Ketogenic Diet: Complete Food List And Daily Sample Menu Including What To Eat And Avoid
Ketogenic diet has been with us for some time now. And while many people, including celebrities and athletes, have been benefiting from the ketogenic diet, others are yet to even understand what the popularity of the ketogenic diet is all about.
If you belong to this latter group, then, fasten your seat belt and get ready for some tutoring.
In this article (or guide), we shall take a look at what the ketogenic diet is all about, the health benefits, and how you can get started on it.
What is a ketogenic diet?
A ketogenic diet, or simply keto diet, is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. Following a keto diet means that you cut back on carbs, while increasing your fat intake. While on a keto diet, the body switches from using glucose as its primary source of energy and switches to fats through a process known as ketosis.
To understand how a keto diet affects the body, let’s get to understand ketosis a little.
What is ketosis?
Normally, after eating food, the body stores excess fats and converts carbohydrates into glucose to be used for energy. When a person begins to consume less carbs and more fats, the body is forced into ketosis.
Ketosis is a natural metabolic process whereby the liver breaks down fat into ketones to be used as energy. Ketosis usually begins when the body’s store of glucose has been depleted; so instead of using glucose (which is the product of digesting carbohydrates), the body uses fat.
Types of ketogenic diet
There are four major variants of the ketogenic diet. These keto diet types are grouped according to their nutritional composition.
Standard ketogenic diet (SKD)
- This is a type of keto diet that contains 75% fat, 5 to 10% of carbohydrates, and between 15 and 20% protein. A standard keto diet means that you get to consume more fats, while cutting down on carbohydrates. This diet plan requires you to eat a maximum 50 grams of carbs, 90 grams of protein, and about 150 grams of fats.
Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD)
- The cyclical ketogenic diet involves following a keto diet for some days, and then, going off on your rest days before the cycle begins again. While following this diet plan, you can choose to eat as normal on the “off days” while you stick to the plan on the keto days. A typical example of the CKD is 4 days of standard keto diet and 3 days of no keto in a week.
Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD)
- A targeted keto diet is what many athletes follow to maintain a good shape. In the TKD, the amount of carbs increases to a maximum of 80 grams (about 15%), while the fat content goes down to 65-70%, and 20% of protein.
High-protein keto diet (HPKD)
- As the name implies, a high-protein keto diet is one with a high-protein content. In this keto diet, the protein content is 30% (about 120 grams daily), fat is 60 to 65%, and 5 to 10% carbohydrate.
Health benefits of ketogenic diet
By following a ketogenic diet, a person’s body gets to benefit in several ways. Below are some of the health benefits of a keto diet:
Aids weight loss
- Being overweight is one of the common risk factors for many health conditions. By inducing ketosis, a keto diet helps to aid weight loss. Ketosis helps to reduce the amount of body fat by reducing the insulin levels in the body.
Increases mental clarity
- High glucose levels in the body can reduce mental performance, according to research. Since ketosis increases the ketones level in the body, the brain gets to benefit from it as it uses it to function.
Regulates blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Eating low-carb, high fat diets have been shown to increase the good (HDL) cholesterol levels in the body, while reducing the bad (LDL) cholesterol levels. In addition, a keto diet helps to reduce high blood pressure levels, which has been linked to several health problems.
Regulation of blood sugar
- Since you are eating fewer carbohydrates, the body’s blood sugar/glucose levels begin to go down over time. According to research, the keto diet is one of the best ways of preventing diabetes. People who are at a risk of developing diabetes can benefit from following a keto diet plan.
- One of the reasons why the ketogenic diet was developed was for the treatment of epilepsy. Even today, the keto diet is still widely used for treating the condition. A major advantage of the keto diet therapy for epilepsy is the fact that the patient does not have to use a lot of medications.
Improves insulin resistance
- In addition to regulating blood sugar levels, the keto diet also helps to improve insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is one of the causes of type-2 diabetes; thus, controlling this problem also helps in the prevention of diabetes.
- Following a keto diet makes it easy for the body to self-cleanse itself. This is due to a process known as autophagy, where the body cells carry out internal cleansing.
For good digestive health
- A keto diet can also help to prevent digestion problems like flatulence, abdominal cramps, and stomach ache.
- Following the keto diet can also help to reduce the effects of aging. A keto diet helps to maintain a good skin. Even more, researchers has discovered that eating a meal high in carbohydrates increases the risk of developing acne.
Controls cravings and hunger
- Food cravings happen a person’s blood glucose levels are high. By reducing the amount of carbs, you can reduce such cravings. Also, following a keto diet helps to suppress hunger by inhibiting ghrelin – the hunger hormone.
Improves physical performance
- We already mentioned that athletes also follow the ketogenic diet. This is because through ketosis, the body gets to make use of its large store of fat. Ketosis helps to increase the body’s energy source.
Ketogenic Diet Food List For Weight Loss
Below is a list of foods to include in your keto diet plan for weight loss:
- Healthy fats: Foods such as olive oil, avocados, and butter are good sources of healthy fats that can be added to a keto diet plan.
- Eggs: Due to their moderate protein and fat content, eggs are suitable for a keto diet.
- Nuts and seeds: Walnuts, chestnuts, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, and almonds are examples of low-carb nuts and seeds that you can include in your keto diet.
- Full-fat dairy foods: Cheese, high-fat yogurts, and butter are rich in healthy fat and should be consumed more if you are on a keto diet.
- Unprocessed meat: This includes beef, poultry, and other natural sources of meat.
- Fish: Fish and seafoods like wild-caught salmon are also necessary for people on a keto meal plan.
- Vegetables: Low-carbohydrate vegetables like cucumber, asparagus, and cauliflower should also be included in the keto meal plan.
- Red wine
Sample 7-day Keto Diet Meal Plan
You can follow a keto meal plan as one of your methods of reducing weight. You can increase the benefits of keto dieting by fasting intermittently and exercising moderately. Note that this is a sample plan and can be tweaked according to your nutritional requirements. Below is a sample 7-day keto meal plan to guide you in your weight loss journey.
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with butter and lettuce with avocado
Lunch: Spinach salad with grilled salmon
Dinner: Pork chop with cauliflower mash and red cabbage slaw
Breakfast: Hazelnut, pancakes, and egg white
Lunch: Leftover spinach salad and grilled salmon
Dinner: crispy chicken or green turkey salad
Breakfast: Salmon egg roll or leftover of green turkey salad
Lunch: Almond chocolate smoothie
Dinner: Roasted chicken with asparagus and sauteed mushrooms
Breakfast: Brewed coffee with grass-fed butter
Lunch: Leftover roasted chicken with asparagus and sautéed mushrooms
Dinner: Grilled shrimp with lemon butter sauce and asparagus
Breakfast: Fried eggs with bacon and greens or omelet with cheese
Lunch: Meatballs, zucchini noodles and cream sauce
Dinner: Leftover crispy chicken
Breakfast: Almond peanut muffins
Lunch: Roasted broccoli with creamy dip or tuna salad with tomatoes
Dinner: Fried graviera cheese
Breakfast: Salmon-stuffed avocado
Lunch: Broiled trout with butter and sautéed bok choy
Dinner: Bacon brussel sprouts or sweet and sour chicken with cauliflower rice
What to avoid when on a keto diet
While on a ketogenic meal plan, there are certain foods that you need to stay away from in order to reap the maximum benefits. Below are some foods that you should avoid while following a keto diet plan:
- Whole grains like corn, rice, and wheat
- High GI-fruits: Fruits with a high glycemic index (GI) or high-sugar content should be avoided. Examples of such fruits are oranges and bananas.
- Starch: Tuber foods like yam and potatoes should also be avoided due to their high-carb (starch) content. Also, bread, chips, and legumes should be avoided.
- High-sugar beverages: Soft drinks like soda, fruit juices, and confections should be avoided as they increase the body’s glucose levels, which is not what you’d want when on a keto diet.
- Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption is counterproductive to what you want to achieve with a keto diet. Hence, you need to reduce your alcohol consumption, or completely stop it. If you must take alcohol, then make sure that it is a drink without sugar like dry wine or whisky.
- Low-fat dairy products: Margarine and milk are examples of low-fat foods.
Side Effects of a Ketogenic diet
Switching from a normal diet to a keto diet may not be smooth for everybody. This is basically because the body has to adjust from using glucose as its primary source of energy to burning fats for ketones.
- Keto flu: Keto diet beginners are likely to experience flu-like symptoms during the initial days of following the diet. After about a week of entering the program, the symptoms will normally disappear as the body begins to adapt. These symptoms, which are collectively referred to as the “keto flu” may include any of the following:
- Difficulty concentrating
These symptoms are normally due to the fact that eating low-carb foods tend to reduce swelling in the body caused by high-carb foods.
Other possible side effects of following a keto diet are:
- Keto diet breath
- Leg cramps
- Diminished physical performance
- Heart palpitations
Following a keto diet meal plan is not always easy, especially for beginners. That is why we came up with this article. Although brief, you should be able to get started on the keto diet using this guide.
That said, the key to reaping the benefits of a keto diet is to stick to the plan. While it may not be easy for you to change your diet, patience, determination, and proper planning will help you to achieve your goal.