The approach of the Ketogenic diet is to reduce overall carbohydrate intake and increase fat intake. While it sounds contradictory to common sense, it allows the body to burn fat as fuel, rather than the “bad” carbohydrates that are readily available in most foods that may “stick” to your problem areas.
The interesting concept is that the Ketogenic diet causes the break down of fat deposits for fuel and creates substances called ketones through a process called ketosis. This diet is considered very risky for people with type 1 diabetes because of the obvious danger of diabetic coma and death.
The diet typically recommends oily fish, coconuts, avocados, Brazil nuts, and olive oil to be added for an overall emphasis on fat.
Here are 10 Things that are highly recommended on a Ketogenic Diet.
Consumption of long-chain fatty acids EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid & docosahexaenoic acid) in fish several times per week has been found in studies to improve weight management because of improved insulin levels. Also, Omega-3 fishes have been found to increase resistance to various types of chronic diseases including cancer and Alzheimer disease.
The benefits of fish oil supplements are also a well-known anti-inflammatory which improves digestion.
The fish’s with the highest (in ascending order) Omega-3 oil content by percentage is Salmon (1.1%), albacore tuna (1.3%), sardines (1.4%), herring (1.5%), lake trout (1.6%), and mackerel (1.8%). These fish are also amazing sources of vitamins, minerals, as well as, the beneficial Omega-3s, which have been found to lower insulin levels.
Eggs are one of the healthiest and most widely-used foods on the planet. Many consider the egg as one of the only true “superfoods.”
Most of the beneficial nutrients are found in the yolk, this includes thirteen essential vitamins and minerals. The yolk also has several powerful antioxidants known as lutein and zeaxanthin which protect your eyes from harmful high-energy light waves like ultraviolet rays in sunlight.
They are also one of the best sources of choline, a vitamin-like essential nutrient and methyl donor involved in many vital physiological processes.
Egg consumption has also been found to increase the feeling of fullness and keep blood sugar levels stable, leading to lower calorie intakes for up to 24 hours. This could mean that eggs are the weight loss boosting superfood you’ve been waiting for.
On top of that, one large egg contains less than 1 gram of carbs and fewer than 6 grams of protein, making it the perfect keto-friendly health food.
If you’d like to find the healthiest eggs possible, seek out egg farmers that give their chickens access to pasture — a place where they can eat plenty of insects and soak up the sun. Studies have found that chickens raised in this way tend to lay eggs that are filled with more omega 3s, vitamins, and minerals.
We often hear about how grass-fed meat is a great protein source, however, meat also contains essential nutrients that cannot be found in plant foods? Fresh meat contains no carbohydrates and is full of B vitamins along with several minerals, including potassium, selenium and zinc.
One of the most important B vitamins is B12 (Cobalamin), a highly absorbable form of iron, carnosine, creatine, taurine, and DHA that is essential for cardiovascular support, energy metabolism, and DNA production. B12 is mainly found in meat, fish, dairy products and eggs.
Even the fats in these meats provide a recently recognized benefit for everyday health. There are have been several studies that have found older women that consume a diet high in fatty meat averaged an HDL cholesterol levels that were 8% higher as opposed to those who are on a low-fat, high-carb diet. So along with feeling more energized the ketogenic diet has also been found to improve everyday cholesterol levels.
One of the reasons nutritionists recommend 100% grass-fed pasture-raised meat is because of the healthier ratios of omega 3 to omega 6 fats which are known to contain more antioxidants (as opposed to meat from 100% grain-fed animals). Depending on the breed of cow, grass-fed beef contains between 2 and 5 times more omega-3s than grain-fed beef.
However, no land mammal can compete with the amount of anti-inflammatory omega 3s that you’ll get from fish and shellfish. Salmon, sardines, mackerel and other fatty fish are the highest in omega-3 fats, which is why many studies have found frequent fish intake to be associated with improved mental health and decreased risk of disease.
4. Low-Carb Vegetables
On a well regulated ketogenic diet, with fewer than 5% of calories from carbs, it’s important to know which veggies have the lowest amount of carbs, especially if your goal is to consume fewer than 20 grams of carbs per day.
Therefore, vegetables with less than 5 net carbs may be eaten relatively freely. It is unlikely that you will over-eat spinach, zucchini, lettuce, asparagus and kale on a keto diet.
You will have to be a bit more thoughtful with higher carb vegetables like beans, bell peppers, and brussels sprout to keep below 20 grams of carbs a day on a keto diet. One average size pepper can have approximately 6-8 grams of carbs.
It should be noted that vegetables and other plants contain two types of fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber, such as gum and pectin are found inside the plant cells and will dissolve in water to form a paste. The dissolved paste is beneficial by softening stool and helping to slow the movement of the digested food through the digestive tract allowing for increased nutrient absorption. An added benefit is the feeling of fullness for a longer period of time, therefore reducing the urge for empty calorie binging.
Insoluble fiber, such as cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, cannot dissolve in water. Therefore, insoluble fiber remains undigested. However, the benefit of insoluble fiber is that it attracts water and makes the stool softer so it can move through the colon with ease preventing constipation.
5. Nuts and Seeds
The general consensus is that consumption of nuts and seeds has been linked to a reduced risk of depression, heart disease, certain cancers and other chronic diseases. In addition, nuts and seeds are high in fiber, which also provides a beneficial feeling of fullness.
However, nuts are also very calorie dense (high in fat, low in water), therefore eating unlimited quantities can easily add an extra several hundred calories a day to your diet.
So while although all nuts and seeds are low in net carbs, the amount varies quite a bit among the different types.
Here is a summarized carb counts for 1 ounce (28 grams) of some popular nuts and seeds:
- Almonds: 3 grams net carbs (6 grams total carbs)
- Cashews: 8 grams net carbs (9 grams total carbs)
- Macadamia nuts: 2 grams net carbs (4 grams total carbs)
- Pecans: 1 gram net carbs (4 grams total carbs)
- Pistachios: 5 grams net carbs (8 grams total carbs)
- Walnuts: 2 grams net carbs (4 grams total carbs)
- Chia seeds: 1 gram net carbs (12 grams total carbs)
- Flaxseeds: 0 grams net carbs (8 grams total carbs)
- Pumpkin seeds: 4 grams net carbs (5 grams total carbs)
- Sesame seeds: 3 grams net carbs (7 grams total carbs)
6. Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil and olives contain numerous health-promoting qualities and compounds. One of the most beneficial of these is a phenolic compound called oleocanthal which possesses similar anti-inflammatory properties as ibuprofen. Therefore, this makes extra virgin olive oil and olives a great addition to your standard diet for those who seek the benefits of reduced pain and inflammation.
Every one-ounce (28-gram) serving of olives contains 2 grams of total carbs and 1 gram of fiber. For those who don’t necessarily like olives, then extra virgin olive oil is a great alternative option as well. Although you won’t get all of the benefits of olives by consuming olive oil, you will still get plenty of healthy fats and health-promoting compounds.
It should be noted that some of the fats in olive oil can become rancid when exposed to temperatures higher than 375 degrees Fahrenheit. For this reason, it is best to cook with it at low temperatures or eat it in its raw form. Try putting it on your salads and vegetables to add some healthy fats your meal and increase the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins from those veggies.
7. Cheese & Butter
Earlier we explored how the fats in fatty meats may help promote cholesterol levels and heart health — the same goes for the fats found in cheese, butter, and cream as well. In fact, some studies suggest that a moderate consumption of high-fat dairy may even reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
High-fat dairy also contains high-quality protein, vitamins, minerals, and conjugated linoleic acid (the fatty acid that has been found to promote fat loss). The combination of these nutrients is essential for maintaining strength and function as we age. By adding just 7 ounces of ricotta cheese to their daily diet, for example, the older participants of a recent study were able to increase their muscle mass and muscle strength. In other words, ask for extra cheese, please.
There is no need to be cheap with the cheese, cream, and butter on the ketogenic diet either. Due to the low-carb content of high-fat dairy, you can get away with using a reasonable amount in each meal without having to worry about getting too many carbs.
Avocados are high in many beneficial vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, an important mineral that can often be found lacking in your diet. For ketogenic newbies, successful results have shown a higher potassium intake can often help make the transition to a ketogenic diet easier.
Avocados contain 2 grams of net carbs per serving and studies have shown provide a great benefit to your heart health markers. In addition, avocados may help improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
In studies for heart health markers, when people consumed a diet high in avocados, they experienced a 22% decrease in “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and an 11% increase in “good” HDL cholesterol
9. Shirataki Noodles
Per serving these versatile noodles contain less than 1 gram of carbs and 5 calories largely because they are primarily water (97% water with 3% fiber along with traces of calcium, fat and protein). The noodles are made from a viscous fiber called glucomannan, which can absorb up to 50 times its weight in water.
This glucomannan forms a gel that slows down food’s movement through your digestive tract. This is very helpful in decreasing hunger and blood sugar spikes. Obviously, this provides a great benefit for weight loss and diabetes management.
Shirataki noodles come in a variety of forms such as fettuccine, linguine and rice. This gives them the versatility to be substituted for regular noodles in a wide variety of recipes.
Unfortunately, most fruits are too high in carbs to be included in a ketogenic diet (bananas and grapes are especially high in carbs), the good news is that most Berries are low in carbs and high in fiber.
Dietarily, raspberries and blackberries contain as much fiber as they do digestible carbs. These miniature fruits are also full of antioxidants that are known to reduce inflammation and protect against various diseases such as certain cancers, urinary tract health, memory function, and reduced signs of aging.
Here are the carb counts for 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of some of the best berries:
- Blackberries: 5 grams net carbs (10 grams total carbs)
- Blueberries: 12 grams net carbs (14 grams total carbs)
- Raspberries: 6 grams net carbs (12 grams total carbs)
- Strawberries: 6 grams net carbs (8 grams total carbs)of net carbs per ounce.
Many people turn to a ketogenic diet for weight loss, increased energy, blood sugar control, lower triglycerides, better focus/memory, and other health improvements.
The theory is that when you eat fewer carbohydrates, your body will burn more fat as fuel, enabling you to lose weight faster and achieve other health improvements. Interestingly enough, it is often used to reduce the effects of epilepsy.
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