Are you on the keto diet? Thinking about starting it? There are so many reasons people choose to try the ketogenic (aka “keto”) diet, from claims of weight loss to improved health and more. The keto diet has even been shown to be helpful for some people with epilepsy.[i] What is the keto diet, what can you expect, and what are some diet-friendly snacks? Here’s what to know.
What is the keto diet, anyway?
The keto diet is a type of diet that encourages eating a low amount of carbohydrates, a moderate amount of protein, and a high amount of fat. Typically, your body uses carbohydrates for energy. The keto diet aims to force your body to burn fat for energy instead of carbs – a state called ketosis – by reducing your carb intake and increasing your fat intake.
While the keto diet is now a popular method for losing weight, it was created in the 1920s to treat epilepsy.[ii]It’s been shown beneficial for epileptic patients who haven’t seen results with pharmacological and/or surgical treatment.[iii]
For those who are choosing the keto diet for fat loss and weight loss, the diet has shown to provide benefits in those areas, as well.[iv]
Tell me more about the science
When you reduce your carb intake to less than 50 grams of carbs per day, your body eventually runs out of blood sugar to use for energy. When that happens, your body reaches a state of ketosis in which it begins to break down fat and protein and use those for energy instead of blood sugar.[v] Additionally, ketone bodies are created in the liver and used by the brain for energy.[vi] Turning fat into energy requires more calories than turning carbs into energy, which may contribute to weight loss experienced while on the keto diet.[vii]
What are the different types of keto diet?
Did you know there are several different types of keto diet? They all have the same goal but slightly different approaches.
Standard ketogenic diet (SKD): This version is low in carbs (about 5-10%), high in fat (about 70-75%), and moderate in protein (20%). There’s no limit in place for the amount of fat a person can consume since every person has different energy needs.[viii]
Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): The TKD diet is similar to the SKD diet, however here a person consumes carbs around their workouts.[ix]
Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD): This diet includes “carb backloading,” where on certain days a person may eat more carbs than usual. For example, a person may have five ketogenic days and then two higher carb days.[x]
High protein ketogenic diet: This version of the keto diet includes more protein than the standard diet. The ratio is approximately 35% protein, 60% fat, and 5% carbs.[xi]
Calorie-restricted ketogenic diet: In this diet, the fat-protein-carbs ratio is similar to the standard diet, but a calorie limit is set.[xii]
MCT ketogenic diet: This diet is also similar to the SKD diet, but people focus on getting most of their fat content from medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). Coconut oil and MCT oil are popular sources of MCTs.[xiii]
Foods to eat on the keto diet
As a low-carb diet, the keto diet requires followers to limit their carb intake to about 20-50 grams per day. People are also encouraged to consume a high amount of fat. These guidelines mean some foods are going to fit better into the day’s meal plans than others. Here’s a look at some of the foods you can eat on the keto diet.
Low-carb vegetables: Choose non-starchy vegetables, as they’ll be low in carbs and calories but high in fiber and nutrients.
Seafood: Fish like salmon tend to be nearly free of carbs and shellfish like clams, oysters, and mussels are very low in carbs.[xiv]
Meat: Meat and poultry are allowed on the keto diet. They are great sources of protein and low in carbohydrates.
Cheese: Cheese lovers, rejoice! This is a keto-friendly food, as many types of cheese are high in fat and low in carbs.
Avocados: Avocados are high in fiber, making their net carb count about 2 grams per 3.5 ounces. They’re also high in vitamins and minerals.[xv]
Low-carb snacks: If you’re craving pre-packaged snacks, look for low-carb options like Keto Puffs from Biena Snacks. Per serving, our Keto Puffs have 5 grams of plant-based protein, 5 grams of net carbs, and 170 calories.
Foods to avoid on the keto diet
Just like some food items make great options on the keto diet, there are other foods you may want to avoid or limit.
Bread: We know, we know, bread is delicious, but it’s also high in carbohydrates, making it difficult to include in a low-carb diet. Try to limit your intake of foods like sliced bread, bagels, rolls, and tortillas.
Pasta: Another delicious yet high-carb item you’ll need to limit while on the keto diet.
Starchy vegetables: While vegetables are healthy, some have higher levels of carbs than others, such as corn, potatoes and sweet potatoes, and beets.[xvi]
Cereal: Even “healthy” cereals can be high in carbs, as they still contain ingredients like oats and whole grains.
Sugar: You’ll want to limit your intake of any food high in sugar, but don’t forget that this also includes items like sugar, honey, and maple syrup.[xvii]
Keto-friendly snack ideas
Need something to satisfy your snack cravings while on the keto diet? Try low-carb snacks like roasted almonds, Caprese salad, pizza made with zucchini crust, and sliced bell peppers.[xviii] Want something you don’t have to make from scratch? Try Keto Puffs from Biena Snacks. These crunchy, plant-based snacks offer 5 grams of protein, 5 grams of net carbs, and only 170 calories per one-ounce serving. They’re made with simple, whole-food ingredients like chickpeas, lentils, and peas, so you can feel good about eating them. They’re great on their own, but can also be used on salads in place of croutons and in soup in place of crackers. Click here to give them a try!