Keto diet has been raved about for several years now by everyone that has jumped on the bandwagon and noticed positive changes in their wellbeing. The keto diet, also known as the ketogenic diet, is primarily a low-carb and high-fat diet.
According to many studies, it can help you burn fat more efficiently. It has several advantages for weight loss, fitness, and performance. The Keto diet is being recommended by an increasing number of doctors and dietitians.
But what exactly is a keto diet, and how does it help the body? Here is our ultimate guide to introducing the keto diet for beginners! Learn what foods you can indulge in if the diet is ideal for you and what to expect if you lose the carbs and embrace the fat.
What is a keto diet?
A keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet, which produces ketones in our body to be used as a source of energy. The keto diet aims to put your body into ketosis so that it can burn fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.
The keto diet usually uses the macronutrients in the ratios of 20-30% calories from protein, 70-80% of calories from fats, and lastly, 5% or fewer calories from carbs.
While this is the basic breakdown for most people looking to adopt the keto diet meal plan, it may slightly vary for others depending on their weight, physical activity, weight loss goals, or medical condition. In such cases, they should consult a doctor before they begin.
How does a keto diet work in your system?
On a keto diet, your body enters a natural metabolic state known as "ketosis." Carbs usually are broken down into glucose, which the body uses for fuel, with any surplus retained as body fat.
However, when you're in ketosis, the body starts burning fats and breaking them down into energy-producing molecules called "ketones." And if you're on a calorie-restricted diet, the body will burn body fat rather than dietary fat to produce ketones, resulting in weight loss.
Our body can adapt to what we feed it, so when we overwhelm it with fats and deprive it of carbohydrates, it will continue to burn ketones as the primary energy source. Optimal ketone levels have many nutritional, weight loss, physical, and mental functioning benefits.
The Different Types of Keto Diets
Ketogenic diets are classified into four groups. Everyone has a somewhat different path to fat vs. carbs consumption. Consider your goals, fitness level, and lifestyle while determining which approach is right for you.
- Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): This is a low carbohydrate, moderate protein, and high-fat diet. It usually is composed of 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbohydrates.
- Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD): In this diet, you alternate between periods of eating low carb for several days, accompanied by periods of eating high carb for a few days.
- Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): This is a variant in which you eat SKD but still consume a limited quantity of fast-digesting carbohydrates before workouts.
- High-Protein Ketogenic Diet: This is similar to SKD, but it has more protein. Typically, the ratio is 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbohydrates.
However, TKD and CKD are usually followed by bodybuilders and athletes. Most of the information we find online is about SKD or a high-protein keto diet.
What Can You Eat On A Keto Diet?
Adding the right fat intake to your keto diet meal plan is very crucial for ketosis to kick in. Most of the meals you prepare should be based on these ingredients:
- Meat and Poultry: The preference is for natural, unprocessed meat of high-quality, hormone-free meat, particularly free-range and grass-fed. You can have red meat, ham, steak, chicken, turkey, sausage, or any other meat.
- Fatty Fish and Seafood: Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, or mackerel are all good sources of fatty acids, protein, and low carbs
- Eggs: Omega-3 or pastured eggs are a great source of nutrition for any type of diet. Have them scrambled, boiled, fried, or deviled; it’s your choice.
- High-Fat Dairy: Have grass-fed butter, heavy cream, unprocessed cheese like goat, mozzarella, blue, cream, or blue cheese. Ditch the low-fat yogurts and go full-fat.
- Nuts and Seeds: Macadamia nuts, walnuts, almonds, nut butter, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc., are a fat-packed source of keto snacks to have in between your meals.
- Healthy Oils: Drizzle or add spoonfuls of extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil to your food.
- Low- Carb Veggies: Keep your veggies stock limited to leafy greens, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, mushrooms, cauliflower, etc.
- Fruits: Limit your fruits to avocados and berries like blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, or strawberries. Have them as a keto snack, or include them in your keto diet menu.
What Should You Avoid Eating On A Keto Diet?
Because of their high carb content, the following foods should be avoided on the keto diet.
- Grains: Wheat, pasta, rice, oats, barley, rye, corn, whole grains, and quinoa have high-carb content.
- Beans and Legumes: Avoid eating kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans, and lentils.
- High-Sugar Fruits: Although many fruits are rich in antioxidants and other micronutrients, they are also high in fructose, which may cause you to lose ketosis quickly.
- Starchy Vegetables: Keep starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, or carrots out of your kitchen.
- Sugar: Get rid of all sweets, desserts, processed juices, chocolates, and baked goods from the house.
- Alcohol: When you drink alcohol, the liver tends to favor the processing of ethanol over the production of ketones. Avoid beer and wine and stick to a low-sugar beverage.
Benefits of Keto Diet
Along with weight loss, the keto diet can help with a variety of health conditions as well as general well-being like:
- Sustainable fat loss.
- Improve endurance level.
- Reduce appetite.
- Prevent type 2 diabetes.
- It balances sugar and blood levels.
- Reduce risk factors for heart disease.
- Prevent seizures in epileptic patients.
- Reduce the risk of cancer.
- It helps improve the sleep cycle.
- Improve mental clarity and focus.
And many other benefits.
With this keto diet for beginners guide, you are set to begin your keto journey. Working with a certified nutritionist will ensure that you safely adhere to the keto diet, reducing the chances of risks and negative side effects.