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Keto diet – 5 must knows before starting a keto diet

5 must knows before starting a keto diet

A keto diet (ketogenic diet), you’ve probably seen it a few times or perhaps even tried one yourself. This extreme carbohydrate diet is rising in popularity rapidly. And not for bad reason, the diet is a very effective one. However… it is not an easy diet to stick to and we’ve noticed that the keto diet raises a lot of questions. It seems about time to set things straight and list the 5 must knows about the keto diet.

What is a keto diet?

But before we do so, we will quickly run by the definition of a ketogenic diet. During a keto diet your goal is to digest as few carbohydrates as possible, to a maximum extent of 50 grams per day – so almost none. Your energy intake during this diet mainly consists of protein and fats. When you stop giving your body carbohydrates, you will eventually stop producing glucose: glucose would normally be ‘the’ energy source. So when your body stops using glucose as its fuel, it will automatically switch to burning fats instead. Your body will create ketones from the process of burning fats, that can very well substitute as fuel. This is what we call ketosis, a bodily state you can reach by not digesting carbohydrates and switching to fats as a fuel source. Now that we’re all up to date on ketogenic terms and diets, we will dive deeper in to the 5 must knows before starting a keto diet.

1. A keto diet goes beyond losing weight

Despite a lot of people utilising the diet for weight-loss purposes (which it’s really good for), it is not the only application. You can use the diet for a better balance of energy in your body. Scientific research has proven that a keto diet stimulates a more equal distribution of energy throughout the day. As a result you will experience less energy drops and feel less fatigue. The keto diet also has medical benefit, for example people with epilepsy can use the diet and its energy distribution to suffer less from the diseases’ attacks.

2. Know (exactly) what you digest

When starting a keto diet you immediately stumble upon the fact that carbohydrates are in everything. At least a lot of products that we consume from day to day. What a lot of people tend to forget is the amount of carbs in vegetables: potatoes, corn, carrots, onions and pumpkins are alle examples of veggies you’re better off skipping during your keto diet. Most meat products are safe to eat, but we recommend checking the packaging for any added substances that carry carbohydrates.

Want to make sure your meal is ketogenic, without too much struggle? At Jake we’ve developed a keto meal shake with less than 6 grams carbohydrates per meal, combined with all the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs. Try the Keto shake.

3. Cheat days are banned

Most diets won’t stress too much about cheat days, but this one hits different. We can be rather short about this: don’t cheat. In order to reach full ketosis and to start burning fats fulltime, your body needs 4 to 7 days of extreme carb cut offs. As soon as you eat carbs in between, your body will exit its ketosis state and you get to start all over again – not great.

4. Be prepared for your body's reaction

Because of your body transitioning to a completely new ‘combustion system’, expect a kick back. You might even have to deal with the so called ‘keto-flu’ with phenomena like headaches and weariness. Fortunately these phenomena only make their appearance in the start of your diet, with some people not experiencing any at all. Make sure you drink enough water during your diet, at least 2 to 3 liters per day. This will reduce your chance of keto-flu and also reduces any symptoms if you have any.

5. Get your percentages right

A lot of people think they’re following a keto diet, but still digest way too many carbohydrates, which prevents their body from activating the ketosis state. It is therefore crucial to know the exact nutrients you serve your body. The right ratio to reach ketosis is: 75% of your nutrition should be fats, 20% should be protein and 5% should be carbs. You will only go in to ketosis when you stick to these ratios for a longer amount of time. To make sure your body is in ketosis you can do a check using a blood test, but also with the help of a urine sample. The last option can be done at home with the use of special urine strips.

Do you want to try a keto diet or do you have any remaining questions? Let us know! Are you looking for an easier way to make sure your meal is keto? Our keto meal shakes contain less than 6 gram of carbs per meal, combined with all the essential vitamins & minerals – and they’re pretty tasty too! Want to have a go? Click here!

Keto shake in hand
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My personal KETO experiences

My personal KETO experiences

The last 10 years of my life I have devoted my free time to exploring nutrition, lifestyles and its correlation to my weight, energy levels and general wellbeing. It’s a neat process of reading scientific studies, experimenting in the kitchen and slowly but surely discovering nutrition and lifestyles that match my liking. I’ve been eating low carb for about 5 years now and used to eat Jake Light for lunch, as a low carb basis. Then, after a handful of meetings with medical specialists who had developed a lifestyle programme, Keto came back on my radar. I’ve read about this more often, but had never gone in depth with the matter. When 2020 began, I told myself to start the ‘experiment’, under supervision of these medical specialists in order to make a solid and healthy start. To lose weight? No, that wasn’t necessary. I just wanted to experience this Keto diet/lifestyle, and was curious to discover the physical effects: would I maintain muscle mass, would I have sustainable energy sources, etcetera.

March 2020, Good timing

My plan for March 2020 was to switch from a low carb diet, to a Keto diet. This happened to align with the first lockdown in the Netherlands, due to Covid-19. A blessing in disguise. It suddenly became a lot easier to maintain a strict diet, without having to resist pastry at work, another business drink or any other tough health choice. When talking about a healthy to unhealthy ratio, I generally aim for 80 – 20. However, to reach full ketosis and to experience it fully, my body had to follow these strict rules for quite some time.

The hidden carbohydrates

According to the Ketogenic diet (I prefer calling it lifestyle), you need less than 50 gr carbohydrates per day, in order to maintain Ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state where the body mainly uses ketones as fuel instead of glucose (blood sugar). More on the background and the basic principles of Keto, here. In order to reach full ketosis, I had set my goal on eating less than 30 gr carbohydrates per day for the next 2 months. That’s a lot of micro managing and to help myself out, I’ve used a few apps. You could for example use FatSecret or MyFitnesspal to keep track of what you eat. Partly using data from the apps, but also adding extra own products, based on the lab-sheets with nutritional values. I noticed that with a lot of products, the apps don’t have their macros right.

It was quite the puzzle in the first few weeks. A lot of vegetables happened to have hidden carbs (netto carbs, after deducting the dietary fibres). I had to cut down on carrots, beets, pumpkin, etc. And yes, Jake was very convenient with my busy lifestyle. I love cooking food and do enjoy it, but the practical idea of having a shake lunch, knowing that was everything your body needed, suddenly was out of option. The result? A lot of weighing, puzzling, measuring… Meal preps every morning!

The first few weeks

People often say they experience a so called Keto Flu when transitioning in to Ketosis, I have not experienced this myself – fortunately. My guess is that my years of low carb experience, together with intermittent fasting (16 – 8 variant) played a big part in this. In other words: my start was quite smooth. I enjoyed my diverse and tasty Keto meals that, despite the effort that goes in, were a great variety to my normal eating habits. With fat being an excellent tastemaker, great opportunities had risen. Pretty soon I noticed the challenge in living a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle in combination with keto. I’m not 100% vegan, but try to do this for at least 60-70% of my meals. Unfortunately, ‘supplementing’ my dietary needs with animal products was inevitable in order to maintain a great nutritional profile.

You measure, you treasure

Next to keeping track of my nutrition, I was keen on learning my body’s response. Once again, not to lose weight, but to notice the effects of ketosis to my body. Within a week, I lost 2 cm waist circumference, where my chest, arms, buttocks and shoulders remained the same. Two weeks in, these numbers went up even more: I lost 5 cm around my waist and the other figures remained steady. The last bit of belly fats and even fat that gathered around the organs, disappeared rather soon. Muscle mass isn’t effected – great!

Besides the visible bodily changes, I was keen on knowing what happened behind the screens. That’s when I started measuring my ketone contents in my body, using a bloodtest. You can read more on this in this article. After circa 8 weeks the test showed 3.5mmol, which is way up there in ketosis.

What else did I notice? A lot of energy! A clear mind! I had no cravings of sweets or carbohydrates in general. Actually, skipping meals was easier than before. I ended up doing a 3-day fasting period to ignite a bodily reset, to clean up the rest of my body. This was in effect quite simple en created a lot of energy, because of my body not spending energy on digesting other foods.

Metabolically flexible

In the present day? I try to stick to a 90% keto diet, but loosened up on the amount of carbohydrates per day. I no longer ‘have to’ stick below a 25 gr carb intake. My new maximum intake of carbs is 40 to 50 gr per day. The other 10%? Dinner with friends, having a nice wine in the evening or having some cake once in a while. I’m in control now, and aware of my body to an extend that when I go out of ketosis for a day, I can come back to it within a few days. I really enjoy the keto meals and snacks I prepare. The moments I do choose the ‘less healthy’ option with more carbs, I ask myself this: do I really want this and is it worth the effort of it all?

Specialists label this as metabolically flexible. Your body, once taught how, is very much capable of switching between burning of fats and burning of carbs, the body can actually choose which energy system to use.

Jake KETO!

The transition in to this lifestyle has become easy and I really enjoyed it. What do I miss? The convenience of a Jake shake or vitaminbar in the afternoon. The ease of eating vegan, but still getting all the nutrients my body needs. I’m not alone in this, Keto has taken flight this past year. A good reason for us, to develop the perfect Keto Shake! After a long period of development and testing, we finished our first Keto Shake, in chocolate-coconut flavour!

There are various Keto meal shakes available on the market as of this day, but they all didn’t meet my needs. What did I notice?

If you start calculating and converting the amount of kcal and carbs per shake to your daily intake, a lot of these shakes will still result in a carb intake greater than 50 gr. The Jake Keto shake contains, based on a 2000 kcal day (5 shakes), only 30 gr carbs per day!

One of the more important things being the fat source, especially for Ketogenic products where it is essentially the primary resource for nutrition. A lot Keto shakes are not vegan, and if they are vegan, they are most likely using sunflower oil as a basis. Although it naturally sounds healthy, this specific type of oil contains a lot of Omega 6, which is linked to inflammation (amongst others). The Jake Keto shake has palmfree MCT powders as a basis of C8 and C10 fat sources.

In summary; I’m proud of the wonderful product we’ve put together. A first step to more flavours and in the long run: more Keto products. I look forward to eating my daily Jake meal shake. 100% vegan, 100% convenience, 100% nutritious!

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A few things you should know before starting your Keto diet!

Watch these things when you're starting Keto!

Starting a Keto diet or transferring to a Keto lifestyle can be challenging. One person handles it better than the other, which often has a lot to do with the way you currently live your life. It also has to do with the (positive or negative) influence of your surroundings and even with your aspirations as a master chef. Once you start changing your dietary patterns, there’s a few things you should keep an eye on.

1. The Keto Sickness; push through!

The Keto diet has many benefits, like weight loss, but also has downsides which you should prepare for. The ‘Keto Flu’ of Keto sickness! Briefly after starting your Keto journey, you’ll notice your body starts to change. You have to adjust to burning fats als primary source for energy, instead of carbohydrates (which used to be your main source of fuel). It depends on your body how heavily you’ll react to this change, but there is a chance you’ll get proper ill.

Primarily the first seven to ten days will wear you down the hardest. You might feel extremely tired, especially in the limbs. Things as simple as walking up the stairs will probably feel like too much effort. And then there’s the brain fog. Fun times? No! But, it’s just your body claiming its time that it needs to adjust to a different pace. Something your body is, biologically speaking, very good at – just not used to anymore: burning fats!

Very practical; do not plan too much “to-do’s”, and take it easy on exercising when starting with a Keto diet. Your body needs to rest whenever you can, just give it time. After that recovery, you’ll be astonished as to how much energy you have, as soon as the transformation is done.

2. Drink enough (water)

Once you start with keto, you’ll notice (especially in the beginning) a lot more toilet stops. Reason being is the decrease of carbohydrate storage in your body, which would previously require a lot of water. This is one of the reasons you lose a lot of weight in the beginning: you lose a lot of moisture. The ‘great start’ is however a great incentive to continue.

Prevent dehydration and make sure you at least drink 2 litres a day. Water is the purest source, but green tea, herbal tea, coffee or homemade vitamin water works well too. Just make sure you drink water next to your coffee.

3. Supplement with electrolytes

The moment you reach ketosis, your kidneys will excrete more water and more electrolytes. These minerals are highly important for a ton of bodily functions, such as: conduction of nerve impulses, moisture balancing or pulling and closing muscles altogether. Symptoms of a too low electrolyte presence are headaches, muscle aches (often in the calves) or a numb/tingling feeling in your limbs.

Which makes is extra important for you to keep track of your sodium and potassium intake, to make sure your body functions properly. This can easily be achieved by using tablet- or liquid-supplements. An alternative to this would be adding extra salt to your food or drinking a daily LoSalt mineral salt broth.

4. A bloodtest will give the best results

After a few weeks, you’re probably wondering; did I reach full ketosis or did I not? And if yes, how solid is my ketosis? There’s a few ways to determine if, and how well, your ketosis is. Ketones can be differentiated in to three different ones: acetone, beta-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate. They all have a different way of measuring the levels. Your three options are your breath, blood or urine.

Measuring through breath (acetone) can be done with the help of a ketone meter. This is a pretty reliable way to test your ketone levels.

The urine test is the last accurate of the three. You have to pee over a ‘keto-stick’ or you dip the stick into a jar of your urine. De difference in colour (from light pink to purple) tells you about the level of ketones in your body: the darker the colour, the higher the concentration of ketones is.

Measuring through means of blood is done with the help of a blood ketone meter, which in turn works the same as a glucose meter. Place a drop of blood on the measuring strip and within seconds you’ll see the amount of beta-hydroxybutyrate in your blood. This is the most reliable method, but a little more expensive than urine sampling.

Lots of work?

This might sounds as a lot of work and yes, in the beginning that might be the case. Experience teaches us that certain actions will be executed without thinking about it, once they are integrated in your habits. The measuring of your ketose values will become obsolete in the long run, by then you know how your body handles and reacts to it all. In short; push through the less fun stuff and soon you’ll profit from the benefits of your new Keto Lifestyle!

Maintaining a Keto diet and preparing the right meals can be tricky and time consuming. With Jake you can throw your worries out the window. Packed per meal, 100% vegan and a 30 days money-back guarantee.