This ingenious take on a hasselback potato is low-carb but now low on taste. It’s full of all the best potato fixins, like cheese, sour cream, green onions and, of course, bacon! (Just opt for turkey or beef bacon.) Instead of a carbohydrate-heavy potato, though, it’s all loaded into a firm, roasted zucchini. This is a terrific keto-friendly way to use up all that zucchini growing in the garden!
Most people have probably heard of the Atkins diet, which is a pretty general take on ketogenic eating. Wildly popular in the 70s and again in the 90s, Atkins and the low-carb diet are one of the best ways to lose weight. In fact, one of the biggest benefits to low carb eating is that it is a very efficient way to lose weight without much effort. The combination of filling meals that reduce overeating and the fact that, when you’re in ketosis your body burns stored fat for energy makes this an ideal diet for people whose primary goal is fat loss.
One thing many people love about keto diet meal plans is that tracking your food is optional. "One of the biggest benefits of the ketogenic diet is that there's no need to meticulously track your calories like you may in other diets," notes Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of DrAxe.com, best-selling author of Eat Dirt, and cofounder of Ancient Nutrition. "Because you're filling up on fat and protein, you're more likely to feel satisfied and energized all day long, which causes you to naturally eat less." This isn't to say that food tracking on keto is discouraged. "Some people may find calorie counting a useful tool to be more mindful and aware of what they're eating, but it's not necessary on the ketogenic diet," says Dr. Axe, but there's no need to get too stressed about hitting a certain caloric goal, especially if you're not trying to lose weight. (Related: The #1 Reason to Stop Counting Calories)
Net carbs is simply total carbs minus fiber and non-digestible sugar alcohols, like erythritol. (This doesn’t apply to high glycemic sugar alcohols, like maltitol.) We don’t have to count fiber and certain sugar alcohols in net carbs, because they either don’t get broken down by our bodies, are not absorbed, or are absorbed but not metabolized. (Read more about sugar alcohols here.)
For another science-based resource on ketogenic diets, I highly recommend visiting the site that Raphael Sirtoli and his team over at Break Nutrition have put together. They have good content about low carb and ketogenic diets, and they offer more information on how to kick-start a ketogenic diet, measure your ketones and there's a great post on the benefits of ketogenic diets for inflammation.
What we do know, based on carefully conducted laboratory testing of overweight men, is that going keto probably doesn't help burn more body fat than a regular regimen. Instead, it forces people to dramatically curb their sugar intake (remember, sugar is 100% carbohydrate) and kick processed foods to the curb. Those are both good habits for overall health and blood-sugar levels, and they can help reduce your likelihood of developing cancer.
We seem to have breakfast, lunch and dinners figured out. But what about snacks? What about those moments where you’re sitting at your desk, or watching a movie, and your normal snacking is out the window with these low-carb dieting? Thankfully, Keto snacks are some of the best Keto-specific recipes out there. You’ll not only squash your cravings, but you’ll also be refueling with healthy fat snacks that will keep you going until dinner.
"Not only do I love IQ BAR's all-natural taste and smooth-yet-crunchy texture, but also its ingredient list," says registered dietitian Kathleen Wright, R.D. IQ Bars are loaded with healthy fats, fiber, and protein from plant-based foods like nuts, seeds, and fruit, she says. This low net carb, high-fat treat promotes sustained energy throughout the day and makes a perfect keto-friendly choice for snackers on the go. (But read this first: Is It Healthy to Eat a Protein Bar Every Day?)
You want to keep your cheats to none. Be prepared, make sure you’re eating what you need to be satiated (“full”), and make sure you’re satisfied with what you’re eating. If you have to force yourself to eat something, it will never work out in the end. This is just a guideline on how you can eat on a ketogenic diet, so you’re very welcome to change up what kind of foods you eat!
Hi Maya. I LOVE your site!! Interesting, informative with fab recipes and ideas. Hubby and I have just started eating low carb and I have to say, we are not finding it too difficult and I already feel sooo much better!! I find the hardest part is choosing low carb veg, I feel as if we are not eating enough. Any suggestions on how to get more veggies into our diet?
What's more, studies that have examined the efficacy of the ketogenic diet for weight loss have a few questionable similarities. First, they use the keto diet in conjunction with an extremely low-calorie plan (under 1,000 per day!), which makes it difficult to determine what caused the actual weight loss. Second, they all question the long-term impact on your heart of eating mostly saturated fat, not to mention how hard (and boring) it is to eat mainly coconut oil and butter for months on end.
"I recommend designing the meal around the fat and protein sources, since the carbohydrates are very limited. For example, if someone is having tuna for lunch, they may consider adding mayo to it. I also think a common mistake made on the diet, is individuals focus on reducing carbohydrates, but they do not increase their fat adequately. This may make it difficult to go into ketosis, especially if they are consuming too much protein. Some adults can be on a stable ketogenic diet consuming 50 net carbs whereas some may need to restrict to 15 net carbs."
One area where food tracking can be especially helpful, though, is ensuring that you're hitting the right ratios of macronutrients—protein, carbs, and fat. "The most researched version of the ketogenic diet derives 70 percent of calories from healthy fats, 20 percent from protein, and only 10 percent from carbs," explains Charles Passler, D.C., nutritionist, and founder of Pure Change. "In the ideal world, each keto meal and snack should have that same (70/20/10) ratio of macronutrients, but studies have shown that you'll still achieve great results even if each meal varies slightly from that ratio, just as long as you don't exceed 50 grams per day of carbs, or eat those carbs in one sitting," says Passler. In order to achieve these ratios without a preset meal plan from a dietitian or doctor, some food tracking is probably going to be necessary. But once you get the hang of things, you may not need it anymore.
By cutting carb intake significantly, we can drastically reduce insulin resistance, the precursor to type 2 diabetes. In addition, low carb diets, along with exercise, can be very effective at helping alleviate the symptoms and progression of type 2 diabetes. Beyond that, ketosis itself is appetite-suppressing, meaning your hunger will naturally check itself, increasing your caloric deficit and making you lose fat even faster.
Find some way to track daily food intake and carb counts. Keep a spreadsheet, use one of the online food intake trackers, or simply write it down in a journal. Not only will journaling help you stay on track carb count wise, you'll want to have a record of the foods you are eating, how you felt and the changes you make so that if you go off track, you can look back and see what worked for you. This is a good place to track ketone levels as well. I've created a free printable food diary for you to use. The Atkins website also has some nice tools for tracking your progress on a ketogenic diet plan. And this database is an excellent resource for food information.
Just this week, a 25,000-person study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Munich suggested that people on the lowest-carb diets had the highest risk of dying from cancer, cardiovascular conditions, and all other causes. Another study, published this month in the Lancet, also found that people who followed diets that were low in carbs and high in animal proteins had a higher risk of early death compared to those who consumed carbs in moderation. (The opposite was true, however, for low-carb dieters who opted for plant-based proteins over meat and dairy.)
In the first week, many people report headaches, mental fogginess, dizziness, and aggravation. Most of the time, this is the result of your electrolytes being flushed out, as ketosis has a diuretic effect. Make sure you drink plenty of water and keep your sodium intake up.6One of the fathers of keto, Dr. Phinney, shows that electrolyte levels (especially sodium) can become unbalanced with low carb intake.