The Ketogenic Diet: A Guide to Keto

7 July 2020

Food

What is the Keto Diet?

The ketogenic diet is a way of eating that reduces carbohydrate intake to around 5%. To compensate for the low carb intake, the dietary fat intake is raised. A typical keto diet consists of 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs. Some followers choose to do a high protein version where the ratio is 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs.

The goal of this diet is to achieve ketosis, a state in which your body burns ketones it creates from fat as its primary source of energy. This process is known as becoming 'fat-adapted.' To enter ketosis, you reduce your daily carb intake to 50g. Depending on your constitution, you may need to go as low as 20g.

What are the Benefits of a Keto Diet?

A ketogenic diet is excellent for weight loss. Most weight gain is due to excess simple carbohydrate intake, and so removing the carbs and replacing them with high-quality fats and proteins can help many people to lose stubborn weight. Fats and proteins also help you feel fuller and more satiated for longer after eating, so you will usually end up eating less food.

Other benefits of a keto diet are:

  • Reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, and diabetes
  • Reduction in epileptic seizures
  • Improve acne
  • Improve cognition and mental clarity

What Do You Eat on a Keto Diet?

Foods that are high in natural, good-quality fats and low in carbohydrates are your best friend. Think avocados, olives, eggs, nuts, seeds, dairy, oily fish, and meat. Pure oils such as extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil are useful too.

Ensure you are getting plenty of low-carb veggies such as tomatoes, leafy greens, onions, radishes, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, etc. Low sugar fruits such as lemons, limes, and berries are fine if they don't take you over your carb percentage for the day.

Avoid all sugars, grains, beans, pulses, legumes, artificial sweeteners, processed foods, alcohol, sodas, fruits, and starchy veggies, including potatoes, winter squashes, and root vegetables.

A note on health: It is best not to base your whole diet around animal products, as they contain high levels of saturated fats and cholesterol, which have a negative effect on heart health and can increase the risk of diabetes and cancer. Many people find it perfectly easy to follow a plant-based keto diet, and studies show this to be the healthiest version. If you do wish to include animal products, balance them with plenty of plants, and consider doing 100% plant-based a few days a week. Your heart will thank you.

How Long Should You do Keto?

That depends on how you feel. If you find the diet effective, not too restrictive, and you feel good on it, you can do keto indefinitely. Some people decide to do strict keto to help them reach a weight loss goal, and then increase their carbs so that they are on a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet rather than strict keto. This enables them to eat more starchy foods and be more relaxed with their food intake while still keeping the carb count low to avoid putting the weight back on.

Do You Count Calories on a Ketogenic Diet?

Usually, there is no need to count calories when following a keto diet. You are focusing on your macro percentages rather than calories. Remember, the goal of the keto diet is for your body to be in ketosis, and to achieve that you need a low carb and high fat intake. The number of calories you consume isn't that relevant to the process of becoming fat-adapted.

However, if you do not see the weight loss results you want, you might benefit from monitoring your calorie intake for a while to see what's going on and make any necessary adjustments.

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