Being overweight can have a significant impact on many aspects of your life. It doesn’t just affect how you look; it affects how you feel, and even how you think. Carrying too much body fat increases your likelihood of suffering from a wide range of otherwise avoidable diseases. It could also take years off your life. Lugging all that extra weight around will also drain your energy.
None of this information is exactly news. Most people know that reaching and then maintaining a healthy body weight is a good idea. Because of this, a considerable percentage of the population is currently, was recently, or intends to go on a diet.
Unfortunately, short term fixes do not work. If you start a diet with the intention of following it for just a few days or weeks, you have already lost the battle of the belly bulge. It took you years to gain your excess weight, and it’s going to take a long-term commitment to lose it. That means you need to pick a diet you can stick to.
With so many diets to choose from, it can be hard to know which one is right for you. Diets that look good on paper are often unsustainable, and just because a diet is endorsed by a celebrity does not mean it will work.
One of the more popular diets is the ketogenic diet or keto for short. Is keto right for you? Let’s investigate!
What is the ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet has been around for close to a century. It was initially devised by doctors to treat epilepsy and hyperactivity in children. Beyond its original medical applications, the keto diet was found to be an effective weight loss eating plan and was popularized by the late Dr. Atkins.
In simple terms, keto is a very low carb, moderate protein, high-fat diet. Your body prefers to use glucose for fuel, and glucose is derived from dietary carbohydrate. When you go keto, carbs are limited to 20-50 grams per day. This means your body has to use more fat for fuel.
Unfortunately, your brain and muscles can’t get by on fat alone. To replace the missing carbs, your body turns fat into a substance called ketones. It takes a lot of fat to make relatively few ketones, and that energy inefficiency means that you burn fat and lose weight faster. Once your body makes the shift to using ketones for energy, you are said to be in ketosis. When this happens, your body gets very good at using fat for energy.
Eliminating carbs from your diet also helps lower your blood glucose and insulin levels. Both of these things further enhance fat burning. Cutting out foods like bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, breakfast cereals, and carb-based junk food, and replacing them with vegetables will lower your calorie intake too.
Different keto diets
Keto means different things to different people. That’s because there are several different interpretations of this popular diet. All keto diets work in the same way, by limiting your carb intake, but each one is different enough that it’s worth considering them all to see if one diet will be best for you.
The Atkins Diet: Arguably the most popular keto diet, with Atkins, you follow a very strict keto diet for two weeks and then gradually increase your carb intake after that. The idea is to try and find the carb level at which you can continue to lose weight. Atkins is broken down into phases, and you move from one phase to the next according to your weight loss progress.
The standard keto diet: With this keto variation, you simply reduce your carb intake to less than 50 grams per day, usually aiming for 20-30 grams. You maintain this level of carbs of as long as you wish to stay in ketosis.
The targeted ketogenic diet: TKD allows you to consume a small amount of carbs just before or just after exercise. This will not interfere with fat loss but should give you extra energy for your workout. Carbs are limited to about 50 grams per serving.
The high-protein ketogenic diet: Popularised by bodybuilder and nutrition guru Dave Palumbo, this diet increases protein intake to 1 to 1.5 grams per kilo of bodyweight. This should allow you to maintain ketosis but also provides more amino acids for muscle repair and growth.
The Lazy keto diet: With this keto diet version, you focus on one thing only – your carb intake. Providing you keep your carb intake to less than 50 grams per day, and preferably 20-30 grams, you are doing enough to enter and remain in ketosis. Most keto diets put an emphasis on good-quality as carb intake. With lazy keto, carbs are the only thing that matters. Because of this, some people call this version dirty keto.
The cyclic ketogenic diet: The CKD involves eating less than 50 grams of carbs 5-6 days per week, and then eating as much as 400-600 grams of carbs for 1-2 days per week. This version is aimed at bodybuilders and hardcore exercises who need extra energy for training but still want to lose fat. It’s an advanced diet and not really suitable for non-exercisers.
Benefits of the keto diet
As well as being an effective way to lose weight and burn fat, being in ketosis may have some additional health benefits. These include:
- Reduced risk of developing heart disease
- Prevention and treatment of diabetes
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved blood lipid profile
- Prevention and treatment of certain cancers
- Prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
- Prevention and treatment of epilepsy
- Treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Faster recovery from brain injuries
- Control of acne
- Fat loss from the abdominal region
- Fewer headaches and migraines
Keto can also help keep your mind sharp. When you eat carbs, your blood glucose level tends to rise sharply and then fall just as fast. This can have a significant impact on your brain and your ability to concentrate. Once you enter ketosis, your brain will be running on ketones and not carbs, and the supply will be stable. Because of this, advocated of the keto diet believe that going low-carb can make you more productive.
While the benefits are impressive, it’s also worth noting that many of these claims are the result of short-term human or even animal studies and are not conclusive. However, it does suggest that keto is more than just a weight loss diet.
How to do keto
If your interest in keto has been piqued, you are probably wondering how to start. Despite being a strict diet, keto is actually quite simple. Here is a step-by-step guide to getting started on a basic keto diet keto.
- Know what foods you can and can’t eat
The keto diet is a high fat, moderate protein, and very low carb diet. You must keep your carb intake to less than 50 grams per day, and preferably closer to 20-30 grams. If you go over this number, you will not get the full effect of the keto diet, and you might not even lose weight.
Foods like bread, rice, pasta, breakfast cereals, processed foods, and potatoes are very high in carbs and must be avoided or replaced with much lower carb alternatives. In contrast, you can eat lots of meat, fish, eggs, above-ground, and leafy green vegetables.
Make sure you know what you can and can’t eat before you start keto. In a lot of cases, you’ll just need to modify your regular meals, replacing starchy carbs like bread and rice with non-starchy vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce, zucchini and broccoli. There is a comprehensive list of foods that are and aren’t keto-friendly in the next section.
- Get used to the idea of eating fat
The keto diet is not just low in carbs, it’s high in fat too. You need to eat fat to burn fat – and that can be a hard concept to get your head around. Because of this, you need to try and forget the whole “fat is bad” diet mantra and may even need to start adding fat to your meals. Olive oil, coconut oil, butter, and even lard are all excellent choices, and there is no real reason to avoid red meat or take the skin off your chicken either.
Make sure that, as you lower your carb intake, you increase your fat intake. If you don’t, keto will not work for you. Use a food tracking app to make this as easy and quick to do as possible. After all, the moment any diet starts to seem like more trouble than it is worth, the sooner you will quit it.
- Follow a keto diet plan
You should have no problem creating your own keto diet menu once you know what you can and can’t eat. There is a sample food plan at the end of this guide. However, if you are a keto novice, you may still be unsure as to what to eat and when.
Make the start of your keto journey as easy as possible by following a readymade meal plan. After a few weeks, you should have all the knowledge and experience you need to create your own meals and menus. But, to get you started, a readymade meal plan will act as a handy guide.
- Start cooking your own meals
The easiest way to accurately control your carb and fat intake is to prepare your own meals. Despite its long history and popularity, the keto diet is still a bit “out there” for some people and, subsequently, you may struggle to find food that keto diet friendly. It’s only when you have to try and avoid carbs that you realize they are everywhere! Avoiding carbs is much easier when you make your own meals. Google “easy keto recipes” to get started.
- Know what side effects to expect
Cutting carbs from your diet and going full keto can trigger some side effects. The most obvious one is weight loss, but there are a few others you need to expect. These are detailed later in this guide but include things like headaches, the “keto flu” and a few other things besides. The good news is that these are reliable indicators that your keto diet is working, and they will generally disappear after 5-7 days as your body becomes accustomed to ketosis.
- Be prepared to stick it out
The longer you stick with keto, the better your results will be. Initial weight loss is mostly water, and you’ll regain that weight quickly if you start eating carbs again. It’s only after you’ve been doing keto for a week or two that fat loss really takes off. Unfortunately, the first week or two of a ketogenic diet are the hardest. You’ll miss eating carbs, will probably have some cravings, may feel a little unwell, and could be tempted to give up.
Quitting too soon will undo any of the benefits of the keto diet. Commit to following it for at least three weeks. After that, if you still think it’s not for you, at least you gave keto a real chance to work. Giving up before three weeks have passed means you never got close to achieving the results that the keto diet can deliver.
Foods to eat and foods to avoid
A lot of people think that the keto diet means eating nothing but meat, cheese, butter, and veggies. While it is true that these foods are keto-friendly, there are lots of other things you can eat on keto, as well as foods you should avoid.
Fats should be the mainstay of your ketogenic diet, with 70-80% of your calories coming from this food group. In fact, if you don’t eat enough fat, your progress will stall, and you will suffer from worse keto flu. The best keto fats are natural fats.
- Lard/beef dripping
- Coconut oil and coconut butter
- Flaxseed oil
- Olive oil
- Sesame seed oil
- MCT oil/powder
- Walnut oil
Fats to avoid: Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils found in packaged and processed foods, corn oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, and grapeseed oil, all of which are heavily refined and contain unhealthy trans fats.
Nuts and seeds:
Nuts and seeds are great for snacking. Low in carbs but high in fat and containing protein too, they are a great addition to the keto diet. Be warned, nuts are high in calories so you should limit yourself to about 1-2 ounces per day. Good keto nut choices include:
- Macadamia nuts
- Brazil nuts
- Almonds and almond butter
- Unsweetened shredded coconut
- Pine nuts
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Unsweetened peanut butter
Nuts to avoid: Avoid nuts and nut products that have been heavily processed, salted, flavored, roasted, or sweetened e.g., some peanut butters contain added sugar.
Regular milk contains a lot of sugar and carbs because it has been processed, turning lactose into glucose. However, there are still plenty of dairy foods you can eat that contain fat and protein but next-to-no carbs.
- Blue cheese
- Cheddar cheese
- Goats cheese
- Cream cheese
- Sour cream
- Heavy whipping cream
- Full-fat natural yogurt
Dairy foods to avoid: Low-fat milk, evaporated and condensed milk, flavored milk, artificial creamer, and whipped cream in a can.
The ketogenic diet is not a high protein diet, a mistake that a lot of people make – including me! Eating more than 30% protein could kick you out of ketosis. However, you do need to consume some protein at most of your meals. A fat-only meal doesn’t really sound very appealing! Good protein choices include:
- Organ meats
- Tofu, firm
- Tofu, silken
- Soy milk, unsweetened
Proteins to avoid: Processed meats, cured meats, cheap burgers, non-organic organ meats, sausage and hot dogs that contain a lot of grain fillers, and deli meats such as pepperoni and salami. Fish sticks and chicken fingers are also best avoided as they are coated with high-carb breadcrumbs or batter.
You need to include veggies in your meals so that you supply your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to function correctly and stay healthy. As a rule, the best keto veggies are those that grow above ground. Here are 30 of the lowest carb veggies around.
- Green beans
- Beet greens
- Bok choy
- Brussels sprouts
- Green and red cabbage
- Swiss chard
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
- Bell and chili peppers
- Pumpkin and squash
- Mung beans
Vegetables to avoid: Potatoes and other below ground starchy vegetables as well as all grains, beans, pulses, and legumes. I know those last few items aren’t vegetables, but I had to list them somewhere!
A lot of keto dieters are stunned to discover that they can eat fruit and stay in ketosis. While you can’t eat apples and bananas and expect to stay in ketosis, you can eat berries and other low carb/low sugar fruits in reasonable amounts. Blunt their blood glucose elevating effect by serving with heavy whipping cream. Delicious!
- Sour cherries
Fruits to avoid: An apple contains 20g of carbs, a banana contains 24g, and oranges aren’t much better. Also avoid fruit juices, even if you have made them yourself. It takes a lot of fruit to make a glass of juice, and that means a lot of carbs and sugar.
Staying hydrated on the keto diet is vital for your health and preventing/minimizing keto flu. Drink at least two liters/64 oz. of water per day plus whatever other beverages you enjoy to slake your thirst.
- Club soda
- Coffee, white, no sugar
- Tea, white, no sugar
- Lemon juice in water
- Unsweetened almond milk
- Unsweetened hemp milk
- Diet soda (in moderation)
- Green tea
- Unsweetened coconut water
Non-alcoholic beverages to avoid: Milk, smoothies, regular soda, sweetened tea and coffee, and sports drinks. Also, be aware that too many artificial sweeteners, as used in diet soda, maybe unhealthy and could even make it harder to reach/maintain ketosis.
Condiments, sauces, and dressings:
Meals never need to be boring on the keto diet – there are lots of different ways you can liven up your fat and protein feasts. Most herbs and spices are carb and even calorie-free, but here are some other things you can add to your meals to make them even more flavorsome.
- Unsweetened coconut milk
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Fish sauce
- Horseradish sauce
- Miso paste
- Yellow and Dijon mustard
- Soy sauce
- Tabasco/hot sauce
- Worcester sauce
- Balsamic and malt vinegar
- Wasabi paste
- Salsa, no added sugar
- Blue cheese dressing
- Caesar salad dressing
- Ranch dressing
- Oil and vinegar
- Italian dressing
Condiments, sauces, and dressings to avoid: Ketchup, BBQ sauce, honey mustard, cranberry jelly, sweetened mint sauce, thousand island dressing, and any other sauces made with sugar or honey.
Getting into ketosis
Most diets are pretty instant. You eat less, this creates a calorie deficit, and you start losing weight. Keto is a little different in that your body has to transition from using carbs for energy to fat and ketones. This takes time. How long? That depends on several factors, including how aggressively you cut carbs, how active you are, and how much carbohydrate is currently residing on your body.
Your body contains a fair amount of stored carbohydrate. When you stop eating carbs, slowly but surely these stores will be depleted, and your body will graduate from using carbs for fuel to using ketones and fat. Once you are in ketosis, you will notice several things happen…
- Your hunger disappears
- Your energy levels increase
- You start losing weight
- Your breath might smell a little fruity
- Your keto flu symptoms disappear altogether
- Weight loss stabilizes now that hydration levels are normalized
Another way to check if you are in ketosis is to use keto testing strips. Keto testing strips are cheap, and you can usually buy them from pharmacies. To use a keto strip, simply hold the test end of the strip in your urine stream. Shake off any excess pee and then see what color the strip changes to. If ketones are present, the strip will go from beige to purple, and the darker the color, the deeper your level of ketosis is. More ketones mean faster fat burning.
Keto side effects
As effective as the keto diet is for fat loss, it is not without side effects. This is only to be expected because being in ketosis is not a common situation for your body to find itself in. Making the shift from using carbs for energy to ketones takes time – anything from a few days to a week or two. Your body stores a lot of carbohydrate in the form of muscle and liver glycogen, and your body will not enter ketosis until these reserves are depleted.
This transition is usually accompanied by a few side effects, collectively called the keto flu. Keto flu is not serious, and it’s definitely not contagious, but it’s not especially pleasant either.
The good news is that the symptoms of keto flu mean you are making the change from using carbs to using ketones for fuel and will soon start burning fat more efficiently. In addition, once you enter ketosis, the side effects will vanish.
Common keto flu symptoms include:
- Difficulty focusing (“brain fog”)
- Changes in taste and smell
- Lack of motivation
- Sugar cravings
- Muscle cramps
- Increased urination/dehydration
- Muscle cramps
- Keto rash
- Keto breath
You can reduce the severity of keto flu with a few simple hacks.
- Drink more water
The keto diet can cause dehydration, and dehydration can make some of the symptoms of keto flu worse. Glycogen is carbohydrate chemically bound to water. For every gram of glucose stored in your body, there are also 3-4 grams of water.
As your body releases glycogen, this water is released too. It needs to be expelled, and you’ll pee more to do so. In addition, your body flushes unused ketones out of your body via the urinary system. Drink lots of plain water to restore lost fluids. Electrolyte (mineral) replacement supplements may also be beneficial.
- Eat more fat
Low fat keto diets do not work. Your body needs an abundance of fat to make ketones. Too little dietary fat will make keto your flu symptoms much worse. Good keto-friendly fats include:
- Olive oil
- Nuts and nut butter
- Coconut oil
- MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil
- Lard/beef fat
- Take it easy with exercise
Exercise and the ketogenic diet are compatible, but it’ll take a while for your energy levels to return to normal as you enter ketosis. Dial back on your workouts until you reach ketosis to avoid making some of the symptoms of keto flu worse.
- Don’t starve yourself
Initially, at least, the keto diet works without having to limit your calorie intake. Cutting calories in the early days of a keto diet will make some of the symptoms of keto flu worse. Prevent this problem by eating plenty of fat and protein and avoiding hunger. Once you are in ketosis, you can experiment with eating less to speed up fat loss.
- Use supplements that will help you get into ketosis faster
If you cut your carb intake to 20-50 grams per day, it’s only a matter of time before you reach ketosis. However, the longer it takes, the more likely you are to suffer keto flu. Get into ketosis faster by using supplements. Good options include:
- Alpha lipoic acid (ALA)
- Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
- MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil
- Exogenous ketones
Getting into ketosis is the hardest part of the keto diet. It takes time, and you have to learn to live with the keto flu and all the other mild but still unpleasant side effects. Once you reach ketosis, all those symptoms should disappear. However, some people struggle to maintain ketosis. Follow these steps to make sure you can stay true to the keto diet.
- Watch your carb intake
Anything more than about 50 grams of carbs per day will bump you out of ketosis. After a few weeks of successful keto, you may be tempted to have a treat or two or may not be monitoring your carb intake as carefully as you did before. These seemingly innocent mistakes could derail ketosis.
Use a food tracking app to make sure your carb intake isn’t creeping up. Watch out for things like hidden sugars, high-carb fruits and vegetables, and sugar in processed foods.
- Maintain a high fat intake
We’ve said it before but it’s worth mentioning again, you need to eat lots of fat for your keto diet to work. If your fat intake is not high enough, you may drop out of ketosis. Around 70-80% of your daily calorie intake should come from fat, compared to 15-25% in a more traditional diet. Use your food tracking app to make sure you are consuming enough fat to sustain ketosis. If you aren’t, you should start adding butter, olive oil, avocados, or other high-fat foods to your meals.
- Watch your protein intake
Keto is a moderate protein diet and not a high protein diet. If you overeat protein, any that is unused could be converted into glucose in a process called gluconeogenesis. This can put you out of ketosis. Protein is important, but too much could stop fat loss. Ideally, protein should make up around 20-30% of your calorie intake per day.
- Lay off the booze
Alcohol is not a carbohydrate, but most alcoholic drinks contain carbs and/or sugar. Alcohol can also rob you of your determination to forgo carbs. The occasional drink might not push you out of ketosis, but more than one probably will. If you must have an alcoholic beverage, maybe to celebrate reaching a weight loss goal, stick to low-carb beer, white wine, and champagne, or refined spirits without mixers. Remember to include booze in your macro tracking.
- Try the occasional fast
If you think you are edging out of ketosis, a short fast will get you back on track. A 16 to 20-hour fast should be all you need. Just skip breakfast and your mid-morning snack and push your lunch back to late afternoon or early evening. Providing that you do not overeat when you break your fast, this should soon re-establish ketosis.
- Keep using the keto sticks
Keto sticks are cheap enough that you can use one every day. Keep checking your ketone level once a day to confirm you still in ketosis and burning fat at the fastest possible rate. If you notice your level of ketosis is not as deep as you’d like, you can take action and do something about it before you are no longer in a ketogenic state.
- Exercise regularly
Exercise can help keep your blood glucose levels low, use any lingering glucose or glycogen, and help deepen your ketogenic state. It will also enhance fat burning and improve your cardiovascular and muscular health and fitness. The keto diet works fine without exercise but is much better with it. Use exercise to maintain ketosis more easily.
Keto diet drawbacks
While the keto diet can help you lose weight and burn fat, and may offer some very noteworthy benefits, it’s not without disadvantages. Make sure you consider the following before taking the keto diet for a spin. The main keto drawbacks are:
Cravings – the keto diet involves eliminating certain foods, and that can trigger cravings. Because bread, rice, pasta, cereal, etc., are off the menu, you’ll probably want them more than usual. The good news is that, once you enter ketosis, those cravings should vanish.
Labor-intensive – going keto is not easy. You’ll need to learn how to identify and then avoid certain foods, and you will get better results if you track your macros and calories too. For some dieters, all this work may be too much.
Restrictive – eating very few carbs can be problematic, especially when it comes to eating out. It can also be difficult if you share mealtimes with other family members. While there are lots of keto-friendly foods available, some dieters struggle to think of what to eat.
Controversial – because of the high-fat content, keto is a very controversial diet. Fats are often thought of as unhealthy, especially by the medical community. While that might be true of saturated and trans fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are actually very healthy. However, that doesn’t change the fact that many doctors and nutritional experts do not like the keto diet, and this opinion is frequently echoed in the media.
Sustainability – like any diet, keto will only work if you stick with it. Because it is very restrictive, a lot of people find it too hard to use for long periods. Eating more than 50 grams of carbs will kick you out of ketosis, and that means you’ll have to suffer keto flu all over again when you readopt the keto diet after a break. This means that a lot of people only do keto for a few weeks, stop, and never try it again, despite experiencing good results.
Lack of endurance for intense exercise – intense workouts like sprinting and strength training are not always compatible with the keto diet. Your body prefers to use carbs for energy during this type of activity and, with keto, carbs are off the menu.
One solution to this problem is to consume your carb allowance immediately before your workout. This will give you a burst of energy that may be enough to power you through your training program.
A better option for hardcore exercises is the cyclic ketogenic diet or CKD for short. This involves going keto for 5-6 days per week and then reintroducing carbs for 1-2 days per week. This ensures you start your training week with fully-stocked glycogen stores but then revert to fat burning ketosis toward the end of the week. While this is a workable option, it does require planning and dedication, and you’ll need to align your workouts to your diet.
Monday – low carbs, train hard (e.g., chest and back)
Tuesday – low carbs, train hard (e.g., legs)
Wednesday – low carbs, train hard (e.g., shoulders and arms)
Thursday – low carbs, no training
Friday – low carbs, train hard (full body) to deplete glycogen stores. Eat carbs after training
Saturday – high carbs, no training
Sunday – low carbs, no/light training
Monday – low carbs, train hard (e.g., chest and back), etc.
Your carbed-up workouts at the start of the week will feel great. You’ll have lots of strength and energy, and the weights will feel light. However, as you deplete your glycogen stores and descend into ketosis, your workouts will get harder. The full body depletion workout will be especially tough. While CKD can work, it requires a disciplined approach to both training and nutrition.
Eating out on keto
One of the most challenging aspects of the keto diet is eating out. The keto diet is sufficiently unusual that very few restaurants will offer keto-specific meals. Does that mean you can’t eat out on keto? Absolutely not. You will, however, need to order carefully and exercise some self-control.
For example, most restaurants give you a complimentary bread basket or breadsticks. These are high in carbs and will quickly kick you out of ketosis. Side dishes like rice, potatoes, and pasta are also off the menu for the same reason. If you like a drink with your meal, things like non-diet soda and most alcoholic beverages will also disrupt ketosis.
To eat out and stay in ketosis, follow these rules:
- Turn down bread and breadsticks – don’t even have them on your table in case you are unable to resist temptation. Send them away before your willpower fails.
- Stick to protein and vegetable dishes – you can’t go wrong on keto is you mostly eat meat or fish and vegetables. Add some healthy fats such as olive oil and you have the perfect keto meal.
- Avoid most sauces – sauces or often thickened with flour and flour contains carbs. If in doubt, ask your server about the ingredients in your food. Replace sauce with mayonnaise which is made from keto-friendly eggs and olive oil.
- For dessert, have the cheeseboard – most desserts contain sugar and carbs. If you are still hungry after your meal, order the cheeseboard but without bread or crackers. Cheese is high in fat and protein, making it ideal for the keto diet.
- If you must drink alcohol, have light beer or spirits – cocktails, dark beers, wine, and spirits with mixers are usually high in carbs and sugar. Avoid these beverages and stick to spirits without mixers or made with diet sodas. Light beers are also very low in carbs. Be warned, the alcohol can reduce your willpower, and more than 1-2 drinks may kick you out of ketosis. By all means, have one drink but stick to diet soda or water the rest of the time.
- Choose your restaurant wisely – when it comes to keto, some restaurants are better than others. For example, American Chinese food is often deep fried and coated in breadcrumbs and comes with rice or noodles. More traditional Chinese food uses more vegetables and tends to be lower in carbs. Mexican food can be tricky because beans, corn chips, tortillas, and many other Mexican staples are high in carbs.
If possible, view the menu online before you go to your chosen restaurant to make sure you will be able to find appropriate food to order.
Sample eating plan
As you now know, the keto diet is based on eating very few carbs, moderate amounts of protein, and a lot of dietary fat. But what does that look like in real life? And can you still eat appetizing meals while following the keto diet?
Here is a sample plan so that you can see exactly what you can expect to eat on the keto diet. Note: this eating plan is for the standard keto diet, and not one of its variations, e.g., the cyclic ketogenic diet.
Breakfast – two eggs fried in butter served with sautéed spinach
Lunch – a grass-fed burger (without bun) served with a salad, avocado, and olive oil dressing
Dinner – grilled white fish fillet served with green beans and faux rice made with grated cauliflower
Breakfast – mushroom and spinach omelet
Lunch – large tuna salad with mayonnaise dressing
Dinner – roast chicken, broccoli, carrots, and gravy
Breakfast – roasted bell peppers stuffed with ground beef and cheese
Lunch – egg and avocado salad with arugula and blue cheese dressing
Dinner – steak and oven-baked Mediterranean veggies
Breakfast – chia seed pudding made with coconut milk and chopped walnuts
Lunch – chicken Caesar salad without croutons
Dinner – grilled salmon with roasted cauliflower and broccoli florets
Breakfast – coddled eggs and grilled bacon with sautéed mushrooms
Lunch – cheese and ham wraps made with lettuce leaves instead of tortilla
Dinner – coconut chicken curry served with grated cauliflower
Breakfast – full-fat Greek yogurt and chopped nuts
Lunch – steak salad bowl with cheese and salsa
Dinner – grilled pork chops with a medley of grilled vegetables
Breakfast – vegetable frittata
Lunch – cold cuts, mixed raw veggies, and olive oil dip
Dinner – meatballs with zucchini noodles and parmesan cheese
What about snacks?
Once you have entered ketosis, you should find that you are no longer hungry and that your energy levels are stable. After all, you have more than enough body fat to use for ketone production. That being said, you may still want to eat snacks between meals. Good keto snack options include:
- Celery sticks with full-fat cream cheese
- Coconut chips
- Pork rinds
- Beef jerky
- Pecan, Brazil, or macadamia nuts
- String cheese
- Cold cuts e.g., salami
- Hardboiled eggs
- Heavy whipping cream and berries
So, is the keto diet right for you?
The keto diet can help you lose fat quickly, but it is not always easy to live with. Unlike diets that rely on calorie restriction alone, even a small cheat or slip-up will prevent the keto diet from working its magic. It can also affect your performance in the gym, although cardio should not be affected as much.
But, if you have strong willpower, don’t mind giving up carbs, and are happy to follow a very prescriptive diet, keto can work for you. If you need more flexibility and variety in your diet, keto is not for you, and you should look for a less regimented weight loss plan