Throughout any grocery store, there’s an abundance of foods with a “Keto Friendly” label on them, usually large and colorful like a banner of pride. So just what does that mean? For anyone not familiar with the keto diet, we’ll pause for station identification and give you the 4-1-1 on the whole thing.
Keto diets are simply those that are high-fat and low-carb, designed to trick the body into burning off fat instead of using carbs for energy. The diet’s standard ratio should be 5% carbs, 20% protein, and 75% fat. The efficacy of the plan comes from eating the right kinds of foods and knowing how to maintain ketosis, so we’ve rounded up some keto diet do’s and don’ts that can help those attain the desired results.
Drinking enough water on keto is crucial because dehydration is a particular concern when decreasing the intake of carbs so drastically. That decrease can cause the balance of electrolytes and fluids to shift because carbs are stored with water in the body. When your stores of carbs are depleted, so is the water. A good rule of thumb is to consume half your body weight in ounces of water (or more), daily.
Pile Leafy Greens High
They’re great for ALL diets, really, but especially for keto. Stock up on arugula, spinach, kale, lettuce and cabbage — these are ideal because they’re so low in carbs. A few other greens to consider are broccoli and cucumbers.
Munch on Nuts
Already love nuts? Good news! Walnuts, almonds and pecans are just a few of the nuts on the keto-approved list — namely because nuts contain healthy fats.
Eat Animal Protein
Remember, protein should make up about 20% of the keto diet. Lean protein is best, because it contains less of the unhealthy fats that you’re trying to steer clear of. That means lean meats, fish, poultry and eggs. Still, if you love a good steak, you’re in luck: also included in the keto diet are red meats and even bacon (just remember not to load up on it)!
Seek Out Healthy Fats
As counterintuitive as it might seem to purposely seek out fats, healthy fats are needed in a keto diet in order for the body to reach a ketogenic state and burn fat instead of carbs. Add oils like coconut, MCT and olive oil to your diet as well as seeds like flaxseed, chia and sesame.
Add Fasted Cardio
The point of fasted cardio is to increase your heart rate and burn the fat stores for energy. This happens when your insulin level is at its lowest: i.e., when you’re in a fasted state and when your body has completely processed all food and the glycogen stores are depleted. Getting there can take between three to six hours. Ideally, this means doing a cardio workout is in the morning after you wake up, when you’ve fasted overnight and your body has low blood sugar levels.
Utilize Ketone Testing Strips
All that work you’re doing could use some checking. Keto testing strips are a quick and easy way to make sure you’re headed toward ketosis, if you’re in ketosis and what level of ketones you’re producing. Testing measures the ketones in your body can be done either with blood, breath or urine, though blood and urine testing may be more accurate.
Drink Bulletproof Coffee
Bulletproof coffee is a high-calorie coffee drink intended to replace breakfast. It consists of coffee; grass-fed, unsalted butter or ghee; and MCT oil mixed in a blender. The high content of fat and the lack of carbs makes it filling as well as a great boost of energy, making it perfect for keto diets.
Add High-sugar Fruits
Fruits high in natural sugars are also often high in something else: Carbs. If you’re sticking to a keto diet, you’ll want to nix fruits like mangoes, cherries, bananas, and grapes.
Consume Grain-based Foods
Most grain-based foods like bread, pasta, rice and cookies are high in carbs, starch and calories, making them a no-no on most diets anyway. Unfortunately, keto diets are no exception.
Go for a Sugar High
Say it with me … carbs. Carbs are a big thing to avoid with the keto diet, and sugar is high on the list of carbs — both processed and natural sugars. Artificial sweeteners should also be avoided, so if you’re a sweet tooth try using stevia to get a hit of sweetness.
Purchase High-carb Veggies
Again, we run into the factor of carbs. Even in something as healthy as vegetables, carbs are still a big concern. Veggies like potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, carrots and turnips shouldn’t make their way into your daily rotation. Luckily, leafy greens are a great alternative.
Drink High-sugar Beverages
As much as you may love them, drinks like sports drinks, milk, beer, wine, cocktails, soda, juice and smoothies should be eliminated from your diet. All of them contain the extra calories, carbs and sugar keto diet is meant to avoid. Stick to plain old water, coffee and tea.
As with all diets, activity is important in reaching your goals. Getting exercise each day will help speed up the burn of fat stores in your body, so get out and move!