What you need to know about the ketogenic diet
Widely reputed as a means to lose weight, increase energy and improve mental clarity, the ketogenic diet has been one of the fastest growing diets in the world of nutrition.
But, what is the ketogenic diet and how does it work?
The ketogenic diet
Strictly low-carb, the ketogenic diet (or keto diet) is designed to make the body produce ketones, an alternative source of fuel created when glucose is in short supply. Produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver, ketones act as a carbohydrate replacement, providing you with energy while your body is essentially running on (and burning) fat. Ketosis is a natural metabolic state and is a diet used by many people for its renowned weight loss benefits.
How does the keto diet work?
In order for your body to reach a state of ketosis, you need to ensure that roughly 70-90% of your daily calorie intake is coming from fat, with the remainder a combination of protein and carbohydrates.
After ingesting a limited carb intake of roughly 35 grams per day (about what you’d find in a glass of milk, slice of bread or an apple), your body will adapt to using ketones as its primary energy source.
It takes around 2-7 days for your body to reach ketosis, depending on your body type, activity level and the kind of foods you’re consuming. You can determine whether your body is in a state of ketosis via breath, urine and blood testing.
Foods to eat on the keto diet
To reach ketosis, you need to be consuming a diet high in fat and very low in carbohydrates. The lower your carb intake, the more effective your body will become at producing ketones. Fruits are best avoided completely, as they can easily overthrow your carb intake and prevent your body from reaching a state of ketosis.
As a rough guideline, a keto diet can be comprised of 70% fat, 25% protein and 5% carbohydrates. Your daily food intake will be primarily made up of:
- Fats and oils: coconut oil, butter, avocado, olive oil, egg yolks and fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and shellfish
- Protein: steak, ground beef, pork chops, ham, chicken, duck, oral and organ meat, bacon, sausage and nut butters
- Vegetables: above ground vegetables, leaning toward leafy/green choices
A moderate amount of dairy can also be consumed on the keto diet and can be a great way to add fats into meals, however overconsumption can increase your carb intake. Full-fat hard and soft cheeses, Greek yoghurt and heavy whipping cream can all be eaten on the keto diet.
Sweeteners like stevia, erythritol and sucralose are all acceptable sugar alternatives that can be eaten on the keto diet.
Foods to avoid on the keto diet
Any foods high in carbohydrates are to be avoided on the keto diet, and include:
- Grains: Any wheat-based products, including breads, pasta, cereal, cakes, pastries, rice, corn and beer
- Fruit: Limit your intake of large fruits – some berries may be consumed in moderation
- Starch: Potatoes, yams, oats and muesli
- Sugar: All processed foods that contain sugar, including soft drinks, chocolate and lollies
- Low-fat foods: If foods are labelled as low in fat, they are often high in sugar
Want to know more about how nutrition works?
At the Australian Institute of Personal Trainers, we believe the more you know about nutrition, the better equipped you are to make smart food choices. Our nationally accredited 10136NAT Diploma of Nutrition will qualify you to tailor specialised nutritional advice for weight management, exercise, sport and specific populations and evaluate their general health, wellbeing and lifestyle.