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The Ultimate KETO Diet Breakdown: Food List, What to Avoid, Benefits, Risks

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The Ultimate KETO Diet Breakdown: Food List, What to Avoid, Benefits, Risks

The keto diet food list: never question your choices again

What is a keto diet, you ask? Here are the basics and the reasons behind why you might want to consider trying it:

The ketogenic diet is a diet in which the body produces small molecules, called ketones, to be used for fuel. This happens by switching the body’s primary fuel source from carbohydrates (glucose) to fats. The result? Weight loss and lasting stamina with increased energy and clarity.

Carbohydrates provide quick energy that lasts about 24 hours. This energy spikes our blood sugar, causing us to produce insulin (the fat storing hormone). By eating fewer carbohydrates, we automatically decrease the amount of insulin released into our system, resulting in our bodies using long-lasting, steady energy from fat. If done properly, the body will start actually burning its own fat for fuel.

Ketones are produced when carbohydrate supply (which break down into glucose) heavily decreases, and protein amounts remain moderate. Ketones are produced in the liver, from fat, and used as a fuel source throughout the body. The brain burns lots of energy daily, and it can’t run on fat alone. It can run on glucose, or ketones (which is what we’re looking for here).

On a ketogenic diet, your entire body begins to switch its fuel supply to run almost entirely on fat. Insulin levels become very low, allowing fat burning to take place. This is great if you’re trying to lose weight, but there are also other less obvious benefits, such as decreased hunger and a steady supply of energy, keeping you alert and focused.

keto diet food list energy|yoga lifestyles

When the body produces ketones, it’s said to be in ketosis. The quickest, most dramatic way to achieve ketosis is through fasting. However, this isn’t the best option for everyone. The ketogenic diet comes into play by getting your body into a state of ketosis without abstaining from food entirely.

How to maintain a keto diet

This diet comes down to dramatically decreasing carbohydrates, and increasing fats. We’re talking cutting your carbs down a lot, way below the average American’s 200-plus grams, to about 20-50 grams (depending on your personal threshold). To put this into perspective, there are about 27 grams of carbohydrates in one banana and about 45 grams in a cup of cooked brown rice, both foods traditionally considered to be healthy. Most of us consume tons of carbohydrates each day, whether they are from grain-products, whole grains, fruits or vegetables. This leaves us in “storage mode”, always having excess carbohydrates to burn for fuel. Because of this, we rarely dip into our fat stores. A ketogenic diet helps move us from storing to burning fat, helping to aid in weight loss.

Doing the math…

The main macronutrient in a ketogenic diet is fat, usually totaling 70-75% of calories. The rest is broken down into 20% protein and 5% carbohydrates. Quick note here: it is just as important to not overdo it on the protein as it is to minimize the carbs. Consuming too much protein can also create glucose, kicking your body out of ketosis, through a process called gluconeogenesis. And if you don’t eat meat, there are some excellent plant-based protein powders out there and it’s much easier to monitor your intake when you can measure how much you add. 

Is a keto diet safe for me?

A ketogenic diet is typically considered safe. If you take medication to cope with diabetes, high blood pressure, or are pregnant or breastfeeding, the ketogenic diet may not be for you. Consult with your physician first.

keto diet food list pregnancy|yoga lifestyles

 

Okay, so what do I eat if I want to try out the keto diet?

Here’s the fun part. You can save this article to your favorites so whenever you’re out shopping, you can consult the keto diet food list with ease. Eventually, you’ll be a lot more familiar with the ingredients that are keto-friendly, but for now, keep this handy dandy keto diet food list accessible.

Healthy Fats:

  • Organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • Organic virgin coconut oil
  • Macadamia nut oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Coconut butter
  • Coconut milk
  • Nuts/seeds/nut butter – these do contain carbohydrates, so be mindful here and keep your portions small

keto diet food list fats|yoga lifestyles

 

Greens + Non-starchy Vegetables:

  • Kale, spinach, chard, collard greens, romaine, arugula, etc.
  • Cruciferous veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, etc.
  • Zucchini
  • Celery
  • Green beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Snow peas
  • Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, etc.

keto diet food list tomatoes|yoga lifestyles

 

High-quality Animal Protein:

  • Wild-caught low-mercury fish – salmon, cod, tilapia, etc.
  • Organic, pasture-raised chicken
  • Free-range turkey and duck
  • Grass-fed buffalo
  • Sardines

keto diet food list protein|yoga lifestyles

 

Fruits:

These can be enjoyed in moderation, and not as a staple in a ketogenic diet. If you do have fruit, choose low-sugar options like blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries and eat them sparingly.

Beverages:

  • Water
  • Coffee
  • Tea

*Don’t add sugar to any of these. A bit of full-fat cream, half-and-half, or canned coconut milk are all great additions.

 

What to avoid if you plan to stick to a keto diet food list

All Grains

  • Wheat
  • Oats
  • Barely
  • Rye
  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Buckwheat
  • Amaranth
  • Bulgur
  • Farro
  • Couscous
  • Any products made from the above grains, such as crackers, pasta, and bread.

 

All Legumes

  • Chickpeas
  • Black beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Lentils
  • Lima beans
  • Cannellini beans
  • Fava beans
  • White beans
  • Navy beans

 

Most Fruits

  • Bananas
  • Pineapple
  • Mango
  • Oranges
  • Grapes
  • Papayas
  • Apples
  • Tangerines
  • Melons
  • All fruit juices + concentrates

 

Starchy Vegetables

Avoid any vegetables that grow beneath the ground and focus more on the leafy greens.

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Yams
  • Potatoes
  • Corn
  • Beets
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Carrots
  • Yucca

 

Sugars

Sugar hides under 56 different names on nutritional labels. Crazy, we know. Always read labels. On a ketogenic diet, you should be focusing on real whole foods.

 

How low carb are we talking here?

A ketogenic diet is a very low carbohydrate diet, at only 20-50g of net carbs per day. The fewer carbs you eat, the easier it is to shift your body into a state of ketosis, and in turn the more effective it is for weight loss, appetite suppression, mental clarity, balanced energy, and type 2 diabetes reversal. It’s restrictive, but you may find the benefits more than outweigh the challenges with letting go of beloved carbs. 

keto diet food list carbohydrates|yoga lifestyles

 

Potential side effects of starting keto

When you suddenly switch your body’s metabolism from burning glucose to fat and ketones, you may experience some side effects. These can include headaches, tiredness, muscle fatigue, cramping, and heart palpitations. These symptoms are mild and short-lived for most people, and not everyone experiences them.

If you currently eat a very high carbohydrate diet, it may be smart to gradually decrease your consumption of carbs over a few weeks. This will slow down weight loss, but it will allow you to avoid feeling completely out of it. Once your body adapts to fewer carbohydrates, then you can take on the full keto diet food list.

The Keto Flu

Almost everyone who starts a ketogenic diet will experience some symptoms of the “keto flu“. This is can occur for a few days to a week into your new diet. Symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Light nausea
  • Brain Fog
  • Irritability

On a very low carbohydrate diet, excess fluid the body has been storing is lost. This can result in dehydration and sodium deficiency while your body adapts to this new diet. You can reduce or even eliminate these symptoms by making sure you get enough water and salt. Try starting every morning with a large glass of water with a generous pinch of pink Himalayan salt.

Let us know in the comments any questions you have or details of your own keto diet experience. We’d love to hear about it!

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Less hunger

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why keto diet | Yoga Lifestyles

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