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Keto Diet: Frequently Asked Questions

Keto Diet: Frequently Asked Questions

What is ketosis?

Ketosis is the state that your body enters when you don’t eat enough carbohydrates or if you are fasting. In ketosis, your body preferentially uses fat for fuel. Some of this fat is converted into ketones. When this happens, you are said to be in ketosis, which is what gives the ketogenic diet its name.

How do I get into ketosis?

To get into ketosis, you must reduce your carbohydrate intake to 20-50 grams per day or less, eat most of your calories from fat, and a moderate amount from protein. Once your on-board stores of carbohydrates are depleted, you will enter ketosis. This can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the size of your initial carbohydrate stores, how active you are, and how strictly you follow the ketogenic diet.


What causes rapid weight loss when first starting a low carb diet? 

Some keto dieters lose 10 or more pounds in the first two weeks. A lot of this weight is water as your body releases and excretes water as it depletes carbs. 


What foods can I eat and what should I avoid on keto?

Keto is a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet. This means that foods like avocados, butter, oils, nuts, meat, fish, and eggs are in. Sources of carbs such as bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, cookies, most fruit, and cereals are out. You can also eat plenty of low-carb fibrous vegetables and some low-sugar berries.


Isn’t eating a lot of fat unhealthy?

It all depends on the type of fat you eat! Processed hydrogenated and trans fats are definitely bad for you and should be avoided, but natural fats, such as olive oil, butter, avocado oil, and other types of fat are actually very good for you. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are especially beneficial and are linked to improved cardiovascular health.


How do I know I am in ketosis?

There are several ways to check if you are in ketosis. Keto sticks are indicator strips that detect ketones in your urine. This is used by diabetics to test for ketoacidosis. While it's cheap it's not accurate enough to test for ketosis on a ketogenic diet. 

You can also use a ketone breath analyzer. While non-invasive, this method only detects acetone, which is not accurate enough either. 

The best way to determine if you are in ketosis is with a blood ketone monitor. This provides medically accurate, real-time results and is considered the gold standard of ketone measurement.

How often do I test for ketosis 

Many people test often when they first start the keto diet. Some will test multiple times a day to see how ketone levels fluctuate throughout the day and the impact of exercise and different types of food they eat. It’s useful to identify your personal optimal ketone level based on how you feel and weight loss results. Once in ketosis and more familiar with the diet, people generally test much less often unless they feel different or introduce a new food or routine. 


When do I test for ketosis?

It’s important to consistently test at the same time and under the same conditions. We recommend testing first thing in the morning prior to eating or drinking anything. At this point your ketone levels will be at the lowest off the day and provide a baseline.

If you’re testing daily and also measuring your weight you can find your optimal ketone level for weight loss. You can also test to find out how you feel at different levels. If you want to see how certain foods impact your ketone levels, test 60-90 minutes after meals. You can also test after different kinds of exercise to see how much it raises your ketones.


How do I measure my macros on keto?

For keto be effective, you need to make sure your macro intakes meet the recommended levels. This means you need to eat less than 20-50 grams of carbs per day, that 60-75% of your calories from fat, and 15-30% of your calories from protein. It’s no good trying to guess – if you misjudge your intake, the diet will not work. Instead, use a food tracking app or website to keep track of your macro intake.


What is the keto flu and how can you beat it?

Keto flu is a kind of carb withdrawal. Not all keto dieters get keto flu, but for some dieters, it can be a real problem. While keto flu can be unpleasant, it doesn't usually last very long. Once your body runs out of carbs, and you fully enter ketosis, the symptoms of keto flu will vanish. This should be no more than about a week. You can alleviate keto flu symptoms by using electrolytes supplements, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough sleep.


How can I get into ketosis faster?

The sooner you get into deep ketosis, the faster your keto flu symptoms will vanish, and the sooner you’ll start losing weight. The following strategies can help you get into ketosis faster:

  • Reduce your carb intake to 20 grams per day
  • Exercise or increase physical activity levels (low level intensity exercise like walking for multiple hours works particularly well)
  • Try intermittent fasting


Is ketosis healthy?

People often confuse "good" ketosis with "bad" ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis happens in uncontrolled diabetes and is not the same as ketosis. In ketoacidosis, the blood becomes more acidic, which is every bit as serious as it sounds. Despite sounding similar, ketosis and ketoacidosis are very different and should not be confused.


Can I have a cheat meal on the keto diet?

Doing so will probably kick you out of ketosis. Once out of ketosis, it will take a few days to get back in but will be easier than the first time. You should avoid regular cheat meals but an occasional treat is not the end of the world. 


What is the dirty keto diet? 

This involves tracking just one macro: carbs. It doesn’t matter else what you eat so long as you keep your carb intake to 20-50 grams per day. There is no requirement to eat vegetables or other healthy foods with dirty keto. While this can result in weight loss, it is not good for your health long term. We don't recommend this. The extra work required to eat a healthy version of keto is well worth it. 

    Can I exercise on the ketogenic diet?

    Exercise and the ketogenic diet are very compatible. Exercise can help you get into ketosis faster by depleting your glycogen stores. Once you are in ketosis, exercise can help keep you there by using the small amount of carbohydrate consumed on keto.


    Can I take supplements on the keto diet?

    You don’t have to take supplements on keto, but there are some that may be helpful. Useful keto supplements include: 


    Electrolytes – dieters lose a lot of water in the first two weeks of keto. As well as losing water, they also lose minerals called electrolytes. These minerals play an essential role in muscle and nervous system function. Low electrolyte levels can cause headaches, cramps, stomach upsets, and other keto flu symptoms. Taking electrolytes can help alleviate these symptoms.


    Can I drink alcohol on keto?

    Alcohol can be consumed in moderation on keto, but some drinks are better than others. High-sugar cocktails or mixed drinks using regular soda or fruit juice are not acceptable. Alcoholic beverages that are generally okay on keto include all spirits (Vodka, Whisky, Gin, Tequila, Rum) and dry wines. 

    However, remember that consuming too many drinks can result in consuming too many carbs or calories. Also, drinking alcohol can lower your inhibitions and willpower, making it harder to stick to your diet. That said, the occasional drink shouldn't harm your progress too much.


    Can I eat out on keto?

    While it's much easier to stick to keto making your own meals, with a little planning, you should still be able to eat out. Tips for eating out on keto include:

    • Turn away the complimentary bread basket and breadsticks
    • Ask for more vegetables or salad instead of rice, pasta, noodles, or potatoes
    • Fish and steak are always good choices
    • Skip dessert and have a coffee instead


    Why does my breath smell fruity on keto?

    A lot of keto dieters experience fruity “keto breath” on the ketogenic diet. This smell is the ketone acetone. During ketosis, your body produces several different ketones, including beta-hydroxybutyrate, or BHB for short. Acetone is just another ketone but, unlike BHB, it can be detected on your breath. If you are concerned by your fruity keto breath drink plenty of water.


    Can I consume artificial sweeteners on keto?

    The keto diet means cutting down on sugar. Sugar is a form of carbohydrate. Because of this, a lot of keto dieters turn to artificial sweeteners as they taste sweet but contain far less carbohydrate and fewer calories. For example, an artificially sweetened soda is sugar-free and won't affect ketosis.

    However, while artificial sweeteners won't affect ketosis, there are some concerns over their safety and healthfulness. The occasional artificially sweetened soda or coffee shouldn't present a problem. Still, if you replace all the sugar in your diet with artificial sweeteners, you could negatively affect your health. 

    Going keto means cutting down on sugar, and that’s a good thing. But replacing that sugar with artificial sweeteners is not a good idea.


    Is it okay to eat fiber on the keto diet?

    Fiber is a form of carbohydrate called non-starchy polysaccharide. While it is technically a source of carbs, your body does not have the enzymes necessary to digest it. That means that, for all intents and purposes, carbs from fiber will not affect ketosis and do not count so can be consumed in abundance on keto.


    Why can’t I eat fruit on keto?

    Most fruits contain a lot of sugar and carbs, and just a small portion could kick you out of ketosis. For example, a medium banana contains 23 grams of carbs and 12 grams of sugar. If you eat one banana, you will have to avoid carbs for the rest of the day, and that's not easy to do.

    However, while things like bananas, apples, oranges, peaches, and pears are off the menu, you can still eat some fruits, and in particular, berries in small portions. Berries are low in sugar and carbs and are a valuable source of vitamins, minerals, and other healthy substances.


    I’m craving sugar and carbs on keto, what can I do?

    Carb and sugar cravings are entirely normal on keto, especially during the first few days. Once you are keto-adapted and are happily producing and using ketones, your cravings should disappear. If you can be patient, you'll find your cravings vanish all on their own.

    But, if you are really struggling with cravings, make sure you:

    • Eat enough fat to ward off hunger
    • Don’t purposely starve yourself – fill up on keto-friendly foods
    • Drink plenty of water
    • Use artificial sweeteners in moderation


    My weight loss has plateaued, what should I do?

    Most keto dieters lose weight quickly and easily initially, but then weight loss slows down. This is entirely normal. However, if your weight loss has stalled, you should be able to get it going again by implementing the following strategies:

    • Double-check your carb intake to make sure you aren’t inadvertently consuming more than 20-50 grams per day. Reduce it the lower end of the range.
    • Cut out alcohol and artificial sweeteners.
    • Do more exercise and/or physical activity per day.
    • Try intermittent fasting
    • Start tracking all your food using an app


    What is a “fat bomb”?

    A fat bomb is a high fat, moderate protein, low carb snack designed to make eating enough fat on keto much easier. You can make your own fat bombs or buy them ready made. An example of a homemade fat bomb is a tablespoon of peanut butter rolled into a ball and dipped in coconut and cacao nibs. Chill to form a solid, easy to eat snack.


    What is “bulletproof coffee”?

    Also known as keto coffee, bulletproof coffee is coffee mixed with either butter and/or coconut oil and MCT oil. It provides you with caffeine, boosts ketosis, and keeps you feeling full. 


    Do I need to count calories on keto?

    Most people lose weight on keto without counting calories. It’s hard to eat too many calories when you aren’t eating carbs, and high fat, moderate protein meals are very filling. However, calories still count on keto, and if you are consuming more calories than you need, you won’t lose weight.

    If your weight loss is slow or has plateaued, you may need to count calories to create the deficit necessary for weight loss. However, you probably don’t need to count calories if you are making satisfactory progress.


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