Keto as a Way of Life
10 Keto Terms Defined for Beginners
Something we quickly learned when we started researching the Keto diet, is that there is a whole community or subculture around this diet philosophy. Like any other community, though, it has its own language; it’s own set of words and phrases unique to the people involved. While the Keto community is made up of some amazing people who enjoy helping, figuring out their lingo can be a little confusing or even intimidating.
Sometimes it can feel embarrassing to ask for the meaning to a word that everyone else already seems to know. Or, it may simply not be feasible to try and pick up the meaning from the context. So we’ve put together a list of a few of the most common Keto words and phrases used by this community. Hopefully this will help get you started.
This is, by no means, a comprehensive glossary of Keto terms, so if you’re in the early stages of learning about this and you have a question about a term you’ve heard or read, please contact us and we’ll be glad to answer it for you. If you’re reading this and you’ve been doing Keto for a while, don’t bust on us for not being thorough. This post is for beginners.
When we first started Keto, Rebecca and I ran into the terms below. We had a basic understanding of some of them, but others like ‘Keto Flu’ just sounded like crazy talk. We had a tough time figuring out some of them because they weren’t really presented in a way that made much sense to us. Hopefully, if you’re coming behind us in that same boat, we can help you have a little easier time navigating these waters.
Keep in mind that just like anything else, there’s a lot to learn. It may seem overwhelming, but anything worth doing is worth working for. Please let us know what questions you have, especially in the beginning. There’s a really good chance we had those same questions and had to look for answers ourselves. But we’re happy to share what we’ve discovered.
10 Keto Terms Defined for Beginners
Fundamentally, a Ketogenic Diet or “Keto” for short, is a system of daily eating in which you consume a very low amount of carbohydrates, a moderate amount of protein and a high amount of fat. This approach is counter to what we have been traditionally taught in Western culture as a “healthy” diet. Americans have been told for years that a low fat diet is the only way to combat cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. In fact, there is no conclusive evidence in any clinical study which proves this to be true. On the contrary, more and more studies are surfacing that show the harm of a high carbohydrate diet. Even though the “low fat” diet appears to be the main stream norm, diet-related diseases like Type 2 Diabetes has become a worldwide epidemic.
Usually just called Ketosis, this is a natural, healthy state that your body will go into when it is deprived of carbohydrates and given a diet that is high in healthy fats. In Ketosis, your body begins to burn fat as its primary source of energy rather than burning the glucose that comes from carbohydrates. While it may sound like you can just skip the extra bread for a day or decline that bowl of icecream and then expect to be in a suped up fat burning state, that’s not really how it works. Several things have to take place to get you into this state, but the first step is just understanding that it exists, and that it is not harmful. Rather, it’s a goal that every Keto Dieter is shooting for. It’s the sweet spot, if you will. Please excuse the horrible irony of that statement.
Ketones, sometimes referred to as Ketone Bodies, are molecules created by your body when it runs out of glucose for fuel and has to start burning fat. This process is called Ketogenesis (‘Ketone Creation’). There are different kinds of Ketones but for your basic understanding just to get started, these molecules are responsible for taking the energy that gets produced in your liver and transporting it around your body to your muscles, organs and brain. Ketones are far more efficient at getting this energy into your cells than insulin. In fact, they do a better job getting energy to your brain which is why being in a state of Ketosis is reported to offer greater mental clarity by Keto Dieters.
If “Fasting” is not eating at all for a set period of time like a day or a week, then think of Intermittent Fasting (or ‘IF’ often used as an abbreviation) as not eating for a shorter set period of time. This typically happens at regular intervals. You may not have realized it, but every night that you lay down to sleep for 8 hours (if you’re lucky enough to sleep that long!) then you’re fasting. That’s why they call the first meal of the day “breakFAST” because you’re breaking that overnight fast. Chances are, by the time you have breakfast, you haven’t eaten for close to 10 or 12 hours.
It’s important to understand Intermittent Fasting (IF) in the context of a Ketogenic Diet because Keto Dieters will often incorporate it into their daily practice. There are lots of different approaches to do this and I’ll discuss those in another post. For now, just understand that the reason Keto Dieters do it is because fasting triggers a hormone response in your body that promotes the benefits of that particular diet. It helps you get into Nutritional Ketosis and burn fat more efficiently.
You will probably hear Keto Flu talked about as a negative side effect of the Keto Diet. It really is a thing, but it doesn’t last very long. Keto Flu can happen when someone first begins a Ketogenic Diet, especially if their diet had a lot of carbs in it. Think of it like your body going through carbohydrate withdrawal. The symptoms people experience are Flu-like in nature. Thus, the name, “Keto Flu”. These symptoms include feeling like you’re drained of energy or sleepy, weakness, muscle aches, feeling dizzy and being irritable. Some people even report nausea and upset stomach.
Keto Flu is your body’s reaction to the changes that are taking place. Your metabolism is making some pretty major adjustments, so you have to give it a little time to adapt; usually a week or two. The good news is that you can get out in front of this and prevent most of the symptoms before they begin if you start your Keto Diet with a bit of knowledge and some strategy. We’re here to help you with that, so keep an eye on Keto Ginger!
The term “Macro” in this case is just a short way of saying Macronutrients. These are the main nutrients that people focus on with Keto and other low carb diets and consist of Fat, Protein, and Carbohydrates. Those three Macros are typically measured in grams because they have literal weight and mass. Some people will also include Calories as a Macronutrient, though calories aren’t really nutrients. Calories, which do not have weight and mass, are just a way to measure how much energy is inside the food.
The converse of Macronutrients are Micronutrients, which are all the other nutrients found in food; things like vitamins and minerals. Those are important, but they’re not as much of a guiding force as the big boys; the Macros.
People count Macros as part of a daily allowance. On a standard Keto Diet, you aim for 75% of your calories to come from Fat, 20% from protein and 5% from carbohydrates. And yes, it’s important to keep track.
As you know by now, ‘Carbohydrate’ is the macro that we’re trying to limit on a Keto Diet (or any low carb diet for that matter). The reason it’s important is because of the impact of Carbohydrates on your blood sugar and subsequently, your insulin levels. There are some Carbs, however, that in theory, have little or no effect on your body’s Insulin response (the amount of insulin that gets released when you eat). These are things like sugar alcohols (which come from zero calorie sweeteners like Stevia) and dietary fiber (sometimes called soluble fiber).
Many Low Carb dieters only care about the carbs that cause an impact to blood sugar. Those are what they call Net Carbs.
Here’s how the figure out how many Net Carbs are in their food: Subtract the total amount of Fiber and half the amount of Sugar Alcohols that’s in the food from the Total Carbohydrates. So if something has 10g of Carbs, but it lists 4g of Fiber and 1g of Sugar Alcohol, you take 10 (the total amount of carbs) and subtract 4 (the amount of fiber) and .5 (half the amount of sugar alcohols) from it to get 5.5. That food would have 5.5 Net Carbs. Those would be the carbs that you track for your daily macros.
This practice is a cause for debate in the Keto Community, so you will hear and read a lot of discussion around this one. It’s arguable how much or how little fiber and sugar alcohols actually do affect your blood sugar levels. It’s like many other things within a diet. You have to figure out what works for you because everyone is slightly different. If you’re not counting fiber and sugar alcohols as part of your Carb Macro for the day, and you’re not seeing the weight loss you want to see, you may want to think about counting them and ignoring Net Carbs. We’ll talk more about that later. It’s enough for now just to know what Net Carbs are.
HFLC or LCHF
You’ve probably seen this acronym if you’ve done any research into Keto at all. And if you haven’t, you will.
It stands for Healthy Fat Low Carb or Low Carb Healthy Fat, depending on which way people arrange the letters.
Some people will say this means High Fat Low Carb, and while that may be true since your macros will involve having more fat than protein or carbs, the focus really should be on Healthy Fats.
HFLC or LCHF simple describes a type of diet like Keto, though it’s not the only one of its nature out there. Keto is probably the lowest carb diet out there and has a few more guidelines regarding the types of fats and carbs you should have. There are some HFLC diets out there that simply focus on lowering carb intake. Since we’re focused on Keto here, that’s what we’ll talk about, but we encourage everyone to find the diet that best fits their needs and go with that one.
Fat Bombs are basically snacks that are meant to give you a boost to your Fat Macro. Focusing on healthy fats, these snacks are typically made up of things like coconut oil, grass fed butter, nuts like almonds (not peanuts because those are a Keto No No because of the carbs they contain), seeds and even dark, unsweetened chocolate. People often sweeten them with a zero calorie sweetener like Stevia. In Ketosis, your body burns fat for energy rather than carbohydrates, so Keto Dieters often eat one or two Fat Bombs as a mid afternoon energy boost, a workout supplement or even for breakfast. They key here (and with all of Keto) is to stay away from hydrogenated fats like vegetable oil. Those fats are bad sources of fuel for your body.
Bullet Proof Coffee:
This is a coffee drink that many Keto Dieters use to replace their breakfasts in the morning. Before I give you the basic recipe, understand that some Keto dieters swear by the stuff, while some don’t care for it. Some people believe it’s the supercharged fuel they need in the mornings, while others feel like it may not be good for you because it contains too much fat without enough nutrients to back it. There are good points on all sides of the discussion. The drink was promoted originally by a guy named Dave Asprey and the website “Bulletproof Executive.”
The recipe calls for 2 cups of coffee, 2 tablespoons of grass-fed, unsalted butter, 1-2 tablespoons of MCT Oil. Mix it all into a blender and drink hot.
I know it sounds crazy, but it actually tastes ok. Rebecca loves the stuff! I just prefer my coffee black and in its full, undiluted glory. The drink remains controversial, but you should try it for yourself and do your own research to determine whether it will fit with your efforts. We’re just hear to explain what it is.
Thanks for Reading
I hope this has given you a good place to start with your Keto Research. If there are Keto terms you’ve heard or read and you can figure out what they mean, please ask. We’re more than happy to help out.
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