A Keto or Ketogenic diet is one of the most popular weight loss methods of late. Besides being effective for weight loss the diet is also effective for certain medical conditions such as diabetes and epilepsy. But what is this diet craze, and what are the best foods you can eat to stay in ketosis?
What is a keto diet?
Keto is a form of a low carb diet similar to others such as Atkins. The idea behind this diet is to eat fewer carbohydrates and more foods that are high in fat. The good news is that some forms of keto are also high in protein. By dramatically reducing your carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat and protein, you put your body in a metabolic state called “ketosis.”
When your body goes into ketosis, it becomes very good at burning fat for energy. These diets can help lower insulin and blood sugar levels, mostly due to this reduction in carbohydrates and processed sugars. When your body goes into ketosis, several things happen:
- metabolism increases
- hunger pangs disappear
- muscle mass increases
- blood pressure improves
You should always consult a physician before starting any diet or nutrition plan. Though the keto diet does help many people, it’s not for everyone, so be on the safe side.
Here are 10 foods that should be part of a ketogenic diet
Low Carb Vegetables
Many vegetables are low in calories but high in vitamins and nutrients. But not all vegetables are alike, and some are low in carbs. Vegetables such as broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini, spinach, cauliflower, lettuce, and green beans are suitable for a start. Other low carb vegetables include kale, celery, tomatoes, radishes, Brussel sprouts, onions, and cabbage. Make sure to choose these low carb alternatives over their high carb counterparts like potatoes, peas, and corn.
Shellfish and fish are incredibly keto-friendly foods. Fish like salmon are rich in vitamins and minerals and are mostly carb-free. Shellfish, however, have varying amounts of carbs. Shrimp and crab have none but other shellfish like mussels, clams, octopus, squid, and oysters have carb amounts that range from 3 – 7 grams.
Many types of fish like salmon are very high in Omega-3 fats which have been found to lower insulin levels. The target for eating fish and seafood should be twice per week.
Avocados are one of the most healthy foods available as they are high in vitamins and minerals. Like Omega-3 fatty acids, avocados may help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Though avocados contain 2 grams of net carbs per serving, they are high in fiber. Those carb amounts are negligible based on the other high-quality nutrients they provide.
Who doesn’t like cheese? I’m talking real cheese not the canned cheese or fake cheese like American Cheese. There are hundreds of types of cheese to choose from, and the good news is they are all high in fat, high in protein, and low in carbs. The perfect combination for a keto diet.
Meat and Poultry
Meat and poultry are the staple and most popular ketogenic foods as they contain no carbs and are high in vitamins and minerals. Meat and poultry are also a tremendous source of protein which helps to develop muscle when you are on a low carb diet. Always aim for grass-fed whenever possible.
The egg is another one of the healthiest foods on the planet weighing in at one gram of carbs and fewer than 6 grams of protein. It is the perfect food for ketogenic dieting. Make sure to eat the entire egg, including the yolk as this is where vitamins and minerals are found. Eggs are high in cholesterol, so don’t go overboard. Everything in moderation.
Though Greek yogurt does contain a low level of carbs, it can still be included in a keto diet. A regular serving of greek yogurt (about 5 ounces) contains 5 grams of carbs and 11 grams of protein. Combine it with some of the nuts and seeds mentioned below for an even tastier, healthy treat!
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are high fat and low carb powerhouses! Nuts and seeds are high in fiber and help give you the feeling of being full. Like seafood the net carb counts do vary (anywhere from 0-8 net grams per ounce) so be sure to check before adding nuts and seeds to your diet.
Typically fruit is never good for a keto diet as they are high in carbs, but berries are an exception to the rule. Berries are low in carbs and high in fiber. Berries are full of antioxidants that help reduce inflammation.
Olive oil (and olives), contrary to popular belief, provide exceptional benefits to your heart. They both contain monounsaturated fat that has been found to decrease heart disease risks. Extra virgin olive oil also contains high levels of antioxidants. In it’s purest form olive oil contains zero carbs and is perfect as a salad dressing.
Before starting any type of ketogenic or low carb diet, check with your doctor. A ketogenic diet can be beneficial for controlling blood sugar levels and other health-related goals as well as weight loss. There are a wide enough variety of foods to eat to keep most people satisfied. Start with these 10 foods and add in more as you progress.
Have you ever tried or considered a keto diet? Let me know in the comments below. For more on health visit The Health Edge section of our site.