The ketogenic or keto diet is a high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate diet. Carbohydrates are the bodies’ first choice in energy source, but on a strict keto diet, less that 5% of the bodies’ energy intake is from carbohydrates or carbs for short. The reduced amount of carbs put the body into a metabolic state called ketosis. The state of ketosis is when the body starts to break down its stored fat into molecules called ketone bodies’ to use as energy, in the absence of circulating blood sugar from food. Once the body reaches the state of ketosis, most cells will use the ketone bodies’ to generate its energy until you reintroduce carbs to your diet again.
The ketogenetic diet was traditionally used in settings to reduce seizures in children suffering from epilepsy. There has become more interest in the diet’s effectiveness in helping other conditions such as cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. People also use the keto diet to aid them in weight loss.
Even if you know that you need to eat a low carb, high fat, moderate protein diet, it can be confusing to know which foods you can eat. Here is a guide to the different foods you can eat, also foods to avoid. Also foods you can have from time to time while you are following the keto diet.
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Foods you can eat
Here is a list of keto friendly foods that you can eat while following the keto diet.
- Low carb vegetables
- Nuts and seeds including Healthy oils
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Tea and coffee (unsweetened)
- Dark chocolate
Fish is rich in vitamin B, potassium and selenium. It is also rich in protein and contains zero carbs. Salmon, sardines, mackerel, albacore tuna and other types of fatty fish can contain high levels of omega 3 fats, which have been found to help lower blood sugar and help the body increase insulin sensitivity. An increase in the frequency of eating fish has also been found to decrease the risk of developing chronic diseases as well as helping to improve a persons’ mental health. The aim of the keto diet is to eat at lease two 3 ounce servings of a fatty fish every week.
Low carbohydrate vegetables
low starch vegetables are both low in calories and carbohydrates. They are also high in many different types of nutrients, including vitamin C and minerals. They also contain antioxidants that can help to protect you from cell damaging free radicals. The aim is to only have non starchy that contain less than 8g of net carbohydrates per cup. Net carbs are the total carbohydrates minus the fiber. Broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, zucchini and spinach are perfect examples of these non starchy vegetables.
Cheese contains zero carbs and is very high in fat content. These traits make it a great fit for the ketogenic or keto diet. It also contains a high level of protein and calcium. You need to keep in mind that a 1 ounce slice of cheese is about 30% of your daily allowance of saturated fat. Saturated fats have been directly linked to heart disease, so be careful on the amount of cheese that you use.
Plain Greek yogurt
Yogurt and cottage cheese are both very rich in calcium and protein content. For example, just five ounces of plain Greek yogurt contains on 5g of carbs against 12g of protein. It is a similar story when it comes to cottage cheese. For the same five ounce serving, cottage cheese has 5g of carbs against 18g of protein. Studies show us that both protein and calcium can reduce a persons’ appetite. This will help to promote fullness whilst you are trying to lose weight. The yogurts and cottage cheese that have a higher fat content will help you to feel fuller for longer. Full fat products are a great part of the keto or ketogenic diet.
Avacados are probably the most famous part of the keto diet. Heart healthy fats such as avocados, which are high in a fat called monounsaturated and potassium. Potassium is a mineral which, unfortunately most people are found to be lacking. Half of a medium-sized avocado contains just 9g of carbohydrates in total, 7g of this are fiber. Swapping from animal fats such as meat for plant based fats like avocados has been found to improve cholesterol levels in adults. It will also help to improve triglyceride levels.
Meats are a good source of lean proteins and is though to be a main stay of the keto diet. The good thing about meat and poultry is that they contain no carbs but are high in vitamin B, potassium selenium and of course zinc. A lot of processed meats for example, sausages and bacon are allowed as part of the keto diet. They are not the best kinds of meat for your heart and come with increased health risks in the long run. If you have meats like beef, chicken and fish and try to limit the amounts of processed meats in your diet.
Eggs are normally an overlooked commodity. They are in fact high in protein, vitamin B, minerals and antioxidants. For example, just 2 eggs contain no carbs against having 12g of protein. Eggs are known to help promote the feeling of fullness when had as part of a meal. When used as part of any diet eggs will also help to stabilize blood sugar levels. Antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin can also help to promote eye health.
Nuts and seeds
Most nuts and seeds are full of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated healthy fats, protein and fiber. They only contain very low amounts of net carbs. Coconut and olive oil are two main recommended oils to use as part of the keto diet. Olive oil contains oleic acid, which has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease. Coconut oil on the other hand is high in saturated fats, but it contains medium chain triglycerides, that have been found to help increase ketone production. Don’t forget to measure portion size when you are eating any kind of healthy fats.
You will need to check the label when it comes to dark chocolate and cocoa powder. This is because the amount of carbs depends on how much and the type of product that you are using. Cocoa has been known as a super fruit. This is because it is full of antioxidants and dark chocolate is full of Flavanols. These can help to lower blood pressure, therefore reducing the risk of heart disease.
It not the case that one diet will suit everyone. It is a good idea to work with a dietitian to make sure that you are getting the required nutrients that the body needs whilst trying to maintain the state of ketosis. there is a lot of research that suggests the benefits of the keto diet for many people. The keto diet itself is very hard to maintain over a long period of time.
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