A ketogenic diet or keto diet as it’s more commonly known is well known for being a low carb high-fat diet.
When you eat sugar or carbohydrates are stored as fat in order to be used as energy later.
When you’re consistently eating food rich in carbohydrates, your body produces glucose for energy and this serves as the go-to source for powering your body’s processes.
When you eat something high in carbs, your body will produce glucose and insulin.
Glucose is the easiest molecule for your body to convert and use as energy so that it will be chosen over any other energy source.
Insulin is produced to process the glucose in your bloodstream by taking it around the body.
Since the glucose is being used as your primary energy, your fats are not needed and are therefore stored. Typically on a normal, higher carbohydrate diet, the body will use glucose as the main form of energy.
By lowering the intake of carbs, the body is induced into a state known as ketosis.
What is Ketosis?
Ketosis is a natural process the body initiates to help us survive when food intake is low.
During this state, we produce ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver to be used as energy.
Our bodies are incredibly adaptive to what you put into it – when you overload it with fats and take away carbohydrates, it will begin to burn ketones as the primary energy source.
The end goal of a keto diet is to force your body into this metabolic state. We don’t do this through starvation of calories but starvation of carbohydrates.
Many people find that it is beneficial in losing weight rather quickly. Part of this reason is that when your body starts converting fat into energy, you will lose your cravings for sugar.
The ketogenic diet spurs your body to speed metabolism and start burning its internal nutrient stores, rather than stockpiling them.
The advantage of following a ketogenic diet is that it is a relatively painless way to lose weight. You can get your satiety from the consumption of fat and a moderate level of protein.
The truth is that most diets that people follow are short-term programs that are highly unnatural. The ketogenic diet is a sensible alternative to starvation diets.
The ketogenic diet also has other benefits such as weight loss, physical and mental health benefits.
Related: 11 Signs of Ketosis
Types of Ketogenic Diets
There are several types of ketogenic diet. They include:
Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): This is the classic keto diet that everyone knows and does. It’s the “bread and butter” of this website.
Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): This is a variation where you eat SKD, but intake a small amount of fast-digesting carbs before a workout.
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD): This is a variation of keto for bodybuilders and contest goers, generally giving one day a week to carb up and resupply glycogen stores.
Unless you are an athlete or bodybuilder, then it is recommended that you follow the standard ketogenic diet for best results.
What Do I Eat on a Ketogenic Diet
To start a keto diet, you will want to plan ahead. That means having a viable diet plan ready and waiting. What you eat depends on how fast you want to get into a ketogenic state.
The more restrictive you are on your carbohydrates (less than 15g per day), the faster you will enter ketosis.
You want to keep your carbohydrates limited, coming mostly from vegetables, nuts, and dairy.
What to include in a keto diet
*Meats – fish, beef, lamb, poultry, eggs, etc.
*Leafy Greens – spinach, kale, etc.
*High Fat Dairy – hard cheeses, high fat cream, butter, etc.
*Nuts and seeds – macadamias, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
*Avocado and berries – raspberries, blackberries, and other low glycemic impact berries
What Carbohydrates NOT to Eat on Keto
*NO grains – even whole meal (wheat, rye, oats, corn, barley, millet, bulgur, sorghum, rice, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains), and anything that’s made out of grains, such as pasta, pizza, cookies, crackers, cake. No bun, please (but a pun).
*NO sugar – sweets, ice cream, pudding, chocolate, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, syrup etc. Read the labels, as sugar hides in all shape and form.
*NO high carb tubers – white potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes. Turnips, carrots, and beetroot are in the yellow zone. You can eat them just a little bit but definitely avoid them completely during adaptation.
*NO legumes – beans, lentils, soy etc. There are also other reasons for doing so. Lectins aren’t good for consumption in large quantities.
*NO fruit – fructose is also sugar. Don’t eat apples, bananas, pears, oranges, pineapples, grapes, mangos. Avoid fruit juices and also dried fruit, like dates, raisins. Lemons, limes and berries are allowed because they’re mostly fiber.
*NO artificial sweeteners – Splenda, Equal, sweeteners containing Aspartame, Acesulfame, Sucralose, Saccharin, etc. Despite their non-caloric content, they can still spike your blood sugar and insulin, which creates a placebo effect.
*NO high carb alcohol – beer, sweet wine, mojitos, Piña carbonados, ciders, long drinks or any other type of cocktails. They’re all full of sugar. If you’re going to drink then stick to clean spirits, such as vodka and gin.
What Proteins NOT to Eat on Keto
*NO processed meat – some meat is full of preservatives, nitrates, and sugar. This includes bacon, beef jerky and salami cured in dextrose, hams, canned meat, SPAM, sausages that have wheat in them, corned beef, hot dogs, Bolognese sauces etc.
*NO fish with added sugar – the same with fish. Don’t eat fish canned in tomato sauce. They’re not tomatoes but simply sugar with added flavorings. Farmed fish are also higher in omega-6 fatty acids. Avoid fish high in mercury. Also, know, if the fish is marinated in sugar, make sure you wash it before you eat it.
*NO milk – milk has quite a lot of carbs in them (4-5 grams per 100ml) and can spike insulin. This includes all low-fat yogurts etc. Of course, some milk on keto can work from time to time, as long as it’s kept moderate. Raw milk is allowed in small amounts. Also, heavy cream, cheese, and full-fat cottage cheese are also okay.
Fats to Avoid on Keto
*NO trans fats – hydrogenated trans fats, such as margarine. They’re EXTREMELY inflammatory and high in omega-6s. Cellular death…
*NO refined vegetable oils – sunflower, canola, saffron, cottonseed, soybean, corn oil, grapeseed. Same reason as with trans fats.
*NO rancid fats – fats go rancid very fast when exposed to heat and sunlight. This causes inflammation. Some go more so than others.
*Don’t heat olive oil and keep it in a dark bottle away from sunlight.
*Don’t let your avocados go rancid and too dark.
*Avoid overcooking eggs, bacon or fish.
*Eat nuts as raw as possible, Don’t roast nuts and seeds. Salted nuts are fine for improved sodium. This can help you fight keto flu.
*Don’t boil fats and deep fry things, if you want optimal health benefits.
If you’ve read anything about the keto diet then you’ve likely seen the words macros & micros come up A LOT. around.
Food is made up of three main building blocks, protein, fat and carbohydrates. These are known as macronutrients or macros for short.
Most food or meals are made up of a ration of the three macros. For example, pasta is high in carbs and chicken is high in protein.
Typical diets are usually made up of 20% fats, 30% protein and 50% carbohydrates. We have been told since we are young that this is the healthiest way to eat and it can be difficult to think otherwise.
The ketogenic diet simply changes the ratio of these macronutrients.
By limiting carbohydrates, moderating protein and increasing your total healthy fat intake, you put your body into a state of “ketosis.”
Instead of burning sugar and glucose for energy, your body starts to burn “ketones,” which is an energy source that your body creates from fat.
Your body prefers burning fat for energy and it is the preferred source in your brain and muscles.
It also has some remarkably positive results for many common chronic illnesses today.
Your body will become what is called “fat adapted” whilst you re-teach it to use the stored fat as energy, all without feeling any starvation or typical diet hunger issues.
Macros on Keto Diet
Try to remember that keto is high in fat, moderate in protein, and very low in carbs. Your nutrient intake should be something around 70% fats, 25% protein, and 5% carbohydrate.
Typically, anywhere between 20-30g of net carbs is recommended for everyday dieting – but the lower you keep your carbohydrate intake and glucose levels, the better the overall results will be. If you’re doing keto for weight loss, it’s a good idea to keep track of both your total carbs and net carbs.
Protein should always be consumed as needed with fat filling in the remainder of the calories in your day.
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