Best Ketogenic Diet Foods
The ketogenic diet (also known as the keto diet) is a way of eating where you actively help your body burn the excess fat that it has already stored.
In order to do that, the amount of carbohydrates that you consume per day is limited (to 20-25 g of net carbs/day), and fat and protein make up the rest of your caloric intake. When you limit the amount of carbs (i.e. sugar and starches) that you are consuming, you enter a state called “nutritional ketosis”: your body can no longer rely on carbohydrates for its energy needs and it now needs to start burning fat as its primary fuel source.
As a result, blood glucose remains much more stable throughout the day, and many people report increased energy and lower appetite, which makes it easier to control the amount of food you’re eating.
The ketogenic diet was primarily designed as a treatment for epilepsy and is nowadays most often used for weight loss.
It has multiple benefits that go beyond weight control, such as improving blood sugar regulation and insulin sensitivity, lowering the risk of Type 2 Diabetes and of heart disease, and it possibly even protecting against cancer.
Fat and Protein Foods to Eat on Ketogenic Diet
To maintain ketosis — which helps you burn body fat — fat and protein should make up the bulk of your intake on the ketogenic diet. Healthy fat options include vegetable oils such as olive oil, safflower, sunflower, canola, peanut and sesame oil, along with mayonnaise. Heavy cream and coconut oil may also be used as sources of fat on the ketogenic diet. However, these fats are high in saturated fat, and should be used sparingly.
To meet your protein needs, poultry, lean red meat, eggs, seafood and tofu make good choices. Salmon, tuna and sardines are rich in protein and in essential omega-3 fatty acids, and make a healthy source of protein and fat on your diet plan.
Carb Choices on Ketogenic Diet
It’s good to eat a wide variety of foods from all food groups on a ketogenic diet — but because of the macronutrient ratios, your carb choices may be limited. To get the greatest number of nutrients from carb-containing foods, include those that are rich in vitamins and minerals. Healthy choices include fruits such as berries, watermelon, cantaloupe and oranges, and non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, broccoli, green beans, mushrooms, cucumbers and asparagus.
Whole grains, bread and other healthy starches, such as sweet potatoes and winter squash, are a more concentrated source of carbohydrates. You may include these foods in your diet if they have been calculated to fit in your plan. For example, you can save all your carbs for breakfast so you can have a slice of toast or 1/2 cup of oatmeal.
Foods to Avoid
To sustain ketosis and good health, you need to avoid high-carbohydrate foods that offer very little nutritional value. These foods include candy, cookies, ice cream, soda, pies, pastries and refined-flour bread products and cereal. You also want to avoid added sweeteners such as sugar, honey, jam, jelly and sweet condiments such as catsup and salad dressing
Like with any diet, the Keto diet comes with its own set of side effects that you may or may not want to put up with. Those in the know call it the “keto flu,” which involves fatigue, muscle weakness, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, or trouble sleeping for anywhere from two to six weeks. Dr. Axe recommends drinking plenty of water throughout the day and increasing your intake of electrolytes (especially sodium by adding salt to meals, and potassium from things like leafy greens and avocado) to counteract these issues.