What Can You Eat On The Keto Diet?

by Ahmed Zayed, MD on March 20, 2019
Last updated on May 23, 2021

Low-carb diets have become a popular trend in the modern world, inducing various effects in the human body that can aid in weight loss.

walnuts for keto diet

The Ketogenic diet is currently considered to be one of the most popular options for people to choose when they are looking to follow a low-carb diet. This diet requires you to reduce your carbohydrate intake and then to increase your fat intake while keeping protein in moderation. When following this diet, your body is placed into a state of ketosis, resulting in the production of ketones that helps to provide your body energy, replacing the need for glucose in the blood circulatory system.

Even though the idea of a keto diet has become very popular amongst people looking to lose weight, as well as those who would like to lose weight, many people who are interested in the diet are not sure where to start, what rules to follow, what to eat and, of course, what food they should not eat.

What Is A Ketogenic Diet And What Are The Rules Of This Diet?

The ketogenic diet is a term that has become a trend – the term refers to a low-carb diet that consists mostly of fats. Protein is also consumed in moderation in order to support several functions in the body that depends on this particular nutrient. The idea behind a ketogenic diet is to get the body into ketosis (1) – once in ketosis, the body will change the way it digests food and the mechanism behind energy production will also be modified.

When in ketosis, fats are broken down and then sent to the liver. Once fats reach the liver, the fats are converted into ketones – ketones, in turn, replaces glucose in the bloodstream. With a normal diet that favors carbohydrates, the carbs are broken down into glucose, which enters the bloodstream and is then sent to cells throughout the entire body. All cells really depend on glucose, including cells in muscles, the brain and more. Glucose acts as fuel for these cells – the cells use glucose in order to generate energy.

This is also what essentially causes an increase in fat within the body. When glucose is delivered to the bloodstream, cells are able to store the glucose if it is not used immediately. In cases where the glucose found in these cells are not used, the glucose will ultimately be stored as fat in the body. This causes weight gain.

With a ketogenic diet, glucose is not stored in cells and not converted into fat cells. In fact, the body stops relying on glucose as a way to produce energy altogether. Instead of using glucose, the body starts to break down the fats that you eat, produces ketones, and the ketones then provide cells with energy. Excess ketones are not stored as fat as it is with glucose.

There are different types of ketogenic diets that a person can follow – it all comes down to their personal goals and what they would like the diet to do for them. The most important part to remember with a ketogenic diet is that carbs should make up the least of a meal plan, and fats should make up the most part. Protein should then make up the rest of the meal plan.

An excellent example would be to limit daily carb intake to around 5% of your daily calorie requirements. Fats would then be set to make up about 75% of your daily calorie intake, and the remaining 20% will be proteins. This is just a general example of rules that should be followed, but many people who decide to follow a ketogenic diet do end up following this type of ruleset.

There are certain rules that should be taken into account when following a Ketogenic diet as well. For example, there are two main kinds of these diets – dirty keto diets and clean keto diets. Following a dirty keto diet means you can eat anything, regardless of whether it is healthy or not, as long as most of the calories you consume are in the form of fats. With a clean keto diet, you will consume healthy fats and avoid “bad” fats. This way, you can enjoy the health benefits of keto and avoid potentially dangerous adverse effects that bad fats can have on your body.

Setting Up A Ketogenic Diet Plan: What To Include And What Not To Include

While it may seem like a good idea to follow a Ketogenic diet, a lot of people come to a pause once they get to the point where they need to plan out a diet program for themselves. You may feel that you are unsure of what foods and meals to include in your plan since there are so many mixed opinions on the internet. The restrictions placed on the food choices that can be included in a ketogenic diet further complicate things.

With the right guidance, however, it is definitely possible to set up an easy-to-follow meal plan that will help you eat the right foods and avoid foods that will interfere with your body’s ability to enter ketosis and remain in this phase.

Below, we will discuss some of the best food options that you can include in your ketogenic diet plan and consider foods in each nutritional category. We will also take a look at specific food types that should not be included in a ketogenic diet, as these foods can cause problems with the effects that a keto diet should impose in your body.

Foods That You Can Eat On A Keto Diet

While following a ketogenic diet, you will essentially be on the lookout for foods that are high in healthy fats, yet low in carbohydrates. You should also focus on ensuring the foods you add to your meals contain enough protein to support bodily functions that rely on the nutrient.

There are many low-carb foods that you can enjoy with your ketogenic diet, and many of these will provide you with fats and protein at the same time, ultimately providing you a way to obtain all of the nutrients your body will need on a ketogenic diet.

The following is a list of low-carb foods that can help you load up on protein and fats, without causing you to consume too many carbohydrates at the same time.

  • Eggs
  • Fish, including salmon and mackerel
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Nut Butters
  • Coconut oil
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Olive oil
  • Lean meat products, including pork, chicken breast, and sirloin steaks

In addition to these food options, be sure to also include appropriate fruits and vegetables in your ketogenic diet. When it comes to this category of foods, it is important to take into consideration that a lot of fruits and vegetables contain large amounts of carbohydrates – these should be avoided. Rather opt for those that contain fewer carbs, but can still provide your body with minerals, vitamins, and other nutritional content that you need to stay healthy and fight against free radicals.

Strawberries, blueberries, and apples are excellent examples of delicious fruit that can be included in your ketogenic diet. Even though relatively lower in carbs, be sure to still limit the amount you consume as they do contain some carbs.

When it comes to vegetables, choices are also somewhat limited. The majority of leafy green vegetables can be enjoyed without a problem – this would include spinach, kale, and more. In addition to leafy greens, be sure to also include some broccoli and cauliflower in your dishes to load up on their nutrients – these vegetables are also lower in carbs than a lot of other vegetables you could opt for.

There are certain types of dairy products that should ideally be added to a ketogenic diet as well. Both yogurt and milk can be added, but it is important to ensure that these products are not sweetened. Thus, it is a good idea to stick to plain Greek yogurt and when buying milk, ensure you buy whole milk options.

A few excellent ideas for meals (2) that you could prepare while following a ketogenic diet include:

  • Asian cabbage stir-fry
  • Deviled eggs
  • Salmon Tandoori with some cucumber sauce
  • Pulled pork Afelia
  • Fish, kale pesto, and zucchini
  • Baked salmon with some butter and lemon

Foods That You Should Not Eat On A Keto Diet

Following a ketogenic diet means avoiding too many carbs, so it is obvious that foods that are high in carbohydrates should ideally be avoided to prevent the body from turning toward glucose for energy again. Unfortunately, not everyone understands which specific foods they should exclude from their diet.

One of the very first food types that should be removed from your diet (3) if you wish to enter ketosis would be starchy foods, along with grains. Bread is one of the major issues here – and often a particular type of food that a lot of people have trouble giving up. Still, it is important to note that bread is a very bad food choice for anyone looking to get their body into a state of ketosis and to enjoy the benefits that a ketogenic diet can offer them. There are some recipes on the internet that allows you to enjoy bread on a ketogenic diet – but these pieces of bread are made with special ingredients that does not increase your carb intake as much as standard bread would.

Other starchy foods and grains that should be eliminated from a ketogenic diet include pasta, potatoes, oats, and rice. Food items that are made with flour should also be avoided, as this will add to the carb intake and potentially delay the body’s ability to enter ketosis.

A lot of people do not realize that alcohol is one of the culprits causing them to load up with carbs. This is yet another area that disappoints some people, as liqueurs, ciders, and beers are usually considered not to be keto friendly and should be removed from your diet if you want your body to enter and remain in ketosis.

Sugar is an obvious factor that should also be removed from a diet if you wish to become ketogenic. Sugar is found in a lot of the food items we buy on a day-to-day basis, from sodas to pastries, cookies, ice cream, and even in fruit juices.

Conclusion

With the keto diet becoming more popular in the modern day, many people are looking to adopt this type of low-carb diet in order to reap the benefits. The diet has been associated with many benefits, ranging from improvements in weight loss efforts all the way toward health-related advantages, such as better cholesterol levels. Understanding how the diet works and how to set up an appropriate meal plan for this type of program is important, as inappropriate combinations of food choices will not allow you to experience the benefits of such a diet thoroughly.

References

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