Keto Diet Guide And Benefits For Beginners: Kickin’ It With Keto
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There are hundreds of fad diets out there. Some of them work, many of them don’t, some are safe, and some are not. When choosing a new diet, it’s always a good idea to speak it over with your doctor or nutritionist to determine if it is the right diet for you. One of the diets that is gaining popularity is called the Ketogenic diet.
It’s called this because it forces your body into a state of ketosis. What is this diet all about? And is it just another fad, or a safe, recommended diet?
KETOGENIC DIET EXPLAINED
A ketogenic diet is a diet that is low in carbs. When you eat carbs, your body produces glucose and insulin. Because your fats are not being used for energy (since your body uses the glucose from the food you just ate), they get stored in your body; i.e. you put on weight. The ketogenic diet works to lower your carb intake and therefore reduce glucose production. Since your body now has less glucose, it’s going to need some other source of energy to help you function, so it goes into a state known as ketosis.
This means that your body is breaking down the fats in your liver and producing ketones for energy (ketones refers to the broken-down fats). The idea is to get your body so used to this so that it becomes the default way to digest your food.
WHAT KINDS OF FOODS ARE KETO FRIENDLY?
In general, “real” foods (as opposed to processed foods) are your best bet. Since we’re trying to lower carbs here, starchy and sugary foods are not ideal and should be avoided. Every diet needs a good source of vegetables, but as with most diets (or perhaps even more so with the keto diet), you need to be cutting out the starchy kinds of vegetables (potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, carrots and the like). That being said, there are loads of vegetables that are perfect for the keto diet.
These include leafy greens, kohlrabi, radishes, celery, cucumber, zucchini, and asparagus, among others. As well, there are other vegetables that you can eat, just in moderation – such as cabbage, olives, Brussel sprouts, onions, leek, garlic, eggplant, pumpkin (yes – it’s not as starchy as you might think!), tomatoes, peppers, bean sprouts and more.
Since the point of the keto diet is to go low on the carbs, grains are also on the no-no list. This means any kind of bread (wheat, rye etc), rice, bulgur, quinoa, and oats are all out, and so are beans and legumes. But if you’re wondering “How will I stay full?!”, have no fear. Firstly, foods such as nuts and seeds, many of which are known to keep you full for longer, are a part of a keto diet – though you shouldn’t be eating them with every meal or in large amounts.
Secondly, protein is your best friend. Fresh meat and poultry (especially grass-fed meat), seafood (particularly fatty fish), and eggs should be staples in your diet. These foods not keep you full, but also provide the various nutrients without the carbs. Raw dairy products, such as full-fat milk, plain Greek yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, and butter can also be included in your diet in smaller amounts. Healthy fats and oils, such as avocado, coconut oil, and olive oil are ideal for a keto diet. Water, coffee and tea are drinks with no carbs that you can drink without worry (but if you add milk, be mindful of the carbs).
One hard part about the keto diet is that usually, when you think of healthy options for sweet treats, you automatically think of fruits. Unfortunately, most fruits are too high in carbs and should not be eaten on the keto diet.
However, berries are the exception, and luckily, most of us enjoy strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries, which can be eaten occasionally on the Keto diet. Other fruits that are permitted occasionally are watermelon, rock melon and honeydew. You can, very occasionally, “cheat” and eat a different fruit – but in very small amounts. Remember, fruits have sugar, which means that your body will go back to using glucose as energy instead of ketones.
AVOCADOS FOR KETO EXPLAINED
One of the names for the keto diet is the LCHF (Low Carb High Fat) diet, because it includes a lot of healthy fats – and you probably know that avocado is one of the healthiest fats you could be getting. Because you are cutting out other foods that have necessary nutrients, you’ll need to eat enough keto-friendly foods that provide your body with the stuff it needs to stay healthy.
Take potassium, for example – sure, you can’t have bananas, but did you know that avocados are an even better source of potassium than bananas? Yes, we have all been misled, I know. Plus, avocado has a host of other nutrients, such as magnesium, Vitamins A, C, B6 and B12, protein, and iron. It’s also the kind of food that you can enjoy at any time of the day, and they can be used to substitute other unhealthy condiments, like mayonnaise. It’s no wonder everyone’s obsessing with them now!
KALE FOR KETO EXPLAINED
Kale is pretty much a superfood on every dieter’s list, including keto-ers. That’s because besides for being incredibly low in carbs, it’s also a strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, is low in calories and goes well with so many foods. It can be hard to think of meal plans when you’re cutting out certain foods – but kale can work at any time of day, whether it’s for breakfast in a power-boost kale smoothie, as a base for your lunchtime salad, or sautéed with garlic underneath your chicken breast for supper.
It has loads of nutrients, including Vitamins A, C, E, and K; B Vitamins 1, 2, 3 and 6; potassium, fiber, iron, magnesium, folate, protein and more. So if you enjoy your kale, the keto diet might be a great option for you.
MACADAMIA NUTS FOR KETO EXPLAINED
When you’re cutting out carbs and starches, you’ll need to find alternate food to help you keep full. Nuts are one of the best options – they’re small enough to carry around with you, and they’re loaded with fiber to help ward off any hunger pangs. They also add bulk to your stools, which means that they prevent constipation. Obviously, there can be too much of a good thing – don’t go eating them by the bucketload – but in general, nuts are an ideal snack.
Macadamia nuts, in particular, help to lower blood sugar levels (which is obviously amazing for a keto dieter), are anti-inflammatory, and like other nuts, are a healthy source of fat. Since the keto diet is known to be a high-fat (healthy fat!!) diet, macadamia nuts are an excellent addition to your menu. They’re also a source of Vitamin A, a few B Vitamins, iron, folate and protein, and contain antioxidants.
ORGANIC HONEY FOR KETO EXPLAINED
The keto diet – more than your average diet – is known to be low on the sweet stuff. This is because, unlike with other diets, most fruits are considered too high in sugar and therefore must be avoided. But come on, we all crave something sweet once in a while (or more than once in a while). Luckily, organic honey is a great way to sweeten things up whilst still keeping your body in ketosis. The truth is that once your body is accustomed to the keto diet, you’ll often find that your sweet cravings go away on their own. (Hard to imagine if you aren’t there yet!) But it’s not guaranteed, and especially at the start, it can be really hard to ignore those cravings.
Organic honey is a great sweetener choice because of its many nutrients. Unlike traditional sweeteners, honey is good for your heart, is high in antioxidants, contains important vitamins and minerals, and doesn’t have a high Glycemic Load (what causes your blood sugar levels to spike).
With all that being said, keep in mind that honey is still a sweetener, and therefore contains carbs – so use it occasionally, and in small amounts. Obviously, only raw, organic honey will do – the processed stuff contains none of the health benefits and often has added sugar, which is obviously something that you do not want to be touching on a keto diet (or on most diets, for that matter).
KETO RESULTS: BEFORE & AFTER
So, what should your body look and feel like after you’ve been on a keto diet? If you’re like most people, you’d probably like to see yourself a few pounds (or dress sizes) lower, whether or not you have a weight issue. Well, the good news is that ketosis helps your body to use up your fat reserves as energy, so you’ll find yourself losing healthily if you stick to the diet. Some people even lose a huge amount of weight if they are very committed, but don’t lose heart if it doesn’t happen right away – it will come!
As your body gets used to being in ketosis, the negative side effects (sugar cravings, fatigue) should subside, and instead, you’ll find yourself less hungry and with more energy. Ketosis has also been shown to help reduce symptoms in people with epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and autism, as it supports healthier brain function – which is really something that we can all benefit from.
I’m not a fan of fad diets where you lose 10 pounds in one day and gain 15 the next day. But that’s what is so great about ketosis – it’s not some fad starvation diet. It’s a way to take advantage of your body’s own system and harness it to help you look and feel better. Besides a dissatisfying appearance, being overweight can put you at risk for numerous health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers.
But you know what they say: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Fad diets, with their promises for overnight weight loss, are not healthy options, and can often do more harm than good. But the keto diet – which admits that it will be difficult at first but will eventually pay off – is a far more beneficial alternative to a happier and healthier lifestyle.
Thanks for checking out our Keto rundown here at Maple Holistics!