A ketogenic diet can be described simply as a low-carb, high-fat diet. It is a diet where you significantly reduce your intake of food rich in carbohydrates, and replace it with food high in fat content. In doing this, your body goes into a metabolic state called ketosis.
In ketosis, your body becomes efficient in burning fat, instead of carbohydrates. This process results in the production of ketones in the liver which are used as the alternative fuel to provide your body’s energy needs.
There are many benefits to following a keto diet plan, like faster weight loss, improved mental focus, type 2 diabetes reversal, increased physical endurance and more.
A drastic switch from a normal to a ketogenic diet may set you up for failure if you don’t have a planned approach on dealing with it. It’s a must that you have a rock-solid keto diet plan to help you through the process.
The Keto Beginning by Healthful Pursuit is a complete beginner’s plan that shares useful strategies to help you switch to a state of nutritional ketosis effortlessly. The guide also includes a 30-day meal plan that contains over 70 low-carb, high-fat recipes to help your mind and body to adapt.
This program aims to help you achieve a fit and healthier body, not just for a while, but for life. It is a reliable guide created by a holistic nutritionist with a unique approach to a keto diet.
Unlike most diets that will make you feel restricted and deprived of food, the resources, diet plans and recipes provided will give you a more positive outlook in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
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Types of keto diets
- Standard ketogenic diet (SKD). This is the classic keto diet – very low carbohydrates, high fat and moderate protein
- Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD). For this variation, you are required to follow the standard ketogenic diet plus eating small amounts of fast-digesting carbohydrates on days you’re going to work out
- Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD). This type is commonly followed by bodybuilders, each week of a standard keto diet, you will allot 1 or 2 days to resupply your body’s glycogen stores by consuming carbohydrates
Benefits of a keto diet
Basically, diets that require you to reduce your carbohydrate intake will safely benefit anyone. In particular, shifting your present diet to a ketogenic one can result to more significant changes that are beneficial to your health such as:
Because a ketogenic diet is based on utilizing your body fat as your source of energy, weight loss is significant.
A keto diet promotes less glucose conversion which results in decreased insulin in the blood. Because insulin is a fat storing hormone, decreased levels will allow your body to burn fat more effectively.
Aside from glucose, ketones can also be used by portions of the brain to function. A keto diet requires your body to increase its intake of fatty acids which can have benefits to your brain. A lower carb intake also prevents sugar spikes in the bloodstream, which can improve your overall focus and concentration.
Energy and satiety
A low-carb, high-fat, moderate protein diet gives your body a reliable source of energy. This helps you to feel energized throughout the day, even without constantly eating. Food cravings are also reduced since eating high-fat meals leaves a person feeling satisfied and full for longer.
Manage insulin resistance
People with type 2 diabetes are insulin resistant. When you constantly have high amounts of sugar in the body, you tend to become resistant to insulin.
Being on a ketogenic diet can help restore insulin sensitivity because consuming fewer carbohydrates will give your body sustained low insulin levels in the blood, giving your body the chance to become responsive to insulin again.
Starting on a keto diet means asking yourself how fast you want your body to be in the ketogenic stage. Limiting your body to take in less than 15 grams of carbohydrates per day can help you reach ketosis faster.
Carbohydrates should only come from vegetables, nuts, and dairy. Intake of certain fruits like avocado and berries in moderation is acceptable.
Food that should not be eaten
- Anything that contains refined carbohydrates such as wheat (pasta, cereals, bread) and starch (potatoes, legumes) should be strictly avoided
- Sugar, including artificial sweeteners
- Fruits high in sugar
- Processed foods
What to eat instead
Basically, a ketogenic diet contains food high in fat, moderate in protein and very low in carbohydrates.
Knowing your daily intake of macronutrients (fats, protein and carbohydrates) is essential to ensure that your diet will work in relation to ketosis and your body. A keto calculator can help you determine how much you need to take in on a daily basis.
Net carbs of less than 50 grams is recommended for everyday dieting, but if you want faster and better results, lowering your intake of carbohydrate and glucose even more is advised. About 70-75% is allotted for fats and 15-20% for proteins.
If you are wondering why protein intake is quite low, this is because there are certain amino acids that can be converted to make carbohydrates (gluconeogenic). If this happens, your body will not be able to reach the state of ketosis.
Some food staples that you can build your diet around are:
- Fatty nuts and seeds like cashews, almonds, walnuts and macadamia nuts
- Whole eggs
- Meat such as beef, turkey, pork, chicken, goat, veal
- Fatty fish such as salmon, trout, sardines, tuna
- Green, leafy vegetables like spinach, asparagus, romaine, cabbage, kale, etc. Vegetables that grow above ground usually have less carbohydrates than those below ground
- Fats and oils such as butter, sesame oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil, almond oil
- Some fruits (low-glycemic fruits) like raspberries, strawberries, blueberries can be eaten but should be portioned accordingly since they still contain natural sugar in them
- Dairy products such as heavy cream, sour cream, Greek yogurt, whole milk, cheese, mayonnaise (preferably homemade). Adding dairy products to your diet is optional, depending on your preference. It’s a great source of extra fat and also adds flavor to meals. However, these products contain proteins also so take this into account when you pair dairy with foods already high in proteins
7-day Diet Plan
Breakfast: Fried eggs, bacon and sautéed vegetables
Fry 2 large eggs in butter and set aside. Fry 2 strips of bacon until crisp and set aside as well. Use the bacon grease to sauté 3/4 cup of spinach and a half cup of mushrooms.
Grill 2 ounces of chicken and cut into large strips. In a pan, fry 6 strips of bacon and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, toss romaine leaves, 5 cherry tomatoes, 2 Tbsp. of mayonnaise. Mix in the chicken and the bacon and top with 1 oz. of cheese.
Dinner: Salmon with asparagus
Cook salmon and asparagus in butter.
Breakfast: Ketogenic milkshake
In a blender, toss 2 Tbsp. of peanut butter, 1/2 cup of full fat coconut milk, 1 cup almond milk, and 1 tsp. of pure vanilla extract. Add a cup of ice and blend everything together until smooth.
Lunch: Taco salad
Sauté 3 ounces of ground beef in a tablespoon of olive oil, add 2 teaspoons of taco seasoning and simmer until meat is cooked thoroughly. In a bowl, mix 2 cups of romaine, 3 cherry tomatoes, 1/4 avocado and add beef. Toss everything together and top with some cheddar cheese and 1/4 cup of sour cream.
Dinner: Pork chop and vegetables
Fry 4 ounces of pork in 1/2 Tbsp. of olive oil. You can add some garlic, salt or cumin to taste. Set aside. Pair this with some steamed broccoli and cauliflower.
Breakfast: Cheesy egg muffins
Beat 8 eggs in a bowl, add cheese and vegetables like tomatoes, bell pepper and cooked bacon. Pour the egg batter into muffin tins. Bake the egg muffins in 350°F for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Leftover egg muffins can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Lunch: Salmon with baked cauliflower
Pan fry 4 oz. of salmon in 1 Tbsp. of salted butter. Set aside. Mix 3/4 cup of mashed cauliflower, 1/2 tsp. of melted butter, 2 Tbsp. of sour cream, a strip of bacon, some scallions, and 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese. Bake at 350°F until browned.
Dinner: Cheesesteak casserole
Use any leftover pork roast or pork chop and mix it with some peppers, cream cheese and cheddar cheese. Bake for 30 mins at 350°F.
Breakfast: Cheesy egg muffins (you still have some from yesterday)
Lunch: Tuna salad
Drain a 2-oz. can of tuna, and combine it with 1 sliced avocado, ½ cup of diced celery, 2 cloves of garlic, 3 Tbsp. of mayonnaise and spicy brown mustard, and 1 Tbsp. of chopped scallions. Season with salt and pepper.
Dinner: Slaw hash
In a pan with butter, sauté garlic and onions with ground beef, soy sauce and pepper flakes. Simmer until beef is cooked. Add 2 cups of shredded cabbage head and mix.
Breakfast: Fat coffee
In a blender, add your favorite brewed coffee, butter and 2 Tbsp. of coconut oil. Blend until frothy.
Lunch: Beef stir-fry
Stir-fry 4 oz. of beef in 1-2 Tbsp. of coconut oil. Add soy sauce, bell pepper and broccoli florets.
Dinner: Meatloaf with roasted veggies
Use your favorite meatloaf recipe but instead of adding in bread crumbs to bind the ingredients together, you can use chopped mushrooms and onions as an alternative. These two add flavor while keeping the carbs down.
Beat 3 eggs, add in cherry tomatoes, basil and goat cheese for flavor. Fry in ½ tsp. of butter.
Lunch: Stuffed chicken
Fry 2 pieces of chicken breast fillet and make pockets in between. Stuff with basil pesto and cream cheese, and pair it with steamed cauliflower and broccoli.
Dinner: Fish with spinach
Steam and white fish and pair it with 2 cups of spinach cooked in coconut oil
Breakfast: Egg, bacon and mushrooms
Fry 6 strips of bacon. Use the bacon grease to sauté garlic, egg and 1/2 cup of mushrooms.
Lunch: Grab a handful of almonds, some celery sticks and mayonnaise
Dinner: No-bun burger with cheese, egg and bacon
Make burger patties (bind the patties with onions and some mushroom) and fry them. Also fry eggs and bacon and set aside. Build your no-bun burger by using the patties as your bun and the rest of the ingredients in between.
For a more detailed and complete guide on how and what food to prepare, you may refer on The Keto Beginning. What’s great about their prepared meal plans is that they promote gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free and legume-free diets to accommodate those who are sensitive to dairy and gluten-containing food. Themed meal plans are also used to make sure that no food is wasted over the course of the week.
And because preparing meals will start with grocery shopping, The Keto Beginning also provides weekly shopping lists to guide you with the ingredients. The list is also sorted by category to help you go through it with ease.
You will also have access to the exclusive Keto Beginning Facebook Group for direct support and resources to help you. If you are having second thoughts about trying out a new diet, having a great and reliable resource is a must-have.
Dangers of a keto diet
There are many misconceptions about the safety of following a keto diet; one of the most talked about aspects is the high consumption of fats.
Fat, in general, is considered a no-no for most diets. Normally, when a person is not on any diet and has no restrictions for food, it is common to eat foods high in carbohydrates as well as fat.
When you eat high-carb foods, your body, as a natural response, will process the carbohydrates, first since it is the easiest to break down. Because of this, excess fats are stored in your body which can cause weight and health problems to occur after some time.
By restricting your carbohydrate intake, your body has no choice but to burn stored fats and the fats you eat as the main source of energy to replace the glucose from carbohydrates.
Again, as in any diet, before starting on a ketogenic diet it’s a must that you get yourself checked by a physician. Open up about your plans of starting on a keto diet and work with your doctor before and during the course of the diet.
Saving money on a keto diet
Many people think that being on a ketogenic diet plan is expensive, but actually, it’s not if you know how to plan your meals properly. Like other diets built on clean eating with whole-based food, a ketogenic diet will cost you a bit more than the usual unrestricted, high-carb diet.
Here are some tips to eat healthy and save money:
- Look for deals—When grocery shopping, look for keto-friendly food items that are on sale or can be purchased with a coupon. You can find these coupons on magazines and newspapers. Buying groceries when there’s an in-store promo, manager specials and other discount promotions is also a good time to stock up on products that can be stored for months. You can also buy some products online like dry ingredients (i.e. almond flour, nuts, etc.); some food items can be bought cheaper online, just be sure that you’re buying from a reliable online store
- Buy in bulk and cook ahead—This is a good practice if you want to eat healthy even on busy days. Food preps can be done ahead of time like boiling chicken and freezing it, ready to be used anytime. Some meals can also be cooked entirely and kept in the freezer for use later during the week. Although this practice requires you to spend a day in the kitchen measuring food portions, checking out keto food recipes and cooking them, making your meals ahead can significantly lessen the time you spend in the kitchen during the week. Plus, buying food in bulk from wholesalers can tremendously reduce the cost per pound
- When possible, make things yourself—Although it’s more convenient to buy products that are already prepared for you like pre-cut vegetables, pre-made meat, etc., they can also add to the price of the product. Try buying vegetables and cut them yourself, or make your own broth; these practices not only ensure that all your ingredients are fresh and keto-friendly, but it will also save you money in the long run
- Add spices to your meals—When used correctly, spices can make your overall meals taste better. Spices like garlic powder, cumin, curry powder, rosemary, thyme are just some of the most common kitchen staples that can make your meals flavorful
- Eggs—Making eggs a staple in your keto diet can make a huge difference in your budget. You can cook eggs in different ways—scrambled, poached, hard-boiled, fried, etc.—and mix it with other foods. Eggs are cheaper, but they are full of nutrition and are a versatile food product that can be used in making keto-friendly meals and dessert recipes.
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