There is a big chance that you have already heard of the ketogenic diet. It is currently known as one of the most sought after eating regimens when it comes to weight loss. Millions of followers of this diet swear on it helping them not only lose weight but also, treat conditions like type 2 diabetes, epilepsy, and cognitive decline.
This diet was also directly linked by people to better blood sugar control, improvement in insulin levels, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and improved heart function.
If you want to know a lot more about this diet but you have no idea where to start, the following article will provide almost everything a beginner has to know, together with a keto meal play to kickstart your weight loss journey.
What Is the Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet, or keto for short, is a diet plan with high fat, moderate protein, and low carb intake. In this weight loss eating regimen, you radically decrease your carb consumption while consuming higher amounts of fat together with moderate amounts of protein.
The standard version of the keto diet limits the carbs to about 5-10% of your daily calorie intake, which is about 25-50 grams of total carbs per day for an average person.
These low levels of carbohydrates consumptions force the body into another metabolic state, also known as ketosis.
When you don’t fuel your body with carbohydrates, for an extended period, it is forced to switch its primary fuel source from glucose from carbohydrates to ketones. Ketones are the fuel that your body creates when it breaks down fat.
By switching your metabolism into ketosis, your body basically becomes a fat-burning machine, that leads to rapid fat loss.
How Do I Start a Keto Diet?
The basic rule of this diet is to emphasize the consumption of fats while reducing the carbs during your meals and snacks. The standard keto diet macronutrient ratio is as follows:
- 60 – 75% of calories from fat
- 15 – 30% of the calories from protein
- 5 – 10% of calories from carbs
When following a keto diet for weight loss, the key is to keep only 5 to 10% of the daily calorie intake from carbs. That would be less than 50 grams per day. Since our bodies are very different, there are people that can reach ketosis with 50 grams of carbs, while others have to go even lower as 20 grams.
Some people say that they have achieved amazing weight loss results even without counting the carb intake so precisely. Simply stick to the rule to get most of the calories from fat, and lower the number of carbs as much as possible.
What Can You Eat on a Keto Diet?
Looking at all the foods that you have to cut out of your diet because of their high carbohydrate content may be scary at first, but you will be surprised to find out that there are many healthy and nutritious choices that are low in carbs.
Below is a list of all the foods that you can incorporate in your keto weight loss menu:
Meats and Protein
This diet consists of moderate amounts of protein (15 – 30% of the daily calories) because there are certain dietary proteins that your body can easily turn to glucose, and that will make it more challenging for your body to remain in the state of ketosis.
Since this diet consists mainly of fats, you don’t have to be worried about choosing fattier cuts of meat. A few of the best protein options on a keto diet are:
- Beef, prefer high-quality grass-fed when possible
- Seafood, including fish and shellfish
- Poultry, including turkey and chicken
Oils and Healthy Fats
As you already know, fats make up as much as 75% of your daily calories on the keto diet. However, that doesn’t mean that every kind of fat is good and healthy. Below is a list of all the good fats that have to be on your list:
- Butter, grass-fed when possible
- Fatty fish, like tuna, salmon, trout, and mackerel
- Ghee, or clarified butter
- Avocado oil
- Coconut oil
- MCT oil
- Nut and seed oils
- Nut butter
- Heavy cream
- Full-fat Greek yogurt
- Full-fat cheese
- Whipping cream
As in any other healthy diet, non-starchy or low-carb veggies are a staple, and the keto diet is not an exception. What makes the veggies so amazing is that they are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C and potassium while being super low on calories.
The vegetables are a good source of fiber, a carbohydrate that the body has no ability to digest or absorb, and that makes them be very low in “digestible or net carbs.
The net carbs in food are calculated when the grams of fiber (the non-digestible carbs) are subtracted from the total grams of carbs. For example, if one cup of broccoli has 6 grams of carbs, but 2.5 grams of fiber, that means that one cup of broccoli has 3.5 grams of net carbs per one cup.
Some of the low-carb veggies to include in your keto diet meals are:
- Bell pepper
- Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collard greens, lettuce, and arugula
- Green Beans
- Fresh herbs such as cilantro, dill, basil, etc.
- Hot peppers
Although fruits are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, some of them are too high in carbs to be good to incorporate in a ketogenic meal plan.
The good news is that there are still fruits that can be consumed on this eating regimen, as long as you are mindful of the portions. Fruits that are good to consume in this diet are:
- Berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries)
- Star fruit
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds also make excellent food on the ketogenic diet because they are packed with healthy fats while being rich in proteins and fiber too. Nuts and seeds also contain lots of essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, copper, and phosphorus.
Nuts and seeds that can be included in the ketogenic diet are:
- Brazil nuts
- Macadamia nuts
- Pine nuts
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds
Dairy products are an amazing source of fat and protein and some minerals like calcium and phosphorus so many of the keto diet followers love that cheese and other dairy products are allowed to be a part of this eating regimen.
Just keep in mind that you have to be sure to select a full-fat dairy product version and avoid the skimmed ones. Also, make sure to double-check the nutrition labels because some products, such as yogurt, may contain added sugars and sweeteners.
- Whole milk
- Heavy cream
- Cheddar cheese
- Feta cheese
- Goat cheese
- Cream cheese
- Blue cheese
- Full-fat, plain Greek yogurt
- Unsweetened Kefir
Sadly, when it comes to keto-friendly beverages our options are very limited because many of the popular drinks contain carbs and sugars. However, there are still some options and some of them are the following:
Water: Plain water will always be your best option to stay hydrated. For some extra flavor, you can squeeze some lemon or lime juice.
Sparkling water: Sparkling water makes an excellent alternative to sodas.
Unsweetened coffee: Luckily, followers of this diet don’t have to sacrifice their morning coffee, as long as you don’t add any sugar in it. Enjoy your coffee with whole milk, heavy cream, or you can read more about the bulletproof coffee recipe.
Unsweetened tea, like herbal, black, and green tea.
Unsweetened milk alternatives (almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk)
Broth: Bone brothers are very nutritious and keto-friendly beverages.
While most of the alcoholic beverages are high in carbs to be incorporated in a keto diet there are still some types such as tequila, whiskey, rum, and vodka that can be enjoyed in moderation on special occasions.
One Week Sample Keto Diet Menu
Below you can see a complete 7-day keto diet meal plan, but remember to individualize these recipes according to your daily allowed calories or for any food allergies and intolerances.
Breakfast – Scrambled eggs topped with tomato salsa and few slices of avocado
Snack – Roasted sunflower seeds seasoned with sea salt
Lunch – Grilled chicken breast and green salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing.
Snack – Beef jerky or turkey
Dinner – Grilled steak and shrimp scampi over roasted zucchini slices
Breakfast – Mushroom frittata, topped with cheese and fresh herbs
Snack – Keto “chocolate milk” made with cocoa powder and unsweetened almond milk
Lunch – Pork with cauliflower mash on the side
Snack – Handful of mixed nuts
Dinner – Chicken thighs with balsamic glaze and steamed broccoli
Breakfast – Full-fat Greek yogurt with fresh berries
Snack – Ham and cheese slices
Lunch – Tuna salad with leafy greens
Snack – Egg omelet of your choice
Grilled salmon with asparagus and lemon juice
Breakfast – Bacon, eggs, and cheese sandwich
Snack – Mixed berries topped with coconut cream
Lunch – Crab cakes made with almond flour served over lettuce
Snack – Full-fat Greek yogurt with walnuts and cinnamon
Dinner – Beef stir-fry served over cauliflower rice
Breakfast – Smoothie made from mixed berries, protein powder of your choice, spinach, and almond butter
Snack – Egg salad wraps with lettuce
Lunch – Grilled shrimp topped with lemon butter sauce and steamed broccoli
Snack – Peanut butter and rice cake
Dinner – A chicken curry made with coconut milk served over cauliflower rice
Breakfast – Full-fat Greek yogurt “parfait” made with toasted walnuts and strawberries
Snack – Cheese and olive plate
Lunch – Catfish fried on butter with jalapenos and diced tomatoes
Snack – Smoothie prepared with cocoa, peanut butter, and almond milk
Dinner – A pizza made with cauliflower crust topped with sausage and mozzarella cheese
Spinach – Omelet made of spinach, mushrooms, and feta cheese.
Snack – Asparagus wrapped in bacon
Lunch – Beef burger in a lettuce “bun” topped with avocado and a side salad.
Snack – 1 ounce serving of 85% dark chocolate
Dinner – Chicken pesto served over zucchini noodles.
Healthy Ketogenic Diet Snack Options
To make it easier for you to add snacks to your keto diet, we prepared a list of some keto-friendly snacks that fit perfectly in this eating regimen:
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Avocado and green spinach smoothie
- Salted peanuts
- Dark chocolate with mixed nuts
- Avocado filled with chicken salad
- Chocolate keto smoothie made with unsweetened almond milk, avocado, and cocoa
- Spicy guacamole with veggie sticks
- Berries topped with whipped cream
- Beef jerky
- Bell peppers and celery dipped in cream cheese
- Cheese roll-ups
A Simple Ketogenic Diet Shopping List
We also prepared a shopping list that will make your keto grocery shopping a lot easier and simpler.
Meat and protein: Beef, pork, chicken, turkey
Fish: Salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel
Shellfish: Oysters, clams, scallops, and shrimp
Cheese: Cream cheese, brie, goat cheese, and cheddar cheese
Heart-healthy oils: Avocado oil, olive oil, and coconut oil
Nut Butters: Almond, cashew, and peanut butter
Low-carb fruits: Berries, olives, avocados, lemons, and limes
Seeds: Chia, sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds
Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pecans, and macadamia nuts.
Low-Carb Vegetables: Cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, leafy greens, peppers, tomatoes, and onions.
Condiments: Herbs, spices and spice blends, mustard, vinegar, sea salt, mayonnaise, pepper, garlic, and salsa.
Remember to double-check the food labels for added sugars before purchasing.
Many people are adopting the keto diet in their weight loss journey or to improve their overall health because it is extremely effective, especially in the first six months of dieting. However, this would only work for good if you can stick with it in the long run.
To make it easier on yourself with sticking to this diet, try to consume foods that are naturally high in fat such as eggs, meat, cheese, and non-starchy veggies.
The transition from a standard western diet to a keto diet may seem like a big challenge at first, so try to incorporate the keto rules in more steps. For example, try to cut off sugars out of your diet at first, and work from there. I hope that the 7 -day keto plan and the shopping list provided will be of use and serve as a guide to get you started on your ketogenic journey