There are few things better than that satisfied feeling you have after a killer workout, right? Drenched in sweat and knowing you'll be sore AF tomorrow, but knowing you made the right call when you decided to hit the gym?
Beneath all those feel-good endorphins, your body is hard at work burning calories and energy — glucose, mostly, which our bodies get from the sugars in carbohydrates.
While using glucose as a fuel is all well and good, what if we told you there was a way for your body to burn fat instead of glucose? It's called ketosis, a state in which your body produces little bodies called ketones and uses them to burn fat as fuel for energy and brain activity instead of its regular fuel of glucose from carbs.
So how do you get your body to enter a state of ketosis? By eating a ketogenic diet, of course. Very high (healthy) fat intake, moderate protein and minimal carb intake is the name of the game when it comes to the ketogenic diet. That's so your body stops relying on carbs as energy and instead uses its own stored body fat. Plus, your body is eating tons of good fats, so it doesn't have to hold onto the extra fat it already has.
It's a very effective way to lose fat and build muscle at the same time. Registered dietitian and Bodybuilding.com Nutrition Editor Paul Salter told Womanista that it's worlds apart from your typical low-carb diet.
"It's much different than a traditional low-carb diet because carbohydrates must be kept extremely low, often at five percent of total calories (50 grams or fewer per day) in order to promote this shift in fuel usage," Salter said.
Salter even broke it down into specifics, saying 70-75 percent of your intake should come from healthy fats, 15 percent should come from protein, and only 5 percent should comes from carbs.
Obviously, the ketogenic diet is not ideal if you're an endurance athlete (like a half-marathon runner) because your body needs carbs to sustain itself for longer cardio sessions. But if you're into strength training, which is all the rage these days for building muscle and losing weight, the ketogenic diet might be worth looking into.
Thinking about trying out the keto diet? You should definitely expect to be super patient, because Salters says it can take your body anywhere from two to six weeks to enter ketosis — and in the meantime it can be hard to stick to such a low-carb diet without seeing immediate results.
"There's a high percentage of keto embracers who never make it past the first few weeks (or even days) to truly realize the mental and health benefits associated with a ketogenic diet," Salter says.
Next, fill your plate with high-protein, low-carb foods like grass-fed meat, pasture-raised poultry, cage-free eggs, bone broth protein, wild-caught fish, and raw dairy products like raw goat cheese. Foods with those helpful healthy fats include: olive oil, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, palm oil, nuts and seeds. Finally, load up on veggies like leafy greens, mushrooms, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, kale, sea veggies and peppers.
Also, to make the ketogenic diet a more sustainable long-term eating lifestyle, rather than a diet, it's a good idea to add in days with higher carb counts. It will help to "reset" your metabolism and give your body an energy boost via carbs (which are still good for you, by the way). That way, you'll be less likely to crave and binge on those very restricted carbs (which could lead to regaining any weight you've lost).
All in all, if you're working those weights in the gym and looking for a lean frame, the ketogenic diet is the way to go.