Are you a keto diet beginner and all sorts of questions like…
What is a ketogenic diet? What foods to eat on a ketogenic diet? What foods to avoid on the keto diet?
What are the top benefits of a keto diet? What are the rules of a ketogenic diet and is there any difference between a low carb & ketogenic diet?
If you want answers to all these questions then you are at the perfect place where you would find everything about the keto diet explained in minute details.
So, let’s dive in and find A-Z about the ketogenic diet which you want to make an integral part of your lifestyle.
Ketogenic diet and Ketosis
A ketogenic diet or a keto diet is a very low-carb but a high-fat diet. i.e it involves massively reducing your carbohydrates intake and substituting it with lots of fat. Your calories share from each of the nutrients is as follows.
- 5% -10% calories from carbs
- 15%-30% of calories from protein
- 65%-75% of the calories from fat
Keto diet shares a lot of characteristics with both ‘Atkins’ and ‘low-carb diets’. Then you might be wondering, what then? Yes, then this reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called “Ketosis”.
In this state, your body slowly becomes very efficient at melting fat for energy and turning fat into ketones in your liver, the energy produced thereby can be supplied to the brain and other body functions.
In short, your body replaces carbs or glycogen as its source of energy for ketones, hence reducing your body fat and helping you lose weight.
Foods to eat on a keto diet
- Meat: like sausage, bacon, mean, ham, steak and turkey.
- Fatty fish: like trout, mackerel, and salmon.
- Eggs: the best sources for eggs are omega 3 whole eggs.
- Cream and butter: the best sources for these two should be grass-fed
- Cheese: especially type of Unprocessed cheese like cream, blue goat or mozzarella
- Nuts and seeds: like walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, chia seeds, etc
- Healthy oils: like coconut oil, virgin oil, and avocado oil
- Avocados: the best sources are either freshly made or the Whole avocados
- Low-carb veggies: like onions, peppers, and a lot of green veggies.
- Condiments: the best choices for these are pepper, healthy herbs, spices and salt
Foods to avoid on keto
On keto, any food that is a high carb is a red flag for you and it should be left as there. Here is a list that includes foods that either should be completely eliminated from your menu or taken in very minute quantities.
- Sugary foods: smoothies, cake, ice cream, cake, candy, etc.
- Grains and starches: grains and starches like rice, pasta, cereal, and wheat-based products.
- Fruits: only allowed fruits are berries. Others are very advised to be taken in very low quantities.
- Beans or legumes: kidney beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeas, etc.
- Root vegetables: like carrots, potatoes, parsnips, etc.
- Low-fat diet products: they are very high carb
- Some condiments: because they have unhealthy fats and sugars types.
- All Unhealthy fats: like mayonnaise and all processed vegetable oils
- Alcohol: they are full of empty carb calories harmful for ketosis.
- All Sugar-free foods: since these are very processed, and contain a high level of sugar, they can harm your ketosis.
Keto diet benefits
The following are some of the most prominent benefits of a keto diet.
1. Weight Loss
A ketogenic diet can help you lose weight because of ketosis in which your fat stores are utilized as a source of energy by your body instead of carbs stores.
Many types of research have proven this fact. One study found that a ketogenic diet can help about 2.2 times more weight than calorie-restricted low carbs high-fat diets. Also, triglycerides and HDL cholesterol were seen to greatly improved.
Another study found that ketogenic people lost 3 times more weight than the diet recommended by the Diabetics UK.
2. Keto helps diabetes and prediabetes people
Since ketogenic diet helps you lose excess amounts of fats on your body and since diabetes type 2 is closely linked with high-fat levels. Hence, the keto diet can help you fight with type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and diabetes in general.
One study found that the ketogenic diet improved insulin sensitivity by a handsome 76%.
Another study found that a ketogenic group on keto diet not only lose double the amount of fat as compared to other low low-carb diets but about 95% of ketogenic participants were able to stop using the diabetes medication as compared to only 62% in a slightly higher-carb group.
3. It can improve heart health
The ketogenic diet can drastically increase your heart health by improving certain risk factors like HDL cholesterol levels, and other things like blood sugar levels and blood pressure levels.
Other known health and fitness benefits of the ketogenic diet according to medicalnewstoday are:
- Improved fat burning
- Clear skin
- Anti-aging benefits
- Reduced risk of chronic disease
- Abundant energy
- Reduced inflammation
- Cancer protection
- Fighting Alzheimer’s disease
- Fighting epilepsy
- Fighting Parkinson’s disease
- Saving from brain injuries
Types of Ketogenic diets
1. The standard ketogenic diet (SKD) – This is a very low-carb, moderate-protein and high-fat diet. It typically contains:
- 75% fat,
- 20% protein and
- only 5% carbs
2. The high-protein ketogenic diet – This is similar to a standard ketogenic diet, but includes more protein. It typically contains:
- 35% protein
- 5% carbs
- About 60% fat
3. The cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) – As the name indicates, this diet cycle periods of higher-carb refeeds, such as 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high-carb days.
4. The targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) – This diet gives you the flexibility to add carbs around workouts as per your choice.
Keep in mind that targeted or cyclical keto diets are relatively more advanced and not adopted by most of the people rather they are only used by professional athletes and bodybuilders.
In this post, the information provided is applicable to an only standard ketogenic diet(SKD), though some principles can be applicable to other types of ketogenic diets.
A Sample Keto Menu Plan
The following menu given below provides less than 50 grams of total carbs per day.
As mentioned before, some people may still have to further reduce carbohydrates than this in order to reach ketosis – the ultimate end of a ketogenic diet
This is a more general one-week explanatory ketogenic menu that can be altered depending on individual dietary needs.
Here we go then…
- Breakfast: Two eggs fried in pastured butter served with sauteed greens.
- Lunch: A bunless grass-fed burger topped with cheese, mushrooms, and avocado on top of a bed of greens.
- Dinner: Pork chops with green beans sauteed in coconut oil.
- Breakfast: Mushroom omelet.
- Lunch: Tuna salad with celery and tomato atop a bed of greens.
- Dinner: Roast chicken with cream sauce and sauteed broccoli.
- Breakfast: Bell pepper stuffed with cheese and eggs.
- Lunch: Arugula salad with hard-boiled eggs, turkey, avocado and blue cheese.
- Dinner: Grilled salmon with spinach sauteed in coconut oil.
- Breakfast: Full-fat yogurt topped with Keto granola.
- Lunch: Steak bowl with cauliflower rice, cheese, herbs, avocado and salsa.
- Dinner: Bison steak with cheesy broccoli.
- Breakfast: Baked avocado egg boats.
- Lunch: Caesar salad with chicken.
- Dinner: Pork chops with vegetables.
- Breakfast: Cauliflower toast topped with cheese and avocado.
- Lunch: Bunless salmon burgers topped with pesto.
- Dinner: Meatballs served with zucchini noodles and parmesan cheese.
- Breakfast: Coconut milk chia pudding topped with coconut and walnuts.
- Lunch: Cobb salad made with greens, hard-boiled eggs, avocado, cheese, and turkey.
- Dinner: Coconut chicken curry.
As you can see, ketogenic diet meals can be very diverse and full of flavor.
So while many ketogenic meals in this menu plan are based around animal products, there is still a wide variety of vegetarian options available to be chosen.
Finally, if you’re following a more relaxed type of ketogenic diet, adding a cup of berries to your breakfast or adding a little serving of a starchy vegetable to your dinner will safely increase the number of carbs in this meal plan, if you wish so.
Common Keto Diet Myths
The keto diet has been making a lot of its rounds through the diet-sphere, gaining traction, and a lot of attention.
But as the dos and don’ts of the diet get tossed around, like a game of telephone, the basic message seems to get a little confused along the way.
By the time it makes it reaches you, it’s hard to decipher what’s true and whatnot. So it’s very crucial for you to do away with these common keto diet myths to steer clear of unhealthy keto diet lifestyle.
Myth 1: The Keto Diet is perfect for weight loss
Reality: There’s no right diet for everyone.
Just because your friend lost weight successfully on keto (or it seems as if everyone is seeking after it) doesn’t necessarily mean a keto diet is best magic remedy for you.
“In fact, the biggest misnomer I come across is that [a keto diet] is the end-all, be-all answer to losing weight,” says Keene. There are a lot of trendy diets out there, but in reality, she says, true success comes only from finding a dieting plan that you can be super-consistent with.
“I essentially help my clients find a way to eat that they feel good about, don’t obsess over, and simply get them to their healthy fitness goals,” says Keene.
We know we’re harping a lot on talking to a registered dietitian about all this, but before going keto, you should do just that.
Myth 2: Carb Needs in Keto diet are same for everyone
Reality: How much carbs you should eat really depends on your personal health & goals.
When you adopt a very-low-carb diet like a ketogenic diet, you may not realize how low in carbs it is. Keto diet lovers typically consume 20 to 50 grams (g) of carbohydrates a day, starting usually on the lower end of that spectrum to help the body enter the desired ketosis.
However, depending on your physical activity, you may be able to go higher, says Fleck. She recommends consulting with a dietitian who can calculate your daily nutritional needs.
What’s more, sometimes it’s not even needed to go keto, she says. “Some people have underlying genetic issues with using fat for energy which makes this diet even more difficult or relatively ineffective for them,” says Fleck.
Myth 3: A Keto Diet is always High in Protein
Reality: It’s low-carb, but it’s far from the Atkins Diet.
So people think that throwing together a bowl of eggs and smoked salmon for your breakfast and a big cut of steak for dinner make it a perfect high protein keto diet day but, in reality, protein needs to be eaten in moderation.
This is where how keto and Atkins differ fro each other.
In fact, “Excess protein you can consume can be easily converted into glucose, spiking your blood sugar, easily taking your body out of ketosis,” says Keene.
What’s more, she points out, “the breakdown process of amino acids in protein can also increase your ketones, which can be very problematic for a keto dieter who is already on higher levels of ketones in his body,” she says.
If you’re completely unsure about how much you should consume, a trained dietitian can help you through the adequate macronutrient breakdown. You can find one at EatRight.org.
Myth 4: You can have Keto cheat days
Reality: Seesawing on keto diet will simply lead you to gain all the weight back.
Keto has become such a fashionable diet concept that people don’t understand what they’re getting into and jump into the keto diet bandwagon, says Audrey Fleck, RDN, afunctional dietitian nutritionist and a certified diabetes educator in Perkasie, Pennsylvania.
Because of this behavior, people often follow the keto diet one day and then eat a lot of carbs the next very day which defeats the essence of its purpose, she says.
So you’re not going to reap the potential benefits of sustained ketosis this way.
Myth 5: You can eat all types of fat
The keto diet may seem like a dietary fat free-for-all (you can easily get 90 percent of your total daily calories from fat with bacon), but experts warn that a keto diet doesn’t give you the green light to fill up your diet on saturated sources.
According to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, replacing saturated fat (bacon, sausages, ham, etc.) with unsaturated fat (walnuts, flax seed, fish, etc.) is super-effective in reducing risk of cardiovascular disease than just a plain reduced fat consumption.
In fact, research has shown eating processed meats (like bacon) can lead to an increased risk of cancer.
“The best way to optimize your ketogenic lifestyle is by simply putting a Mediterranean diet flair on it,” says Roehl. “Try your best to obtain the bulk of your fat from high-quality extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds, and fatty fish which is very balanced approach.”