You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t posted many Paleo recipes in the last few months. Well, that’s because I’ve been preparing to go keto and trying out different keto recipes instead! Don’t worry, this change won’t be forever, but I’ve been wanting to experiment a little with my diet and lose a few stubborn pounds in the process.
What is keto?
“Keto” is short for the ketogenic diet, and unless you’ve been living under a rock this whole time, you’ve probably heard about it.
Keto is somewhat similar to Paleo – it is a low carb, high fat diet. Unlike Paleo, however, the goal is to kick your body into “ketosis” – a state in which your body sources energy from fats instead of glucose.
I highly recommend reading this article by Keto Connect to learn everything you need to know about keto, since they do a much better job explaining the science behind it than I ever will.
The main point I want to make is that when going keto, you need to keep track of your macros to ensure that you are eating just the right amount of everything to kick your body into ketosis:
- 60% – 80% of your calories should come from fat
- 15% – 35% of your calories should come from protein
- up to 5% of your calories should come from protein
This is a lot more strict than your traditional Paleo diet. While Paleo is low carb, it’s certainly not “under 5%” low carb. The Paleo diet does not require such a high fat consumption either.
You can view the nutritional guidelines for a typical Paleo diet here.
What’s the point of going keto?
1) Weight Loss
The reason most people, myself included, start a keto diet is to lose weight. When you’re eating carbohydrates, your body uses the glucose for energy, meaning any fat you eat gets stored away in various unflattering locations.
However, when you’re depriving your body of glucose, it has no choice but to start using your fat reserves to transform them into ketones, which then provide you with the energy you need.
Just one look at the r/keto subreddit is enough to demonstrate how incredible the weight loss can be under a keto diet. People have been able to transform their entire body compositions without starving themselves or working out to death.
2) Clearer brain
Another reason to go keto is to gain some mental clarity. This might seem silly, but many people report feeling more energized and mentally clear once they’ve entered ketosis.
3) Disease prevention
Keto has also been shown to decrease cholesterol and to have a positive effect on blood sugar levels in diabetics.
Many studies link keto with cancer treatment, because some cancer cells thrive on glucose and die without it (that’s quite a simplified explanation, and if you want to learn more I would refer you to Dr. Dominic “Dom” D’Agostino; @DominicDAgosti2).
As you can see, there are many reasons to go keto, but I’m not going to lie to you – I’m doing it for the weight loss! I have about 10 pounds that I haven’t been able to shed in the last year and I’m fed up with it.
What foods are keto?
Since the focus is on macros, rather than ingredients, any food can technically be keto, as long as it fits within your macro goals.
That being said, high-carb foods like breads and pastas should obviously be avoided, since you’d go over your carb limit with just one bite!
Focusing on foods with healthy fats, protein, and low carbs will make it easier to maintain your macros. In fact, many of the ingredients I use in my keto meal plan are very similar to what I would use for my paleo diet:
- low-carb vegetables (lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, mushrooms, zucchini, etc)
- fatty proteins (chicken thighs, salmon, bacon, 80% lean ground beef, eggs, shellfish, etc)
- other healthy fats (avocado, MCT oil, coconut oil, butter, cheese, cream)
As you can see, some dairy is allowed on keto, which I would normally avoid on the paleo diet. However, a little bit of butter here and there never hurt anyone, so I don’t mind adding it to my diet as part of this experiment.
Is keto difficult to follow?
I’ve only been doing it for about a week, so I am not sure I’m qualified to answer. But here is what I noticed:
- It’s not easy to eat enough fats! Seriously, the first few days I found myself short of my fat goal. I had to start snacking on bacon and string cheese (oh nooo) just to get up there. Some people also make special keto “fat bombs” that are designed to do just that.
- Surprisingly not starving. As with any weight loss goal, you should be eating at a caloric deficit. Normally, that means feeling a bit groggy and hungry throughout the day. However, with keto I never feel hungry. I assume it’s because fats make you feel more satiated.
- Might need supplements. Restricting carbs leads to lower insulin levels, which, in turn, leads to your body shedding excess water and electrolytes. If you’re too low on sodium and potassium, you may need the help of supplements to replenish those salts. Although many keto-friendly foods contain both sodium and potassium, I’ve been feeling some symptoms suggesting I’m not getting enough. Luckily, they are easy to find on Amazon and a small daily supplement is enough to fix the issue.
How to track your macros
Before you can track your macros, you need to figure out what they are. For each person they are different, depending on your current weight, your goal, your activity level, etc. I suggest you Google “keto macro calculator” – there are many free ones out there that will help you figure out what your goals should be. Here is the one I used.
Next, find an app that allows you to track your macros and enter your goals into it. Some examples are MyFitnessPal, Lifesum, and FatSecret.
Track each thing you eat religiously and make sure to record your progress! I suggest doing a weigh-in once a week to see how much weight you’ve lost.
It is also helpful to have a keto journal, where you can write about your progress and track the way you’re feeling every day. I will probably publish my journal on this blog once a week just to demonstrate what effect keto has had on my physical and emotional well-being.
Join me on my keto journey!
Wanna try keto with me? Let me know on Twitter (@thepaleobabe) or join my Facebook group where we share recipes and healthy lifestyle progress!