Keto is a low carb diet but it is not the same as all the other low carb diets out there like Atkins, Paleo, or Zero-Carb. This diet requires you to restrict your carb intake below a certain threshold, but we do eat some carbs from healthy sources like vegetables. It is important to understand the science behind why we have to restrict our carbohydrates for this to work.
When you eat carbohydrates, your body produces glucose and insulin. The body likes to use glucose to convert into energy. Insulin is produced to process the glucose. This is natural and healthy for some, but for people with narcolepsy that process can make us feel incredibly sleepy. Often we describe the feeling as brain fog. Our brains use a lot of energy every day, and studies show it runs more efficiently on fats than on sugar. So if we remove the carbohydrates and sugar, and provide our bodies with lots of healthy fats, we end up in the desired state of ketosis.
The easiest way to figure out what you should be eating is to use this chart however after getting started, its best to listen to your body and see what it needs. This is by no means a strict guideline. Everyone’s body is different. These numbers are generally used for people who are trying to lose weight. If you are already under weight, you may need to see a health professional before getting started. You will likely need a lot more fat and calories than the chart recommends.
Next you will inevitably start wondering, how do I maintain this? What can I eat? The answer to that can vary a lot but let’s start simple. You should eat dark leafy greens, fatty meats like chicken with the skin, red meat, fish, and even organ meats. Eggs, nuts, seeds, and full-fat dairy are generally rich in nutrition, fat, protein, and fiber. Anything else you find that fits this criteria generally is keto-friendly. Although fiber is a carbohydrate, it doesn’t count towards your maximum carb intake because its not digested as one.
When reading food labels, you have to consider where you are in the world. Many countries already list starch and sugar carbs separately, like Australia, the United Kingdom, and most of the European Union. Check the labels to be sure. In the US, however you can subtract the fiber content from the carb content. Not everyone likes this approach. If its too complicated just go with the carb count on the label, it will only make your total net carbs lower than necessary. Just be sure you are getting enough fiber through vegetables.
Maybe my explanation is not quite enough to convince you. Check out this Science-y Booklet from The Madcap Miss . It is full of cited research that provides more insight into why and how this lifestyle works. I also recommend her Beginner’s Cheat Sheet that helps you know what is best to eat to reap the benefits of this ketogenic way of eating.
If you are still confused about what to eat, Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt has a great guide with convenient photos. A lot of questions are going to come up as you start to change your diet. You can also follow the Keto Reddit, check out Keto Adapted or ruled.me for more information, stories, tips and more.