The Comprehensive Guide to Using Ketosis for Weight Loss
The keto diet is one of the best diets out there, both for weight loss and for improving your health. It is a very low-carb type of diet, where your body goes into a state of ketosis and stays there.
In order to achieve that, the most essential thing is to keep your net carbs low (below 20-25 g net carbs a day), while maintaining adequate protein and sufficient fat.
Many people have managed to lose weight, a lot of weight, and improve their health with the help of keto, which is one of the reasons why it’s getting more and more popular. You might be wondering:
- What are the reasons for its effectiveness, though?
- And what are the best strategies to adopt if you’re trying to lose weight with keto?
- How do you create a successful meal plan?
Let’s find out!
What Makes The Keto Diet So Effective For Weight Loss?
It Helps With Insulin Resistance & Improves Insulin Sensitivity
In fact, one of the most effective ways to deal with insulin resistance and to not let it ruin your health is to limit your carbs and give your body a break from the constant spikes in blood sugar that the typical modern diet causes.
Insulin is the hormone that helps maintain normal blood glucose levels. When you’re insulin resistant, your cells are less responsive to the insulin, which is the hormone that drives glucose out of the blood and into the muscles, fat tissue and liver to be used for energy (1).
Most People Experience Less Hunger On Keto
The keto diet naturally regulates your blood sugar levels and keeps them steady, so you’re likely to experience fewer cravings and less hunger.
If you’re fat adapted, this means that your body can easily access your stored fat, instead of relying on glucose for its immediate energy needs, and it won’t go into panic mode when your energy is low.
Experiencing less hunger overall is also one of the reasons the keto diet is so easy to follow, once you get used to it.
It Helps You Break Free From Carb Addiction & Gives You Better Self-control In Relation To Your Food Choices
Although you might experience carb cravings in the beginning, you’ll notice that with time these will slowly go away, to the point of completely disappearing.
Highly processed carbs can be addictive, we all know that, and they tend to just make you want more of them – who can stop at having just 3 Oreos? (That’s the official serving size!).
So instead of always trying to fight your cravings and control them, with keto, you can just kill them altogether.
Again, having stable blood sugar levels and providing your body with whole, nourishing food will make it much easier to not want to overeat on pizza and ice-cream.
With this comes better self-control, and, ultimately, a better understanding of what your body needs and wants. (Yeah, it’s actually not cookies).
It Allows Your Body To Access Your Fat Stores Easier
On the keto diet, you’ll be in ketosis, i.e. you will be using fat for fuel instead of glucose.
This means that your body will have better access to your fat stores and will be more efficient in utilizing them for energy, instead of relying mostly on the food you ate.
Of course, having a steady caloric deficit is still a necessity to lose weight, but with keto, it’ll be much easier to achieve it and to not feel the need to snack every so often to refuel.
It’s Much More Natural For The Body Than The Standard Modern Diet Of Highly Processed Carbs
On a well-formulated keto diet, you’ll be eating lots of green vegetables, meat, eggs, fish, healthy fats, some nuts… Yes – whole, natural, real food that is nutrient-rich and satisfying.
Your body will feel much better on the food that it’s meant to eat, rather than on highly processed carb-heavy foods that are made in a factory.
13 Tips For A Successful Weight Loss Journey With Keto
#1. Stay In Ketosis By Keeping Your Carbs Very Low and Stick To It
The number one most important thing for the keto diet is to keep your net carbs sufficiently low in order to get into ketosis and stay there.
“Sufficiently low” for most people means 20-25 g net carbs a day; for some people, that amount might be higher, however, we recommend being strict and sticking to that limit at least until you are fat-adapted (which usually takes around 4 to 6 weeks).
Cheating might be detrimental to your success and might have a number of side effects, including slowing down the adaptation process, so do your body a service by letting it stay in ketosis.
If you cheated on keto, check this guide “How to get back into ketosis after cheat day“.
#2. Track Your Macros and Calories
Tracking your macros is essential when doing keto, especially in the beginning, when you’re starting out.
You’ll soon notice that carbs are everywhere. In order to avoid consuming too many carbs, it’s essential to plan, measure and track everything that you’re eating.
Additionally, in order to lose weight, you’d still need to create a caloric deficit, even on keto (yeah, keto isn’t magic… although we wish it were).
To do that, you first need to figure out what your maintenance calories are, i.e. how many calories you need to eat in order to maintain your weight.
Afterward, you need to subtract 10% to 25% from that number. Larger deficits (20% to 25%) will normally lead to a more rapid weight loss but might be difficult to sustain, as they are more stressful for your body and you’ll experience more hunger.
Dieting with a lower deficit (around 15% to 20%) will lead to a slower weight loss, but it is psychologically and physically more forgiving, and the weight you lose slowly is usually easier to keep off.
#3. Keep It Simple – Aim For Consistency By Sticking To The Basics
When you first start keto, you’ll probably feel confused and overwhelmed by all of the information out there.
Keto doesn’t have to be complicated, though, and in order to succeed, you need to keep it simple enough to follow on a day to day basis. Consistency is key, and keeping it simple will make that much easier.
To be successful, you need to adhere to the following: choose a protein source you like (meat, fish, eggs…), along with your favorite low-carb side (green salad, spinach, cauliflower, avocado, etc…), and add fat as necessary.
Throw in a treat (such as fat bombs) if it’ll help you stick with your diet, add some berries from time to time if you like. And that’s it.
#4. Keep An Eye On Your Electrolytes
Electrolytes are super important on keto, as they get flushed from your system at a higher rate.
To prevent cravings, headaches, cramps, excessive hunger and water retention, you need to make sure that you’re getting in enough sodium, magnesium, and potassium.
It’s best to get potassium from food, but you’ll likely need to supplement some sodium (i.e. salt) and magnesium to make sure everything is running smoothly.
For more information on the amounts you need, check out our electrolytes guide.
#5. Accept The Fact That Weight Loss Takes Time, Even With Keto
Keto is one of the best diets for weight loss out there, but it will still take time to reach your goal weight.
You need to be patient and consistent in order to get results – gaining the weight didn’t happen overnight, right? Losing it is no different.
Your body doesn’t like change – it likes stability and predictability. It cannot differentiate between a voluntary weight loss and a possible famine.
If you lose weight very quickly, you’re much more likely to gain it back once you stop dieting, than if you rely on a slow and steady progress that doesn’t put an enormous amount of stress on your body.
#6. Understand That It’s Necessary To Change Your Lifestyle In Order To Achieve Long-term Weight Loss
Weight loss can be long-term only if you adapt healthy habits and change your lifestyle.
If you just do keto for a couple of months and then go back to the things that made you gain weight in the first place, you risk regaining the weight back, and then some more.
Yo-yo dieting is something a lot of people have gone through, and it is both extremely discouraging and mentally & physically very taxing.
In order for your weight loss to stick, you’d need to re-evaluate your relationship with food, and, eventually, with physical activity too, if you’re very sedentary.
Staying keto for the long term (or for life) is a path many people choose, because of the many health benefits that the keto diet has, but it’s not an absolute necessity.
Others have chosen a more liberal approach to their diet by staying low-carb, or Paleo, or primal. Whatever your choice is, make sure to stay active while eating nutrient-dense, whole foods that are not carb-heavy.
#7. Track Your Progress In A Few Different Ways
Your progress might not always show on the scale, even if you look and feel different. Why is that, you might wonder?
When losing weight, our bodies often retain water, and let go of it only after a couple of days or weeks.
Alternatively, if you’re also actively exercising, and especially if you’re doing resistance training, you might be gaining muscle mass while actually losing fat (yes, it’s actually possible).
Use a few different ways to track your progress, and don’t get discouraged if the scale doesn’t seem to move. Here are some ideas:
- body measures (for example, measure your neck, waist, hip, thighs)
- photos (if you don’t take “before” photos at the beginning of your journey, you might regret it later)
- the size of your clothes and how they fit.
#8. Get Enough Sleep and Rest
While stressful life events do happen and you cannot control these, you can make sure that you’re getting enough sleep and that you’re well-rested.
In order for the body to properly recover every night, most people need a solid 7 to 9 hours of sleep, and not getting enough sleep on a regular basis will be detrimental not only to your weight loss but also to your overall health (12, 13).
#9. If You’re Stalling, Try Cutting Dairy And Nuts From Your Diet
They just tend to be very calorically dense and most people do not track them properly; additionally, they might cause digestive issues for some people and be slightly inflammatory, leading to bloating and water retention.
If you’re stalling, try to limit or stop eating dairy and nuts for 2-3 weeks to see if that makes a difference, and then reintroduce them back slowly by observing how your body reacts to these foods.
#10. Eat Less Often and Try Intermittent Fasting
Snacking, especially if you do it out of boredom or stress can be detrimental to your weight loss.
Try to stick to 2 or 3 big meals a day, and keep snacking to a minimum. Eating less often will help you keep your insulin lower and will also feel more satisfying.
If you are actually hungry or need to go for a long time without a real meal (while on the road, for example), you can have the occasional snack, of course. What is important, is to break the habit of eating when you’re bored, sad or stressed, and to try to have fewer but larger meals.
Combining keto diet with fasting can be an optimal way to lose your unwanted body fat.
#11. Accept That Mistakes Happen, Forgive Yourself and Move On
You have cheated and now feel bloated and miserable? That sucks. But it has happened to everyone.
Mistakes do and will happen, and in such cases, the best thing you can do is just to forgive yourself and move on.
Go back to keto with your next meal and just make sure to not turn your cheat meal into a cheat weekend, or a cheat month.
Consistency is key. Mistakes will not erase your progress if you don’t let them do that. Keep calm and keto on.
#12. Move More
While not strictly keto-related, moving more is an excellent strategy to increase the calories you’re burning in a day.
This doesn’t necessarily mean working out; in fact, if you think about it, working out is just a tiny portion of your day and week.
You can try adding more non-exercise activities to your days, such as walking, working in your garden (or any other hobby that has a physical element to it), cleaning, taking the stairs more often, and so on.
If you have an office job, try getting up from your desk and moving around at least every hour or so.
A strategy you can try out is to do a quick exercise each time something specific happens.
For example: do 15 squats each time you go to the toilet, or do a couple of push-ups after waking up, or get up and move while talking on your mobile phone.
There are many different things you can try out, but one thing is certain – by moving more, you’ll help your body burn more energy.
#13. Go For Maintenance Calories Every Once In A While
Being in a deficit for a long period of time is stressful for your body, and your metabolism will adjust with time.
To counteract that and to give yourself a small break from dieting, you can adjust your calories back to maintenance level every once in a while.
For example: for every 4 weeks of deficit you can do 1 week of maintenance calories. This will bring your hormones back to normal levels and will help with weight loss in the long run.
How to Design a Successful Meal Plan for Keto?
A. Know Your Macros
It’s essential to know your macros in order to do keto successfully. You can use this keto calculator to find out exactly how many grams of carbs, fats, and protein you should eat to achieve your specific goal.
Carbs are easy – you need to keep them sufficiently low as to be in ketosis, i.e. 20-25 g net carbs daily.
For more info on how to calculate your protein, check our article on “How much protein should you consume on keto”.
And lastly, fat should complete your daily caloric needs and serve as a lever to achieve your goals – if you want to lose weight, you need to create an adequate caloric deficit, and once you reach your goal weight, you can readjust fat in order to maintain.
B. Make A Few Simple & Easy Meals Your Baseline And Add Some Variation From Time To Time
The easiest way to eat healthy and to be successful with your diet is to make it as simple as possible so that it will feel easy and natural to follow.
A lot of people decide to meal prep for the week, or for a few days ahead – it’s less time-consuming than cooking every day and much easier to track.
The best thing to do is to choose a few protein sources that you like, add some low-carb veggies as a side dish, and switch up from time to time. Whole foods will keep you full and satisfied.
You don’t need to eat the same thing every day, but you can have 4-5 simple dishes that you like and just alternate between them.
Whenever you start getting bored with what you’re already eating, you can introduce a new food, or a new way of preparing a product you like, in order to have variety and enjoy your diet.
C. Plan Your Next Meals and Be Prepared
You’ll soon notice that keto is much easier if you plan your meals in advance, rather than rely on what’s available around you.
This might mean preparing your lunch and taking it with you to your office, rather than eating at the cafeteria or checking the menu of the restaurant where you’ll be going with your friends in order to make sure there are keto-friendly options.
This might also mean deciding to fast during your next flight, or taking a few keto snacks with you the next time you’re on the road.
Cheating because you’re at a gas station with no other options than sandwiches and carb-heavy snacks is really something you should avoid, for the sake of your progress (and your digestive comfort). Plan your meals for the day and be prepared.
D. Stick To The Foods That Don’t Have An Adverse Effect On You
As the keto diet is very anti-inflammatory, you might soon notice that some foods affect you differently than others and that foods that seemed okay actually make you feel slightly bloated, or retain more water, or generally have a sub-optimal effect on you.
You might notice that with dairy, or with some nuts, or you might even discover that you’re sensitive to some vegetables (for example, some people don’t nightshades such as tomatoes and eggplants very well).
That’s not because the keto diet creates any kind of new sensitivities, but rather because you’ll soon feel much more in tune with your body, and you’ll immediately feel it if something doesn’t sit so well in your stomach.
Be attentive to the cues your body is giving you, you will definitely feel the difference.
E. Check Out Our Recipes Section For Many Great Ideas
If you need some inspiration, on our website you can find plenty of amazing keto recipes with their nutrition information. There are plenty of different dishes to choose from, and also some great keto desserts if you feel the need for a sweet treat.
We have tried all of them for you, and we’re sure you’ll love them. If you’d like to share your favorite recipes with us, we’d be super excited to check them out, so don’t hesitate to drop us a line.
The keto diet is excellent for weight loss, and although you might feel a bit overwhelmed with all the information you read on it online, once you get the hang of it, it’s actually quite simple and easy to follow.
As with any diet, you’d need some time to get used to it, and you also need to give your body enough time to adapt to being in ketosis 24/7.
If weight loss is your main goal, you’d need to make sure your macros are correct, and adjust them with time, as necessary. But always remember – weight loss isn’t linear and takes time.
The key to being successful is making the appropriate lifestyle changes and being consistent with it. Try it out! Your body will thank you for it.
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