A ketogenic diet (keto) is a low-carb, high-fat diet that has been demonstrated to provide a variety of health benefits. A study published by the National Institutes of Health shows that keto is a powerful tool for losing weight. In many cases, benefits have been seen in the areas of diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease.
So how do you get started on a keto diet? What are the foods you can eat and the ones you’ll want to avoid? This article explains a few of the benefits of a keto diet and then discusses how to move into action – what meals to plan and how.
The keto diet works by invoking a natural state in your body known as ketosis. Reducing carbs and replacing them with fat triggers this metabolic response in the body. When in this metabolic state, the body becomes highly efficient at burning fat and begins to do so immediately – both dietary fat and body fat.
Ketosis has additional health benefits as well. It turns fat into ketones in the liver, supplying additional energy for the brain. And it reduces blood sugar and insulin levels, which has even more benefits.
There are different types of keto diets including ones for bodybuilders and elite athletes like Olympians. We may discuss those in a future post, but for now, let’s take a look at a standard keto diet. The basic “entry-level” keto diet is very low carb, moderate protein, and high fat. The dietary intake is measured as: 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs. This standard version is the one most often used in cited research into keto diets and their effectiveness, so it is the ideal first step.
Since many who try keto are interested in fitness, there is a temptation to add more protein to the diet. This is a mistake that can undermine the chemical processes on which ketosis relies. Too much protein can be converted into glucose, which slows your body to shift into ketosis mode. So decide now to follow the plan if you want to get the best results.
The meal plans below avoid foods that are high in carbohydrates. The foods you’ll be eliminating will include:
- Sugar (soft drinks, fruit juice, baked goods, ice cream, candy, etc.)
- Grains and their products (wheat, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.)
- Fruit (all fruits are high in carbs except small amounts of berries)
- Beans (peas, pinto beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.)
- Root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes)
- Processed foods (read all labels as low-fat foods have added sugar for flavor)
- Alcohol (wine, beer, liquor)
And the foods that will make up the bulk of your diet will include:
- Meat (steak, ham, sausage, bacon, chicken, turkey)
- Fish (salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel)
- Eggs (whole eggs)
- Cheese and Butter (cheddar, goat, blue, as well as butter and heavy cream)
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, flaxseed, chia seed, etc.)
- Healthy oils (olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil)
- Vegetables (all green vegetables plus tomatoes, onions, cauliflower, and peppers)
To help you get started, we have sketched out some basic meal plans any beginner can follow. Be sure to choose high-quality fresh foods when available and stick to the plan. Since ketosis is a metabolic state, any departure from the plan can undermine the process – no cheating!
- BREAKFAST: veggie omelet with sliced tomatoes
- LUNCH: green salad topped with keto chicken salad, and olives
- DINNER: pan-seared salmon in butter with sautéed spinach
- BREAKFAST: bell pepper stuffed with cheese, scrambled eggs and tomatoes
- LUNCH: Thick slice of keto meatloaf (no bread crumbs!) topped with sautéed mushrooms
- DINNER: pork chop with cream sauce and sautéed asparagus
- BREAKFAST: three eggs fried in butter served on sautéed spinach with feta cheese
- LUNCH: keto tuna salad served in tomato on a bed of greens
- DINNER: oven-roasted chicken and sautéed broccoli
- BREAKFAST: full-fat yogurt and two hard-boiled eggs
- LUNCH: kale salad topped with leftover roasted chicken
- DINNER: grilled tuna steak with spinach salad and broiled tomatoes
- BREAKFAST: avocado egg boats with tender greens
- LUNCH: Caesar salad with chicken
- DINNER: Ham steak and cheesy broccoli
- BREAKFAST: Spinach and eggs topped with feta cheese
- LUNCH: Salmon burger topped with basil pesto, served on arugula with olive oil and lemon
- DINNER: Coconut curry chicken with zucchini “noodles” and parmesan cheese
- BREAKFAST: Chia Coconut pudding topped with walnuts
- LUNCH: cobb salad
- DINNER: Meatballs with sautéed asparagus and a green salad
You’ve probably noticed: many of your favorites are included like bacon and cheese. But some cornerstones like bread have been replaced by a bed of greens. Make the commitment to complete 30 days on the plan before you decide if you like it – your tastes will adjust and the rate at which you begin losing fat will energize and encourage you to leave the bread alone for a few more weeks. You can do it!
Now that you have an idea of what constitutes a well-formulated keto meal plan, bear in mind that it’s vital to monitor glucose and ketone levels as well.
Keto-Mojo offers a device called GK+ Blood Glucose & Ketone Meter Kit that accurately measures your blood glucose and ketone levels.
Additionally, it’s best to consult professionals to get a tailored and personalized prescription low-carb or keto diet plan.
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