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Introduction to the Keto Diet

by Kevin | 27 Dec 2018

The ketogenic diet — a high-fat and very low-carb eating plan — can be tough to start. After all, it’s likely a radical departure from the way you’re eating now (a typical standard Malaysian diet is high in carbohydrates and processed foods). But many people are trying the keto diet, which puts your body in a state of ketosis. That's what happens when your body’s carb-burning switch flips to a fat-burning one, a change that can cause weight loss and has even been credited with controlling diabetes. Short for “ketogenic diet,” this eating plan is all about minimizing your carbs and upping your fats to get your body to use fat as a form of energy.

While everyone's body and needs are slightly different, that typically translates to:

-60 to 75 percent of your calories from fat
-15 to 30 percent of your calories from protein
-5 to 10 percent of your calories from carbs.

That usually means eating no more than 50 grams of carbs a day (some strict keto dieters even opt for just 20 grams a day).

After about two to seven days of following the keto diet, you go into something called ketosis, or the state your body enters when it doesn't have enough carbs for your cells to use for energy. That's when you start making ketones, or organic compounds that your bod then uses in place of those missing carbs. At this point, your body also starts burning fat for more energy.


Believe it or not, the keto diet was originally designed to help people who suffer from seizure disorders—not to help people lose weight. That's because both ketones and another chemical produced by the diet, called decanoic acid, may help minimize seizures.

But people who started following the keto diet noticed weight loss for a few reasons: When you eat carbs, your body retains fluid in order to store carbs for energy (you know, in case it needs it). But when you’re not having much in the carb department, you lose this water weight. Also, it's easy to go overboard on carbohydrates—but if you're loading up on fat, it may help curb cravings since it keeps you satisfied.

That, plus the fact that ketosis encourages your body to burn fat, means you can end up with pretty dramatic weight loss. The keto diet took off because its 'rules' make sense to most people. Almost all of us want to lose some fat from somewhere on our body, and this diet focuses on fat as fuel.

So, does the keto diet actually help with weight loss?

Probably, and there are a few reasons why the keto diet usually equals weight-loss gold. For starters, people usually reduce their daily caloric intake to about 1,500 calories a day because healthy fats and lean proteins make you feel fuller sooner—and for a longer period of time. And then there’s the fact that it takes more energy to process and burn fat and protein than carbs, so you're burning slightly more calories than you did before. Over time, this can lead to weight loss. Everyone is different, and how much you weigh when you start the diet matters, but you could safely lose around one to two pounds a week on keto.

Several people we talked to mentioned experiencing “the Keto Flu” in their first week of practicing the Keto diet, characterized by drowsiness, dizziness, intense sugar and carb cravings, difficulty focusing, nausea, difficulty getting to sleep, and general irritability. The keto flu is a temporary collection of flu-like symptoms certain people experience when they try to enter ketosis for the first time. It goes away once they become fat-adapted. It happens because your metabolism needs time to adjust to running on fat instead of carbs.

Your body burns carbohydrates (glucose) for energy by default. When you drastically reduce your carb intake, like on a low-carb ketogenic diet, your body depletes your glucose stores and turns to burning fatty acids for energy. This metabolic switch may cause some people to experience flu-like symptoms, hence the name keto flu.

Drink lots of water (and some salt water to manage electrolyte loss) to combat these short-lived sensations as your body is transitioning to the Keto diet.

Intermittent fasting (aka cutting out any calorie consumption for specific windows of time) can amplify the impacts of the keto diet. For example, someone might finish eating at 8pm and not have another meal until 10am the following day, fasting for 14 hours. This fasting can aid dieters that are trying to move into the state of ketosis.

Many foods conventionally considered as healthy are banned on the Keto diet.

Starchy and high sugar vegetables, most fruits (except for small amounts of berries) and whole grains are not suggested on the keto diet. On the contrary, while many would consider a high-fat diet unhealthy, healthy fats are the staple of the ketogenic diet.

You might experience increased energy and brainpower

In addition to weight loss, many people are on the Keto diet for the potential benefits of increased energy and brainpower.

Any food that is high in carbs should be limited.
Here is a list of foods that need to be reduced or eliminated on a ketogenic diet:

Sugary foods: Soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.
Grains or starches: Wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.
Fruit: All fruit, except small portions of berries like strawberries.
Beans or legumes: Peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
Root vegetables and tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
Low-fat or diet products: These are highly processed and often high in carbs.
Some condiments or sauces: These often contain sugar and unhealthy fat.
Unhealthy fats: Limit your intake of processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
Alcohol: Due to their carb content, many alcoholic beverages can throw you out of ketosis.
Sugar-free diet foods: These are often high in sugar alcohols, which can affect ketone levels in some cases. These foods also tend to be highly processed.

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