The Ketogenic Diet is especially beneficial to Martial Artists, but with the amount of info out there it can be time-consuming to wade through and find what works. We’ve done that job for you here in this extensive introduction, that we hope will help you get started on your Keto journey.
Channeling the Ketogenic Diet
Ketosis is the state in which your body performs its metabolic functions while drawing energy from fat in order to do it. Your body is like a machine that easily adapts, being able to function on different types of fuels. When you rely on a diet that is heavy on carbs, which offers glucose as a primary energy source, your body naturally uses it first, especially since it can be quickly metabolized.
When your body experiences the state of ketosis, it refrains from turning to glucose as its source of energy. Instead, it uses up ketones for its fuel needs. In the ketogenic diet, you consume foods that are extremely low in carbs and protein, and this encourages your body to look for other fuel sources.
Getting Into the Ketogenic Diet
The good news is that adopting the ketogenic diet is easy, making it less difficult for you to achieve your goal of staying healthy while rapidly losing excess weight. What you need to keep in mind are the following: That you need to eat fat for most of your calorie supply; you should limit your consumption of protein (this ensures that your body does not have enough protein that will be converted to glucose); and you have to avoid starchy carbohydrates (the ketogenic diet allows only carbs that come from salad greens and other non-starchy carbs).
By giving your body no option but to burn ketones, instead of glucose, for its fuel needs, you force it to burn fat and promote improved health and rapid weight loss.
Supplements To Help Support Your Efforts
A World of Keto Goodness
Following the ketogenic diet lets you enjoy a number of health benefits which include the following:
- Rapid Weight Loss
The hormonal effects brought on by the ketogenic diet play a role in reducing hunger as well as giving weight loss a boost. Your body releases decreased amounts of insulin when you eat very little carbohydrates. With little insulin available, your body is not inclined to store fat for later use as extra energy, especially when it can utilize existing fat stores for fuel.
The ketogenic diet lets you consume protein and healthy fats, both of which are filling. This is why going keto helps reduce your tendency to overeat sweets, junk foods, and other empty calories. For most individuals on the ketogenic diet, it is easy to control the number of calories they take in because ice cream, bread, sugary drinks, cookies, cereals, and snack bars are excluded.
- Reduced Heart Disease Risk
Research suggests that although the ketogenic diet may be a high-fat one, it does not cause your overall cholesterol levels or your heart disease risk to rise. People know by now that inflammation is the cause for the most part of heart disease, predominantly influenced by consumption of unhealthy foods (including processed foods, trans fats, and excess sugar) and not heart-healthy fats (including fish, olive oil, and nuts).
Following the ketogenic diet plan – abundant in plant foods (unprocessed, non-starchy), healthy fats and healthy oils – helps lower your risk for heart disease or obesity while reducing your risk of complications from these health issues.
- Reduced Diabetes (Type II) Risk
If you have type 2 diabetes and are not taking insulin medications, you will find that the ketogenic diet can be beneficial for you. As studies have shown, reducing the consumption of processed grains and sugar as a result of following the ketogenic diet can reverse diabetes by encouraging improvements in blood pressure, insulin secretion, and postprandial glycemia.
- Protection Against Cancer
There are certain studies that have suggested the ability of the ketogenic diet to “starve” cancer cells. Consuming a diet that is low in nutrients, high in processed foods, and pro-inflammatory can feed cancer cells and help them proliferate. The normal cells in your body have the ability to utilize fat instead of glucose for energy, but science believes that cancer cells are not able to do the same. This means that a diet that excludes excess refined sugar, as well as other processed carbs, may protect you against cancer.
Your Keto Food Guide
To make it easier for you to follow the ketogenic diet plan, here are the following foods to eat and foods to avoid:
- Leafy greens like spinach, chard, lettuce, Swiss chard, bok choy, radicchio, endive, and chives
- Cruciferous vegetables like radishes, dark leaf kale, and kohlrabi
- Summer squash like zucchini and spaghetti squash as well as asparagus, bamboo shoots, celery stalk, and cucumber
- Saturated fats like lard, chicken fat, goose fat, duck fat, tallow, coconut oil, butter, and clarified ghee/butter
- Monounsaturated fats like olive oil, avocado oil, and macadamia oil
- Polyunsaturated fats like omega-3s found in fatty seafood and fish
Healthy animal sources (wild and grass-fed)
- Grass-fed meat like beef, goat, lamb and venison
- Wild-caught seafood and fish
- Pastured pork, poultry, and eggs
- Pastured butter, ghee and gelatin
- Grass-fed offal like heart, liver and kidney
Beverages and condiments
- Still water, black coffee or with cream/coconut milk, and black/herbal tea
- Cracklings (pork rinds) to serve as breading
- Mayonnaise, pesto, pickles, mustard, and homemade bone broth
- Homemade and additive-free fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha
- Lemon/lime juice, lemon/lime zest, and all herbs and spices
- Gelatin (hormone-free, grass-fed), egg white protein, and whey protein (w/out additives, hormones, artificial sweeteners, and soy lecithin
Full-fat dairy and grain-fed animal products
- Poultry, beef, ghee, and eggs
- Dairy products like cottage cheese, sour cream, plain yogurt (full-fat), cream, and cheese
- Bacon (watch out for added starches and preservatives)
Vegetables, fruits, and mushrooms
- Certain cruciferous vegetables like green and white cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnips, red cabbage, broccoli, fennel, and swede/rutabaga
- Nightshades like peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant
- Certain root vegetables like parlsey root as well as spring onion, onion, mushrooms, leek, garlic, and pumpkin (winter squash)
- Sea vegetables like nori and kombu
- Okra, sugar snap peas, French/globe artichokes, bean sprouts, wax beans, and water chestnuts
- Berries like blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, blueberries, raspberries and mulberries
- Olives, rhubarb and coconut
Fermented soy products
- Non-GMO only
- Fermented soy products like natto, soy sauce, tempeh, coconut aminos (Paleo-approved)
- Green soy beans (edamame) and black soybeans (unprocessed)
Nuts and seeds
- Macadamia nuts
- Brazil nuts
- Pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts, and almonds
- Flaxseed, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds
- Healthy (zero carb) sweeteners like Erythritol, Swerve, and Stevia
- Thickeners like arrowroot powder and xantham gum
- Tomato products (sugar-free) like ketchup, passata, and puree
- Cocoa & carob powder, cocoa powder, and extra dark chocolate (90%)
Carb-rich foods, processed foods, and factory-farmed meat
- Grains of all kinds, including quinoa, white potatoes, and whole meal like wheat, oats, barley, bulgur, rice, buckwheat, rye, corn, millet, sorghum, amaranth, and sprouted grains
- Grain products of all kinds like pasta, pizza, bread, crackers, and cookies
- Sugar and sweets like table sugar, agave syrup, sugary soft drinks, high-fructose corn syrup, ice creams, cakes, and sweet puddings
- Slenda and Equal
- Those containing aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame, and saccharin, among others
Products that are “low fat”, “zero carb” or “low carb”
- Atkins products
- Diet soda and othehr diet drinks
- Chewing gums/mints
- Raw, full-fat
- Pineapple, banana, mango, and papaya
- Tangerine and grapes
- All of them, even 100-percent fresh juices
- Dates and raisins
- Beer, cocktails, and sweet wine
Factory-farmed animal sources
- Pork and fish
- Almond milk products and other processed foods containing carrageenan
- Certain whey protein products and other processed foods containing MSG
- Gelatin, dried fruits, and other processed foods containing sulphites
- Wheat gluten
Refined fats and oils
- Sunflower oil, cottonseeds oil, soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, canola oil, and grapeseed oil
- Trans fats like margarine
Reaching the Keto Zone
You can determine if you are on the right keto track by recognizing the following physical signs:
- Less hunger, more energy
You will find that once you get past the first few weeks on the ketogenic diet, your hunger is reduced and your energy increases. As a bonus, you will experience an energized mental state as well.
- Increased thirst
The ketogenic diet encourages your body to urinate more, leading to a dry mouth as well as an increased thirst. Remember to drink lots of water and to replenish your electrolytes.
- More frequent passing of urine
The ketogenic diet is not only a natural diuretic; it also makes your body produce the ketone body acetoacetate, which is excreted when you urinate and can cause a beginner in the ketogenic diet to go to the bathroom more.
- Smelly breath
Your breath partially excretes a ketone body called acetone when following the ketogenic diet. The bad smell, which is similar to an overripe fruit or a nail polish remover, is usually temporary.
Common Ketogenic Diet Side Effects
It is important to eat foods that are rich sources of micronutrients and to drink lots of water when following the ketogenic diet. This will help you manage the common side effects of the diet as a result of lack of micronutrients or dehydration.
Constipation from the ketogenic diet is usually caused by dehydration. To combat this, simply increase your water intake to as close to one gallon per day. You also need to make sure to eat fiber-rich vegetables; choose non-starchy veggies that are rich in good quality fiber. You may also take probiotics or add psyllium husk powder to your food to solve this problem.
- Leg cramps
Beginning the ketogenic diet commonly leads to leg cramps, a minor issue that usually occurs at night or in the morning. Having leg cramps is a signal from your body that it lacks certain minerals (like magnesium). To help you resolve this, add salt to your food and drink lots of fluids. This will help in reducing magnesium loss as well as treat the leg cramps. You can also consider taking a magnesium supplement to deal with leg cramps.
- Limited physical performance
When starting your ketogenic diet, you may observe certain limitations on your physical performance. This is usually a result of your body getting adjusted to using fat for energy. Once your body gets the hang of getting its fuel from fat, you will see that your strength, endurance, and performance will get back to normal.
- Heart palpitations
As your body is trying to get in the keto zone, you may also observe your heart beating harder and faster. As long as you are drinking lots of fluids and are replenishing your electrolytes (salt, magnesium, and potassium), there really is no need to worry about the heart palpitation brought on by the ketogenic diet.
Headaches are a common side effect of your body trying to adapt to ketosis. On top of the head pains, you also experience feeling lightheaded and having flu-like symptoms. Know that these issues usually resolve within three to four days, especially if you make sure to increase your intake of water and salt.
Keto Takeaways to Remember
Achieving rapid weight loss success on the ketogenic diet is easier when you follow the keto takeaways below. They can help you manage your physical reactions to the diet as well as keep you from quitting before you have even reached the keto zone.
- Keeping it simple is your best bet when it comes to preparing your meals. Aim to perfect a number of your favorite ketogenic diet recipes. You can simply switch them up! Then, when you have the time to spare, you can look up new recipes and include them in your weekly menu.
- Don’t forget to hydrate. Following the ketogenic diet plan can have a diuretic effect on your body, which is a good thing since it helps keep you from retaining excess fluid (something you want to avoid if you want to lose weight). Make sure you are drinking plenty of water by making it a habit to keep water bottles by your bed, near your couch, or on your desk. It also helps to always drink a glass of water prior a meal, which helps stop you from eating too much.
- Give your body time to adjust to the ketogenic diet. Generally, it takes 2 to 3 weeks of consistent low-carb and high-fat eating to get your body to adapt to the ketogenic lifestyle.
- Prepare your meal ingredients in advance. This way, you always have foods that can be cooked at a moment’s notice, especially on those days when you have no time to spare for complicated meal preparations.
- The ketogenic diet is also about eating real food. This means passing up on protein bars and processed shakes as well as bread, tortillas, and other packaged “low-carb” grain products. These products usually cause your blood sugar to spike, a big No if you are trying to achieve ketosis. They also cause you to have food cravings, which is bad news for your rapid weight loss goals.
- During your first two to three weeks on the ketogenic diet, try to have a daily cup of delicious chicken broth. This is a great way for your body to recover the electrolytes it loses along with water (see #2).
- Unless you are an athlete or are already fit, you might be better off not exercising during your first 2 to 3 weeks on the ketogenic diet. Your body will be going through many changes during this period, and adding an exercise program may only add more stress.
- Save money when shopping keto foods. Try shopping online for almond flour, spices and nuts, where you may have them at half the price you usually see in grocery stores.
- Make sure to fully stock the pantry and refrigerator. When following the ketogenic diet, it is important to have a large number of foods that you can just grab and eat, or whip up in five minutes to make a meal.
- It is a good idea to prepare your ketogenic diet meals in bulk. You can just freeze them and reheat later.
- Know that a food saver is your savior. It makes packing your lunch or sealing your snacks-on-the-go so much easier.
- Invest in a food processor to help you save time as well as money when preparing your ketogenic diet meals.
- Simply add coconut oil (one to two teaspoons) to your daily tea or coffee and you will have increased your healthy fat intake.
- Feel more satisfied with your ketogenic diet meals and snacks by just adding one to two teaspoons (or three or more) of chia seeds.
- Make your meat taste a lot better by using a cast-iron pan in cooking them.
- Don’t forget to count your carbs. Aim for 20 grams daily, which is easy if you make sure to consume leafy greens and fibrous vegetables to make up most of that number of carbs. Reducing your intake of carbohydrates, especially in your first 2 to 3 weeks, will help your body get in the keto zone and lose weight.
- It will do you a world of good to have the following ketogenic diet-approved snacks (no preparations needed!) for those days you can’t cook: Pork rinds, full-fat cheese wedges, chia/pumpkin/sunflower/flax seeds, homemade hummus, dark chocolate, seaweed, jerky, string cheese, walnuts/macadamias/brazil nuts/pecans, cocoa nibs, cherry tomatoes, sardines, pickles, nut butters, and avocado.
- Prior to starting your ketogenic diet, it will be best for you to eliminate all non-keto foods from your pantry and refrigerator. This way, you avoid the temptation of digging into these foods during your times of stress, heightened emotions, and cravings.
- Never let yourself be tempted to consume both low-carb foods and low-fat foods.
- Know that you have to eat when feeling hungry on the ketogenic diet, but do remember that you need to stop when you are already full.
- In following the ketogenic diet plan, you have to check labels to make sure you are within your daily carbs limit. Forgetting to check labels can result in accidentally buying foods that have hidden sugars in them.
- Exercise is important, but don’t overdo it in your quest to rapidly lose weight while on the ketogenic diet. Too much exercise can decrease your metabolism rate as your body tries to conserve itself.
- Eat protein in moderate amounts. Eating too much of it can cause your liver to convert the excess into glucose. The result: Your body will not be producing ketones.
- A tip to make things simpler: If your aim is to eat three ketogenic meals per day, remember to eat one-third of your carbohydrates + one-third of your protein + one-third of your fat during each meal.
- Make sure to incorporate exercise into your daily activities. You may include in your exercise program resistance training and running as well as walking and other low-intensity workout routines. Doing so will help your body stabilize its blood sugar levels and improve its ability to reach and maintain ketosis. The important thing is to never over-exercise. Otherwise, your body will produce too many stress hormones, resulting in increased blood sugar levels and difficulty in maintaining ketosis.
- Remember to include enough good salts in your diet. You can obtain an additional three to five grams of sodium by eating natural foods as well as Himalayan sea salt (pink) and other quality salts (one teaspoon equals two grams of sodium). You can also increase your sodium intake in other ways: Add nori, dulse, kelp and other sea vegetables to your dishes; drink broth all day; generously season your meals with pink salt; snack on salted macadamia nuts or salted pumpkin seeds (sprouted); drink every eight to sixteen ounces of water with a touch of one-fourth teaspoon of pink salt; or eat low-carbohydrate foods that naturally contain sodium like cucumbers and celery.
- When following the ketogenic diet, which is a low-carb type of diet, it is still important that you wisely choose your carbohydrates. Go for good carbohydrate sources that are rich in nutrients like non-starch vegetables as well as small amounts of fruits that are low-glycemic (including lime, lemon, apple, and berries). Doing so will help your body ride it out on days when it cycles out of the keto zone. You can increase your carbs on such days by eating a sweet potato smeared with grass-fed butter and sprinkled with cinnamon. On your low carb days, limit your consumption of berries to a small handful and avoid having sweet potato; instead, eat half of an apple (granny smith), one carrot, or one beet. By forcing yourself to have just up to one serving of fruit (besides limes and lemons) and by avoiding starchy vegetables on your low carb days, you will be able to limit your net carbs to forty grams (excluding fiber). On high carb days, you need to have two to three servings of low-glycemic fruits that are rich in antioxidants, plus up to two servings of pumpkin, beet, carrot, sweet potato or other starchy vegetables to provide you net carbs of up to one hundred grams.
- Invest in keto-friendly tools. Arm yourself with the following keto-friendly tools to help you get one step closer to ketogenic diet success.
Food processor. A food processor is your best friend in finely chopping vegetables, making vinaigrettes and butters, or simply shredding cheese. It helps you reduce the time it usually takes you to chop thins with a knife.
Ice cream machine. Making healthy, homemade ice cream out of avocados, gelatin, heavy cream, or just about anything you can think of is possible with the aid of the ice cream machine. Investing in this kitchen tool allows you to enjoy delicious ice cream with that sought-after soft-serve texture.
Slow cooker. Using a slow cooker lets you get away with preparing quality meals with a “set-and-let-it-be” approach. You will find this tool truly handy in stewing meats, making broths, or cooking roasts.
Immersion blender. An immersion blender comes in handy when making side dishes, dressings, and sauces.
Spiralizer. Getting more vegetables into your meals can seem difficult when just starting on the ketogenic diet, but this does not have to be the case when you have a spiralizer. This tool allows you to transform veggies like zucchini, cucumbers, and radishes into ribbons or noodles for your carbonara, alfredo, and other favorite recipes.
Parchment paper. It may be cheap, but parchment paper definitely deserves a spot in your kitchen drawer. Its nonstick quality makes it valuable when making cupcakes, round cakes, deep dish casseroles, and anything else that needs to be easily taken out of a baking dish.
Cast iron skillet. You will find the cast iron skillet worth all that you have paid for it – it is nonstick (you will need minimal or no oil to grease it when cooking) and certainly does a good job at getting hot, then staying hot (due to its even heat distribution and heat retention capabilities).
Airtight containers. Airtight containers are a lifesaver for when you need to store food and ensure their freshness for longer. The fact that airtight containers (microwave-safe are the best) are durable as well as space-friendly makes it easy for you to just reheat frozen meals and any leftovers you may have.
- Have the following ingredients on hand for easy ketogenic cooking:
Almond flour. The ketogenic diet does not include the all-purpose flour in its list of foods or ingredients, but this does not mean you have to say goodbye to baking your favorite keto-friendly treats. You can use almond flour as an alternative, and a fantastic alternative to all-purpose flour it is. Almond flour provides more fats, just a little protein, and much less carbohydrates, making it a winner in the ketogenic diet plan.
Xantham gum. Xantham gum is primarily used as a (net) carb-free thickening agent. You can save money with this additive, as a small amount goes a long way (recipes usually call for just ¼ teaspoon of xantham gum). Use it to thicken your keto-friendly stews and ice cream.
Psyllium husk. Psyllium husk is your go-to ketogenic additive if you want to add texture (like that of whole grain flour) and taste (similar to whole wheat) to your foods, including tortillas, muffins, breads, and donuts. You can even add psyllium husk to
Coconut oil. Most people consider coconut oil a staple in their households because of its numerous health benefits, including cholesterol reduction, fat burning, hunger control, and immune system boost. You can use it in almost any ketogenic diet-approved recipe, thanks to its natural sweetness (making it easy to combine it with any dessert) as well as its high heat point (making it easy to cook with).
Ghee. The nutritional qualities of ghee, or clarified butter, is the same as those found in butter, making it a nice addtition to your ketogenic cooking repertoire. The difference is that compared to butter, ghee has the ability to withstand higher temperatures and contains no casein or lactase, making it a great butter substitute for people who simply cannot eat dairy (due to allergy or sensitivity).
Flaxseed meal. Delicious as well as full of fiber and fats, flaxseed is another keto-friendly food you have to stock your kitchen with. You can use it either combined with or as a substitute for almond flour in making your favorite muffins, breads, and other baked goods to give them that “whole grain” flavor.