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What you can’t eat on the keto diet?

What you can’t eat on the keto diet?
What you can’t eat on the keto diet?

As with any trend, if you’re going to jump on board, you’ve got to know how to do it right. That’s where we come in to help you with this all-you-need-to-know guide to killing it at keto.

keto diet: What is it?

Although the ketogenic diet is more popular than ever, its origins go back to 1923, when it was founded at the Mayo Clinic to treat epilepsy.

The diet calls for high fat, low carb approach to eating, with a breakdown of macronutrients that generally falls in the realm of 55 to 60 percent fat, 30 to 35 percent protein, and 5 to 10 percent carbohydrates.

So, why so low carb? Glad you asked. When we eat a balanced diet, our bodies naturally break down carbohydrates into glucose as our preferred source of fuel. (You may remember at some point being advised to carb-load before a race, for example.)

But when we don’t feed our cells with carbs to convert to glucose, the body turns to fat for fuel instead. When the liver converts fat, it produces an acid byproduct called ketones that our cells can use as energy.

This is better known as being in a state of ketosis.

What you can’t eat on the keto diet?

Grains

Bread, rice, pasta, and oats are all no-nos. So are couscous, farro, barley, and bulgur. Even gluten-free grains, including quinoa, polenta, cornmeal, and millet are off the table.

Legumes and beans

While they’re high in fiber and provide great nutrients, they’re too high in carbohydrates to suit the keto diet.

Low fat and processed dairy products

This is not the diet for light cream cheese or skimmed milk. In fact, milk should be used sparingly, since you don’t want to be consuming too many of those milk sugars.

Stick to a splash in plain coffee rather than a full-on cappuccino.

Starchy vegetables

Starch = carbs. Carbs = off-limits. Might as well take beets, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, carrots, corn, parsnips, potatoes, peas, and pumpkin off your grocery list.

High sugar fruits and juices

Fruit can be a refreshing palate cleanser when you’re eating so many other richer foods, but most varieties are simply too high in sugar to support ketosis, including apples, bananas, grapes, mangos, and pears.

As for juices, well, that’s also off-limits. It’s like drinking liquid sugar.

Dried fruit

Even the unsweetened dried apricots, raisins, dates, and prunes have way too much natural sugar to be kosher for keto.

Any and all sugar

Whether it’s added or naturally occurring, sugar must be pretty much eliminated. Don’t forget, added sugars even hide in condiments like ketchup, teriyaki sauce, and relish, so read ingredient labels carefully.

Processed or packaged foods

They’re usually hotbeds of hidden sugar, trans fats, preservatives, and other very non-keto ingredients.

What’s up for debate

Peanuts

And yes, that includes peanut butter. (So sorry.) Although peanuts are high in fat, they’re also technically legumes and higher in carbohydrates than other nuts.

Still, it’s up to you. Some keto eaters don’t see an issue with eating them in small amounts, while others take a strict stance against them.

Soy

Tofu is a low carb food, yet commercially available soy products like soymilk and soybean oil tend to be made with highly processed soybeans, and anything highly processed is forbidden on the keto diet.

Vegetarians and vegans going keto could use tofu as a source of protein, but if you don’t have those restrictions, stick to meat, seafood, and eggs.

Alcohol

Most alcoholic drinks do contain sugar, and sugar means carbohydrates. It’s probably a better idea to fill your carb quota with vegetables, which offer more fiber and nutrients.

If you really need to take the edge off, stick to spirits served with unsweetened club soda.

Condiments

It bears repeating: You’d be unpleasantly surprised by how many condiments, from barbecue sauce to sriracha to even some types of mayonnaise, contain sugar.

Tips for keto success

The keto diet is notoriously difficult to stick to, in large part because it’s viewed as so restrictive. In order to set yourself up for success, here are some tips to nudge in the right direction.

Choose the right fats

At first glance, the keto diet can seem like an excuse to go totally nuts on all the fats. But it’s not just about quantity consuming quality fat matters just as much, if not more.

Be discerning about what types of fat you’re putting in your body, focusing foremost on monounsaturated fats and MCTs, good amounts of saturated fats, and moderate portions of polyunsaturated fats.

Don’t go overboard on the protein

Between the dairy, the meat, and the eggs, this high-fat diet can inadvertently turn into a high protein one too.

While protein is a key part of the equation, much of it can distract the body into producing glucose rather than going into ketosis. Keep your protein portions in check and keep some (not a ton of) greens on your plate.

Stay organized

Whether it’s ensuring that you’re hitting the right ratio of fats, proteins, and carbs, or having a keto-friendly meal on the table every night, take advantage of the many resources available to set yourself up for success.

Be mindful of electrolytes and fiber

As you cut the carbs, your body no longer stores as much water as it did when it had a greater glycogen supply. Stay hydrated with water and using both food and supplements to keep your electrolyte count high.

Same goes for fiber don’t skip out on digestion-aiding, low carb vegetables just because you’re too busy enjoying all the cheese. Otherwise you may get a little, ahem, blocked up.

Give your pantry a makeover

If you’ve still got chips, cookies, bread, and soda in the house, there’s a chance temptation could win over. And just a handful or two of pretzels, and you could totally derail your efforts to put your body into ketosis.

There isn’t much wiggle room on the keto diet, which means there isn’t much room in your house for any food that isn’t keto-friendly.

Get rid of whatever doesn’t make the cut and replace it with whatever does so that you still have plenty to eat.

Try intermittent fasting

Let’s be clear, this does not mean starving yourself. But research has shown that going for longer periods between meals can actually help to put your body in intermittent ketosis, which, in turn, has an appetite-suppressing effect.

If you’re already comfortable eating the keto way, try fasting between the hours of, say, 7 p.m. and noon the next day (keep drinking water, though!) to take things one step further.

Exercise patience

We all may be used to instant gratification these days, but remember that you’re a human, not a robot. Your body won’t go into ketosis after just one day of eating no bread and all bacon.

Typically, it takes a few weeks to adapt to the high-fat lifestyle, and the adjustment period could include bloating or the keto flu. Know that it’s normal and don’t get discouraged you got this!

But is the keto diet for you?

Going keto may be the trend of the hour, but not everyone is cut out for the diet’s intense, high fat regimen.

Achieving ketosis can come with some gnarly side effects known as keto flu, a collection of symptoms ranging from headaches, mood changes, and nausea, to fatigue, insomnia, constipation, and bad breath.

While these are actually all part of getting to ketosis, if the symptoms are especially severe, you may decide the diet isn’t quite your cup of tea.

What’s more, a severely low carb diet may not be optimal as a long-term lifestyle, as its restrictive nature can lead to deficiencies of vitamins and minerals that can compromise bone and gastrointestinal health.

In addition, long-term research on the keto diet is lacking. And often, when the weight returns, it’s more pounds added on than the weight loss itself. This yo-yo style of dieting is linked to an increased risk of mortality.

Many health professionals believe there is an increased risk for heart disease on the keto diet, despite research that disputes this. The diet may also cause low blood pressure, constipation, kidney stones, and eating disorders.

The keto diet is not safe for any preexisting medical conditions, so please consult a doctor to make your transition to and from the keto diet as safe as possible. Always be mindful of your body’s reactions in the process.

Bottom line

If adhering to the high fat, low carb thing is doing wonders for your energy and health, great!

But remember: Just because your BFF is a die-hard keto advocate it doesn’t mean that you have to be too if it’s not working out as well for you.

Your physiology, lifestyle, and mental well-being may respond best to a diet that includes all macronutrients and the occasional frosted cupcake and that’s totally fine. Do what’s best for you.

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