Keto is the new word on the block. But what does it all mean? Team JDP Fitness is here to break down the latest diet on the gym floor.
Beginning a new weight-loss diet is not always a simple transition. And the ketogenic diet — a trendy low-carb, high-fat plan that may produce quick results — is no exception.
One of the biggest hurdles of going keto is putting and keeping your body in ketosis. Ketosis is a natural metabolic state that tricks your body into burning fat instead of carbs for fuel (when it doesn’t have enough carbs). So, naturally, to achieve ketosis, you’ll have to say goodbye to carbs and hello to fat — and lots of it.
It depends on which version of keto you’re doing, but generally, you’ll aim to get 5 to 10 percent of your total calories from carbs. The goal is to consume only 20 to 50 grams (g) of net carbs per day — or less than the equivalent of ½ cup of long-grain brown rice, which contains about 26 g of total carbs. Net carbs are defined as carbs minus fibre and sugar alcohols, according to the website for the Atkins diet, another low-carb plan. For most people, going that low won’t be easy: The typical adult over age 20 gets nearly 50 percent of their calories from carbs.
Meanwhile, you’ll need to reach for lots of high-fat foods, like lean meat, avocado, olive oil, butter, cheese, and eggs. The goal is to get about 60 to 80 percent of your daily calories from these kinds of foods.
That’s just part of the struggle when following keto. You’ll likely also see various side effects, such as headaches, fatigue, and drowsiness — all signs of the so-called “keto flu.”
But as any keto diet beginner knows, the possibility of losing weight can be worth enduring temporary physical aches and carb cravings (as long as you’ve cleared trying the diet with your doctor, that is). Even so, it’s apparent that what a keto dieter really needs is resourceful information, and tons of encouragement — all of which we aim to provide below.
HOW TO START
The ketogenic diet — a high-fat and very low-carb eating plan — can be tough to start. After all, it’s likely a radical departure from the way you’re eating now (a typical standard UK diet is high in carbohydrates and processed foods). But many people are trying the keto diet, which puts your body in a state of ketosis. That’s what happens when your body’s carb-burning switch flips to a fat-burning one, a change that can cause weight loss and has even been credited with controlling diabetes.
How do you make practical preparations in stocking your fridge and preparing mentally for the big change to come?
Consider this your step-by-step guide.
- Know What Foods You’ll Eat and Avoid on the Ketogenic Diet
In following a keto diet food list and meal plan, you’ll be severely limiting carbs on this diet. Start off with between 20 and 30 grams (g) of carbohydrates per day. Also make sure that you know what foods have mostly carbs, fat, and protein, so you can make the right choices. For instance, it’s not just bread, pasta, chips, cookies, candy, and ice cream that contain carbs. Beans may contain protein, but they’re also very high in carbohydrates. Fruit and veggies also mostly contain carbs. The only foods that don’t contain carbs are meat (protein) and pure fats, like butter and oils (including olive oil and coconut oil).
2. Examine Your Relationship With Fat — Keto Involves Lots of It!
People are afraid of fat because they’ve been told that it’ll kill them. To prepare for a high-fat diet, which can be uncomfortable at first, start making small adjustments to what you eat every day, we suggest, like ordering a burger on lettuce leaves and subbing green veggies for fries.
Instead of potatoes or rice with your meal, opt for a nonstarchy veggie. Start cooking with more oil. Realise that old dieting habits — like making a plain skinless grilled chicken breast — just don’t make sense on a keto diet because you won’t get enough fat.
Slowly start pushing out carbs and getting in fat. If you’re afraid of fat, a ketogenic diet won’t work for you.
3. Hone Your Cooking Skills to Make Fresh Fare, as High-Carb Processed Foods Aren’t Okay on Keto
Look at a variety of keto websites and cookbooks for keto-approved recipes you’ll love. We recommend finding four to five recipes with foods you know you’ll like. That way you’re not standing around wondering what to eat, and turn to carbs.
4. Try Bulletproof Coffee — It’s One of the Best Keto-Friendly Drinks
Made by mixing coconut oil and butter into your coffee, this drink will help keep your hunger at bay, giving you time to plan your next meal.
Just note that coconut oil has the potential to send LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol levels soaring, so if you have or are at an increased risk for heart disease because of family or personal health history, you’ll likely want to avoid this drink. To be on the safe side, check with your doctor.
5. Talk to Your Family About Your Weight Loss Goals on the Diet
Tell them your plan. You may not be able to eat what they’re eating during family mealtimes, so you’ll want to prepare them (and yourself) for what your new habits will look like. Because this diet is often done only short term (three to six months), you can assure them that it’s temporary.
If you get pushback, announce: I’ve done my research, I’ve figured out it’s safe, and I really want to try this.
A Sample Keto Menu for One Week
The following menu provides less than 50 grams of total carbs per day.
As mentioned above, some people may have to reduce carbohydrates even further in order to reach ketosis.
This is a general one-week ketogenic menu that can be altered depending on individual dietary needs.
• Breakfast: Two eggs fried in pastured butter served with sauteed greens.
• Lunch: A bunless grass-fed burger topped with cheese, mushrooms and avocado atop a bed of greens.
• Dinner: Pork chops with green beans sauteed in coconut oil.
• Breakfast: Mushroom omelet.
• Lunch: Tuna salad with celery and tomato atop a bed of greens.
• Dinner: Roast chicken with cream sauce and sauteed broccoli.
• Breakfast: Bell pepper stuffed with cheese and eggs.
• Lunch: Arugula salad with hard-boiled eggs, turkey, avocado and blue cheese.
• Dinner: Grilled salmon with spinach sauteed in coconut oil.
• Breakfast: Full-fat yogurt topped with Keto granola.
• Lunch: Steak bowl with cauliflower rice, cheese, herbs, avocado and salsa.
• Dinner: Bison steak with cheesy broccoli.
• Breakfast: Baked avocado egg boats.
• Lunch: Caesar salad with chicken.
• Dinner: Pork chops with vegetables.
• Breakfast: Cauliflower toast topped with cheese and avocado.
• Lunch: Bunless salmon burgers topped with pesto.
• Dinner: Meatballs served with zucchini noodles and parmesan cheese.
• Breakfast: Coconut milk chia pudding topped with coconut and walnuts.
• Lunch: Cobb salad made with greens, hard-boiled eggs, avocado, cheese and turkey.
• Dinner: Coconut chicken curry.
As you can see, ketogenic meals can be diverse and flavorful.
Although many ketogenic meals are based around animal products, there is a wide variety of vegetarian options to choose from as well.
If you’re following a more liberal ketogenic diet, adding a cup of berries to your breakfast or a small serving of a starchy vegetable to your dinner will increase the number of carbs in this meal plan.