The Keto Diet is a little different from most diets out there.
You see, it’s about more than just which foods to eat and which foods to avoid – it actually alters your body’s metabolic state. And that can bring a lot of important health benefits along with it. That’s why Keto is an important diet to know about so that when you’re ready for it, you can use it as a great tool for optimizing your health.
We’ll be covering: what the ketogenic diet is, which foods to eat and which ones to avoid, and how the diet could benefit your health. Plus, 4 steps for getting started.
What is the Ketogenic (Keto) Diet?
You may have heard the name before – but what is the keto diet?
A short definition: Keto is a diet that alters your metabolism so you burn more fat for energy and rely less on glucose – this metabolic state is called nutritional ketosis and has been linked to various health benefits.
The diet works because it reduces the amount of carbohydrates you consume, which means there’s less glucose available for your body to use as fuel. Instead, your body starts burning fat instead (and it can use your own body fat too).
But your cells can’t use fat straight away – first, it has to be broken down into molecules called ketones. And that’s why measuring your ketone levels is one way to work out if you’re in nutritional ketosis.
It might come as a surprise, but the keto diet wasn’t invented recently – it was first put together in the 1920s.
Originally it was designed as an effective treatment for children with epilepsy. And it’s still used across the world for that purpose today, even though it’s also gained more mainstream popularity due to its weight-loss and other health benefits.
Foods to eat and foods to avoid on the Keto Diet
What can you expect to eat on a keto diet? If you do things the healthy way, you’ll be eating plenty of nutrient dense whole foods…
You’ll eat a moderate amount of protein, a fair amount of fat and few carbohydrates.
- Meats, organ meats, shellfish, fish
- Leafy greens like kale and spinach
- Other non-starchy vegetables, e.g mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini, bell peppers
- Healthy fats: coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, lard
- Small amounts of nuts, seeds and berries
And you’ll be avoiding these foods:
- Grains including wheat, oats, rye, barley, rice, and corn
- Beans and other legumes (chickpeas, lentils and soybean products)
- Most fruits, as they’re just too high in sugar
- Processed low-carb foods like artificial sweeteners, salad dressings that use vegetable oils, and diet sodas
If you’d like a more detailed list of foods to look over, we’ve put together a Keto diet food list here.
What are the benefits of a Keto Diet?
Keto has all sorts of great health benefits, here are five examples:
- It can increase your energy levels by balancing your blood sugar levels, so you won’t experience energy dips and crashes throughout the day. That means you’ll be more alert and focused, making concentration easier.
- It can help you beat your cravings because you’ll cut out all the sweet treats that feed a sugar addiction, even natural ones like honey and mangos. And because your blood sugar levels are more stable, you’ll also avoid the drops in blood sugar which are so often a trigger for cravings.
- It can reduce your risk of heart disease by reducing the main risk factors: the diet can help lower levels of bad cholesterol, increase levels of good cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and lower triglyceride levels.
- It can improve your mood thereby benefiting your mind as well as your body. Looking at the impact of a ketogenic diet on animals, one study found a possible antidepressant effect. So you won’t just be improving your health, you could feel happier while you do it!
- It could help you lose weight and there are plenty of success stories and scientific studies to back this up.
4 Steps To Get Started On the Keto Diet
Feeling ready to give Keto a try? Here are some tips to help you get started.
1 – Plan out your meals and then go shopping to stock up on ingredients: you’ll find that a little bit of forward planning can make life a lot easier, especially because a few of your go-to favorites will be too high carb to continue eating. But don’t worry – with a little bit of research, you can find keto-adapted versions of all the classics. And tasty new recipes too, like THESE Oven Baked Adobo Pork Chops.
2 – Eat unlimited protein/fat when you first start and just focus on keeping your carb intake below 25g per day. It will help you ease into the diet gradually (making it easier to stick to), and then you can alter your protein/fat ratios once you’re comfortable with eating low-carb.
3 – Choose the right time to start your diet and it will make things a lot easier for you! Make sure you pick a week where you’re not travelling, aren’t overwhelmed with work and don’t have too many social plans. That way you can really focus on getting used to a keto way of eating, without distractions.
4 – Don’t focus too much on ketone levels. Some folks have trouble getting their ketone levels high enough , and while measuring ketone levels can be helpful to make sure you’re on track, reaching a certain number shouldn’t be your main goal. If you’re losing weight and feeling healthier, then there’s no need to worry about how high your ketone levels are or aren’t.
Looking for recipe ideas and/or need help getting started with your Keto Diet?