The Keto Diet, Plant-Based Keto, Benefits, and What to Eat
The ketogenic (keto) diet may seem like a relatively new concept in the world of weight loss, but this diet originated back in the 1920s. Back then, it wasn’t intended or designed for fat loss at all. The ketogenic diet was originally created as a nutritional guide for children with epilepsy.
The diet was shown to have beneficial results for those suffering from seizures, and still does today. The popularity of the diet wore off as more modern medicines became available.
Flash-forward to current day and it’s gone from being a little-known method for weight loss, to something more wide-spread. But the diet can be confusing for many people because it requires you to eat more fat to lose fat.
“How to combine a ketogenic diet with a healthy, plant-based alkalizing diet.”
How does the ketogenic diet work?
Simply put, a classic diet of proteins, fats and carbs uses carbohydrates for energy. On the keto diet, metabolic process changes when you intake low amounts of carbs and high amounts of fats. The body enters a state of “ketosis,” where it begins to use fat for energy.
Once you begin eating a low-carb and high-fat diet, the liver begins using the body’s fatty acids (from all that fat intake) to make molecules called “ketones” which the body uses for fuel and has shown to be very powerful in reducing hunger, as well as increasing fat loss.
That’s the basics of a keto diet, but you’re about to also learn about some of the surprising benefits and challenges an individual may experience when starting this diet program, and here’s what you should expect while on a keto diet…
Lose Weight Quickly
One of the most exciting parts of the keto diet is how rapid the weight loss results seem to be. While this is most certainly promising, keep in mind that at the beginning – this is merely a loss in water weight.
When eating high amounts of good fats, you should begin to feel less hungry and more full for longer periods of time. Overtime with the proper intake guided by the keto diet, your body will become more efficient in fat-burning which results in more long-term weight loss.
It may seem like a dream come true to be eating all the fatty foods you typically avoid (yes, even some bacon and eggs), but you are still restricted to an intake that encourages weight loss. If done properly, you shouldn’t feel hungry, and you should see results very quickly.
“If done properly, this way of eating, you can get really good results, really quickly.”
Once you’ve removed sugars and carbohydrates from your diet, your body will begin to adjust. The adjustment phase likely won’t be fun, in fact for many people they will develop flu-like symptoms, such as extreme fatigue and lack of concentration. This happens because your body is so used to using carbs for energy that without them, the body becomes weak and sluggish.
This could push someone to stop the diet, but it’s possible to combat the symptoms by eating more fats, and upping water intake. Don’t forget to keep up with daily exercise, even if you’re exhausted. You will eventually enter into the next phase of the ketogenic diet, which is when your body no longer needs the carbs, and begins converting fat into energy.
Get Out of a Weight-Loss Plateau
If you’re currently experiencing a weight-loss plateau where your current meal plan or diet just doesn’t seem to be effective anymore, this might be the time to try something different, like the keto diet.
The keto diet increases fat burn by putting your body in a state similar to fasting. Your body begins to use the fat it stored as a direct source of energy, and by doing this, your body goes into a higher level of fat burning. This can be reinvigorating in so many ways, and motivating as you see the pounds you’ve been trying hard to shed, suddenly come off.
Regulate Your Hormones
Interestingly enough, with the keto diet increase of ketones in the body, studies have shown a beneficial impact on regulating the hormones that affect your appetite. After eating, the hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK) is released by your intestines.
CCK hormone is responsible for stimulating the digestion of fats and proteins, and can delay the emptying of the stomach which reduces appetite. This means your hormones are actually helping to regulate food intake.
There is also some emerging evidence that the ketogenic diet can significantly help improve symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), the most common endocrine disorder in women. PCOS is known to have a negative impact on fertility, therefore those who are struggling with infertility may increase their chances of pregnancy while on the keto diet.
Not All About Meat
Yes, it is completely possible to be on a vegetarian or vegan/plant-based diet and still adhere to a ketogenic diet. It’s widely misconceived that in order to get the body into a state of ketosis, all that fat and protein must come from an animal or animal by-products, like meats and cheese. That is simply not true.
The body will enter a state of ketosis as long as you are in a low range of carbohydrates, and getting enough fats and proteins. Thanks to food items such as seeds, nuts, and leafy green vegetables, you’re able to do this. Not to mention the wonderful benefits of healthy fats such as coconut oil, and avocados.
Makes You More Focused
Ever experienced “brain fog?” Improper diets often lead to challenges with mental sharpness and focus. The good news is, with the ketogenic diet’s origins being an aid for children with epilepsy, it’s no surprise that the diet has shown benefits to brain function.
Glutamate is the neurotransmitter in the brain that stimulates and promotes brain function, while gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the main neurotransmitter that helps reduce stimulation. Together they help balance out brains connections, so that you don’t over-process and over-stimulate yourself, which basically means if you have too much glutamate (stimulator) and not enough GABA (reducer), you may start to experience “brain fog.”
When the body is in a state of ketosis, the liver is producing more ketone bodies. It provides the brain with an energy source from fat which allows the brain to properly convert glutamate into GABA. This keeps dieters out of the brain fog caused by over-stimulation, and in a refined state of focus and clarity.
When the keto diet was given to those in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, studies showed they experienced a greater improvement on memory. This occurs when the ketones in the body produced by the liver, reduce the free radicals in the brain causing it to function more effectively.
As age begins to take its toll on one’s memory, it becomes increasingly important to essentially “feed the brain” what it needs. This is very in line with the keto diet, since the diet itself requires a steady intake of healthy fats, essential to brain function.
The Guidelines on Macros
To experience the benefits of a ketogenic diet, it’s going to take two things — first tracking yourself on an app, and secondly knowing your why so you will stick to it. Tracking is incredibly important as you begin learning about carb counts in your foods. They certainly add up, especially when you only intake between 20 to 60 net carbs per day.
The amount you consume is based on a calculation customized your age, body type, and activity level simply using a keto calculator (I love cronometer.com) Average numbers for women: 20-60 net carbs, 100-120 grams of fat, 45 grams of protein.
For your body to effectively begin ketosis, you must be willing and able to account for your carbs, fats and proteins every day. The best method for this is by reading labels, writing down your intake for each meal, snack and beverage (besides water), or inputting everything you are eating into a diet tracking app.
This is the only way to know if you are adhering to the diet correctly and getting everything, you need for your body to function properly. OR if all of that seems overwhelming, you can join our next Plant-Based Keto Lovecamp (it is a 30 day online program) where we do all the counting for you.
Long or Short-Term
The debate is out on whether or not the ketogenic diet is safe long-term, so with that – it’s important to talk to your doctor and be guided through what course of action is right for you, and for how long. That said, most guidelines recommend this diet is best done on a shorter-term basis while studies are still on-going.
Do expect that when coming off of the ketogenic diet and going back into a normal meal plan, you may experience weight gain. This doesn’t mean that you will have reversed all your hard work and fat loss, but it’s merely the water weight you lost at the beginning of your keto diet.
I suggest if you want to be cyclical to adhere to a keto diet for 1 month every change of season, or every other month. Personally, I have been benefiting from eating keto at least 4 or 5 days a week, 1 or 2 days of water fasting and 1 or 2 days of carbing up. Depends on my activity levels (sometimes I do some high calorie burning with Nordic skiing or classes at the gym).
If you want to do it long term, figure out how many days a week or month you want to “Carb-up” or eat higher than 100 carbs and do that in your own style. I also suggest listening to my episode on fasting with Dr. Pompa.
Slowing in Bowel Function and more urination
Some people will experience constipation when starting on the keto diet because of the lack of fiber they were used to getting from the carb-filled options like fruit. When you notice constipation occurring, be sure to drink plenty of water to help flush out your system, and move things along. Additionally, start adding more fibre-rich vegetables into your diet. If needed, psyllium seed husks can be added to your diet (we have it in many recipes).
In the first few days when the body begins to enter a state of ketosis, one of the first things to happen is the body flushes out excess water weight. This occurs because the body is breaking down glycogen, which is essentially stored glucose in the liver and muscles, previously produced by sugar and carbs.
As you begin to intake less sugar and carbs, your kidneys will begin disposing of excess water and your insulin levels drop. The kidneys then start producing excess sodium, which also causes frequent urination. Don’t let this part of the diet annoy you too much because it should only last one to three days.
When the body consumes less carbs and sugars, and begins the process of losing excess water in the body, you will likely also experience a mineral loss. This may result in dizzy spells that don’t go away until your body balances into a state of ketosis.
The best way to counteract this is to increase your sodium. Even if that means sipping on salted broth because it’s important to feed your body the electrolytes it needs. It’s also advised that you eat more potassium rich foods such as avocados, dairy, and leafy green vegetables.
While on a strict low-carb diet such as the ketogenic diet, you may experience a minor issue with leg cramps. This is a side effect stemming from your newly increased urination which is causes a loss of minerals, specifically magnesium and from avoiding fruit which is high in potassium. Especially bananas.
To avoid this, make sure you are drinking enough fluids and staying hydrated (yes, even if it causes more frequent urination) and try increasing your sodium intake for the electrolytes.Try 1 tsp. of Hi-Lyte mineral supplement in your water daily. If that doesn’t work, try a magnesium supplement. Or have a banana in your smoothie once or twice a week on your carb up days.
More recently, the keto diet has been studied as an aid in cancer therapy. Studies showed that there was a significant decrease in tumor weight when both animal and humans were tested as an aid to the treatment of tumors with a keto diet.
The diet is especially beneficial to those on chemotherapy. When the body is in a state of ketosis, the study showed that it enhanced the body’s response to chemotherapy. This not only makes the chemotherapy more effective, but also the quality of life.
A recent study done on adult male mice showed staggering results. When placed on a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet, the mice proved to live longer. Not only longer, but 13 percent longer. In humans, that would equate to around seven to 10 years. However, like mentioned before – there is still a lack of evidence on whether is it truly OK to be on the keto diet long-term, therefore the impact on your lifespan is still somewhat unknown.
That said, not only did the mice study show positive results in life longevity, but also in life quality. With cognitive function higher and increased levels of energy, they were able to live longer, healthier (and hopefully happier) lives
Inflammation can come in many different forms such a pain, arthritis, eczema, acne, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and more. Carbohydrates are directly linked to inflammation in the body, as after you eat an excess of carbs, the body breaks them down into sugar and blood glucose levels can remain higher than normal. When there’s a buildup of glucose in the blood, the body reacts with inflammation. Therefore, less carbs equals less inflammation.
The keto diet also naturally combats inflammation with the foods you’re likely to enjoy. Healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, as well as fatty fish and non-starching vegetables are all anti-inflammatory foods. So since the diet is composed of low amounts of carbohydrates, and high amounts of anti-inflammatory foods.
Things to watch out for
Candida Consciousness, Parasite and Yeast Brain – these are the little beings that are feeding off of the sugar you eat and they don’t want you to stop! They may influence your otherwise rational thinking and sway you to eat sugar and high carb foods.
How do you know if you are in ketosis?
There are three ways to measure your body’s ketone levels:
- Blood: the current gold standard. Similar to a blood sugar meter, it’s a simple home test
- Urine: This is fine as you are starting out but not as accurate long-term.
- Breath: exciting new technology that involves breathing into a meter; harder to use and may not be as effective.
Natural ways to know you are in ketosis:
- You don’t get hangry anymore.
- You are losing weight (fat)
- You have increased mental clarity and focus.
- You have more sustained energy throughout the day.
- You can go a few hours without wanting to eat or can skip meals easily (which is why intermittent fasting can be easy once you’re fat-adapted).
That said, people who use the ketogenic diet to manage health conditions may need to test ketones long-term, but that would be something to discuss with your doctor.
Foods You Can Eat on a Plant-Based Diet
Try not to eat more than 10 net carbs in one sitting if possible. As eating all of your carbs at once can make your blood sugar spike and take you out of ketosis.
- Lettuce (Spring Mix, Red and Green Leaf, Butter lettuce, endive, field greens, iceberg, romaine, and watercress)
- Winter Greens (collard, kale, mustard, spinach, Swiss chard, and beet or turnip greens)
- Low Carb Veggies- Asparagus, bok choy, celery, eggplant, herbs, kohlrabi, mushrooms, radishes, rapini (broccoli raab),and zucchini
- Artichokes, broccoli, broccolini, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, fennel, green beans, jicama, okra, snap peas, snow peas, and turnips
- Fruit-Blackberries and raspberries
- Fats: Avocado oil, cocoa butter, coconut oil, nut oils, and olive oil
- Canned or jarred olives* and sauerkraut
- Hot sauce*, mayonnaise*, mustard*, and apple cider vinegar*
- Veggie broth
- Dried herbs, psyllium husk powder, and all spices
- Soda water coffee, tea, and unsweetened cold brewed coffee, hot or iced herbal teas
Fats and Protein:
- Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, and pili nuts
- Seeds (chia, flax, hemp, and pumpkin, sunflower, sesame)
- Keto energy bars*
- Canned coconut milk
- Artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, pickles*, and GLUTEN FREE soy sauce*
* Be sure to check labels and avoid brands with unwanted sugars and starches.
- Mineral salts: Real Salt, Himalayan, Celtic, Grey Salt
- Ketogenic wine
- The Amazing Nut Milk Bag for making your own milk
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