It’s one of the most popular diets in the world and was the top trending diet of 2018. But what is the ketogenic diet, and will a keto shopping list really help you lose weight?
- Keto Mania!
- What is the Ketogenic Diet?
- What Are the Benefits of a Keto Diet?
- Keto FAQ
- Keto Surprises
- Ketogenic Diet Food List: What to Eat and What to Avoid
- Keto Shopping List
The keto diet was the diet phenomenon of 2018. If you didn’t hear about any other diet last year, you most likely heard about this one. But why is it so popular?
Well, it’s one of the few diets that really work when it comes to weight loss! What’s more, the weight loss is pretty quick. In an age where we want to see instant results, this diet delivers.
So, let us take you through what the diet is, it’s purported benefits, some frequently asked questions, surprises, and what you should and shouldn’t eat. We’ll also provide you with that all-important keto shopping list to get you started on your keto adventure. However, you can skip straight to the free printable keto diet shopping list if you want.
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet, or “keto” for short, is a low-carb diet. It gets its name from the metabolic state that the diet puts your body into: ketosis.
So, what is ketosis?
Ketosis happens when our bodies hasn’t any, or very few carbohydrates, to burn for energy. When this happens, it starts to burn through your fat reserves and any fat you eat. This produces energy molecules known as ketones.
To do the diet, all you need to do is the following:
- Reduce your carbohydrate intake to less than 20g / 0.7oz a day
- Keep your protein intake to a maximum of 20% of your daily calorie intake
What Are the Benefits of a Keto Diet?
Weight Loss & Appetite Control
This is the reason the diet is so popular. You are very likely to lose weight, and lose it fast! Also, because your body starts burning through your stores of fat during the first few weeks, or even months, you may find yourself less likely to be reaching for a snack.
More Energy & Better Focus
Many on the diet claim to experience much higher energy levels and higher levels of concentration. This is because ketones are claimed to be excellent brain food.
Good Blood Sugar Control
Losing weight greatly reduces the likelihood of you developing type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. This diet will certainly help you do that. What’s more, because you’re consuming very small amounts of carbohydrates and sugar, you relieve a lot of stress on your body having to produce insulin to break these down into energy.
If you already have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, some studies suggest that this can help you significantly control it. One study found that “insulin sensitivity” in subjects on a keto diet dropped 75%, whilst in another study ⅓ of participants were able to stop using their diabetes medication altogether.
If you already have type 2 diabetes or are at risk, we strongly recommend you fully consult with your doctor before going on this diet.
Other Health Benefits
Other claimed health benefits of the diet include:
- Better seizure management in epileptic children
- Reduced risk of polycystic ovary syndrome
- Acne control
- Slows down cancer growth
This diet seems similar to the Atkins diet. Is it?
The Atkins is a low-carb diet that’s the predecessor to the keto diet. The key difference is that you’re allowed unlimited protein on the Atkins diet. On the keto diet, you’re limited to 20% of your daily calorie intake. This is because it’s believed that the body will try to burn protein first for energy before resorting to the body’s fat stores, thus slowing down ketosis.
Is it easy?
The keto diet for beginners is generally not hard, but it’s not easy. The trick is trying to keep yourself within the 20g carbohydrate limit and the 20% protein limit. Meat and dairy tend to make up the bulk of a ketogenic diet. But, their protein content means you shouldn’t go overboard with them to ensure effective weight loss. Likewise, you’ll need to eat some fruit and veg to ensure you are still getting vital minerals and vitamins that you need. But you mustn’t go over that 20g carbohydrate limit.
For those who live for high-carb foods, such as pasta, bread, legumes, and grains, the adjustment to the diet can be quite tricky, and may even feel quite extreme. But, like with any other diet, there’s always going to be an element of willpower and restraint to resist the food you’re not supposed to have.
There are plenty of keto diet pdf meal plans available online that can help. After a while, you’ll almost instinctively know what and what not to eat.
Are there vegetarian and vegan versions of the diet?
This is especially important if people are concerned about the ethical and environmental impact of the diet. However, whilst vegetarian and vegan versions are available, they are harder to do. This is because both vegetarian and vegan diets champion grains and legumes, which are very off limits. This means the range of food that you can eat is much narrower.
But it’s not impossible. Fatty vegetables like avocados are still completely possible to have, leafy and “above-ground” vegetables are fine, tofu is certainly an option, and healthy oils such as olive, linseed/flaxseed, and rapeseed, are still a great source of the fat you’ll need to make the diet work.
Is it expensive?
Yes, it can be.
Meat is generally quite expensive, and, in recent years, has seen a higher percentage rise in cost compared to vegetables. Not to mention, the keto diet champions grass-fed meat because it’s lower in calories and higher in good fat. But, this is much more expensive than regular feed-fed meat.
That’s not to say the diet has to be expensive. With some savvy and effort, you could certainly keep costs down. But, if you want it to be the most effective, you’ll have to be prepared to spend some extra pounds to shed some!
Is it environmentally friendly?
Not if you’re opting for the standard dairy and meat-loaded version.
The meat industry has been highly criticized recently for its contribution to damaging the environment and climate change. Specifically, for producing methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and deforestation for grazing and feed-crop growing. Indeed, the planetary diet that appeared earlier this year heralded that we need to drastically reduce the amount of meat and dairy we are eating in order to avoid the collapse of the natural world.
But, as mentioned earlier, the keto diet can be done as vegetarian and vegan versions. This will greatly reduce your environmental impact whilst on the diet. But these are a lot trickier and require a lot more effort.
Are there any side effects?
Some people have experienced what has been dubbed “keto flu”. The symptoms of which are:
- Muscle cramps
This occurs as the body adjusts and shifts into ketosis. Thankfully, this is generally only temporary. Some guides give advice about how to control the symptoms, or even prevent keto flu altogether.
You can also get what’s known as “keto breath”. This happens when excess ketones are released through your mouth because the body isn’t using them. The smell isn’t always unpleasant and has been described as smelling like nail varnish/polish or boiled sweets. Once your body is in full-blown ketosis and has adjusted, keto breath should disappear.
Yikes! So, is it healthy?
The diet’s health benefits are backed up with quite a few studies and is generally seen as healthy in the short term. However, it must be pointed out that there hasn’t been any research into the long-term effects.
Some dieticians certainly have some apprehensions about the diet. Some claim that your bad cholesterol (LDL) may rise on the diet, putting you at increased risk of heart disease (however, there are conflicting studies on this). The lack of fiber in your diet can also put you at risk of bowel cancer, and can cause bad constipation. Those with either type 1 or 2 diabetes may also be at risk of ketoacidosis: a very serious condition. This is when ketones don’t get used and are turned into acid.
Can I do exercise?
Research has shown that doing exercise is absolutely fine on the diet and there is minimal risk. However, some have found that, when starting the diet, it can be difficult to exercise because of the tiredness and muscle pain associated with your body shifting into ketosis.
Is keto weight loss sustainable?
Again, the diet hasn’t been around enough to do any surefire study into the long-term effectiveness of the quick weight loss. Other ketosis diets see people put weight back on quite easily when they switch back to eating carbs. Because the jury is still out on its long-term effect on health and sustainable weight loss, US News has actually ranked the keto diet a very low #38 out of 41 in their overall 2019 world diet ranking.
If you want long-term and sustained weight loss, the general opinion of experts is that you need to achieve this through fundamental changes in your diet, activity, and lifestyle. This is why diets like the Mediterranean diet (ranked #1) and flexitarian diet (ranked #3) are so highly praise, even if they aren’t as popular.
But there’s little better for a quick fix. Despite its poor overall ranking, US News ranks it #2 in the “Fast Weight Loss” category. But, whether those on the keto can sustain this weight loss in the long-term is still unknown.
Many people who start the keto diet make some mistakes which see them struggle to make their body go into ketosis. Sometimes, the reasons for this might be more surprising than you think.
“Sugar-Free” Doesn’t Mean Carb-Free!
You should avoid sugar and things with sugar in it because sugar equals a ton of carbs. Donuts are obviously right out, but that sugar-free healthy drink is good, right?
Surprisingly, a lot of sweeteners, whilst free of sugar, can still be full of carbs. Even “health” drinks can still pack a carb-filled punch, especially sports brands. With sweeteners, the carbs usually come in the form of “filler” used to bulk them out. Sweeteners also still produce glucose and prompt an insulin response in the body. Although this is significantly reduced compared to pure sugar, it still postpones ketosis.
The only sweeteners to be completely carb free are stevia or erythritol. But, very little is known about the long-term effects of these on people’s health. Therefore, they should be used with caution. Some users have reported side effects, such as diarrhea.
Drinking alcohol is generally quite bad for any diet. The same is true for keto. Even though there are some alcoholic drinks that can be had on keto, it’s generally best to avoid alcohol as this can increase hunger and derail your efforts. Not to mention the shenanigans you might get up to which might impact more than your health!
Keto doesn’t need to be a dry diet. Dry wine is the most keto friendly drink. But, it should be drunk in small amounts as it still contains some carbs. Consider switching to spirits, such as vodka, whiskey, and gin, as these contain zilch! Be careful what you mix them with. Mixers, such as fruit juice and tonic water, are chock-full of carbs and sugar. If you must mix, soda water is really a very viable option.
Beer, however, is a keto disaster. As are alcopops.
Light beers are the “best” option. However, they still carry carbs and should be drunk at an absolute minimum.
A warning about drinking alcohol whilst in ketosis. it is reported by some that they tend to get intoxicated quicker and have worse hangovers. If you chose to drink, then be very careful, even with carb-free drinks like spirits.
Be Free from “Fat-Free”
The whole point of ketosis is that you get your energy from fat. However, people can still be quite cautious about having such a high intake. And who can blame them? For years, weight gain has been more or less solely blamed on fat and fatty food. What this does it make people opt for some low-fat products just to be on the safe side.
But don’t do it! To make food “low-fat”, producers usually add a lot of ingredients, often artificial, that rack up the carb content. These are far worse for the keto diet than you think.
That being said, you still should be trying to limit your intake of saturated fat. However, the fat from healthy oil, such as olive, linseed/flaxseed, and rapeseed, are excellent for you, especially as they also contain omega-3.
Ketogenic diet food list: What to Eat and What to Avoid
Food to Eat
Dairy & Eggs
Food to Avoid
Keto Shopping List
By now, you’re probably raring to get yourself onto the keto diet. So here’s your keto shopping list. You can even download a keto diet shopping list pdf.
Keto Grocery List
Dairy & Eggs
How much have you lost on the ketogenic diet? How did you cope with keto flu? Are we missing something off our keto shopping list? Let us know in the comments.