The Basics of a Low-Carb Diet

A lot of people have asked me about the basics of a low-carb or keto diet. This explains the basics of what I've learned for the keto lifestyle.

The Basics of a Low-Carb Diet
Photo by Brooke Lark / Unsplash

While this isn’t just a “keto” newsletter, that is the lifestyle diet that my husband and I have chosen to use so that’s the perspective I’ll mostly be coming from as I share. There are other lifestyle diets that incorporate very similar concepts so you can make this fit whatever you’re choosing for yourself.

The main building block of keto is living low carb and eliminating sugar. I had NO idea how bad sugar truly is for us until I started this lifestyle and really started reading and researching how this works. (I’ll share more about this later.)

When you eat your meals, your macros should consist of 5% carbs, 20% protein, and 75% fats. I know that sounds crazy and goes against everything we’ve been taught since we were young. We’ve been told that eating fat is bad and fat makes you fat but it's not true. Carbs and sugar are what are bad and those are actually what makes us fat. Healthy fats are good fuel for our bodies. (This is also something we’ll talk about a lot more.) Below you see an image that shows that when low fat diets and low fat foods were introduced to us that obesity began to rise and it's been on the rise ever since!

Another important thing to understand is that by eating the combination of macros (carbs, protein, and fats) mentioned above, you will put your body into ketosis. Ketosis is the natural metabolic state that your body goes into when there is minimal/no glucose available to burn for energy. (This is not to be confused with diabetic ketoacidosis which is a completely different thing and can be very dangerous. Ketosis is NOT dangerous - ketoacidosis is.)

Our bodies use two types of fuel - glucose and ketones. Ketones are produced by breaking down fatty acids and when we don't provide glucose (through carbs) to our bodies, they will naturally burn stored body fat instead. This is actually a much more efficient fuel option and one our bodies prefer - especially the brain.

Because this is something that you're changing within your body and you're teaching your body how to burn what it has rather than feeding it glucose to burn, it's very important that you commit to this lifestyle and don't just partially do it. If you don't eliminate sugar and eat low carb (about 20g -25g per day max is ideal) your body will continue to run on glucose and it isn't going to use the fat that is stored in your body as fuel.

So don't cheat.

That doesn't mean you can't ever cheat again or you can't eat anything that's got some carbs in it. But if you cheat you’re allowing your bloodstream to be filled with glucose which causes a rise in your insulin levels which prevents you from using the fats that you eat and the fat on your body as fuel. Instead the fat gets stored and the glucose is used as fuel. And that’s not even getting into all the problems that high insulin levels create (this will be discussed much more in coming posts!).

Before you decide whether or not you can give up carbs, if you commit to a 30 day plan and go all in, you will find that it's really not that hard. Your food will start to taste better, you will feel better, and if you eat something that's full of carbs - it's not going to taste good anymore. It might be a challenge at first but it gets easier and easier and then you don't even want that nasty food anymore.

So, are you all in? :)