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The Ketogenic Diet — What is it?
So, you want to lose weight quickly but in a healthy way? As a Registered Nurse that is also pre-diabetic, I am always researching the best ways to lose weight, decrease my blood glucose levels, and to stay healthy. Also, I’m looking for easy ways to include these healthy foods in my diet. The popular diet trend in America right now is the Ketogenic (Keto) Diet. The Keto diet includes low-carb, high-fat, and moderate protein foods. This low-carb eating will decrease blood sugar and insulin levels, and cause your body to start using up your fat stores and ketones. This reduction in carbs puts your body in a metabolic state called Ketosis. Then, your body starts burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain. You can easily tell if you are in a state of ketosis by using an at-home urine test with Ketone Test Strips (dip and read). The standard ketogenic diet (SKD) is the most researched and most recommended of the four keto diets. This article, Keto Diet and Recipes for Beginners, will give you a brief rundown of the Ketogenic Diet, and provide you with a sample meal plan and some delicious recipes you can try at home.
Health Benefits of the Keto Diet:
- Extremely effective way to Lose Weight and feel full (without counting calories or tracking your food).
- Lowers triglyceride levels and bad cholesterol levels.
- Can improve risk factors for Heart Disease.
- May treat several types of Cancer and slow tumor growth.
- May reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease and slow the progression of the disease.
- Can cause a reduction in seizures in children that have Epilepsy.
- Improves the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.
- May play a key role in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
- Can aid recovery after a brain injury.
- May help improve acne.
The Major Foods to Consume (you should base your meals around these foods):
- Meat: Red meat, steak, ham, sausage, bacon, chicken and turkey.
- Fatty fish: Such as salmon, trout, tuna and mackerel.
- Eggs: Look for pastured or omega-3 whole eggs.
- Butter and cream: Look for grass-fed when possible.
- Cheese: Unprocessed cheese (cheddar, goat, cream, blue or mozzarella).
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.
- Healthy oils: Primarily extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil.
- Avocados: Whole avocados or freshly made guacamole.
- Low-carb veggies: Most green veggies, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.
- Condiments: You can use salt, pepper and various healthy herbs and spices.
Useful Supplements for a Keto Diet:
- MCT oil: Added to drinks or yogurt, MCT oil provides energy and helps increase ketone levels.
- Minerals: Added salt and other minerals can be important when starting out, due to shifts in water and mineral balance.
- Caffeine: Caffeine can have benefits for energy, fat loss, and performance.
- Exogenous ketones: This supplement can help raise the body’s ketone levels.
- Creatine: Creatine provides numerous benefits for health and performance. This can help if you are combining a ketogenic diet with exercise.
- Whey: Use half a scoop of whey protein in shakes or yogurt to increase your daily protein intake.
Foods to Avoid (any high-carb foods):
- Sugary foods: Soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.
- Grains or starches: Wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.
- Fruit: All fruit, except small portions of berries like strawberries.
- Beans or legumes: Peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
- Root vegetables and tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
- Low-fat or diet products: These are highly processed and often high in carbs.
- Some condiments or sauces: These often contain sugar and unhealthy fat.
- Unhealthy fat: Limit your intake of processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
- Alcohol: Due to its carb content, many alcoholic beverages can throw you out of ketosis.
- Sugar-free diet foods: These are often high in sugar alcohols, which can affect ketone levels in some cases. These foods also tend to be highly processed.
Healthy Keto Snacks:
- Fatty meat or fish.
- A handful of nuts or seeds.
- Cheese with olives.
- 1–2 hard-boiled eggs.
- 90% dark chocolate.
- A low-carb milkshake with almond milk, cocoa powder, and nut butter.
- Full-fat yogurt mixed with nut butter and cocoa powder.
- Strawberries and cream.
- Celery with salsa and guacamole.
- Smaller portions of leftover meals.
Sample Ketogenic One-week Meal Plan:
- Breakfast: Bacon, eggs, and tomatoes.
- Lunch: Chicken salad with olive oil and feta cheese.
- Dinner: Salmon with asparagus cooked in butter.
- Breakfast: Egg, tomato, basil and goat cheese omelet.
- Lunch: Almond milk, peanut butter, cocoa powder and stevia milkshake.
- Dinner: Meatballs, cheddar cheese, and vegetables.
- Breakfast: A ketogenic milkshake.
- Lunch: Shrimp salad with olive oil and avocado.
- Dinner: Pork chops with Parmesan cheese, broccoli, and salad.
- Breakfast: Omelet with avocado, salsa, peppers, onion, and spices.
- Lunch: A handful of nuts and celery sticks with guacamole and salsa.
- Dinner: Chicken stuffed with pesto and cream cheese, along with vegetables.
- Breakfast: Sugar-free yogurt with peanut butter, cocoa powder, and stevia.
- Lunch: Beef stir-fry cooked in coconut oil with vegetables.
- Dinner: Bun-less burger with bacon, egg, and cheese.
- Breakfast: Ham and cheese omelet with vegetables.
- Lunch: Ham and cheese slices with nuts.
- Dinner: Whitefish, egg, and spinach cooked in coconut oil.
- Breakfast: Fried eggs with bacon and mushrooms.
- Lunch: Burger with salsa, cheese, and guacamole.
- Dinner: Steak and eggs with a side salad.
HERE ARE A FEW POPULAR KETO RECIPES
Sticky Keto Sesame Chicken Wings
- 5 tablespoons Ellyndale® Organics Sesame Seed Oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 1-inch (2.5 cm) fresh ginger root, minced
- ¼ teaspoon finely ground grey sea salt
- pinch ground cayenne pepper
- 1 lb (455 grams) chicken wings
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons tahini/sesame paste
- ¼ cup diced green onions
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- Place 3 tablespoons of the sesame oil, coconut aminos, vinegar, garlic, ginger, salt and cayenne pepper in a large container with a lid, and whisk to combine. Add chicken wings and seal with the lid. Set on the counter for 3 hours, or in the fridge overnight.
- Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C) and set out your large cast iron pan, or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Reserving the marinade, place the chicken wings meaty side up on the prepared sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and transfer to the preheated oven. Cook the chicken wings for 30 to 35 minutes, or until tops are golden.
- To prepare the tahini dip, 5 minutes before the wings are ready, transfer the reserved marinade to a small saucepan and add water, tahini, and the remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Cook on medium-low heat, whisking continually for 5 minutes, or until it has simmered for a minimum of 3 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a clean plate. Sprinkle the chicken wings with green onions and sesame seeds, and serve alongside the tahini sauce. (Recipe and photo by Leanne Vogel)
Garlic Lemon Shrimp and Cauliflower Grits
- 1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 1/2 large onion, diced
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoon ghee
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Chopped parsley, to garnish
- To rice your cauliflower, use a food processor fitted with a shredding or grating blade. It can also be done with a regular blade by adding the cauliflower in a few batches and pulsing it into small pieces the size of rice. Set aside in a large bowl.
- Heat a medium pot over medium heat, then add the ghee and onion. Cook and stir for about 4 minutes, until the onion begins to brown. Add the cauliflower, chicken broth, coconut milk, salt, and pepper.
- Turn up the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes or until the cauliflower is very soft and most of the liquid has cooked off.
- Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel and sprinkle it with lemon zest, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Toss to make sure it’s very well coated.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the ghee. Place the shrimp in the skillet in a single layer, and cook for 1 minute on each side or until they’re no longer pink and are light golden brown.
- Serve the shrimp on top of the cauliflower grits, add a drizzle of lemon juice, and chopped parsley as a garnish. (Recipe by Stephanie Gaudreau)
Spaghetti Squash Mac and Cheese
- 1 large spaghetti squash
- Canola oil spray
- 2 cups broccoli florets, steamed
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
- 1 cup low-fat milk
- 1 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus 1 teaspoon grated parmesan as optional garnish
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional garnish
- Preheat oven to 400ºF. Cut the spaghetti squash in half. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Spray the center of both halves of the squash with cooking spray, and place the cut side up on a cookie sheet. Roast until tender when pierced with a knife, about 50 minutes.
- Remove the squash from the oven, and let cool. Once it’s safe to handle, scrape the flesh into a large bowl. Add the steamed broccoli florets to the bowl, and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, melt the ghee on medium heat, and whisk in the whole wheat flour. Add the milk, and whisk quickly. Turn heat down to low, add the cheddar and 1/2 cup grated parmesan to the saucepan, and stir until melted. Remove from heat.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the spaghetti squash and broccoli mixture, and toss until all the squash is covered.
- Dish into 4 portions, and top off with the salt and pepper to taste plus red pepper flakes and extra parmesan if you wish! (Recipe by Popsugar Fitness).
As with any diet, it will only work if you are consistent and stick with it long-term. Add-in walking outside for 30 minutes per day, drinking more water daily, and getting enough sound sleep every night should help keep you on the right track for staying healthy and meeting your weight-loss goals. I hope you found the Keto Diet and Recipes for Beginners to be informative and helpful in learning more about a ketogenic lifestyle. (Article by Rudy Mawer, MSc, CISSN, for Authority Nutrition, http://www.healthline.com).
Below is a Keto Diet Meal Plan in PDF format, regular paper size.
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