A ketogenic diet (or keto diet for short) is a low-carb diet which forces your body to switch from burning carbohydrates for energy to burning stored fat. It is similar to the Atkin diet and the Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) diet, but differs in that protein intake is moderated.
A keto diet has many potential benefits aside from weight loss. For over a century it has been used to reduce seizures in epileptic patients, and as a therapy for certain metabolic disorders.
When your body burns fat acetone, β-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate, or “ketone bodies” were produced by the liver. These ketone bodies can be burned as an alternative fuel for your body. This process, or condition, is referred to as “ketosis”, hence the name ketogenic diet
The goal of a ketogenic diet is to maintain your body in a state of constant ketosis. When this is done, insulin levels become very low and fat burning increases sharply, accessing fat stores that normal are ignored by your body’s chemistry.
A ketogenic diet has also been referred to as a starvation diet, since you can put your body into a state of ketosis simply by fasting. Of course that’s not sustainable. A ketogenic diet, however, can be maintained indefinitely. It produces the same results as fasting – including weight loss – without having to starve yourself.
What Can I Eat On A Ketogenic Diet?
Obviously avoiding food high in carbohydrates is a strict requirement. As a general rule carbs should make up no more than 5% of your daily food intake. That would include all grain products, but certain dairy products such as milk, fruits high in sugar, alcoholic drinks, refined oils, and processed foods.
The food intake for a standard keto diet should be around 70% fats, 25% protein, and 5% carbohydrate. The lower the carb intake you have the faster you will get into ketosis and start melting the fat away. Normally, anywhere between 20-30g of carbohydrates are recommended for every day dieting – but the lower your carbohydrates (less than 15g per day), the faster you will enter ketosis.
Meats and fish will become a principal staple of your diet, along with low card vegetables, healthy fats and oils, and certain nuts, fruits, and cheeses. The dietary pyramid above will give you an idea of the proportions of which foods will fill your diet, but honestly, the easiest thing for me was to just look up, download, or purchase ready made meal plans.
The Ketosis Cookbook is a relatively in expensive PDF file download, that aside from over 370 recipes, also includes a ready to go 12-Day Meal Plan to get you started.
Foods to Enjoy
Think high fat and protein! You should base the majority of your meals around these foods:
Meat: Red Meat, steak, ham, chicken, bacon, sausage and turkey. (Think the more fat the better)
- Eggs: Look for pasteurized whole eggs.
- Cheese: Unprocessed cheeses – avoid low fat cheeses
- Avocados: Whole avocados and freshly made guacamole.
- Fatty fish: Salmon, trout, tuna and mackerel.
- Nuts and seeds: Walnuts, almonds, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, etc.
- Low-carb veggies: Most dark green veggies and onions, tomatoes, and peppers, etc.
- Healthy oils: Coconut oils, extra-virgin olive oil and avocado oil.
- Condiments: Salt, pepper and Herbs and Spices
Foods to Avoid
Some of these might surprise you, many will not. Here is a list of foods that need to be reduced or eliminated on a ketogenic diet:
- Grains or starches: Breads, wheat based products, rice, cereal, etc.
- Fruit: All fruit except small portions of berries like strawberries. (1 apple has around 29 carbs!)
- Sugary foods: Smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, soda, fruit, juice, etc.
- Beans or legumes: Peas, all beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
- Root vegetables: Carrots, potatoes, parsnips, sweet potatoes, etc.
- Low fat, sugar-free, and diet products: These are highly processed and are often high in sugar alcohols, sugar substitutes, and carbs.
- Condiments and sauces: These often contain sugar and unhealthy fat.
- Alcohol: Many alcoholic beverages contain carbs.
Always read the labels of processed foods before eating. You’ll be amazed at the products that contain high amounts of carbs.
Keto, Sugar, and Sugar Substitutes
If you like sweets like I do you will need to walk a fine line using the recipes contained in the cookbooks. It’s fine to use sugar if you wish or substitute as needed. Some recipes call for sugar and some for splenda or another sugar substitute. Be aware that 1 tablespoon of sugar is equal to 12.6 grams of carbs so plan accordingly.
Choosing Splenda in the granulated form is key to successful sugar conversions in recipes. You can add Splenda Granulated as a one-to-one replacement where sugar is only a sweetener. If the recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, use 1 cup of Splenda Granulated. This includes recipes for pie fillings, custards, puddings, cheesecake or meat marinades.
- Increase the height of cakes and breads by adding 1/2 cup of non- fat dry milk powder and 1/2 tsp. of baking soda for every cup of Splenda Granulated used.
- Keep the brown sugar in your recipes and only replace the white sugar with Splenda Granulated. Be sure to flatten the cookies before baking as they tend to not spread the way cookies normally do when baking.
- Keep a minimum of 2 tbsp. of sugar in your recipe to activate the yeast in your breads.
- Brown your baking by spraying the top of the dough with cooking spray. Splenda will not caramelize like sugar and so will not brown like sugar when baked.
- Foods tend to bake faster with Splenda so check your cakes seven to 10 minutes earlier and other baking three to five minutes earlier.
- Splenda Granulated does not have the preservative properties of sugar. Be sure wrap and freeze any food that you want to last more than 24 hours
I hope you enjoy the recipes I’ve collected for you as much as I do and good luck on your new adventure!