A Keto Diet Introduction & Overview
With the increasing popularity and trendiness of keto over the last few years, it’s easy enough to fall into the trap of simply writing it off as the latest fad or silly buzzword that doesn’t really represent anything worthwhile. But what is a keto diet?
A ketogenic diet, often known as a keto diet, is a low-carb, high-fat eating plan. It has been shown in numerous trials to be useful for weight loss and the treatment of various health disorders. A keto diet is very beneficial for decreasing excess body fat and improving type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome without hunger. You’ll discover how to properly prepare and execute a keto diet in this beginner’s guide.
What is a keto diet?
A keto diet is a low-carbohydrate diet with numerous health benefits. When you eat fewer carbs, your body starts to burn fat as a source of energy.This can induce a metabolic state known as ketosis in your body. Your liver converts fat into little energy molecules called ketones, which your brain and other organs can utilize for energy when you’re in this state.
A ketogenic diet decreases insulin levels, typically drastically, allowing you to tap into your body’s fat stores for energy. Keto has been shown in numerous trials to result in significant weight loss without the need to calculate calories. Ketogenic diets may also provide other health benefits, such as lowering blood sugar levels.
Precautions before starting keto
Like anything, there are lots of misconceptions and rumors about keto diets, but for most people it appears to be very safe. However, there are two groups of people who MUST consult their doctor or physician before beginning keto:
- Do you take medication for high blood pressure?
- Do you take medication for diabetes, such as insulin?
Some people, such as those who are breastfeeding, should avoid keto altogether. For more info on the pros & cons and precautions check out our full guide: Is a keto diet right for you?
What should I eat?
On a ketogenic diet, you can eat the following foods, illustrated beautifully by our friends at DietDoctor.
The figures represent net carbohydrates per 100 g (3.5 oz) of food. Foods with lower counts are often better for staying in ketosis:
What is the most crucial step in getting into ketosis? Eat your carbs in moderation! You should aim for less than 50 grams of net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) each day, preferably less than 20 grams.
The less net carbs you eat, the more effective the diet becomes for staying in ketosis, losing weight and even improving type 2 diabetes. Initially, counting carbs will be the best way to make sure you’re on track, but if you stick to a strict intake that is aligned with keto-friendly foods you can stay in ketosis without meticulous carb counting!
We have a totally free guide for planning your keto-friendly low-carb diet right here!
What should I drink?
On a keto diet, foods are often the main focus, but soon you’ll run into your next big question — what am I allowed to drink? Water is the ideal beverage, however coffee or tea are also allowed if done right. Use no sweeteners, especially sugar, if possible. A splash of milk or cream in your coffee or tea is fine, but keep in mind that if you drink numerous cups in a day (and definitely avoid caffe lattes!), the carbs can pile up quickly. And, yes, the question you’ve all been waiting for: It’s totally fine to have a glass of wine now and then — yay!
Take a peek at our full guides to keto drinks and keto alcohol!
Things to avoid
On a keto diet, you should stay away from meals that are high in carbs, both sweet and starchy. Bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes are prime examples. These foods are very high in carbohydrates and are your sworn enemy when keto dieting!
Also, avoid or limit highly processed foods and instead fill your diet with our recommended keto-friendly food options.
To summarize: base your meals on fish poultry, meat, eggs and other protein-rich foods. Include lots of leafy greens, low-starch vegetables, and salads. Use fats like olive oil for flavor and to fill in calories, if you need to. Always avoid sugary and starchy foods. Drink water, tea, or coffee, maybe a glass of wine every once in a while.
The goal of the keto diet is to consume as little carbs as possible, a modest quantity of protein, and as much fat as you require to feel full rather than stuffed.
Get ready to slash these bad boys waaaaay down. Carbohydrates should be limited to 20 grams or less per day, or 5 to 10% of total calories. Although you may not need to be as rigid as this, eating less than 20 grams of net carbs per day almost guarantees you’ll be in nutritional ketosis.
Protein is always important in any diet. Your body needs it! Consume enough protein to meet your requirements. Most people require at least 70 grams of protein each day, or 20 to 35 percent of their total calories.
Balancing fat is one of the most important steps. Make sure there’s enough fat to add flavor, but unless you need more calories, there’s no reason to add a ton. Furthermore, many whole foods, such as eggs and meat, are high in fat. About 60 to 75 percent of your calories on a keto diet come from fat so don’t downplay this!
The “ideal” keto approach will most likely vary from person to person.However, to help you gain a leg up on the competition, here are seven frequent keto blunders to avoid.
Going overboard with fat
Have you heard that fat is a free food on the keto diet, or that eating more fat will help you lose weight? The truth is that too much fat in your diet stops your body from burning stored fat for energy. You need to be very careful about balancing your fat intake, trying to keep it as close to 75% of your total calories as possible.
Too much dairy/nuts
Keto-friendly foods include most nuts and some dairy products (such as cheese and Greek yogurt). However, if you consume too much of them, the carbs and calories can quickly mount up — and these delightful meals are easy to overdo. Keep portion sizes small for optimal results.
Not enough protein
Do you worry that eating a lot of meat, eggs, and other high-protein foods may cause gluconeogenesis (literally, “the production of new glucose”) and elevate your blood sugar? You don’t have to be. Protein has little to no influence on blood sugar levels, according to studies in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Obsessing over ketone levels
Your blood ketone levels should be between 0.5 and 3.0 mmol/L if you’re in nutritional ketosis. Higher amounts, on the other hand, do not appear to be any better for weight loss than lower levels. Don’t get too caught up!
You’re good to go
Now that you have a good foundation for ketogenic dieting, you’re way ahead of the curve! As I mentioned earlier, there are precautions to take as with any new diet or lifestyle change, so make sure you do extra homework if you need to.
That being said, most people are now ready to jump right in! If you need some fine-grain details and step-by-step actions to start melting those extra pounds off starting today — go ahead and check out all the fabulous keto guides we have here that are 100% free!
And, as always, please reach out if you have any questions, comments or concerns and remember to check out our awesome pages on social media to get involved with an informed and supportive community!