Everything Fit Women Need to Know About the Keto Diet

Why the nearly 100-year-old keto diet is finding some modern-day love.

Thanakorn Phanthura / EyeEm / Getty

Thanakorn Phanthura / EyeEm / Getty

How to Go Keto Correctly

Everyone’s ketosis-inducing carb levels will be different. But there are common ways to prepare for a keto diet, including setting realistic expectations. First, be aware that you may take a while to become fat adapted, which means possibly seven days to several weeks in a transitional state or possibly in keto flu. During that time, your performance in the gym will take a hit, Spano says.

Second, be prepared for the mental challenge of the cravings you may experience, Bell says: “Specifically with trying to train yourself to not eat carbohydrates, the single most important thing is to get the foods correct. And this process can take you almost an entire month, sometimes two months, just to get the rhythm and timing down, knowing when to eat and how much to eat; and knowing what to do when a sugar craving pops up.” You’ll need to be able to get past this adjustment phase to see benefits. (To help you get there, check out some recipes from Carolyn Ketchum’s The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen)

To approach the diet more healthily than its 1920s origins, start with a macronutrient-agnostic, nutrient-dense, unprocessed-foods template, Roberts recommends. “This will make a huge difference for people coming from a standard American diet (SAD). From there, you can dial down carbs and increase fat to get into nutritional ketosis.” Note: Environmental factors can also impact how you respond to a ketogenic diet, Roberts says, especially if a SAD is accompanied by its partner in crime, the SAL (the standard American lifestyle)—lack of sleep, too much stress, and lack of social connection.

Also keep in mind that active people can get away with eating a bit more carbs timed strategically around their workouts and still stay in ketosis, Roberts says, like in a targeted keto diet (TKD) or cyclic keto diet (CKD). “But ultimately, make sure to get in enough calories, regardless of your macronutrient breakdown of choice,” she explains.

Focus on Healthy Fats

The MCT keto diet (MKD) is one that uses a higher amount of MCTs than a standard keto diet (SKD). These are converted to ketones more quickly and are easier for the body to break down.

Also make sure to increase your intake of polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in walnuts and sunflower seeds. Research in the journal Obesity shows that when compared with subjects eating saturated or monounsaturated fat, those who ate polyunsaturated fats had decreased levels of ghrelin (the hormone that signals you to eat) and higher levels of peptide YY (a gut hormone that helps limit appetite).

Plus, “if your ketogenic diet is composed of [saturated fats such as] bacon, butter, cheese, and coconut oil, then your gut—and overall health—is going to be a lot worse than if you construct a ketogenic diet that is composed of plenty of colorful low-carb, nonstarchy vegetables, unprocessed fats, and quality protein,” says Roberts. That doesn’t mean all saturated fats are bad—it’s all about keeping things in balance with other fats in order for the gut to stay happy on a keto diet. “It’s also worth mentioning that genetics can impact how someone responds to a given type of fat,” Roberts adds.

See the next page for some important points to keep in mind if you embark on a keto diet and for Ketchum's Keto No-nos.

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