What is Keto? My Personal Definition…

What is keto? (the short version)

Keto isn’t a “diet,” it’s a way of life. It’s the basic set of principles that low carb diets are based on. Atkins is one of the most popular keto diets, South Beach is another, Paleo is often considered keto as well, but I’m not doing Atkins, and I’m not doing South Beach. I am doing a lot of Paleo. Get it? OK, I’ll keep going.

The keto “diet,” also known as the ketogenic “diet,” is a lifestyle change that is low carb. Everybody does it their own way (hence all the diet names and programs) but the most basic keto diet is a mix of low carb, paleo and gluten-free. The cross-fit folks do it too. No sugar, no bread, no grains, whole foods, real foods. In my version of keto, I don’t eat any artificial sweeteners or processed foods, but those on Atkins do. That’s their version of the keto diet, which is fine for them, but just not for me.

On a fundamental keto diet, you’ll eat 20-50 carbohydrates per day (typical Americans eat 300) and under 1700 calories per day, although that number is variable based on your weight and activity levels. It’s ridiculously simple to eat under 1700 calories per day when you eliminate carbohydrates. It’s also easy in general, because carbohydrates make you hungry, so without them, you’re never hungry (take it from a former pasta addict!)

And it’s a low-carb diet, but it’s not a bacon butter fest. My diet is actually pretty balanced, all of my carbohydrates come from vegetables, because I also believe in making sure you’re always eating alkalizing foods. Grass-fed meats and dairy from grass-fed animals are always encouraged because they have healthier fats.

Keto has the same benefits of going gluten-free or adopting the paleo diet. It’s proven to help with weight loss, boosting energy, kicking cancer in the pants, stopping epilepsy (the ketogenic diet is actually for epileptic patients), clearing foggy-thinking, relaxing anxiety, clearing up skin, regulating menstruation, eliminating irritable bowel syndrome, helping Alzheimers/dementia, amongst lots of other issues.

Books worth reading: Grain BrainWhy We Get FatWheat Belly and Deadly Harvest.

If you want a complete guide to going keto, including recipes, shopping lists and more, buy Keto LifeThe proceeds from this book helps me pay to support the increasing costs of website hosting for the hundreds of thousands of wonderful readers I get every month! Thanks for reading!

What is keto? (the longer version)

The keto diet scares people, especially people who have been taught their whole lives that whole grains are awesome. Contrary to popular belief though, low-carb lifestyles aren’t all bacon and butter-fests.

Unfortunately, people who feel like garbage when they eat whole grains don’t think they’re all that awesome. While “going keto” really means eliminating sugar, a big part of it is eliminating grains, which turn to glucose.

We don’t call keto a “diet” because losing weight is only one benefit. Most people don’t even know that Otto Heinrich Warburg won a Nobel Prize for discovering that tumors need glucose to live. That’s not some hack article, or DVD series, that’s a fricking Nobel Prize. Serious shit.

That’s why I started doing keto. Cancer. Or rather, scaring that crap away. It wasn’t the ridiculously inspiring communities of people who have lost weight with keto, or the fact that I didn’t drop a pound that one time I tried to go low calorie. It wasn’t the all-you-can-eat-meat sign in flashing lights either (that’s not actually true).

It actually took me a lot of time and research before I decided I wanted to do it. When my fiance brought it up originally, I told him no. Absolutely not.

I, so confidently, told him the diet would make him have a heart attack and die and dammit please don’t start eating bacon every day and dying on me cause we still have lots of shit to do in this sweet life of ours.

A low-carb, high- fat diet is a little scary. That is, until you actually read all the science behind it.

…And I’m not just talking about Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes or The Perfect Human Diet.

Did I mention, glucose feeds cancer? The more glucose (sugar) in your system, the more cancer will grow or be encouraged to grow. Without sugar in your system, you’re effectively starving it.

What is a keto diet?

I’m going to try and explain this the best I can and then I’ll send you off to some good resources.

Also, read my Basic Keto Diet Plan – 30 Best Practices for Losing Weight + Scaring Away Cancer post!

Keto is a low-carb lifestyle, very similar to Atkins, except you’re consuming whole foods instead of all the sugar alcohols and fake stuff. It’s much more strict with carbohydrates (20-50 per day), which actually helps because you get less cravings when you consume less carbohydrates. It’s also a little like Paleo because you eat all whole foods and shop on the outside aisles of your grocery store in meats, dairy and produce.

The word “keto” comes from the word ketogenic or ketosis. People get freaked out when they confuse it with ketoacidosis, which is bad.

Ketosis is what your body will be doing on this diet, which is creating ketones. Your body creates ketones when there’s an absence of carbohydrates, since your brain uses sugar and carbs to process. When those aren’t in your system, your body simply uses ketones instead. Most keto-ers will use keto sticks at the beginning of their diet to see if they’re in ketosis, and to make sure they’re drinking enough water so that they’re not producing too many ketones, which can make you sick but is rare unless you’re diabetic. Ketoacidosis.

When you’re in ketosis, your body burns fat like crazy. Without carbs in your system, it just starts burning away and it’s pretty easy to drop a pound every day for the first month if you’re a hundred pounds overweight or more.

You also feel crappy the first week in keto as your body goes through carbohydrate withdrawals. You might get a mild headache and feel tired. They call this the “keto flu,” and some people don’t get it at all. What’s great about it being a barrier is that it keeps you from wanting to “cheat” because when you’re knocked out of keto you have to go through it again (albeit briefly).

In the beginning it took some tinkering to get everything right for my body. For example, I wasn’t used to digesting so much protein, so in bloodwork you could see my red blood cells sticking to each other. My doctor suggested digestive enzymes to help out. I also got a microscope to keep an eye on things at home.

Right now I’m adapting the diet which has killed that problem altogether and I feel much more balanced, too. 

Blood is fascinating! ::Dexter fistbump:::

The facts and myths about keto

The keto diet is expensive, because you can’t opt for $1 boxes of macaroni and cheese anymore! In the beginning you’ll usually spend $200 per week on groceries, but some of it is often spent on expensive oils and ingredients that you only need to buy once. Long-term it’s still not a cheap diet, we spend a lot on fresh food. I go shopping a few times a week because I like to eat fresh, not frozen, but that’s just me.

Your body can run just as effectively on ketones as it does on glucose. When you start producing ketones, your body burns up fat instead of carbohydrates (why you lose weight) and your brain starts using ketones as brain fuel. Personally, my mind is much more clear and I’m less prone to anxiety when in ketosis.

The keto diet isn’t all bacon hamburgers. There’s balance just like any other diet. After your first couple of weeks, you can add in low-sugar fruits like strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. You’ll probably never want to eat a potato or corn on the cob again, but other veggies are just fine.

Keto makes you want to cook! You’d get bored eating bacon and eggs every morning, so you start to get really creative. For example, I’m in love with yellow squash keto pasta!

You can have cheat days if you want to, but you might not want to. Having a cheat day every month is a good way to boost your metabolism. Whenever I’ve done it I’d gain three pounds the next day (water weight) and then lose and extra three over the next day or so.

However, other than having to brave the keto flu again, you have to get over carb cravings again. I’ve found it impossible to cheat for one day, it always takes me a week to get back on track, and sometimes even longer, which is why I don’t like to do it! Sugar and carbs are like a drug to some people, like me.

It took those first two weeks of feeling like crap and then feeling in-frigging-credible to be like, holy crap, sugar is the devil!

Here are some far more-informed resources that you’ll love, enjoy!





Also, read my Basic Keto Diet Plan – 30 Best Practices for Losing Weight + Scaring Away Cancer post!

Disclosure: I'm not a nutritionist or a medical professional. The recipes and articles on this blog should not replace the advice of your doctor. Also, I only recommend products that I have used and love, but in these cases I may use Amazon.com affiliate links, which means I get paid a small commission if you buy the product. A girl's gotta pay for all these ingredients you know! :)

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