What Is The Ketogenic Diet And Can It Benefit Your Health?


The ketogenic diet is becoming more and more popular – and with good reason: it’s a diet with many health benefits.

This is a guest post by Louise Hendon, co-host of The Keto Summit and author of The Essential Keto Cookbook

 

How can the ketogenic diet, (often referred to as keto) improve your health? And what is the ketogenic diet, exactly?

That’s what we’ll go over in this article…

And we’ll finish with a few tips for starting a ketogenic diet successfully.

 

What Is Keto?

Here’s a quick summary of what the ketogenic diet actually is and where it comes from…

The main focus of the keto diet is to change your body’s metabolism so it switches to using fat as its main source of fuel (instead of using carbohydrates and sugars).

This fat-burning mode is called ketosis. And during ketosis, your body breaks down fat into molecules called ketones which is why measuring your ketone levels is one way to tell if you’re in ketosis.

The keto diet isn’t new, it was developed by doctors during the 1920s as a way to treat children with epilepsy.

And it continues to be an effective way to alleviate the symptoms of epilepsy sufferers, which is why it’s currently used for that purpose in over 45 countries worldwide.

 

What do you eat on the Keto diet?

On a keto diet, you’ll stick to under 25g of carbohydrates per day, a moderate amount of protein and lots of healthy fats…

Foods to enjoy are:

  • Healthy proteins: meats, organ meats, seafood
  • Low-carb veggies like leafy greens, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini
  • Good fats like olive oil, coconut oil, ghee

Foods to eliminate are:

  • Lentils, beans, soy and other legumes
  • Wheat, rice, corn and all other types of grains
  • Honey, agave, fructose and regular white or brown sugar
  • Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, squash and other starchy vegetables
  • Bananas, oranges and other high sugar fruits
  • Cookies, crackers, candy and other processed foods

Foods to include in moderation:

  • Dairy – it’s tricky to digest and can trigger inflammation, even for folks who aren’t lactose intolerant. Plus, it’s very easy to overeat! That’s why we suggest avoiding all dairy (except for ghee).
  • Nuts and seeds – these are also easy to overeat and are higher in carbs than you might think.

ketogenic recipes

4 Health Benefits of a Keto Diet

Here are a few of the ways Keto could help improve your health…

1 – Keto could help you lose weight…

When a study compared folks on a low-carb diet similar to keto with folks on conventional low-fat weight loss diet, it was found the low-carb dieters lost more weight.

Another study looked at 28 men (some of them were  following a low-fat diet and the rest were following a low-carb diet) and the men on the low-carb diet lost 3 times as much belly fat.

2 – Keto could help you get rid of cravings…

Cravings are often triggered by dips in blood sugar and by limiting carbohydrates, the keto diet stabilises your blood sugar levels. Less blood sugar crashes? Less cravings.

Plus, you’ll go cold turkey on many popular high-sugar foods when you follow the keto diet and that could help you put an end to sugar addiction. (But don’t worry – there are keto-friendly desserts you can enjoy instead!)

3 – Keto could help you beat overeating… 

A study looked at folks on a low-carb diet (similar to keto) and even though they were allowed to eat as much as they wanted, they naturally decreased their food intake over time without noticing.

How does keto reduce your hunger levels? A study has found evidence that keto has an effect on the hunger hormones which regulate your appetite.

4 –  Keto may potentially have other benefit too…

Many keto dieters report increased energy levels, relief from anxiety and depression, an increased ability to concentrate and greater mental clarity.

Research still needs to be done to back these up with science, but you’ll find anecdotes with similar stories are surprisingly common on keto forums.

 

 4  Tips For Getting Started On Keto

1 –  Prep your kitchen and collect some new keto recipes

These two go together: find some keto-friendly recipes you’re excited about trying and stock your kitchen with the ingredients.

By getting excited about the new things you’re going to try, you’ll find yourself less fixated on the foods you’re eliminating!

Finding  keto recipes is easier than it sounds: you can convert some your existing recipes with just a few tweaks and there are keto-friendly recipes on this site too (like Shirley’s Bison Paleo Chili)

And while you’re prepping your kitchen, take the opportunity to get rid of any non-keto foods in your cupboards. They can’t tempt you if they’re not there…

2 – At first, eat unlimited protein/fat but under 25g of carbohydrates

This will make transitioning into a low-carb way of eating a lot easier!

And when you’re feeling more adjusted, you can find information online about tweaking your protein/fat ratios so that you reach ketosis. But there’s no need to worry about that to start with.

3 – Boost your ketone levels every morning with MCT oil

Try adding half a teaspoon of MCT oil to your morning coffee, green juice or smoothie.

4 – Try a one-month challenge and tell your friends/family before you begin

By committing to keto for one month, you’ll be a lot more motivated to stick to the changes you make to your diet.

And telling other people will help you keep yourself accountable – it’s been shown that sharing your goals can increase your chances of success.

Plus, you never know, maybe some of them will join you…

If you’d like more guidance, practical tips and strategies? Take a look at our guide to starting keto here. 

Or, check out Louise’s cookbook, The Essential Keto Cookbook

Conclusion

The keto diet is a great tool to know about – it can help you lose weight, gain mental focus, and beat sugar cravings.  But it isn’t for everyone, so don’t just jump on board because it’s a popular diet – learn about how it works and then incorporate it into your life when it’s the right time.

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Written by: Shirley Plant
Shirley Plant is a nutritionist and the author of Finally… Food I Can Eat, a dietary guide and cookbook for people with food allergies, and those looking for healthy, tasty recipes. Shirley offers dietary counselling and menu planning through Delicious Alternatives.

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