For many years, dieters have swarmed towards low carb diets to improve health.
Low-carb, high-fat diets do prove effective in weight loss- at least in the short term. Some research even suggests they can improve certain health markers, like weight loss, diabetes, cholesterol and blood sugar.
In this article, we will provide tips, basic information, foods to eat, and meal plans for beginners of the keto diet.
Since the keto diet is one of the trendiest diets in our world today, it is surprising for many to hear that it has been around for almost a century.
Therefore, the keto diet gained much popularity with this community as it was a new and improved diet treatment option.
However, as new science developed, anticonvulsant medications began to replace the need for diet therapy among most individuals with epilepsy. Therefore, diet lost popularity for many decades.
Some physicians today still prescribe a keto diet to patients, especially children, who do not respond to medication. High ketone levels in the body are found to improve seizures.
According to a 2012 study, a keto diet may reduce fat mass, waist circumference, and fasting insulin levels.
Tips To Starting A Keto Diet
1. Know your “why” and set goals
So you want to start the keto diet? Do you know why?
It’s important to write your “why” along with goals down before starting on this venture. Changing diets can be an entire lifestyle change.
A restrictive diet, like the keto diet, will be tough and grueling at times.
2. Be ready for a lifestyle change
Since the keto diet is a very restrictive diet, it can be a huge lifestyle change for some people. If you are used to grabbing fast food or going out to happy hour with friends, it can be a difficult transition.
As someone who has followed restrictive diets, I typically had more success completely avoiding these types of places for at least the first couple of weeks until those cravings passed.
Many restaurants, including fast food, do offer “keto-friendly” food options. Although, if you go by your favorite fast-food joint and are craving a big, juicy cheeseburger and fries, will you have the willpower to choose the “keto-friendly” option?
With my personal experience, I would recommend choosing to have food already cooked and prepared at home. It’s key to not have temptations around. You will have cravings, especially in the beginning.
3. Get ready for some social awkwardness
If your social circle consists of people who don’t necessarily embrace the keto diet or healthy eating in general, this can make eating out a bit uncomfortable.
Until you are more secure about your diet choices, I’d recommend avoiding food-based social activities. Instead, you could suggest bowling, movies/shows, hikes, or other activities that might be going on in your area.
4. Try to find an accountability partner
If you are able to find a friend or family member who is also wanting to start the keto diet, this would be a great way to make each other accountable during the “up and down” moments and also have someone that supports your diet decisions.
5. There is no failure in dieting
Life will give you stressful days where you come home and binge on a whole pizza or an entire pint of ice cream. It is important to look at those occasional days, not a failure, but as part of life.
If these days start occurring more often, it may be helpful to look back at your list of “why’s” to remind yourself of why you started the keto diet.
6. Keto diet is not for everybody
Just how not everybody likes oatmeal raisin cookies, not everyone will like the keto diet.
The people who are able to long-term follow the keto diet put it as a top priority in their lives. While this may be one person’s priority, it does not necessarily mean it has to be yours.
If you discover keto diet is not for you, try to stay positive and consider a diet that may fit into your lifestyle a little better.
Ketosis with Keto Diet
A health ketogenic diet is about 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbohydrates per day.
A study in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism reports that those following a “well-formulated” keto diet typically consume under 50 grams (g) of carbs and approximately 1.5 g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
The extreme reduction in carbohydrates may put your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. During ketosis, your body uses fat for energy instead of the standard sources, glycogen (which is the storage form of carbohydrates).
Although, most keto diet research has been short-term studies so long-term effects of a keto diet are not well-known.
As a newbie to a keto diet, be familiar with the keto flu symptoms that you may experience as your body adapts.
Common symptoms include poor energy, a decline in mental function, increased hunger, nausea, digestive discomfort, and decreased exercise performance. Keto flu typically improves after the first couple of days of following the diet.
Acceptable Foods for the Keto Diet
- Nonstarchy vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, peppers, mushrooms, and onions
- Dairy including eggs and cheese
- Protein like beef, pork, poultry, fish, shellfish, and soybeans
- Nuts and seeds, including walnuts, almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds
- Fats like plant-based oils and butter
- Beverages with no preservatives, added sugar or artificial sweeteners like water, sparkling water, unsweetened coffee, unsweetened green tea
Foods to Avoid/Limit for the Keto Diet
- Processed foods like crackers, corn chips, and potato chips
- Sweets, including candy, cookies, brownies, and cake
- Grains of all kinds, including bread, pasta, rice, and quinoa
- High-carb fruits like melons and tropical fruits
- Artificial sweeteners such as Equal and Splenda
A Sample 3-Day Menu of the Standard Ketogenic Diet
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with sliced avocado
- Snack: Almond butter on celery
- Lunch: Spinach salad topped with canned tuna, olive oil, and vinegar
- Snack: 1-ounce (oz) string cheese and 1 oz pistachios
- Dinner: Sirloin steak paired with sautéed mushrooms, onions, and cauliflower rice
- Breakfast: Mushroom and cheese omelet with sliced bacon
- Snack: ½ avocado
- Lunch: Chicken stir-fry with peppers, onions, and peanuts sautéed in peanut oil
- Snack: 1 oz Brie cheese with 1 oz walnuts
- Dinner: Salmon fillet with oven-roasted Brussels sprouts
- Breakfast: Keto smoothie made with avocado, full-fat coconut milk, chia seeds, and nut butter
- Snack: Hard-boiled egg
- Lunch: Cheeseburger (without bun) over a bed of lettuce paired with string beans
- Snack: 1 oz almonds
- Dinner: Chicken breast paired with sautéed broccoli
It is recommended to discuss with your doctor before starting keto diet to ensure it will not be dangerous to your body.
Individuals who have diabetes, digestive disorders, or at high risk for osteoporosis may not be recommended to follow the keto diet.
For most individuals, sticking to keto diet long-term is not realistic. It can be a great jump start to losing weight but eating a well-balanced diet with a variety of protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain typically is the most sustainable.
1) History of the Ketogenic Diet https://www.news-medical.net/health/History-of-the-Ketogenic-Diet.aspx
2) Ketogenic Diet for Seizures | Epilepsy Foundation https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/treating-seizures-and-epilepsy/dietary-therapies/ketogenic-diet
3) Xiaoshuang Dai, Joy M. Stanilka, Cheryl A. Rowe, Elizabethe A. Esteves, Carmelo Nieves Jr., Samuel J. Spaiser, Mary C. Christman, Bobbi Langkamp-Henken & Susan S. Percival (2015) Consuming Lentinula edodes (Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 34:6, 478-487, DOI: 10.1080/07315724.2014.950391.
4) Ivonne Sluijs, Nita G Forouhi, Joline WJ Beulens, Yvonne T van der Schouw, Claudia Agnoli, Larraitz Arriola, Beverley Balkau, Aurelio Barricarte, Heiner Boeing, H Bas Bueno-de-Mesquita, Françoise Clavel-Chapelon, Francesca L Crowe, Blandine de Lauzon-Guillain, Dagmar Drogan, Paul W Franks, Diana Gavrila, Carlos Gonzalez, Jytte Halkjær, Rudolf Kaaks, Aurelie Moskal, Peter Nilsson, Kim Overvad, Domenico Palli, Salvatore Panico, José R Quirós, Fulvio Ricceri, Sabina Rinaldi, Olov Rolandsson, Carlotta Sacerdote, María-José Sánchez, Nadia Slimani, Annemieke MW Spijkerman, Birgit Teucher, Anne Tjonneland, María-José Tormo, Rosario Tumino, Daphne L van der A, Stephen J Sharp, Claudia Langenberg, Edith JM Feskens, Elio Riboli, Nicholas J Wareham, The InterAct Consortium, The amount and type of dairy product intake and incident type 2 diabetes: results from the EPIC-InterAct Study, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 96, Issue 2, August 2012, Pages 382–390, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.111.021907
5) Gibson AA, Seimon RV, Lee CM, Ayre J, Franklin J, Markovic TP, Caterson ID, Sainsbury A. Do ketogenic diets really suppress appetite? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Rev. 2015 Jan;16(1):64-76. doi: 10.1111/obr.12230. Epub 2014 Nov 17. PMID: 25402637
6) Santos FL, Esteves SS, da Costa Pereira A, Yancy WS Jr, Nunes JP. Systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials of the effects of low carbohydrate diets on cardiovascular risk factors. Obes Rev. 2012 Nov;13(11):1048-66. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2012.01021.x. Epub 2012 Aug 21. PMID: 22905670