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Ketogenic - Your Guide To A Keto Diet

What is Keto?

The Ketogenic Diet, or Keto for short, is a low-carb, high-fat diet that has gained popularity for its potential benefits for some people with weight management, diabetes management,** and even mental clarity.* The main idea behind the diet is to get the body into a state of ketosis, which is a metabolic state where the body burns fats for fuel instead of carbohydrates.1 *

Normally, carbohydrates in your food are converted into glucose, which is then transported around the body and is particularly important in fueling brain function.* However, if there are little carbohydrates in the diet, the liver converts fats into fatty acids and then into ketone bodies, the latter replacing glucose as an energy source.1*

The ketogenic diet comes in several variations, each with its unique approach to the macronutrient balance that encourages the body to enter a state of ketosis. The Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD) is the most widely practiced, focusing on high fat, moderate protein, and very low carbohydrate intake. For those who incorporate workouts into their regimen, the Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD) allows for additional carbs around exercise periods. The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD) involves periods of higher-carb refeeds, such as 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high-carb days, catering to those who need carb cycling to maintain intense exercise routines. High-Protein Ketogenic Diet is another variant, akin to the standard approach but with more protein, making it suitable for individuals looking to preserve muscle mass. Each type of keto diet serves different needs and goals, emphasizing the diet's versatility and adaptability.

woman mixing salads

Different Types of Keto Diets and Their Breakdown2:

  • Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): This is the most common and widely practiced version. It typically consists of 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbohydrates.2
  • Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): This version allows you to add more carbs around workouts, providing a bit more flexibility for physically active individuals. It could present itself as 65-70% fat, 20% protein, and 10-15% carbs.2
  • Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD): Here, you alternate periods of higher-carb intake with strict keto days, such as 5 standard ketogenic days followed by 2 high-carb days.2
  • High-Protein Ketogenic Diet (HPKD): A variant where protein intake is higher, often around 35%, with fat around 60% and carbs at 5%.2

When adhering to a ketogenic diet, it's essential to focus on foods that are rich in fats, moderate in protein, and contain minimal carbohydrates. Your dietary staples should include fatty cuts of meat, leafy greens like spinach and kale, and above-ground vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower. Full-fat dairy products, such as cheese and cream, are also on the menu, alongside nuts and seeds for snacking. Don't forget to incorporate a variety of fats like butter, coconut oil, and olive oil into your meals for cooking and flavor.

ingredients and cooking flavor

Foods to Consume When on a Keto Diet

When following a keto diet, the primary goal is to limit carbohydrate intake, ensuring that the majority of calories come from fat and a moderate amount from protein. Here's a brief overview of the foods that are generally considered keto-friendly:

Fats and Oils: Fats will be your primary calorie source. Opt for natural sources like meat and nuts, as well as fats like olive oil and coconut oil.

Animal Protein: Choose meats with a high level of fat, which could include beef and certain fish. Be mindful not to over-consume protein, as it can be converted to glucose in the body, potentially kicking you out of ketosis.

Vegetables: Focus on leafy greens and other low-carb veggies like spinach, kale, and broccoli. Aim to get your carbs from vegetables, nuts, and dairy.

Dairy: Choose full-fat dairy items like cream, butter, and cheese. However, consult your healthcare provider for recommendation and ensure to monitor your dairy intake, as some individuals may find it stalls their weight loss.

Nuts and Seeds: A tasty source of fats and proteins but do check each type for its carb content to keep your intake in check.

Beverages: Stick to water, black coffee, and tea.

When following a ketogenic diet, it's important to steer clear of foods that are high in carbohydrates. This typically includes most grains, such as bread, pasta, and rice, as well as sweets and sugary foods like cakes, candies, and soft drinks. Starchy vegetables, like potatoes, corn, and peas, are also best avoided due to their high carb content. Legumes, such as beans and lentils, fruits like bananas, oranges, and apples, and low-fat dairy products can also disrupt the balance of macronutrients needed to maintain ketosis. Instead, focus on foods that are high in healthy fats, moderate in protein, and very low in carbohydrates.

foods

Foods to avoid1

Here’s a list of foods that need to be reduced or eliminated on a ketogenic diet:

  • sugary foods: soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.
  • grains or starches: wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.
  • fruit: all fruit, except small portions of berries like strawberries
  • beans or legumes: peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
  • root vegetables and tubers: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
  • processed fats: processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, salad dressings, and condiments
  • sugar-free diet foods: sugar-free candies, syrups, puddings, desserts as these may contain artificial sweeteners and other fillers.

flan cake

Keto Diet Missteps3

When looking into the keto diet, many fall victim to some common mistakes. Avoid the following common pitfalls of keto to ensure you’re following this approach as safely as possible.

  1. Cutting Carbs and Increasing Fat Too Quickly - Prior to starting a keto diet, individuals may benefit from tapering down their carbohydrate intake, instead of reducing carbs drastically and immediately.
  2. Not Drinking Enough Water - The decrease in carbohydrate intake on the ketogenic diet can cause shifts in your fluid and electrolyte balance. Carbs are stored along with water in the body, so as these stores are depleted, that water is lost along with them.
  3. Not Salting Food Enough - As ketones build up in the body, they are excreted from the body through urine, which takes water and sodium out with it.
  4. Not Consulting Your Healthcare Provider - Many followers of the keto diet try it with the hopes of losing weight. If that’s you, talk to your doctor first and make sure they’re on board with your plan — especially if you’re also taking medication or have any medical conditions.

woman drinking water

A well-structured keto diet requires thought and consideration, ensuring you maintain nutrient density and avoid deficiencies.  Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your diet, especially if you have underlying health conditions.

 

** Remember to always manage your diabetes with your doctor & do not try to manage at home unsupervised.

Do not try any of the above diets unsupervised at home. Always consult with your healthcare provider prior to modifying your diet.


References

  1. Healthline. (2023). The Ketogenic Diet: A Detailed Beginner’s Guide to Keto. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ketogenic-diet-101 (Accessed: 06 October 2023).
  2. Upton, J. (2023). What Are Keto Macros? Available at: https://www.health.com/weight-loss/keto-diet-types (Accessed: 06 October 2023).
  3. Migala, J. (2023) Common Keto Mistakes You May Be Making and How to Avoid Them. Available at: https://www.everydayhealth.com/ketogenic-diet/diet/common-keto-mistakes-you-may-make-avoid-them/  (Accessed:7 November 2023).