Ketogenic dieting has become quite popular in recent years and for good reasons:
The diet leads to weight loss, it can improve our health, and many people feel great once they cut carbs from their nutrition.
But what exactly is keto, how does it work, and is there more to it? We’ll answer these questions and many others, so keep reading.
Let’s dive in.
What Is a Ketogenic Diet And How Does It Work?
A ketogenic diet is a low-carb nutritional approach designed to help people improve their well-being, lose weight, and reduce the risk of health issues down the road.
The beauty of keto dieting is that you eat more satiating foods, leading to fullness even if you’re not consuming that many calories. As a result, many people find it easy to follow a keto diet and end up losing weight almost effortlessly.
Aside from being somewhat easy to follow, a ketogenic diet puts people in a state of ketosis, where the body switches to a new primary source of energy: ketones. Once in the state, the human body becomes efficient at using fats for energy.
Being in ketosis is also good for controlling blood sugar and insulin levels, which offers some benefits, which we’ll discuss below.
Ketosis: A Deeper Look
As briefly mentioned above, ketosis is a metabolic state where the body switches to ketones as the primary energy source.
While many people enjoy sensationalizing ketosis, making it out to be something unique or incredible, the state is simply one of the body’s ways of surviving through tough times. We still need energy even if there are no carbs available, and ketosis resolves the issue by making fats the primary fuel source.
As you reduce your carb intake to fewer than 50 grams per day, it takes your body up to four days to enter a state of ketosis. Consuming too much protein can slow down the transition because the body can readily convert amino acids into glucose through gluconeogenesis.
The period is typically accompanied by symptoms, including excessive hunger, brain fog, and fatigue, collectively referred to as the keto flu. Luckily for us, the period tends to pass quickly for most people, and we get to come out on the other side, feeling fantastic.
Three Fantastic Benefits You Can Reap From a Ketogenic Diet
- Possible Weight Loss
One of the primary reasons why many people go on a ketogenic diet is to lose weight. The diet is fantastic for that objective because it helps you feel fuller and more satisfied without eating as many calories. As a result, you can easily establish a calorie deficit and shed the extra pounds.
Keto is also beneficial for short-term weight loss, and many people find themselves losing five, seven, even ten pounds in their first one to two weeks on the diet. The reason for that is straightforward:
As you cut carbs from your diet, your body burns through the available muscle and liver glycogen (a complex carb form we store inside the body). Each gram of glycogen draws three to four grams of water. So, burning through the complex carb also leads to a ‘flushing’ of water from the body. For example, if you drop 400 grams of glycogen, you will lose anywhere from 1,200 to 1,600 grams of water. In total, that is the equivalent of four to five pounds on the scale.
- Steady Energy Levels
Consuming fast-digesting carbs (such as those in processed foods) provides your body with some quick energy. The issue is, doing so also leads to a significant spike in insulin levels because the hormone has to take these sugars and transport them to various cells in your body
Sudden spikes in insulin can sometimes lower your blood sugar levels more than necessary, leading to postprandial hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels that occur after a meal). Symptoms often include:
- Muscle weakness
In other words, you feel energized for a bit, then experience a crash.
A ketogenic diet fixes these spikes and drops in energy levels because you barely consume carbs. As a result, your insulin levels remain much stabler, and you feel energized all day long.
- Reduced Cravings For Sugary Foods
The third significant benefit of following a ketogenic diet is the reduced cravings for sugary foods. One reason is that you’re not eating such foods, making it easier to avoid them in the future. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”
The second reason for the benefit relates to the postprandial hypoglycemia we discussed previously. A rapid drop in blood sugar levels can often lead to extreme hunger and cravings for sugary foods. As a result, many people find themselves having something sugary to offset the sugar crash they experience.
Not consuming any carbs prevents postprandial hypoglycemia from occurring, reducing the risk of hunger and intense cravings.
Keto Alone Isn’t Always Enough…
A ketogenic diet offers numerous benefits, and countless people find it effective for helping them feel better, lose weight, and improve their quality of life. Some even follow a ketogenic diet to manage epilepsy symptoms better, which is what the diet was designed for in the first place.
The problem with keto, and any other diet, is that it alone isn’t enough for most people to lose weight and keep it off. The primary thing that determines weight loss success is our caloric intake. So long as we eat fewer calories than we expend, we are bound to lose weight. In contrast, consuming more energy than we burn leads to weight gain. It all comes down to simple math.
So, aside from following a sustainable diet, we also need to take care of portion control. Doing so allows us to manage our caloric intake and reduces the risk of overeating.
The good news is that following a ketogenic diet makes portion control easier to manage. We get to consume lots of foods that fill us up, and many people barely feel any hunger on a ketogenic diet, even as they lose weight.
How to Control Your Portions On a Ketogenic Diet
The issue with portion control is that doing so is easier said than done. Sure, everyone knows that we need to control how much we eat. We might even do it successfully for a while. But how do you manage your portions over the long run, especially when you feel hungry? Let’s go over three tactics:
- Use a Mini Pot For Cooking Meals
A mistake many people make with their cooking is preparing a lot of food at once. Doing so might seem logical, and it certainly offers benefits. But having food available all the time can make it difficult to resist the temptation of eating when you feel mild hunger or have nothing better to do.
Using a mini pot, such as the ones from RJ Legend, is a fantastic way to control how much food you cook and eat. While some people see these pots as too small, they offer the fantastic benefit of limiting how much food you can cook. As a result, you’re more likely to stick with healthier portions and reach your goals.
- Use Smaller Plates and Bowls
A neat way to reduce your food intake without feeling like you’re starving is to start using smaller plates and bowls. Doing so is a great way to prevent yourself from putting too much food on your plate.
Aside from limiting how much food you’re serving yourself, using smaller plates and bowls might lead to greater feelings of satiety. In one experiment from a while back, researchers found that switching subjects from 12 to 10-inch plates led to a 22 percent reduction in caloric intake.
There is a hypothesis behind this effect, and it relates to Delboeuf Illusion, which refers to our innate tendency to think that things are larger when we compare them to smaller objects. In the case of eating, putting even a lot of food on a big plate would make you feel like you’re not eating that much. But, if you place the same amount of food on a smaller plate, your brain instantly thinks, “Whoa, that’s a lot of food.”
- Drink Water Before And While Eating
Did you know that drinking some water before your meals can help you eat less and feel fuller? Apparently so. Researchers have done experiments in the area and have found that when people drink a glass of water up to half an hour before eating, they consume fewer calories.
While that might sound a bit gimmicky, there is hard data. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to try it. Water is essential for our health, and drinking enough of it helps us feel better, aids digestion, and reduces the risk of dehydration.
Here is a simple way to apply the tactic:
Place an empty glass or cup on your kitchen table. That way, seeing it will serve as a reminder and trigger to drink some water. For example, as you walk into your kitchen to prepare lunch, start the process by drinking some water.
You can even drink an extra glass of water while eating to boost the satiating effects and control your portions even more effectively.