The ketogenic diet’s increasing popularity is largely due to its potential benefits for weight loss and blood sugar control. Early evidence also suggests that this low carb, high fat diet may help treat certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, and other health conditions. Research is still needed to determine the keto diet’s long-term safety and effectiveness.
The ketogenic diet typically limits carbs to 20–50 grams per day. The idea is for you to get more calories from protein and fat and less from carbohydrates. You cut back most on the carbs that are easy to digest, like sugar, soda, pastries, and white bread.When you eat less than 50 grams of carbs a day, your body eventually runs out of fuel (blood sugar) it can use quickly. This typically takes 3 to 4 days. Then you’ll start to break down protein and fat for energy, which can make you lose weight. This is called ketosis. It's important to note that the ketogenic diet is a short term diet that's focussed on weight loss rather than the pursuit of health benefits
While some people on keto count their total carb intake, others count net carbs. Net carbs refer to total carbs minus fiber. That’s because fiber is indigestible, so it can’t be broken down and absorbed by your body. This diet may seem challenging, but it allows people following it to eat many nutritious foods.As we know, the standard ketogenic diet macronutrient requirements are as follows
• 75% Fats
• 20% Protein
• 5% Carbohydrates
When we translate this to a daily intake of 2,000 calories, that means we are looking at 1,500 calories from fats, 400 calories from protein and the remaining 100 calories from carbs. With each gram of protein and carb yielding 4 calories, and each gram of fat yielding 9 calories, the whole breakdown above will end up with a daily grand figure of approximately 166 grams of fat, 100 grams of protein and 25 grams of carbs.
These macronutrient numbers should be at the forefront of your mind when you first start off with the ketogenic diet. Just remember, always try to hit your fat requirement, limit your carb intake, and think about the amount of protein you are getting in to your system.
If your experience is anything like mine, you will find that eating sufficient fat seems to be an issue, at least in the initial stages. This is partly because a lot of the fat that you take in is present in liquid forms.
Think of olive and coconut oils, or the butter and lard when heated on the skillet, these are all high fat essentials in the keto diet but they can be easily overlooked because they will never be the mains in a meal.
I found that keeping the count on my daily fat numbers helped in increasing my fat intake. On the days when you find the fat count being a little low, 99% dark chocolate as well as bulletproof coffee can nudge those numbers up closer to where they are supposed to be. Of course, there are many other high fat foods which can do the trick as well, so let’s take a look at them!
FOODS TO ENJOY ON THE KETOGENIC DIET
There are different types of food that fall into this list. These food ideas definitely push for high fat content, while at the same time packing other nutrients and healthy vitamins in for the body’s use.
1. GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES
Green leafy vegetables are healthy foods that can help complete a balanced diet. They are typically rich in nutrients and fiber and low in calories and fat.Green leafy veggies are extremely low in carbs, making them excellent for keto. They’re also rich sources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
In particular, dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens are packed with vitamin K and iron. Greens add bulk to your meals without drastically increasing the carb count. Herbs such as oregano and rosemary add ample flavor with almost no carbs.
Here are some keto-friendly leafy greens:
Salad greens: lettuce, baby spinach, escarole, and frisee etc.
Cooking greens: bok choy, collard greens ,kale, spinach, Swiss chard, and cabbage etc.
Herbs: thyme, sage, mint, oregano, dill, basil, rosemary, and lemongrass etc.
2.Meats And Animal Products
Focus on grass-fed or pasture-raised fatty cuts of meat and wild-caught seafood, avoiding farmed animal meats and processed meats as much as possible. And don’t forget about organ meats!
• Organ meats
The best fats to consume on the ketogenic diet are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, though there are plenty of healthy saturated fats as well. At the risk of sounding like a broken recorder, avoid trans fats.
Maybe “avoid” is not an appropriate word. Run away might be better. Run away from trans fats like you would the plague. Enough said.
• Chicken fat
• Coconut oil
• Duck fat
• MCT oil
• Avocado oil
• Macadamia oil
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Coconut butter
• Coconut milk
• Palm shortening
Fresh vegetables are rich in nutrients and low in calories which makes them an excellent addition to any diet. With the ketogenic diet, however, you need to be careful about carbs, so stick to leafy greens and low- glycemic veggies rather than root vegetables and other starchy veggies. I placed avocados in this section because some of us may recognize it as a vegetable even though it actually is a fruit.
• Bell peppers
• Okra or ladies’ fingers
HIGH FAT VEGGIES:
Avocados and olives, while technically both fruits, are unique among vegetables in that they’re fairly high in fat. They also contain fiber and are low in net carbs. Other include Soybeans, Corn, Kidney Beans, Black Beans, Northern Beans, Broccoli etc. Oleuropein, the main antioxidant in olives, has anti-inflammatory properties and may protect your cells from damage (49). One study found that people who ate one avocado per day experienced improvements in heart health risk factors, including lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol.
VEGGIES TO AVOID ON KETO:
Keep in mind that not all vegetables are low in carbs. Some should be avoided on keto, including: potatoes and sweet potatoes onions (in large amounts).Certain winter squashes, such as acorn squash, butternut squash, corn, beets etc.
You should eat plenty of non starchy vegetables — including leafy greens, summer squash, peppers, avocados, and olives — on keto.
If you are able to tolerate dairy, you can include full-fat, unpasteurized, and raw dairy products in your diet. Keep in mind that some brands will contain a lot of sugar which could increase the carb content, so pay attention to nutrition labels and moderate your consumption of these products. If possible, go for the full-fat versions as these will have a less likely chance of sugar being used to replace the fat.
• Cottage cheese
• Cream cheese
• Cheddar cheese
• Brie cheese
• Mozzarella cheese
• Swiss cheese
• Sour cream
• Full-fat yogurt
• Heavy cream
6.Herbs And Spices
Fresh herbs and dried spices are an excellent way to flavor your foods without adding any significant number of calories or carbohydrates
• Black pepper
• Chili powder
• Curry powder
• Garam masala
• Sea salt
• White pepper
You should avoid all sweetened drinks on the ketogenic diet, but there are certain beverages which you can still have in order to add a little more variety to your choice of liquids besides good old water.
• Almond milk unsweetened
• Bone broth
• Cashew milk unsweetened
• Coconut milk
• Club soda
• Herbal tea
• Mineral water
• Seltzer water
8. Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powder
Dark chocolate and cocoa are delicious sources of antioxidants. Dark chocolate include 46% carbohydrates, 43% fats, 8% protein, and 1% water. Dark chocolate contains flavanols, which may reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and keeping your arteries healthy.
Somewhat surprisingly, you can eat chocolate on keto. However, it’s important to choose dark chocolate that contains a minimum of 70% cocoa solids — preferably more — and eat it in moderation.
Other plant foods that are ideal for keto diets include berries, shirataki noodles, nuts, seeds, and dark chocolate.
Shirataki noodles are a fantastic addition to the keto diet. They contain less than 1 gram of net carbs and only 15 calories per serving because they’re mostly water. Shirataki noodles are long, white noodles that consist of a type of starch known as glucomannan. The body does not digest this starch, making shirataki noodles very low in calories and carbohydrates .Shirataki noodles are made from 97% water and 3% konjac, which contains glucomannan, a water-soluble dietary fiber. These noodles are made from a viscous fiber called glucomannan, which offers many potential health benefits.
Viscous fiber forms a gel that slows down food’s movement through your digestive tract.
This can help decrease hunger and blood sugar spikes, which may aid in weight loss and diabetes management.Shirataki noodles come in a variety of shapes, including rice, fettuccine, and linguine. You can swap them for regular noodles in almost all recipes.
Most fruits are too high in carbs to eat on the keto diet, but berries are an exception .Berries, particularly raspberries and strawberries, are low in carbs and high in fiber. While blackberries and blueberries are lower in carbs than some other fruits, they may not fit into strict keto diets.
These tiny fruits are loaded with antioxidants that may reduce inflammation and help protect against disease.
11.FOODS ON THE MODERATION LIST
These food items are included here because they tend to have a higher carb count, so moderation is important. However, they are chock full of other nutrients and some of them also throw in that extra bit of fat to help toward your daily fat intake!
Fresh fruits are an excellent source of nutrition. Unfortunately, they are also loaded with sugar which means they are high in carbohydrates. There are a few low- to moderate-carb fruits that you can enjoy in smaller quantities, but you have to watch the amount you eat! Sometimes, it is really easy to keep popping them into our mouths. “Nature’s candy” is definitely an accurate moniker for them.
We can still get their benefits and maintain ketosis with the right amounts of consumption. Most of the fruits detailed below are okay for you to have a cup or so, perhaps a single slice or two on a daily basis, especially when you are first starting out and are looking to keep your carb count low. As you progress and get a better handle of your carb threshold, it is alright to increase the quantity of these foods while staying within your designated carb limit.
Nuts And Seeds:
While nuts and seeds do contain carbohydrates, they are also rich in healthy fats. The following nuts and seeds are low to moderate in carb content, so you can enjoy them as long as you watch your portion sizes. Usually an ounce or a handful of nuts would be a good gauge to see how much you can eat and still stay in ketosis daily.
• Chia seeds
• Macadamia nuts
• Pine nuts
• Pumpkin seeds
• Sesame seeds
• Sunflower seeds
• Nut butter
FOODS TO AVOID:
When it comes to foods you should avoid on the ketogenic diet, there are a few major categories to mention. First and foremost, you should avoid grains and grain-based ingredients as much as possible since they are the highest in carbohydrates. Choose healthy fats over hydrogenated oils and try to limit your intake of starchy vegetables and high-glycemic fruits. When it comes to sweeteners, refined sugars like white sugar and brown sugar are completely restricted, and you should also avoid artificial sweeteners. Natural sweeteners like honey, pure maple syrup, and agave are not necessarily bad for you, but they are very high in carbohydrates. The best sweeteners to use on the ketogenic diet are powdered erythritol, stevia, and monk fruit sweetener.
Stevia is an herb that is also known as the sugar leaf. This sweetener comes in several forms, and you need to make sure that whatever type you buy doesn’t also contain an artificial sweetener. Liquid stevia extract is usually the best option, though you can also find powdered stevia extract. Another option is powdered erythritol, which is extracted from corn, and it is usually the best option to use in recipes for baked goods.
In terms of sauces and condiments, you need to read the food label to see whether the item is keto- friendly or not because brands differ greatly. Generally speaking, basic condiments like yellow mustard, mayonnaise, horseradish, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, and oils are keto-friendly. When it comes to things like ketchup, BBQ sauce, and salad dressings you need to be mindful of the sugar content present in them.
Here is a quick list of some of the major foods you’ll need to avoid on the ketogenic diet.
• All-purpose flour
• Baking mix
• Wheat flour
• Pastry flour
• Cake flour
• Baked goods
• Corn syrup
• Snack bars
• Canola oil
• Hydrogenated oils
• Sweet potatoes
• Milk chocolate
• Ice cream
• Sports drinks
• Juice cocktail
• Low-fat dairy
• White sugar
• Brown sugar
• Maple syrup
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN SOME KETO FOODS?
I thought it would be appropriate to share some tips and ideas on what to look out for when we are choosing the more common and popular keto foods for prepping our meals.
Salmon : This fatty fish has always ranked high for me when it comes to keto friendly foods. You may know it to be packed with beneficial omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, which boost brain health and help with reducing inflammation, but it also has loads of other nutrients which the body needs.
Potassium and selenium are found in bountiful amounts when it comes to salmon. Potassium is integral to proper regulation of blood pressure as well as the body’s water retention.
Selenium helps out with maintaining good bone health as well as ensuring an optimal immune system. On top of this, salmon also contains healthy levels of B vitamins. These vitamins are crucial for efficient food to energy processing, as well as maintaining the proper function of both the body’s DNA and nervous system. To top it off, salmon has astaxanthin, an antioxidant which gives salmon flesh its reddish-pink hue. This powerful antioxidant helps with heart and brain health, and may also be beneficial for the skin.
To get a good quality deal, the first thing you should take note of is the smell. Fresh salmon, or any fish for that matter, will not really have an odor. You can probably smell a tinge of the ocean, but fresh fish will definitely not smell fishy. When it is fishy, you know that fish is not for you.
Next up, pay attention to the eyes. Look for those with clear and shiny eyes. Think of a movie star who has teared up - those are the kind of eyes that best demonstrate what you are looking for. Never go for sunken or dry-looking eyes. Cloudy-looking ones are also a no-go when it comes to fresh fish selection.
Fins and gills are also areas which we want to pay attention to. Fresh fish have fins which look wet and whole, not torn and ragged. Their gills are bright red and clean, not brownish-red and slimy. Lastly, if you are allowed to, try pressing the flesh and seeing if it bounces back like how your own does. Flesh which is depressed and stays depressed should not end up in your kitchen.
For fillet cuts, the best you can do is pay attention to the color as well as how the piece looks. The color should be vibrant and bright. Varied hues ranging from red to coral to pink are acceptable, but always remember that the main thing is the brightness of the flesh. Next would be to spot any breaks or cracks in the flesh itself. These are indications that the fillet has been kept for some time and is no longer as fresh. Also, any pooling of water should also trigger alarm bells, because it means that the flesh structure has started to break down, and it is time to move on to another piece.
Pork belly: This is another probable staple in the keto diet. I’ve talked about it in my other book but here I want to concentrate on helping you choose a good cut for prepping your meals. Every 100 grams of pork belly contains about 50 grams of fat. Packing another 9 grams of protein and absolutely no carbs, you can be sure that this is a good food item to boost your daily fat count. On top of that, it can be absolutely easy to prepare delicious meals with it.
When choosing pork belly, you should look at the color of the cut. Go for the cuts that are reddish pink to darkish red. Meat which is lighter in color generally means the freshness may have faded. Greying or discoloration will definitely mean that decay has already set in and the meat should not be picked up.
The other thing you want to look for is the streaky white strips of fat present in the pork belly. Generally the more streaks it has, the better the marbling will be and that is good news for you. Always ensure that the marbling is white, because any yellow or greyish coloring would represent meat that has probably passed its sell-by date.
Avocado oil: I must be honest here and say that this oil, for me, has been a later stage addition when compared to olive and coconut oil. Extra virgin olive oil, as well as the versatile coconut oil have their rightful places in the pantheon of staple keto foods, but avocado oil might be giving them a run for their money. Avocado oil for one, consists of mostly monounsaturated fat. This particular quirk ties in to a very important point. The oil is considered far more stable than any of its polyunsaturated fat cousins, like vegetable oil and even extra virgin olive oil. Besides that, avocado oil is known to have a higher smoke point, somewhere around 500 degrees Fahrenheit, than most vegetable oils.
This makes it a valuable addition to the kitchen because the oil has a higher resistance to degeneration by heat. Add on the fact that it packs a healthy punch in terms of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants, you will realize that this is one oil you can potentially use for many different applications.
Some folks use it for hair and skin care, where the vitamin E rich oil is known to be easily absorbed without additional chemicals or other potentially harmful additives. Adding the oil into salads, vegetables, or fruits is also a great way to boost monounsaturated fat intake with very little inconvenience. You might even want to try drinking it raw, though it doesn’t work for me as I found it to be a little too raw. Mixing it up with some lime or garlic has always been what I prefer.
Now let’s talk a little on how to go about choosing the avocado oil. First up, we want to look at the source or origin of the oil, which typically means we need to know where and how the avocados were grown. In this respect, you need to look for a certified organic label to know that the avocados were grown without any synthetic additives. This ensures that the oil derived from the avocados do not contain any substances that could be detrimental to your health.
Next, we need to look at how the oil is extracted. Mechanical and chemical extraction methods used usually involves increased heat as well as potent chemicals to force out the oil from the mashed avocado pulp. The downside of this is that the heat and chemicals may reduce the beneficial nutrients and vitamins present in the oil.
To address this, cold pressing, which is known as the least destructive method out there, ensures that the color, smell, and taste are as close to the original fruit as possible. You get better quality oil, and in addition to that, enjoy more nutrients. The last item we need to look at is how the oil is refined, or not. Seriously, for best results, cold pressed oil that is unrefined and gotten from certified organic avocados, would rank amongst the top tiers, if not the top. The downside is that the shelf life is short, and the oil smells very… avocado-ish. That shouldn’t be a problem if you use it often, and you should, considering the health benefits and convenience that it brings.
The next best thing would be to have the oil naturally refined, where the manufacturers typically do straining and filtering in order to extend the shelf life. Always remember, the more the oil is refined, the less nutrition it will provide. Before I forget, always opt for oils in dark-colored glass bottles or tins. This is a little similar to extra virgin olive oil where the oil can go rancid in the presence of heat and light. For avocado oil, though the majority of fats present consist of the monounsaturated variety, there still is a minor percentage of polyunsaturated fats. Hence, better to err on the side of caution and go for dark-colored glass bottles.
Ghee: This substance has been around since the Ayurvedic times, and it has always been listed as the cooking medium of choice. Ghee is clarified butter, which means butter that has been heated and is free of lactose as well as other milk solids. This also results in a higher smoke point compared to butter. It can go as high as 480 degrees Fahrenheit, that means you can really deep fry or roast without the risk of oxidation which releases harmful free radicals.
Removal of the lactose is great news for those who are lactose intolerant, yet still wish to partake in the nutty and rich flavor that comes with butter. Ghee can be a great alternative, and the taste might even be more flavorful. Packed with multiple fat soluble vitamins, it also contains short chain fatty acids which boost cardiovascular health as well as help fight inflammation. Ghee also has the distinct advantage of being able to last about three to four weeks at room temperature while it can keep for up to six months when refrigerated.
Ghee can definitely be found in most grocery stores. Check for it in the oil section, although some places may have it in the dairy portion. As with butter, you can always try to go for grass-fed varieties first to improve the nutrient intake and reduce the chance of having potential additives or chemicals mixed in. For me, I usually go for ghee packed either in tins or glass jars.
Lard: Lard is fat from pigs. Once vilified together with all the other saturated fat food sources, lard is enjoying a well-justified comeback! Every 100 grams of lard gives you about 30 grams of saturated fat, with polyunsaturated fat making up 10 grams and the monounsaturated variety yielding about 40 grams. No, there is no mistake. You are reading it correctly. Lard actually has more monounsaturated fat than saturated fat content. Little wonder why folks from the earlier generations really swore by
lard and practically used it for most stuff involving cooking and baking.
Now that we modern folk are coming round to lard once again, it has been found to be one of the richer sources of vitamin D foods. You don’t need to get all your vitamin D from the sun or fish, lard is also a tasty alternative! On top of that, lard is also good for high heat cooking because of its higher smoke point which stands around 375 degrees Fahrenheit. There is also less chance of rancidity or free radical production due to the presence of saturated fat content which gives lard that extra layer of fat stability. Did I already mention that lard tastes great as well? That is a point worth repeating, because there is just something about animal fat that gives food a really rich and flavorful texture.
Unfortunately, lard being sold in supermarkets and most stores aren’t really good because they have probably undergone some form of hydrogenation in order to prolong shelf life. Prolonging supermarket lard’s shelf life comes at the expense of our own if we choose to add it into our meals. You really should be looking to get high quality lard from your butcher or meat grocer. Good lard, also known as leaf lard, is derived from visceral fat around the kidneys and loin area of the pig. If that has run out, you can go for the next best alternative, which is lard that is slightly more solid and is derived from between the back skin and muscle. Untreated or unrefined lard must always be refrigerated to maintain its freshness.
Bell peppers: These colorful vegetables not only add in color and a crunchy bite to our daily meals but they also pack quite a healthy punch in the nutrients department. Rich in vitamins A and C, as well as providing us with folate and vitamin K for added good measure, bell peppers help with boosting our immune system and maintaining tissue health. The antioxidant lycopene, a kind of carotenoid that gives the peppers its color, is also responsible in helping to reduce inflammation, as well as being an active scavenger for the body’s free radicals. It is also extremely versatile, being perfectly suitable to serve raw or lightly grilled. More good news? The carb count for 100 grams of bell peppers stand at a measly 5 grams, of which 2 grams consist of dietary fiber. We’ll touch more on this subject of dietary fiber and how it impacts the carb count, but for now, just know that bell peppers have an intensely low carb count for all the nutritious goodness it packs.
The trick to choosing a bell pepper that you would want to have on your dinner table is easy - really. Go for the ones with bright, vivid colors. The ones with lighter colors may indicate they aren’t that ripe yet. Any with bruises and discoloration should be set aside and replaced with those which have a glossy sheen. Gently squeeze the vegetable to feel for tightness of the skin. One more thing to note is that a ripe bell pepper will actually feel heavier than it looks. This is because it has not suffered from moisture loss associated with over ripeness. Bell peppers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 10 days, so be sure to pop them into the chill box once you bring them back from your grocery run.
The list above is meant to give some help when it comes to the physical selection of these foods mentioned. I am pretty sure you would like to keep quality and fresh foods around in your kitchen and I hope this section would have gone some distance in helping you do that on a consistent basis. Next up, we will be covering the 28-day meal plan that has been artfully prepared for you. Starting off with easy recipes to let anyone get accustomed to the keto lifestyle, it progresses in variety over the weeks so that you do not get bored with having the same meals over and over again. Let’s step up and take a look at what we have for you!
The keto diet may help with weight loss, blood sugar control, and other health goals. However, its low carb and high fat approach may seem overly restrictive, especially at first. Nonetheless, this eating pattern accommodates a wide variety of nutritious, tasty, and versatile foods that let you stay within your daily carb range. To reap all the health benefits of the keto diet, it’s best to eat a wide variety of these food.
The low carb, high fat keto diet remains quite popular, and many people find that they enjoy the diet and the results it provides. However, it may not be the right fit for everyone. Keto is extremely restrictive compared with some other diets, which may cause stress for some people. The keto diet may cause side effects, especially when you’re getting started. Some possible Side effects can include:
4.Increased cholesterol levels