Diets, whether you love them or hate them, come in all shapes and sizes. From fad diets like South Beach and Atkins to the ever-popular calories-in, calories-out model, modern culture has quite a fixation on a fit figure and good health.
The keto diet, also known as LCHF (low carb high fat), is exploding in popularity, especially among those who value muscle building and clean living. With numerous potential benefits outlined in medical studies, like positive effects on diabetes, epilepsy and seizure disorders, brain cancer, and even Alzheimer’s disease, keto has the potential to address both weight and overall wellness.
What Is the Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is among the fastest growing programs to hit the weight loss scene, boasting fat burning capabilities, more effective muscle building, and increased energy throughout the day. Utilizing a low carb, high fat model, the ketogenic diet, often referred to as the “keto diet”, relies on a biological process known as ketosis to trigger beneficial results.
Unlike most diets, which attempt to stimulate rapid weight loss through gimmicks and tricks, ketosis relies on the body’s own natural processes to burn fat and see results. By reducing carbohydrate intake, it’s possible to diminish the production of both glucose and insulin, changing the ways in which the body uses energy.
For those who eat significant amounts of carbohydrates, glucose levels are often high within the body. This leads to the production of insulin, which is necessary to process glucose within the bloodstream. Under these circumstances, glucose, not fat, is used as a primary source of energy. In a keto diet, access to carbs is greatly diminished, leading to a biological state known as ketosis.
Different Types of Keto Diets
Keto diets are not all made equal. Several versions exist, including:
- Standard (SKD): This diet utilizes a basic breakdown of 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs
- Cyclical (CKD): This alternative embraces the standard keto diet for five days a week combined with two high-carb days
- Targeted (TKD): To increase the capabilities of workouts, this diet allows users to incorporate increased carb intake around workout times
- High-Protein: An adaptation of a standard keto diet, this option uses a breakdown of 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs
Basically, ketosis is a natural bodily process involving the production of ketones that gets started when availability of blood sugar, or glucose, is low. Produced from fat within the liver, these ketone molecules are the drivers behind the keto diet, providing fuel for all bodily systems.
In ketosis, fat burning increases dramatically as the body is forced to consume fat stores, leading to effective weight loss, higher energy levels, and reduced sensations of hunger. Ketosis can be sustained long-term without any negative effects on overall health (in fact, quite the opposite), making this diet a safe, stable way to maintain a healthier way of life.
Examples of Foods You Can Eat
- Animal Proteins – Grass fed or wild caught, if possible, and avoid processed meats. Beef, chicken, pork, fish, shrimp, etc.
- Seeds – Sunflower, pumpkin, hemp, seasame, flaxseed.
- Nuts – Almonds, macadamias, cashews, hazel nuts, pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, brazil nuts.
- Beverages – Coffee, teas (all varieties), broth, lemon and lime juice, sugar-free sodas.
- Fruit – Avocados, berries, rhubarb, olives, lemons, limes, coconut, cherries.
- Vegetables – All green leafy varieties, artichokes, asparagus, aubergine, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, garlic, green beans, kimchi, leeks, mushrooms, okra, onions, peppers, pumpkin, radishes, sauerkraut, radishes, shallots, snap peas, tomatoes, watercress, zucchini.
- Sweets – Erythritol, stevia, sugar-free jello
- Dairy – Butter, ghee, full-fat cheeses, cream, sugar-free yogurt.
- Alcohol – Low carb beer, dry wines (these average around 4-5g net carbs per glass, so not too much), hard liquors like vodka, rum, gin, tequila, whiskey, etc., contain no carbs, and can be consumed straight or with sugar-free soda. Nothing with added flavoring or sweeteners.
- No bread, pasta, sugar, milk, corn, beans, rice, or wheat flour.
Keep in mind that when you consume alcohol, the body will automatically use it for fuel first, so you’ll be temporarily suspending your ketosis when drinking. Once the alcohol is used up, your body will go back to burning fat for fuel.
If weight loss is a primary goal for you, drinking alcohol will slow your progress, so you’d do well to keep your alcohol intake to a minimum.
Making Ketogenesis Work for You
For the average American, the concept of a keto diet can be quite overwhelming. With carbs making up a huge part of the daily menu (you know, stuff like bagels, pastries, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, sugar, and even most fruits), it can be hard to visualize a life without massive amounts of carbohydrates.
Moving past the mental block is often the hardest part, however. In reality, sticking to a keto diet isn’t as hard as it sounds, especially in the internet age.
Hundreds of low-carb food products are tailored to the keto lifestyle, making it extremely simple to find diet-friendly substitutes for just about everything, including peanut butter and chocolate cookies and low carb sandwich wraps.
While the keto diet isn’t right for everyone, for guys looking to lose weight, build muscle, and stay energized, you may find this twist on a low-carb concept to be a perfect fit.
Mark McIntyre is the founder of MaleHealthReview.com and acts as it’s chief contributor. He is a fitness trainer and avid mountain biker who also enjoys camping, hiking and fishing. Besides managing Male Health Review, Mark is also a guest columnist for several blogs related to men’s health. More about this author…