What is a ketogenic diet?
Ketogenic diet is based on cutting down carbs and replacing them primarily with fat. The intake of carbs is drastically reduced in a ketogenic diet which puts the body in a metabolic state called ketosis. In ketosis, the body uses fat instead of carbs as the primary source of energy. Typically it takes 4–6 weeks for the body to adjust to ketosis.
What can you eat on a ketogenic diet?
Ketogenic diet consists of 70–80 % fat, 15–20 % protein and 5–10 % carbs.
The most important thing with fats is to focus on quality. High-quality fats mean fats that have been processed as little as possible, that are cold pressed and preferably organic.
These include for example:
- organic butter
- virgin coconut oil
- virgin olive oil
- hemp oil
- coconut cream
- raw cocoa mass
- caprylic acid
- avocado and avocado oil
- nuts and nut butters
- bone broth
- coconut manna
All processed vegetable oils such as canola oil, sunflower seed oil, soy etc. should be avoided on a keto diet.
Vegetables should be selected based on the amount of carbs they contain. It is good to favor vegetables which contain lots of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
These kinds of vegetables include for example:
The sources of carbs to be avoided on a keto diet include grains, corn, root vegetables (for example potatoes, parsnip, sweet potato, turnips and beetroots), lentils and beans (except sprouted beans in which the majority of carbs have been broken down).
Some dairy can be included in a keto diet. Suitable dairy include for example butter, fatty cheeses and cream, if these don’t cause other problems in the body such as rash, acne or stomach problems.
The most suitable nuts and seeds are as low-carb as possible. It is also good to favor organic options when possible.
These kinds of nuts and seeds include for example:
- macadamia nuts
- pecan nuts
- almonds and almond butter
- hemp seeds
- sesame seeds
- chia seeds
- sunflower seeds
- pumpkin seeds
Though regular breads don’t have a place on a keto diet, there are other options. Ketogenic breads are made from different nut or seed flours, such as almond flour, coconut flour, coconut meat, seeds and self-made seed fours (for example pumpkin seed flour).
It is also good to invest in the quality of proteins. Choose organic proteins whenever possible and avoid highly processed proteins.
Good sources of protein include:
- fatty meats
- organic chicken
- bone broth
Fruits are usually not included in the keto diet, especially the ones with higher amounts of carbs.
Fruits and berries suitable for a keto diet include:
In case you wish to bake low-carb pastries, good sweeteners include for example stevia and erythritol. However, the sweeteners which don’t have a place in the keto diet include white sugar, glucose syrup, natural sweeteners (for example dates, honey, coconut palm sugar) and artificial sweeteners (for example aspartame, sucralose and saccharin).
What is ketosis?
When you eat carbs the body turns them into glucose which is fuel for the body. If there isn’t any glucose in the body the liver starts to produce ketones from the body fat to replace glucose. Ketosis is a natural state for the body to survive a temporary lack of nutrition. The purpose of ketosis is to ensure that the brain gets enough energy during a lack of nutrition.
The body uses up its stored carbs in 12–24 hours after which the liver starts to produce ketones. During all this, the insulin levels of the body remain low and fat burning accelerates.
In ketosis, the stored fat in the body is burned efficiently, you won’t be hungry and you will lose weight.
P.S. Get to know the Biohacker’s guide to ketosis!