How to lose weight on a ketogenic diet
The magic words that we are sure brought many of you to this post – losing weight with Keto? In this blog post written for us by the wonderful Sara Aguilar, we will explain the kinds of foods that you need to eat to get into fat-burning mode, teach you how to work out your macros and introduce you to the most effective forms of exercise. We will outline all the supplements that can support your ketogenic transition and teach you how to use them too.
FORGET EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT NUTRITION!
At Hunter & Gather we believe that quick fix Diets don’t work, and you really need to consider a lifestyle change to be the best version of yourself long term.
By starting a Keto Diet (or lifestyle we should say) you are going to be eating and thinking about food in a very different way to the conventional wisdom you may have previously thought was “healthy”! The ketogenic diet goes against everything that we have been taught about how to eat. You are going to have to erase everything that you’ve learned! Literally, everything! The best things about the ketogenic diet is that it is: a) Absolutely delicious, and b) You will feel full! Fat fills you up! You will feel so much more satiated and you won’t be distracted by hunger all the time.
The worst thing about traditional diets and calorie counting is that they leave you unsatisfied, hungry and obsessed with food! We are genuinely excited for the journey you are about to take; transitioning to keto is a game changer, not just for your body but also for your mind! You are going to learn to love fat!
FROM SUGAR BURNING TO FAT BURNING
There are many reasons for trying the ketogenic diet:
- Improve cognitive focus
- Burn fat more easily
- Improve athletic endurance
If you are transitioning from the typical western diet of high carbs, high protein and low fat to a ketogenic diet, then you will find that you can have significant weight loss too.
Your metabolic state will change from sugar burning (glucose) to fat burning (ketones). This is ketosis, when your liver converts fat into ketones that then fuel your body. The brain loves ketones and you will notice a nootropic boost as soon as you go into deep ketosis.
WHAT CAN YOU EAT ON A KETOGENIC DIET?
On the ketogenic diet, you derive most of your calories, approximately 70-80% from fat. If you are consuming this much fat, it needs to be healthy, unprocessed and made up of Saturated Fatty Acids (SFAs). The remainder of your nutritional macros should consist of 10-20% protein and 5% carbs. Learn more about healthy fats here.
Avocados, eggs, coconut oil, leafy greens, MCT oil (add in link here) and grass-fed butter or ghee will feature heavily in your diet.
If you are using the ketogenic diet to lose weight, you will need to create a caloric deficit. So eat a little less fat. By doing this, you will use your own body fat stores for fuel. This means that a portion of your daily caloric usage will actually be from your body fat stores, not nutritional fat!
A WELL FORMULATED KETOGENIC PLATE
Most of your plate should be covered in leafy green vegetables, one fifth should be protein and it should be cooked in butter or smothered in a healthy fat such as olive, coconut or avocado oil. These are the Keto Superfoods!
A common mistake made by people first trying the ketogenic diet is that they don’t eat enough fibre. Be sure to consume plenty of leafy greens such as: Spinach, Kale, Broccoli, Chard, Bok Choi, Cabbage, Celery, Watercress, Lettuce, Courgettes and Spring Onion.
Leafy greens are essential for healthy gut bacteria. Without a healthy gut, you can reach a weight loss plateau and suffer from inflammation. A number of neurological diseases are also linked to poor gut health. So get your greens in!
CALCULATING YOUR MACROS
Everyone will have a different caloric requirement, depending on their size, activity level and goals! In general, there is no need to count calories on the ketogenic diet because you are so satiated by the fat. You are actually more likely to under eat than over eat. In any case, if you do want to check your macros, you can have a look at Maria Emmerich’s macro calculator that is specific for the ketogenic diet, and then you can also track your food intake on your phone with My Fitness Pal.
A common mistake made on the ketogenic diet is snacking and not realising how calorific and carb heavy some snacks are, such as nuts. A handful of nuts can have around 400-500 calories and be high in carbohydrates which can definitely throw you off achieving your goals. Another common error is eating too much fat. Fat is certainly the most important element of a ketogenic diet, but it doesn’t give you license to eat as much fat as possible! If you’re trying to lose weight, then much of the fat that fuels you should be coming off you, not that cheese block! Trust us on this one. There is a really useful guide here on this if you feel like you’ve reached a plateau in your weight loss.
HIGH INTENSITY EXERCISE AND WEIGHT TRAINING
We love movement at Hunter & Gather and think it is not only great for your body but your mind and overall wellness too. If you are looking too loose weight however, the most effective kinds of exercise that you can do for fat loss are High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and resistance training with weights.
Cardio is great but the problem with steady cardio is that you have to expend a lot of time jogging or walking to achieve any results. Steady cardio exercises don’t generally lead to muscle tone or definition, and the more muscle tone you have, the more calories you’ll burn!
HIIT works by alternating maximum output activities with periods of rest. For example, 60 seconds of sprinting with 30 seconds walking, 60 seconds of cycling to your max and then 30 seconds of gentle cycling. HIIT works by increasing your heart rate significantly, which in turn increases your metabolic rate. The rest periods allow you to push yourself to the max for a number of repetitions. The after burn of a HIIT session is what makes it such efficacious fat burning exercise as you’ll keep burning calories for hours after you finish working out. You get a much better return on your time investment!
Resistance weight training is critical for maintaining bone density and strengthening the body. By pushing and pulling weights you will improve your muscle definition and body tone. Again, you’ll benefit from the metabolic after burn effect of compound (heavy) weight lifting and muscle burns more calories and will catalyse your fat burning further.
If HIIT and resistance training aren’t your thing, you could always incorporate gentle interval training while walking. Walking (30 mins plus) is a great way of boosting and helping to get into ketosis, and if you can pick up the pace and alternate with a more gentle pace, it’s shown to be even more beneficial for health.
If you want to get the most out of your workout, exercise in a fasted state (when you haven’t eaten for at least 6 hours), you’ll burn up to 400% more fat. And if you combine fasted working out with exogenous ketones, you’ll have so much energy and start fat burning immediately!
As you transition to a ketogenic diet, many changes are going to occur in your body. You are literally detoxing and you may experience low energy levels, extreme thirst, an increase in body temperature and acute cravings for bananas (and other high sugar foods).
Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that you are overhauling old eating patterns and adapting to a new way of nutritionally healing your body. All of these side effects are perfectly normal and easily remedied! You can learn more about ketogenic diet deficiencies here.
Exogenous ketones are incredibly effective at helping you lose weight if you use them as a meal replacement, especially at breakfast. Always drink a large glass of water before having your exogenous ketones. You’ll then enjoy 3-5 hours of appetite control, increased energy and mental focus/clarity. You will literally feel on fire!
Supplementing with exogenous ketones is really helpful for keeping sugar cravings at bay, helping you transition to becoming ‘fat adapted’ without catching keto flu! Exogenous ketones are also great for getting you back on track after that cheat meal, especially when you are striving to be in ketosis but also juggling family and social events!
Beware of the deficiencies that you may experience whilst following a ketogenic diet, such as muscle cramps, excessive thirst and feeling light-headed. It is also absolutely vital that you replenish your electrolytes. So, increase your intake of water, salt, potassium and magnesium. Find out more about electrolytes here.
- The 30 Day Ketogenic Cleanse by Maria Emmerich
- Grain Brain by David Perlmutter
- Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf