Low Carb & Ketosis Explained
If you’re curious about low carb diets or ketosis, this is the simplest explanation you’ll ever need. We’ll answer the big questions about low carb and keto in five minutes or less.
- What’s a low carb diet (quickly, please)
- What can I eat?
- What is ketosis and what’s the big deal?
On a low carb diet, ketosis changes your metabolism and amps up fat loss. But what’s really happening inside your body, and is your body thrilled about it?
Low carb and ketosis have been around a very long time. In fact, the low carb diet is over 150 years old. In 1863, William Banting outlined the first “low carb” diet plan.
The Atkins Diet
In 1972, Dr. Robert Atkins released his book Atkins Diet Revolution, reporting his patients experienced tremendous success eating luxurious foods, such as cheese, butter, bacon, lobster, steak and heavy cream, while increasing their health.
Other low carb diets soon followed:
- Sugar Busters, Diabetic, South Beach, The Zone, Primal, Paleo, Low Sugar, etc.
The options differ slightly for each diet, but the rules are the same when it comes to eating carbs: less is better.
How Low is Low Carb?
The Official Story
A low carb diet was officially defined in 2008. A low carb ketogenic diet has less than 50 grams of net carbs (or 10% calories) daily.
Most low carbers eat much less, around 10 to 20 net carbs daily. Lower carb levels introduce a state of ketosis and a faster rate of fat loss.
- Low Carb Diet: 50-130 g carbs and/or between 10-26% of calories daily
- Moderate Carb Diet: 130-225 g carbs and/or between 26-45% of calories daily
The Real Story
In practice however, most low carb dieters stay within a range of 20-60 grams/day. And many low carbers report feeling more energetic at very low levels, around 5-20 grams/day.
It’s generally not recommended to go zero carb for extended periods of time.
It’s completely up to you to decide which levels feel best for your body.
How Many Carbs Do You Need?
The scientific and practical amount of carbs needed in our diet is ZERO – NONE.
Carbs are not required to support a normal blood glucose level or fuel the brain. The body can make all the glucose it needs itself from protein, amino acids and fats. And it makes glucose at healthy levels this way.
What Can You Eat on Low Carb?
The ultimate low carb foods are those bought in their raw or natural state:
- Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, cheese, salads, non-starchy vegetables, lower carb fruits, nuts and seeds.
Choose any food from the printable Atkins low carb grocery list.
Low carb diets do not limit fat intake. Be selective. Favor healthy fats such as avocado, omega-3, grass fed butters, and olive, coconut and fish oils.
Don’t Eat These
On a low carb diet, avoid white flour, white rice, potatoes (and most starchy veggies) and eliminate sugar in all forms.
Avoid pre-packaged, processed foods and synthetic additives/preservatives whenever possible.
What is Ketosis?
In ketosis, the body rapidly burns fat and spares lean muscle tissue. This is called the “protein sparing effect,” as Dr. Michael Eades explains.
In ketosis, low carbers report increased energy, decreased appetite and a euphoric mood.
Imagine it –
…eating juicy cheeseburgers (no bun) and bacon on everything, losing weight (fat) like crazy, and keeping your muscles.
Ketogenic Food Pyramid
(click to enlarge)
How to Get Into Ketosis
To get into ketosis, lower carbs to 10-20 grams per day. After two to three days, excess sugar in the body is depleted. The metabolic state of ketosis begins.
Intermittent fasting, high intensity interval training (HIIT) and special keto techniques help low carbers reach ketosis more quickly.
To reach ketosis even faster, eat extremely low amounts of carbs – 3 to 5% of total daily calories. Don’t worry, there are choices from every food group on your keto foods list.
How to Know You’re in Ketosis
- During keto, low carbers experience bursts of energy and heightened mood – just two of the big benefits of ketosis.
- Some dieters notice a temporary, sweet taste in the mouth or a mild, sweet breath odor, a signal they have reached ketosis.
Testing for Ketosis
A measurable way to know if you’ve reached ketosis is ketone testing with strips. There are dozens of reliable brands. Check for the lowest prices: Keto Test Strips.
Keto test strips are an inexpensive way to know you’ve reached ketosis, but if the strip doesn’t register the presence of ketones, you can still be ketosis. Why is this?
- Sometimes urine samples are diluted from drinking lots of water.
- It’s also possible to burn away ketones during exercise.
Tip: Rely on eating the correct keto ratio of fat, protein and carbs, and use the keto testing strips as a “check-in.”
Use keto test strips to measure ketones, confirm ketosis and track your progress. Keto strips will help pinpoint the best range of net carbs to stay in fat-burning keto mode.
Keto Calculator App
Keto calculators track your physical stats and activity habits. This online app recommends the best fat – protein – carb ratio for you to reach ketosis quickly.
The online keto calculator makes sure you have enough protein to maintain your muscles, and lets you know how much fat can you eat per day.
Benefits of Ketosis
- Ketones are the preferred energy source for the brain and muscles of the heart.
- Ketosis encourages better sleep patterns and boosts energy levels.
- While you are in ketosis, the weight lost is from fat.
- Weight loss happens quickly and easily.
There are many surprising benefits of ketosis – if you have more time.
Rapid Keto Plan for Women
The Keto Beginning is a highly recommended program – especially if you’re not ready for Atkins Maintenance phases or an increase in carbs every day.
Bust through plateaus, eat more carbs and uncover a life you love. Restore your weight, balance hormones and lift mood naturally.
This carb cycling keto meal plan slides you into fat-burning mode, without needing to go strict low carb.
If what you’re doing isn’t working,
…this is your chance to change your body, meet your goals and achieve the balance you’re searching for.