When the body does not get sufficient carbohydrates from the diet, it eventually depletes its stored glucose (glycogen) and switches from sugar-burning to fat-burning mode, also called ketosis.
Also Read: How does Keto work?
What is Ketogenesis?
Ketogenesis is when the body is in ketosis, the liver breaks down fat and creates acetoacetate (AcAc: C4H6O3) which it breaks down further to beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB: C4H8O3) and acetone (C3H6O). These ketone bodies can easily enter the cell’s mitochondria and convert into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which cells use as energy.
As not all cells in the body can use ketones for energy, the rest continue using glucose even while in ketosis. This on a low carb diet, gluconeogenesis usually does this.
What are Exogenous Ketones?
Ketones produced by the body, as explained above, are endogenous ketones. Another way to get the body into ketosis is by ingesting an instant supply of ketones called exogenous ketones. Some people use endogenous ketones to help getting into ketosis faster, others already in ketosis to boost performance, fasting, manage hunger better, cognitive performance and for training harder.
What keto diet foods to eat?
Though it may seem complicated at first, maintaining a healthy ketogenic diet is actually pretty simple. In fact, it is probably easier to remember a short list of things not to eat on keto.
What Not to Eat on a Keto Diet?
To remain in ketosis, it is important not to eat any types of foods rich in sugars and hidden sugars: carbohydrates that the body converts to glucose. This includes grains, tubers and fruits. Avoid all sugars, processed or natural, including maple syrup, honey, agave and alike. Certain sweeteners, like stevia can satisfy your sweet tooth easily.
Grains like wheat, corn, rice and alike are high in carbohydrates therefore they would knock you out of ketosis. Also avoid other starchy vegetables, tubers like potatoes, yams etc as they are high in carbs.
Unfortunately, while many fruits (like apples, bananas, oranges) are high in healthy vitamins and nutrients. They are also high in sugars, so a keto diet does not allow them.
What to Eat on a Keto Diet
Being an ovo-vegetarian, I do eat and recommend eating lots of above-the-ground and leafy vegetables, avocados, certain berries and eggs. Non-vegetarians may consume lots of meats and even dairy on a ketogenic meal plan.
1.) Leafy Greens
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, chard, collard greens and alike are loaded with important minerals and vitamins. Eating them raw in your salad with healthy oils like olive or avocado oil based dressings allows your body to absorb the most of those nutrients.
2.) Above Ground Vegetables
Above ground vegetables, especially the nutrient dense cruciferous ones, like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, asparagus etc are great keto foods. They are very high in soluble fiber, vitamin C and potassium.
3.) Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds, especially macadamias and pecans are low in carbs and high in fats. You could also consume walnuts, sunflower seeds etc. Not all berries can be consumed on keto as some of them have high sugar contents, but you could add to your shopping list some low glycemic-impact berries like raspberries and blackberries.
Avocados are awesome keto foods as they are very good source of healthy fats, fiber and potassium. And if at the end of the day your macros are right, but you just did not have enough calories (which could slow down your metabolic rate) eating an avocado could help you sort that out, as an average size avocado could have as much as 300 calories in it.
5.) Other Fats
Other fats like coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, saturated fats, even high-fat salad dressing are great. I would recommend staying away from cheap cooking oils, like corn oil and soy oil based products. Low-carb sweeteners to use are stevia, erythritol, monk fruit etc.
For non-vegetarians, besides eggs you could get your proteins from meat and dairy products: beef, lamb, fish, poultry, eggs, butter, high fat cream, hard cheeses etc. Just make sure that your protein intake is not too high so it will not trigger gluconeogenesis, which could knock you out of ketosis.
Also Read: 7 Best Keto Diet Tips For Beginners
Top 10 Keto Diet Foods to eat
Adapting to a ketogenic lifestyle may require a reworking of your habits. It also requires a new perspective on how to deal with meals and snacks. But, regardless of how you were eating before, most of the foods that are the mainstays of a Keto diet are things you already know.
We’re just helping you learn how to use them in slightly different ways to promote ketosis in your body. Although there are hundreds of foods that are part of a Keto diet. There are some that are the real rock stars of the group.
Here are our 10 most versatile and Healthy Keto Diet Foods:
Rich in protein and low in carbohydrates, eating eggs has been shown to promote a feeling of fullness. Egg yolks contain thirteen essential vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants. Eggs were once demonized for their relatively high levels of cholesterol. But now we know that consuming them does not increase blood cholesterol levels in most people. It can actually reduce the risk of heart disease.
2.) Olives and olive oil
These healthy little heart fruits explode with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. An ounce portion contains two grams of total carbohydrates. Fill your pantry with extra virgin olive oil, which is one of the healthiest oils to cook, cook and fry at high temperatures.
3.) Meat, Poultry and Seafood
In addition to being low in carbohydrates and high in fat and protein, the meat contains nutrients, such as vitamin B12, creatine and taurine, which are not found in plants. Molluscs and fish contain anti-inflammatory omega 3 associated with improved mental health and reduced risk of disease. If you want a fun and simple dinner that the whole family can appreciate, try our Italian baked meatballs with minced meat. Choose 100% grilled red meat, grazing poultry and sustainably cultivated or caught seafood. Not only is it better for animals and the environment, but the meat of animals raised humanely is generally richer in nutrients.
4.) High fat dairy products
Fat-rich dairy products contain quality protein, vitamins and minerals and something called “conjugated linoleic acid”, which is one of the few fatty acids that promotes fat loss. Some studies suggest that a moderate amount of high-fat dairy products helps reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Very low fat carbohydrates make high fat milk a keto winner! Try the wholemeal cream and sour cream, butter and clarified butter, soft cheeses like mascarpone and cream cheese and hard cheeses like jack and cheddar.
5.) Dark chocolate
In this list of Keto diet foods, at no. 5 we have Dark Chocolate. Your mouth must be watering now. Hmmmm! From a scientific point of view, real chocolate (not things processed with tons of sugar) is not the “sinful” treatment that is often referred to. In fact, dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and flavanols which can reduce blood pressure, the risk of heart disease and insulin resistance. Just make sure there are no sugars and a minimum amount of carbohydrates per serving and have fun sparingly.
Berries are some of the healthiest and most keto-friendly fruits. Blueberries have been shown to improve memory and brain function, while raspberries and blackberries are rich in antioxidants that reduce inflammation. Remember to eat the berries in moderation, as they contain carbohydrates. Prepare a sweet surprise to include some berries in your diet by freezing some Berry BombPops using raspberries and blueberries.
Garlic, onions, leeks and other alliums are appreciated in most kitchens for their aromatic flavors. They also contain Allicin, a powerful plant compound that protects the body from brain damage and disease. These vegetables tend to be quite high in net carbohydrates. But, used in small quantities, they are excellent for improving the taste and nutrition of your keto kitchen.
8.) Cruciferous vegetables
Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables contain high levels of vitamins K and A, as well as a special compound called sulforaphane. Once digested, sulforaphane can help detoxify the body and protect cells from oxidative stress. We also love cruciferous vegetables for their low carbohydrate content and extraordinary versatility. Do you fancy an old favorite at dinner? Assemble a batch of Easy Creamy Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes. You won’t even miss the real thing!
9.) Coconut oil
To you, this food may not seem to be an appropriate contender in this list of top 10 Keto Diet Foods but there is a twist. Though very high in saturated fat, coconut oil has been found to help lower cholesterol and promote the loss of belly fat. Thanks to medium-chain triglycerides. MCTs are absorbed directly by the liver and converted into ketones, which can help decrease calorie consumption. Increase energy levels, and even improve brain function.
10.) Nuts and seeds
Rich in fiber and minerals, nuts and seeds are also associated with reduced risk of heart disease. Certain cancers, depression and obesity. We suggest avoiding nut and seeds oils, which contain high levels of inflammatory omega 6s, and choose whole or freshly ground nuts and seeds instead. Some of the best seeds and nuts for the keto diet are macadamia and brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts and almonds, and pumpkin, sunflower and flax seeds.