Are you considering using the Keto Diet to improve your health or lose weight? If you are, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed by the different plans and ratios you’ll find if you do a Google search. Even from nutritionist to nutritionist, the ratio of fat to carbohydrates varies as it truly depends upon your specific health issues and goals.
Briefly, the keto diet is a long-standing diet that follows a very strict regimen in order to bring about specific health goals. Keto was first discovered in 1924, by one of the founders of the Mayo Clinic, as a way to control seizures in epileptics. When anticonvulsant drugs were introduced, the diet began to slowly collect dust for many years -- until the 1990’s when a Hollywood producer rediscovered the Keto Diet and found success with it for his son Charlie.
Fast forward to today, and many others in the nutrition and health community have begun to use keto diet foods (in modified versions) as a way to control other health issues -- from obesity to diabetes and other metabolic disorders.
How Does the Keto Diet Work for Weight Loss and Weight Control?
Your main energy source comes from what you eat. When you eat carbohydrates, you burn calories from carbohydrates first. When you eat mostly fat, you burn fat.
To put it simply, the Keto diet transforms your body into a fat burning machine. When you eat certain Keto foods, and avoid others, you change the way your body metabolizes energy. Instead of burning through the low-hanging fruit when it comes to calories (carbohydrates), you force your body to start burning the big ticket items aka fat.
If you’re not planning to use the Keto diet to control epilepsy, the steps you need to take in order to change how you metabolize foods aren’t nearly as complicated as it looks:
1. Reduce the Carbs You Eat
When you do eat carbs, eat quality carbs (aka nuts over pasta or lettuce instead of french fries).
2. Increase Your Fat Intake
Focus on increasing the fats you eat….when you eat fat instead of sugar….you burn fat. Make sure the fats you eat are healthy (oils, lean proteins, nuts, avocados, eggs, and so on).
3. When you reduce unhealthy carbs while upping healthy fat intake, you force your body to start burning fat.
4. Ketones, made in the liver, are the result of burning fat: when you have enough, you enter the key fat-burning metabolic state known as ketosis….aka the goal of the Keto diet.
This state results in consistent, fairly quick weight loss until your body reaches a healthy and stable weight.
What Does a Keto Diet Menu Look Like?
So far, we’ve given you a lot of information. If you’re considering trying a Keto diet menu, however, you’re probably ready to get a look at what your meals will be.
You’ll be avoiding empty calories and eating nutrient-rich ones. You’ll fill your plate with healthy fats (lean protein, for example)....vegetables (no starchy ones), eggs, and full-fat dairy products.
You can’t just eat any of the above foods whenever you want, however. The Keto diet is a scientific one: you will need to find the right form of a Keto diet menu for your specific health goals. Classic keto, modified keto, and low-glycemic are examples of the different options.
What are Keto Diet Foods?
Keto diet foods aren’t anything special: you won’t be able to walk into a store and find a Slimfast-style Keto shake. You can, however, walk into a grocery store and pick up the foods you need to create a keto diet menu.
As a general rule of thumb, you can eat foods from the following groups: fats and oils, protein, vegetables, dairy, nuts and seeds.
That being said, not all foods (even within the same group) are equal. As amazing as it would be to go on a fried-food diet, that won’t work...and that’s not keto.
Here’s what you need to know:
Keto Diet Foods: Fats & Oils
When it comes to fats and oils, quality counts. You should try to get your fats and oils from natural sources such as meat and oils (preferably organic).
Keto Diet Foods: Protein
From meat lovers pizzas loaded with bacon...to pasture-raised, lean chicken….it’s obvious: protein can either be healthy or unhealthy.
Keto Diet Foods: Vegetables
Although vegetables are, generally, fairly faultless when it comes to good health, if you’re doing the Keto diet -- it’s important to avoid starch-heavy (aka carbohydrate) vegetables (potatoes, for example). Go with low-carb veggies such as dark, leafy greens and members of the cruciferous family of vegetables (such as broccoli).
Keto Diet Foods: Dairy
In general, if you don’t have a dairy allergy -- dairy is a part of the keto diet. Something to be aware of: so many dairy products today are ‘low-fat’. ‘Low-fat’ dairy products tend to have higher sugar contents than full-fat dairy products (problematic because your body will always burn cheap energy, aka sugar, first).
When you’re shopping for dairy products, look for full-fat ones and leave the ‘low-fat’ products to folks who aren’t following a keto diet meal plan.
Keto Diet Foods: Nuts and Seeds
While nuts and seeds do have some amount of carbs (it varies across types), the good news for keto diet menus is that much of the carbs in nuts and seeds are from fiber (a good thing).
Types of carbs matter. Carbs from fiber are digested differently: carbs are digested faster -- in your small intestine -- while carbs from fiber make it all the way to your colon.
Nuts and seeds with the lowest carb count include: flaxseed, pecans, hemp seeds, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, almonds, and hazelnuts.
How to Get Started with a Keto Diet Menu
While we stated earlier that yes -- you can absolutely find keto diet foods right in your local grocery store, the keto diet is a lot to take on by yourself.
Here at Pure Plates, we offer excellent Keto meal plans designed to help you kickstart your fat burning journey….and to take the hassle out of dieting. We also make keto delicious instead of just nutritious: example keto diet foods on our menu plan include coconut fudge, honey salmon slaw, ginger chicken, and beef tenderloin.