Ketogenic (keto) diets have been gaining popularity over the past few years. This diet consists of high fat intake and very low carb intake. Low carb diets have been proven to have many health benefits.
Most records indicate that the Ketogenic diet was developed in 1920. The research was done to find a treatment to help prevent epileptic seizures. It proved to be effective and is still used today.
Nevertheless, there are some things to be taken into consideration, such as; the best foods to eat, benefits, possible side effects, or any potential dangers.
The guide will provide some samples of keto meals, ideas for snacks, and guide your way to implement the diet in the best way possible.
Below you will find a index of the topics we will touch upon?
- What is a Keto diet?
- How does Keto work?
- How many carbs can I eat?
- How can I tell that I am in ketosis?
- Potential benefits of keto.
- Which foods can I eat on keto.
- Keto snacks
- Foods to avoid
- Keto versions of high-carb
- Two potential dangers – Does keto cause them?
- Side effects of Keto
- Final thoughts
1. What is a Keto diet?
Keto diet is a diet with a high intake of fat, moderate protein, and vegetables, which limits carbohydrates to the minimum. If followed correctly, it’s very beneficial for your health.
Keeping carbohydrates out of your diet is the most critical factor for a successful keto. Eating a diet high in fat does not mean that you have to consume large amounts of fat. It only means that the most calories you get from your meals, have to be from fat. Since fat is usually high in calories, you don’t need as much to cover your needs.
The intake of fat, carbs, and protein in keto in percentage are;
– Getting 60-75 % of calories from fats
– Getting 20-30 % of your calories from protein
– Getting only 5-10 % of your calories from carbohydrates (this can even be lower).
2. How does keto work?
Your body mostly uses carbs for energy in the form of bread, pasta, cake, potatoes, sugar, etc. When we eliminate or minimize carbs in our diet, and increase the fat intake, the body starts using fat instead of carbs for energy. After several days of following your keto diet, your body will enter a state of ketosis. Instead of carbs, it’s going to use fats from your food and excess fats from your body, for energy, helping you lose weight.
Typical carb diets use glucose and other forms of carbohydrates for fuel, but keto uses ketones, which are much better fuel for your body. Ketones are produced in our liver in times of keto diet or times of eating less food. The human body is adaptable and can use ketones as well as glucose for its fuel.
3. How many carbs can I eat?
Researchers Volek and Phinney advise limiting your daily intake of carbs under 50 grams (less is better).
You can eat up to 50 grams of carbs a day and still stay in ketosis. Different people have different metabolism rate, and some will have to limit it under 35 grams or might be able to eat all up to 70 grams to still stay in ketosis. Some individuals who follow a 0 carb diet, but for most of us, this can be too restrictive.
Personally, I have to keep my carb intake under 23 grams a day to get the results I want. I find it harder to get enough fat in my diet than to reduce the carbs.
4. How can I tell that I am in ketosis?
Signs that tell you, you are in ketosis;
– Fast weight loss linked to loss of water weight
– Bigger satiety and loss or reduction of food cravings
– Short time side effects, such as fatigue, darker urine, and bad breath
– If you want to be entirely sure, you can use a urine strip or a breathalyzer, to measure your ketone level
5. Potential benefits of keto
Keto has gained popularity because of many health benefits and minimum side effects. Let’s talk about the main advantages of a keto diet.
Improved insulin resistance and blood sugar levels.
Minimizing the intake of carbs (which turn into glucose in your body), starches, and sugars, your blood sugar levels will drop, and your insulin resistance will improve. Many people, especially with diabetes type 2, have been successfully managing their condition with a keto diet.
If you tried some low-calorie diets before, you probably often experienced hunger and cravings. However, due to high fat and protein intake, you will stay full longer, and long term keto will eliminate carb cravings.
Excess Triglycerides in the body appear because of the high consumption of carbs, sugar, and alcohol. They are one of the main factors causing cardiovascular diseases. Keto diet might help you reduce them in the long term.
Managing neurological health
Keto can be beneficial for many neurological (and brain) related conditions. Keto has potential benefits against depression, migraines, epileptic fits, and even brain tumors (5,6).
Significant increase in HDL levels
Keto helps to increase HDL (high-density lipoprotein) levels. HDL has a protective function in preventing heart disease (7, 8 ).
Some research suggests that ketones might even help to ease the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Further research is needed.
Impaired glucose metabolism has been found in patients with Alzheimer’s and ketones might improve their cognition and memory. (9, 10)
Reduced blood pressure
Hypertension is a high-risk factor in cardiovascular disease and potential stroke. Many people don’t realize that refined carbs can have a stronger effect on high blood pressure than consuming too much sodium. It is a high possibility that the keto diet will lower your blood pressure to a healthy level (11, 12).
So let’s talk about the food choice. What is more appealing? Some dry chicken breast, with skimmed milk accompanied by tasteless crackers or a juicy steak with cheese accompanied by a dark chocolate dessert? Of course, that is your choice, but what we are trying to say is that keto includes a lot of delicious foods and you will never be hungry or deprived.
6. Which foods can I eat on Keto?
Keto might restrict carbs but will allow you so many different tasty food choices. We will provide you with a list of delicious foods you can eat on keto.
You can also get many great guides on how to prepare and serve many fine dishes. One cookbook that I use is “Simply Keto“. It has hundreds of recipes and food lists to choose from.
– High-fat cheeses, cottage cheese, heavy cream, cream cheese, sour cream, whipped cream, full-fat yogurt, butter, ghee, and other high-fat dairy products.
Milk is not recommended as it contains lactose, but you can have it in moderation. I find Almond Silk to be a good substitute.
Meat, poultry, and eggs
– You can eat beef (all beef parts), bacon, ham, lamb, turkey, venison, wild game, chicken, duck, and more.
Oils and fats
– You might want to avoid unhealthy fats and industrial vegetable oils. The healthiest fat sources you can eat are; Avocado, avocado oil, coconut oil, virgin olive oil, lard, ghee, goose fat, macadamia nut oil, hemp seed oil, and tallow.
Fish, shellfish and other seafood
– There are many types of fish you can eat, we will talk about some of more commonly available.
Carp, Cod, Catfish, Anchovy, Bream, Flounder, Halibut, Herring, Mackerel, Haddock, Sardines, Trout, Tuna**, Tilapia*, Trout*, salmon*, and swordfish**.
* Best sources of omega 3
** High in mercury and omega 3
– Clams, crab, mussels, oysters, shrimp, scallops, eel, cockles, abalone, sea squirt, and squid
Low sugar fruits
Keto diet does not allow too many carbs. Therefore sweet fruit is unsuitable. There are plenty of fruits with less sugar that you can enjoy in moderation
– Lemons, limes, berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, salmonberries, strawberries, cranberries), rhubarb, olives, coconut
While cashews, pistachio, and chestnuts are too high in carbs, there are many nuts that you can eat. They have a lot of calories so around 28 grams (1 ounce) should do it.
You can enjoy; Hazelnuts, Almonds, Macadamia, Peanuts, Pine nuts, Walnuts, and Pecan nuts.
For a healthy diet, you can include many different seeds, such as;
– Chia, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame and sunflower seeds. The intake of seeds should be the same quantity as nuts, 28 grams.
Cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens should be the focus. Plants growing above ground are lower in carbs and those growing underground tend to have more carbs. You can eat the “underground” veg in small amounts too if you count them in the total carbohydrate count.
The best vegetables would be;
Artichokes, beet greens, asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy, celery, cucumbers, eggplants, green beans, onions, kale, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, mushrooms, red cabbage, radishes, seaweed, spaghetti squash, spinach, turnips, zucchini and tomato in smaller amounts.
7. Keto snacks
Keto diet might be restrictive in carbs but offers many other foods. First I would like to show you some ideas for healthy keto snacks.
– Berries with whipped cream (your choice of berries)
– Boiled eggs with optional mayo
– Celery with peanut butter or cream cheese (nutritious and healthy)
– Prosciutto with your favorite cheese (all high-fat cheeses are allowed), you can pair it with a glass of wine
– Dark chocolate (85 % of cocoa or more)
– Guacamole with salad
– Keto milkshake (blend coconut milk, ice and some unsweetened cacao, sweeten with stevia or erythritol, you can replace cacao with fresh or frozen berries.
– Pork rinds, delicious and filling (they go good with avocado dip)
If you have any doubts about a specific food being keto friendly, you can use an app called Nutria, which will help you with that. The app tells you the nutrients, insulin index, and a keto score, and it’s useful. Keto diet does not necessarily mean eating fat, meat, and vegetables; there are plenty of other options.
8. Foods to avoid
Avoid starches, grains, sugars, and other high carb foods. Here is a list of foods you should always avoid;
– Beer, cookies and cakes, cereal, dried fruits, high sugar fruits (bananas, pineapple, mango, papaya, etc.), fruit juices, bread, pasta, rice, oats, processed foods (especially with low fat and high carbs), milk (a little is ok), sweets in general, sweet wines and sugary alcohols, potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips.
The following foods are keto but should be avoided to protect your health; vegetable oils (sunflower, soy, palm oil), and margarine.
What about alcohol?
You can enjoy some dry wine and spirits occasionally. Avoid beer and sweet drinks.
9. Keto versions of high-carb foods
You can make a lot of imitations of high carb foods that are keto friendly! There is plenty of recipes on the internet. Here is a list of few breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas;
– Bacon and eggs (a few slices of bacon, eggs fried with butter or coconut oil, grilled mushrooms, and tomato
-Mackerel fillet with sauteed spinach (steamed or fried fillet, with some greens sauteed with butter
– Greek yogurt, berries, and nuts will make a very tasty breakfast!
– Different variations of omelets (with cheese, vegetables, etc.), be creative
– Scrambled or boiled eggs with avocado, meat, vegetables
– Ham and eggs with melted cheese on a low carb keto friendly bread (check for recipes on the internet)
– Chicken salad; diced chicken, leafy greens, cherry tomatoes, vinegar, and olive oil
– Nuts, berries, cheese, cold cuts
– Sandwiches with keto friendly bread
– Salmon with vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower), topped with cheese of your choice
– Chicken soup
– Steak with vegetables and many more (Search for keto-friendly recipes on youtube, there are many of them).
– Beef and tomato soup (simmer beef, onions, mushrooms, and diced tomatoes for an hour, can be reheated later)
– Low carb Sushi rolls (instead of rice you can use cream cheese
– Pork chops with garlic and onion and buttered asparagus
– Creamy salmon covered with coconut cream and cheese sauce, accompanied with mushrooms and broccoli
– Steaks and sausage accompanied with veggies, garlic, and onion
– Chicken curry and other stews with meat and vegetables, just skip the rice
– You can make a pizza with cauliflower and mozzarella crust (recipe on youtube).
10. Two potential dangers? Does keto really cause them?
We have talked about many benefits of keto, but 2 things can be potentially dangerous (ketoacidosis and hypoglycemia) but are not linked to the keto diet, but rather other health issues. You can click on the above links and Dr. Erick Berg will explain them in detail.
In the keto diet, the production of ketones is regulated, harmless, and controlled. Poor management of type 1 diabetes and other conditions are linked to these 2 problems. Keto diet does not cause them.
11. Side effects of Keto
When you first start your keto diet you many run into several side effects. These are mostly caused by not doing the proper research before starting, but can occur at some level even if you are doing everything correctly.
You may not tolerate alcohol as well.
It may take a lot less alcohol to impair your judgement. So just be very careful.
Many people have bad breath.
When your body starts burning fat(ketones), the chemical change in your body may cause bad breath for a short time.
Keto Flu (not really flu)
You may feel cramps, fatigue and low energy when you first start. This is usually due to an imbalance in electrolytes. Mostly Magnesium, potassium and sodium.
To fix this you may have to start salting your food and taking magnesium and potassium.
12. In Conclusion
Every person is different. Some will lose weight very fast and others slower, but all should see an improvement in their health.
If you want to lose weight and become healthier at the same time Keto is the way to go. It can also become a lifestyle that you will benefit from for years to come.
It is always best if you talk to your doctor and let them know what you are trying to accomplish and ask for their advice.
I would also encourage you to leave your comments to this article. I know that I have covered a lot in a very little space.