The Keto or Ketogenic diet has become all the hype in the last few years, but does it work, and should you try it? In the following article, we’ll cover some keto basics as well as a keto diet plan that you can test out yourself.
Ketogenic diet basics
The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet (LCHF). The premise behind it is that, as you reduce your carb intake, your body is forced to burn fat stores. A keto diet plan will typically include very few carb-rich foods if any at all (it all depends on how strict you want to approach the diet).
Once you start the keto diet (in other words, eliminate your carbs), you’ll feel its effects within 2-4 days. Within this timeframe, your body enters into a metabolic state called ketosis, wherein your body has switched from carb-burning to fat burning.
The name derives from the ketones that are produced by your liver as it processes fats. Ketones are an alternative fuel source that kicks into full gear when carbs aren’t available. Combined with intermittent fasting, the keto diet quickly modifies your metabolic rate and digestive tract.
On the keto diet, you’re often consuming fatty foods but, in the absence of carbs, your body quickly burns these fats. Not only does it burn the fats you’re consuming, but it also starts burning the fats you already have tucked away some of those harder-to-reach corners. You know the ones I’m talking about…
In other words, the keto diet helps you lose weight. Beyond that, there are numerous health benefits to the diet, including anti-seizure activity and the prevention of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. However – and this is important – the keto diet isn’t for everyone! Nor is it a diet you should necessarily employ in the long term.
The controversial aspects of the keto diet are beyond the scope of this article, but be cautious to start a keto diet plan if you take medication for diabetes, high blood pressure, or if you’re breastfeeding. And, as always, listen to your body.
Keto-friendly foods and beverages
As you build your keto diet plan, consider the following:
- How many carbs does this food or drink contain?
- Will this food or drink boost my health?
Though your main objective with a keto diet plan is to reduce your carb intake, you need to also consider your overall health. Particularly with low carb diets, be conscious of the potential deficiencies you might experience when you cut out large food groups. These deficiencies may include deficiencies in folate (B9), selenium, biotin (B7), vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D, and magnesium.
Don’t worry, every diet comes with its potential deficiencies. In fact, what you might be eating now likely is deficient in numerous vitamins and minerals!
On the keto diet, it’s helpful to be strategic about what you’re consuming. You can’t go wrong with some of the following foods: green leafy veggies like spinach, chard, kale, nuts, seeds and, among your meats, wild-caught fish, grass-fed, pastured meat (consider buffalo or bison meat), poultry, liver, and seafood like lobster, octopus, shrimp, squid, and crab.
Other top keto superfoods are avocados and coconut, in all its shapes and forms. You can even make carb hacks, like coconut flour bread.
Generally speaking, you can eat vegetables that grow above the ground, natural fats, eggs, meat, and dairy products. If you want alternatives to meat products, consider full-fat tofu and tempeh.
Food to avoid
On your keto diet plan, avoid carb-rich foods like root vegetables and grains. Say goodbye to rice, pasta, bread, and potatoes.
If you haven’t closed this window after the last sentence, I’m impressed.
Don’t get me wrong, you will definitely miss your carbs at first, but as you experience the benefits of the keto diet, it’ll be much easier to avoid them on a regular basis.
Avoid sugary beverages and sweets like candy and chocolate bars – they were never good for you in the first place. Alternative sweeteners do exist though, such as stevia.
When it comes to your meats and dairy, always consume healthy animal protein and avoid those that have been injected with hormones and antibiotics.
A 5-day sample keto menu
Here’s an easy, 5-day keto diet plan to get you started, but feel free to switch out foods that you don’t like or to which you may be allergic. Ultimately, you should customize your plan to ensure it fits your budget, food ethics, and dietary preferences.
- Breakfast: Asparagus, bacon, and eggs
- Lunch: Keto cauliflower or konjac tabbouleh
- Dinner: Keto pizza (cauliflower crust or cheese/egg crust)
- Breakfast: Keto berry pancakes with peanut butter
- Lunch: Spaghetti squash pad thai
- Dinner: Oven-roasted chicken parmesa
- Desert: Butter fudge
- Breakfast: Omelet
- Lunch: Keto palm (the heart of palm) spaghetti
- Dinner: Filet Mignon with garlic herb butter and cauliflower rice
- Dessert: Coconut fat bombs
- Breakfast: Keto BLT with cloud bread (eggs, cheese, and psyllium husk)
- Lunch: Alfredo zoodles
- Dinner: Eggplant lasagna
- Breakfast: Tofu scramble with vegan cheese, mushrooms, and spinach
- Lunch: Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
- Dinner: Coconut curry with tofu/chicken and vegetables