A New Year, A New You With The Ketogenic (“Keto”) Diet
January 5th is National Keto Day. What better time of year to celebrate this century-old diet plan than immediately after the holidays?
It’s nearly impossible for most people not to indulge in high-starch foods and sugary drinks and treats starting around Halloween. That’s over 60 days of potentially consuming things that make you more resistant to insulin, elevate your blood sugar, lead to weight gain and suppress your immune system!
National Keto Day is a great opportunity to give your body a reset. The “holiday” reminds us that dietary fat is an incredibly effective source of fuel for our body. And unless you’re an elite Olympic sprinter, you may have some unwanted body fat that you’re hoping to get rid of. The ketogenic diet may be the metabolic kickstart you need to shed unwanted body fat.
Not only may Keto help you lose body fat, there are other health benefits of the ketogenic (“keto”) diet, including:
- Manages blood sugar levels
- Increases insulin sensitivity
- Decreases visceral fat (abdominal fat)
- Reduces cravings for sugar and foods that quickly convert into sugar
- Improves satiety
- May support a more positive mood and cognitive function
In this guide, you’ll learn the basics of the keto diet, a brief history of its development, how to get started, how to avoid the dreaded “Keto Flu” and common mistakes, and the best type of foods for staying in ketosis (a ketogenic state). Finally, we’ll reveal which BōKU Superfoods are best for preventing Keto Flu and supporting your physical and mental stamina.
What Is The Ketogenic Diet?
Ketosis is the physiological state when the body, deprived of glucose (sugar) turns to the next available source of energy: stored body fat. A ketogenic diet supports the body in safely staying in ketosis. To be sure, it is not a zero-carbohydrate diet. But it is an ultra low-carb diet.
In a state of ketosis, fat is broken down to make glucose in the liver. Fatty acids known as ketones (or “ketone bodies”) are created as a byproduct of the process.
A “ketogenic” diet refers to the high-fat, low-carb, adequate/moderate protein way of eating that keeps one in ketosis. A keto diet consists of a ratio of approximately 4:1 grams of dietary fat to protein.
Although the terms “keto” and “low-carb” are often interchangeable, there is a difference.
In general, a low carb diet is any eating program that limits daily net carbs to under 150 grams. A plan of 100-150 grams may be adequate for highly-active people who want to maintain their physique and bodyweight.
A moderate low-carb eating plan restricts net grams of carbohydrates between 50 and 100. This would be ideal for those people who don’t have a lot of weight to lose, or, want to slowly transition into ketosis.
These two low carb tiers certainly represent a much lower carbohydrate intake than the standard American diet (SAD). A typical SAD diet includes over 325 grams of carbohydrates.
To get into a state of ketosis requires restricting carbohydrate intake more severely.
A strict ketogenic diet is between 25 and 50 grams of net carbs. In order to remain in ketosis, some people need to consume less than 25 net grams per day. (Net grams equals total carbohydrate grams minus grams of fiber.)
A Brief History Of The Ketogenic Diet
In the 1920s, it was discovered that severely restricting carbohydrates in the diet could reduce epileptic seizures. But the true roots of the ketogenic diet dates back to ancient Greece. Following the Hippocratic Oath—which can be summed as so: “Do unto the patient no harm”—Greek physicians nearly two millennia ago prescribed fasting as a way to reduce seizures, which were considered by the populace as supernatural events.
Ketogenic diets fell out of favor as medications for epilepsy were discovered. But thanks to a 1997 ABC television movie called “First Do No Harm” (an ode to the Hippocratic Oath), starring Meryl Streep, interest in the ketogenic diet was resurrected.
The inspiring movie is the true story of Hollywood producer and father, Jim Abrahams, and his determination to discover a cure for his epileptic son, Charlie. Abrahams wrote and directed the movie, which depicts how a ketogenic diet cured Charlie’s epilepsy. To this day, the Charlie Foundation, which was established in 1993, remains a leading resource for therapeutic ketogenic diets.
Fast forward to today and the ketogenic diet has remained one of the most enduring health trends. Many people have embarked on a ketogenic lifestyle in order to achieve weight loss, support neurological function and manage diabetes.
How do you know if you’re in ketosis?
Ketones (the fatty acid compounds your body uses as energy when your body is in a state of ketosis) can be measured. There are three ways to measure ketone levels: urine tests, breath strips and blood test. The most accurate is a blood test. Opt for one that can also measure your glucose levels.
How often should you test your ketone levels?
Ideally, twice a day. Today’s ketone-glucose meters and smart phone apps make it very easy to keep track of your levels. For best results, test yourself after you wake up while still in a fasted state. For the best weight loss results, you’ll want to be in a state of deep ketosis, which will measure 1.5 mmol/L – 3.0 mmol/L on a blood ketone meter. If your results are lower than 1.5, don’t worry; any reading above 0.5 means you’re already in ketosis.
Later, test yourself before either lunch or dinner. To stay on track and keep you accountable, commit to testing twice per day for several months. (When it comes to selecting a ketone test monitor, read customer reviews and do your research.)
Eventually, you’ll have a good intuition about what you’ll need to eat (and how much) to stay in ketosis. Then, if after you have achieved your ideal weight or met other health goals, you can experiment with introducing higher protein or higher carbohydrate foods back into your diet. Although, you’ll likely feel so great, you might not want to experiment with adding more carbs or protein to your diet.
How long does it take to get into ketosis?
Because everybody is different, it depends. Generally speaking, most people can start entering ketosis within 4-5 days. This can be accomplished if net carbs are kept to under 50 grams per day. However, for some people, it can take a week or longer to make the transition. If you’ve been eating a high-carb diet and haven’t been exercising, expect the transition into ketosis to take longer.
Are there faster ways to get into ketosis?
Intermittent fasting may help. That’s when you only eat for a brief window throughout the day, rather than eating throughout the whole day. One popular intermittent fasting protocol is fasting for at least 16 hours a day. Another way to speed up the transition is exercising before your first meal of the day.
What should you eat to stay in ketosis?
The short answer: lots of healthy fats. Although dietary fat to this day has a negative connotation, there are several benefits of eliminating most forms of carbs from the diet and replacing them with dietary fat. To achieve a state of ketosis, aim for 75% of your total calories coming from dietary fat; 20% from protein and 5% from carbohydrates.
Remember, the upper limit of total grams of carbs is roughly 50 grams for most people. However, to make sure you don’t slip out of ketosis (and to enter ketosis more quickly), 35 grams of total carbs per day is ideal. Keeping a daily food journal and using a Keto app on your smartphone to calculate the percentage of carbs, proteins and fat will help you with the transition.
Common Keto Mistakes
#1: Lack of antioxidants and fiber
Because going keto requires drastically slashing carbohydrates, the biggest mistake people make is not consuming enough phytonutrients from fruits and vegetables. Both fruits and veggies are plant-based carbohydrates. Not everybody that lives a keto lifestyle doesn’t consume enough plant-based foods. However, a common beginner keto mistake is not consuming enough plant-based superfoods.
The reason why this mistake is made is because it’s easy to reach the upper threshold of net carbs very quickly. This makes it very difficult to consume the recommended 13 servings of fruits and veggies. The consequences of not eating enough fruits and veggies in the diet is the potential over-acidification of the body. In addition, high-fat diets are often deficient in dietary fiber.
#2: Lack of electrolytes
Electrolytes are like spark-plugs for your cells. Without sufficient electrolytes, vitamins and minerals from the food you eat can’t exert their critical physiological roles, such as energy production and nervous system regulation.
Many foods that are rich in electrolytes happen to be keto unfriendly. Take beans for example. Though beans are an excellent source of the electrolyte, magnesium, which can help prevent muscle cramps, they are extremely high in carbs. Just one cup of pinto beans, generally regarded as a healthy food, contains 121 grams of carbs! Even with the 30 grams of fiber, that’s still over 80 grams of net carbs.
Fruits are also an excellent source of electrolytes. But because many fruits are high in fructose, most people severely restrict their consumption to stay in ketosis. Plus, when first getting into ketosis, you can lose water weight, which depletes electrolytes. The danger of not getting enough electrolytes is experiencing “Keto Flu” symptoms. (More on the Keto Flu shortly.)
#3: Too much protein
When you reduce the amount of carbohydrates in your diet, there are two other macronutrients to fill the caloric gap: fat and protein. Obviously, you need to eat lots of fat to transition into ketosis and maintain it. But you need to be careful with how much protein you eat. That’s because consuming too much protein can actually kick you out of ketosis and cause your insulin level to rise. After you eat, say, a large portion of steak, the amino acids (the building blocks of protein) signal insulin cells that the body can burn protein for energy instead of fat.
Keto beginners make the mistake of paying attention to carbs, but not enough attention to protein intake.
#4: Transitioning too quickly
If you’ve been eating a mostly plant-based diet that’s at least 90% natural and organic, go ahead and transition as quickly as you’d like to a ketogenic lifestyle. However, if your diet has been rich in processed foods, the transition to keto is more likely to involve side effects. So if your diet has consisted of a fair amount of unhealthy foods, take at least a week or so to eat a clean, real-food diet, and gradually reduce the amount of carbohydrates you’re eating.
Avoiding Keto Mistakes, Keto Flu & Side Effects
Lucky for you, with our experience following the ketogenic lifestyle, BōKU has the perfect solutions for reducing your chances of experiencing keto side effects.
To make sure you’re getting enough plant-based nutrients, all it takes is one scoop of BōKU Superfood Powder. There are an incredible 55 superfoods in this alkalizing green powder, containing not only the greens your mom always admonished you to eat, but also exotic sea vegetables; a blend of 14 medicinal mushrooms; 7 super sprouts; berries and exotic fruits; and probiotics and enzymes to enhance your gut health and digestion. All these amazing benefits with just one gram of net carbs.
Preventing a lack of electrolytes is easy: just one dropper-full per day of BōKU Dead Sea Minerals is the natural antidote for “Keto flu.”
And the super easy way to get your daily dose of fiber to prevent keto constipation is by taking just one tablespoon a day of our Super Fiber+ powder. It’s loaded with prebiotics (think of prebiotics as food for the good bacteria in your gut) and phytonutrients from 18 gut-healing superfoods.
Getting enough protein usually isn’t a problem for most people. As mentioned above, one risk of eating too much protein is being kicked out of ketosis. However, finding a high-quality plant-based protein that tastes great and that’s easy to digest is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. Enter BōKU Super Protein, providing 16-19 grams of 100% plant-powered ultra-high bioavailable protein (that means it won’t bloat your belly).
In addition to the common keto mistakes above, there are a couple extra keto side effects that most people will experience. And we’ve got solutions to nip them in the bud.
“Keto breath” occurs because of increasing levels of the ketone body, acetone. Keto breath is distinguished by a metallic, funny taste. It can also lead to dry mouth (so make sure you’re drinking lots of water). We have a keto-breath neutralizing hero for you: it’s our spitless mouthwash called, simply: MOUTH. Sweetened with the best keto-friendly natural sugar alternative, Monk Fruit extract, Mouth also contains natural antibacterials and probiotics.
Finally, low energy and poor concentration are other common keto symptoms. But don’t worry, BōKU has you covered there, too. Thanks to Green Matcha Tea Powder,
the healthiest tea on the planet. Green Matcha Tea assists the transition into ketosis by supporting mental focus, energy, sleep quality, and relaxation. It’s up to 137 times higher in antioxidants than some brands of regular green tea.
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What To Eat For Keto Success
Obviously, the more superfoods you incorporate into your diet, the more you’re supporting your immune system, energy levels and overall wellness. That’s why at the very least, you should incorporate our Organic Superfood powder into your daily health routine. Start taking it the very first day you decide to live a keto lifestyle. Or, if you’re already there and you’re experiencing negative symptoms, order it now and take a scoop of it as soon as it arrives!
As far as what else to include in your diet, here’s a handy guide for what to eat, by category:
Meat: Eat a fist-sized serving of organic/grass-fed/wild lean proteins. Avoid heavily processed meats like cold-cuts. Also avoid blackened/heavily barbecued meat. When consuming poultry, make sure it’s organic.
Seafood: Like meat, limit portion sizes. Choose wild salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna, as these sources are high in essential Omega-3 fatty acids.
Eggs: Buy organic eggs if you don’t have access to backyard eggs. The “cage-free” and “free-range” are misleading and may not be humanely raised. The healthiest way to cook eggs is poaching or boiling (either hard or soft). These methods limit the oxidizing of the cholesterol in the yolk.
Vegetables: The best for keto: green leafy veggies. Minimize your intake of veggies that grow below ground like potatoes. Asparagus, cabbage and cruciferous veggies (cauliflower and broccoli) are keto-safe, too. If you have chronic joint pain or inflammatory conditions, avoid nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes).
Fruits: The two best fruits are high in fat: avocados and olives. Other keto-safe choices are low-sugar berries: blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Bananas, if still a bit green on the peel, can be enjoyed in moderation. Green-tipped bananas are a good source of prebiotic fiber, which feeds your beneficial gut bacteria.
SMART CHOICE: Organic Super Berries: a yummy powder containing 10 of the world’s most nutrient-dense antioxidant powerhouses.
Nuts: Go nuts with nuts that are low in carbs. The best are Brazil nuts, macadamias and pecans. A handful of either walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts can be enjoyed, too.
Seeds: Sachi Inca seeds, which are the main plant protein in our Organic Superfood Protein powder are incredibly nutrient-dense and absolutely keto-friendly. Also called the “Incan Peanut” they’re high in Omega fatty acids and vitamin E. You can also add a scoop of Chia, flax, or hemp seeds to our. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame can be adapted for keto meal plans.
Dairy: Avoid it if you’re trying to manage weight or inflammation. Raw, unpasteurized dairy offers health benefits, including beneficial bacteria. However, the sale of raw food is illegal in many states. (Check this map for details.) Full-fat, plain, cultured dairy such as Greek yogurt and kefir can be keto-friendly. But overall, it’s best to limit dairy.
Flours: Love to cook? Almond flour and coconut flour will be your best keto cooking friends. Other nut and seed flours are lower in net carbs than conventional white and wheat flour. Flax meal makes for an excellent plant-based binding agent. Psyllium husks are popular for baking low carb breads.
Cooking Oils: Avoid all vegetable and seed oils. Due to their unstable nature when exposed to heat, they spoil very rapidly, plus they can promote inflammation in the body. Instead, coat your baking and frying pans with grass-fed butter, coconut oil, avocado oil, ghee or organic lard. These oils have higher smoke temperatures, thus they do not spoil when exposed to high-heat. Olive oil is fine for light-cooking. When cooking stir-frys, add sesame oil at the very end for a short time.
Natural sweeteners: Stevia and Monk Fruit are the best. The prebiotic fiber inulin is also keto-friendly.