The ketogenic diet plan – also known as the keto diet – is an eating strategy that involves a balance of high fat and low carbohydrate foods. It has been associated with a number of benefits, including weight loss.
Is a Ketogenic Diet Plan for You?
Many studies have been conducted on the ketogenic diet plan to examine its various benefits. Over 20 associated this eating strategy with weight loss and health improvements for individuals with certain medical conditions. These conditions may include epilepsy, diabetes, certain cancers, and even Alzheimer’s disease, though additional research is needed.
As with any dieting strategy, it is not for everyone. There is no single plan in existence that is appropriate for every person in the world. Therefore, before making a substantial change in the way you eat, including when you’re considering trying the ketogenic diet plan, Harvard Medical School highly recommends consulting with your doctor. This not only helps you to know that it will be safe for you, but it will help you to know you’re using the right techniques.
Keto dieting may be very popular, but if it is done improperly, it can come with certain risks. Therefore, it’s a good idea to inform yourself before getting started and continue educating yourself as time goes on.
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How Does a Keto Diet Work?
The ketogenic diet plan isn’t entirely unlike other low-carb diets including the classic Atkins strategy. It requires you to keep your carbohydrate intake very low, but your fat intake comparatively high. For many people, carbohydrates are by far their largest source of calories. When following this eating strategy, many of those carb calories are replaced with those from fat. The purpose is to put the body into ketosis, a specific metabolic state.
When the body is in ketosis, it increases its calorie and fat burning efficiency. Within the liver, it also converts fat into ketones that provide the brain with energy. When followed according to the typical eating strategy, ketogenic diet plans can lead to substantial decreases in blood sugar levels and insulin levels. In combination with the raised ketone levels, a number of healthy outcomes can result. For some people, this includes losing unwanted body weight.
There’s More Than One Type of Keto Diet
There are several forms of ketogenic diet plan. This is another reason it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor before getting started. If keto dieting is appropriate for you, your physician will be able to help you to select the one that is best for your health and your weight loss goals. The following are some of the most popular types of keto dieting.
Standard Ketogenic Diet
The SKD requires you to eat a high fat, moderate-protein, very low-carb macronutrient balance from your foods. Its typical ratio is 75 percent fat to 20 percent protein to 5 percent carbohydrates.
Targeted Ketogenic Diet
TKD is essentially the same as the SKD, but this version permits some additional carbohydrate consumption around workouts, particularly those of a certain intensity.
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet
The CKD shifts the macronutrient ratio on a daily pattern. It allows for certain days in which you will be permitted a high-carbohydrate intake. Typically, this means 5 days on the SKD, followed by 2 days in which you can eat more carbs.
High-Protein Ketogenic Diet
Though quite similar to the SKD, this one shifts the ratio slightly to add more protein and less fat. The ratio is typically closer to 60 percent fats, 35 percent protein and still 5 percent carbohydrates.
Among these various types of ketogenic diet plan, only the SKD and the high-protein version have undergone extensive study. The other forms are generally used by athletes and body builders and are not the forms used for weight or medical condition management. Therefore, for the purposes of this article, the information provided is based mainly on the SKD version of this eating strategy.
Why is SKD Appealing for Weight Loss?
The standard ketogenic diet plan has been shown to lower risk factors for certain very specific disease – though more research is definitely required – while helping many people to lose weight in a consistent way. What many people enjoy most about this diet is that they feel full when they eat this way, so it is the opposite of the feeling of starvation they have suffered form other weight loss programs.
Though some would say that it’s easier than traditional diets because you don’t need to count calories, you must still very carefully track your macronutrient ratio, which typically involves the same tools. Therefore, it’s important to be prepared for meal and snack tracking throughout your day, even if it’s not counting calories.
Overall, if this diet is safe for you, it may be one that simply appeals to you more due to the foods you will be able to eat and the way they make you feel. This strategy can help you to avoid hunger while keeping your energy high once your body has achieved a state of ketosis. The key is in knowing that you’ll be able to keep it up over the long-term. Otherwise, you’ll risk rebounding pounds.
What Foods Do You Avoid When Following a Ketogenic Diet Plan?
You can eat virtually anything when following a ketogenic diet plan, provided you stay within the confines of the macronutrient ratio. That said, you will typically need to avoid certain foods that simply won’t fit into the mix because they will throw your macros off balance from the first bite (or sip). Here are some foods you’ll generally need to say goodbye to as you follow this type of eating strategy:
- Sugary foods
- Sugary drinks
- Many fruits (aside from small berry portions)
- Legumes, pulses and beans
- Root veggies and tubers
- Diet (including sugar-free) and low-fat products
- Many sauces and condiments (which are often loaded with sugars and bad fats that aren’t compatible with this diet)
- Unhealthy fats. While this is a high-fat diet, it is quite specific about the types of fat you should be consuming. Processed oils and fats, mayonnaise, margarine and other similar products will not be included in your diet
Foods You Will Be Eating on a Ketogenic Diet Plan
Though the list of foods to avoid may make it feel as though there isn’t much left from what you typically have in a day, there are still many foods left. These will make up the majority of your meals.
- Meat – This includes red meats, poultry, ham, sausage, bacon and others
- Cold water fish – This includes fatty types of fish like salmon, tuna, trout and mackerel
- Eggs – Ideally, pastured eggs, but omega-3 whole eggs are also acceptable
- Cheese – Unprocessed forms of cheese are acceptable
- Cream and butter – Ideally, choose grass-fed varieties
- Nuts and seeds – All your favorites are included, from almonds and walnuts to pumpkin and flax seeds as well as chia seeds, of course
- Healthy oils – You’ll mainly lean on extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil
- Avocadoes – These can be eaten whole or as the main component of foods like fresh guacamole
- Low-carb vegetables – Among them include the majority of green veggies as well as peppers, onions, tomatoes and others.
- Herbs and spices – Instead of bottled condiments and sauces, look to herbs, spices, salt and pepper.
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As you can see, this type of dieting requires you to make a lot of changes. This can be quite challenging, particularly at the beginning, when the transition into ketosis can leave you feeling overwhelming fatigued. Moreover, the learning curve is clearly a hefty one. The last thing your careful efforts need is to be cut down by drooping motivation and feelings of failure.
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