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Ketogenic Diet: A Beginners Guide To The Keto Diet

Ketogenic Diet: A Beginners Guide To The Keto Diet

Have you heard about the 'keto diet' but wonder what it actually is?

Maybe you’ve considered intermittent fasting before, but you would like to know a little more?

In this article, we will discuss these things, as well as much more.

We’ll discover what’s behind Michael Mosley’s 5:2 and fast 800 diet and we will find out more about ketogenic diet foods as well as other tips you should find helpful when on a keto diet.

As always, this blog post is for educational purposes. BrainZyme is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any medical disorder. If you have concerns about dieting or a healthier lifestyle then we’d highly recommend you see a Doctor.

Table of Contents

- What is the Keto diet?
- Intermittent Fasting
- Michael Mosley's 5:2 diet/ fast 800 diet
- Ketogenic Diet Foods
- Other Ketogenic Diet Tips
- References

What is the Keto diet?

Keto refers to Ketosis.

This is a metabolic state that sets in when you don’t consume foods high in sugar or glucose.

This state is known as a fat burning state.

When in ketosis, the liver produces ketones which are then used to deliver energy for the body.

For this reason, many people choose a keto diet to lose weight.

However, there are other benefits associated with the keto diet.

Being on a keto diet is associated with feeling more energized overall.

Moreover, the nature of the ketones allows for a more balanced and efficient energy release.

Dr Eric Berg explains how the body used to run on ketones rather than sugars to sustain itself, since, evolutionary speaking it is a fairly recent development in the human diet to live mainly of carbohydrates and sugars.

Another feature of this diet is its protein-protective characteristic.

Protein will not be turned into fat and burned.

In fact, if you are particularly interested in gaining muscle mass, you may choose a high-protein ketogenic diet.

There will be more about the actual foods consumed in the “Ketogenic Diet Foods” section.

Regardless of the ketogenic diet chosen, you may find yourself burning fat and gaining muscle mass.

Therefore, the loss of weight is not necessarily an appropriate indicator to measure the success of such a diet, even if aiming to burn fat.

Muscle mass weighs more than fat and therefore not losing weight could mean losing fat and gaining muscle mass.

To accurately measure the effect the diet has on you, you can use ketone strips that make use of the fact that urine can reflect the effect of the keto diet on your body.

Another way to measure the effect is to keep track of your waist circumference. Either way, be sure to differentiate between weight loss and a successful diet.

Intermittent Fasting

Importantly, fasting is in no way a must to be on a 'successful' diet.

The main idea behind intermittent fasting is that during the fasting periods, the stored energy is broken down.

Other beneficial effects on the body associated with fasting include a decrease of insulin in the bloodstream and an increase of the human growth hormone (for example supporting muscle growth).

Low insulin levels mean that less fat is stored, and your body will produce ketone for energy instead.

While there may be further beneficial effects of intermittent fasting, these are usually the most common reasons for people to try intermittent fasting in the first place.

There are different ways to try out intermittent fasting.

Some people may choose to skip meals.

Others may try to stick to so-called eating windows during which the majority of nutrients will be consumed.

People choosing to go on a 24-48 hour cleanse technically do not practice intermittent fasting, as the time period is too extended for it to be considered intermittent fasting.

When reading about intermittent fasting you might come across numbers such as 12:12, or 9:5, these refer to the time windows when foods are consumed and when fasting takes place.

With a 12:12 regime, you will have a 12-hour window to eat and a 12-hour window to fast.

All of these work within the 24-hour cycle which means you can take advantage of the sleeping periods, which would count as fasting as no foods are consumed.

Thus, not surprisingly, sleeping for eight hours means fasting for eight hours - you just need to make sure you don't eat 4 hours before going to sleep, or 4 hours after waking up (or, my personal favourite is to not eat 2 hours before going to bed, and not eat for 2 hours after waking up).

All three options - skipping a meal, sticking to eating windows, or going on a 24-48 hour cleanse, but especially the last one, may not be appropriate for everyone, especially if new to the diet and fasting in general.

Similarly, not all lifestyles and conditions will allow for any one of these fasting styles.

While there has been researching done on how beneficial fasting in general and intermittent fasting, in particular, may be, other research indicates how important having a right breakfast in the morning is.

After fasting, or even after a good night's sleep, your blood sugar will be low.

This could make your thinking foggy, or even make you feel nervous.

The main point here is that intermittent fasting can be a great support for your (ketogenic) diet, but it does not have to be.

It is in all cases advisable to speak to your GP before cutting out on foods and especially before cutting out on meals.

Michael Mosley's 5:2 diet/ fast 800 diet

Dr Michael Mosley is a science journalist and broadcaster who developed both the 5:2 and the fast 800 diets.

The 5:2 diet refers to eating healthily for 5 days and cutting down on calories for 2 days.

This diet had an extremely beneficial outcome for Michael Mosley.

He lost excess weight, decreased his blood sugar level and managed to treat his Type 2 diabetes that way without needing to be put on medication.

After publishing a book on the 5:2 diet, Michael Mosley invented a new diet that is based on consuming 800 calories each day for the first stage of the diet.

He refers to the development of this second diet as an evolution from the first one.

New research has accumulated in the years after publishing the 5:2 diet that suggests the 800 diet may be more manageable for people and therefore more effective.

The first stage of this diet, where 800 calories are consumed per day, can last from 2 to 12 weeks and should result in significant weight loss.

After that initial stage, the calorie intake will be increased again.

If you are interested in how this diet was developed and what an example meal plan may look like, have a watch of the below video where Michael Mosley was invited to explain his new method on BBC.

Ketogenic Diet Foods

If you are keen to try out the ketogenic diet, you might wonder what foods to eat and what foods to avoid.

The list below is not a comprehensive list but will give you the general idea.

Foods to eat are low in carb and high in fat:
  • Fish and meat
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Natural fats such as butter, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil
  • Vegetables
  • Cheese
  • Etc.
Foods to avoid are high in carb and glucose:
  • Bread, rice, pasta
  • Most fruits except berries
  • Soda and juices
  • Sweets in general
  • Etc. 
Make sure you stay hydrated while trying out this diet.

As mentioned in the beginning, some people choose to be on a high-protein keto diet.

On the usual keto diet, most people will roughly consume 70% fats, 25% protein, and 5% carbs.

On a high-protein keto diet, you would consume a higher proportion of protein.

This may be of interest to anyone trying to especially protect muscle mass, which not only applies to people trying to build up muscles but includes people of older age and others trying to preserve muscle mass.

Other Ketogenic Diet Tips

As Michael Mosley touched upon, combining a ketogenic (or similar) diet with exercise, in particular, HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), is helpful.

If you feel like starting such a diet may be overwhelming or you would simply enjoy the company and support of others, joining an organized programme might be an option for you.

If you are hoping to lose a significant amount of weight or to overcome symptoms of a Type 2 diabetes, it would be highly advisable to get tested at your GP’s beforehand.

This will allow you to track your progress while maintaining your safety.

In fact, you might find it motivating to see where you started and to be aware of the progress you have made.

In that case, getting a check-up and some tests before starting this diet and training program would be useful.

If you are struggling to come up with recipes for a keto diet, there are plenty of cookbooks as well as online resources to keep you going.

Most importantly, try to find out what works for you and your body.

It should be useful to use this article as well as the other resources mentioned as a guideline, but you may want to tweak them a little to make them fit your lifestyle.

Starting on a keto diet or with fasting can be very hard.

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    • Everything You Need to Know About the Keto Diet - YouTube. (n.d.). Retrieved 17 February 2019, from
    • Intermittent Fasting & Hunger - What the Science says - YouTube. (n.d.). Retrieved 17 February 2019, from
    • A Ketogenic Diet for Beginners - The Ultimate Keto Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved 17 February 2019, from
    • Aubele, T. P. D. (n.d.). Why a Sugar High Leads to a Brain Low. Retrieved 18 February 2019, from

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