The ketogenic diet (or keto diet, for short) is a low-carb, high-fat diet that offers many health benefits.
In fact, over 20 studies show that this type of diet can help you lose weight and improve your health.
Ketogenic diets may even have benefits against diabetes, cancer, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.
Here is a detailed beginner’s guide to the keto diet.
What Is a Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that shares many similarities with the Atkins and low-carb diets.
It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.
When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain.
Ketogenic diets can cause massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. This, along with the increased ketones, has numerous health benefits.
Ketogenic Diets Can Help You Lose Weight
A ketogenic diet is an effective way to lose weight and lower risk factors for disease.
In fact, research shows that the ketogenic diet is far superior to the often recommended low-fat diet.
What’s more, the diet is so filling that you can lose weight without counting calories or tracking your food intake.
One study found that people on a ketogenic diet lost 2.2 times more weight than those on a calorie-restricted low-fat diet. Triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels also improved.
There are several reasons why a ketogenic diet is superior to a low-fat diet, including the increased protein intake, which provides numerous benefits.
The increased ketones, lower blood sugar levels, and improved insulin sensitivity may also play a key role.
Foods to Avoid
Any food that is high in carbs should be limited.
Here is 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.
- Low-fat or diet products: These are highly processed and often high in carbs.
- Some condiments or sauces: These often contain sugar and unhealthy fat.
- Unhealthy fats: Limit your intake of processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
- Alcohol: Due to their carb content, many alcoholic beverages can throw you out of ketosis.
- Sugar-free diet foods: These are often high in sugar alcohols, which can affect ketone levels in some cases. These foods also tend to be highly processed.
Foods to Eat
You should base the majority of your meals around these foods:
- Meat: Red meat, steak, ham, sausage, bacon, chicken and turkey.
- Fatty fish: Such as salmon, trout, tuna, and mackerel.
- Eggs: Look for pastured or omega-3 whole eggs.
- Butter and cream: Look for grass-fed when possible.
- Cheese: Unprocessed cheese (cheddar, goat, cream, blue or mozzarella).
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.
- Healthy oils: Primarily extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil.
- Avocados: Whole avocados or freshly made guacamole.
- Low-carb veggies: Most green veggies, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.
- Condiments: You can use salt, pepper, and various healthy herbs and spices.
It is best to base your diet mostly on whole, single-ingredient foods. Here is a list of 44 healthy low-carb foods.
Keto Meal Plan in Shanghai
Wheat has created meal plans for busy individuals in Shanghai, there are ketogenic meal plans from 1,300 to 2,000 daily Kcal. It’s an easy way to stay on track and eat low carb food every day.
No need to worry about grocery shopping or cooking in advance, no more temptation during lunch or dinner time. We take care of everything for you and deliver to your office or home freshly made meals.
What do you get?
A sample day will look like this:
- Breakfast: Omelet, Spinach & Mushroom, Feta, Olive oil
- Lunch: Grilled salmon, Cauliflower rice, Avocado, Teriyaki sauce
- Snack: Greek Yoghurt & Nuts
- Dinner: Chicken breast, Broccoli & tomato, Hard-boiled egg, Feta, Olive oil
All our meals come in eco-friendly packaging and are cooked prior to delivery, we deliver in the morning or in the evening.
Most of our customers order in the evening and start with Sunday dinner.
Order A la carte Items
Some of us have time to prepare our dinners and breakfast at home, but what about all that time at the office? There is an option for that, Wheat offers a create your own meal where the only thing you need to remove is CARBS all the rest is perfect to create your unique food for lunch.
Craving some snacks? Don’t worry you can order our Keto Muffin made especially for you.
Side Effects and How to Minimize Them
Although the ketogenic diet is safe for healthy people, there may be some initial side effects while your body adapts.
This is often referred to as the keto flu and is usually over within a few days.
Keto flu includes poor energy and mental function, increased hunger, sleep issues, nausea, digestive discomfort and decreased exercise performance.
To minimize this, you can try a regular low-carb diet for the first few weeks. This may teach your body to burn more fat before you completely eliminate carbs.
A ketogenic diet can also change the water and mineral balance of your body, so adding extra salt to your meals or taking mineral supplements can help.
For minerals, try taking 3,000–4,000 mg of sodium, 1,000 mg of potassium and 300 mg of magnesium per day to minimize side effects.
At least, in the beginning, it is important to eat until you’re full and avoid restricting calories too much. Usually, a ketogenic diet causes weight loss without intentional calorie restriction.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some of the most common questions about the ketogenic diet.
1. Can I ever eat carbs again?
Yes. However, it is important to significantly reduce your carb intake initially. After the first 2–3 months, you can eat carbs on special occasions — just return to the diet immediately after.
2. Will I lose muscle?
There is a risk of losing some muscle on any diet. However, the high protein intake and high ketone levels may help minimize muscle loss, especially if you lift weights.
3. Can I build muscle on a ketogenic diet?
Yes, but it may not work as well as on a moderate-carb diet. For more details about low-carb or keto diets and exercise performance.
4. Do I need to refeed or carb load?
No. However, a few higher-calorie days may be beneficial every now and then.
5. How much protein can I eat?
Protein should be moderate, as a very high intake can spike insulin levels and lower ketones. Around 35% of the total calorie intake is probably the upper limit.
6. What if I am constantly tired, weak or fatigued?
You may not be in full ketosis or be utilizing fats and ketones efficiently. To counter this, lower your carb intake and re-visit the points above.
7. My urine smells fruity. Why is this?
Don’t be alarmed. This is simply due to the excretion of by-products created during ketosis.
8. My breath smells. What can I do?
This is a common side effect. Try drinking naturally flavored water or chewing sugar-free gum.
9. I heard ketosis was extremely dangerous. Is this true?
People often confuse ketosis with ketoacidosis. The former is natural, while the latter only occurs in uncontrolled diabetes.
Ketoacidosis is dangerous, but the ketosis on a ketogenic diet is perfectly normal and healthy.
10. I have digestion issues and diarrhea. What can I do?
This common side effect usually passes after 3–4 weeks. If it persists, try eating more high-fiber veggies. Magnesium supplements can also help with constipation.