You must have heard of the popular ketogenic (keto) diet.
If the numbers on the weighing scale keep increasing, it is high time you give it a go.
After all we all want to look fit and maintain a healthy weight.
And if you do too, you are in the right place!
We have covered everything you want to know about Keto diet in this guide.
Keep reading to start your journey towards a fit body today!
What is Keto Diet?
Essentially ketogenic diet is a low carb and high-fat diet.
And it decreases your net carb intake by avoiding food high in carbs.
The process involves the production of ketones through the breakdown of fat in the liver.
These ketones act as a fuel source when your body has less glucose.
Basically, you get calories from fats and protein intake, not from carbohydrates.
Hence, your body is put in a metabolic state of ketosis.
Your brain especially relies on glucose or ketones to act as a fuel source.
It cannot rely on fat, therefore the body turns fat in the liver to ketones and the body becomes pretty efficient to burn fat.
In fact, it burns fat all day, especially when insulin levels drop down, accessing fat stores becomes easy hence, easily and burning fat.
So How Do You Do That?
Well, cut down your carbs, control your proteins and consume more fat.
A high amount of proteins can also convert to glucose, which will eventually slow down ketosis.
So you need fewer carbs and a controlled amount of proteins.
It is recommended to take around 20 to 50 grams of carbs per day but never more than that.
However, a stricter diet only allows less than 20 grams of carbs.
When you consume these fewer carbs, your body runs out of glucose which is the fuel.
In about 3 to 4 days, your body starts breaking fats and proteins to form ketones.
The breakdown of saturated fat eventually results in fat loss and weight loss.
Most people use the Keto diet only for weight loss rather than for health benefits even if they exist.
Benefits of Keto Diet
Keto diet’s benefits are not limited to weight loss but it is unarguably one of the biggest benefits of ketosis.
However, it also helps in treating epilepsy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
You will witness more weight loss through this diet in the first 3 to 6 months than through other diets.
That is also because more calories are needed to break fats and proteins than are needed for the breakdown of carbs.
Moreover, this diet involves a high intake of fats and proteins so you feel satiated and not like you are starving. Therefore, it also reduces the need to eat more.
People who follow this diet have even lost five times more weight compared to those who followed a low-fat diet.
The low insulin levels trigger the burning of fats and calories leading to the production of ketones as an energy source and fuel for the body.
The ketogenic diet may also improve and increase your insulin sensitivity.
This helps in improving the metabolism and utilization of fuel.
Moreover, it may also reduce the conversion of excess carbs into fat termed as lipogenesis. When carbs are already low, fats are broken down for energy.
It is also said to burn an increased amount of fat during rest or exercise hence making the body capable of burning more fats.
Studies show that the Keto diet was originally made to treat Epilepsy and other neurological disorders.
However, after meta analysis, it has proven to be beneficial for other conditions as well.
This diet significantly controls cholesterol levels and blood glucose levels alongside burning fats.
All of these factors are responsible for heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases and this diet can help keep them controlled.
Alzheimer’s progression may also slow down by consuming a keto diet.
The ketogenic diet is known to treat and reduce seizures in children suffering from epilepsy.
Furthermore, it may also decrease tumor growth so it is can be used for cancer treatments in the future.
Ongoing researches also show that it can improve Parkinson’s disease and traumatic brain injuries.
Moreover, the reduced insulin levels are also beneficial in helping against polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Higher Mental Performance and Energy levels
You may experience an increase in your energy levels when you try this diet.
Since, the fuel is ketones and not glucose, you can avoid big blood sugar swings.
This in return increases mental focus, improves concentration, resolves brain fog and provides mental clarity.
Due to higher energy levels, your physical endurance can also increase significantly.
Glycogen lasts for a lesser time than fat stores. The energy in fat stores can last good enough for weeks.
It also reduces body fat percentage.
The muscle to fat ratio is maintained and over time it raises the oxygen your body uses at one time, hence, it is useful for athletes.
Controls Type 2 Diabetes
Keto diet is excellent for controlling type 2 diabetes and in some cases, it may even reverse this condition.
That is due to the reduced glucose levels due to fewer carbohydrate consumption.
This in return decreases the need for medication.
You avoid the risks of high insulin levels because keto improves insulin sensitivity.
Keto diet can bring the blood glucose level back to normal and even if you do not have diabetes you will be saved from contracting it.
Another benefit will be a calm stomach. Keto diet reduces cramps, pain and gaseous stomach. It may also relieve other IBS symptoms.
Now let’s head over to what we should know about the Keto diet beforehand.
We know that you must be curious that what are keto diet foods and meal plans.
However, first, you need to know some basics.
Can You Do the Keto Diet?
Before proceeding further, check if you can even do the Keto diet.
You should check with your doctor if you
- have diabetes and take insulin or other medication for it
- breastfeed your baby
- have high blood pressure and take medication for it
- have serious conditions like pancreatitis and liver failure
- fat metabolism disorders
Consult with your doctor first if you fulfill any of these conditions and they may recommend you to not go ahead with it.
In fact if you have any health condition, you should only follow the keto diet after proper guidance and approval from your doctor.
What Foods to Eat?
You need to eat food rich in fats as that is keto friendly.
Meat in the form of steak, sausages, chicken, etc will be your main food.
You can also alternate that with fatty fish, the likes of salmon and mackerel.
You can use unprocessed cheese, heavy cream, and grass-fed butter as the main dairy products.
Moreover, you can consume pastured eggs, low carb vegetables like onion, tomato and green vegetables.
Cook in healthy oils like olive oil, mct oil or avocado oil.
Among fruits, avocado will be your choice and among nuts almonds and walnuts should fill you up.
Herbs and spices are all allowed including salt and pepper.
The likes of eggs, cheese and vegetables may have some carbs but not many.
In order for the diet to be effective, you should keep your daily carbohydrate intake under 50 grams.
What Foods to Avoid?
Carbohydrate-rich foods like fruits, rice and bread should be avoided otherwise ketosis will not occur and all the diet will go to waste.
Every food except for small portions of strawberries should be exempted.
Wheat products like rice, pasta, cereal and bread have no place in the diet.
You should steer clear of all kinds of beans and legumes rich in carbs like peas and lentils and of all sorts of sugary foods and beverages like carbonated drinks, milkshakes, icecreams and chocolates.
Root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, parsnips and sauces like ketchup and barbecue sauce have lots of carbs.
You should also avoid low-fat foods like salad dressings and low-fat mayonnaise alongside also avoiding unhealthy fats in mayonnaise and processed vegetable oil.
Moreover, avoid alcohol but you can consume tea and coffee and water is obviously essential. However, avoid using any artificial sweeteners in your beverages.
Keto Diet Plan
Now you know what you should eat and what you should be avoiding.
But it is still difficult to lay out a proper meal plan.
Don’t worry and read on to understand what you can incorporate in a meal plan.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and it isn’t any different in this diet.
You need to have all your meals properly but especially breakfast.
One staple food in breakfast is the egg. You can make an omelet with a side of tomatoes and onions.
You can also make an egg and vegetable muffin serving it along with tomatoes, basil and mushrooms.
If you don’t like eggs then you can try sugar-free Greek yogurt and cream cheese pancakes.
Greek yogurt with a side of peanut butter makes a great combo.
And cream cheese pancakes topped with blueberries will satisfy your sweet tooth.
You should include meat and fatty fish in both your dinner and lunch but not on the same day.
Ground beef lettuce wrap tacos will with a side of peppers suffice you for the afternoon meal.
You can also try smoothies made with almond milk with added peanut butter and strawberries.
Furthermore, chicken salads with cheese, olives and olive oil for dressing make a delicious meal.
Low carb chicken steak with a side of steamed broccoli and tomatoes will also fill you up.
You will have to make sure that if you take a heavy dinner consisting of meat and fatty fish then you should take a light lunch like a smoothie.
You can try stuffed chicken with cream cheese and a side of grilled zucchini or tomatoes.
If you want seafood, then make white fish with toasted pine nuts and a side of kale cooked in coconut oil.
Moreover, you can also eat plain salmon with a side of asparagus.
Incorporate these meal ideas into your meal plan and follow them religiously.
It is important to note that you can break ketosis if you decide to eat any food you are told to avoid.
Hence, you should strictly abide by beating only high fat and low carbs food.
Side Effects of Keto Diet
Some people may get keto flu when they start this diet.
This can happen because the body needs to adapt to changes.
You may experience symptoms like diarrhea, constipation and vomiting.
Since these changes are sudden and the body usually requires some time for adapting, you may also experience:
- increased hunger
- low energy
- issues in sleeping
- poor mental function and digestion
In order to avoid these symptoms, you can first try a low carb diet so that the body is used to burning fat and then try the extreme keto diet.
This diet can also alter the water and mineral balance of your body which can be corrected by adding more salts to your meal.
If you continue the diet for a very long time time, it could lead to excess fat in your liver.
Moreover, kidney stones and micronutrient deficiencies may develop alongside the lack of protein in the blood.
Keto diet is very effective in helping you lose weight.
However, everything related to your body should be treated with caution.
Hence, discuss with your doctor if doing the Keto diet is beneficial and healthy for you.