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What is the Keto Diet? And Delightful Recipes You Should Try

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Paleo. Vegetarian. Atkins. 

When it comes to popular diet trends and fads, you can have a wide range of options to choose from. Each diet incorporates different guidelines to follow with the intention of helping you look and feel your best. Some people may choose to follow these diets exactly, restricting their foods and being disciplined in how they use food as fuel. Others may choose a diet to use as a foundation to developing healthy habits like eating whole foods and cutting down on excess. 

And one diet that has especially grown in popularity is the keto diet

If you’ve ever even dipped your toes into today’s health trends or popular diets, chances are you’ve heard of the keto diet. A keto, or ketogenic, diet has grown in popularity as a viable option for losing weight, growing stronger and improving your overall well-being. 

But what exactly is the keto diet, and what makes it so appealing to many people? To help you in your journey of eating well and enjoying food, here we share an overview of this popular health trend. We’ll also share some great keto-friendly recipes you’ll want to try out. 

What is the Keto Diet? 

Like most other common diet trends, the keto diet focuses on whole foods to help people improve their health. For the keto, the foundation is in a low amount of carbohydrates, a moderate amount of protein and a higher amount of fat. With these ratios, the keto diet is known to be able to help you burn more fat effectively. 

Like a low-carb diet, the reduction in carbohydrates adjusts your body’s process of ketosis. This is a metabolic state when fat is burned for energy. Burning fat for energy also becomes much more efficient. Intaking fewer carbohydrates also causes your liver to make fuel, called ketones, from fat instead of those carbs. 

What are the Health Benefits of the Keto Diet? 

With the low carb and high fat, the keto diet can help improve overall health and performance in a variety of ways. Studies have shown that this diet is particularly beneficial in burning fat. It can be a great option for losing weight without feeling hungry all the time. 

The benefits of the keto diet extend beyond just weight loss. It can also help to improve type 2 diabetes as well as reduce blood sugar and insulin levels. 

Fat turning into ketones for use in the body, especially for the brain. With the amount of energy your brain needs and the fact that it can only run on glucose or ketones, this process can be a significant benefit to your brain health and function as well.

Other benefits include reducing risk factors for heart disease and cancer. It may also lessen symptoms of existing conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy and other brain injuries. 

What are the Different Types of Keto Diets? 

With this foundation of high fat, low carb, there is also some versatility in types of keto diets to choose from. Depending on your activity levels and what you hope to achieve in following a keto lifestyle, one type of keto diet may work better for you than others.

The standard ketogenic diet (SKD) is probably the most popular and easiest to follow. It usually sets the basis of your diet being 70% fat, 20% protein and just 10% carbohydrates. The high protein ketogenic diet is very similar to the standard diet but usually includes a higher protein percentage. For example, this diet often follows 60% fat, 35% protein and just 5% carbohydrates. Both the high protein and the standard diets have been studied thoroughly and are often more recommended. 

Two other types of keto diets that are particularly more intended for athletes include the targeted and cyclical diets. The targeted version brings in a higher amount of carbohydrates around intense workout sessions. The cyclical diet brings in a mostly keto diet with a couple of days a week as a higher carbohydrate percentage. It’s important to remember that these two diets haven’t been studied as much and may require more exploration. 

Who Shouldn’t Be on the Keto Diet? 

While the keto diet has been shown as a safe option for many, it’s certainly not for everyone. People who are insulin-dependent with type 1 diabetes or have a thyroid disease or multiple sclerosis should avoid the keto. Those with a history of eating disorders, such as binge eating, should also be careful in joining any sort of restrictive diet. 

Why is the Keto Diet Popular? 

With some restrictive diets, the guidelines set in place can leave you still feeling hungry even after a meal. With the keto diet, the high fat and moderate protein help you to feel full with the right nutrients. There’s no need to go through high energy spurts with sugars and then feel hungry an hour later, which can be the case with high-carb diets. In addition to helping with weight loss, it can also be a great option for improving your focus and keeping you alert all day long. 

What Foods to Avoid on a Keto Diet? 

With a keto diet, you’re restricted in the amount of carbohydrates you’re able to take in. Foods that you’ll want to eliminate or reduce in your diet include: 

  • High-sugar foods like candy, processed sweets 
  • Beans and root vegetables 
  • Grains like cereal, rice, pasta and other starches
  • Fruit of all kinds
  • Processed sauces and other low-fat or diet products, which can contain a lot of preservatives and artificial ingredients 

What CAN I Eat on a Keto Diet? 

While the list of restrictive foods in a keto diet may seem overwhelming, this diet also opens the opportunity to explore so many other great foods and recipes that can be just as delicious, if not better. Here is a list of some of the common foods included in a keto diet: 

  • Extra virgin olive oil 
  • Nuts and seeds 
  • Meat
  • Unprocessed cheese
  • Fish like salmon or tuna with healthy fat
  • Eggs 
  • Vegetables that are lower in carbohydrates, such as green veggies, tomatoes and peppers

With the keto diet, there are so many types of cuisines and recipes that you can enjoy while also improving your health. If you’re looking to improve your health through weight loss, improving brain function or just feeling and looking your best, a keto diet can be a great option. 

Keto and EVOO

With the foundation of healthy fats within the keto diet, adding in heart-healthy extra virgin olive oil just makes sense. Olive oil is a fountain of health benefits that support the ketosis process to help you improve your overall health. In addition to being a core ingredient in the keto diet, it also brings other health benefits like providing antioxidants, improving your skin and fighting against bacteria. 

Keto-Friendly Recipes 

As you start planning a keto diet, it’s important to have recipes and go-to dishes ready to go so you’re not left drooling over that bowl of pasta or plate of cake. Use these recipes, as well as many others, to prepare your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks so you can stay on track all week long. 

Eggs - as a key component to the keto diet, you can try them scrambled, poached and hard-boiled. 

Grilled salmon - simple and fresh fish, right off the grill

Salads - fresh, bright and very green salads topped with colorful veggies that are low in carbs can be a great keto-friendly meal for either lunch or dinner. This Avocado Salad is packed with protein and healthy fats with heart-healthy avocado and a flavorful vinaigrette. 

Cinnamon Rubbed Pork - Season your pork with flavorful seasonings and herbs, along with healthy fats from a single varietal olive oil.  

Asparagus and Brie Tartlet - a delightful blend of melted cheese and crisp asparagus

Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast - add a pop of flavor with a rosemary olive oil. 

Blackened Salmon Caprese Skewers - a bright line-up of fresh foods and healthy ingredients.

Grilled Shrimp and Scallop Skewers - try these seafood favorites with a bright pop of lemon. 

Pistachio Crusted Beef Tenderloin - bring in some heart-healthy nuts in this protein-packed dish.

Kickstart Your Health with Keto 

With the number of health trends and fad diets out there, it’s important to choose a healthy lifestyle that works for you and your health goals. A keto diet can be a great option for weight loss without feeling hungry all the time. And, if you’re ready to jump in, heart-healthy ingredients like extra virgin olive oil can help you reach those goals. 

 

 

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