A healthy ketogenic diet—called Keto for short—is the perfect way to transform your body. It has become extremely popular because it works fast and offers wide-ranging benefits. The keto diet reduces hunger and cravings to promote weight loss and regulate blood sugar levels.
The standard keto diet is based on a very low-carb, high-fat formula: around 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% or less than 50 grams of carbs daily. The reduced carb intake results in ketosis, a metabolic state where your body grows extremely efficient at converting fat into fuel. This formula also reduces blood sugar and insulin levels and turns fat into ketones in the liver, which helps power your brain.
When our bodies burn glucose from eating carbs, we can experience spikes in blood sugar that cause hunger, cravings and mood swings, and can ultimately lead to larger health problems. Following the keto diet shifts the body’s metabolism away from carbs and promotes better overall health—in fact, studies show that keto lowers risk factors for many diseases.
Typically, a ketogenic diet restricts daily carb intake to under 50 grams or 20 grams of net carbs. Net carbs are total carbs minus fiber and non-digestible sugar alcohols such as erythritol. For best results, limit or avoid all high-carb foods and focus your diet on whole, unprocessed foods that are low-carb and high in healthy fats.
Some keto-friendly foods to focus your diet on:
- Low-carb veggies like leafy greens, tomatoes, onions, peppers, cauliflower, cucumbers, zucchini and eggplant
- Omega-3 whole eggs
- Steak, poultry, ham, sausage and bacon
- Fatty fish including tuna, salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel and shellfish
- Unprocessed cheese, cottage cheese, plain Greek yogurt, butter and cream
- Nut and seeds like almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds
- Healthy oils like extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil
- Whole avocados and olives
- Small portions of antioxidant-rich berries like blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries
- Unsweetened tea and coffee
Some Foods to Avoid on a Keto Diet
- Unhealthy fats like mayonnaise and processed vegetable oils
- Sugar-laden juice, smoothies and soda
- Refined sugars such as candy, ice cream, cake, cookies and other baked goods
- Wheat-based products and grains including pasta, rice and cereal
- Most fruit except the berries mentioned above
- Beans and legumes like peas, lentils, chickpeas and kidney beans
- Root vegetables and tubers such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and parsnips
- Condiments and sauces that contain sugar or unhealthy fat
- Alcoholic beverages
- Low-fat foods and sugar-free diet foods that are high in sugar alcohols