What is the Keto Diet?

what is the keto diet

What is the Keto Diet?

Chances are, if you’re researching keto friendly flour alternatives, you’re either currently following a keto diet or are looking to learn more about this popular diet option. Many people choose to follow a ketogenic diet for health reasons or to assist with weight loss. But what exactly IS a keto diet?

It can sometimes seem like there are new “rules” about what to eat and what not to eat every time you turn around, but the keto diet has actually been around since the 1920s, when it was originally used to treat pediatric epilepsy patients. It helped to reduce seizures in these patients and is actually still used for this purpose today, in addition to being touted for weight loss and a host of other health benefits, which we will mention in a bit more detail later in this post.  

In the simplest of terms, a keto diet focuses on eating foods that are high in fat and low in carbohydrates, to help the body maintain ketosis. When you limit the amount of carbohydrates in your diet, your body uses up its stored glucose before turning to the burning of fat rather than carbohydrates for energy. Acids called ketones are released during this process. In order to maintain a state of ketosis, you need to consistently maintain a low carbohydrate, high fat diet - otherwise known as the keto diet. The blueprint of keto can be broken down as follows:

  • 5 percent of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates (such as non-starchy vegetables and leafy greens) 
  • 20 percent of calories should come from protein, such as meat, eggs and cheese.
  • 75 percent of calories should come from fats like oils, nuts, butter and avocados.

Health Benefits of a Keto Diet

While many people turn to a keto diet as a means of weight loss, there are several other health benefits to adopting a keto lifestyle. To name a few, a keto diet has been shown to lower triglycerides, help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, lower cholesterol, and it has even been shown to help several brain disorders. Studies are currently being conducted on the efficacy of a keto diet in treating diseases such as Alziehmer’s and dementia. 

While it may seem counterintuitive that a diet high in animal products could lower cholesterol, that’s exactly what has been shown to happen on a keto diet. A ketogenic lifestyle has been linked to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and increases the level of “good” HDL cholesterol levels, having an overall positive effect on cardiovascular health.

In fact, there has actually been a link shown between sugar and high cholesterol - a ketogenic diet eliminates all sugars...coincidence? We think not. 

It’s important to note, however, that following a keto diet isn’t necessarily carte blanche to eat a high fat diet with wild abandon. The types of fats you eat should still be “healthy” fats, and they should be combined with unprocessed whole foods such as meats, full fat unprocessed dairy, and keto friendly vegetables. 

Foods to Avoid on a Keto Diet

There are plenty of foods that you can eat on keto, but the most important aspect of following a keto diet is knowing what not to eat

  • Sugars and starches - this includes the obvious foods such as processed sugars, but it also includes natural sugars found in fruit. Fruit is surprisingly high in carbohydrates, with some fruits containing an entire keto-day’s worth of carbs in one serving!
  • Grains - again, due to their high carbohydrate content, a keto diet eliminates all grains, including wheat, rice, oats, etc.
  • Tubers and root vegetables - while otherwise healthy, tubers (such as potatoes) and root vegetables (carrots, beets, turnips) are a no-no on keto due to their high carbohydrate content
  • Sodas, juices, and alcohol - these are generally good things to avoid on any healthy diet, but particularly when following a keto diet, due to their high sugar and carbohydrate content

  • While it may seem restrictive at first, it’s definitely possible to modify some of your favorite recipes to a keto diet. Love spaghetti and meat sauce? Try spaghetti squash paired with homemade meat sauce. While most store bought sauces aren’t keto friendly, it’s easy to make a whole-foods homemade version that you can even freeze in batches for an easy and quick dinner. Spaghetti squash can be cooked in the microwave in about 5 minutes.  Love bread?  Try making it with spent grain flour.  It's a delicious alternative that is actually keto friendly!

    If you love snacks like hummus and pita, a great keto alternative is baba ghanoush and veggie sticks. Baba ganoush is similar to hummus, but made with eggplant, which is allowed on a keto diet, rather than chickpeas (which are a no no). Another delicious keto surprise? Spinach and artichoke dip! This rich, creamy dip may sound like a diet no, but it’s totally allowed on keto! 

    Unlike a paleo diet, a keto diet doesn’t eliminate dairy products. So you can eat foods like butter, cheese, (unsweetened) yogurt, and cottage cheese, and incorporate these into lots of savory recipes that make a keto diet seem anything but restrictive. 

    It’s Easier Than Ever to be Keto

    Even a few years ago, following an alternative diet was a pretty daunting endeavor. It was pretty difficult to find keto friendly options in your local grocery store, and if you weren’t a creative cook by nature, it could seem like a lot of work to make such a big dietary change. 

    Luckily, due to consumer demand and the popularity of diets such as keto, numerous keto friendly products have made their way to the market. Alternative flours, such as Grain4Grain’s spent grain flour, make it possible to enjoy even your favorite baked goods while sticking to a keto diet. Grocery stores stock alternative flours for those who prefer to make homemade keto friendly snacks, and many even stock ready made keto friendly items for people who prefer to grab it and go. 

    Whether you’re following a keto diet for weight loss or health reasons, with a little planning and use of the right ingredients, you can modify almost any of your favorite recipes to be keto friendly.

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