If you are using the Keto Zone Diet for weight loss then you are probably paying a lot of attention to how many carbohydrates you are consuming.
You are likely already aware of the myriad of benefits of a ketogenic. They include weight loss, improved energy, and enhanced cognitive performance. However, in order to reap the benefits, you need to keep your daily consumption of carbs below 20 grams per day, especially for the first 2-4 weeks.
The macronutrient ratios (macros) of daily caloric intake for a successful ketogenic diet look like this:
High healthy fat intake at 60%-80% of calories.
Moderate clean protein intake at 15%-35% of calories.
Low carbohydrate intake at 0%-5% of calories
Many people initially scoff at these ratios as ridiculous or even impossible.
The fact is, however, that it is not only possible, but once the body is adapted it is actually incredibly easy to maintain. This is because once the body has adapted to using ketones (fat) for fuel instead of glucose (sugar), hunger diminishes dramatically and cravings virtually disappear.
But first, you must make it through the keto adaptation phase.
The human body is designed to efficiently burn fat for fuel. That is actually why the body stores fat to begin with, as a backup fuel supply when no food is available. For those of us in the Western world, food is always available, so most of us never tap into our body fat reserves and instead pile on body weight from all the excess calories.
The easiest way to access these fat reserves would be to simply not eat (i.e. fast), but that is simply too difficult for most people with busy lives. A ketogenic diet restricts carbohydrates and protein to a degree that mimics the metabolic effects of fasting. This allows the body to remember how to burn fat for fuel so you can tap into that stored body fat and reach your ideal weight.
Since most of us have been burning primarily sugar for fuel for the vast majority of our lives, it takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for the body to become adapted to using fat as the primary source of energy.
The cells must actually produce new “metabolic machinery” in order to efficiently process fat as a fuel source. This process is referred to a “keto adaptation.” Once fully keto adapted, the body will be more metabolically flexible, able to quickly and easily switch between burning fat and burning sugar for fuel.
But in order to become keto adapted you must first severely limit your carbohydrate consumption to less than 20 grams per day so that you force your body to learn how to burn fat.
Carbs on Keto
Many people have a hard time coming to terms with 20 grams of carbs per day. It can seem like an impossible task, especially considering that just one can of soda has twice that many carbs!
That’s why the Keto Zone Diet focuses on real, whole, unprocessed food with no added sugar. Simply avoiding anything processed, canned, or in a box, can make it so much easier to eat less carbohydrates.
The Keto Zone Diet is a plant-based diet where the bulk of the diet is vegetables, but the majority of the calories come from fat. This may seem like a paradox because most vegetables have very little fat. In fact, most vegetables are actually primarily carbohydrates!
To sort through this, we must make a distinction between carbohydrates in a broad sense and the more specific understanding of net carbohydrates.
Technically speaking, 1 single cup of broccoli has around 6 grams of total carbohydrate. This would mean that 3 cups of broccoli alone would put you very close to your 20 gram per day limit.
This is not entirely accurate, however. When calculating carb intake for a ketogenic diet, we must actually pay attention to the number of net carbohydrates.
The number of net carbohydrates is reached by subtracting the amount of fiber form the total carbohydrate count. Fiber is not actually absorbed by the body and therefore does not raise blood sugar.
So for our broccoli example, the 2.5 grams of fiber in broccoli must be subtracted from the 6 gram carbohydrate total. This means that 1 cup of broccoli actually has 3.5 grams of net carbs. So instead of a mere 3 cups of broccoli per day, you could actually consume 5 cups while still staying within the 20 gram per day limit.
Understanding this can make it much easier and more practical to maintain the Keto Zone without feeling deprived.
While it is certainly important to “track your macros” on a ketogenic diet, it is also important to understand that progress is more important than perfection. Don’t stress out about counting carbs.
Focus on eating real whole food. Mostly low-carb non-starchy vegetables. This includes:
-Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.
-Leafy greens like kale and collard greens.
-Alliums like garlic and onions.
-Herbs like cilantro and parsley.
Avoid or limit starchy vegetables including:
-Grains like wheat and corn
-Legumes like beans and lentils
-Root vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, and parsnips
Keep fruit consumption to one or two small handfuls of berries per day. Most fruits are very high in sugar and should be avoided. Remember that alcohol is a carbohydrate as well so consumption should be limited.