Over recent years, ketogenic diets have become increasingly popular.
The diet is otherwise known as ‘keto,’ and it’s high in fat and extremely low in carbs.
But there are a few things to be aware of, such as the benefits, best foods to eat, foods to avoid, possible dangers and side effects.
This guide will show you all of these things.
Also, the guide provides sample keto meal plans, snack ideas, and guidance how to implement the diet in a healthy way.
What is a Ketogenic Diet?
Ketogenic diets are a way of eating that focus on strictly limiting carbohydrate.
And if implemented well, they can be incredibly beneficial.
By and large, those following a keto plan eat higher amounts of fat, moderate protein, and a very small amount of carbs.
As long as you keep carbs very low, then keto is possible on a range of macronutrient ratios.
However, in my case I’d aim for macros similar to this:
- Carbohydrate: 5-10%
- Fat: 60-75%
- Protein: 20-30%
How do keto diets work?
When you keep carbs very low for an extended period, the body enters nutritional ketosis.
Ketosis refers to a state in which the body starts burning fat for energy rather than carbohydrate.
On a typical high carb diet, the body burns glucose. In contrast, the ketogenic diet encourages the body to start using ketones for fuel.
Ketones are a type of molecule that our liver produces during times of carbohydrate restriction (or overall low food intake).
The human body can use both glucose and ketones for fuel.
How many carbohydrates should I eat?
Respected low carb researchers Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney advise aiming for an upper limit of 50 grams total carbs. Below this number is also widely accepted as a ketogenic diet .
Generally speaking, you can eat this amount of carbohydrate and still be in ketosis.
However, everybody is different, and the exact number will depend on the individual – it might be 35g, or it might be 70g.
How can I tell I’m in ketosis?
There are many signs which suggest you might be in ketosis:
- Rapid weight loss, usually due to a drop in water weight
- Better feelings of satiety and reduced food cravings
- Possible short-term side effects such as bad breath and fatigue
If you want to be 100% sure, then you can use a ketone breath analyzer or a urine strip to measure for ketones.
Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet
Keto wouldn’t be so popular if it didn’t have benefits—and there are many of them.
Blood sugar and insulin levels improve:
As ketogenic diets cut out sugar and carbohydrates, blood sugar levels tend to fall. In recent times, many people with diabetes are successfully managing their condition using a keto plan.
Have you ever tried a low-fat diet before? If you have, you may remember how difficult it can be to control food cravings.
However, keto diets encourage satiety due to their higher fat and protein content.
Massive reductions in triglycerides:
Triglycerides are one of the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Carbohydrate restriction leads to lower triglyceride levels.
Keto helps manage brain-related diseases and illnesses:
Ketogenic diets can be therapeutic for a variety of brain conditions, whether severe chronic diseases or mild problems.
Research shows that being in ketosis has potential benefits for brain tumor cases, depression, epilepsy, and migraines.
A significant increase in HDL levels:
Lower intake of carbohydrate combined with higher fat consumption tends to increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels.
Cardiovascular researchers accept that higher HDL levels are protective against heart disease.
Leads to greater weight loss than other diets:
In several studies directly comparing low-carb and low-fat diets, diets low in carbohydrate promote more significant weight loss.
This weight loss is likely due to greater satiety from foods higher in fat and protein.
May protect against some cancers:
Some cancer cells have a preference for glucose to fuel growth.
And while they can still grow in carbohydrate-restricted conditions, some studies suggest that ketogenic diets may help prevent/fight certain cancers.
At present, clinical trials are ongoing.
Note: This is still very early science and no diet should be considered as an alternative to conventional treatment.
Possible benefits for Alzheimer’s disease:
Further research is necessary, but ketogenic diets may help by supplying the brain with ketones, which it can use for energy.
Alzheimer’s patients have impaired glucose metabolism, and studies show ketone levels positively correlate with memory performance and cognition.
Reduction in blood pressure:
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Conventional advice may over-estimate the impact of salt, and excessive refined carbohydrate intake has a larger effect on blood pressure than sodium.
Ketogenic diets naturally reduce refined carb consumption, and many following such diets experience a decrease in blood pressure.
It’s enjoyable, and it’s sustainable:
And this last one’s pretty obvious. What sounds more appealing to you: low-fat crackers, skim milk, and a fat-trimmed chicken breast? Or steak, cheese, and some dark chocolate?
What Foods Can I Eat on Keto?
The first thing to remember is that despite having a ‘restrictive’ reputation, there are many things that you can eat on keto.
Here are some tables showing a list of suitable foods.
Milk contains too many sugars in the form of lactose, but aside from that most dairy foods are ideal.
|Clotted Cream||Cottage cheese|