Keto. We know you heard one of your friends mention it at your yoga class, seen an Instagram model praise it or you may’ve scrolled past an article about some celebrity like the Kardashians swearing to the keto diet – but what is it? Why is there so much buzz around it and how do I start eating keto, the right way!
‘Healthy Made Easy’ is of course FreshMeal’s motto, so it is in their best interest to share with you only what’s been thoroughly researched in favor to your health. And while FreshMeal is not bound by any one diet, their work is transparent, taking all healthy diets into consideration, understanding the bottom line is that different bodies react to different foods, well… differently. So if you’ve found that the keto diet is one you’d like to explore, let us be the one to share with you how!
Let’s start with the basics, shall we? Keto, short for ketosis, is actually a term to describe a state your body enters when it’s deprived of carbohydrates which your cells typically uses for energy. And by this void, the cells subsequently resort to burning fat as an alternative source of energy, producing a byproduct called ketones, or organic compounds that your body uses as an alternative to carbs. It is a unique undergoing of many biological adaptations. And it is part about burning fat that sparks most people’s interest. Perhaps it did to yours!
Weight loss is often the sole reason for most people’s decision to explore the keto diet. But as you’ll learn, the irony of it all is that this diet entails increasing your fat intake, drastically. Losing weight by eating more fat, confusing right? Well in gaining weight, it is not simply attributed to consuming more fats. Rather, it is primarily the amount the body chooses to store! Carrying it along for when it needs to be used. So when is it used for energy? When your carb intake is low! Which is where the keto diet comes in. It’s all about minimizing your carb intake and increasing foods containing healthy fats. To deprive one’s body of carbs, so the body resorts to burning fats instead. Training the body to regularly use fat as fuel which results in this ever popular diet in losing weight.
So to deprive the body of carbs, you simply want to avoid high-carb foods like potatoes, beer, rice, bread, sodas, pastas, sugary foods like candy and donuts, etc. Rule of thumb is, any foods over 5% carbs, you’ll want to avoid in order to encourage the body into using fats as energy instead. And the time it takes to reach this state typically takes 2-7 days.
Reaching this state may also seem confusing but when you experience ketosis, the symptoms should be fairly apparent. There will be a temporary lull in energy, tiredness, muscle fatigue and weakness. Perhaps even a sensation of a flu (often termed as “low carb flu” or “keto flu”), lightheadedness or shortness of breath. But do not worry, as long as you are providing your body with the alternative source of energy, healthy fats and hydration, your body will naturally resort to burning that for fuel.
Now not all symptoms of ketosis are negative. More desired by many people who begin the diet is they see a rapid loss of weight – as quickly as within a few days or a week. But while many believe this be initially attributed to fat-loss, it is primarily the result of stored carbs and water being depleted from the body as the last of its main usage of energy. That is, before the body begins resorting more to breaking down fats and producing ketones for fuel.
In the initial stages, many people report brain fog and feeling sick, but the body often quickly adapts with its new source of energy and long-term ketogenic dieters often report an increase in focus and energy. In fact ketones is often seen as an extremely potent fuel source for the brain where even in the medical setting, it has been used to treat brain diseases and conditions such as concussions and memory loss. The entire keto diet was actually designed to help people who suffer seizure disorders! So when long-term ketogenic dieters report increased mental clarity and improved brain function, it comes to no surprise!
Of all the negative symptoms one undergoes within those 2-7 days of adaptation triggered by restricting carbs, moderating proteins and increasing healthy fats, is as one should not forget; temporary. So do not worry. If the negative effects are too much to handle, try a gradual decrease in your carb intake as opposed to minimizing it all at once. Remember to drink plenty of water and electrolytes. Most important of all in this process is that you are supplying the body with ample enough keto-friendly foods. Be mindful that you do not starve the body of all foods altogether. Your body needs fuel, if not by one source, then another. And that alternative is fatty foods. So below are a list of 8 different food types you DO want to consume to carry out your keto diet:
1. Meats and Poultry
Unprocessed meat is virtually carb-less and keto-friendly. And if you’re seeking to maintain healthiness in the aspects of eating meat, grass-fed beef and organically raised chicken are healthiest. But it is worthy to note, the keto diet is all about high-fats as opposed to high proteins. In fact, excessive amount of protein typically converts to glucose or high blood sugar, making it harder to reach ketosis. Also know that processed meats like meatballs, hot dog sauces, fried chicken in panko bread powder are all no-nos in the keto pursuit because of the added carbs in their recipes. If you have any doubt, simply check the nutritional values on the food label to verify if the food contains 5% or less. And to supplement your meats with fats, be generous with your olive oils, vegetable oils or natural butters! Thought you’d never hear that when your intention is to lose weight, didn’t you!
2. Fish and Seafood
These are one of the best foods for healthy fats like omega-3. Not to mention salmon, sardines, mackerel of other fishes are rich in nutrients like B vitamins, potassium and selenium. And while shrimp and most crabs contain no carbs, some other types of shellfish do like clams, oysters, mussels, etc. A sufficient amount of seafood should be 2-3 servings on a weekly basis. Although you’ll want to avoid other foods that are often served with fish. For example, sushi and bento boxes which include a fair share of rice, a regular carb you’ll want to avoid.
You can eat these any way you’d like! Boiled, fried in butter, scrambled or as omelets, they are a fantastic keto-friendly food that opens a wide array of dishes you can create with its versatility in recipes. Strive to buy organic eggs for the healthy option. They are a wonderfully easy food to make and even if you don’t cook up a fancy recipe out of it, simply throwing it on the pan with some salt and pepper does the job just fine!
4. Natural Fats
Above are examples of fats you’ll want to get your hands on for your keto journey. Notice they’re all natural fats and the uses of them are endless. You have your butter to cook anything from your steak to your frying your eggs, avocado oil to splash into your vegetable salad, coconut oil for the adventurous dieters out there in making drinks like coconut oil coffee (yes, it’s a thing!) to adding it to your veggie smoothie, sesame oils and garlic oils you can add directly onto whatever meal you’re having for that extra flare.
5. Vegetables that grow above the ground
Be mindful that often vegetables that grow below ground likke root vegetables, naturally contain more carbs like potatoes. Vegetables that grow above ground naturally have lower carbs. Low carb vegetables include spinach, avocado, lettuce, cucumbers, eggplants, broccoli, bell peppers, green beans, brussel sprouts and asparagus.
6. High-fat dairy
In the keto diet world, the higher the fat, the better. And what fattier foods than that of butter and cheese! High-fat yogurts can also be consumed but with moderation. Heavy creams can be good for cooking. In terms of milk, avoid drinking it cow milk too quickly as milk sugar can quickly add up. Cheese is a good snack you’ll want to eat also with moderation.
7. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts are potently healthy even outside of the keto diet. They’ve been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, certain cancers and other chronic disease. They’re high in fiber to help you feel full and absorb fewer calories. Nuts and seeds you’re welcome to include in your diet are almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts, flaxseed, walnuts, chia seeds, pistachios, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds. A variation of nuts and seeds are generally keto-friendly but do include minimal carbs so you’ll want to consume in moderation.
It is vitally important that you stay hydrated regardless of what healthy diet you’re pursuing. It is the lubrication your body and organs need at all times to function optimally. Alkaline, electrolyte infused and ionized waters are a step up from the standard bottled drinking water if you so choose. But if you’re looking to diversify from just drinking water, unsweetened coffee and tea are wonderfully healthy, carb-free drinks. They both contain caffeine which increases your metabolism and may help improve your overall physical performance, energy and mood. Coffee and tea drinkers have also been shown to have a lower risk of diabetes. Remember that natural fats are okay so you’re welcome to add heavy cream but avoid excessive sweeteners or commercialized coffees and lattes with additives lie sugar, chocolate and caramel. So the next time you find yourself in a coffee shop, just note that to maintain a strict keto diet, you’ll need be aware of what’s included in your coffee!
Of all the foods above, the general breakdown of macros you’ll want to consume is 60-75% fats, 15-30% proteins and 5-10% carbs. The rest, hydrate!
Overall, embarking on this unique diet ultimately will require you to listen to your own body. If done right as we’ve illustrated above, we hope you achieve the results you’re looking for whether it’s shedding those pounds or enhancing your energy and mental clarity. Just remember there’s never just one way or the right way to eat. Our bodies have evolved advanced enough to regularly find good use to most of the natural foods served. So if you’re eating healthy foods in general, carrying out a healthy lifestyle including fitness and a good mindset in life, it is all we can ask for! This article was sponsored by our partner FreshMeal which provides Chef-cooked fresh meals delivery to your home.