Diets that incorporate more healthy fat and less carbohydrates have been proven to aid with diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease as well as help people lose weight more efficiently and feel more energetic.
Before embarking on any diet, it’s advisable to speak to both a doctor or dietitian as well as friends and family members for support. Keto diet may seem daunting at first but is an achievable alternative that provides many health benefits.
How It Works
The keto diet limits carbohydrates, the primary fuel source for your body, forcing your metabolism to switch over and burn fat for energy instead of carbohydrates – leading to weight loss and improved health benefits – but isn’t without challenges.
As soon as carbohydrates are eliminated from your diet, your body begins using its stored glycogen for energy until its stores run dry. At that point, your liver converts any excess fat into ketones which your body then uses as fuel – initiating ketosis which can lower triglyceride levels and decrease heart disease risks.
Keto diets rely heavily on high-fat foods, but it’s crucial that they include the appropriate kinds of fat. Unsaturated fats found in avocados and nuts are generally healthier options while saturated fats like butter or lard may raise your cholesterol, place extra strain on kidneys, and increase heart disease risk.
Make sure that you are getting adequate vitamins and minerals on the keto diet, which may contain excessive sodium and inadequate potassium, leading to dehydration and muscle cramps. Supplementing with whole food supplements is one way to avoid these problems.
As with any diet, when on the keto diet it’s crucial to obtain most of your carbohydrates from non-starchy vegetables and low-carb fruit such as leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms and zucchini – in addition to including plenty of protein-rich foods like meat, poultry, fish and eggs in your meals.
Due to its strict carb restrictions, the keto diet may not be appropriate for everyone. Before trying it yourself, it’s advisable to discuss it with your physician, particularly if you suffer from heart disease or diabetes. Speaking to a registered dietitian can also help in planning meals and determining whether keto is right for you; plus they can identify additional dietary changes you could implement such as decreasing stress and prioritizing sleep; adequate rest can assist weight loss efforts significantly – the Cleveland Clinic advises an adult getting seven to nine hours of shuteye per night for adults!
What to Eat
A healthy keto plan includes a wide variety of food. According to dietitian Laura Dority, RDN, LDN from the Keto Hope Foundation, “no specific foods are off limits”. She suggests that it all comes down to carb consumption – 20-40g should suffice each day in order for ketosis – the state where your body burns fat for energy instead of glucose.
Eat plenty of high-quality proteins such as fish, chicken, turkey, eggs and lean meats containing essential amino acids and fiber to promote digestion. These foods will serve as building blocks for cell construction as well as providing essential amino acids and fiber for improved gastrointestinal health.
Non-starchy vegetables are a cornerstone of a healthy keto plan. Not only are they low in calories and carbohydrates, but they’re packed with vital vitamins and minerals like potassium – an element which has been proven to regulate both blood pressure and heart rate – making them perfect choices. Examples include leafy greens like kale and spinach as well as broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and bell peppers as all are delicious keto-friendly options.
Other nutritious options to include when making healthy choices are berries, avocados and nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds contain both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – such as omega 3s – while many also provide fiber. Omega 3s have been linked with lower rates of heart disease while proteins found in nuts and seeds provide high quality filling protein options.
Fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C and antioxidants, but be wary of added sugars. One cup of sliced strawberries contains 10.5 g of carbohydrates while 1 cup of whole frozen blueberries has 23.6.
As beverages, plain coffee and herbal tea are ideal. Both options contain no carbohydrates or sugar and boast health-promoting components like flavonoids and phytochemicals that provide multiple health benefits.
Alcohol is high in carbs and may interfere with ketosis. You should opt for dry wine or spirits instead of beer and sugary cocktails; consult a registered dietitian familiar with keto diet goals when determining how much alcohol to drink; also stay away from soda, which has been associated with weight gain and elevated cholesterol.
What to Avoid
A healthy keto diet consists of foods rich in fats, moderate in proteins and low in carbohydrates. These include meat, fish and eggs as well as non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, nuts and seeds; cheese; as well as natural fat sources like butter, olive oil and avocados. Starchy foods, including bread, rice pasta cereal as well as sugary beverages including fruit juices or alcohol drinks must also be eliminated from this diet plan.
Carbs from refined flour and added sugar quickly convert to blood sugar (glucose), while complex carbs found in beans and grains break down more slowly into glucose for fuel. The goal of keto diet is to shift your metabolism away from using glucose for energy use to instead using stored fat as fuel source.
Mancinelli suggests that for optimal weight management on a keto diet, 70-75% of your calories should come from fat while 15-20% should come from protein; carbs should represent 5-10% of total calorie consumption.
On the keto diet, poultry, lean meats, eggs and dairy products are considered top sources of protein. These foods are low in carbs while rich in muscle-building fiber, protein, iron and phosphorous – great options to fill out a protein intake! However, processed meats contain trans fats linked to higher cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease; so their consumption should be limited as much as possible.
Nuts and seeds are integral to the keto diet, providing healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, fiber and protein while being low in net carbs. Avocados provide further protein along with other health benefits like dietary fiber, vitamins A & C as well as potassium; however the diet recommends against eating fried or dried nuts which contain more carbs.
Dairy products are an integral component of the keto diet, though their intake should be taken in moderation as cheese contains saturated fats that should not exceed 3 grams per serving. Low-sodium deli meats and cheese varieties that are lower in carbs like cheddar are allowed; soy products and non-dairy milks like almond or coconut should also be permitted without worry. It is advised to opt for margarines containing less than 10g of sugar as these may contain trans fats.
Tips for Success
As with any diet, it’s key to making changes that you can stick with in the long run. This means being aware of portion sizes and avoiding sugary foods and drinks, even those labeled zero-calorie sweeteners. Furthermore, this means limiting high-carb processed foods like grains, breads, pastas and cereals as well as cutting back on processed snacks that contain added carbohydrates like cookies and chips.
Another way to ensure success is to consume enough protein. Aim for at least a third of your daily calorie intake coming from this nutrient – this will help maintain muscle mass while encouraging a lean body composition and reduce cravings for carbs. Increasing your protein intake could also help make you feel full faster, helping prevent cravings!
Once again, it’s wise to weigh yourself regularly and take progress photos along the way. This can provide an empowering way of tracking results while acting as a powerful motivator; plus it provides an opportunity to celebrate milestones along the way by treating yourself to something non-food related – such as new workout gear or massage therapy!
Staying hydrated and maintaining proper electrolyte balance are also of key importance during carb restriction. Since urine contains water and electrolytes that you lose through perspiration, drinking plenty of water throughout the day as well as replenishing them through foods like avocados, spinach and nuts is necessary to staying hydrated and maintaining a balanced environment for electrolyte balance.
One final tip for successful ketosis is avoiding cheating. Consuming too many carbs at one meal could throw your ketosis off track, hindering weight loss goals. If this occurs, give yourself time to return to fat-burning mode before trying again.
Registered dietitians can be an invaluable resource when it comes to following the ketogenic diet. Working with experts can help determine whether this lifestyle fits with your health and wellness goals as well as provide strategies to overcome challenges that arise during your journey.
Develop a plan tailored specifically to you will ensure you can stick with healthy choices and achieve weight loss. Speak to a registered dietitian so your questions are answered, and together create an eating plan tailored specifically to you and your unique needs.