Ketosis and the ketogenic diet have both been widely proven to combat obesity and promote weight loss for those who have been struggling to shed pounds. Adherents of the “keto diet” often refer to this method of eating as a way for you to eat as much as you’d like while still losing weight.
It sounds like a tall order, but in fact, losing weight on a ketogenic diet is not only possible but helps to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease as well.
Ketogenic diets rely on the state of ketosis—in which the body relies on ketones (a byproduct of burning fat cells) for energy instead of simple sugars. By eating in the right manner and giving it a little bit of time, you can turn your body into a fat burning machine instead of one that relies on sugar.
Still a bit confused? Not to worry—because we’ve got the comprehensive five-step guide for reaching ketosis and burning fat.
1. Stop Eating
While this might sound like a drastic and counterintuitive way to start a diet, fasting is one of the most effective ways to kick off keto
Fasting gives your body an opportunity to burn residual sugars in the body and begin to run low on this common energy source. Switching over to a ketogenic diet means that we must first drain the body of sugar before working in fats.
While you can certainly reach ketosis without fasting, taking a 24-hour fast is an effective and safe way to shock the senses and force your body to start burning simple sugars—and fast. Remember to always drink plenty of water during a fast, to not dehydrate yourself. While you can survive for weeks without food, the same cannot be said of water.
This fast is best performed either at the very start of a week or during a weekend. The less social pressure you feel to eat, the more likely you will stick with your fast for 24 hours and be ready for the next step.
2. Slowly Work In Keto-Friendly Foods
After your 24-hour fast, it’s time to get back to eating in a way that will promote ketosis.
Generally, a ketogenic diet is reliant on low-carb, low-sugar, high-fat meals. It’s commonly assumed that fatty foods are the source of excess weight, but when on ketosis, these fat cells are going to be used as food—not as storage.
There are a host of online resources to help you figure out which foods to eat, but consider lean meats, dairy, seafood, and nuts to be the staple of your new diet. Anything with added sugars, like sodas, need to be cut out completely to prevent your body from ending ketosis.
Don’t eat meat?
Not to worry—a vegetarian keto diet will get you the nutrients you need without the need for animal meat.
Plant-based ketogenic foods include:
- Meat Substitutes – Tofu, Tempeh, Seitan, Quorn (although look for carb fillers)
- Leafy Greens – Spinach, Collard Greens, Swiss Chard, Kale, Spring Mixes
- Low Carb Vegetables – Broccoli, Cauliflower, Mushrooms, Zucchini, Asparagus
- Low Carb Berries – Raspberries, Blackberries, Strawberries
- Vegan Dairy – Coconut Yogurt, Almond Milk, Coconut Milk, Coconut Cream
- Nuts – Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Macadamia Nuts, Hazelnuts, Pecans
- Nut Butters – Almond Butter, Coconut Butter, Sunflower Seed Butter
- Seeds – Chia, Pumpkin, Sunflower, Sesame, Flax Seed, Hemp
- Vegetable Oils – Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil, Olive Oil, Sesame Oil
The 24-hour fast also helps to reduce the temptation of sugary foods. After feeling drained from a day without food, you are much more likely to crave a steak than a candy bar.
All of this talk of fasting and avoiding sugar will probably clue you in on the necessity of this next step.
When discussing the ketogenic diet, there is usually a need to address the feelings of fatigue that come alongside the diet. Your body naturally wants to stick to its normal state of simple sugar energy, so it will fight this transition and put you in a state many refer to as “keto flu.”
Keto flu is both a good sign that you’re on the right track, as well as a stumbling block for anyone trying to get onto a ketogenic diet. That’s why you need to sleep consistently and more often for the first few days while your body makes the switch.
If the ketogenic diet causes symptoms of flu for longer than a week, be sure to contact a medical professional or ensure the keto-friendly foods you’ve chosen are getting you your daily nutrients.
You may also experience mild insomnia when making the switch to ketosis—which is all the more reason why relaxation needs to be high on your list of priorities during the first week of ketosis.
4. Adjust to A New Schedule
As we’ve mentioned earlier, intermittent fasting is a great way to force the body to start burning off that fat. Once the worst of the keto flu has passed you by, consider maintaining a diet that includes intermittent fasting.
For example, try to eat your daily calories within an 8-hour period. This simple transition will force your body to burn fat cells for the remaining 16 hours and help you shed those extra pounds.
Adjusting to this new schedule will also require a fair amount of research on your part.
You’ll find that many of your favorite foods and restaurants may not have much for you regarding keto-friendly foods. Take some time during your first week of ketosis to research the nutritional values within your favorite foods so that you can order with confidence the next time you’re out with friends.
5. Exercise Properly
Finally, once the largest hurdles with ketosis have been accomplished, it’s time to exercise!
Cardio-heavy exercises like running are great for burning hundreds of calories in an hour. If running isn’t possible, try hiking, bicycling, or sports that keep you active and moving.
A quick keto-friendly meal before workouts will keep you alert and feel ready to perform whatever exercise routine you’ve chosen. This added exercise, along with a diet low on sugars and carbs, will put your body in the optimum state for fat loss.
We hope we’ve given you a clear understanding of how, and why you should be on a ketogenic diet. The first few weeks are understandably difficult, but provided you stick with the diet and ward off the dreaded keto flu, the results will certainly surprise you.
Have you tried — or considered trying — a ketogenic diet?
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