If you are interested in the ketogenic diet but aren’t quite sure what the diet entails, let’s take a look at exactly what the ketogenic diet is, the foods you will be eating, the foods you will be avoiding, and then some tips and tricks to help you get started.

What is Keto?

The ketogenic diet is an extremely low-carb and high-fat dietary approach. It is often compared with the Atkins diet but does have some differences. The goal of the keto diet is to restrict your carbohydrate intake enough to get into a state of ketosis where your body is producing ketone bodies. When your body starts to produce ketones, you change the primary fuel source your body uses for energy. Instead of using glucose from carbs, your body starts to burn ketones produced from fat for energy. (1)


Benefits of Keto

There are some well-known health benefits of following a ketogenic diet and using fat as your primary fuel source. Here are a handful of the reasons many people go keto. (2,3)

  • Using fat for fuel may be able to help speed up your metabolism.
  • Slash hunger pains, and stay full longer.
  • Reduce blood pressure.
  • Shed excess weight.
  • Lower insulin levels which may help support those with PCOS, diabetes, and even reduce skin issues like acne.
  • Support those with epilepsy.
  • Potentially reduce symptoms of Alzheimer's.
  • May help slow the growth of tumors.

The Different Keto Diet Variations

While there is a standard ketogenic diet, there are also some variations that people use when they are looking to achieve something specific such as weight loss, or energy support for endurance training.

Here are a few of the different keto diet approaches. (4)

#1 Standard Keto Diet: The Standard Keto Diet is focused on high-fat foods and low carbohydrate intake. When following a Standard Keto Diet, you will consume about 75% of your calories from fat, 20% from protein, and 5% from carbohydrates.

#2 Cyclical Keto Diet: A Cyclical Keto Diet is sometimes used among athletes who need to refuel their bodies with carbs, but still want to follow a keto approach to eating. With this approach to keto, you will restrict your carbs for five days out of the week, and eat more carbs on two days each week.

#3 Targeted Keto Diet: A Targeted Keto Diet is also used among athletes, where they add carbohydrate into their diet around periods of exercise.

 

What do you Eat on a Keto Diet?

So, what exactly do you eat on a ketogenic diet? This is a question that many people ask, and the thing that may hold someone back from diving into this dietary approach. However, while the keto diet can be quite restrictive, there are actually lots of healthy and nutritious foods you can add to your diet without feeling deprived.

Here are some of the foods you will eat when following a keto diet.

  • Poultry
  • Meat
  • Wild-caught fish
  • Eggs
  • Avocados
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Cheese (preferably organic and grass-fed)
  • Butter (preferably organic)
  • Full-fat unsweetened yogurt (preferably organic)
  • Nuts & seeds
  • Nut butter
  • Non-starchy vegetables (dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, peppers, tomatoes)
  • Herbs & spices
  • No-carb or low carb sweeteners (it is best to stick to natural options like stevia, and stay away from artificial sweeteners that can cause inflammation, and be damaging to your overall health)

The keto diet also allows for full-fat dairy products. However, it is best to stick to the healthiest options whenever possible. Strive to choose organic and grass-fed butter and ghee, and organic full-fat unsweetened Greek yogurt. If you do consume things like heavy cream in your keto recipes, be sure to choose organic whenever possible. Full-fat unsweetened coconut cream also makes a great dairy-free option for those who are looking to limit their dairy intake.

What Foods are Avoided on the Keto Diet?

We now know what foods you will be eating on a keto diet, but what about the foods you will be eliminating? Here is a list of some of the most common foods you will want to keep out of your diet when going keto.

  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Crackers
  • Cookies
  • Other baked goods
  • Candy
  • Grains: oats, quinoa, rice
  • Starchy vegetables: potatoes, corn, peas
  • High carb fruits: bananas, mango, pineapple
  • Condiments that contain added sugar: ketchup, mustard, most salad dressings
  • Alcohol (if you do consume alcohol, restrict your intake, and stay away from sugar-filled mixed drinks)
  • Sugar
  • Sweeteners: maple syrup, honey
  • Fried & processed foods

Tips on Starting the Keto Diet

If you are interested in starting a keto diet, there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind to make the transition a little easier.

#1 Be Prepared for the “Keto Flu”: The “keto flu” is something that occurs in many people first starting a ketogenic diet as the body adjusts to this new way of eating. As you remove most of the carbs from your diet, you may experience flu-like symptoms. The goods news is that this phase is temporary, however, it is important to help your body get over this hump by staying hydrated, and eating plenty of healthy fats. It’s essential not to deprive your body of healthy fats, as this is what your body is relying on for energy.

#2 Stock Your Kitchen: One of the best tips for success when starting any new diet is to stock your kitchen with healthy foods and eliminate temptations. Stock up on plenty of healthy fats like coconut, and olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, and grass-fed animal protein. Eliminate sources of sugar and refined carbs.

#3 Meal Prep: Prepping a handful of meals ahead of time can make sticking to your new way of eating so much easier. Choose a few recipes to make ahead of time so you always have something to grab when those hunger pangs kick in.

One more key thing to keep in mind is to speak with your doctor before starting a keto diet to make sure a low-carb and high-fat approach is a good option for you. Once you get the green light, start prepping some meals, stock your kitchen for success, and even get a friend or family member to join you as you embark upon this new dietary journey. The better you plan, and the more support you have, the more successful you will be!

About the Author

Rebecca Jacobs

Rebecca Jacobs

Rebecca Jacobs N.C is a Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant, specializing in digestive and women's health. She takes a holistic approach to wellness, doesn't believe in "dieting," and believes that healthy eating must be delicious. Rebecca is also a health writer and recipe developer and creates healthy alternatives to traditionally unhealthy foods.