What is keto diet?
The ketogenic diet (or keto diet for short) is a low-carb, high fat diet that has many health benefits.
Keto diet is an effective weight loss tool and has been shown to improve several health conditions.
The first medical use for Keto diets was treating epileptic seizures. Since its initial application in 1921, Keto has come a long way, and is now used to treat a variety of medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and treat risk factors for things like heart disease.
The keto diet allows the body to produce small fuel molecules called “ketones.” This is an alternative fuel source for the body, used when blood sugar (glucose) is in short supply.
What keto diet consists of?
When you follow keto diet, your daily macronutrients look something like this
- 60-75% of calories from fat
- 15-30% of calories from protein
- 5-10% of calories from carbs
Staples of the keto diet are fish, meat, eggs, healthy fats and leafy vegetables. Carbohydrates like pasta, rice and other grains, potatoes, and fruits are strictly prohibited.
Here are some of the healthy foods to eat on a ketogenic diet:
1. Meat and poultry
Meat and poultry are considered primary foods on a keto diet. They contain no carbs and are rich in B vitamins and several minerals, including potassium, selenium and zinc.
They're also a great source of protein, which has been shown to help preserve muscle mass during a very low-carb diet.
2. Low-carb veggies
Non-starchy vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, brussels sprouts, are low in calories and carbs, but high in many nutrients, including vitamin C and several minerals.
The net carbs in non-starchy vegetables range from 1–8 grams per cup. Vegetables are nutritious, versatile and may help reduce the risk of disease.
3. Fish & Seafood
Fish and seafood are keto-friendly foods. Salmon and other fish are rich in B vitamins, potassium and selenium, and omega-3 fats, which have been found to lower insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity in overweight and obese people.
Avocados are high in several vitamins and minerals, including potassium, which may help make the transition to a ketogenic diet easier. Avocados also may help improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
One egg contains less than 1 gram of carbs and fewer than 6 grams of protein, making eggs an ideal food for a ketogenic lifestyle.
Eggs have been shown to trigger hormones that increase feeling of fullness and keep blood sugar levels stable.
6. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are healthy, high-fat and low-carb foods and are high in fiber, which can help you feel full and absorb fewer calories overall. They are heart-healthy, high in fiber and may lead to healthier aging. They provide 0–8 grams of net carbs per ounce.
7. Olive and coconut oil
Olive oil is high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that has been found to decrease heart disease risk in many studies. In addition, extra-virgin olive oil is high in antioxidants known as phenols, which protect heart health by decreasing inflammation and improving artery function.
Coconut oil is rich in MCTs, which can increase ketone production. In addition, it may increase metabolic rate and promote the loss of weight and belly fat.
Berries are low in carbs and high in fiber.
Most of the fruits contain too many carbs to include on a keto diet, but berries are an exception. They are loaded with antioxidants that have been proven to reduce inflammation.
What you shouldn't do when you're on keto diet
- DON’T mix high amounts of carbs and fat together. This will make the sugar and fat molecules attach together and causes fat storage which results you putting on undesired fat. Eat your carbs only with lean protein.
- DON’T eat too much fruit. Most of the fruits contain too much fructose, which can only be metabolised by the liver and doesn’t contribute towards muscle glycogen synthesis. If the liver is already full, then any excess fructose will be stored as body fat. It’s okay to have a few servings of your favourite fruit, but keep it low. The best fruit while being on keto diet are berries.
- DON’T cheat at least first 2-3 weeks. First two weeks should serve for your body to adapt to keto and get into ketosis state. This depletes liver glycogen and raises blood ketones. After two weeks, if you like you can try different keto strategies like targeted ketogenic diet or cyclical ketogenic diet. Or simply not be so strict with keto macros.
- DON’T eat refined grains or legumes. Even if other types of diets will tell you that these are super healthy, they might be suitable for that certain diet. But not in keto! Basically, you have to avoid most sugars and starches. Whole grains like oatmeal don't even make the cut!