Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the Ketogenic way of eating?
  2. What is the best method to transition to the Ketogenic way of eating from the Standard American Diet (SAD)?
  3. How long does it take to get into Ketosis?
  4. How can I tell if I am in Ketosis?
  5. What are these Keto Macros?
  6. What foods can I eat on a Ketogenic way of eating?
  7. What foods should I avoid on a Ketogenic way of eating?
  8. Should I count calories?
  9. I have been on Keto for X weeks and have only lost X pounds, what am I doing wrong?
  10. How do I avoid the "Keto Flu"?
  11. I have the "Keto Flu", what do I do?
  12. Can I eat too much protein?
  13. Isn't Keto Expensive?
  14. I heard that Keto/LCHF is unsustainable.

1. What is the Ketogenic way of eating?

The Ketogenic Diet is a high fat, adequate protein, and extremely low-carbohydrate diet that allows the body to enter the metabolic state of Ketosis which results in the liver burning fats for fuel instead of carbohydrates once ALL of the liver glycogen is depleted.

Typically, the ratios for these macronutrients is 75% Fat, 20% Protein, and 5% Carbs as a total of your daily calorie intake.  We suggest using the methodology of Dr. Eric Westman and limit your carb intake to no more than 20g total, per day.  We do not recommend using net carb calculations as not all fibers and sugar alcohols are created equally.  In some cases, food companies add items such as soluble corn fiber to try to show that their product has low "net carbs".  Dr. Westman's trials have shown that all of his patients enter Ketosis at 20g total carbs, 75% will enter at 30g total carbs and about 50% will enter Ketosis at 50g total carbs.

If you are using the Ketogenic Diet for medically necessary reasons, for example, epilepsy, dementia or certain cancers, you should be under medical supervision and strictly adhere to the macros as prescribed by your doctor.  If you are on the Ketogenic Diet to lose weight/fat, the most critical macronutrient measure is to keep your total carb intake to <= 20g/day.  If you eat plenty of fatty meats and don't exceed the number of calories that your body can burn, you should be in the correct range of the other macros.

The goal of the Ketogenic Diet is not actually to get into Ketosis, rather it is to get your body into the mode of burning fats as fuels instead of carbohydrates.  Once you are in this mode, your body will more often be in Ketosis.

Below is the protocol and food list based on Dr. Eric Westman.

2. What is the best method to transition to the Ketogenic way of eating from the Standard American Diet (SAD)?

We created a video that details a transition path, here.
In a nutshell, the plan is 

Prepare Your Brain

  1. Write down the reasons that you are doing the Ketogenic Diet
  2. Create short and long-term goals
  3. List the reasons that you failed in past diets
  4. Create strategies to overcome those reasons
  5. List all of your concerns or perceived risks
  6. Research how to overcome these concerns

Make a Personal Assessment

  1. Before starting, download an app like My Fitness Pal or Carb Manager and begin recording everything you eat.
  2. Take your body measurements: Waist, hips, neck
  3. Take note of your current daily macros (not yet trying to limit, you want to assess where you are

Start Cutting Sugars and Processed Carbs from your diet

The video gives some very specific examples

After you have lowered your daily carb intake to a much lower level, then transition to the Ketogenic Diet.

3. How long does it take to get into Ketosis?

The average person will enter a state of stable Ketosis in about 2 to 7 days, depending on how damaged your metabolism is.  Some people may take weeks.  The more important question is, how long does it take to burn all of the glycogen out of my liver?  This also can vary from person to person, but on average, this process takes 5 weeks of continuous, stable Ketosis.  If you are a Type 2 Diabetic or have a fatty liver, it may take considerably longer.  Keep in mind that this way of eating is first and foremost about healing your metabolism.  Weight loss is a happy side-effect but generally lags behind healing.

4. How can I tell if I am in Ketosis

There are currently 2 ways to measure if you are in the state of Ketosis.

  • Keto sticks that measure Beta-hydroxybutyrate (a byproduct of Ketosis) in your urine.  This method is considered less accurate and is actually not a real-time assessment as it is measuring it as it is eliminated from your body
  • A blood ketone meter is more accurate (and expensive)
The reason that Ketosis is not the goal is that you can achieve Ketosis outside of the Ketogenic way of eating.

  • Dehydration can give a false reading of Ketosis
  • Fasting automatically puts you in Ketosis
  • You can drink external ketones and be in Ketosis

A better question would be, How can I tell if I am fat-adapted?

There are other indications that you are in fat burning/Ketosis mode. 

  • You notice that you aren't hungry every 2 hours.
  • You may start to notice more mental clarity
  • You may notice a metallic taste and get "Keto breath" (This is acetone, which is a Ketone)
  • Your blood glucose if normally high may fall into the normal range

5. What are these Keto Macros?

Read this blog post.

6. What foods can I eat on a Ketogenic way of eating?

My interpretation of the Ketogenic way of eating is to eat REAL FOOD.  

Eat plenty: 

  • fatty meats (ground beef, rib eyes, lamb, chicken with skin on, bacon, sausage), 
  • eggs
  • leafy greens
  • above ground vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, summer squashes)
  • high-fat dairy
  • healthy saturated fats (butter, coconut oil, mayonnaise, avocado oil, lard, tallow)
Eat less: 
  • certain fruits (avocados, olives, berries)
  • low carb sweeteners (stevia, erythritol, monk fruit, Truvia, Splenda)
Be careful with nuts and seeds (macadamias, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.)  These are calorie dense and easy to overeat.

7. What foods should I avoid on the Ketogenic way of eating?

My interpretation of the Ketogenic way of eating is to eat REAL FOOD.

Avoid like the plague: 
  • Processed carbs of any type
  • Grains (wheat, corn, rice, oats, cereal, quinoa, etc.)
  • Sugar (honey, agave, maple syrup, corn syrup)
  • High Carb Fruits (apples, bananas, oranges, etc.)
  • Tubers (Starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, etc.)

8. Should I count calories on the Ketogenic way of eating?

I part ways with many in the Ketoverse here.  Many insist that you MUST maintain a calorie deficit in order to lose weight.  Meanwhile, people on the Carnivore regimen are eating 2 pounds of ground beef every day and lose weight.  It could be that not all calories are the same from different types of food.  But here is my position:

Be mindful of your calorie intake.  Setup your fitness tracker of choice to give you a target calorie range.  In the first couple of weeks that you are on Keto, concentrate on keeping your carbs below 20g total every day and maintaining your fats in the 75% range.  Do not worry so much about calories.  You will need some time to become fat adapted.  If you try to limit your calories, you may get frustrated if you stay hungry.

Eat fatty meats and vegetables until you are full.  Don't eat when you are not hungry.  Over time, your appetite will decrease to the point that you rarely exceed your target calories naturally.  Depending on your activity level for a given day, your body may require additional or fewer calories.  The Ketogenic way of eating is about learning to listen to your body.  If you eat real foods instead of processed foods your body will be more able to digest it and communicate with your brain when it is full.

9. I have been on the Keto way of eating for X weeks and I have only lost X pounds.  What am I doing wrong?

  • I know that it is tempting to look at all of the Ketogenic way of eating before/after pictures and success stories and wonder why you didn't lose 32 pounds in 2 weeks.  The first mistake in any regimen in any lifestyle choice is to compare yourself to others.  Not everyone experiences the same results at the same rate.  Everyone's biology is unique.
  • A few people experience rapid initial weight loss using the Ketogenic way of eating, but they are not typical.  Even the people that have exceptional early success, typically lose water weight in the first few weeks, then the weight loss slows for a period of time.  This chart represents the typical weight loss process for most people on the Ketogenic way of eating.

  • People with higher BMI's tend to lose weight faster than people with lower BMI's.  However, as a percentage of total weight, they are generally the same.
  • You may not be setting realistic expectations.  Under any circumstance, losing 1 pound a week on average should be considered success.  That means that a total weight loss for 1 year of 52 pounds would be well above average.
In summation: If you are staying under 20 total carb grams per day, eating until you are full and not eating when you aren't hungry, you are doing just fine.  But these may be the problems with your outlook:
  • You are comparing yourself to others
  • You are in the process of healing and not appreciating that aspect
  • Your BMI may be lower than many that are experience big numbers in weight loss
  • You are setting unrealistic expectations.  Focus first on improving your overall health and weight loss will follow

10. How do I avoid the "Keto Flu"?

First, you have to understand what the "Keto Flu" really is.  Think about the changes that you are making in your lifestyle.  Your body (metabolism) is accustomed to easy access to the sugars that you are ingesting in the way of sweets, grains, fruits, sodas, pastries and much more.  When those are no longer available, your body has 2 choices. 1. Crash and slow down while waiting for more easy energy or 2. Change modes and begin utilizing fats as fuel instead of sugar.  Actually, it isn't a choice, this is what happens.  Since you are not accustomed to burning fats for fuel, you do go through a bit of sugar/carb withdrawals.  After all, you are totally a carb addict.  The carbohydrates and sugars that you were consuming also cause your dopamine levels to rise. Your body produces hormones in an attempt to persuade you to restore those dopamine levels.  This has the effect of making you irritable and grumpy and may cause headaches, dizziness, confusion and brain fog.

Additionally, carbohydrates have a tendency to cause your body to retain water.  Minus the carbs, you now begin to drop water via urine.  Along with the urine is exiting salt, potassium, and magnesium.  All of these electrolytes are mandatory for your survival and your body begins to show symptoms of nausea, constipation or diarrhea, muscle cramps or soreness.  Combined, these are symptoms very similar to influenza.

Now that you know what causes it, how can you avoid it?  For the carbohydrate withdrawals, the best option might be to step down your carbohydrate consumption over a few days or even a couple of weeks to give your body some time to adapt.  However, people do tend to be impatient and want to jump right in.  Don't say I didn't warn you.  In that case, you are going to have to power through.  The loss of electrolytes, on the other hand, are easily handled.  Add some salt to your food, drink salt water and try to eat/supplement some additional electrolytes.  Finally, stop all cardio exercise until you have become adapted to burning fat for fuel.  Crashing during exercise is not pleasant and may actually be dangerous.

11. I have the "Keto Flu".  What do I do?

First, let's talk about what NOT to do.  Some people will advise you to eat a few carbs to handle your carb withdrawals.  That would be like telling a person trying to quit smoking to smoke a cigarette to handle their withdrawals.  Does that make sense?  If you are having a carb crash, this means that your body is starting the fat adaption process.  Do you really want to inhibit that process because you aren't feeling 100%?  If you are having a carb crash, that is really an energy deficit.  Do you know where you get energy on a Ketogenic way or eating?  The answer is from fat.  When a person is first starting a Ketogenic diet for fat loss, I recommend upping your fat content in the short term.  Dietary fat is easier to convert to Ketones than body fat is.  Once you become fat adapted, your body will become more efficient at converting body fat to Ketones.  So what is the quickest converting fat to choose?  That would be Medium Chain Triglycerides or MCT.  Coconut oil contains MCT's, but if you can get some good quality MCT oil that would be better.  If you are a coffee drinker, you can blend the MCT oil and heavy whipping cream into your coffee.  I also found that this helped masked the aftertaste of artificial sweeteners.

Other good sources of dietary fat are avocados, avocado oil, butter, ghee, animal fats like tallow or lard.  As you adapt to burning fat for fuel, you should back off on dietary fat so your body fat can be used as fuel, but remember, this is to help you get through the adaption phase.

The other symptoms of the "Keto Flu" are due to a shortage of electrolytes in your body.  Here is a nice chart that may help you navigate those symptoms.

12. Can I eat too much protein?

If you spend any time surfing the Keto Facebook groups or Reddit, you will see a recurring theme of people telling others to not eat too much protein.  It is almost as if a skinless chicken breast is a metabolic equivalent to a jelly donut.  Now, don't get me wrong, I follow a protocol that stresses eating fatty cuts of meat as a general rule, but on the other hand, I don't have an irrational fear of eating an occasional lean cut under certain circumstances.  But, what about the claim of excess protein all but halting your Ketogenic success?  Well, I am not a medical professional or even a nutritionist, so I have to lean on someone that knows about this.  Here is a very in-depth article by Amy Berger from Tuit Nutrition.  Here are the laymen's highlights.

Can certain proteins be converted to glucose via Gluconeogenesis (GNG)?  Yes they can, however, it is not an automatic process.  It happens on demand.  In other words, when you are not eating tons of carbohydrates and sugars, your body will require your liver to create glucose.  Your blood requires 4 grams of glucose at all times.  Thus, when required, GNG kicks in to handle the 30% fuel requirements of the brain.  The remaining 70% is fueled by Ketones and triglycerides.

Does protein cause a rise in insulin levels?  Well, yes, a little.  However, insulin does not just have a single job (store fat).  It also has another cool feature.  It stores protein into your lean muscle mass.  But protein does so much more. 

While it is true that as insulin levels slightly rise in response to the slowly digesting protein, it is busy building lean mass and all of these other tasks.  Also, the folks that reside over in the Carnivore tribe of the Keto family eat upwards of 2 pounds of meat every day, yet manage to stay in mild Ketosis.  
This leads to the final point.  We should not even be chasing Ketone readings.  We should be chasing fat adapted results.

Concerning protein, this is really the 50,000 foot view.  I suggest reading Amy Bergers article for more detail.

13. Isn't Keto Expensive?

Coming soon

14. I heard that Keto/LCHF is unsustainable

Coming soon


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