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Keto Diet Basics: A Beginner's Guide

Perhaps the most distinct advantage of the keto, or ketogenic diet is the fact that it has been around long enough to have a great deal of scientific evidence to prove its effectiveness. The keto diet works and learning the keto diet basics is fairly easy. 

Keto diet basics involve some simple rules about what to remove from your diet. Part of the appeal of the keto diet is that you can eat most of the things you like. What defines keto diet basics is mostly learning to identify the foods you should not eat rather than which foods you should eat. 

The keto diet is built on the idea that most of the issues with weight loss are due to the number of carbohydrates we consume. By eliminating, or vastly reducing, these carbs, we will not only lose weight but also alter our metabolism to that we keep the weight off. Keto diet basics involve learning to manage this basic premise. 

What is the keto diet? What are the benefits of the keto diet? And what foods should you avoid on the keto diet? This guide will give you the information to understand the keto diet basics and begin losing weight on the keto diet.

What is a keto diet?

A ketogenic diet focuses on lowering carbs and increasing fats to lower blood sugar and insulin levels. This alters your body's metabolism so that you burn fats instead of carbs. By reducing the levels of complex carbohydrates, the metabolism must burn fats in order to generate energy. 

A ketogenic diet, often simply called the keto diet, works by strictly limiting carbs. It differs from the so-called "Adkins diet," because a ketogenic diet helps you accomplish your fitness goals by replacing carbs with fats. By causing a drastic reduction in carbs, the ketogenic diet causes a physiological reaction called ketosis. 

Put simply, ketosis is a metabolic state in which fat becomes the primary fuel for the body. Rather than the ordinary course of metabolism that relies on glycogens derived from carbohydrates, ketosis happens when the levels of glycogens are reduced to a point at which the body must draw on its reserves for energy. These reserves are typically fats. 

The keto diet drastically lowers blood sugar and insulin. This has been shown to have multiple health benefits which we will detail below. It may sound counter-intuitive, but the keto diet is healthy and will help you lose weight and get fit. 

Keto Diet Benefits

Weight Loss

The primary benefit of a ketogenic diet is to lose weight and reduce your risk of a number of diseases. A ketogenic diet has been found to be superior to low-fat diets for reducing weight since the process of ketosis directly impacts your metabolism and the way your body processes fats and carbohydrates. A low-fat diet only reduces your fat intake and cannot alter your metabolism in any lasting way. 

As opposed to a low-fat diet, a ketogenic diet is so filling that you do not need to count calories. People tend to feel more satisfied while maintaining a ketogenic diet and are therefore more likely to find success in losing weight and keeping the weight off. 

One study showed that people who maintained a ketogenic diet lost 3 times as much weight as those who were on traditional low-fat, low-carb diets. 

Diabetes benefits

Diabetics also benefit from a ketogenic diet. Since the ketogenic diet is designed to reduce or eliminate sugar and carbs, it has proven to be an ideal program for people with diabetes. 

Diabetes is characterized by profound changes in metabolism that lead to high blood sugar and reduced insulin function.

A ketogenic diet helps reduce fat intake and cuts fat on the body. This works as preventative medicine for pre-diabetic symptoms. For people who have already developed diabetes, a ketogenic diet has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity by as much as 75 percent. In another study, 95 percent of participants with Type 2 diabetes were able to entirely stop using medications for controlling their condition. 

Other Benefits

  • Heart disease: A ketogenic diet can help control risk factors for heart disease like high body fat, high cholesterol, and hypertension. 
  • Cancer: Several types of cancer can be treated with the ketogenic diet. It has been shown to slow tumor growth. 
  • Alzheimer’s disease: The keto diet shows promise in slowing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. 
  • Brain injuries: A ketogenic diet has been shown to help in recovering from concussions and brain injuries. 
  • Acne: Reduced insulin levels and a concurrent reduction in sugar intake (often in processed foods) may help improve acne breakouts. 

Many of these benefits seem obvious when you consider that an overall reduction in carbs tends to help with things like blood sugar. Cutting down or eliminating processed foods is just good nutrition in the first place. 

What to eat on a keto diet?

The most surprising thing about keto basics is the wide range of foods you are allowed to eat while on the diet. The keto diet vastly differs from diets like calorie counting diets and low-fat diets because it gives you tremendous freedom with what you can eat. Foods that are safe for the keto diet include:

  • Meat: Red meat, steak, ham, sausage, bacon (yes, bacon), chicken, and turkey. 
  • Fatty fish: Salmons, trout, and tuna are the top choices. 
  • Eggs. Cage-free or omega-3 whole eggs. 
  • Butter and cream: Grass-fed
  • Cheese: Make sure you buy unprocessed cheese. Cheddar, goat, cream, blue, mozzarella. 
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, etc. These make great keto snacks. 
  • Avocadoes: Fresh guacamole, for example. 
  • Healthy oils: Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil. 
  • Low-carb vegetables: Tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc. 
  • Salt, pepper, healthy unprocessed herbs, and spice. 

Part of the appeal of a ketogenic diet is that you are able to eat all kinds of foods that are filling and satisfying. 

What to drink on a keto diet?

Water. We include water because it is fine for any diet and because it is important to always stay hydrated no matter what you are eating. Always drink plenty of fresh pure water and stay hydrated for your health. 

Black or green tea. Green tea is especially good for you while on the keto diet since it naturally contains antioxidants which are ideal for restoring your health by cutting down on oxidative stress. Black and green tea are both naturally low in carbs and are great keto diet drinks. 

Coffee. Coffee is naturally carb-free and it may give your metabolism a boost thereby assisting the keto diet toward your weight-loss goals. 

Vegetable juices. Some vegetables are high in carbs so you need to be careful what you include in your juices. Some of the best keto-friendly vegetables are 

  • celery
  • cucumber
  • leafy greens like kale and spinach

If you do not have a juicer at home, some store-bought juices will suffice. Just make sure you check the product labels to make sure there are no added sugars or other ingredients that can work against the keto diet. 

Fruit juices. This is another category in which you need to take care since some fruits contain high levels of carbs and natural sugars. Some of the best keto fruit juices include lemon and lime juices which you can add to your water for flavor. 

Sparkling water. These are fine as long as they do not contain added sugar. Make sure your sparkling waters are free of added ingredients. Again, you can always add some lemon or lime to your sparkling water to make them more satisfying. 

Foods to avoid on a keto diet

The real keto to keto basics is learning to identify the foods you need to avoid. Since you are free to enjoy so many of the things you like to eat, avoiding certain foods is generally not difficult. However, it is crucial that you avoid these foods and food groups rigorously. 

Examples of foods that you should avoid altogether on the Keto diet:

  • Grains
  • Pastas
  • Starchy vegetables
  • High-sugar fruits
  • Sweetened yogurt
  • Soda and fruit juices
  • Honey, syrup, or sugar in any form
  • Chips and crackers
  • Baked goods, including gluten-free
  • Corn products
  • Seed oils
  • Sugary snacks

The main thing is to avoid carbs of all kinds. Most product labels will tell you how many carbohydrate grams are in them. 

Keto Diet Cons

The keto diet is well-researched and carefully tested. It is known to be medically safe and effective. As with anything else, there is some con to the keto diet that you should be aware of. These include: 

“Keto flu”: Keto flu is the set of symptoms that can come with the onset of ketosis. These include energy loss, poor mental function, increased hunger, and sleep. Most of these side effects occur in the early phases of the diet. Drinking plenty of water and adding extra salt to your meals can help minimize or eliminate these symptoms. 

Accelerated weight loss. You can experience drastic weight loss in the beginning. Take care to not overly restrict your calorie intake in the first couple of weeks. 

Disordered eating. If you are prone to eating disorders, or if you have struggled with an eating disorder in the past, the keto diet may trigger some of these tendencies. 

As with any diet or health program, it is always best to check with your doctor before beginning the keto diet to make sure you have no underlying health conditions that need to be treated. 

Keto Diet Tips

The keto diet is largely a simple program. It does require that you pay close attention to what you are eating, and this requires time. Some simple tips to make sure you are sticking with the keto diet include:

  • Start by familiarizing yourself with food labels and checking the grams of fat, carbs, and fiber to determine how your favorite foods can fit into your diet.
  • Planning out your meals in advance may also be beneficial and can help you save extra time throughout the week.
  • Many websites, food blogs, apps, and cookbooks also offer keto-friendly recipes and meal ideas that you can use to build your own custom menu.
  • Alternatively, some meal delivery services even offer keto-friendly options for a quick and convenient way to enjoy keto meals at home.
  • Look into healthy frozen keto meals when you’re short on time
  • When going to social gatherings or visiting family and friends, you may also want to consider bringing your own food, which can make it much easier to curb cravings and stick to your meal plan.

Keto Diet Sample Menu

This is a typical meal plan for one week:

Monday

  • Breakfast: two eggs fried in butter served with sauteed greens
  • Lunch: a bunless burger topped with cheese, mushrooms, and avocado atop a bed of greens
  • Dinner: pork chops with green beans sauteed in olive oil

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: mushroom omelet
  • Lunch: tuna salad with celery and tomato atop a bed of greens
  • Dinner: roast chicken with cream sauce and sauteed broccoli

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: bell pepper stuffed with cheese and eggs
  • Lunch: arugula salad with hard-boiled eggs, turkey, avocado, and blue cheese
  • Dinner: grilled salmon with spinach sauteed in sesame oil

Thursday

  • Breakfast: full-fat yogurt topped with Keto granola
  • Lunch: steak bowl with cauliflower rice, cheese, herbs, avocado, and salsa
  • Dinner: bison steak with cheesy broccoli

Friday

  • Breakfast: baked avocado egg boats
  • Lunch: Caesar salad with chicken
  • Dinner: pork chops with vegetables

Saturday

  • Breakfast: cauliflower toast topped with cheese and avocado
  • Lunch: bunless salmon burgers topped with pesto
  • Dinner: meatballs served with zucchini noodles and Parmesan cheese

Sunday

  • Breakfast: coconut milk chia pudding topped with coconut and walnuts
  • Lunch: Cobb salad made with greens, hard-boiled eggs, avocado, cheese, and turkey
  • Dinner: coconut chicken curry

As you can, see, keto diet basics include plenty of delicious foods.

Keto Diet FAQS

What is a keto diet? A ketogenic diet focuses on lowering carbs and increasing fats to lower blood sugar and insulin levels. This alters your body's metabolism so that you burn fats instead of carbs. By reducing the levels of complex carbohydrates, the metabolism must burn fats in order to generate energy. 

What are the benefits of the keto diet? The keto diet is best for a healthy weight-loss program. Not only does the keto diet help you lose weight, but it can also alter your metabolism so you can keep off the weight you lose. The keto diet is also effective in helping to prevent or control diabetes. 

Are there cons to the keto diet? Some people experience a set of symptoms collectively referred to as the keto flu. These include fatigue, energy loss, and slowed mental function. These symptoms usually go away as you adjust to the keto diet. 

Conclusion

Keto diet basics largely involve staying away from the foods listed above. Beyond that, you can eat most of the things you like. This is part of the appeal of the keto diet. As noted above, fresh juices and smoothies can be a great part of an effective and healthy keto diet. 

Sparn Detox offers a wide selection of juices, smoothies, and salads that are completely compatible with the detox diet. The added benefit of Sparn Detox juices and smoothies is that they are formulated to help detox and cleanse your body. 

In addition to sticking with the keto diet basics, you can also boost your health and restore the natural balance in your body with the detox packages available from Sparn Detox. These come in 3-day and 7-day packages to suit your needs. 

Sparn Detox also offers vitamin and mineral supplements to help you stay healthy no matter your fitness or weight loss goals. 

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