What is a Keto Diet: The Basics
What is a Ketogenic Diet?
Traditional low-carb diets tend to use protein to fill the void, whereas ketogenic diets like Atkins, South Beach, and Paleo emphasize fat intake even more heavily than protein intake.
By following a high-fat diet, you force the body's biology to adapt: instead of using sugar for energy, keto causes the body to use stored fat for energy. The stored fat is broken down into something called ketones. To be in nutritional ketosis (burning fat), ketone levels should stay between 0.5 to 3 mmol/L.
You want to enter into a state called ketosis (using fat burn for energy) on this diet, and that happens after about 2-4 days. Think of it as letting the oven heat up, don't stop following it after a week and expect to see results.
Why Would Someone Follow a Keto Diet?
Those seeking weight loss might be enticed to try keto, but the effectiveness of keto for significant long-term weight loss is uncertain. There is not enough research to say whether following a keto diet long-term is healthy. There are, of course, exceptions, such as people with medical conditions like seizures or heart conditions, who would benefit most from this diet.
There are 3 Different Types of Keto Diets
- Cyclical Ketogenic Dieting (CKD)
- Standard Ketogenic Dieting (SKD)
- Targeted Ketogenic Dieting (TKD)
Do your research to find the method best fit for you, and if one doesn’t work try another— but give it at least a month.
The Food List
There are a lot of articles out there saying there’s a banned food list for those following a keto diet but in all actuality, no food is banned, not really. The goal with keto like we said earlier is to stay within 0-40 grams of carbs per day (or less than 5% energy intake sourced from carbs.) All of the foods found on the banned list are very high in carbs, but if you want to spend your daily carb allowance on an apple or a handful of crisps then go ahead.
It's best to focus on what you can eat on a keto diet instead of the banned list, but we'll include it anyway. There are a lot of companies out there that sell Keto alternatives to some of your favorite carbs. Try your hand at baking soft keto pretzels using this recipe, or head to your local big-box grocery store to buy keto-friendly Chobani Whole Milk Plain Greek Yogurt.
Foods you avoid on Keto
- All Grains, Including Gluten-Free Baked Goods and Bread
- Starchy Veggies Like Potatoes and Corn (That Includes Potatoe Chips)
- High-Sugar Fruits: Apples, Grapes, Bananas, Dates, Raisins, Pineapples, Peaches, Mangoes
- Honey/ Syrup, (That Includes the Delicious Date Syrup at Trader Joe’s)
- Juice…a.k.a. Sugar…
- Anything with Added Sugar like Sweetened Milk Alternatives and Sweetened Yogurt
- Processed Snack Foods like Crackers and Pretzels
What You Can Eat When Following a Keto-Diet
Now let's talk about the good stuff, like butter. It's true, butter is on the menu. Almost makes the prohibited food list more bearable, doesn't it? However, quality is important, you want real butter, not overly processed and full of additives.
- Healthy Fats Including Cheese, Avocados, and Fatty Fish*
- Vegetables low in Carbs, Think Cucumbers, Iceberg Lettuce, Broccoli, White Mushrooms, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Bell Peppers, and Celery
- Nuts and Seeds
- Cottage Cheese
- Dark Chocolate
- Chicken and Turkey
- Bacon in Moderation Only Because it’s High in Calories
- Sirloin Steak
- Nut & Seed Flours (Good for Keto-Friendly Baked Goods)
**Fatty fish or oily fish includes albacore tuna, salmon, Atlantic herring, swordfish, mussels, and anchovies. This group of fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids and is really healthy for you.