Are you interested in the trendy ketogenic (keto) diet but not sure where to start? By minimizing the intake of carbohydrates and increasing fat intake, our bodies are put into a state called ketosis. This is a normal metabolic process that happens when our body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates from food to burn for energy, so instead, it burns stored fats.
The keto diet was originally developed to help patients with epilepsy by modifying their daily ratio intake of macronutrients—carbohydrates, protein and fat. The diet relies predominantly on fat, with 15-20% of calorie intake coming from protein and only 5-10% from carbohydrates. This diet is not for everyone, so please consult your physician and consider your own nutritional needs before starting the diet.
Keto Diet Pros
- The keto diet is a popular choice for those looking to manage chronic conditions such as epilepsy, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The diet helps stabilize blood glucose levels, which keeps blood pressure in check and helps lower triglyceride levels. There are also some studies that suggest it protects the brain from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
- By decreasing your intake of carbohydrates—especially refined goods like white bread, cereals and desserts—the body burns stored fat rather than the readily available glucose, provided by carbohydrates. This leads to weight loss (often greater than other low-carb diets) and a reduction in appetite due to the increased consumption of fat and protein.
Keto Diet Cons
- The keto diet has an adjustment period of 1 to 2 weeks when the body recalibrates itself towards ketosis. This can lead to a host of side effects including, but not limited to, fatigue, constipation, difficulty sleeping and hormonal changes.
- This diet is a restrictive way of living and eating, and it can be difficult to manage on a daily basis when out with friends and family, at restaurants and even at home. The list of foods that are prohibited is substantial and includes most dairy products (except high-fat products like butter), fruit, legumes, grains and starchy vegetables.
Foods to Try
A keto, low-carb diet is not for everyone as it really limits what you can eat. However, the benefits can be so rewarding that changing your diet may be worth it if you want to lose weight or manage chronic issues. Here are some food recommendations to get you on track to ketosis:
- Good Fats: The best part of the keto diet is the ability to eat fats at every meal. But not just any fats—the best types if you’re on the keto diet are saturated and monounsaturated, then natural trans and natural polyunsaturated fats. Not only are these types of fats filling, but they are also delicious. Because they’re are low in carbs and are chemically stable, they help you maintain your diet. A couple of fats to try on the diet are butter, coconut or olive oil, nuts, nut butters and grass-fed meat.
- Seafood: Tilapia is an excellent, lean fish. And while it’s low in fat, it’s also high protein and only 112 calories per 3-ounce serving. Other seafood options include tuna, oysters, clams, cod and mackerel.
- Vegetables: Low-carb vegetables like spinach, broccoli, zucchini and cauliflower are great substitutes to starchy vegetables. For example, zucchini can be made into “zoodles” or zucchini noodles, and cauliflower can be “riced” to become the perfect replacement for the original.
- Meat: Stick to grass-fed meat when possible, which tends to have a higher percentage of omega-3 fatty acids (i.e. good fats).
- Eggs: Eggs are one of the cheapest and healthiest forms of protein. One large egg contains around 5 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein and less than one gram of carbohydrates making it the perfect complement to the keto diet. Eggs are versatile and can hard-boiled, scrambled, made into an omelet and much more.
While this diet may not include some of your favorite foods, it still leaves you with many delicious options. If you are considering trying the keto diet, just remember there is a transition phase that may seem long, but the results could certainly be worth it.
Interested in other diets? The Healthy Fish offers information on a bunch of diets if you’re considering changing your lifestyle:
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