The ketogenic diet is a popular and often trendy diet in the health and fitness world and is one you’ll often hear about if you’re looking for the right nutrition plan for you. The key to any nutrition plan is to your food like an instruction manual, telling your body what to do and how to react. With kept, your aim is to get your body into ketosis, a state that burns fat for energy rather than carbohydrates. By depriving your body of carbs, it is forced to enter ketosis, building ketones and burning fat. At high levels, too many ketones can become unhealthy, but at the right level, it can help many lose weight. With a ketones diet, it’s critical you’re eating the right foods, know what to eat and what not to eat. With this guide, we’ll let you know the right foods to eat and put on your ketogenic diet food list for weight loss, the wrong foods to eat and to keep off your list, and how ActivEats can help people in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area to stay on track!
Food to Eat
Let’s start with the right foods to put on your ketogenic diet food list for weight loss, as there are several categories to focus on that will help you begin to build full-fledged meal plans and find ideal recipes for you! These include:
Fats and Oils
Contrary to popular belief, fats are actually good for you. Many associate fats in food with fat in your body, believing that one equals the other, but that’s not the case. Many fats are very healthy for you, especially from natural or organic sources like nuts and meats. Omega 3’s are one example of a very healthy and popular fat that is commonly found in a variety of fish. Many oils like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and flaxseed oil are great options to cook with, and get healthy fats; and butter is another great option for healthy fats.
Now, it is important to know that not all fats are safe and healthy, and some should be completely avoided. Saturated and monounsaturated fats are good, these are the ones you want to eat and are typically in foods like butter and the healthy oils. Polyunsaturated fats can be if they’re natural, such as in meat and fish, but are bad if they’re processed, in foods like margarine. Trans fats and hydrogenated fats are bad and should be left on the shelf. These are processed and chemically enhanced and will most often be found in processed or boxed foods. If you’re ever unsure, your best bet is to go with something that is natural/organic and not made in a lab or factory.
Protein is often highly associated with many diets, especially when building muscle, but you don’t want to overdo it when it comes to keto. However, it’s important to work it into your diet, and while nuts can supply some, meat is often the best choice. It is highly recommended to look for grass-fed, pasture-raised and organic meats as much as possible. Meat is a good option for both protein consumption and healthy fats, but as with most-everything in life, moderation is key.
Balancing the amount of protein, you eat in a ketogenic diet is important, because too much will actually hinder your ability to develop ketones and stay in ketosis, working against the point of the diet. That’s why fattier protein sources are ideal, like fatty fish, beef, pork bacon/sausage, various forms of poultry, nuts and whole eggs. Most of these protein sources lack carbs, making them easy choices, but still important for moderation. Be sure to watch your salt intake, as no matter the diet you never want to go overboard on salt.
No matter the diet, vegetables are always a great option, as they are full of nutrients and vitamins, and are so versatile for cooking. Leafy/green veggies from above the ground are your best options for keto, and are great options for any meal. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and smoothies are all benefitted by vegetables when cooked the right way!
The important thing to know with your vegetables is how many carbs are in, making sure to balance how much you have. Vegetables that grow above ground or are leafy tend to be less heavy in carbohydrates and are the best choice when you’re choosing what to eat. Veggies like Spinach, Green Bell Peppers and Romaine Lettuce will be only the lower end; while onions, broccoli, and sugary fruits like berries and apples will be heavier in carbs. These are certainly still ok to eat, but more discretion is necessary when choosing how much to eat. Potatoes and bananas are the types of fruits and vegetables you’ll want to avoid completely, as they’re very high in carbohydrates and work against the goals of your ketogenic diet.
Dairy is generally acceptable for the ketogenic diet, but it is highly suggested to use full-fat version of any of your choices. Whole milk, fatty cheeses, tend to have less carbohydrates and more healthy fats, benefitting you on both ends and giving you versatile options. Cheese can be used in a lot of different meals and is a favourite of many. Whole milk is especially good if you like smoothies and are great for post-workout recovery drinks.
Like with everything in the ketogenic diet, everything should be eaten in moderation, and it’s important to know what the lowest carb dairy products are. Dairy products like cream, greek yogurt, hard cheeses, mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese and more are all great dairy options for you. These are best used as add-ons, adding flavour, along with good fats to your dish.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds provide tasty and delicious sources of fats and protein, but similar to the meats should be consumed in moderation. Nuts and seeds are very versatile, as they’re great for snacks, as well as add-ons to various meals. They can be great in salads, in smoothies and so much more!
When using nuts and seeds, a helpful tip is to roast them first, as it brings out flavour, but more importantly brings out more nutrients. When choosing which nuts or seeds to use, look for ones that are lower in carbs like pecans, hazelnuts, and flaxseed. Nuts and seeds can be used in so many ways, including butters and flours, and in the right amount are a great addition to the ketogenic diet.
With beverages, water is always the best option, and the easiest choice to stay out of trouble. Black tea or coffee are both keto-friendly options if you need your caffeine. Protein drinks are great options for supplementation, and if you love the bubbles of soda, plain club soda, or soda water with lemon juice and lime juice are great options (in moderation, as you want to limit your citrus intake). Not only are they tasty, and satisfy the bubbles kick, but lemon and lime juice are healthy. Stevia-based sweetness are ok as well and be great with plain water or plain soda water. Broth, almond/coconut milk, and diet soda are also often consumed in ketones diets, though diet sodas should be very limited, if not entirely cut out. That goes for alcohol too, as hard liquor can be consumed (wine and beer are too heavy in carbs), but will affect your ability to enter or remain in ketosis.
With other foods like spices and condiments, be sure to stick to similar rules, and when it doubt, always read the label. Look for options with little to no carbs, avoid sugar and make sure it only has good fats.
Food Not To Eat
Just as important as knowing what food to eat, is knowing what food not to eat. One slip here or there won’t be a big deal, but ideally there are several foods you’ll want to avoid entirely as they work against your goals, taking you out of ketosis or preventing you from entering the state. This will severely inhibit your ability to lose weight. The following foods are ones you’ll want to avoid entirely:
Sugar is the biggest one to avoid, as it is the biggest antagonist to your weight loss goals, regardless of the type of diet you want. You’ll find sugar in almost anything sweet, such as pop, juice, candy, chocolate, ice cream, cookies and so much more. But you’ll find it in so many other things you wouldn’t expect too, including chips, yogurt, condiments like BBQ sauce and ketchup, spaghetti sauce, granola, sports drinks, many protein bars, vitamin water, canned soups and foods, cereal, bread, frozen meals and so much more. If anything is processed, it probably has sugar is to be avoided at all costs.
Sugar is the biggest culprit that contributes to adding body fat and is much worse than any of the healthy fats. As much as possible, try to limit your sugar intake to 0g per day, and if that’s not possible, limit to as close as 0 as you can.
Grains including bread, buns, pasta, cereal, cake, rice, corn, beer and even whole grains like wheat, rye, barley, buckwheat and quinoa. Because they take so long to breakdown in your body, they wind up being stored in your body as fat, rather than being burned for energy and the primary ways you add body fat. That’s the antithesis of your goal and is to avoided entirely.
As noted before, many these have sugar as well, and if they don’t directly have sugar in them, they work against your goals of ketosis, and because of the difficult in breaking down in your body, are an issue nonetheless.
Starchy vegetables fall into similar categories as the grains and are similarly difficult to process and breakdown in your body. Highly starchy vegetables include potatoes, corn, pumpkin, acorn/butternut squash, green peas, plantain, parsnip and more. Some are less starchy than others, and can be ok in moderation, but be sure to do some extra research beforehand and know what you’re eating.
Other starchy foods include many flours, oatmeal, crackers, noodles and more. Your best bet is just to avoid these, making sure you don’t ruin your diet and hurt your ability to lose weight and effectively use the keto diet.
Trans-fat is the unhealthy fat you’ll want to avoid completely, and is often found in margarine and other processed foods that have fat in it. Unlike the healthy fats, anything with trans fats and hydrogenated fats are bad for you, no matter the diet you’re trying.
Most fruits, especially larger ones, are best to avoid as well. Some smaller ones, like berries, can be enjoyed in small amounts (such as a post-workout smoothie), as they contain varying amounts of sugar. Many incorrectly believe that it’s ok because the sugar is natural, and while it is healthier than processed sugar, it is still a problem; especially for the keto diet. The sugar will have just about the same effect as processed sugar.
Low fat foods are very deceptive, and prey on the stigma and misconceptions about fats (which as discussed can be very healthy), and to compensate for the lack of fat are often very heavy in sugar and carbs. These are what we want to avoid, and good fats we want, so these are completely counteractive to the goals of the ketogenic diet.
If you want to add the convenience of healthy and fully honest food, along with never having to cook by having delicious meals delivered to your door in Toronto and the GTA, you can choose ActivEats. Every meal has full nutritional info, so you know exactly what you’re eating, and includes many tasty options that fit the ketogenic diet. With all the information readily available, you never have to worry about making mistakes, and it only takes a few minutes to heat up food for delicious meals. With ActivEats, you can save time and complications by getting delicious meals that fit the ketogenic diet food list for weight loss. The best of both worlds!