The ketogenic diet is now on everyone’s lips. It is a type of diet followed mainly by sportsmen or in any case by those who practice physical activity at a competitive level, since it involves the intake of mainly protein and fat foods, in order to develop lean muscle mass and lose up to 3 kg per week. Many, athletes and non-athletes, have already experienced its beneficial and positive effects, so let’s see together what the ketogenic diet is and how it works, with an attached sample menu.
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Basic rules of the ketogenic diet
One of the cardinal principles of the diet provided by the ketogenic diet is to keep caloric intake to a minimum and instead promote fat and, in a moderate way, protein intake. When following a ketogenic diet, in fact, it is generally advisable to keep the level of carbohydrates below 50 grams per day, although there are variants that allow both to further increase and decrease the daily intake. In this way, fats replace most of the carbohydrates, thus providing approximately 75% of your total caloric intake, proteins, on the other hand, should provide 20% of your energy needs and finally, carbohydrates would be limited to 5%. The reduction of the latter is necessary to “force” the body to rely on fats instead of glucose to obtain the necessary energy and to function regularly – all this mechanism is part of a process called ketosis, reachable after a few days of the diet. While it is in this phase of ketosis, our body makes use of the so-called ketone bodies, ie molecules produced by the liver and obtained from fats in the absence of glucose, as a kind of alternative energy source. Although fat is often kept at a distance by those following a standard diet, research shows that ketogenic is an absolutely safe and effective diet for weight loss, certainly even more so than many low-fat diets. In addition, the ketogenic diet reduces appetite and increases satiety, which is especially helpful when trying to lose weight.
Food plan of the ketogenic diet
Switching from a more traditional diet to that described by the ketogenic diet may seem difficult, but in reality, it should not be at all, since in this case, the focus is mainly on reducing carbohydrates and increasing fat and protein during the daily in order to maintain a perennial and constant state of ketosis. While some individuals can achieve the latter only by reducing carbohydrates to less than 20 grams per day, others manage to get there much more easily and with a definitely higher intake. Generally, however, the lower the caloric intake, the easier it is for the body to remain in this state of ketosis, that’s why you absolutely must stick to the list of foods considered “positive” in a ketogenic diet.
Foods Recommended During the Ketogenic Diet
While following a diet like the one provided by the ketogenic diet, meals and snacks should all focus on the following foods:
• Eggs: Pasteurized ones are the best choice.
• Poultry: especially chicken and turkey.
• Fatty Fish: Fish varieties such as salmon or tuna are indispensable due to their abundance in omega-3 acids. Shrimp, mackerel, and herring are also consumable sources of protein during the keto diet.
• Meat: Grass-fed meat (from grazing animals), venison, pork. Red meat is preferable because it tends to have a higher lipid intake than the others, as well as abundant in myoglobin – a globular protein whose function is to reversibly bind oxygen.
• Dairy products and fatty cheeses: yogurt, butter, mozzarella, goat cheese, etc.
• Olives, nuts, and seeds: On a keto diet, it can be difficult to find foods that you can use as a snack, but usually you go for pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and olives.
• “Good” fats: coconut oil, olive oil, and seed oil.
• Avocado: avocado can have excellent use during the diet
• Non-starchy vegetables: broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers.
• Condiments: Salt, pepper, lemon juice, spices, and herbs.
Foods to Avoid During the Ketogenic Diet
As already stated, carbohydrate intake must be minimal if the goal is to induce the body into a state of ketosis. Here are the foods that should at least be limited:
• Bread, pasta, and derivatives: no white or wholemeal bread, no savory snacks or biscuits or pasta. Rice is also not recommended, as it is low in fiber and high in starch (another form of carbohydrate).
• Sweets and foods that are too sugary: ice cream, candies, maple syrup.
• Soft drinks with sweeteners: juices, soda, energy drinks.
• Starchy vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, squash, and peas.
• Beans and legumes: black beans, chickpeas, and lentils.
• Fruit: no grapes, bananas, and pineapples. The fruit is both a source of fiber and sugar, but since fruit is high in carbohydrates, it is generally not used on a ketogenic diet. Some, however, consume a relatively minimal dose of berries (such as raspberry), but still remain in a state of ketosis.
• High-calorie sauces: BBQ sauce, overly sugary toppings, and sauces like mayonnaise and ketchup.
• Certain alcoholic beverages: beer and mixed drinks are out of the question.
Make sure you make healthy choices for your body by staying away from processed foods and “bad” fats. The following foods should be totally avoided: margarine, vegetable oils such as corn, fast foods, processed meats such as hot dogs, foods that contain artificial colors, preservatives, and sweeteners such as aspartame.
Drinks on a ketogenic diet
Sugar can be found in a huge variety of drinks, such as iced tea, soda, fruit juices and coffee drinks. While following a ketogenic diet, in addition to high-calorie foods, drinks with a high intake of carbohydrates should also be eliminated. Not surprisingly, the abuse of too sugary drinks is often linked to various health problems, such as obesity or an increased risk of diabetes. Fortunately, however, there are some alternatives you can consider. The category of drinks that can be consumed during a ketogenic diet includes:
• Water: a little obvious, but water remains the best choice when it comes to hydration, not to mention that you should consume at least eight glasses a day. Sparkling water, then, can be considered as a replacement for the classic carbonated drink. If you want to add a little extra flavor, try fresh mint or lemon zest to put in water. Despite the fact that alcohol has to be consumed on a limited basis, indulging in some vodka or tequila with tonic water is allowed on special occasions.
• Coffee and tea without sugar: coffee is allowed, as long as it is sugar-free, as is tea, especially green tea, which is delicious and has many benefits for the health of the body.
Below you will find an example menu of the ketogenic diet, always bearing in mind that a certain type of diet must always be agreed upon with your doctor/dietician.
Breakfast: whole milk with 4 rusks
Snack: 10 grams of walnuts
Lunch: boiled cod with vegetables of your choice and half an apple
Snack: low- fat cheese
Dinner: grilled chicken breast with broccoli
Breakfast: low-fat yogurt with one and a half tablespoons of oat bran
Snack: 10 grams of almonds
Lunch: two hard-boiled eggs with a side of grilled aubergines
Snack: 2/3 slices of turkey breast
Dinner: natural tuna with a side of salad
Breakfast: green tea with pumpkin seeds
Snack: low-fat yogurt
Lunch: low-fat grilled hamburger with salad
Snack: dried fruit to taste
Dinner: mackerel with a side of boiled green beans and cherry tomatoes
Breakfast: whole milk or green tea
Snack: a piece of parmesan
Lunch: octopus salad
Snack: low-fat white yogurt
Dinner: grilled turkey with a side of tomatoes on the salad
Breakfast: orange juice and dried fruit
Snack: a handful of almonds
Lunch: marinated anchovies and grilled vegetables
Snack: whole yogurt
Dinner: mackerel with a side of boiled artichokes.
Breakfast: whole yogurt with a dark chocolate square
Snack: almonds with green tea
Lunch: low-fat cottage cheese and tomato salad
Snack: a sandwich with lean turkey meat
Dinner: fillet of horse with vegetables of your choice
Breakfast: semi-skimmed milk and a sandwich with raw ham
Snack: a piece of parmesan
Lunch: veal with a vegetable garnish of your choice and half an apple
Snack: low-fat white yogurt
Dinner: protein food of your choice between meat, cold cuts, fish.