Why are Carbohydrates Limited on the Keto Diet?

Choosing to eat a Keto Diet places your body in a state of burning fat for energy. Carbohydrate consumption must be limited in order to preserve the fat-burning nature of the Keto Diet.

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Choosing to eat a Keto Diet places your body in a state of burning fat for energy. Carbohydrate consumption must be limited in order to preserve the fat-burning nature of the Keto Diet.

What is a carbohydrate?

First, let’s define a few terms before we compare the Keto diet with one that limits carbs in general.

[ctt template=”8″ link=”ce5dc” via=”no” ]Carbohydrates are one of three major nutrient groups, known as “macronutrients.” Each macronutrient plays a role in the proper operation of your body and its systems. Fats are used for boosting brain activity and to help you feel full and satiated.[/ctt]

They’re also useful in digesting many different vitamins and minerals. Many of these micronutrients are “fat soluble” – that is, they need fat in order for your body to fully absorb them.

Protein is the building blocks of your body. Eating plenty of protein is important to help your body grow and maintain muscle, as well as heal and repair muscles that are damaged from exercise and daily life.

Carbohydrates are used primarily as an energy source for your body. The digestive system turns carbs into energy that your cells use, a substance called glucose. Any extra food that you eat beyond what your body needs to function and exercise is stored in your body as adipose tissue – fat. It’s converted in case you experience starvation or famine like an energy saving account for your body.

The carbohydrates that many people eat are easy to overeat – and this can cause weight gain. Low carb diets are intended to help your body reduce the amount of energy you take in by reducing the cravings that excessive carb consumption creates.

These cravings are usually associated with the peaks and dips of your blood sugar. When you enjoy a low-carb diet, you maintain a more even state of blood sugar.

What is the Keto Diet? How does it differ from Low-Carb eating?

If you’re looking for weight loss advice, or if you’re trying to drop a few pounds for swimsuit season, then you might have heard of the Keto Diet. Many people, especially those with a lot of excess weight to lose, have found success using this meal plan.

Simply search for “progress pictures” and you’ll find hundreds of people that have lost tons of pounds cutting out carbs and enjoying the keto lifestyle. But what makes the Keto diet so special?

Coach Lori Ballen Before and After
There is a big difference between the Keto Diet and a general low-carb diet. Meals on a low carb diet typically include plenty of protein and dietary fats, with carbohydrates, including grains, fruit, and starchy vegetables being between 20-35 percent of your daily value.

Protein and dietary fats have satiating nature – that is, most people tend to feel fuller, longer, when eating them. Most diets tend to focus on achieving weight loss goals by creating a calorie deficit – that is, you eat fewer calories than your body uses in a day.

The difference between the calories you take in and the amount you need for daily living activity, including exercise, is provided by the excess energy you have stored on your body as fat.

Keto dieting is different from a general low carb diet in that is activates your body’s ability to use fat for energy. By reducing the number of carbs that you consume you change your body’s energy source.

Your body is placed in a fat-burning state of ketosis and you’ll begin to shed those unwanted pounds fairly fast. In addition, many people enjoy eating plenty of the satiating fats and protein that the Keto diet allows.

[su_icon_panel border=”1px groove #cccccc” text_align=”left” icon_color=”#ee1818″ icon_size=”58″]Keto dieting actually changes your metabolism into one that runs on fat, versus one that runs on the glucose from carbohydrate foods. On the Keto diet, your body is encouraged to shed fat quickly, making many overweight people motivated to stay on it.[/su_icon_panel]

The main difference between the Keto Diet and a general low-carb diet is placing your body in a state of ketosis. Ketosis occurs when the body exhausts are glucose stores, and is a state that needs to be actively maintained in order to achieve the maximum benefits of a Keto Diet. But how exactly does the Keto Diet work?

How does the Keto Diet actually work?

A Keto Diet actually changes the way that your body gets the energy that it needs. Instead of using glucose from carbohydrates to power the cells and systems of your body, Keto dieting instead makes your body run on the stored fat.

This places your body in a state of ketosis – that is, the stored adipose tissue in your body is broken down to be used as energy. Although your body can use fat for energy, it’s generally the “plan B” for cellular respiration and powering your body’s systems.

In order to enter the state of ketosis, first, your body must use up all the glucose it has, including its reserve stores. This takes a few days, generally, and then your body begins to metabolize the stored fat in your adipose tissue and the dietary fats you were consuming.

Because Ketosis is the second method for producing energy for your body, it must actively be maintained.

As part of your Keto eating plan, you’ll need to document all the foods you eat, including their macronutrient (fats, carbohydrates, and proteins) profile. Keto dieting involves being very strict about how many carbohydrates you consume. Eat too many, and your body will process the carbs into glucose, and use that as an energy source. You’ll be knocked out of ketosis, and your weight loss progress may stall.

?COACHES TIP: Buy yourself a fun journal to keep track of the foods you eat and your journey through weight loss.

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What effect do carbohydrates have on the Keto diet then?

When you eat on a Keto meal plan, you’re forcing your body to use its backup function to provide energy and fuel itself. In order to keep your body in that state of ketosis, you’ll need to keep your carb intake very low.  Below are some things to consider when on a Keto diet.

  • When your body first switches over from glucose-based energy supply to ketosis, you will probably experience side effects, known collectively as “keto flu.” These include lethargy, cloudy thinking, and irritability.
  • Some people report headaches and nausea, as their body becomes used to running on fat. Once you’re over the keto flu, however, you’ll become used to running on a no or very low carbohydrate diet.
  • If you want to get into ketosis and reap the full metabolic benefits of low-carb, going under 50 grams of carbs per day may be required. Be careful, however, too much protein can also make your body leave ketosis. In fact, protein can be turned into glucose via a process called gluconeogenesis and excessive protein consumption can prevent you from getting into ketosis.
  • This is why it’s so important for Keto dieters to manage their intake in an exacting manner. Eating anything other than dietary fats may allow your body to run on glucose. Bread, grain, rice, and pasta, and even fruit are obvious culprits, but many vegetables, especially those with a starchy nutritional profile, may have “hidden carbs” that take you out of the ketosis state.

This is a big mistake. Remember, glucose from carbohydrates is your body’s preferred plan for producing energy. This is Plan A. Ketosis is Plan B. You need to get energy from somewhere and if you don’t eat carbs, then you MUST add in fat to compensate. Dietary fat has gotten a bad rap in the past from dieters. Remember all the low-fat foods? But guess what, those had added sugar.

Excess energy of any kind will cause you to gain weight. There’s no scientific reason to fear fat, so long as you choose healthy fats like monounsaturated, saturated, and Omega-3s while keeping the vegetable oils to a minimum and eliminating trans fats.

When you’re eating on a Keto meal plan, choose at least 50-60% of total calories to come from fat. This is normal for a low-carb diet. To fully reach ketosis, most people think that around 70% fat of total calories may even be better.

To get fat into this range, you must choose fatty cuts of meat and liberally add healthy fats like butter, lard, coconut and olive oil to your meals. The bottom line for Keto dieting is that fat must become your primary source of fuel. A very low-carb diet must be high in fat, otherwise, you won’t be getting enough energy to sustain yourself.

Although carbohydrates may be eaten, typically they must be less than twenty percent of your overall intake. Anything more, and your body won’t be in ketosis.

These carbs should primarily be found in your leafy green vegetables, to ensure that you’re getting the proper vitamins and minerals your body needs to be healthy.

Lori Ballen is a Certified Ketogenic Lifestyle Coach. Having shed 43 pounds in just her few months on the Keto way of eating, Lori became passionate about helping others achieve better health and weight loss through living KETO.

She offers Keto systems such as grocery lists, meals, guides, macro calculators, weight tracking and more in her Keto Coach Group Program.

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