The ketogenic diet, often simply shortened to keto, is a low-carb, high-fat way of eating designed to put your body into a metabolic state known as ketosis. In ketosis, the body switches to burning fat as its primary energy source and also begins to transform fat into ketones in the liver in order to supply energy for the brain. By dramatically reducing your carbohydrate intake and increasing your level of ketones, you could see a significant reduction in your blood sugar and insulin levels, which can lead to some substantial health benefits.
Are There Different Types Of The Keto Diet?
In this article, we will be focusing on information surrounding the Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD), but there are actually three other types of the keto diet that you should be aware of.
- The High Protein Ketogenic Diet
- The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet
- The Targeted Ketogenic Diet
The standard ketogenic diet is the most popular keto variation and involves eating low carb, moderate protein, and a high-fat diet to enter ketosis. Generally speaking, while following the SKD, most people try to consume 75% of their calories from fat, 20% from protein, and 5% or less from carbohydrates, but these numbers do vary from source to source.
The high protein ketogenic diet is another popular variation, allowing participants to eat more protein. While following a high protein keto diet, participants are encouraged to consume 60% of their calories from fat, 35% from protein, and just 5% from carbs!
Finally, the last two variations of the keto diet are the cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD), which involves high-carb refeeds, and the targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) which allows carbs around workouts. These are two lesser-known variations of the keto diet and are typically only used by athletes and bodybuilders looking to increase their performance while keeping their body fat low.
What Are The Health Benefits Of The Keto Diet?
Let’s be honest; carbohydrates are tasty! And so most people wouldn’t opt to remove them from their diet unless they were going to experience at least some benefit in return.
When Dr. Russell Wilder first developed the keto diet at the Mayo Clinic in 1923, its purpose was primarily to help children suffering from epilepsy. Dr. Wilder discovered that in many cases, following a very high fat and low carb diet could reduce the frequency and severity of epileptic seizures in children and, in some cases, even cure the condition completely!
Today, although the keto diet is still followed as a treatment option for both children and adults whose seizures are not controlled with AEDs, the vast majority of people who follow the diet do so to lose weight.
How Can The Keto Diet Help You To Lose Weight?
At the end of the day, regardless of the energy source your body is using, weight loss is achieved by consuming fewer calories than you burn. Although the keto diet may put your body into ketosis, it is not the fact that you are burning fat for energy that causes you to lose weight.
The real reason why people find the keto diet helps them to lose weight is that they have less appetite while eating satiating high-fat foods, and therefore are more likely to eat a calorie deficit.
Besides consuming fewer calories than they burn, the keto diet is also renowned for helping the body rid itself of excess water, which is often why people appear to lose a lot of weight very quickly at the start of the keto diet.
Although the keto diet may not offer a new weight-loss secret, there’s no doubting its efficacy and it has proven to be very successful in helping people with obesity to manage their weight!
Does The Keto Diet Reduce Your Risk Of Heart Disease?
Another great benefit of the keto diet is its ability to help reduce a person’s risk of heart disease. Several short-term studies of the keto diet have found it to be extremely effective at reducing the levels of triglycerides in the blood, which, if too high, can increase a person’s risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases. Despite eating a high-fat diet, those following the keto diet can effectively reduce their risk of heart disease almost immediately.
Can The Keto Diet Cure Type-2 Diabetes?
In one study of the keto diet for people with type-2 diabetes, 95% of participants were able to reduce or eliminate their need for glucose-lowering medication over a period of six months! Although this does not make the keto diet a cure for type-2 diabetes, it does make it an effective diet to help pre-diabetics, and type-2 diabetics manage their blood sugar and insulin levels without medication.
What Other Health Benefits Are Associated With The Keto Diet?
Additional studies performed on the keto diet have found it beneficial for a number of other health conditions, including:
Scientists are currently studying the keto diet to see if it is an effective treatment for certain cancers. Preliminary research suggests that it could help to slow the growth of cancerous tumors!
- Alzheimer’s Disease
For those with Alzheimer’s disease, the keto diet can help to reduce their symptoms and to slow down the progression of the disease.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition that can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms. Thankfully, the keto diet has been found to provide some relief, helping PCOS sufferers to reduce their insulin levels, maintain a healthy weight, and even to increase their fertility.
Is The Keto Diet Safe?
For every article on the internet about the pros of the keto diet, there’s also one highlighting the cons. As a very low carb, high-fat diet, there is a lot of speculation as to whether the keto diet is safe, especially in the long term.
Generally speaking, most health-care professionals agree that following a keto diet is safe and beneficial if eaten for short periods of time (between two to six months). Sadly, there has been very little research conducted on the keto diet’s safety in the longer term, so we simply do not know what the long-term effects of eating such a high-fat diet could be.
If you plan to eat a keto diet for a longer duration of time, then it is recommended that you speak with a doctor so that they can monitor you for insulin resistance and diseases associated with high-fat diets such as fatty-liver disease.
Is The Keto Diet For You?
Although the keto diet is associated with many health benefits and is still prescribed medically to help treat several conditions and illnesses, it isn’t suitable for everyone. Some people find the keto diet too restrictive, others struggle to consume the required amount of fat every day, and some simply don’t like how it makes them feel. To help you decide whether the keto diet is for you, we’ve compiled a list of 10 things that you should know before you try it.
10 Things You Should Know Before Starting The Keto Diet
- The Keto Diet Is A Way Of Eating
If you’ve already done some research into eating keto, then you may have already come across it described as a Way Of Eating (WOE), rather than a diet. The keto diet is often referred to as a Way Of Eating because unlike most other diets, it cannot be stopped and started quite so easily. If you were to have a cheat day on the keto diet, then you would throw yourself out of ketosis. Once out of ketosis, it can take several days to re-enter a fat-burning state, and doing this to your body multiple times can upset your metabolism.
- Results Can Take Time
For some people, the keto diet can deliver dramatic results virtually immediately, especially if they have a lot of weight to lose or hold a lot of water weight. However, for most people, the health benefits of the keto diet are not properly felt for several weeks or even longer. Don’t be disheartened if the fat doesn’t melt off as it does in some of the before and after photos found on the internet. Fat loss does take time, and it is much better to lose fat slowly and sustainably than to lose it quickly and then to put it back on again.
- You’ll Be Bombarded With A Lot Of Numbers
While conducting our research for this post, we have seen dozens of articles telling us different numbers and ratios for the keto diet. The truth is, there’s no magic ratio, and most keto dieters need to adjust their macros for their own body type. Generally speaking, we found that the ratio, 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrate, came up quite a lot, but you will likely need to experiment with this to find your sweet spot.
- It Can Take A While To Enter Ketosis
Some people find it very easy to enter ketosis, whereas others find it quite elusive. Don’t be disheartened if it takes you a little longer to enter a ketosis state; everyone’s journey is slightly different. If you do struggle to enter ketosis, then some supplements can help you.
- You Will Likely Experience Keto Flu
Keto flu is the nickname given to the side-effects often felt as you enter ketosis. For most people, this includes a persistent headache, nausea, and exhaustion, but it can vary from person to person. It’s important not to panic if you start feeling a little under the weather when you first start the keto diet - in fact, it’s a good indicator that you are going in the right direction. To help reduce your symptoms, try to ensure that you are eating enough calories and drink plenty of water.The keto flu will usually subside on its own after a few days and often gets less troublesome over time.
- Your Breath May Smell Bad
Along with keto flu, another common sign that you are entering ketosis is bad breath (often nicknamed dragon or keto breath). Keto breath is caused by excess ketones, which smell bad as they leave the body through your breath. Although unpleasant, these ketones are entirely harmless. To keep your breath minty fresh, try using mouthwash twice daily, brush your teeth more frequently or consider chewing on a cardamom pod or some sugar-free breath mints.
- You Will Need To Drink More Water
It’s important to realize that the keto diet increases urination, leaving you dehydrated if you do not adequately rehydrate throughout the day. On the keto diet, water is your best friend - it can help alleviate your keto flu, reduce constipation, and help reduce carb cravings. It is recommended that those on the keto diet try to consume at least one gallon of water per day to make up for this extra water loss - if you find this difficult, then try keeping a water bottle on you at all times and record your water intake.
- Expect A Little Extra Flatulence.
Switching from a standard diet to a keto diet can shock your gut, and you may experience some unwanted side-effects such as flatulence, constipation, diarrhea, or bloating. Drinking plenty of fluids and ensuring that you are eating enough fiber can help to reduce these symptoms until your gut has adjusted to its new way of eating.
- Keto Foods Can Cost More
Processed foods and carbohydrate sources such as bread, pasta, and potatoes are generally very cheap. In contrast, whole foods such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and unprocessed meat are a little more costly. This means that your grocery bill can appear a little larger than it usually is, but don’t fear! Although keto-foods can be a bit more costly, you will often find yourself eating far less, and so your grocery shop will last you longer. This means that although you may spend more when you shop, you will spend less overall.
- Keto Isn’t Forever
Last but not least, it’s essential to remember that keto is not a forever diet. Most people choose to eat the keto diet for short periods of between two to six months before returning to a regular healthy diet and then cycling back into keto once again. To ensure that you do not pile the pounds back on during your off-cycle, it is crucial to have an after plan in place to help you reintroduce carbs into your diet without putting the weight you have lost back on.
What To Eat And What To Avoid When Eating Keto
When it comes to learning what you can and can’t eat on the keto diet, you need to pay close attention to four things - carbohydrate content, fat content, protein content, and fiber content.
As previously mentioned, most people on the keto diet aim to try and consume 75% of their daily calories from fat, 20% from protein, and 5% from carbohydrates, which means you need to be looking for high fat, moderate protein, and low carb food sources.
Before we jump into some of the best foods to eat and those you may want to avoid on the keto diet, it’s important to quickly mention that when looking at the carbohydrate content of keto foods, you are concerned with net carbs, not total carbs. This is because the total carb value also includes the fiber of the food. The net carbs of food can be calculated by subtracting the fiber content from the total carbs value. Fiber is still needed on the keto diet, so don’t restrict high-fiber foods!
What To Eat On The Keto Diet
On the keto diet, fat is your best friend - we’re talking oils, avocado, cheese, and nuts! You also want to consume a moderate amount of protein such as unprocessed meat, fish, eggs, and seafood, and ensure you get enough fiber by incorporating high-fiber and low carb foods such as leafy greens, nuts, and seeds.
- Unprocessed meat such as chicken, beef, and pork - high-fat cuts are preferred.
- Fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines which have a high oil content.
- Seafood such as prawns and scallops.
- Eggs, especially the yolk which is high in fat.
- High-fat, unsweetened dairy such as clotted cream, butter, and cheese (try to avoid drinking milk as it has a surprisingly high sugar content).
- Nuts such as walnuts, macadamias, and pecans which are high in fat and fiber.
- Seeds such as pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
- Oils such as olive oil, walnut oil, hemp seed oil, and avocado oil for flavor and calories.
- Leafy green vegetables such as kale and cabbage.
- Berries such as raspberries and blueberries for antioxidants - but only in moderation.
What To Avoid On The Keto Diet
Carbohydrates are the enemy when trying to eat a keto diet. You’ll quickly become comfortable with reading food labels and calculating the net carbs of your food, but there are also apps that can do this for you. It’s also important to be mindful of your protein intake. If you eat too much protein, then your pancreas may produce too much insulin, which may kick you out of ketosis.
Foods To Avoid
- Pasta, rice, and bread (unless made yourself from keto-friendly foods such as cauliflower or almond flour).
- Potatoes and root vegetables.
- Pastries, cakes, and biscuits that are high in sugar and contain wheat flour.
- Sugar in all its forms, including honey!
- Legumes such as beans and lentils that are high in carbs.
- Sugary fruits such as bananas.
- High carb nuts, such as cashews.
- Sweets and chocolate unless keto-friendly and sugar-free.
What To Drink When On The Keto Diet
In addition to watching what you eat, to stay in ketosis, you also need to monitor what you drink. Water is going to be your best friend on the keto diet by keeping you hydrated, curbing hunger cravings, and helping to reduce keto-flu symptoms. If you aren’t a fan of plain water, then you can add sugar-free flavorings to your drinks and can even drink some types of alcohol!
- Water - still or sparkling but without any sweetened flavorings.
- Sugar-free sodas.
- Tea and coffee (a splash of milk is ok but avoid lattes.)
- Herbal teas such as mint tea and green tea.
- Bone broth - great for minerals and nutrients!
- Alcoholic spirits such as rum, vodka, and gin so long as they are mixed with sugar-free mixers.
- Very dry wine or champagne in moderation.
- Beer, cocktails, red wine, and sugary liqueurs.
- Full-sugar sodas and energy drinks.
- Sugary tea and coffee, or coffees made with too much milk.
- Flavored waters with added sugar.
At the beginning of your keto journey, learning the foods you can and can’t eat can be daunting, but it does get easier and before long, you’ll have a new list of go-to keto-friendly staples to turn to.
Five Of Our Favorite Keto Recipes That You May Want To Try
When following the keto diet, it’s easy to stick to a handful of tried and tested recipes that you know you like and fit into your macros, but after a while, this can get boring. To keep the diet interesting, don’t forget to try new things and experiment in the kitchen. Here are five of our favorite keto recipes that you may want to try.
Keto Peanut Butter Cookies
These keto peanut butter cookies are going to satisfy even your strongest sugar craving thanks to their special ingredient - xylitol. They only contain five ingredients, which you can quickly source online or in most grocery stores, and what’s more, they only have 3g of net carbs per cookie!
Chocolate Coconut And Almond Fat Bombs
Believe it or not, it can be hard to eat enough fat on the keto diet - which is where recipes for fat bombs come in. Fat bombs are an easy way to up your fat content, and they’re also delicious and work as a tasty sweet treat. These chocolate coconut and almond fat bombs are vegan and can be made in advance to see you through the week.
Perfect Pepperoni Pizza
Just because you’re on the keto diet doesn’t mean you can’t eat a delicious pizza! You just need to adapt the base a little. This keto pizza recipe uses cheese and eggs to make a tasty base, but you can also make pizza bases with cauliflower.
Keto Fish Cakes With Aioli
Fish is a popular protein on the keto diet but often needs to be combined with a high-fat sauce, such as aioli, to make a meal. This fish cake recipe can be rustled up in less than 15 minutes and makes a great lunch, snack, or evening meal.
Keto Fried Chicken
Batters and breadcrumbs are usually off-limits on the keto diet because they tend to be made with wheat flour. This recipe uses almond flour instead, making it keto-friendly while preserving the delicious crunchy texture of fried chicken!
The Best Snacks To Eat On Keto
Conventional snacks like crackers, chips, and granola bars are off-limits on the keto diet because they are very often high in carbs and sugar, but that doesn’t mean that snacking is off the cards altogether. There are plenty of keto-friendly snacks to help you stay satiated throughout the day, and they’re often much healthier too.
Here’s a quick list of some of the best and simplest keto snacks to turn to when hunger strikes.
Nuts really are the king of keto snacking. They’re convenient, healthy, delicious, and high in fat, which makes them perfect for eating on-the-go without kicking yourself out of ketosis. Some of the best nuts to eat on the keto diet include pecans, brazils, macadamias, walnuts, and hazelnuts, as well as almonds and pistachios. Just be aware of cashews, which are a little higher in sugar, and read the ingredients carefully if you are buying flavored nuts.
Seeds are another brilliant keto snack, especially pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Packed full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, seeds are high in fat, contain a good amount of protein, and have few net carbs, so they will fit into your keto macros very easily. Once again, be wary of flavored seeds that may have added sugar in them, and try to weigh out your portions to ensure you don’t accidentally overeat.
Eggs are a staple on the keto diet and can be transformed into dozens of keto dishes, but they also make great simple snacks. Simply boil a dozen eggs in their shell, cool them, peel them and then keep them in the fridge for a convenient protein-packed keto snack. For some extra fat, dip your boiled eggs in mayo or eat them with half an avocado drizzled in some walnut oil.
- Veggie sticks
Lastly, vegetables such as celery, carrots, cucumber, and broccoli make great snacks and can help to satisfy any crunchy cravings. For added fat and flavor, dip them in a tahini dip or try making your own delicious garlic aioli. When choosing veggies on the keto diet, just remain mindful of their carb content and remember that you are concerned with net carbs and not total carbs.
Why Nuts And Seeds Are Great For Those On The Keto Diet
Although we may be a little biased, there’s no doubt that nuts and seeds make a great versatile addition to the keto diet and should both be staple ingredients in your keto pantry! Nuts such as walnuts and almonds can be ground into flour, pressed to make oil, blitzed to make smooth nut butter, used to create a crunchy coating for meat or fish, or simply eaten whole as a tasty snack.
Seeds, too, can be blended into seed butter, used to add texture in salads, incorporated into keto bread and crackers, or simply eaten as they are when on the go. High in plant-based fats, low in carbs and a great source of protein, nuts, and seeds fit naturally into most people’s keto macros and so can easily be incorporated into the keto diet.
Should You Be Worried About Protein?
If there were one nutrient that people always worry they aren’t getting enough of, it’s protein, but the truth is that most people easily eat the recommended amount of protein without even trying to. On the keto diet, protein should come second to fat, and if anything, most people find that they need to reduce their protein intake to eat more of their calories from fat sources.
The easiest way to stay on top of your keto macros is to track your food intake using an app. This will allow you to see how much fat, protein, and carbohydrate you are eating every day and will enable you to make adjustments based on what you see.
If it turns out that you aren’t getting enough protein with the foods you are eating, perhaps because you are trying to consume a plant-based keto diet, then this can easily be rectified by incorporating more nuts into your foods, or if you are eating meat and dairy, then try adding in protein sources such as chicken, beef, fish or eggs.
The more experienced you become with keto and the more you track your food, the easier it becomes to hit your macros.
Top Tips To Make The Keto Diet More Affordable
The keto diet has a bit of a reputation for being expensive, but it is possible to eat keto on a budget. Here are a few of our top tips to help you eat keto without breaking the bank.
- Buy Your Staples In Bulk
Ingredients such as nuts, seeds, and cooking oils can be expensive in the grocery store because they are often sold in smaller quantities. By buying these staple items in bulk instead, you can save a lot on unnecessary packing and keep the cost down. Although buying in bulk is an initial investment, it works out a lot cheaper in the long run and is better for the environment too.
- Utilize Your Freezer
Did you know that nuts, seeds, and avocados can be frozen? Buying in bulk, or when an ingredient is on sale, can allow you to save a lot of money. If you can’t eat the ingredient straight away, then freeze it to extend its life. Frozen vegetables, meat, and fish are also often cheaper than they are if purchased fresh, which can also help keep costs down.
- Buy In Season
Another way to keep your keto shop’s cost down is to buy your fruit and vegetables when they are in season. Seasonal fruit and veg are often a lot less expensive as it tends to be grown more locally and does not need to travel long distances to reach you.
- Meal Plan
Meal planning can help to keep the cost of any grocery list down by ensuring you only buy what you need. Try planning your weekly meals and snacks before you shop and stick to your list to avoid impulse buys when at the store.
- Skip Keto-Labelled Foods
As the keto diet’s popularity has increased, some grocery stores have started to stock keto-friendly items such as pre-made keto pizza bases, keto-bread, and keto ice-cream. Although these items may be tempting, they tend to be very expensive, so it’s best to try and make them yourself using whole-foods.
At the end of the day, the keto diet is only as expensive as you make it. If avocados are costly where you live, then swap them out for other fat sources. If you cannot afford expensive cuts of meat, then choose more affordable cuts to make your meals. The keto diet can be very affordable when based around seasonal veggies and simple fat sources such as butter, oil, and cheese, and when you purchase ingredients such as nuts in bulk.
Why Ayoub’s Is Heaven For Those Trying The Keto Diet
Here at Ayoub’s, we may not be able to put you into ketosis directly, but we can supply you with an expansive selection of nuts, seeds, and spices that will. Whether you’re looking for almonds to create your own almond flour, pecans to snack on, or pumpkin seeds to make your own seeded keto bread, we’ve got you covered.
Here are just three reasons why we consider ourselves to be heaven for those on the keto diet:
1. We’re All About Quality
Whether you’re on the keto diet or any diet for that matter, it’s essential to be mindful of the quality of the foods you put into your body. You are what you eat, which is why we only source the very best quality products for our customers. By buying from Ayoub’s, you can sit back and relax, knowing that the nuts and seeds that you incorporate into your keto meals are sourced sustainably from our tight-knit community of producers and growers.
2. We Can Provide You With Choice
The keto diet can already feel quite restrictive, and so it helps to have a choice when sourcing staple ingredients such as nuts and seeds. We don’t just sell one or two varieties of nuts like you’ll find in the grocery store; we sell hundreds, including raw nuts, roasted nuts, seasoned nuts, nut pieces, slivers, and slices. We have raw seeds, toasted seeds, lightly salted seeds, and organic seeds, giving you a choice and the ability to add diversity to your keto diet.
3. We Can Save You Money
As we’ve previously mentioned, the keto diet can be expensive, but one of the ways to keep your costs down is to buy your staples in bulk. Here at Ayoub’s, if you’re buying in our stores, then you can weigh out precisely the amount of each product you want or need, or if buying online through Ayoubs.ca you can choose from a selection of package sizes including larger 1lb, 3lb or even 5lb, bags.
Let Us Help You Get The Most From The Keto Diet
Whether you’re trying the keto diet for the first time, or are a regular keto-dieter, let us help you get the most out of your experience by providing you with a delicious selection of nutritious nuts and seeds to help you create a myriad of fantastic keto-friendly meals.