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If you think you are ready to jump on the bandwagon of “Keto” then you have come to the right place! Keto, the latest jargon in the health and lifestyle realm, is a high-fat, low-carb diet that can help you burn fat far more effectively than a standard weight loss diet.
In fact, the diet promises additional health benefits like lowering your blood sugar (for type 2 diabetics), boosting your athletic performance, and much more.
But how does Keto help with weight loss? How to determine if your meal is Keto-friendly? As a beginner, these questions can seem confusing and borderline overwhelming. However, following a Keto diet is not as complex as it sounds. Let’s find out how!
How Does A Keto Diet Work?
A Ketogenic diet is based on the idea of drastically reducing your carbohydrate intake, which is the primary source of your energy, and replacing it with fat – thereby forcing your body to burn fat for fuel and maximizing weight loss.
The reduction of carbs will put your body in “Ketosis” which makes your body incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. So essentially, your Keto-friendly Meal should abide by this mantra:
- Low Carbs, High Fat, and Moderate Protein.
- Carbs Intake: Reduced to 20 – 50 grams/day.
- Fats intake: Approx 75% of the total calorie intake.
What Is A Keto-Friendly Meal?
Just like switching to any diet, you will find yourself at a supermarket wondering what to add to your basket for your Keto meal prep. Keep in mind that you need to start simple – a standard Keto diet, as mentioned above, should focus on eating fats and protein and avoiding carbs. Here are some of the key ingredients and the right keto products you can use to prepare your Keto-Friendly meals:
- Vegetables: Go for non-starchy vegetables like Leafy greens (spinach, lettuce, cabbage), broccoli, baby corn, cauliflower, peppers, mushrooms, and onions.
- Fruits: Avocado, berries (small portion), coconut, rhubarb, etc
- Dairy: Eggs and Cheese.
- Protein: Beef, pork, poultry, fish, shellfish, and soybeans.
- Nuts and Seeds: Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
- Pure Fats: Plant-based oils like Olive Oil and Butter.
What should you avoid on a Keto diet?
Now that you know what your Keto-Friendly meal should consist of, determining what not to eat should be simpler. Here is a list of everything you should reduce or better avoid in your diet:
- Sugary Food: Soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.
- Grains/Starches: Wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.
- Fruit: Any fruit except small portions of berries like strawberries, should be avoided.
- Beans: Peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
- Root Vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
- Low-Fat Products: Low-fat mayonnaise, salad dressings, and condiments
- Few Condiments/Sauces: Barbecue sauce, honey mustard, teriyaki sauce, ketchup, etc.
- Unhealthy Fats: Processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
- Alcohol: beer, wine, liquor, mixed drinks
- Sugar-free Food: Sugar-free candies, syrups, puddings, sweeteners, etc.
Top 5 Keto-Friendly Snacks You Can Add In Your Diet
Snacking is an important part of our busy lifestyle. Munching in between meals is like an energy-boosting ritual for all. But, when you are on a keto diet, there are certain things which you have to take care of while choosing the right Keto product for snacking. Here are 5 best keto-friendly snacks which you can add to your diet:
Almonds, Walnuts, and Peanuts are a few nuts which can be eaten on a keto diet. The next time you want to munch on some snacks, grab a handful of nuts and you will be good to go. But, nuts like Cashews, Pistachios, and raisins are very high on carbs and sugar. Hence, it is better you keep them off your plate.
2. Peanut Butter Veggies
This may sound a little off-putting but it is one of the healthiest yet delicious snacks on a keto diet. You can simply dip some veggies in peanut butter and relish a sweet, crunchy, snack. You can use carrot, celery, broccoli, etc. to team up with your nut butter.
3. Avocado and Eggs
Use hard-boiled eggs and mashed avocado to make a nice salad with some red onions and only a bit of salt and pepper. Both Avocado and Eggs are nutritionally dense. Together, they form a classic dish and still keeping your keto game up.
4. Keto Smoothies
Not just your regular smoothie, that would be quite off-track for a keto diet, Keto Smoothies. These smoothies can be made using coconut, avocado, and peanut butter to give a creamy texture. Low carb fruits like berries, lime, or lemon, in small portions, can be added to intensify the taste.
5. Nuts & Seeds Mixes
Nuts are loaded with proteins, dietary fibers, and plant compounds offering a lot of benefits. You can add nut mixes to your everyday snacking diet to satiate the body and still keep the ketosis active.
How To Shop For Keto Meal Prep?
Follow this simple 2-step process when shopping for ingredients to prepare Keto-Friendly Meals:
Step 1: Scrutinizing the Ingredients list
FDA requires manufacturers to list ingredients in order of weight, which means that the ingredients that weigh the most will be listed first, and vice-versa.
So do not pick any food item that lists sugar/starch as one of the first 5 ingredients. Keep in mind that sugar has many veils that it usually hides under like – Sucrose, dextrose sucrose, Dextrose, etc.
Why no sugar/ starch? It’s simple!
Sugar gives a stir to the Insulin level of your body, which directly impacts your weight loss process! The higher the blood sugar level, the higher is the secretion of insulin in your body and you know the rest.
- High Insulin means Body Stores Fat – You gain weight
- Low Insulin levels mean Body Uses Fat – You lose weight
Step 2: Calculating Net Carbs
Similarly, net carbs will also affect your insulin levels so many people prefer to make purchases accordingly. Here is how to calculate your net carb for any food item:
Total Carbohydrates minus total Dietary Fiber minus any Sugar Alcohol will give you total Net Carbs.
The effects of fibre and sugar alcohol have either little to no effect on insulin levels. Hence, net carbs don’t count them.
Additional Tips for Your Keto Diet
- Automate Breakfast: Choose a few Keto-friendly meals for breakfast and switch between them every day – for instance, scrambled eggs. Not hungry? Skip breakfast and sip a cup of coffee instead.
- Simplify With Meal Prep: Meal prep in advance and cook multiple servings for dinner. Refrigerate the leftovers and consume it for next day’s lunch. Freeze remaining portions for later.
- Try No-cook Plates: Try to eat raw and fresh. Sliced deli meats, cheeses, as well as veggies make an easy yet healthy lunch
- Be In For The Long Haul: Be calm when you justify a slice of cheese to a person who eats a bowl of cereal for breakfast, and a pizza for dinner.
Final Word: To anyone who is still paranoid about starting the Keto diet because it sounds far-fetched, here is the bottom line: Keto is great for weight loss and lowering blood sugar levels. However, it is not for everyone. Because ultimately keto is a lifestyle. You have to stick with it for the long run, else your efforts will go in vain. So start simple, slow, and the results will follow!