The Keto Diet, or Ketogenic Diet, is a low carb, high fat diet with moderate amounts of protein. It can help you lose weight by forcing the body into a state of ketosis and lower the risk of certain diseases/conditions such as diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, polycystic ovary syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease.
Ketosis is defined as:
A metabolic state characterized by raised levels of ketone bodies in the body tissues, which is typically pathological in conditions such as diabetes, or may be the consequence of a diet that is very low in carbohydrates.
When we eat a lot of carbohydrates, the body produces both glucose and insulin. The body feeds on the glucose to produce energy and stores fat, rather than burning it. If you are on a Keto diet, the body is forced to feed on fat broken down in the liver, instead of glucose and carbohydrates.
The goal of a keto diet is making fat your primary food source, so to put your body in a state of ketosis. When you are in ketosis, your body is burning fat consistently. So when you are moving, and using energy, that energy comes from fat.
What are keto macros?
Keto doesn't focus on calories, but on macros. So you will need to track the percentage of how much fat, carbs and protein you are having daily.
Here are how your daily macros should look on a keto diet:
- 60-75% of your calories should be come from fat.
- 15-30% of your calories should come from protein.
- 5-10% of your calories come from carbohydrates.
Generally, this involves limiting carb consumption to around 20 to 50 grams per day.
You can use a macro tracking app like MyFitnessPal and it will work out all the percentages for you, so you can see how you are doing throughout that day and making sure you are hitting your macros. The best this is, it is free to us (although it does have some options for upgrades).
What can I eat on a keto diet?
Now you know the macro percentages that you need to be following for a keto diet, you might be wondering "what can I eat on a keto diet?". The aim is to eat food that is naturally high in fat and very low (or none at all) in carbohydrates and moderate amount of protein.
Usually diets would focus on high amounts of protein. However, in the keto diet it is important to moderate your protein consumption because protein can be converted into glucose if it is eaten in large amounts, which may slow your transition into ketosis.
Here is a list of some of the best keto friendly foods that you can enjoy:
- Above ground vegetables (greens like asparagus, kale and spinach, peppers, tomatoes etc)
What foods to avoid on a keto diet
Now you know all the best foods to eat, you might be wondering what foods to avoid on a keto diet. Basically anything that is high in carbohydrates. Here are some of the highest carb foods to avoid:
- Ice cream
- Sugar-free foods (like sweeteners and syrups)
How do I know I have entered ketosis?
There are some symptoms that can indicate that you have entered ketosis. These include increased thirst, dry mouth, frequent urination, and decreased hunger or appetite.
What is keto flu?
If you have friends that have followed a keto diet before, then they may have warned you about keto flu. This is flu like symptoms that the majority of people at the beginning of their keto journey.
When you body no longer has any sugar to burn through, and your body realizes what is going on, it has to change things up to be able to burn fat. Your insulin levels are hugely lowered and this can result in flu like symptoms such as headaches and fatigue. This is temporary though.
Top tips for starting a keto diet
So now you know that the keto diet is, all of your macros and the foods to enjoy and avoid you might feel ready to get started. Here are some of our top tips for success:
- Read food labels - The best foods to be eating is fresh produce, dairy, meat and fish which are things that don't tend to come with ingredients labels. However, if you are buying food with ingredients, then make sure to read everything so you know exactly what is in your food. Check the grams of fat, carbs and protein in everything to make sure it fits what you need.
- Find keto inspiration - There are lots of amazing keto recipe books out there. However, if you want some free inspiration, then check out keto hashtags on TikTok and Instagram.
- Meal planning - Planning your meals our for the week not only helps you stick to a budget, but it will also help you to stay on track with keto as well.
Risks of a keto diet
Being on a keto diet for too long can result in some negative effects such as extra fat in the liver, kidney stones, low protein in the blood or micronutrient deficiencies. This isn't the right diet for everyone (especially type 1 diabetics), so it is always best to talk to your doctor before changing your diet, especially if you are taking any medication.