What is a Keto diet?
Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard about the keto diet. The keto diet has become all the rage over the past few years, and for a good reason. People are experiencing excellent results after following this diet. Their health is improving, their weight is decreasing, and their overall fitness levels are experiencing a significant boost.
If you want to learn more about how to start a keto diet and if it's right for you, keep reading!
What’s a keto diet?
A keto diet is a dietary approach that prioritizes high fat intake and low carbohydrate consumption. It involves eliminating most carbohydrates from your meal plan and incorporating healthy fats instead. Initially, the diet was developed by medical professionals to assist children with epilepsy in decreasing the frequency and severity of seizures.
Ordinarily, carbohydrates are the body's primary fuel source in a standard diet, as they contain glucose. However, when carbohydrate consumption is restricted, the body will seek out an alternate energy source, typically from stored fat. By utilizing both the fat consumed during meals and the body's fat reserves, the body generates the energy required to power through the day. This metabolic state prompts the body to produce a substance called ketones.
What is ketosis?
Ketosis refers to the metabolic state your body enters when it starts burning fat for fuel instead of sugars. As the fat is used, a byproduct called ketones builds up in your system. The main type of ketone found during this state is called beta-Hydroxybutyrate. This chemical is produced in the liver, which releases it to the rest of the body, where it is utilized as an alternative source of energy.
During the keto diet, the only way to tell if you are burning fat for fuel instead of glucose is by checking the ketone levels in your urine. Ketone test strips can be dipped in a small urine sample to determine the level of ketones your body is excreting. The higher the reading, the more ketones your body produces and, therefore, the more fat you are burning for fuel.
Can I have any carbs on a keto diet?
Following the keto diet requires strict limitations on carbohydrate intake. When consuming any sources of sugar or high-carbohydrate foods, the body shifts from burning fats to using glucose for energy instead. To achieve and sustain a state of ketosis, it is necessary to keep carbohydrate intake below 50 grams per day, and some individuals may need to reduce their intake to less than 20 grams per day.
It's important to note that not all carbohydrates are created equal, and the type of carbs you consume also plays a crucial role in achieving ketosis. The keto diet emphasizes whole, nutrient-dense foods while limiting or eliminating processed and refined carbohydrates. For example, consuming 50 grams of carbohydrates from vegetables like spinach, kale, and broccoli will have a different effect on the body than consuming 50 grams of carbohydrates from refined sugar.
To put carbohydrate intake into perspective, two slices of white bread contain approximately 26 grams of carbs, which is already over half of the recommended daily intake for the keto diet. The fewer carbohydrates you consume, the easier it is to achieve and maintain a state of fat-burning ketosis.
However, it's essential to ensure that your diet remains balanced and nutritionally adequate while following the keto diet. Cutting carbohydrates to extremely low levels can lead to nutrient deficiencies, particularly in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Therefore, it's crucial to incorporate a variety of nutrient-dense foods like leafy greens, low-carb vegetables, healthy fats, and moderate amounts of protein to ensure your body receives the nutrients it needs to function optimally.
Limiting carbohydrate intake is a vital aspect of the keto diet. While consuming some carbohydrates is necessary for optimal health, the type and amount of carbohydrates you consume play a significant role in achieving and maintaining ketosis. It's essential to balance carbohydrate restriction with a nutritionally balanced diet that provides adequate nutrients to support optimal health.
What are the best foods to eat on a keto diet?
When following the keto diet, it is essential to maintain a specific macronutrient ratio, which involves consuming high amounts of healthy fats, moderate amounts of protein, and minimal carbohydrates. Here are some suggestions for what to eat on the keto diet:
● High-fat foods: Include healthy sources of fat in your diet, such as nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, and fatty fish like salmon.
● Moderate protein: Choose moderate amounts of protein from sources like poultry, beef, pork, eggs, and fatty fish. Avoid high-protein foods like legumes and grains.
● Low-carb vegetables: Incorporate non-starchy vegetables such as leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini.
● Keto-friendly snacks: Snack on nuts, seeds, cheese, or low-carb vegetables with dip.
When planning meals on the keto diet, consider the following tips:
● Meal planning: Plan out meals ahead of time to ensure you are getting enough healthy fats, moderate protein, and low-carb vegetables.
● Meal preparation: Prepare meals in advance to save time and reduce the risk of consuming high-carbohydrate foods when in a rush.
● Keto-friendly recipes: Search for keto-friendly recipes that incorporate healthy fats, moderate protein, and low-carb vegetables.
You will want to keep foods on hand that are high in protein and fat and limit the amount of sugary or carbohydrate-heavy foods in your diet.
Some of the best foods to stock in your fridge and pantry include:
● Fatty fish (like salmon and mackerel)
● Whole eggs
● Plain greek yogurt
● Nuts and seeds
● Oil (like olive, avocado, and coconut oil)
● Low-carb veggies (like salad greens, onions, peppers, and sprouts)
● Herbs, spices, salt, and pepper.
What foods should you avoid on a keto diet?
While following the keto diet, it is essential to avoid certain foods to maintain ketosis and achieve optimal health benefits. Here are some foods to avoid:
● High-carbohydrate foods: The keto diet requires limiting carbohydrate intake to approximately 20-50 grams per day. Therefore, avoid foods like bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and sugary snacks and beverages.
● Sugary foods: Foods containing added sugars, such as candy, soda, and other sweets, should be avoided, as they can quickly spike blood sugar levels.
● Processed foods: Processed foods often contain hidden carbohydrates and unhealthy fats that can interfere with ketosis. Examples include processed meats like hot dogs and deli meats, as well as pre-packaged snacks and frozen meals.
● Grains and legumes: Foods like beans, lentils, and grains like wheat, corn, and oats contain high levels of carbohydrates and should be avoided on the keto diet.
● High-carb fruits: Some fruits, such as bananas, grapes, and oranges, are high in carbohydrates and should be avoided. Instead, opt for lower-carb options like berries, avocados, and tomatoes.
What are the benefits of a keto diet?
Numerous studies have been conducted on the keto diet and all of the benefits it can have on your body and overall health. One of the most common benefits of this way of eating is the amount of weight most people lose. A diet that is high in carbohydrates often results in significant weight gain. Training your body to function without excess carbs and using fat for fuel will allow the pounds to start dropping off. Filling up on healthy fats will also keep you satiated longer, curbing your appetite and reducing unhealthy snacking habits.
Along with weight loss, a keto diet has also been shown to:
● Reduce inflammation
● Lower cholesterol levels
● Control blood sugar levels
● Reduce the risk factors associated with diabetes
● Lower blood pressure
● Improve your heart health
● Decrease the incidence and severity of seizures
● Minimize the risk of neurological diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson
● Prevent migraines
● Reduce acne and improve the look and feel of your skin
Are there any risks to following a keto diet?
Switching from a regular diet to a keto meal plan can be a big change for your body. If you are generally healthy, there are minimal risks to this lifestyle; however, you may experience some side effects, especially in the beginning. Also known as the keto flu, some people experience flu-like symptoms, including diarrhea and nausea. Other initial side effects include:
● Low energy levels
● Poor mental function
● Increased hunger
● Insomnia and sleeplessness
● Upset stomach and digestive issues
● Poor exercise performance
These symptoms are quite common and usually only last a short period of time. Many people find that slowly decreasing the number of carbs that they eat over the course of a few weeks will help minimize the discomfort they experience. This method gives the body time to adjust to these new dietary changes and teaches it how to better switch to fat for fuel.
While the ketogenic diet is usually a safe choice for most people, there are some serious long-term health issues that can occur. Fatty liver, low blood protein, kidney stones, and vitamin deficiencies have been reported. Because of this, visit your doctor regularly and talk to them about your eating habits to ensure this diet is safe for you.
Also, you may be wondering, "is the keto diet good for diabetics?" A particular medication taken for Type 2 diabetes may increase the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis, a serious and life-threatening condition. Anyone taking this medication or anyone who has diabetes should speak with their doctor before making any changes to their meal plan.
Are You Ready To Try The Keto Diet?
If you are considering starting a keto diet, it's important that you begin your journey armed with all the information you need. Start by slowly implementing healthy changes in your meal plan and gradually decrease the number of carbohydrates you consume. This will help ease you into the world of keto and reduce the symptoms of the keto flu. Another easy way to embrace the keto way of life is by enlisting the help of a meal prep company like Clean Eatz Kitchen.
At Clean Eatz Kitchen, all of your meals are planned out ahead of time, prepared for you, and delivered right to your door. This takes all of the hassles out of planning and preparing your food and allows you to eat healthy all the time. Their meals are created using the freshest and most wholesome ingredients, and they are catered to your specific dietary requirements. Whether you are gluten-free, on a high-protein diet, or want to give keto a try, Clean Eatz Kitchen can help. Visit our website for more information on all of our services and meal plans today!
Frequently Asked Questions
What foods do you eat on the keto diet?
The keto diet emphasizes high-fat, low-carbohydrate foods. Some examples of foods that can be eaten on the keto diet include meats, fish, eggs, healthy fats such as olive oil and avocados, non-starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds, and dairy products.
What are the main rules of keto?
The main rules of the keto diet include keeping carbohydrate intake low, consuming moderate amounts of protein, and consuming high amounts of healthy fats. The macronutrient ratios for the keto diet typically involve getting around 70-80% of calories from fat, 20-25% of calories from protein, and 5-10% of calories from carbohydrates. It's also important to choose nutrient-dense, whole foods while avoiding processed and refined carbohydrates.
Are keto diets healthy?
The keto diet has been shown to have benefits for weight loss, reducing inflammation, improving insulin sensitivity, and potentially even benefiting certain medical conditions such as epilepsy and type 2 diabetes. However, as with any dietary approach, it's important to ensure that the diet is nutritionally balanced and sustainable in the long term. In some cases, following a keto diet may lead to nutrient deficiencies or other health concerns, so it's important to speak with a healthcare professional before starting a new diet.
What are the benefits of a keto diet?
The benefits of a keto diet include weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation, potential benefits for certain medical conditions such as epilepsy and type 2 diabetes, and increased satiety and feelings of fullness. Some people also report improved energy levels and mental clarity while following a keto diet. However, as with any dietary approach, individual results may vary, and it's important to consider the potential drawbacks and risks associated with any dietary change.