What is the difference between a low carb diet and a ketogenic diet?

Ketogenic diets are a subset of low carb diets. It is generally accepted that every  diet with less than 130 to 150 grams of carbohydrates is a low carb diet. The ketogenic diet causes a metabolic state known as ketosis, which is usually achieved if someone consumes about 50 grams of total carbohydrates per day (20-30 grams net carbohydrates) or less. The exact amount is personal and may vary from person to person.

Do I need to be in ketosis to lose weight?

Not necessarily. Foods with a high fat content, sufficient protein content and low carbohydrate content are very filling and therefore you are less hungry afterwards and therefore your appetite drops. Research on this subject has shown that carbohydrates are the less hearty macro, whereas proteins and fat are more filling (remember how quickly you usually get hungry after a pasta  if you eat a spaghetti in contrast eg to eating meat in a barbecue!).

What are the main advantages of the keto diet?

It has been found to be better than most diets at helping people with various of diseases, such as epilepsy, diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, helps with chronic inflammation, heart disease, obesity, high blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, fatty liver, PCOS, most migraines and could also help with cancer because sugar is one of the main foods for most cancer cells, so keeping your blood sugar low usually helps a lot.

Even if you are not at risk from any of these conditions, the ketogenic or a more liberal low carb diet can be helpful for you too. Some of the benefits that most people experience are better brain function, increase in energy, decrease in inflammation and improved body composition even without losing weight.

What can I eat?

See here . In general you can eat meat, fish, eggs, non-starchy vegetables, whatever grows above the earth, healthy fats (especially saturated but also monounsaturated fats) and nuts (always depending on your personal sensitivities, allergies and targets).

 How long does it take to enter ketosis?

Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body converts fat into molecules called ketones, which it uses as its main source of energy when glucose is limited.

The time it takes to enter ketosis varies from person to person depending on daily fat and protein intake, age, exercise and metabolism.

In general, it takes 2–4 days if you eat 20–50 grams of carbs per day. However, some people may find it takes a week or longer to reach this state. The more you stay in ketosis the better your body becomes in using these ketones for energy and the more benefits you have.

 How can I tell if I am in ketosis?

The most common symptoms are bad breath, appetite suppression, ketones in blood or urine, increased focus and/or energy, short term fatigue (it will get better soon, beware of electrolytes to make it easier) and you might get digestive issues (be careful with fatty foods, do not eat a lot at once) and insomnia (that is rare).

What about cholesterol?

Cholesterol is responsible for everything from building hormones (like estrogen and testosterone) to strengthening cell membranes, transporting vitamins, and helping you absorb all the nutrients from food. Many people don’t know your body can produce all the cholesterol it needs to function.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is the first to get rid of the daily dietary cholesterol limit — something many countries eliminated years ago.

Research continues to show that a low-carb diet specifically:

  • Increases LDL particle size so they’re less prone to oxidation
  • Raises HDL to deal with LDL before it oxidizes
  • Improves your LDL to HDL ratio
  • Lowers triglycerides and improves your triglyceride to HDL ratio

While these results are worth getting excited about, what about starting a low-carb diet if you’re overweight, obese, or already have high cholesterol numbers? Again, research shows that low-carb diets cause no harm to your health.

A rise in cholesterol during keto or low-carb eating may be related to losing weight. It’s been known for decades that major weight loss can lead to a temporary rise in LDL cholesterol.

Cholesterol synthesis and absorption are complex mechanisms that are influenced by nutrition, genes, and other factors. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that only a portion of low-carb dieters experience significant changes in their blood cholesterol levels, and that may be why the exact mechanism remains elusive.

What is the keto flu and how can I avoid it?

The keto flu is a collection of symptoms experienced by some people when they first start the keto diet. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and vary from person to person. Symptoms typically last about a week, though some people may experience them for a longer period of time.

You need to drink a lot of water and be diligent with your electrolytes in order to completely avoid or ease keto – flu. You don’t have to buy a supplement of electrolytes, you only need to salt your food with high quality salt, use some sodium alternative salt to get potassium (or eat potassium-rich foods such as avocado and green leafy vegetables) and take a magnesium supplement (citrate or chelated). Avoid too much caffeine or strenuous exercise and sleep well. And most importantly eat enough fat, so that your body can get the energy it needs!

I am vegan/vegetarian. Can I do low carb?

Yes you can but it will be rather restrictive, especially if you are vegan. You can eat eggs, cheese (if you are vegetarian) along with non-starchy vegetables, butter, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, cocoa butter, avocados, nuts and seeds. Some people also eat nutritional yeast. If you are vegan you have to buy a low carb vegan protein powder to supplement in order to get enough protein.

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