A keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that can offer many immediate benefits. However, many nutritionists do not recommend the diet since they can have several side effects that we will discuss later in the article.
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What is a Keto Diet?
Keto diets mainly involve the drastic reduction of one’s carbohydrate intake, and replacing it with fats. Reducing the carb content like this puts the body in a metabolic state known as ketosis.
In this state, your body is able to efficiently burn fat for energy. It can also convert fats in the liver into ketones. This helps supply energy for the brain.
Keto diets can have several health benefits, such as reduced blood sugar and insulin levels. However, they can also come with side effects that we will discuss later.
5 Keto Diet Tips for Beginners
While following a keto diet, one must take special care in certain cases. The following tips can help you follow the diet a lot better:
1. Decrease Stress
The stress hormone cortisol ends up elevating the body’s blood sugar levels. Thus, this prevents the body from burning fat for energy due to the presence of excess sugar in it. Chronic stress can, therefore, severely hinder the body’s ability to enter ketosis.
2. Prioritise Sleep
Less sleep plays a major role in higher stress levels. As discussed earlier, this can prevent your body from being able to burn fat. Maintaining a proper schedule can help improve one’s quality of sleep. This, in turn, helps reduce stress and thus, make the keto diet effective.
It is ideal to get about 8-9 hours of sleep every night. Plenty of studies have found that sleeping for fewer hours can hurt one’s weight loss attempts.
3. Increase Salt Intake
While we have always been taught to reduce our sodium consumption, this is necessary only in the case of high-carb diets. High-carb diets have naturally higher levels of insulin, leading to the kidney retaining sodium.
When you reduce your carb intake as you do with a keto diet, insulin levels are a lot lower, and the body excretes a lot more salt. Therefore, you can increase your salt consumption by 3 to 5 g while in ketosis.
4. Exercise Frequently
While on a keto diet, a regular exercise schedule can help boost ketone levels, and transition into a low-carb, high-fat diet a lot faster. Getting rid of any glucose present in the body is key to the body getting into ketosis.
While exercising, the body uses different types of energy for fuel including carbs, amino acids and fats. Frequent exercises helps the body get rid of its glycogen stores quicker.
5. Drink Plenty of Water
Staying hydrated is important at all times, but it is much more so in the case of a ketogenic diet. This is because the body releases more water from the body when the carb intake is a lot lower. Ideally, one should drink more water on days where they are likely to sweat more.
5 Foods to Eat on a Ketogenic Diet
The Keto diet has several food requirements that must be met. Keto foods are normally low on carbs and high in fat. Here’s a list of foods that one can consume while on a keto diet:
Although rich in B vitamins, selenium and potassium, salmon and other fish are almost carb-free. This makes them extremely keto-friendly.
The carb content varies across the various types of shellfish, however. You can always choose the low-carb variants to include in your keto diet. Two servings of seafood a week would be of great help to any individual on a keto diet.
Considered both nutritious and delicious, cheese is generally low in carbs and rich in fat. Thus, they are a great fit for a ketogenic diet.
Although rich in saturated fat, cheese hasn’t been known to increase the risk of heart disease. On the contrary, some studies claim that this dairy product can in fact reduce these risks.
3. Low-carb Vegetables
Non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms and lettuce, are low in calories and carbs but they are rich in several nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. Vegetables contain fiber, that your body will not digest, unlike carbs.
The antioxidants present in these vegetables help protect the body against free radicals, or unstable molecules that cause cell damage.
A single large egg contains less than one gram of carbohydrates, and less than 6 grams of protein. This makes them an ideal food for the ketogenic diet.
Eggs are also known to make an individual feel full, while keeping their blood sugar levels stable. This leads to lower calorie intake for almost 24 hours.
Meat and poultry are considered staple food of the keto diet since they contain no carbs and are rich in B vitamins and several minerals. They are also a great source of high quality protein, helping preserve muscle mass in the absence of carbs.
It is ideal to choose grass-fed animals for meat since they consume more omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants than grain-fed animals.
Non Vegetarian Keto Diet Plan
A typical keto diet plan is low on carbohydrates, while being high in protein and fats. The following is a non-vegetarian keto diet plan that one can follow.
Bulletproof coffee without sugar
Scrambled eggs with cheese
Roasted chicken breast
Lettuce, cucumber and mushroom salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing
Soda with lemon
Tandoori chicken with mint chutney
Vegetarian Keto Diet Plan
A keto diet’s primary requirement is to be low-carb, and high-protein. Vegetarians that wish to follow the low-carb diet can refer to the vegetarian diet plan shown below.
Bulletproof coffee without sugar
Paneer mushroom bhurji with spinach
Keto flour roti with soya bhurji
Lemon soda without sugar
Broccoli mushroom stir fry with cheese
In spite of the keto diet’s immediate results, nutritionists generally do not recommend it. Ideally, it is best to maintain a balanced diet that provides an individual with all the necessary nutrients. You can understand how to follow the ideal Indian diet plan here.
5 Foods to Avoid on a Ketogenic Diet
Foods that are rich in carbs, and low on fats, must be avoided by any individual following a keto diet. Avoid eating the following foods while on a ketogenic diet.
While sugary breakfast cereals are known to contain a lot of carbs, the amount of carbs present in the healthy cereals will surprise you. One cup of regular or instant oatmeal provides 32 g of carbs, only 4 of which are fiber.
A bowl of cereal can easily help you cross the carb limit on a keto diet, even before the milk is added.
Fruit juice contains several important nutrients. However, they also contain fast-digesting carbs that cause one’s blood sugar levels to rise rapidly.
The liquid carbs in juice may not allow your brain to process them in the same way as solid carbs. Thus, drinking juice could lead to more hunger and increased craving for food later in the day.
3. Starchy Vegetables
Plenty of vegetables are high in fiber, thus aiding in weight loss, and blood sugar control. However, some high-starch vegetables contain more digestible carbs than fiber, and should be avoided on a low-carb diet.
Ideally, vegetables like corn and sweet potato must be avoided while one is on a low-carb diet like the keto one is.
4. Sweetened Yogurt
While plain yogurt is fairly low in carbs, the sweetened version can contain as many carbs as a dessert. A cup of nonfat sweetened fruit yogurt can have almost 47 g of carbs, which is higher than the carbohydrate content for a similar serving of ice cream.
Ideally, sweetened yogurt can be replaced by Greek yogurt topped with blackberries or raspberries while on a keto diet.
5. Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes provide several health benefits such as reduced risk of heart disease and inflammation. Although they are high in fiber, they do have a fair amount of carbs.
While you may include them in small amounts, it is better to avoid beans and legumes altogether while on a keto diet.
7 Proven Keto Diet Benefits
These low-carb diets do have their own advantages, nonetheless. Here are 7 health benefits of the keto diet.
1. Reduced Appetite
One of the main side effects of following a diet is hunger cravings. While this may lead to a lot of people giving up on their diets, a keto diet results in the reduction of one’s appetite.
Studies have shown that this happens due to the cutting down of carbs, and the increased protein and fat intake. This eventually leads to a lower calorie intake.
2. Weight Loss
An effective way to lose weight would be to simply cut down on your carb intake. Studies have shown that low-carb diets work better than low-fat diets when it comes to weight loss. This is in spite of the low-fat diets actively restricting calories.
Low-carb diets help get rid of excess water from the body. This lowers the insulin levels, leading to rapid weight loss in the first couple of weeks. Studies comparing low-carb and low-fat diets have found that the former can help one lose 2-3 times the weight as the latter, without the individual being hungry.
However, one study found that the diet is particularly effective only for 6 months. After this, it works like any other weight loss diet.
3. Improved Heart Health
A keto diet plan can prove to be very efficient in improving one’s heart health. Eating more fat helps improve the HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein), or good cholesterol, levels in the body. Low-carb diets, like the keto diet, have a lot of fat.
4. May Improve Brain Function
While more research is needed to confirm this, some studies do suggest that ketogenic diets do offer neuroprotective benefits. These include helping treat or prevent conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and certain sleep disorders.
One particular study has also indicated that children following a keto diet exhibit improved cognitive thinking and alertness.
5. Reduced Blood Sugar Levels
Low-carb diets have been known to be particularly useful for those with diabetes or high blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that reducing your carb intake can lower both blood sugar and insulin levels drastically.
Some people with diabetes that begin a low-carb diet are able to reduce their insulin dosage by 50% almost immediately. However, for those that take blood sugar medication, it is ideal to consult your doctor before making changes to your carb intake.
6. May Lower Blood Pressure
As a condition, hypertension or high blood pressure levels is a significant risk factor for many heart diseases like heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. Reducing your carb intake can lower blood sugar levels, and thus, help prevent these diseases.
7. Reduced Belly Fat
Two kinds of fat found in the human body are subcutaneous fat, that is found under the skin, and visceral fat, which accumulates in the abdominal cavity. Excess visceral fat can result in inflammation and insulin resistance.
Low-carb diets can play a crucial role in reducing this belly fat. In fact, people that follow low-carb diets lose more weight from the abdominal cavity than anywhere else.
4 Keto Diet Side Effects
Keto diets may be effective when it comes to quick weight loss. However, most nutritionists do not recommend that one follow them. One of the main reasons for this is the side effects that people on these diets experience.
1. Keto Flu
At the start of ketosis, one may experience a range of negative symptoms. Since these symptoms resemble those of flu, the condition is called keto flu.
In case of a keto flu, one may experience symptoms like headache, fatigue, lack of sleep, hunger, and nausea. These symptoms may last a few days.
2. Cramping of Leg Muscles
There’s a possibility of suffering from leg cramps in ketosis. These cramps are usually associated with dehydration and a loss of minerals.
Glycogen binds water and this gets flushed out of the body when one’s carb intake is reduced. This is also why people lose weight rapidly in the first week of the diet.
3. Digestive Problems
The reduced fiber intake leads to several digestive problems. People on ketogenic diets may suffer from constipation or diarrhea. Drastic changes to the diet in order to get into ketosis can also cause one to experience digestive trouble.
4. Elevated Heart Rate
Another possible side effect of ketosis is increased heart rate. Dehydration and low salt intake cause the heart rate to rise. If it doesn’t normalise, you may need to increase your carbohydrate consumption.
Keto Diet Indian Food Recipes
Keto foods are generally low in carbs while having high protein and fat content. Include the following recipes in your keto diet to make the best out of your diet.
1. Coconut milk kadhi
Prep time – 2 minutes
Cooking time – 7 minutes
- 1 cup of coconut milk
- ½ cup water
- 1 tsp Green chilli ginger paste
- 1 tbsp Almond flour
- 1 tbsp coconut oil/ghee
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds
- A pinch of hing (asafoetida)
- Salt to taste
- Mix coconut oil, water, chilli paste, almond flour and salt until they are well blended.
- Pour in a pan and cook on a low flame for 5 minutes, while stirring the whole time.
- Heat a small pan, add ghee and cumin seeds and let them crackle.
- Add the asafoetida and pour the tempering in the prepared kadhi.
- Serve hot with keto roti or cauliflower rice.
2. Tandoori chicken with mint chutney
Prep time – 2.5 hours
Cooking time – 30 minutes
500 g Chicken (boneless and cut)
- 1 tbsp Ginger garlic paste
- 1 tsp Red chilli powder
- 1 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1 tsp Coriander powder
- 1 tsp Cumin powder
- 1 tsp Mango powder
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- Salt to taste
For mint chutney –
- 1 cup Mint leaves
- 1 Green chilli
- 8 Almonds
- 1 tsp Lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Olive oil
- Mix all ingredients except chicken and oil, and marinate chicken for 2 hours.
- Toss the marinated chicken on a hot grill pan and flip occasionally.
- Baste it with olive oil every time you flip.
- Grind the ingredients for chutney. Add water as required to make a smooth paste.
- Serve the chicken with chutney.
Keto diets are known for their incredibly quick results, but they are not necessarily the best option that one has. HealthifyMe nutritionists strongly suggest that one avoid following a keto diet plan, and opt for a much more balanced diet. This way, you avoid the side effects that come with a keto diet, and also ensure you have a more stable food intake.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Is it safe to follow the keto diet?
A: Keto diet was meant as a diet for epileptics to give their brains rest and shift energy from glucose to ketones. It is being widely used for weight loss but it has its limitations. Keto is a very rigid diet and cannot be continued in the long term. Brain fogging, altered lipid profile, lethargy and deficiency of some micronutrients are common disadvantages of the diet.
Q. What happens if you cheat on the keto diet?
A: Body needs to produce ketones as a source of energy from fats and hence the carbohydrate content is minimal in keto. By cheating, the body can go off ketosis immediately and there will be no results. To get back into ketosis again takes time and the carbs will need to be flushed out first.
Q. How much protein should I eat on a ketogenic diet?
A: Proteins can account for 15 to 20% of one’s total calories. This will be enough to carry out the body’s functions efficiently, and help build and repair tissues in the body.
Q. How many grams of fat should you eat on a keto diet?
The fat percentage in a keto diet is about 75-80% and its amount in grams can be calculated according to one’s daily requirement of calories.