You might have heard this buzzword being passed around like a hot potato. Celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Kourtney Kardashian, and Halle Barry all swear by it while dietitians have given their stamp of approval. The ketogenic diet, or “keto” diet, has made waves in the health and fitness industry for years. We’re here to demystify what it is and what you should consider before trying it.
What Is The Keto Diet All About?
A weight loss routine that doesn’t demand more exercise and excessive calorie depletion? Many might be sold on that fact alone.
The keto diet is a low-carb diet plan that is often said to be “the fastest way” to accelerate fat loss. It requires you to eat your into way into ketosis – a metabolic state that prevents your body from utilising glucose for energy and forcing it to torch fat. To do that, you are recommended to eat as little carbohydrates as possible with more emphasis on fat (think about substituting your white rice with cheese).
The formula for a keto diet is straightforward: very low carb, medium protein, and high fat. This macro combination balances the ghrelin, leptin and insulin hormones, which are responsible for metabolism.
Getting Started On Keto
Being on a keto diet requires you to monitor your macros closely, so weighing your food with a kitchen scale, eyeing your portions, and reading nutritional labels are recommended. Ideally, your calorie intake should comprise 60-75 per cent fat, 15-30 per cent protein, and a minimal 5-10 per cent of carbs. Moreover, your daily net carb limit (carbs sans fibre) is restricted to 50 grams (preferably below 20 grams). Any higher and your body will begin tapping on glucose, which is counterproductive to ketosis.
Practical Beginner Tips
- When grocery shopping, avoid food items that are labelled ‘low-carb’ as they are typically sugar-laden
- Be prepared to do plenty of meal prepping during your keto diet journey!
- Opt for grass-fed meats, seafood, and leafy greens
It might sound daunting at first, but once you’ve adapted to the new routine, your eating, shopping, and meal prepping habits will feel like a walk in the park.
Dangers of The Keto Diet
Channelling your body into ketosis requires a long-term commitment (and plenty of willpower). Dieticians have warned that since the keto plan requires you to eliminate several types of foods from your diet, one should be mindful of keeping their vitamin and mineral intake in check to avoid deficiencies.
Additionally, a significant reduction in blood glucose may cause feelings of dizziness and fatigue. Those with blood glucose conditions, such as diabetes, should always check with their doctors before starting such diets. As the keto diet is also high in fat, those with irritable bowel syndrome may also experience gastrointestinal discomfort.
Your Go-To Foods
These foods are ripe for your picking!
Snack On Nuts
Peanuts, cashew nuts, macadamia nuts – you name it! Reach for a handful of nuts, which are rich in healthy fat, when you’re feeling peckish.
Say Yes to Fat
Don’t shy away from ‘full cream’ milk the next time you’re ordering your cup of joe. Cheese and avocados are also great sources of fat that can be included in your everyday diet.
Oil It Up
Being on a keto diet means that you can embrace all kinds of oil. Cook with butter or coconut oil, and lather your salads with olive oil!
Indulge in Meat and Fatty Fish
Avoid the beloved pasta and stock up on meat and poultry to get high-quality protein instead. Shrimp, crab and salmon are also keto-friendly foods.
Keep It Green
Load your plate up with green, non-starchy vegetables like spinach, lettuce and asparagus. Getting your vegetables in will also ensure that you are not lacking in vitamins and minerals.
Foods to Avoid
Muster up your fortitude. These tasty foods should be excluded from your keto diet.
Going Off Grains
Sadly, many of our favourite grainy staples are high in carbs – yes, that includes bread! Pizza, biscuits, pasta, rice, oats, and bread of all kinds should not be in the keto diet. A keto-friendly alternative is to make cauliflower rice or zucchini “pasta”.
Most alcoholic drinks, like beers, ciders, wines and cocktails, are high in sugar and calories. If you’re in need of a tipple, opt for a small glass of gin and tonic instead.
Sweet Potatoes and Condiments
Starchy vegetables like potatoes, and even sweet potatoes, are carb-heavy. Seemingly harmless condiments such as ketchup and BBQ sauce should also be substituted with homemade alternatives like fresh salsa.
To the dismay of many, traditional hummus is not keto-friendly. If you’re looking for something similar, try making your own hummus using avocados and cauliflower.
All The Sweet Stuff
Eating refined sugar goes against the keto philosophy. This includes store-bought cakes, candy, confectionary and *gasps* ice cream. And don’t be misled by “healthy” fare like agave syrup, honey and dried fruit, which can all be high in sugar.