There are many diet plans out there for you to follow. And the newest trend that’s making rounds on the internet is the “Keto Diet.” So if you’re looking for a comprehensive guide on keto, then chances are you’ve been hit its mentions as well.
Leading a keto or ketogenic lifestyle comes with a lot of health benefits. If you’re wondering what’s included and what’s not included in a keto diet, then this article is for you.
Learn everything you need to know about getting started and maintaining a keto diet.
What is Keto Diet?
The internet is full of information. But unfortunately, most of them are inadequate. And even worse, some of them are misleading.
If you’ve read about the keto diet and keto lifestyle somewhere on the internet, then it might be incomplete, vague, and reserved.
Before you get started, you need to have clarity on what a keto diet is.
Keto diet or ketogenic diet is a specialized type of diet that is extremely low in carb and exorbitantly high in fat. So throughout the diet process, you will reduce the carb intake and replace it with fats.
So you must be wondering what the purpose of such modifications is? It’s to help the body convert fat into ketones in the liver, which the brain can use as an energy source. This process is called ketosis.
Because the diet focuses on increasing the ketones level in the body, the diet is named as Keto or Ketogenic diet.
What is Ketosis?
Now that you know the keto diet helps in ketosis, you must be wondering what it exactly is. This concept is also equally important to understand.
Ketosis is one of the many metabolic states your body goes through. In this state, your body turns to fats for fuel instead of carbs of glucose or any other nutrient.
Your body doesn’t readily utilize the fats. It uses carbs and protein molecules as the primary energy source, and stores fat for later use. By burning carbs, your body produces the calories.
The only way to force your body to utilize the stored fat is by reducing the carbohydrate and glucose levels in your body.
When the glucose level in your blood drops, your body enters the ketosis phase. Because of low glucose levels, there’s a corresponding reduction in insulin. That’s when fatty acids stored in the cells are released and are transported to the liver.
The liver oxidizes the fatty acids and converts them into ketones. These molecules are further broken down to release energy in the body.
Ketone is also brain food. When the body is low on glucose level, it’s important for the brain to have access to ketones. These molecules can easily cross the blood-brain barrier, which isn’t the case for other molecules except glucose.
Types of Ketogenic Diet
The Keto diet tends to be restrictive and extremely challenging to follow. Therefore, dietitians have come up with variations that make the keto diet easier to follow, especially for beginners.
With that said, there are four different types of keto diets you should know about. These vary by macronutrient ratio and flexibility regarding what you can consume during the diet.
Standard Ketogenic Diet or SKD
The most known form of keto diet is the Standard Ketogenic Diet. It recommends the highest amount of fat as part of your diet.
Its macronutrient ratio is 75% fat, 15-20% protein, and the remaining 5-10% carbs.
So your meals and snacks should include food that rich in fat. As a rule, you must consume 150 grams of fat per day. To put this into perspective, it’s about the same amount of fat as 3/4 cup of standard olive oil.
Increasing your fat intake should be accompanied by a reduction in your carb intake. On an SKD diet, you should consume no more than 50-60 grams. This is about the same as the carb content in one blueberry muffin.
When it comes to protein, you should have no more than 90 grams of protein. This is equivalent to 4 ounces of unprocessed fish.
Targeted Ketogenic Diet or TKD
The Targeted Keto Diet is a bit more flexible than SKD.
The macronutrient ratio for this keto diet is 65-70% fat, 10-15% carbs, 20% protein. So you can reduce your fat intake and include more carbs.
This type of keto diet is preferred by athletes and active individuals who are also involved in physical activities.
They can use the extra carbs to burn more calories, which will aid them during the workouts. The additional energy will ensure you’re not left exhausted after the exercises and can recover quickly.
SKD tends to be restrictive, and hence you don’t get enough of the carbs for the high-intensity exercises. The Targeted Ketogenic Diet is a good alternative to meet that demand.
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet or CKD
The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet allows you to be more flexible with your keto diet. You can enter an intensive keto diet and opt-out of it willingly, depending on your daily schedule.
So on your high-intensity workout days, you can increase your carb intake, which will provide the required fuel. On your off days, you can reduce your carb intake to the minimum, thus allowing you to cycle through the days.
The macronutrient ratio for workdays remains the same as the Targeted Ketogenic Diet. For the off days, you must follow the ratio for Standard Ketogenic Diet and keep carbs to the minimum.
High-protein Keto Diet
If you’re looking to increase your protein intake on a keto diet, you can follow the High-protein Keto Diet instead of the Standard Keto Diet.
As for the macronutrient ratio, 60-65% should be fats, 30% protein, and the remaining 5-10% carbohydrates. So you’re allowed to increase your protein content by 10-15%. Carbs are still restricted, though, and you should restrict them to 10%.
But there’s a problem with following this protein-rich form of the keto diet. You may not enter the ketosis phase at all by eating proteins. Since they convert into energy faster than fats, your body may never turn to fatty acids if the energy requirements are met.
Primarily, athletes and bodybuilders on a keto diet follow the high-protein variation.
How to Create a Keto Diet Meal Plan?
To experience the keto life, you must create and follow a keto diet meal plan. The plan should include what foods to eat throughout the day and which foods to avoid.
As a general rule, you should incorporate fat-rich foods while cutting back on carb-rich food items. Furthermore, the type of keto diet you follow affect your meal plan.
To keep things simple, we will follow the Standard Ketogenic Diet plan. That’s what people commonly refer to when they say keto diet. So let’s create a plan for the same.
Foods to Exclude from Your Diet
Before you know what foods to eat, you should learn about the foods that you must avoid. The Keto diet is restrictive, and you must cut back on specific types of foods.
Generally, you should avoid all types of food that are rich in carbohydrates, sugars, and starch. These will release a huge amount of calories. A single gram of carbohydrate provides about four calories.
So your body will never enter the ketosis phase where it’ll utilize the stored fats.
The food items you must avoid are junk foods, deep-fried and highly-processed foods, red meats, cakes, pasta, pizzas, chocolate bars, bread, candies, rice, fruits, sodas, beers, doughnuts, among others.
Most people consume the above items on a regular basis. Unfortunately, you cannot include them in a keto diet plan.
Foods to Include in Your Diet
The aim of the diet is to reach ketosis. For this, you have to deplete the glucose and carb levels in your body, although not completely.
So the food you include should be rich in fats and low in carbs and sugar. But not just any fat. The fat should be unsaturated fats that are good for the body and release energy slowly.
Some of the food you can include in your keto diet are cheese, fish, seafood, lean meat, eggs, non-starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds, natural fats, butter, cheese, raw milk, etc.
Beverages for Keto Diet
When it comes to beverages, there are restrictions too. You cannot walk up to your fridge and grab your favourite beer brand. Nor can you have soda along with your snacks.
They are loaded with carbs and sugar, which make them unfit for a keto diet.
So for quenching your thirst, you can only drink water and sparkling water. Sparkling water is the ideal replacement for soda.
Other beverages you’re allowed to include are coffee, tea, black tea, vegetable broth soup, etc. Make sure that all of these are unsweetened.
So an average keto diet may look similar to the following:
- Morning – Scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, lightly fried tomatoes, and a cup of unsweetened coffee
- Lunch – Steamed fish, 2-5 avocados, five large black olives, and egg salad
- Evening – Nuts, cheddar cheese, and keto-friendly snack bars, and a cup of unsweetened tea
- Dinner – Baked chicken with blue cheese or cottage cheese, vegetable broth, and steamed broccoli/cauliflower
Snacking is also important to reduce hunger and cravings. But it’s important to be keto-focused. There are many bars and shakes offered by companies that are keto-friendly. You can grab a few for yourself or prepare something at your home.
Drink a lot of water at regular intervals to stay hydrated.
You’re encouraged to be creative with your food options and make changes every day. This will help you stay motivated in your keto journey.
Eating Out on a Keto Diet
One of the reasons why a keto life is hard to follow is because it affects your social life. You will not be able to dine out with your friends to your favorite fast food.
Nor can you accompany them to the nearest beer club.
But the keto diet doesn’t have to be extreme. You can go out with your pals from time to time and enjoy restaurant foods.
But not those loaded with carbs and sugars. Pick those items that are keto-friendly. Most eateries offer avocado dips. You can order them with steamed, grilled, or roasted lean meat.
Or you can savor on any low-carb smoothie and whole wheat pasta.
Looking at the menu prior to visiting the restaurant should help you with selecting the food items to order.
Benefits of Keto Diet
So why go through the pain of restricting yourself to such an unappealing diet? The sacrifices you make are worth it when you look at the benefits of the keto diet.
The Keto diet is proven to help you lose weight. You must be wondering how when most of the items your consuming are fat-rich.
Well, because fat doesn’t make you fat. Carbs and sugars do. When regulated properly, fats can help you shed some pounds.
Also, the ketosis phase uses fatty acids stored in your cells to derive energy. This way, you reduce your body fat layer considerably.
One research showed that when 34 adults followed a keto diet for eight weeks, they lost five times as much bodyweight as they did by following a low-fat diet.
Another benefit of the keto diet is it helps regulate blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Since there’s no spike in sugar level, your blood pressure stays in control.
The keto diet is also very popular among diabetic people. By losing the excess fat, they bring down the severity of type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. Both of these conditions are directly linked with obesity.
Other health benefits of a keto diet include improved heart functioning, reduced symptoms of seizures and epilepsy, and improvement in brain injuries.
Research is still ongoing on many of these claims. The research so far has been positive. And as more research is put into the effects of the keto diet, we’ll get to learn about other benefits in the future.
To Sum up
The Keto diet is popular among celebrities too. Hollywood A-listers like Halle Berry, Gwyneth Paltrow publicly claimed that they were on the keto diet and saw impressive results.
If you’re just getting started with the keto diet, it’s important to keep things simple. You can adopt a pre-keto diet routine that will prepare you for the difficult phase to come.
After a few weeks, you’ll start seeing the results for yourself.