The Ketogenic diet is unique in that it has been practiced for over nine decades (beginning in the 1920s) and is based on the solid knowledge of nutritional science and physiology. It is able to produce long-term success for a high percentage of people as it targets many essential, underlying reasons for weight gain.
The keto diet approaches weight loss and health management differently. The difference is that it penetrates to the core of our energy reserves, changing the very “fuel source” that the body uses to remain energized: namely, from burning sugar into burning dietary fat.
Adapting to this diet will put your body into a state of “ketosis,” in which it burns fat rather than sugars for fuel. With this in mind, you may ask then, what does a keto meal plan look like? The essential is to focus on “high-fat, low-carb” foods. The following will help you know how to plan and what to avoid by following this diet.
What Can I Eat?
Overall, the majority of calories on the diet are from foods high in natural fats as well as those with moderate amounts of protein. Carbs are to be avoided, even those that are thought to be “healthy” such as grains. The biggest challenge will be shifting your daily habits, and learning how to shop and how to cook. Finding keto recipes will guide the way to get you started!
Healthy fats have many health advantages. These include monounsaturated fats, saturated fats, and some types of polyunsaturated fats—specially the omega-3 fatty acids. A combination of all types, with an emphasis polyunsaturated fats, is best. The following are good choices.
- MCT oil—cold-pressed coconut , macadamia, palm fruit, flaxseed, olive oil, or avocado oils
- Butter and ghee—preferably grass-fed
- Chicken or duck fat, lard
- Cocoa butter
- Nut butters—such as macadamia or almond
Animal proteins from meat and fish are great choices. Choosing fattier cuts of meat is preferable over leaner ones. As an example, chicken thighs and legs contain much more fat than breasts, so are preferable.
- Grass-fed beef or other types of fatty cuts of meat—lamb, veal, goat, venison, other game. Grass-fed is higher in omega-3 fats so is preferable.
- Organ meats including liver
- Poultry, including chicken, quail, turkey, pheasant, hen, goose, and duck
- Cage-free eggs and egg yolks
- Fish, including tuna, trout, bass, flounder, salmon, mackerel, sardines and anchovies
- Shellfish, including clams, crab, oysters, mussels, and lobster
- All leafy green vegetables, beet, dandelion, collard or mustard greens, turnip, chicory, escarole, arugula, endive, radicchio, fennel, sorrel, spinach, chard, kale, etc.
- Cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage
- Celery, zucchini, chives, leeks, cucumber
- Fresh herbs
- Veggies that are slightly higher in carbs, though still possible—asparagus, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, bean sprouts, sugar snap peas, bell pepper, water chestnuts, jicama, radishes, wax beans, green beans, tomatoes
Fruits must be very limited on the diet as they have high sugar content. Choose low sugar options such as:
Opt for full-fat, organic, and raw versions as possible. Remember that fat is fuel!
- Whole-milk yogurts
- Heavy cream
- Sour cream
- Cream cheese
- Cottage cheese
- Hard cheeses such as parmesan, feta, Swiss, and cheddar
- Soft cheeses such as brie, Monterrey jack, mozzarella, and goat cheese
Having targets all three macronutrient groups, there are supplements to consider that can provide the body with extra ketones. Exogenous ketone supplements can be a great help to transition into a state of ketosis. They allow you to get back to ketosis at any time, instead of having to wait a couple of days when ketosis is broken.
- MCT oils and powders can be used this way
- Collagen Protein supplements
- Micronutrient supplements
What Must I Avoid?
Now that we’ve seen what you should consume on the diet, what should you avoid?
All and any are off limits:
- White, brown, raw, cane and confectioner’s sugar
- Syrups such as maple, corn, carob, caramel, and fruit
- Honey and agave
- Any foods with glucose, fructose, maltose, dextrose, and lactose
- Wheat, oats, rice, quinoa, couscous, etc.
- All types of flour based products— pasta, bagels, bread, muffins, rolls
- Corn and all products with corn added
-Nearly All Processed Foods
- Chips, crackers, pretzels
- All candies
- Packaged breakfast items
- Snack bars, granola bars, most protein bars
- Canned soups, pre-packaged meals
- Artificial sweeteners, dyes, or flavors
- All desserts such as cookies, ice cream, pies
-Sweetened and Caloric Beverages
- Milk and dairy replacements
- Alcohol (wine, beer, liquor)
- Fruit juices
- Coffee drinks or sweetened teas
A high-quality ketogenic diet includes quality fats and as few carbs as possible. Less ingredients and better quality are both good guidelines when choosing foods. It may be challenging in the beginning to follow a low-carb diet, especially if it is new for you. Hopefully this list of keto-friendly foods will allow you to make the right choices. Focus on real food, real quality, and you will find real satisfaction!