What is the Keto Diet?
The Ketogenic or ‘Keto’ diet is one of the many low carb diets out there. The key difference being is that the Keto diet is low a carb but high fat diet. This has great appeal – as you can still eat plenty and get to feel full.
A lot of diets will leave us feeling hungry, often at the mercy of our cravings. However, the high fat content in the Keto diet means you will often feel full and satisfied. Key is to get the body into a state of ‘Ketosis’. This allows for weight loss.
Ketosis is a natural process which kicks in when you run out of carbs to (metabolically) burn. Our bodies use carbs as it’s go-to source for energy. This means that, regardless how much fat we have stored, it will choose carbs first – even if we have just consumed them. With no carbs available, you’ll burn fat instead. In fact, the body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. In addition to this ‘fuel’, you’ll produce ketones in the liver, which provides energy for your brain.
Why the Keto Diet Works
Keto works for a couple of reasons. First up it should now be no surprise that we lose weight when we reduce our carb intake significantly. Carbs like white bread and pasta are ‘High GI’ and the body of evidence that they are unhealthy in large quantities is growing.
Once you take away this easy source of fuel, your body burns fat instead.
However it is very tough to remove carbs completely and a lot of other low carb diets leave us feeling hungry and without much energy at all. This means they work great in the short term but are very hard to sustain for the majority of people. Will power works for a while, though often breaks down. This leads to the cycle or diet / binge that many people find themselves in.
However the Keto diet takes the majority of that feeling away. You can fill up on rich and creamy foods, meats and healthy vegetables and feel great about it – a win win!
Mix Things Up – Different Versions of the Ketogenic Diet
There are various versions of the Keto diet, including:
- Standard – 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbs
- Cyclical – This is a version of Keto that involves some days or ‘recarbing’, think 5 days standard keto followed by two high carb days.
- Targeted – Again this is the standard Keto diet, but allows you to add carbs around your workouts.
- High Protein Keto – Similar to standard Keto, but with different ratios. Typically 60% fat. 35% protein and 5% carbs.
If you are struggling with standard Keto then consider giving the cyclical and targeted diets a try. Key to success here is to make sure you are working out hard. These variations are typically used by athletes and bodybuilders. They can delay the positive effects if you are working out less frequently / intensively.
The high protein method is a very viable alternative to the standard Keto diet and which one you choose will likely depend on your own eating preferences.
Foods To Avoid on the Keto Diet
To help keep your body in a state of Ketosis you should avoid the following foods:
- Sugary foods and drinks
- Grains and Starches – Pasta, bread, rice, cereal etc
- Beans or Legumes
- Low fat and diet products
- Sugar Free foods
Foods To Eat
Yes the list to avoid will likely contain some of your favourites, fear not, as you can have your fill of the following to make up for it:
- Butter and Cream
- Nuts and Seeds
- Low Carb Vegetables (think greens)
- Fatty Fish (Salmon, Tuna etc)
- Healthy Oils
Example of a Ketogenic Weekly Meal Plan
If you are struggling for ideas then take a look at the sample meal plan below. Tweak where necessary for your own tastes and preferences:
Breakfast – Scrambled Eggs and Bacon
Lunch – Salmon with Pesto and Spinach
Dinner – Sirloin with Brussel Sprouts and Asparagus
Breakfast – Four egg Omelette with cheese and tomato
Lunch – Chicken Noodle Soup
Dinner – Low Carb Beef Curry
Breakfast – Your favourite green smoothie
Lunch – Tamari marinated steak salad
Dinner – Pork chops with parmesan Cheese, broccoli and salad
Breakfast – Fried eggs with bacon and mushroom
Lunch – Ham and Cheese slices with nuts
Dinner – White fish, egg and spinach cooked in coconut oil
Breakfast – Ham and cheese omelette
Lunch – Mustard sardines with side salad
Dinner – Chicken stuffed with pesto and cream cheese, served with vegetables
Breakfast – Try a ketogenic milkshake
Lunch – Beef stir fry cooked in coconut oil with vegetables
Dinner – Meatballs with cheddar cheese and vegetables
Breakfast – Scrambled eggs topped with freshly made guacamole
Lunch – Tuna Salad with black pepper
Dinner – Grilled Chicken Skewers with garlic sauce
There you have it, a sample week in the life of Keto. As you can see from this simple week plan it is very easy to have many different foods and flavours while still remaining in ketosis and burning that stubborn fat away.
More Guides to Fitness / Food: