Why is the Keto diet so popular?
Well, for one thing, it promotes dramatic weight loss, boosts your immune system, prevents certain types of cancer, improves brain function, and helps prevent Type 2 diabetes.
All that just for cutting out a few carbs? No wonder people are signing up to Keto, right? Not quite.
A successful Keto diet means a lot of personal commitment to a pretty specific nutritional plan.
The Ketogenic Diet (typically) consists of limiting your carbs to approximately 20g per day, a moderate protein intake, and intake of the rest of your daily calories through high-fat foods.
There are some common mistakes people make with Keto, and one of the most common is not really understanding the foods that you can and cannot eat. If you’re trying to get started or want a refresher course on Keto, Total Shape has a beautiful infographic on their site.
7 Important Foods that You Can And Can’t Eat On A Keto Diet
So, here is your guide to the foods you can and can’t eat on a Keto diet.
To achieve ketosis (where your body is breaking down fats instead of sugars for energy), it’s vital to curb your carb intake. But there are several different versions of the Keto diet that might suit you depending on your lifestyle:
The Targeted Keto Diet (TKD)
This version of Keto focuses your carb intake on when you workout, so you’re burning off the carbohydrate energy almost as quickly as you are consuming them.
The Standard Keto Diet (SKD)
This is your typical high fat, moderate protein, low carb ketogenic diet. It’s usually around 75% fat, with moderate protein intake around 20%, and just 5% carbohydrates.
The Cyclical Keto Diet (CKD)
In this version, you’re allowed periods of carb “refeeds” on a cyclical basis. For example, five days of Keto and then two days of normal carb intake.
High Protein Keto Diet
Close to the Standard Keto Diet (SKD), but this version allows more protein. It’s usually around 60% fat, 35% protein, and still just 5% carbs.
So Keto means a moderate protein intake, not a high protein intake. But what is the effect of too much protein on a ketogenic diet? Why should you bother to stick to these specific proportions of macronutrients?
Well, some scientists think that consuming too much protein may actually take your body out of ketosis. That’s because there is research to show that excess protein is converted into glucose in a process known as gluconeogenesis. Since ketosis is the entire point of a ketogenic diet, it’s important to try not to sabotage that with too high protein intake.
Fat is your main source of energy on the Keto diet. It’s what your body is now processing for energy in the metabolic state known as ketosis.
When your body is burning carbs, it is converting carbohydrates into glucose which is then transported all around your body as energy. By dramatically cutting your carb levels, your body has to find something else to burn for energy.
Ketones are made in the liver and are the chemical produced when you don’t have a high enough insulin level to continue converting glucose into energy. Your liver begins turning fat into ketones and sending them through your bloodstream to distribute energy instead.
4. “Hidden” carbs
“Carb-free” diets have been around for a long time, and Keto is often mistaken for one. But you are allowed approximately 20g of carbs per day.
However, there are carbohydrates in a lot of foods that you might not know about. And that accidental extra intake of carbohydrates is a common nutritional mistake people make on Keto.
It’s not just pasta, rice, and potatoes that you have to worry about. Lots of fruits and vegetables also contain carbohydrates such as:
So, if you’re going to eat fruits, vegetables, and nuts it’s imperative that you understand their carbohydrate levels and take them into account.
5. Good Fats Vs Bad Fats
The Keto diet is not an excuse to live off butter and bacon for the rest of your days, unfortunately.
This is another reason the Keto diet often fails or earns bad press as an unhealthy diet. It’s important to understand healthy sources of fat and keep unhealthy sources of fat to a minimum, just like any other diet.
When fats are broken down, they transport cholesterol and glycerol around the body. But there are different types of cholesterol which have very different effects on your body, particularly your cardiovascular system.
In a nutshell, try to avoid trans fats (for example, hydrogenated oil) and try to stick to fats that occur naturally in healthy foods such as avocados, coconut oil, natural full-fat yogurt, salmon, and cheese.
It doesn’t take much time to know what you’re doing when it comes to macronutrient intake (carbs, proteins, and fats) on the Keto diet. But an area where some people fall down is micronutrient intake.
Because the Keto diet is a little restrictive, people can sometimes end up in a Keto rut, making the same meals over and over. The problem with this lack of variation is that you could be missing out on some very important micronutrients as a result.
Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals we need to keep all of our bodily systems and structures working the way they should. Some common deficiencies of micronutrients as a result of Keto are:
- B Vitamins
- Vitamin A, C, and K
Keep the food on your plate as varied as possible day-to-day to make sure you’re getting enough of each micronutrient.
7. Cheat Meals
Another big “don’t” on the Keto diet is having cheat meals. Having a carb blowout once a week isn’t really an option on Keto because it can take your body out of ketosis and that can take days to fix.
Instead, find meals that are delicious and satisfying and curb those cravings without breaking your Keto flow. Those can become your pseudo “cheat meals” whenever you’re feeling the urge.
If you’re serious about achieving success, it’s imperative to follow the rules of what you can and cannot eat on a Keto diet. But don’t be too daunted.