In recent years, the ketogenic diet has increased in popularity.
The keto diet is an extremely low-carb, high-fat diet meant to help you lose weight and improve your overall health. The diet is centred around reducing and replacing carbohydrates with healthy fats, making your body more efficient at burning fat for energy.
In this guide, we'll break down exactly what's involved in the keto diet, how it works and how to implement it safely.
Table of contents:
How does the keto diet work
What is ketogenesis?
What is the keto diet?
Does the keto diet work?
How does the Keto diet work?
The ketogenic diet works by kick-starting a process named ketogenesis.
Our bodies are generally powered by glucose (your blood sugar), derived from carbohydrates. Most people typically consume carbohydrates from bread, potatoes, and fruit.
A significant drop in blood sugar levels could cause fainting, with a drastic drop even potentially leading to death.
The body can only store enough glucose to last a few days, meaning that if we don't have enough carbohydrates for that period, we'd quickly have to find another way to keep our bodies going.
What is ketogenesis?
Ketogenesis occurs when our livers break down fat into ketone bodies, usable energy sources. These ketone bodies, commonly called ketones, can replace glucose to power the body.
When these ketone levels are consistently raised, your body is in a state of 'ketosis,' meaning it will burn up stored fats.
Ketosis can be achieved in various ways, such as fasting, but the ketogenic diet focuses on generally eating less than 20 grams of carbohydrates daily to reach this state.
What is the keto diet?
Various keto diets have differing macronutrient ratios:
Standard ketogenic diet
75% fat, 15-20% protein, and 5-10% carbs. This diet is the most commonly used, as it is extremely low in carbohydrates and high in fats, allowing you to kick-start your weight loss.
Targeted ketogenic diet
65-70% fat, 20% protein, and 10-5% carbs. Athletes and frequent gym-goers often use this diet, enabling you to add more carbohydrates around workouts.
Cyclical ketogenic diet
Cyclical ketogenic diet: 75% fat, 15-20% protein, and 5-10% carbs on keto days; 25% fat, 25% protein, and 50% carbs on off days. This diet allows you to cycle in and out of ketosis while enjoying more carbohydrates on weekends or special occasions.
High protein ketogenic diet
High protein ketogenic diet: 60-65% fat, 30% protein, and 5-10% carbs. This diet incorporates a high percentage of protein, making it easier to incorporate into your everyday routine. However, it's important to remember that protein can also be converted into carbohydrates in the body, so it could be harder to reach ketosis.
Depending on which keto diet mostly fits your everyday lifestyle, all four can do wonders for your body and well-being. However, once you commit to one of the four food intake regimens, you will need to know and be able to precisely calculate the macronutrient ratios you will put inside your body to reach ketosis regularly and get the desired results.
For example, if you opt for the high-protein ketogenic diet, your best chance would be to start using a professional protein intake calculator to help you find the exact amount of carbs, fat, and protein you need to reach your goal weight through the ketogenic diet, whether you want to lose, gain, or maintain weight.
Foods to avoid on the keto diet
Although the keto diet has different variations, the main principle remains the same: limit food high in carbs. Foods to avoid include:
- Sugary foods, including fizzy drinks, fruit juices, chocolate, and sweets
- Starchy foods, including bread, pasta, rice, and cereals
- Root vegetables, including potatoes, carrots, and parsnips
- Fruit including bananas, pineapples, and mangoes
- Low-fat and diet foods are generally high in carbohydrates. Instead, healthy fats should be consumed
- Alcohol because most alcoholic drinks are high in carbohydrates
Foods to enjoy on the keto diet
The majority of your meals should be based on healthy fats and protein. Good foods to incorporate into your meal plan include:
- Meat, including steak, ham, sausage, bacon, and chicken
- Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel
- Eggs that are free-range and cooked in healthy oils if you want them fried
- Butter and cream should be full fat
- Unprocessed cheese, such as cheddar or goats cheese
- Vegetables that are low in carbs, such as onions, peppers, spinach, and broccoli
- Healthy oils like extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
Avocados are also a staple in this diet as they can be used in many ways to inject healthy fats into your meal.
Sample keto diet plan
Here are what your meals could potentially look like over three days!
- Breakfast: 1 slice of bacon, 1 poached egg, 1 grilled tomato
- Lunch: Chicken salad with olive oil and feta cheese
- Tea: 1 pork chop (keeping the fat on) and cream cheese mashed with broccoli
- Breakfast: Omelette with avocado, peppers, and onions
- Lunch: Keto protein chocolate milkshake
- Tea: Salmon topped with butter alongside 'riced' cauliflower and sautéed kale
- Breakfast: Ground flaxseeds combined with cream, water, and cinnamon
- Lunch: Bacon, spinach, and blue cheese salad
- Tea: 1 burger topped with avocado, wrapped in a large romaine leaf
Does the keto diet work?
Ketones have been shown to aid weight loss and help improve insulin sensitivity. For this reason, many people dealing with prediabetes and diabetes find that diet helps them to maintain a healthier lifestyle and manage their symptoms. The diet has also been associated with helping to decrease blood pressure levels in overweight people or with type 2 diabetes.
The ketogenic diet can help you lose weight while feeling full and avoiding calorie counting. It can be easy to slot into your everyday routine, as you can swap your carbohydrates for a ketogenic alternative. For example, you can replace burger buns with lettuce or mashed potatoes with mashed broccoli.
There is some caution to heed before implementing this diet into your daily routine. Some people report experiencing 'keto flu' when first trying the diet. As your body runs out of glucose to produce energy and begins to rely on fats instead, this can make you tired and bring about some gastrointestinal issues.
There has also been some discussion about its long-term effectiveness. Many people regain weight after returning to carbs and find that their weight is not distributed in the same proportions when it does return. Losing muscle mass is also possible, as you'll typically eat more fat than protein.
What is the keto diet? The highlights
The ketogenic diet can be suitable for jump-starting your healthy routine and losing weight, mainly if you are concerned about managing prediabetes or diabetes.
However, it is also essential to remember that with every extreme diet, there can be downsides and side effects if you continue eliminating key food groups over long periods. You should always consult a doctor before implementing a new diet, especially if you have diabetes or any other illness affecting your diet.
If you're looking for a protein powder to enhance your workout whilst following a keto diet plan, explore our range of keto protein powders at Discount Supplements. Or, for more products to support your diet, why not browse our complete diet and weight loss collection?