In recent years, the ketogenic diet, also known as keto, has become increasingly prevalent as a weight loss and health improvement strategy. This low-carb, high-fat diet can help people lose weight, reduce inflammation, and even improve brain function. If you’re interested in going keto, here’s everything you need to know to get started.
What Is the Ketogenic Diet?
This refers to a low-carb, high-fat eating plan that forces the body into ketosis. It allows the body to burn fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. By drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing fat intake, the body is forced to use ketones (molecules produced during fat metabolism) for energy.
What Can You Eat While on Keto?
The ketogenic diet is a restrictive diet that eliminates many high-carb foods. On the keto diet, strive to get 70-80% of your calories from fat, 20-25% from protein, and 5-10% from carbohydrates. Foods rich in fat and low in carbohydrates are the staples of the keto diet.
Some examples include:
- Meat and Poultry
- Fish and Seafood
- High-Fat Dairy Products (i.e., Cheese, Cream, Butter)
- Nuts and Seeds
- Low-Carb Vegetables (i.e., Leafy Greens, Broccoli, Cauliflower)
- Healthy Oils (i.e., Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil)
Foods high in carbohydrates should be avoided or limited while on a keto diet. These include the following:
- Grains (i.e., Wheat, Rice, Oats)
- Sugars (i.e., Candy, Soda, Juice)
- Starchy Vegetables (i.e., Potatoes, Corn, Peas)
- Most Fruits (Except for Small Portions of Berries)
- Weight Loss: When a person decreases the amount of carbohydrates they consume, their body is compelled to utilize fat as energy, which ultimately results in shedding extra weight.
- Reduced Inflammation: The ketogenic diet has been proven to decrease inflammation, resulting in better overall health and a reduced chance of long-term illnesses.
- Improved Brain Function: Research suggests that following the keto diet can enhance cognitive abilities and lower the chances of developing neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
- Reduced Risk of Heart Illness: Going on keto can decrease various risk factors associated with heart diseases. These include elevated blood pressure, high triglyceride levels, and low HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
While the ketogenic diet has many potential benefits, it’s not without its downsides.
- The “Keto Flu”: When transitioning to the keto diet, some people experience flu-like symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and nausea. These symptoms typically go away after a few days.
- Difficulty Sticking to the Diet: Following the keto diet for a long time can be challenging because it involves a substantial decrease in the consumption of carbohydrates.
- Nutrient Deficiencies: The keto diet eliminates many high-carb foods rich in essential nutrients. To avoid nutrient deficiencies, consume various nutrient-dense foods on the keto diet.
- Potential for Kidney Stones: For those who have had kidney stones before, the likelihood of developing them again may be heightened by following the keto diet.
Is the Ketogenic Diet Right for You?
The ketogenic diet can be effective in losing weight and improving overall health for some people. However, it’s not for everyone. If you’re considering the keto diet, talk to a doctor or registered dietitian to find out if it’s the right choice.
Going on a ketogenic diet can help you lose weight, reduce inflammation, and improve brain function. While it has many potential benefits, it’s not without its downsides. Consult your doctor or a registered dietitian beforehand if you want to go keto.
Smart Cooking Recipes offers a variety of keto-friendly recipes that are nutritious and easy to prepare. Our website has everything from keto-friendly breakfasts to main dishes and desserts. We also debunk the myths of keto dieting and the basics of keto cooking, among other topics. Visit our website regularly for new keto recipe ideas and inspiration!