A keto diet forces your body to burn fat rather than carbs 🍔💥
Look at fat burners on Amazon and you’ll see tons of products that claim to be ‘keto friendly’.
But what does it mean?
At the very top level, keto is short for two things:
- Ketosis: a metabolic state where your body burns fat more efficiently
- Ketogenic diet: a diet designed especially to trigger ketosis
Keto 101: What is the keto diet?
A keto diet is one specifically designed to put you in the state of ketosis. It’s a high fat, low carb diet that forces your body to burn fat instead carbs for fuel.
Here’s how it works:
Normally, your body breaks down carbohydrates into sugars.
A sugar called glucose is absorbed into your blood and transported around your body where it’s used for many things, one of the most important of which is fuelling your brain.
But here’s where it gets interesting…
In ketosis, your body responds to lower carb levels by breaking down fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies.
Ketone bodies are an alternative energy source for your brain.
So by reducing your dietary carb intake, it’s possible to encourage your body to burn more fat.
Because one of the goals of weight loss is to shed existing fat, a keto diet can potentially be a great way to trim down excess fat levels.
👉 Keto can potentially contribute to weight loss by encouraging your body to break down fat for energy.
👉 Your brain uses ketone bodies instead of glucose for fuel.
Does keto work?
This diet can work but it’s always a good idea to discuss your individual needs with a registered nutritionist or doctor before making changes.
Several studies suggest that keto diets can work for weight loss.
We get it: this can feel a little counterintuitive considering a keto diet involves eating more fat and prioritising fatty foods.
One study found that a keto diet can help with weight loss and appetite control<1>.
So while it may seem weird to lose weight by eating a diet with more fat, the state of ketosis is a proven precursor for weight loss in the right contexts.
In fact, another review found that keto diets might be even more effective for weight loss than some low-fat diets<2>!
Keto ingredients 🥑🍳
Keto involves more fat and less carbs. Here are foods to avoid while following a keto diet.
Foods to avoid on a keto diet 🎂
Pasta 🍝 Quite possibly one of the most famous carbs, pasta is a favourite for athletes who are carb-loading before events. Given that you’re going for the complete opposite, trim pasta out of your diet.
Pasta is made mainly from flour and flour is about 70% carbs, so it’s easy to see why it needs to go.
Grains 🌾 If you think getting rid of a staple like pasta is tricky, then we’re sorry to report that you’ll also need to avoid rice, oats, wheat, rye, barley, buckwheat, bulgar and, yes, even freekeh.
Now, if you’re not someone who boils up grains and uses them directly in their cooking, you may be thinking “this is easy!”
Think again: grains are in a surprisingly high number of foods. So you’ll need to be extra vigilant with ingredient labels to make sure you’re truly avoiding them.
Smoothies 🧃 Here’s another example of how keto can feel counterproductive: losing weight by avoiding foods that feel healthy in other contexts and replacing them with fatty alternatives.
These fruity drinks are packed full of sugar though, meaning that they’re no good for a keto diet.
Legumes 🌱 Along with grains, legumes are another diverse category that features fairly frequently in most diets.
In this list you’ll find things like kidney beans, chickpeas, all the different types of lentils, peas, and more. Cross each and every one of those off of your shopping list, as they’re not keto-friendly.
Cake 🎂 At last, something that makes sense! Not many diets let you eat cake, and with keto, you can’t have your cake or eat it either.
While there is fat in cake, there’s way more carbs inside. Flour-heavy and dense, you’ll have to do without for now.
Potatoes 🥔 Here’s another common food you’ll have to avoid. Sometimes potatoes are obvious (fries, jacket potatoes, mash, etc) while other times they’re far more secretive (the filling in pasties, gnocchi, mozzarella cheese, and more).
On a keto diet you’ll have to give all of it a miss. Potato starch is used in a lot of ingredients and recipes, so give labels a careful scan to make sure you’re not eating any sneaky spuds.
Alcohol 🍷 Depending on the lifestyle you lead, this will either be very hard or very easy. All alcoholic drinks are high in carbs so you’ll need to avoid beer, wine, and spirits for the duration of your keto diet if you want to do it properly.
The plus side here is that avoiding alcohol brings a suite of other health benefits. You’ll feel more energised, you’ll sleep better, and that’s just the start.
Which foods are good for keto? 🧀
While it’s good to know which foods to avoid, you’re probably looking for some steer on the types of food to eat on a keto diet.
Here are a few suggestions –
Avocados 🥑 These tasty fruits (yes, they’re fruits!) contain just 2g of carbs per serving and are a nice, healthy source of unsaturated fats. What’s more, they go well in a huge range of dishes, making them a very versatile addition to a keto diet.
Eggs 🍳 If we’re talking about versatility, then the humble egg deserves a mention. For example, did you know that chef’s hats have 100 ruffles to signify the 100 ways you can cook an egg!
If you’re planning a keto diet, the high protein to carb ratio in eggs combined with the sheer number of dishes you can use them in makes them a great choice.
Olive oil 🍳 This is pure fat and contains zero carbs. What’s more, it’s tasty by itself or as the base for any number of sauces and dressing. So if you’re looking for something to contribute to ketosis while making your diet dishes more delicious, look no further.
Cheese 🧀 We never thought we’d see the day that cheese was not only allowed but encouraged as a diet ingredient. But with keto, the high fat content of cheese makes it a prime contender.
The carb content of different types of cheese can vary quite significantly, so take a look at the nutritional information to see whether the ratio works for you.
Nuts 🥜 These popular snacks are high in fibre but low in carbs although, as with cheese, the ratio varies between different types. Whether you eat nuts as snacks in between meals or incorporate them into dishes directly, they make a great addition to a keto diet.
What’s the best fat burner for keto?
The best supplement for keto is one designed to facilitate a healthy lifestyle.
While some fat burners market themselves as specifically keto-friendly, the consensus is that the best way to achieve ketosis is through your diet.
If you’re taking a weight loss supplement alongside a keto diet, your focus should be ingredients that help to energise you whilst working out.
Ingredients like caffeine are perfect for this.
Caffeine will help you to feel alert and motivated while working out, giving you the energy to keep pushing harder and for longer than you would otherwise – meaning more calories burned.
Fat burners that contain proven appetite suppressants like glucomannan are effective, too, as they’ll help you to reduce your overall caloric intake.
If you’ve got questions about keto, we’ve got answers.
What are the different types of keto?
There are four widely-acknowledged ways to do the keto diet. Each has different target ratios of macronutrients to aim for.
(A macronutrient is a food type: fats, carbs, and proteins are macronutrients.)
Here’s what you’re aiming for in each of the main types of keto diet –
- Standard keto: ~10% carbs, ~75% fat, ~15% protein
- High-protein keto: ~10% carbs, ~60% fat, ~30% protein
- Targeted keto: ~15% carbs, ~65% fat, ~20% protein
- Cyclical keto: On days, 10/75/15 carb/fat/protein; off days, 50/25/25 carb/fat/protein
How do I know which type of keto is right for me?
The right keto diet for you – or whether keto is right for you at all – depends on your goals and lifestyle. We can’t advise on individual diets as we don’t know your dietary needs.
If you’ve got questions about finding the right type of keto for you, we recommend speaking with a qualified nutritionist to help identify your goals and design the right diet plan to meet them.
What is keto flu?
While researching keto you may come across the phrase ‘keto flu’.
There is no medical basis for keto flu, and it’s not a formally-recognised condition, but many people report feeling similar symptoms within the first few days of starting a keto diet.
Here’s what you might feel –
- Brain fog
- Sleep trouble
If you do encounter these symptoms they should be gone by a week after your start point. Remember that keto is quite a big change for your body, and adverse symptoms may be a sign that you’re pushing your body too hard.
We always recommend speaking with your doctor or another qualified health professional if you feel unwell when changing your diet.