When it comes to maintaining good health, one of the most important things we can do is watch what we eat, avoid junk foods and consume healthy foods daily. It sounds simple enough, but there are many diet plans out there to choose from.
One diet plan that is getting a lot of attention lately is the ketogenic diet (or keto diet). The keto diet is a diet that consists of eating little to no carbohydrates.
The question is though, does it help with weight loss and is the keto diet good for you?
The average person gets their energy from carbs, but when on a ketogenic diet, our bodies are forced to find another energy source. That energy comes from ketones, which is produced by the liver.
How the Keto Diet Works
Every time we eat foods high in carbs, our bodies produce glucose and insulin. Glucose is our primary source of fuel, and can be easily converted into energy. In order to process this glucose, the body produces insulin, transporting it throughout our bodies.
This is perfectly normal, but there’s one problem: the unused glucose is stored in the body as fat. Over time, these fats stores can grow, possibly leading to a variety of health issues, including weight gain and obesity.
This is where keto diets come into play. The human body can get energy from two sources: carbohydrates and stored fat.
By eating less carbs and following a keto diet, the body has no choice but to use that stored fat for energy. But just keep in mind that you can’t eat an unlimited number of calories. Overeating on the keto diet will still cause weight gain, just like it will on any other diet.
Benefits of Keto Diets
When our bodies stop using glucose as its primary source of energy, it runs on ketones. These ketones become the top fuel source when carbs aren’t available. Keto diets are believed to have many benefits. Here are just a few:
Lower Blood Sugar
Every time we eat, the body produces glucose and insulin. Insulin levels can spike, giving us a surge of energy, then drop just as quickly.
This can cause us to suddenly have low energy levels and “crash.” (We often experience the crash when we eat foods or beverages high in sugar.)
By using that stored fat for energy, blood sugar levels can remain constant, and eventually decrease. This may be beneficial for those who are diabetic or pre-diabetic.
If the body is using stored fat for energy, this could be an excellent way to lose those excess pounds naturally.
By training the body to use stored fat for energy, athletes may be able to keep their energy levels higher over longer periods of time. This can help improve their performance levels and decrease the risk of bonking.
Eliminate Afternoon Slumps
Many office workers experience the dreaded “afternoon slump,” where they need a jolt of energy to make it through the day. By using stored fat for energy, a person can stabilize energy levels, keeping them energized and ready to go.
Reduces Risk of Cancer
Studies are ongoing, but many believe ketosis is the key to fighting cancer. Why? Because many cancer cells use glucose as fuel.
Top Keto Diet Foods
Here are the top foods to eat and avoid while on a ketogenic diet:
Foods To Eat:
Grass Fed and Wild Animal Sources:
Beef, Egg’s, Fish, Chicken, Game
Olive oil, Omega 3’s, Coconut Oil, Butter, Lard
Leafy greens, Asparagus, Cucumbers, Summer Squash, Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Onions, Squash, Artichokes
Coffee, Tea, Water
Herbs and Spices
Cinnamon, Ginger, Garlic, Cayenne Pepper
Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Kombucha
Macadamia Nuts, Pecans, Almonds, Flaxseed, Pumpkin Seeds,
Foods to Avoid
Non-Organic, Farm Raised Meat Sources:
Farm Raised Beef, Pork, Chicken and Fish
Sugar and Sweets:
Ice Cream, Cake, Sugary Drinks, Cookies, Donuts
Wheat, Rye, Oats, Corn, Barley, Millet, etc.
Pizza, Fast Foods, Foods Containing MSG, Sulphites,
Low-Fat, Zero-Fat Products
Consume Raw, Full Milk Only (In Moderation)
Sunflower, Cottonseed, Soybean, Margarine, Corn Oil
Pineapple, Mango, Banana, Papaya, Grapes, Fruit Juices, Raisins
Is Keto For Me?
The jury is still out on keto diets.
For some, they believe the problem with keto is that you need to cut out most fruit and veggies because of the carb content. This means you’re missing a lot of micronutrients (i.e. vitamins and minerals).
The truth is that you don’t need to cut out ALL fruits and vegetables – you just need to focus on the ones that give you maximum nutrients with less carbs such as berries and leafy greens.
Another issue is that a lot of foods high in fiber are higher carb foods, so that might be a problem. Eating a low fiber diet might make you feel hungrier and might also impact your bowel movements. So it’s important to make sure that you’re eating enough fiber if you choose the keto diet.
Sample Keto Meal Plan
For those looking to try keto, but want to ensure they’re getting the nutrients their body needs, here’s a sample meal plan:
1. Fry bacon in pan until crispy
2. Fry eggs in bacon grease
3. Cut cherry tomatoes, and sauté tomatoes and spinach in pan
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 lb (220g) chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 5 oz (100-150g) bacon
- ½ Romaine lettuce
- 2 oz. (50g) freshly grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ½ lemon, zest and juice
- 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped filets of anchovies
- Salt and pepper
1.Mix the ingredients for the dressing with a whisk or blender. Set aside in the refrigerator.
2.Preheat oven to 400°F (200[Symbol]C). Place the chicken breasts in a greased baking dish.
3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil or melted butter on top. Bake the chicken in the oven for about 20 min or until fully cooked.
4.Fry the bacon until crisp. Shred the lettuce and place as a base on two plates. Place sliced chicken and the crispy, crumbled bacon on top.
5. Add dressing and parmesan cheese.
- 1/2 lb. (220g) broccoli
- 1 whole garlic
- 5 oz. (140g) cherry tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme or dried oregano or dried basil
- 1/2 lb. (220g) ribeye steak
- Salt and pepper
- Anchovy butter
1. Make the anchovy butter. Finely chop the anchovy fillets and mix them with butter (at room temperature), lemon juice, salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 450°F / 230[Symbol]C. (Allow meat to reach room temperature before cooking it.) Separate the garlic into cloves and the broccoli into florets.
2.2. Grease a large roasting pan and place all the vegetables in a single layer. Season and drizzle olive oil on top. Give it a stir to coat and then place the roasting pan in the oven for 15 minutes.
3. Brush the meat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Fry quickly on high heat in a frying pan.
4. Remove pan from the oven and make room for the meat amongst the vegetables.
5. Lower the heat to 400°F / 200[Symbol]C and place pan back in the oven for a few minutes or up to 10 or 15, depending on how you like your meat – rare, medium or well-done.
6. Remove from the oven and place a small amount of anchovy butter on each piece of meat. Serve straight away.
The ketogenic diet has many benefits and can help with weight loss. You just need to make sure that you’re not excluding fruit and veggies, and that you’re eating enough fiber!
I don’t think that there is one “perfect” diet – many of them have their benefits and drawbacks. The best diet for you is the one that you actually enjoy and can stick to long term.
Is the keto diet is good for you? You won’t know until you try it! (If you have any health issues, please consult your doctor before trying a new diet).