A Beginner's Guide to Keto Diet

The ketogenic diet (Image via Unsplash/David B Townsend)
The ketogenic diet (Image via Unsplash/David B Townsend)

The Keto diet is one of the best diets for weight loss. It's a type of low-carb diet similar to paleolithic diet. This diet, though, does not restrict carbs completely, unlike the carnivore diet.


What’s a Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-protein, and high-fat diet. It involves reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with good fats for calorie requirements.


How Does It Work?

The metabolic state known as ketosis is characterized by the breakdown of triglycerides into glycerol.

Glycerol molecules are converted into glucose, which is utilized to produce energy primarily for the red blood and liver cells. Glucose is an essential molecule for hepatic and red blood cells, as they cannot utilize fatty acids and ketone bodies.

The fatty acids are either directly used by the muscles for energy or converted to ketone bodies. The Keto diet is named after the ketone bodies produced during the state of ketosis.

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What Do I Eat on a Keto Diet?

Any low-carb food is allowed on the keto diet. Here's a list of the best foods for weight loss when following a keto diet:

  • red meat, steak, chicken, and turkey
  • salmon, trout, tuna, and mackerel
  • eggs
  • butter
  • cheese (unprocessed)
  • nuts and seeds
  • extra virgin olive oil, and avocado oil
  • avocados
  • low-carb vegetables

Different types of ketogenic diets

Keto diets can be classified in the following ways:

1) Standard ketogenic diet

It contains 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs.

2) Cyclical ketogenic diet

This diet involves five days of a ketogenic diet followed by two days of a high-carb diet.

3) Targeted ketogenic diet

In this plan, carbs are allowed before a workout.

4) High protein ketogenic diet

The ratio of macros in this diet is 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs.


What is ketosis?

Ketosis is a metabolic state in which the body burns triglyceride (fat molecules) to produce energy instead of carbs.

Triglycerides (fats) are composed of glycerol and fatty acids. During ketosis, the glycerol molecules are converted to glucose for energy. The fatty acid molecules are converted into ketone bodies.

There are three types of ketone bodies: acetoacetate (AcAc), 3-beta-hydroxybutyrate (3HB), and acetone. The first two are usually utilized by the body for energy production. Fatty acids can also be used by the muscles directly for the production of energy.

The brain usually prefers ketone bodies for its energy demands, as ketones provide the instant energy required for the brain to function properly. It's a popular myth that the brain cannot survive without glucose.

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Can ketogenic diets help you lose weight?

The body utilizes fats (both from the body fat store and food) for energy production, and the metabolic state is known as nutritional ketosis. That might be useful in reducing the overall body fat percentage and weight loss.

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Ketogenic diets for diabetes and prediabetes

Following a ketogenic diet can improve insulin sensitivity and significantly reduce levels of hemoglobin HbA1C, which is a measure of long-term diabetes. Increased insulin sensitivity can also cause fat loss along with the reversal of diabetes.


Benefits of Ketogenic Diet

Several research articles mentioned below have associated the keto diet with the following health benefits:

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A sample keto meal plan for 1 week

This is how a typical seven-day keto diet plan can be planned:

Monday

  • breakfast: Scrambled eggs
  • lunch: chicken salad with olive oil, feta cheese, and salad
  • dinner: smoked salmon with lentil soup

Tuesday

  • breakfast: Egg omelette, cheese, and fresh juice
  • lunch: Tuna with vegetables
  • dinner: Shrimp soup with asparagus

Wednesday

  • breakfast: chia pudding with nuts and berries
  • lunch: Chicken breast baked with cheese
  • dinner: Shrimp salad

Thursday

  • breakfast: Egg salad.
  • lunch: Feta cheese with grilled vegetables
  • dinner: Grilled lemon shrimp

Friday

  • breakfast: Greek yogurt with almonds
  • lunch: Pork chops with sliced bell peppers
  • dinner: Cauliflower macaroni and cheese

Saturday

  • breakfast: Yogurt shake with fruits
  • lunch: Fish salsa
  • dinner: One pot chicken stew with vegetables

Sunday

  • breakfast: Stuffed omelette
  • lunch: Steamed chicken and broccoli
  • dinner: Grilled cottage cheese
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FAQ:

1) Is the keto diet safe for beginners?

Yes, it's safe to follow a keto diet unless exclusively restricted by a medical professional.

2) Can I gain muscles?

Yes, you can gain muscle in this diet by keeping your protein intake high.

3) Do I need to give up carbs forever?

No, you can have carbs occasionally in smaller amounts if that does not cause fat gain.

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Edited by Bhargav