What is a Keto Diet?
The keto (which is short for ketogenic) diet is high in fat and low in carbohydrates, with a moderate amount of protein. Under a keto diet, the goal is to keep your carb intake below 50 grams per day. According to Northwestern Medicine, 5% of calories should come from carbs, 20% from protein, and 75% from fat.
Cleveland Clinic explains that, since the ketogenic diet is low in carbs and high in fat, you get your energy through burning ketones (which are produced by fat), rather than glucose (which is produced by carbs). This process of getting energy through fats is known as ketosis.
What exactly are the benefits of a keto diet and ketosis? The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that this diet can help you lose weight since your metabolism goes up and your hunger decreases. It may also lead to lower blood sugar and insulin levels.
What Can You Eat on a Keto Diet?
According to Mayo Clinic, a ketogenic diet primarily revolves around full-fat cheese and dairy products, nuts and seeds, and vegetables that are non-starchy and fibrous, as well as smaller amounts of eggs, meat, and fish.
Here is a look at some of the keto foods you can enjoy:
- Meat, poultry, and fatty fish, such as steak, chicken, turkey, sausages, salmon, and tuna.
- Eggs, particularly pastured eggs.
- Healthy oils, including extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil.
- Nuts and seeds, such as walnuts, almonds, peanuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and hemp seeds.
- Natural and unsweetened nut butter, such as peanut and almond butter.
- Unprocessed and full-fat cheese, including cream cheese, feta, cheddar, goat, and mozzarella.
- Full-fat dairy products, including yogurt and butter.
- Avocados, which are full of healthy fats.
- Low carb fruits, like berries, cantaloupes, and lemons.
- Vegetables that aren’t starchy, including tomatoes, green vegetables, peppers, celery, asparagus, and onions.
In general, you should stay away from unhealthy fats and processed foods while on a ketogenic diet. With that in mind, here are the foods to avoid on a keto diet:
- Processed meats, such as cold cuts and chicken nuggets.
- Pasta and grains, such as spaghetti, rice, oats, and cereals.
- Bread and baked goods, including white and whole wheat bread, cookies, and brownies.
- Vegetables that are starchy, such as corn, peas, and potatoes.
- High carb fruit, such as bananas, grapes, and apples.
- Beans and legumes, such as black beans, lentils, and chickpeas.
- Sauces and dressings that are high in carbs.
- Desserts and beverages that are high in sugar.
- Sweeteners that are high in sugar, such as agave, honey, and maple syrup.
Free Keto Meal Plan
Looking to kickstart a keto diet? Here is a three-day keto meal plan. You can adjust it to fit your preferences and add keto-friendly snacks using the food mentioned above, but be sure to stick to the 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs rule.
Remember, you should talk to a health professional before changing your eating habits. A ketogenic diet isn’t for everyone, and should be pursued under the guidance of a professional.
Breakfast: Smoothie with unsweetened plant-based milk, nut butter, spinach, and seeds
Lunch: Salad with hard-boiled eggs, turkey, and avocado, topped with cheese
Dinner: Grilled chicken with a side salad
Breakfast: Full-fat yogurt with keto-friendly granola or seeds and nuts
Lunch: A bunless burger topped with avocado and cheese, with a side salad
Dinner: Baked salmon with a spinach salad
Breakfast: Omelet with mushrooms and non-starchy vegetables
Lunch: Tuna salad with celery and leafy greens
Dinner: Steak with a side of asparagus or broccoli