A Beginner’s Guide to Ketosis Diet

Today, we all know that while eating all food groups of food is essential, carbohydrates and not fats is our biggest enemy. It is carbohydrates that trigger quick hunger pangs and sugar cravings within us which lead to fat deposition. Consequently, you can no longer fit into your jeans! This led to the formulation of various low carb diet plans with the Atkins diet as the leader. However, here is another plan that is giving stiff competition to the Atkins diet. This diet plan is none other than the Ketosis Diet plan which turns your body into a fat burning machine. Here, we would walk you through understanding exactly what a Ketosis Diet is and how you can best utilize it to get your dream body and terrific health. Read on:

What is Ketosis Diet?

Before understanding the process, we must first understand what ketosis is. Ketosis is a metabolic state which our body naturally goes in if there is little to no food intake. In this state, the body starts converting the deposited fats as well as available fats into energy molecules called ketones in the liver and releases them in the blood. Normally, the glucose molecules released in the blood is utilized for energy and rest converted into fats. In the absence of glucose molecules, the body starts breaking down these ketones to meet its energy requirements. Compared to glucose molecules, these ketones are a slower burning fuel source. Ketosis diet is thus a high fat, moderate protein and extremely low carb diet which pushes your body in this ketosis state and help you acquire a slim and trim body. Ketosis diet is also popular through many different names like low carb diet, low carb high fat (LCHF) diet, ketogenic diet etc.

Ketosis Diet Plan

In terms of the ratio of food groups, a true ketosis diet involves intake of 75% fats, 20% proteins and 5% carbohydrates. The ketosis diet plan is unlike other diet plans. Here the success depends on your body getting into the ketosis state where it is no longer looking to burn glycogen for its body needs but simply turning to burning ketones. On an average, it takes about 2 weeks of time for the body to turn into a keto machine. Initially, as your body gets deprived of glycogen, many complain of weakness and drowsiness but once your body has entered the ketosis state and has stabilized, you start feeling normal and energized. Here, it may be pointed out that you are not starving your body but simply cutting off maximum carbohydrates from your dietary intake. Now let’s look at what you can eat and what you cannot eat during this diet plan.

  • Foods to Eat in Ketosis Diet

  • Meats like red meat, ham, bacon, sausage, steak, chicken, and turkey.
  • Fatty fishes like salmon, tuna, and trout
  • Whole eggs or omega-3 enriched eggs
  • Butter and cream which should ideally be grass-fed
  • Various kinds of cheese like cheddar, goat, cream, and blue
  • Nearly all nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, sunflower, chia etc.
  • Healthy oils like extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil etc.
  • Low carb veggies like green veggies, tomatoes, onions, pepper etc.
  • Foods to avoid in Ketosis Diet

  • High sugar content foods like soda, fruit juice, ice-cream, cakes, smoothies, candies etc.
  • Grains and starches like wheat based products, pasta, rice etc.
  • All fruits except berries
  • All kinds of root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes etc.
  • Beans and legumes like peas, lentils, kidney beans, chickpea etc.
  • Low-fat and diet products as they are highly processed in carbs
  • All alcohol as they are high in carbs.

Variations of the Ketosis Diet Plan

What we outlined earlier was the standard ketogenic diet referred to as SKD. This diet finds a similarity to the Induction phase of the Atkins diet. Here just about 20 to 50 gm of net carbs are taken on a daily basis. This is the standard ketosis diet which can be taken up by a maximum number of people. It is ideally suited for people who lead a sedentary life and are looking at this diet for weight loss.

Apart from SKD, there are two other major variations of the ketosis diet plan. They are:-

  • Targeted Ketosis Diet

Also referred to TKD, this diet plan involves consuming a modicum amount of carbohydrates before 30 to 60 minutes of a workout session. The carbs advised here are easily digestible ones with high glycemic index. Again glucose based foods are advised and not fructose as they replenish liver glycogen instead of muscle glycogen thereby defeating the entire purpose of the keto diet plan. The purpose of the carbohydrate consumption is to burn it off completely during the workout and not feel any lack of energy. This diet is ideal for people who do an intense exercise involving a lot of lifting of weights. Those who are into body building can go for this diet plan.

  • Cyclic Ketosis Diet

Also referred to as CKD, this is considered the most advanced form of ketosis diet plan. Here the first five days of the week are according to the ketosis diet plan and the weekend is all about carbohydrate overload. This helps maintain lean mass. Here you take about 50 gm of net carb on ketosis days and 450-600 gm carb on high carb days. This type of diet is especially recommended for athletes and body builders.

Ketosis Diet
Ketosis Diet

Ketosis Diet Recipes

Most people think that ketogenic diet plan meals are bland but they can be lip-smacking delicious. We share below some low carb high-fat recipes that you can try while on this diet.

  • Avocado and Egg Fat Bombs

Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats as well as potassium (one of the ultimate remedy for keto-flu) and vitamins awhile eggs give you essential proteins. To prepare the dish, hard boil 3 large eggs and peel them. Now cut them in half and carefully spoon its egg yolk and put them in a bowl. Next, half the avocado, peel its one-half, cut it in slices and put it in a food processor. To it, add the egg yolks, one-fourth cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt and some freshly ground pepper to taste. Blend till the entire mixture is creamy and smooth. Now you can pour this mixture over the egg whites or over cucumber slices and garnish with chopped spring onions. The prepared cream can be stored in an airtight container for 5 days. This could be an ideal breakfast recipe or used as snacks.

  • Low Carb Italian Meatball

This makes for a wonderful main dish or a party snack. To prepare it, first, let the oven preheat to 350 degrees. The cookie sheet can be lined with parchment paper to make cleanup easier. Saute four ounces of minced white onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Some crushed garlic can also be added to it for added flavor. When the onions are translucent, remove from heat and allow it to cool. Meanwhile, mince 1 cup of shredded parmesan cheese in a food processor until fine grained and keep aside. In a separate bowl now, add 1 cup cold whole milk ricotta cheese and 1 large cold egg. Whisk them well until smooth.  Add 1.5 Tsp sea salt, ½ Tsp freshly ground pepper and 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning to it. Now add onions and mined parmesan cheese and combine everything well. Next, add 1 pound of ground beef (85% lean) to it and mix well. Take about 1-ounce portion of this meat mixture and roll them into balls. Once all the meat mixture has been rolled into balls, place them on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees till cooked and brown. It may take about 20 minutes. Now enjoy these delicious meatballs.

You can find similar delicious recipes over the internet.

Benefits of Ketosis Diet

Though many compare the ketosis diet to Atkins diet since both are low carb, they differ in the key fact that unlike Atkins, the ketosis diet puts a limitation in proteins instead of fat. The low-carb high-fat diet yields plenty of benefits. You are strongly recommended to get a full lipid blood panel done before embarking on a ketosis diet so that you can compare results.

  • Weight loss

While most may find it surprising, eating a high quotient of healthy fats with extreme low carb can result in significant weight loss. The diet results in an extremely low level of the insulin hormone which is a fat storing hormone. This turns your body into a fat burning machine and you start losing weight. For enhanced effect, people include MCT oil like coconut oil into their diet which increases ketone production and fat loss.

  • Controls Blood Sugar

A ketogenic diet is highly recommended for people with diabetes of any type and even for those vulnerable to diabetes. The keto diet has proved more effective in controlling this disease than the low-calorie diet normally recommended for diabetic patients. This is because it effectively lowers blood sugar levels and the negative impact of high insulin levels.

  • Improved Mental Focus

The ketogenic diet has proved specifically useful in increasing mental performance. Ketones are known to be a wonderful source of fuel for the brain. The low carb intake helps avert big spikes in blood sugar. This along with increased intake of fatty acids lead to improved focus, concentration, and overall enhanced brain function.

  • Increased physical endurance, energy and normalized hunger

Fats have shown to be a more effective molecule to burn as fuel than glycogen. Consuming fats also leave you satiated for longer hours as it takes time to digest. This reduces your hunger pangs as well as leaves you more energized with better physical endurance since fats give you a more constant source of energy which can last for weeks and even months.

  • Cholesterol and Blood Pressure

The ketosis diet can improve the blood triglyceride levels as well as cholesterol levels which are responsible for arterial build-up. The ketosis diet is known to show a dramatic increase in blood HDL concentration with a decrease in LDL concentration compared to low-fat diets. This also leads to a more normalized blood pressure.

  • Reduces Acne

One study has shown that the ketogenic diet results in a drop in skin inflammation and lesions. If the ketosis diet is accompanied with reducing dairy intake and strict skin cleansing regimen, then the skin condition improves markedly.

  • Epilepsy

Ever since the 1920s, the ketogenic diet has proved successful in treating uncontrolled epilepsy, especially in children. It has also shown the same successful results in adults. It has proven to decrease seizures in them. It also moves them to take less anti-epileptic drugs which save them from the various side-effects of these drugs.

  • Beneficial for various other diseases

Various studies have shown that the ketosis diet has a positive impact on treating various diseases like the heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Polycystic ovary syndrome and brain injuries.

Side Effects of Ketosis Diet

Mentioned below are some common side effects which are often seen in people who start the keto diet plan. Most often these side effects are related to lack of micronutrients and dehydration. Drinking plenty of water and eating food with known sources of micronutrients can easily take care of the below-mentioned side-effects.

  • Cramps

People starting a ketogenic diet often complain of cramps especially leg cramps. It normally occurs at mornings or at nights. This occurs due to lack of minerals especially magnesium. Drinking plenty of fluid and intake of salt can help deal with the issue. In severe cases, magnesium supplement can be taken.

  • Constipation

Due to dehydration, another common symptom is constipation. Drinking enough water and in-taking good quality fiber from non-starchy vegetables will resolve the issue. In extreme cases, psyllium husk powder can be consumed at bedtime with a glass of water.

  • Heart palpitations

While transiting to the keto phase, many complain of increased and faster heart beat. Usually drinking plenty of fluids and salt intake can take care of the issue. If it persists, potassium supplement can be taken once a day.

  • Reduced physical performance

While your body is transitioning to the keto phase, you might experience a lack of energy and weakness. This happens because your body is adapting to using fat as energy source. You might feel dizzy and drowsy. However, once the body starts using fat as a fuel source, the side effect starts diminishing.

  • Frequent urination

During the initial first or two days of the ketogenic diet, the body burns off the stored glucose in the liver and muscles and you end up releasing plenty of water. The kidney also starts excreting sodium due to the drop of circulating insulin levels. This causes frequent urination but this diminishes after two to three days.

  • Hypoglycemia

Low blood sugar or hypoglycemia is another common symptom with the ketosis diet. This is more prominent in people who are used to taking high carb diet which makes the body put out a certain amount of insulin to take care of the sugar. However, the symptom like feeling tired, hungry or shaky disappears once the body gets adjusted.

  • Sugar cravings

While on a long term, you reduce sugar cravings, you may feel its spike in initial days. This can last from a couple of days to around three weeks. However, this gradually vanishes.

  • Diarrhea

Due to the macronutrient ratio change, some people can also experience diarrhea. However, this soon becomes stabilized as your body adjusts to the change.

  • Flu-like symptoms

At the onset of the ketosis diet, many experience flu like symptoms which is popularly called as ‘ketosis-flu’ or ‘induction-flu’. This is because the symptoms mimic that of actual flu i.e. headaches, tiredness, lack of motivation, lethargy, brain fog, irritability etc. Again, these disappear within a week or so.

  • Sleep issues

Few people report of sleep troubles. This could be because of low serotonin and insulin levels. In-taking some proteins and little carb before going to bed can take care of the issue. Sometimes eating food high in histamines like avocado, bacon, eggs etc. can induce sleeplessness. Replacing them with more vegetables would take care of the problem.

  • Smelly breath

Sometimes eating low carbs can lead to the smell of acetone in the breath which is like a fruity smell just like nail polish remover.  This happens because acetone is one of the ketone bodies created during ketosis. This also confirms that your body is transitioning to the keto phase. This can be mitigated by following good oral hygiene, using breath fresheners and in extreme case, slightly increasing carbs to decrease the ketosis.

  • Precautions with medications

People who are taking medications for diabetes or blood pressure might need to decrease dose as the body transcends to the ketosis phase. Thus, it is important that they should be under complete doctor supervision and check the blood sugar levels and blood pressure frequently to adjust dosage.

Ketosis Diet before and after Picture
Ketosis Diet before and after Picture

Ketosis Diet Reviews

All in all, the ketogenic diet has found great success amongst people who had tried various diet plans and still failed to lose weight. Additionally, you need not suffer any hunger pangs.  Many reviews are available online where people vouch for mind blowing weight loss. However, on the flip side, you again start gaining weight as you start the intake of carbohydrates. Thus, this needs to be watched out on a regular basis so that you need not gain weight. The diet is also expensive to follow as good fats carry a higher price tag. Thus, the diet can be followed initially to get the stubborn fat melted away but gradually exercise and active lifestyle is needed to keep healthy as the carbohydrates get introduced in the diet.

Ketosis Diet Reviews by Abby Langer

Ketosis Diet Calculator

South Beach Diet | Concept, Pros, Cons & Reviews

This is the era when diet plans are an important part of any fitness freak person’s life as well as those who wish to lose weight without sweating over the treadmills. There are numerous diet plans available today though there is just a few fundamental basis on which they are planned. One such popular base is taking a low carb, low fat and high protein diet. While Atkins diet plan is the star of this scene, South Beach diet is not far behind. Here we would know all about South Beach Diet and its various defining features.

What is South Beach Diet?

The brainchild of the Miami– based cardiologist, Arthur Agatston, the South Beach Diet was created in 2003. He created the diet plan initially to help his patients lead a healthy life but its weight loss benefits soon manifested and it was then first published in his best-selling book, “The South Beach Diet: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss.” Despite being low carb, the diet plan differs from the Atkins diet. It does not count carbs but focuses on selecting the right carbs and right fats. Thus, this diet plan, being rich in low-glycemic-index carbs, unsaturated fats, and lean proteins, is more healthy and realistic and thus is more feasible and easy to follow.

How Does the South Beach Diet Work?

The south beach diet is based on the principle of glycemic index.  The theory is that once you have consumed carbohydrates, it is easily digested and converted into sugars which are released in the blood causing a spike in blood sugars. To counteract it, the pancreas releases insulin to remove sugar from the blood. Eating high glycemic food like bagels, corn flakes, jacket potatoes etc. causes a blood sugar spike. This, in turn, triggers high insulin production which causes a sudden drop in blood sugars to leave you feeling weak, lacking in energy and hungry within a short time of eating food. Insulin is also believed to be a crucial contributor to obesity as it facilitates the conversion of sugars into fat deposits to remove it from the blood. Thus, if you are not consuming foods which get converted into sugars fast, you do not feel hungry within short spans and even the insulin production remains stable.

Agatston stated that if one eats a combination of proteins, good fats and carbohydrate food with low glycemic index (GI). High GI food release sugars much faster in the blood. But the combination food takes the time to release sugars and it is released gradually instead of all at once, which leaves you satiated for long. Thus, you do not overeat and go healthy and slim.

Phases of the South Beach

The south beach diet is essential to help you eat in a healthy way irrespective of whether you wish to lose weight or not. The diet plan unfolds in three phases with each phase getting progressively less restrictive. The diet plan allows you three meals, two snacks, and even one high protein dessert. The diet plan can continue for as long as you desire to depend on your weight loss goals. Let’s look into each phase of the diet plan:-

  • South Beach Diet- Phase 1

This phase is the strictest of all phases but announces its aim clearly to kick start your weight loss goals. It works towards stabilizing the blood sugar levels and minimize your hunger as well as sugar cravings. It is also the shortest phase and must not exceed two weeks. In this phase, you are prohibited to eat any kind of grains and other high carb foods to decrease sugar spikes and food cravings. Your food choices are extremely limited here and restricted to lean proteins (seafood, lean beef, skinless poultry, soy products etc.), high fiber vegetables and legumes, low-fat dairy which includes specific types of cheese, avocado, nuts, seeds and healthy unsaturated oils like olive oil. Here you get rid of the habit of eating junk food and overcome your cravings. With three meals and two snacks, you actually provide food to your body even before hunger strikes. In this phase, you can lose anything from 8 to 13 pounds depending on your body condition.

A typical day menu of stage 1 can be:

  • Breakfast– Tea/Coffee without sugar and omelet with smoked salmon/ baked eggs with spinach and ham.
  • Lunch– Shrimp or scallop salad with iced tea or sparkling water.
  • Dinner– Grilled tuna or pork with grilled vegetables and salad.
  • Dessert– Ricotta cheesecake or chilled espresso custard.
  • Snacks– Muenster cheese bites or roasted chickpeas or Turkey rollup.
South Beach Diet Phase 1
South Beach Diet Phase 1
  • South Beach Diet- Phase 2

This phase needs to be continued till you reach your desired weight goal. In this week you can lose about 1-2 pounds per week. Here the food of phase 1 continues but you add limited amount of fruits, good carbs like whole grains, brown rice, green beans, whole wheat pasta etc. and limited amount of certain specific types of alcohol.

  • South Beach Diet- Phase 3

This is the maintenance phase which starts after you have reached your desired weight and is supposed to continue throughout your life. Here you are allowed to eat everything but are always encouraged to continue to eat with the right food choices. Here you learn to eat other food in moderation such that you do not gain weight.

Eating Principles of the South Beach Diet

In all the three phases, you are strongly recommended to follow a basic exercise regime to keep yourself healthy and fit. If at any point in phase 3, you start gaining weight, you simply need to switch back to phase 1 and start the cycle again. At every phase you must always plan your meals on the eating principles of the South Beach Diet which are:

  • Fibrous foods like vegetables, fruits and legumes should be consumed as they slow down the digestion process and keep you satiated for longer hours. From phase 2, you should ideally have at least half cup of vegetables at breakfast and two cups at both lunch and dinner.
  • Good fats like the monounsaturated fatty acids of olive oil, avocado or canola oils as well as polyunsaturated fats like in flaxseed, nuts and fish should be part of your diet in moderation. They not only keep the cells and body healthy but also keep you satiated. The diet recommends taking 2 tablespoons of oil and 1/4 cup of nuts everyday in your meal planning.
  • Proteins should be the abundant form of your meals as they take time for digestion and do not spike blood sugar levels which trigger hunger and thus overeating. Lena protein is always encouraged.

Does the South Beach Diet Work?

The South beach diet’s approach is practical and uncomplicated. You are neither counting calories here nor calculating percentages of each food group like carbohydrates, proteins or fats. The diet plan allows for great flexibility and you can always switch back to phase 1 if you have deviated much. The meals prepared here are easy to make with normal ingredients found in the supermarket. This diet is so popular that you even get deliciously prepared meal packages of this diet online to order easily. You even get its delicious smoothies and snacks. The diet plan can easily be taken up by vegans as well who can eat legumes, beans and soy products instead of lean meats. Gluten is also vets avoided since the diet is all about cutting on bad carbs. Thus, the diet plan works for gluten sensitive people as well. Thus, one can state that it is a nutritious diet plan which works. Besides the first restrictive phase, it forms a healthy approach to eating.

Pros of the South Beach Diet

Let’s now throw light on some of the key advantages of this diet plan.

  • A Balanced Diet – The diet is all about eating good carbs and good fats with lean proteins. Thus the diet provides a well-balanced nutrition, unlike many other diet plans.
  • Few restrictions and no calorie count- The diet plan look realistic and feasible as you are allowed to eat three meals and two snacks. There is no counting of calories. You need not suffer hunger or deny yourself any food. You simply need to strive for balance and eat healthily. This makes the plan realistic and easy to follow.
  • Easy to follow- The meals and snacks required to eat under this plan can be easily whipped up and prepared at home. You need not buy any expensive health supplements, replacement shakes or any special ingredient to achieve weight loss. In the diet plan, you also have the flexibility to have cheat days. This makes the plan easy to stick to and achieve success.
  • Weight loss- A study conducted by the Western Michigan University established that a considerable amount of weight loss was achieved in the first week of the diet plan itself. Here, you are eliminating food that induces faster hunger pangs and cravings for sugar and refined starches. This alone helps you lose weight without any hardship.
  • No hunger pangs or cravings- The toughest challenge of any diet plan is the hunger pangs as well as feelings of being deprived of food. Here, you eat regular portion foods at regular intervals and thus do not feel deprived. Moreover, consuming more of lean proteins and healthy fats leave you full and satiated for a much longer time. In the absence of easy and refined carbohydrates, your cravings disappear. It has a very limited restriction period which makes the plan further easy to follow.

Cons of the South Beach Diet

The plan has certain disadvantages as well. Few of them are:-

  • Excludes Fruit– Most diet plans stress on eating fruits as they are a storehouse of vitamins and minerals. In contrast, the beach diet plan excludes fruits and even categorizes some fruits like watermelon as bad carbs. This compromised vitamins and minerals intake can lead to weakness, fatigue and even dehydration.
  • Slightly Expensive Plan– The diet plan is a heavy on the pocket. While lean proteins definitely do not come cheap, the complex carbs like whole grains, brown rice etc. are also expensive compared to starch carbohydrate foods.
  • Does not promote a healthy lifestyle– The entire diet plan is based on elimination of carbohydrates and unhealthy fats. There is no specific exercise regime mentioned.
  • Shortcomings of the Diet Plan– The diet can be tough to follow for those who are used to eating a carbohydrate-rich diet. They may start feeling weak, dizzy and show many other symptoms. The diet is also difficult to follow for all those people who are averse to eating dairy products as most of its snacks are dairy based. Moreover, it bans eating soy in the first two weeks.

South Beach Diet Reviews

Most nutritionists and dieticians recommend eating a low GI food. However, they also do not think that all high GI foods should be banned. Again the GI if any food changes with the way and the nature in which it is cooked. We know the GI of limited foods. This makes a challenge to know about actual GI of foods. The GI of food also changes with the way foods are combined and eaten together.

Experts are also unhappy about the rapid weight loss of the program. They do not recommend losing more than 2 lb of weight per week to remain in good health. They call it unhealthy and unstable as it is induced merely by restricting calories due to severe carbohydrate restriction.

However, most agree that it is overall a well balanced diet plan. Its first two weeks are most problematic. The rapid weight loss could be just loss of water as well as lean muscle weight instead of fat. Thus, it is strongly recommended to drink plenty of water during the first phase. Your body also gets prone to developing Ketoacidosis as the body is deriving its energy from fats instead of carbohydrates. Ketoacidosis occurs due to poor insulin production just like diabetes and can cause mental confusion, coma and even death. Even people suffering from diabetes should be under medical supervision while on the diet for monitoring sugar levels. However, the diet plan is good for the heart and the cardiovascular system, for which it was initially prepared.

There are also few studies conducted to establish the long-term health impact of the diet plan apart from the ones conducted by its creator himself. Experts rank the diet plan on 24th position in terms of best diet overall.

Final Thoughts on the South Beach Diet Plan

Finally, it can be concluded that the diet plan looks fairly feasible, balanced and realistic and can be taken up. However, it does require will power and determination or you may end up gaining weight. It would take time to alter your entire eating habit but if you succeed in achieving it, you will never gain weight.