The keto diet’s increasing popularity is largely due to its potential benefits for weight loss and blood sugar control
The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that has similarities to Atkins and other low-carb diets.
The keto diet basically limits carbs to 20–50 grams per day.
It helps in drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.
In fact, many researched studies show that this type of diet can help you lose weight and have many benefits for health issues like diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease.
While some people on the ketogenic diet count their total carb intake, others count net carbs. Net carbs refer to the total number of carbs minus fiber. That’s because fiber is indigestible, so it can not be broken down and absorbed by your body.
Keep reading for a detailed beginner’s guide to the keto diet.
4 Different types of ketogenic diets.
There are 4 different versions of the ketogenic diet, including:
|Standard ketogenic diet (SKD||Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD)||Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD)||High protein ketogenic diet|
- Standard ketogenic diet (SKD): This is a very low-carb, high-fat diet, and moderate protein diet. It typically contains 70% fat, 10% carbs, and 20% protein.
- Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD): This diet involves periods of higher-carb refeeds, such as 5 full ketogenic days followed by 2 high-carb days.
- Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): This diet allows you to add carbs around your workouts.
- High protein ketogenic diet: This is similar to a standard ketogenic diet (SKD), but includes more protein. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs.
The standard (SKD) version is the most researched and recommended version of the keto diet. Cyclical or targeted ketogenic diets are more advanced methods and are mostly used by bodybuilders or athletes only.
The information in this article mostly applies to the standard ketogenic diet (SKD), although many of the same principles also apply to the other types of keto diets.
What is keto diet? Do you really need a low-carb or keto diet
You might not need a low-carb diet or keto diet if:
- You have no metabolic issues, are at a healthy weight, and otherwise tolerate carbs foods easily.
- Health-related problems like diabetes and other metabolic diseases do not run in your family.
- You don’t like to eat the types of foods that are encouraged to eat on a low-carb or keto diet (although you can still do a keto diet even if you are vegetarian).
- If You feel that reducing the intake of your favorite carbohydrate foods would affect your quality of life, no matter what health benefits might occur in your body.
keto diet foods for beginners. What to eat on a keto diet?
Here are typical foods that you can enjoy on a ketogenic diet. The numbers are total carbs per 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of food.
To remain in ketosis, foods with smaller counts are generally better:
What is the most important thing you can do to reach ketosis? Avoid eating too many carbohydrates. You will likely need to stay under 50 grams of net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) per day, ideally below 20 grams.
The lower amount of carbs you eat, the more effective the diet appears to be for reaching in ketosis, losing weight, or improving type 2 diabetes.
What fruits or nuts you can eat on a ketogenic diet?
Meat, poultry, and substitutes
Meats are very perfect for keto. You can have beef, lamb, pork, wild game, and poultry of all kinds. Soy products like tofu and tempeh also work. You can also have deli meats like cold cuts and sausages. Choose items with no added sugars, starches, or breading to keep your carbs level low.
Meats and meat substitutes
- deli meats
- organ meats
- tofu, extra firm
Fish and seafood
Most fish and shellfish are known keto-friendly. Fatty fishes such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring are good choices, as are mild white fishes such as cod, halibut, and trout. Choose fish and seafood without added sugars or breading to keep your carbs level low.
Keto-friendly fish and seafood
- fish of all types
Eggs are portable, delicious, and vegetarian-friendly. Try them boiled, fried in butter, or in an omelet for a quick breakfast, or inexpensive meal. Enjoy eggs as often as you would like because when you avoid carbs, you do not have to avoid dietary cholesterol.
Ways to eat eggs
- boiled, hard, or soft
- in quiches or frittatas
Enjoy unlimited non-starchy vegetables such as leafy greens and crunchy salad veggies such as celery, cucumber, and radishes. Other favorites include cabbage, cauliflower, avocado, broccoli, and zucchini. Fresh or frozen, most vegetables that grow above the ground are keto-friendly. You can even eat a vegetarian ketogenic diet.
Best keto vegetables
- green beans
- brussels sprouts
Fruit and berries
Most tart fruits, such as berries, limes, and lemons are fine if you keep the serving size small. The same is true for melons because they have high water content. But almost all other fruit contains high sugar. A small scoop of fresh berries served with real whipped cream and shaved dark chocolate makes a lush, very delicious keto dessert.
Best keto fruits and berries
Nuts and seeds
Many nuts and seeds contain low amounts of carbs. Just watch out for two things. 1st, don’t eat too many! Start with up to ¼ cup (about 25 grams) for a snack. And the kind of nut you choose actually matters. Some nuts, such as cashews, contain a higher amount of carbohydrates than others, such as pecans or macadamia nuts. You can also enjoy sunflower, pumpkin, and other seeds on keto.
Best keto nuts and seeds
- Brazil nuts
- macadamia nuts
- pine nuts
Cheese and full-fat dairy
Cheese, butter, and cream can all be part of a ketogenic diet. Greek yogurt, in particular, makes for a protein-rich breakfast with few carbs. Avoid flavored low-fat yogurt that is often full of extra sugar.
Note: Avoid drinking milk as the milk with sugar quickly adds up (one glass = 15 grams of carbs). However, you can use it sparingly — a tablespoon or so — in your morning coffee. Also, regularly snacking on cheese when you are not hungry is a common mistake that can slow down your weight loss.
Fats and sauces
Don’t fear fat. It will help you feel full for longer. Most of your fat should come from protein-rich foods like meat, poultry, eggs, and fish. You can also cook with olive oil, top your veggies with cheese, and add dressings to salads as well. Rich sauces — think Bearnaise sauce, garlic butter, and mayo — can also be part of a ketogenic diet, but if you are trying to lose weight, use enough to make your meals enjoyable only.
Low Carb vegetables to eat on the keto diet.
Here are the ten best keto vegetables that are tasty and provide plenty of nutrients with only a few carbs. Here’s our ranking in order of popularity and usefulness in keto-friendly cooking. Carb counts are provided as net carbs 100-gram (3½-ounce) per serving.
- Cauliflower – 3 g. Mild flavor and is so versatile. Use it as the base of staples like cauliflower mash and cauliflower rice.
- Avocado – 2 g. Technically a fruit, but full of nutrients and healthy fat. Great sliced, mashed as guacamole, or sometimes baked.
- Broccoli – 4 g. Swap it for pasta, potatoes, or rice. It can be steamed, fried in butter, drizzled in cheese sauce, roasted with bacon, or baked au gratin.
- Cabbage – 3 g. Delicious when sautéed in butter or used in our famous Asian cabbage stir fry.
- Zucchini – 3 g. Miss potatoes? Try our zucchini chips. Zucchini can also be spiralized to make keto pasta, like in this keto carbonara.
- Spinach – 1 g. Extremely low in carbs, it can be used raw in salads, baked into chips, creamed, or sautéed.
- Asparagus – 2 g. Filling, highly nutritious, and very low carb, asparagus was made for a high-fat sauce such as béarnaise or hollandaise.
- Kale – 3 g. Although slightly higher carbs than spinach, kale is a flavorful veggie. You can enjoy it raw in salads, baked into chips, sauté in lard, or use it as a base instead of pasta.
- Green beans – 4 g. Green beans can be roasted, stewed, or steamed, but may taste even better cooked in butter or bacon fat.
- Brussels sprouts – 5 g. Baby cabbages are great roasted until crispy or served in a creamy sauce.
Low Carb Fruits to eat on the keto diet.
Here is a list of the top 10 fruits you can eat on a ketogenic diet, along with the net carbs contained per serving:
- Raspberries: Half a cup (60 grams) contains around 3 grams of carbohydrates.
- Blackberries: Half a cup (70 grams) contains around 4 grams of carbohydrates.
- Strawberries: Eight medium-sized (100 grams) contain 6 grams of carbohydrates.
- Plum: One medium-sized (65 grams) contains 7 grams of carbohydrates.
- Kiwi: One medium-sized (70 grams), contains 8 grams of carbohydrates.
- Cherries: Half a cup (75 grams) contains around 8 grams of carbohydrates.
- Blueberries: Half a cup (75 grams) contains around 9 grams of carbohydrates.
- Clementine: One medium-sized (75 grams) contains 9 grams of carbohydrates.
- Cantaloupe: One cup (160 grams) contains around 11 grams of carbohydrates.
- Peach: One medium-sized (150 grams) contains 13 grams of carbohydrates.
Low Carb Nuts to eat on the keto diet.
Here’s our list of the top 7 keto nuts, These are ranked by the number of carbs.
- Pecan nuts – 100 grams (3.5 ounces) contain 4 grams of net carbohydrates.
- Brazil nuts – 100 grams contain 4 grams of net carbohydrate.
- Macadamia – 100 grams contain 5 grams of net carbohydrate.
- Walnuts – 100 grams contain 7 grams of net carbohydrates.
- Hazel nuts – 100 grams contain 7 grams of net carbohydrates.
- Peanuts – 100 grams contain 8 grams of net carbohydrates.
- Almonds – 100 grams contain 9 grams of net carbohydrates. They can also be ground into almond flour. Their neutral flavor makes them a good substitute for high-carb flour, and almond flour can be used in many keto recipes for pizza or even bread.
Top 3 low-carb keto sweeteners
If you are consuming sweets from time to time which helps you sustain your keto lifestyle, here are our top 3 options you can go with:
Top 5 low-carb keto alcoholic drinks
If you’re still wondering how to include alcohol in your ketogenic diet, Here are my top 5 favorite keto alcoholic drinks.
- Champagne or sparkling wine (extra dry or brut) – one glass contains about 2 grams of net carbohydrates and 95 calories.
- Dry wine – red or white – one glass contains about 2 grams of net carbohydrates and 120 calories.
- Vodka & Soda – one long drink contains 0 grams of carbohydrates and 115 calories.
- Whiskey – one drink contains 0 grams of carbohydrates and 115 calories.
- Dry Martini – one cocktail contains 0 grams of carbohydrates and 115 calories.
Detailed carb-count list for keto-friendly drinks
Remember that a strict keto diet keeps the level of carbs very low. It is typically good to keep carbs from drinks as close to 0 as possible and to use your carbohydrate allotment for foods such as fresh vegetables. Below is a detailed list of the number of grams of carbohydrates in a typical serving size of various drinks.
- Water 0= (The clear winner)
- Water with lemon 0
- Tea 0= (one sugar cube adds 4 grams)
- Keto iced tea 0
- Coffee 0= (milk adds around 1-3 grams of carbs)
- Diet soft drink 0= (artificial sweeteners cause other problems though)
- Wine 2=(5 oz – 14 cl)
- Almond milk, unsweetened 2= (8 oz – 25 cl)
- Coconut water 9= (1 cup – 24 cl)
- Vegetable juice 11= (1 cup – 24 cl). The number of carbohydrates can vary. Adding fruit juice adds more carbs.
- Milk 11= (1 cup – 24 cl). Lactose, the sugar in milk can be problematic for some.
- Soy milk 12= (1 cup – 24 cl)
- Beer 13= (12 oz – 35 cl). The amount varies.
- Caffè latte 15= (12 oz – 35 cl)
- Kombucha tea 10= (12 oz – 35 cl). This is the average of commercial teas. Homemade Kombucha tea varies with the time it has fermented and may end up somewhat lower in carbohydrates.
- Orange juice 26= (1 cup – 24 cl)
- Energy drink 28= (8.4 oz – 25 cl)
- Vitamin water 32= (12 oz – 35 cl)
- Sweetened iced tea 32= (12 oz – 35 cl). This is the average of most commercial iced tea products, which vary in the amount of sweetness present in it.
- Soft drink 39= (12 oz -– 35 cl)
- Smoothie 36= (12 oz – 35 cl). Varies depending on the contents. May have low carb, but not typically keto ratios.
- Frappuccino 50= (12 oz – 35 cl). All sweet coffee drinks contain height amount of carbs.
- Milkshake 60= (10 oz – 30 cl). Not part of a ketogenic diet.
Common keto-friendly drinks.
What can you drink on a keto diet? Water is the perfect drink, and coffee or tea is fine also. Ideally, use no sweeteners, especially sugar.
A splash of milk or cream in your tea or coffee is OK, but beware that the carbs can add up if you take multiple cups of tea or coffee in a day (and definitely avoid Caffe lattes!). The occasional glass of wine is fine also — but steer clear of sweet alcoholic drinks.
Also Read: 21-day smoothie diet pdf
Foods to avoid on keto diet.
Any food that’s high in carbs must be limited.
Here’s a list of foods that need to be eliminated or reduced on a ketogenic diet:
- Sugary foods: soda, fruit juice, smoothies, candy, ice cream, cake, etc.
- Grains or starches: wheat-based products, pasta, rice, cereal, etc.
- Fruit: all fruit, except small portions of berries.
- Beans or legumes: peas, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc.
- Root vegetables and tubers: potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, etc.
- Low fat or diet products: low-fat mayonnaise, salad dressings, and condiments.
- Some condiments or sauces: barbecue sauce, honey mustard, ketchup, teriyaki sauce, etc.
- Unhealthy fats: processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
- Alcohol: beer, liquor, wine, mixed drinks
- Sugar-free diet foods: sugar-free candies, syrups, sweeteners, puddings, desserts, etc.
Precautions before starting a keto diet for beginners.
For most people, it appears to be safe. However, these three groups often require medical supervision:
1. If you take medication for high blood pressure?
So you have high blood pressure and you want to try a low-carb diet or keto diet? Congratulations! It may be the most effective way for lowering your blood pressure naturally. In some cases, it may even bring your blood pressure level to normal level completely.
However, there are two minor potential issues you may need to be aware of before you start your diet.
- Blood-pressure medication
If you are on blood pressure medication and start a low-carb diet, there’s a risk of the diet working too well! That could mean you experience low blood pressure levels. Yes, it’s true. You may become more healthy for your current dosage of medication.
This blood-pressure-lowering effect with low-carb nutrition can happen within a few days, but it may also take months or even a year sometimes to reach full effect.
If you feel symptoms of low blood pressure, such as feeling weak, dizzy, or tired, you should immediately check your blood pressure level. If it’s low, e.g. below 120/80, you should contact your family doctor to discuss if lowering or stopping your medication is appropriate for you.
- Salt and bouillon
When starting a low-carb or keto diet we often recommend getting extra salt and fluid, perhaps in the form of bouillon – especially during the first two weeks. The reason is to minimize early side effects that can otherwise be troublesome when starting low carb or keto, e.g. headache.
You should only take this bouillon if your blood pressure level is well controlled, as for some it may increase blood pressure marginally.
If your blood pressure level is high despite medication you should not take extra salt or bouillon. Doing so could raise the blood pressure level even higher, and it is completely not wise to risk that.
2. If you take medication for diabetes, such as insulin
So you have diabetes and want to try eating a low-carb or keto diet? Good for you! Making these dietary changes has the potential to reverse type 2 diabetes also. Or, if you have type 1 diabetes, doing so could dramatically improve your blood sugar level.
However, you need to know what you are really doing, and you need to communicate frequently with your family doctor. Once you start eating low-carb or keto you will likely have to lower your insulin doses as well as the doses of other diabetes medications you were taking, frequently by quite a lot.
Avoiding the carbs that raise your blood sugar decreases your need for medication to lower it. Taking the same dose of insulin or insulin-stimulating oral medication as you did prior to adopting a keto diet might result in low blood sugar, something that can be very dangerous.
You need to test your blood sugar frequently when starting this diet and adjust your medication accordingly because it can fluctuate anytime. This should always be done with the assistance of a physician or other health professional with expertise in diabetes types along with low-carb expertise.
Some people should avoid keto altogether:
3. If you breastfeed?
Do you want to eat a low-carb diet or a keto diet while breastfeeding? It can be a great way to lose excess weight, while still eating all the nutritious foods that your body and your baby need.
However, you should not eat a strict low-carb diet or keto, as it can – in extremely rare cases – it can be potentially dangerous when breastfeeding. To be safe, you may consider a liberal low-carb diet, with at least 50 grams of carbs intake per day.
Health benefits of keto diet.
The keto diet actually originated as a tool for treating neurological diseases such as epilepsy.
Recherches have now shown that the diet can have benefits for a wide variety of different health conditions:
- Heart disease. It seems strange that a diet that calls for more fat can raise “good” cholesterol and lower “bad” cholesterol, but keto diets are linked to just that. It may be because the lower levels of insulin that result from these diets can stop your body from making extra cholesterol. That means you are less likely to have high blood pressure levels, hardened arteries, heart failure, and other heart conditions. It’s unclear, however; how long these effects last.
- Cancer. Insulin is a hormone that lets your body use or store sugar as fuel. Keto diets make you burn through this fuel quickly, so you do not need to store it. This means your body needs — and makes — less insulin. Those lower levels may help protect you against some kinds of cancer or even slow down the growth of cancer cells.
- Alzheimer’s disease. The ketogenic diet may help reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and slow its growth.
- Epilepsy. Keto diets have helped control seizures caused by this condition since the 1920s. But again, it is important to work with your family doctor to figure out what’s right for you or your child.
- Parkinson’s disease. Although more research is needed, one study found that the diet helped improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease also.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome. This happens when a woman’s ovaries get larger than they should be and small fluid-filled sacs form around the eggs. High levels of insulin can cause it. Keto diets, which lower both the amount of insulin your body makes and the amount you need, may help in the treatment, along with other lifestyle changes, like exercise and weight loss.
- Brain injuries. Some research suggests that the diet could improve outcomes of traumatic brain injuries also.
- Acne. Carbs have been linked to this skin condition, so cutting down on carbs may help. And the drop in insulin that a keto diet can trigger may also help stop acne breakouts. Still, more research is needed to determine exactly how much it affects, if any, the diet actually has on acne.
- Other Nervous System Disorders. These affect your spine and brain, as well as the nerves that link them together. Epilepsy is one, but others may be helped by a keto diet as well, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and sleep disorders. Scientists are not sure why, but it may be that the ketones your body makes when it breaks down the fat for energy help protect your brain cells from damage.
Keto macronutrients: Carbs, protein, & fat
When following a ketogenic diet, the idea is to eat very few carbs only, a moderate amount of protein, and just as much fat as you need to feel satisfied.
Limit carbohydrates to 20 or fewer grams of net carbs per day, or 5 to 10% of calories. Although it is possible that you may not need to be this strict, eating fewer than 20 grams of net carbs every day virtually guarantees that you will be in nutritional ketosis.
Eat enough protein to meet your body’s needs. Most people need at least 70 grams per day or 20 to 35% of calories from protein.
Include enough fat to add flavor. You should not add lots of fat unless you need extra calories. Plus, many whole foods like meat and eggs contain plenty of fat. On a keto diet, about 60 to 75% of your calories come from fat.
Easy and simple free keto meal plan for 1 week.
|Monday||Veggie and egg muffins with tomatoes||Chicken salad with olive oil, feta cheese, olives, and a side salad||Salmon with asparagus cooked in butter|
|Tuesday||Egg, tomato, basil, and spinach omelet||Almond milk, peanut butter, spinach, cocoa powder, and stevia milkshake with a side of sliced strawberries||Cheese-shell tacos with salsa|
|Wednesday||Nut milk chia pudding topped with coconut and blackberries||Avocado shrimp salad||Pork chops with Parmesan cheese, broccoli, and salad|
|Thursday||Omelet with avocado, salsa, peppers, onion, and spices||A handful of nuts and celery sticks with guacamole and salsa||Chicken stuffed with pesto and cream cheese, and a side of grilled zucchini|
|Friday||Sugar-free Greek, whole milk yogurt with peanut butter, cocoa powder, and berries||Ground beef lettuce wrap tacos with sliced bell peppers||Loaded cauliflower and mixed veggies|
|Saturday||Fried eggs with mushrooms||Low-carb sesame chicken and broccoli||Spaghetti squash Bolognese|
Always try to rotate the vegetables and meat over a long period, as each type provides different nutrients and health benefits.
How to Follow the Keto Diet on a Budget
Fresh, low-carb berries and high-fat avocados, not to mention nuts and other unprocessed foods, can break the bank, especially if they’re not already part of your expenses. Fortunately, there are a few hacks you can follow to cut down on costs while following the ketogenic diet. Buying nuts and frozen fruits in bulk are just two examples.
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