Step-by-Step Guide to the Keto Diet
May 14, 2019 / Hollie Shuttlewood / 5 minutes read
Losing weight isn’t easy, but thankfully there are ready-made diets that can do the job if you follow them with discipline. The ketogenic diet, also known as the keto diet, has emerged as one of the most popular weight-loss diets.
What is a Keto Diet?
The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that replaces carbohydrate intake with fats. With a normal diet, your body burns carbohydrates for energy. With this diet, your body goes into a state of “ketosis” where it burns fat for energy, hence the name “ketogenic”.
The keto diet actually started as a diet for treating neurological disorders such as epilepsy. Studies have shown it can reduce the risk of other diseases, such as heart disease, certain cancers, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and even acne.
There are numerous versions of the ketogenic diet. These are the three main types of keto eating plans to know about:
- Standard ketogenic diet (SKD): The most common type of keto diet, the SKD involves low carb intake, moderate protein intake, and high fat intake. It’s designed for people who want to lose weight quickly while only doing a moderate amount of exercise or physical activity.
- Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD): This diet involves several days of low-carb ketogenic meals followed by a couple of days of carb-loading. It is best used by people, such as bodybuilders and athletes, who need to load up on carbs before high-intensity workouts.
- Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): This diet is also designed for workouts, but only allows carb-loading between 30 to 60 minutes before a workout. When you’re not in workout mode, it’s back to the standard ketogenic diet.
Pros and Cons of a Keto Eating Plan
Numerous studies have been done on the keto diet. While some have focused on the pros and some on the cons, the general consensus is that a keto diet can help you lose weight but you must eat responsibly. Like any diet, speaking to your doctor or nutritionist is always recommended before changing your eating habits.
The keto diet has been found to:
- Reduce weight more effectively than low-fat diets.
- Reduce risk factors for certain diseases.
- Supply more energy to the brain.
Although the keto diet offers many benefits, the following people should avoid it:
- People who take medication for diabetes.
- People who take medication for high blood pressure.
- Women who breastfeed.
What to Eat on a Keto Diet
Now we know what a keto diet is, but what foods does it actually involve? Read on to find out what to include in your keto meal plan:
- Meat, e.g. red meat, chicken, and turkey.
- Fatty fish, e.g. trout, tuna, and salmon.
- Eggs, particularly whole eggs that are rich in omega-3.
- Natural fats and oils, e.g. butter, extra virgin olive oil, and coconut oil.
- Unprocessed cheese, e.g. cheddar, goat, cream, or mozzarella.
- Nuts and seeds, e.g. almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds.
- Low-carb vegetables, e.g. avocados, tomatoes, onions, and green veggies.
- Non-sweetened drinks, e.g. water, coffee, tea, and wine in moderation.
What not to Eat on a Keto Diet
The keto diet encourages you to eat certain foods, but there are certain other things you should avoid.
- Fruits (except for berries).
- Grains and starches, e.g. bread, rice, pasta, cereals.
- Beans and legumes, e.g. beans, peas, lentils.
- Root vegetables, e.g. potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots.
- Sugary foods, e.g. candy, chocolate bars, soda, fruit smoothies.
- Alcohol, mainly beer (but wine is allowed in moderation).
- Certain fats, such as vegetable oils.
Easy Keto Meal Ideas
It might sound like you have to cut a lot out of your diet, but the truth is you have plenty of options with a ketogenic diet meal plan. Read on to see how your average day might look on the keto diet.
Breakfast – Bacon, Eggs and Vegetables: Bacon and eggs makes for a filling breakfast. To tick another box, add tomatoes and/or leafy green vegetables like spinach or kale on the side.
Morning snack – Cheese Crisps: You can buy these or make them on your own. If you’re at home, just place some sliced cheddar cheese in the oven, then take them out and leave them to harden into a delicious chip.
Lunch – Chicken Stir Fry with Salad: Chicken is another meat encouraged by the keto diet. Put plenty of green veggies in your salad and add olive oil, fetta cheese, and/or guacamole according to your tastes.
With Lunch – Keto Smoothie: You can’t have regular fruit smoothies with the keto diet, but the good news is keto-friendly smoothies are allowed. Any smoothie with low-carb peanut butter, blueberries, strawberries, spinach, or cucumber passes the keto test.
Afternoon snack – Chia Seed Protein Bars: Why would you want bread when you can have a chia-packed afternoon pick-me-up? You can find all types of unsweetened chia bars in health stores or make your own with other keto-friendly ingredients like blueberries and almonds.
Dinner – Salmon with Oven-Baked Vegetables: Salmon is another keto-friendly entrée. If you’re hungry, this is another opportunity to add in a keto-friendly veggie like asparagus with some high-fat butter on top.
Dessert – Chocolate and Peanut Butter Bar: Just because you’re on the keto diet doesn’t mean you have to deprive your sweet tooth. There are plenty of non-sugar alternatives you can have for dessert, such as recipes involving sugar-free chocolate, natural peanut butter, and walnuts or pecans.
Keto Meal Plans
Don’t have time to plan meals or prepare food? There are companies out there that bring easy keto meals to your door. Sign up for your preferred plan to get a keto food subscription box sent to your address every week. Plans come complete with tasty keto recipes that take just 15 to 30 minutes to prepare.
Here are the best ketogenic diet meal plans:
This is the best overall meal delivery service for people with special dietary requirements. Sun Basket offers a range of healthy meal plans, all of which are made from fresh, organic produce approved by its in-house team of nutritionists.
Sun Basket offers a range of special meal plans that can be tweaked to suit the keto diet, including a low-carb plan and its Chef’s Choice plan with top-quality meats and seasonal produce. The great thing about Sun Basket is you can mix and match recipes across the menu, regardless of your meal plan.
Seared steak with arugula pesto and cucumber-radish salad (Sun Basket).
Green Chef is one of the only meal delivery companies to offer a dedicated Keto meal plan. Its keto menu contains satisfying low-carb and gluten free meals and recipes that can be prepared at home in less than half an hour.
The keto menu changes every week. When we checked, we saw things like Malaysian spiced pork patties with spicy ginger-lime sauce, stir-fried veggies, and pickled onion; barramundi with Spanish cauliflower rice and artichoke-almond tapenade; and braised chicken with artichokes, kale salad, cabbage, and sunflower seeds.
Braised chicken with artichokes, kale salad with cabbage & sunflower seeds (Green Chef).
Home Chef doesn’t offer meals for specific diet plans but you can still customize your plan to suit specific diets. We checked and found many meals and recipes that would qualify as keto-friendly.
With Home Chef, you get to mix and match customizable meals to create up to 26 weekly choices. There’s an endless combination of potential keto meal ideas that could be created from Home Chefs, meat, fish, poultry, and vegetable dishes.
Garlic and Lemon-Crusted Salmon with creamed kale and charred tomatoes (Home Chef).
Nutrisystem exists to help you eat healthy and lose weight. It offers four types of diet plans: a women’s standard plan, men’s standard plan, diabetes plan, and vegetarian plan.
With Nutrisystem, your entire day is taken care of from breakfast to lunch to dinner plus three snacks throughout the day. A Nutrisystem subscription contains many easy keto meals as well as other great weight-loss recipes.
Chicken Breast stuffed with Broccoli and blend of cheeses (Nutrisystem)