A beginners guide to the ketogenic diet

There is growing evidence that our society’s generally carb-heavy diet isn’t the healthiest option for most of us. Luckily, there is a growing list of alternative lifestyle options gaining popularity.

Enter the ketogenic diet. Embarking on the journey of switching your body from burning carbs to burning fat is one with proven benefits, according to Time, such as reducing appetite, spur weight loss and improve markers of heart disease.

Avocados are an excellent form of healthy fats, and will become your new best friend. Photo: Courtesy of Pexels
Avocados are an excellent form of healthy fats, and will become your new best friend. Photo: Courtesy of Pexels
Low carb, high fat diets have been popular for some time, but the ketogenic diet is by far the most restrictive.

A true ketogenic limits not only carb intake, but protein intake as well, asking the follower to up their fat intake significantly.

With our typical diet, our bodies normally burn carbs that have turned into glucose for energy. When you follow the ketogenic diet, your body goes into a state of ketosis; that is, your body switches from burning glucose to burning fat.

The ketogenic diet is basically a veggie free-for-all. Photo: Courtesy of Tookapic/Pexels
The ketogenic diet is basically a veggie free-for-all. Photo: Courtesy of Tookapic/Pexels
Ketogenic diets are basically a form of fasting, in which your body burns fat instead of storing it, oftentimes resulting in weight loss.

Depending on your height, weight, and amount of physical activity, ketosis can last from 3 days to a week as your body begins to burn fat rather than glucose.

My partner and I decided to try the ketogenic diet after being referred to it by a friend. During the first week, my partner went through ketosis in about three days, and he lost eight pounds.

I took a little longer to make the switch, and experienced the full spectrum of side effects that come from manually switching your body’s fuel: hunger, headaches, fatigue and moodiness.

After going through ketosis, I had more energy than ever, needed less sleep, and never craved bread or sugar — two of my biggest vices. (One caveat: I missed beer. A lot.)

If you’re curious about the ketogenic diet, here are a few pointers for getting started:

Do your food research

Pro tio: Don't wait until the cravings kick in to do your food research. Photo: Courtesy of Pexels
Pro tip: Don’t wait until the cravings kick in to do your food research. Photo: Courtesy of Pexels
I followed the ketogenic diet very strictly, which meant I was limited to about 50 carbs per day. I even cut out fruit, which has naturally occurring glucose. There are many foods that will be off-limits when following the ketogenic diet, but also surprising options you’re still allowed to munch on.

Do your research before you start the diet, and stock up on foods that fit within your boundaries. You’ll be thankful when the initial cravings kick in. You can refer to this list of foods to get you started.

Exercise

Keep your activity levels high, even when you feel sluggish. Photo: Courtesy of Shannon Kelley/Unsplash
Keep your activity levels high, even when you feel sluggish. Photo: Courtesy of Shannon Kelley/Unsplash
When you first start going through ketosis, you’ll feel extremely lethargic and tired. If you can, try and continue to exercise during the transition. The faster your body burns through the carbs and starts using the fat, the faster you’ll bounce back.

Enlist a partner

Having a friend to keep you on track is key. Photo: Courtesy of Alexis Brown/Unsplash
Having a friend to keep you on track is key. Photo: Courtesy of Alexis Brown/Unsplash
Having someone to hold you accountable generally leads to a greater success rate when it comes to switching lifestyles.

If you don’t have anyone that wants to pursue the diet, even having a friend that checks in on your progress can help.