Losing weight through eating fat is a concept that challenges the mind of anyone who lived through the dietary rhetoric of the 1980’s. Before you even attempt the ketogenic diet, it is useful to understand how eating fat can help you to lose fat.
The ketogenic diet is a low carbohydrate, high fat diet that has been known to be one of the most effective weight loss tools. Not only will you shed pounds on the ketogenic diet, but it has many health benefits from supporting your brain health to improving your fertility.
Ketosis is a state at which your body produces ketones in the liver, shifting the body’s metabolism away from glucose and towards fat utilization. Once your body is able to do this, is has become what is commonly known as fat-adapted. Fat adaptation is the preferred metabolic state of human beings. It is how we’re meant to be. Stored fat is a reliable source of energy. However, when we constantly consume carbohydrates, our bodies use up the glucose for fuel first. It is a faster burning source of energy.
Cutting the Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are full of sugar. The sugar comes in the form of fructose from fruits, but starch is also turned into sugar in the body. As long as you are consuming excess carbohydrates, you are going to be staying in a sugar-burning mode instead of becoming fat adapted. This means that the stored fat isn’t being used for energy. There is an inability for skeletal muscle to oxidize the fat.
When your body is in sugar-burning mode, it is difficult to go more than four hours without food. It can seem impossible to skip a whole meal. Sugar burners are ravenously hungry and tend to rely on snacks as a pick me up in the afternoon. The adipose tissue even releases a bunch of fatty acids 4-6 hours after eating and during fasting. Once the blood sugar is all used up, hunger sets in and you may find yourself reaching for chips or snacks.
Sugar burners tend to have a low ratio of fat to carbohydrate oxidation. This is a strong predictor of weight gain in the future.
When people are sugar-burners, they rely on glucose, which is a quick source of energy. It is like trying to start a fire with kindling. It will start quickly, but it ends up being used up rather quickly as well. When you are in sugar burning mode, you will quickly burn through your glycogen stores during workouts. This is great if you are trying to eliminate them, but often people simply eat more carbohydrate rich foods and they don’t get into the fat burning zone after the exercise.
Cutting the carbohydrates will help you transition from a sugar burning individual to a fat adapted individual. Learning what carbohydrates are and what foods they are found in is the first step in your ketogenic journey. Reducing your carbohydrate load will reduce the amount of sugar that your body has to burn before it starts to burn fats for energy.
Becoming Fat Adapted
When you start the ketogenic diet, you usually are coming from a sugar or glucose burning state. You will have to adjust to a ketogenic diet. Sometimes this means that you will go through a period of the “keto flu” as your body adapts towards burning fats instead of sugars. Don’t worry. This only lasts for a few days.
Here are some guidelines to determine if you have become fat adapted:
- You can go more than three hours without eating.
- Skipping a meal does not cause considerable discomfort or extreme hunger.
- Steady, even energy throughout the day.
- Mid-day naps are pleasurable indulgences rather than necessities.
- You are able to exercise without carb-loading.
- Headaches and brain fuzziness has passed. Your thoughts are clear and focused.
While it may take a few days to become fat adapted, it does not mean that you are necessarily in ketosis. Fat adapted describes the body’s ability to burn both fat directly through beta-oxidation and glucose through glycolysis. Ketosis, on the other hand, describes the body’s use of fat-derived ketone bodies by tissues that normally use glucose.
The ketogenic diet puts your body into a simulated starvation state with very little glucose. The result is that the body produces ketones to use instead of glucose. When the body is using ketones for fuel
Familiarizing Yourself With Ketogenic Meals
I feel that this step is by far one of the most important steps. When you eat, doing math isn’t always the first thing on your mind. Therefore, I feel that if you really want to lose weight on a ketogenic diet, learning what types of foods you should be eating is far more important than calculating your macros. When you have a ketogenic meal plan in place, you will discover that the ketogenic lifestyle becomes easy and almost effortless.
Check out a ketogenic cookbook(I recommend Bacon and Butter). You can also look up some simple and easy ketogenic diet menu for some go-to meals. Beginning to incorporate lower carbohydrate meals into your daily lifestyle will help you adapt faster to the ketogenic diet.
Another great thing to do is to join ketogenic groups. There are facebook groups that share their ketogenic journey. Being in a ketogenic group will help you with different food ideas and when you come to a plateau, they can help you identify where you need to tweak your diet.
Calculating Your Macros
To lose weight with the ketogenic diet, you don’t have to be perfect with calculating your macros. However, if you discover that you aren’t losing weight, knowing your macronutrient ratios will help you tweak them and give you a better idea of what you need to be eating to lose weight.
Here is an online ketogenic calculator to help you calculate about how much carbohydrate, fat and protein that you should be eating during a normal day. This calculator will adjust to your current weight and height and whether or not you are active or sedentary. Keep in mind, this is a starting point. If you see that you aren’t losing weight within the first few weeks, you will need to adjust your protein and fat levels. (Click Here for the online ketogenic calculator that I use. )
As a general rule, the ketogenic diet restricts carbohydrates to less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day. Some people measure this as net carboydrates. They subtract the grams of fiber, since fiber doesn’t trigger an insulin response. However, if you have a health condition, such as epilepsy, you should stick to the total carbohydrates.
Creating Weekly Meal Plans
You may have gone through life without worrying too much about what your next meal will be. However, when you are on the ketogenic diet, your success relies on you having planned meals and knowing what will keep you in a fat burning mode and what won’t. I’ve found that weekly meal plans help me to stay consistent with my diet, lose weight and save money, so I highly recommend having at least a general idea of what you will be eating for the week.
If you are brand new to a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic lifestyle, you may want to check out my ketogenic meal plan. I have meals that I create in just a matter of minutes that fit the ketogenic ratios. As a general rule, I eat bacon and eggs for breakfast, a salad type lunch and a stir fry or different protein for dinner. This gives me plenty of variety and lots of fats to keep me satiated.
For me, creating weekly meal plans was a key to sticking to the diet. I liked the meals that I scheduled and even if I swapped one out for a different meal, I knew there was something fun to cook. Many of the ketogenic meals are very tasty and I discovered after a few days, I didn’t need to snack. My time spent in the kitchen was greatly reduced!