If you’ve taken our Green Chef quiz to find out which of the three menus best matches your lifestyle, you may have been paired with the Keto + Paleo plan. In case you’re new to keto (or trying to decide if a low-carb, high-protein diet is the right choice for you), we thought it might be helpful to dive into the research and shine a light on what keto’s all about. We'll also look at Green Chef's keto menu to see how a subscription can help make keto easy.
What are the health benefits of keto? Which food are off limits? Is keto right for you? Let's find out!
What Is Keto?
The ketogenic diet, or keto diet, is an eating strategy designed to put the body into ketosis, a metabolic state where fat is burned for energy and the liver turns fat into ketones. The keto diet has been known to lower insulin levels and blood sugar, and the ketones produced are believed to boost brain function.
How Does Keto Work?
The keto diet prioritizes the consumption of high-fat foods and limits carbohydrates. It is similar in many ways to Atkins or a simple low-carb diet, but a careful approach is required in order to ensure the body enters ketosis. In order for the body to shift into this metabolic state, a minimum of 70% of one's calorie intake must come from fat, less that 20% from protein, and less than 10% from carbs. It's important to note that these ratios are vastly different to those recommended by the USDA for average adults; however, ketosis has a number of potential health benefits.
In order for keto to work as intended, it's important the body stays in ketosis, which means watching and tracking consumption of fat, protein, and carbs. A food journal is an essential tool for many keto dieters. If you're mathematically-challenged, there are also a number of websites and apps that can help with calculations and suggest strategies to help keep you on track. A meal kit designed with keto in mind can also help.
Are There Health Benefits to Keto?
The keto diet has a long history of being used to treat certain medical conditions. It can be traced back to the 19th century, when it was recommended for those with diabetes. Later, in the 1920s, it was effectively used to treat epilepsy in children. Today, keto has gained popularity as a weight-loss solution, and proponents of the diet call attention to a multitude of potential health benefits.
In an investigation into the keto diet by Harvard's School of Public Health analyzed current research and came up with the following:
The ketogenic diet has been shown to produce beneficial metabolic changes in the short-term. Along with weight loss, health parameters associated with carrying excess weight have improved, such as insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol and triglycerides. There is also growing interest in the use of low-carbohydrate diets, including the ketogenic diet, for type 2 diabetes.
Following a keto diet may also help lower blood sugar, reduce insulin resistance, improve acne, reduce the risk of certain cancers, improve sleep, and boost energy levels.
Which Foods Are Keto-Friendly?
When adhering to a keto diet, you should consume high quantities of fats, watch your protein intake, and limit carbs. Expect to see a lot of cheese, eggs, oils, butter, olives, avocado, meat, poultry, seafood, and low-carb vegetables on the menu. High-carb foods like pasta, bread, sugary treats, starches, and most fruits should be consumed in limited quantities, if at all. More than anything, it's important to make sure that foods are consumed in the right ratio of fat, protein, and carbohydrates so that the balance of micronutrients keeps the body in a state of ketosis. If you're just getting started with keto, signing up for a keto-friendly meal kit like Green Chef can help introduce you to foods and recipes that will help keep you on the right track.
Are There Downsides to Keto?
Keto requires dedication and, for many, a significant lifestyle change. There are also several health concerns of which to be aware. Harvard Health Publishing put together a comprehensive guide to keto that outlines many of the potential risks, which include:
- Nutrient Deficiency
- Liver Problems
- Kidney Problems
- Moodiness and Lack of Mental Clarity
Additionally, since fats are encouraged in high quantities, it's important to keep an eye on saturated fats. Because of the link to heart disease, it's recommended that keto dieters limit their saturated fat intake to no more than 7% of their total calorie consumption.
Before starting any new diet or embarking on a significant lifestyle change, it's always a good idea to speak to your doctor first. If you'd like to try keto but want to know more about the potential risks first, consult with a medical professional.
Is Keto Difficult?
Keto has strict rules and requires planning and dedication. Rachel Kleinman, RDN, LDN, a clinical dietitian, spoke with The University of Chicago's medical publication about the challenges of keto:
To achieve ketosis, the diet requires you eat 75 percent of your calories from fat, compared to 20-35 percent normally. It also requires 5 percent of calories from carbohydrates, about 20-50 grams per day, and 15 percent of calories from protein. Kleinman said it takes about 72 hours for ketosis to kick in. “It’s really an all or nothing diet,” Kleinman said.
Keto dieters often speak about their "macros," or macronutrients. When following a keto diet it's important to consume the right ratios of fat, protein, and carbs to keep your body in a state of ketosis. This requires diligence, detailed menu planning, and dedication. Some keto dieters find that a meal kit specifically designed with keto dieters in mind, like Green Chef, and help make keto easy.
I’m Ready to Try Keto! How Do I Get Started?
If you want to give keto a try, there are a number of ways to get started. A quick Google search will reveal a number of meal plans designed for beginners and those just getting started on keto; however, if you're going to prepare meals yourself, you'll need to set aside time for meal planning, shopping, and cooking.
If you're looking for an easier way to incorporate keto meals into your diet, check out Green Chef. When you sign up for a subscription to Green Chef's Keto + Paleo Meal Plan, you'll be able to select from a new menu of keto-friendly recipes each week, and everything you need to make the meals will be sent directly to your front door. Green Chef sends organic and non-GMO ingredients, and meals are ready in 30 minutes or less.
My Subscription Addiction reviewers have had great experiences with Green Chef, and it's also one of the highest-rated meal kits as voted by the MSA community. Currently, Green Chef has a community rating of 4.8/5!
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Do you follow a keto diet? Have you tried Green Chef? Head to the comments section and let us know!