The ketogenic diet comes with a lot of questions for many newcomers. And depending on where you look, you’ll find a ton of different answers. So, to help you tackle your own journey with a keto*-friendly lifestyle head-on, we’ve broken down the answers for five of the most frequently asked keto* questions.
1. WHAT IS KETOSIS?
The primary goal of the keto* diet is to place the body into a state called ketosis where your metabolism burns fat instead of carbohydrates, the traditional preferred source of energy, for fuel. To achieve this, the average person following the keto* diet should consume around 50 grams of carbs (or less) per day, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Reducing carbohydrates and replacing them with a higher fat diet causes the body to begin breaking down fats into substances called ketones. These ketones then become the primary source of fuel for the body.
2. IS KETOSIS SAFE?
When practiced appropriately, yes, but it’s not suitable for everyone. While the keto*-friendly lifestyle has become popular as a short-term mode of weight loss, it’s not advised to practice this diet long-term. Most guidance recommends that people with some specific health conditions, such as pancreatic disease, liver and kidney conditions, those with a history of disordered eating, and those with gallbladder conditions (or have had their gallbladder removed) do not follow a diet that puts them into ketosis before discussing with their physician.
Most healthy individuals with no underlying health conditions may be able to follow a keto*-friendly lifestyle for a short period of time, but should be aware of some of the symptoms they may experience. For instance, the “keto flu” is a collection of cold-like symptoms those just starting out on a ketogenic diet may experience (think dizziness, tummy troubles, fatigue and headaches). More research is warranted on the health complications of incorporating a high-fat diet for an extended period of time. We recommend communicating with your healthcare team to ensure you’re getting the best possible guidance as you embark on this journey for yourself.
3. CAN I EVER EAT CARBS AGAIN?
The short answer is yes. Carbohydrates are found in a variety of foods that should be consumed in a balanced, healthy diet. Although, it’s not recommended to completely exclude carbohydrates from your daily routine. Instead, focus on fueling up with the right balance of carbohydrates that suit your energy levels and keep your nutrient intake up to par. For instance, dietary fiber is found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains — a few of the carbohydrate rich food sources that you may have heard that should be limited on a keto*-friendly diet.
Instead of eliminating these foods altogether, registered dietitians recommend figuring out what works with your lifestyle to keep “healthy” carbs like these foods in your regular routine. Try mixing a :ratio KETO*-friendly Cultured Dairy Snack with 1/3 cup of berries and 1-2 tablespoons of nuts to provide your body with a blend of nutritious foods to fuel whatever your day has in store.
4. WILL I LOSE MUSCLE ON KETO?
When going on any sort of restrictive eating plan, if you aren’t working with a trained professional to ensure your nutrient intake needs are being met, there is a chance of experiencing some muscle loss. Since a keto*-friendly lifestyle can mimic a fast, it’s important to ensure you’re eating enough sources of fats and proteins to spare muscle loss.
In a traditional fast, your body would use lean muscle for fuel, but in a “modified fast” as with a keto*-friendly diet, your body uses fat as fuel to preserve the lean muscle. Be sure you’re fitting in enough of the right types of fat and adequate protein to prevent losing those gains you worked so hard to achieve!
5. I’M PHYSICALLY ACTIVE — CAN I STILL DO A KETOGENIC DIET?
Here’s the deal — if you’re an athlete, you likely have heard of the benefits that the three main macronutrients provide when it comes to fueling your performance. Carbohydrates provide the energy you need to fuel your workouts, protein repairs muscle loss, and fat protects your organs, regulates hormones and serves as a vehicle to help you absorb certain nutrients better. Oh, and yes, fat can also provide a source of fuel for your body during lower-intensity workouts.
With that said, a 2019 review published in the Journal of Sports Medicine suggested that there was no significant performance benefit to athletes when they followed a ketogenic diet. While researchers did note some benefits of the ketogenic diet in athletes who performed a short-duration, vigorous intensity test, weight loss proved to be a confounding variable and more research is needed before any blanket claims can be made.
If you lead an active lifestyle, be sure to consult your healthcare team before engaging in any modified carbohydrate eating style.
KETO*-FRIENDLY SNACKS FOR YOUR LIFESTYLE
Regardless of what style of the ketogenic diet you choose to follow, don’t forget that the snacks you choose to eat matter just as much as the meals. Choosing the right snacks can help curb your cravings and keep you fueled while on the go. Discover a wide range of tasty KETO*-friendly snacks from :ratio.
*Always consult your physician before starting an eating plan that involves regular consumption of high-fat foods.