The keto diet has been causing a bit of a buzz lately.
And that’s no surprise – it comes with health benefits that pack a serious punch. But most folks misunderstand what the ketogenic diet is all about or get it confused with other popular low-carb diets.
We’ll go over: what the keto diet (eat this, NOT this) is exactly, 5 ways keto can benefit your health, which foods to eat and which to avoid, and some tips to help you get started on keto.
What is the Keto Diet?
The main aim of the keto diet is get you into the metabolic state called nutritional ketosis. In this state, your body will start burning more fat for energy rather than glucose (sugar).
The way the keto (read the latest research on why it’s #1) diet does this is by reducing the amount of carbohydrates you eat; our bodies usually rely on glucose from carbohydrates as their main source of fuel, so eating fewer carbs means your body is forced to look for an alternative energy supply.
So it starts using fat (which can include your own body fat) instead, but before your cells can use fat, your liver has to break it down into molecules called ketones. And that’s why measuring your ketone levels can tell you if you’re in nutritional ketosis or not.
5 Ways Keto Can Benefit your Health
There are many ways keto can benefit your health, so we’ve picked our top five here:
1 – It’s highly effective for weight loss. For examples, just take a look at some of the keto weight loss successes below.
2 – It can reduce your risk of heart disease because of the beneficial effects a Keto diet can have on common risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
3 – It reduces your cravings by giving you an alternative source of energy (ketones) so your blood sugar levels stay stable – and swings in blood sugar levels (caused by eating too many carbs) are usually the culprits behind our cravings. And if you’d like more tips for beating those cravings, check out Erin’s article on 6 Ways to Beat Sugar Cravings.
4 – It can help you feel more energetic and focused and you’ll get rid of brain fog, find it easier to concentrate and have more energy throughout the day. How does Keto do this? By stabilising your blood sugar levels and providing your body with a cleaner source of fuel.
5 – It could also improve your mood. A study which researched the effect of a keto diet on animals found that it could potentially have antidepressant effects.
Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid on the Keto Diet:
Moderate amounts of protein
- Beef, lamb, pork, chicken, and other meats
- Organ meats like liver, tongue and kidney
- Fish and shellfish
Lots of healthy fats
- Coconut oil, olive oil, macadamia oil
- Lard, duck fat, tallow
Small amounts of carbohydrates
- Leafy greens like spinach and kale
- Avocados and olives
- Nuts, seeds and berries (in moderation)
- Non-starchy vegetables like asparagus, cauliflower, zucchini
FOODS TO AVOID:
The main foods to avoid are:
- Potatoes, sweet potatoes, squashes and other starchy vegetables
- Lentils, beans, chickpeas and all other legumes
- Wheat, oats, rice, corn and other grains
- Crackers, cookies, chips and processed foods
- Seed and vegetable oils
If you’d like a more complete list which you can easily print out or download, see below.
How do you get started on Keto?
And lastly, here are a few practical tips to help you start eating keto (read the latest research on why it’s #1).
1 – The First Week On Keto Will Be Tough.
You might have come across carb flu or Keto flu, and this affects most people in their first few weeks of cutting out carbs and going Keto.
Symptoms often include some headaches, tiredness, and feeling weak. This is just your body adjusting to burning fat instead of glucose.
Drink more water, eat more, and get more sleep and rest. Taking in some salts also helps. And if you need to, you can also increase the amount of carbs you eat during those first few weeks to lessen the symptoms.
2 – Clean Out Your Pantry.
It’s tough to throw away many of the foods you’ve spent good money on, but you need to not have it in the house to tempt you.
3 – Increase Your Dietary Fat Slowly.
If you’re unused to eating a lot of fats, then it can be tough on your digestive system to suddenly have to digest a lot more fat. So, increase it slowly.
4 – Get Your Family On Board.
Having the support of your family and friends is crucial to the success of any change you want to make. Talk to them about what this means for you and ask them to support you in your efforts.
5 – Make Sure To Have Lots Of Delicious Foods and Recipes.
Don’t get stuck asking yourself what to eat for dinner or lunch when you’re tired because you’ll likely pick something non-Keto! Plan your meals in advance, stock up your fridge and pantry with healthy Keto foods and snacks. That way, even if you’re hungry and tired, you’ll be more likely to make a healthy choice.