reasons.
What to Do if You Get the Keto Flu?
You can reduce your symptoms and start to feel better again by doing the following things:
- Drink water with a pinch of salt to increase hydration (ensure that it's natural salt and NOT table or iodised as these are not ideal and we will talk more about this topic soon...). Increase your water intake and try to drink filtered for best health to avoid harmful halogens such as chlorine and fluoride and chloramine (which may be even more toxic than chlorine)!
- Avoid intense exercise that is strenuous on the body and take this time to rest, walk or practice yin yoga or Qi gong etc.
- Replace your electrolytes! It's important to be taking in enough natural electrolytes (not through toxic sports drinks) but rather through simply adding a scoop of Perfect Baobab and 1 scoop of Perfect Magnesium to your water or coconut water if you prefer and giving it a good stir or shake. You may like to also add a pinch of salt for extra electrolyte goodness. See our sports drink article here.
- Get proper sleep by practicing good sleep hygiene. See our sleep blog here.
- Be sure to be eating enough fat and carbs to begin with and slowly transition off high carbs if you are reacting this way.
Cut back on carbs gradually if you need to so that your body becomes accustomed.
Not all people react badly to the drastic change, it really just depends on you and often your diet prior to starting keto. If you are someone who generally consumes lots of carb foods (fruit, bread, pasta, rice, crackers, chips, donuts, cakes, biscuits, muesli bars, cereal, pastries, legumes, lollies, sweets, chocolate, soft drinks, juices, alcohol etc.), you may have some struggles with keto to begin with but if you stick with it and stay strong, you will get through it and come out the other end feeling and no doubt, looking amazing!
The benefits of succeeding are worth their weight in gold!
So at this point of the article you may be sitting there weighing up your options, trying to work out which way to go? Keto diet is not for the faint-hearted and as mentioned, it may not suit or even be good for some people.
Look at your own health, get a checkup and blood work done through your doctor and decide which way you are going to go. There are always other options too such as low-carb (Atkins diet) and paleo diet too.
They are all different and you have to find what suits you the best. It really is such a personal journey and there's no right or wrong.
I wish you all the success in the world with your health, wellness, energy and body goals.
PS: we have a new keto recipe book coming out soon so be sure to subscribe to our weekly email updates if you haven't already? You can do this on the home page at the bottom of the website.
Disclaimer: the information in this article is intended purely as information and not health advice. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure and one should always seek expert advice from their trusted health practitioner.