The Ketogenic Diet: A detailed beginner's Guide to Keto

Spread of Keto Foods on a table

The keto diet has become a go-to for many people. Many people start it to help with weight loss and even aid in controlling diabetes and epilepsy. Among other diseases, there are also grounds for believing it can benefit some people living with cancer and improve the lives of those with early signs of Alzheimer’s, so there are plenty of reasons to choose to go keto.

But what is a ketogenic diet? What foods are you allowed to eat, and what do you need to rule out?

What is a keto diet?

A keto diet aims to allow your body to achieve a state of ketosis. Ketosis is when your body learns to use fat for energy rather than the sugars a more traditional diet provides as fuel. The body absorbs the sugar we consume as carbohydrates.

The typical keto diet involves eating foods high in fat, moderate-to-high protein, and as few carbs as possible. While this means a significant change in diet for most, it doesn’t have to be boring or lacking in flavor! It is just a different mindset, and many people choose to go keto because the idea of giving up carbs is more manageable than cutting back on fats and meat.

What can I eat on a keto diet?

A standard keto diet aims to balance 75% fat, 20% protein, and just 5% carbs. There are variations, like the targeted ketogenic diet or the high-protein ketogenic diet, but the standard is the easiest to follow, and most people choose to go with the standard keto diet.

If you target just 5% carbs, then pretty obviously, you will fill your diet with low carb foods. Let’s look at some of the best foods to eat on keto, and any in these categories you should avoid.

1. Fish and seafood

Salmon with salt on wooden board

Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are perfect for a keto diet. They’re great sources of protein and fat and have no carbs at all. They are also super healthy, just full of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals.

Most seafood is keto-friendly, and shrimp and (most) crabs don’t contain any carbs at all, so feel free to indulge. Just remember that how it’s cooked matters!

2. Eggs

Sunny-side up egg

Another keto go-to, not only are they deficient in carbs (less than 1g in a large egg) but high in protein, cheap, and there are so many ways to prepare them. And you can get them everywhere. If in doubt, eat an egg! (Try breakfast egg muffins if you’re looking for something fast and straightforward to eat any time of day.)

3. Nuts and seeds

Walnuts, almonds, and cashews in bowls

Low in carbs but high in fiber and nutrient-dense, nuts and seeds are great to have on hand as keto snacks. Some are better than others, though. Almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts, macadamia, and pecan are best, along with chia and flax seeds. Cashews, flavored nuts, and pistachios contain carbs, and you should be wary of pine nuts and peanuts. Always weigh your portions.

4. Low-carb vegetables

Broccoli and cauliflower on a plate

Though a few veggies have a high-carb count, many you can eat on a keto diet. Your body needs the fiber and nutrients that vegetables contain to maintain your health, so don’t scrimp on including vegetables with your meals. Avoid starchy ones like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and beets, but eat plenty of cauliflower, kale, and broccoli. Most green leafy veg is excellent as part of a keto regime.

5. Yogurt and cheese

Various types of cheese on a wooden board

Milk may be out of the picture but not, thankfully, plain yogurt and cheese. While yogurt does contain a few carbs, it does help to make you feel full for longer and has protein and fat, too.

Cheese comes in countless varieties, and everyone is full of that all-important fat plus adequate amounts of protein. Carbs? Hardly any. An ounce (28g) of cheddar contains negligible amounts of carbohydrates yet has 9g of fat and 7g of protein. Cheese is also easy to buy, lasts in the fridge, is very versatile in meals, and makes excellent keto snacks.

6. Meat and poultry

Meat and poultry on a wooden background

Everyone on a keto diet has meat and poultry at the heart of what they eat. No carbs, but lots of healthy protein, fat, and nutrients. Snack on jerky and other dried meat when you’re hungry.

Are all baked goods and sweets off the table?

In their traditional form, yes – they’re full of carbs and sugar, and you’ll kick your body right out of ketosis. Since it’s hard to get into the first place, this isn’t something you want to do, even for a “cheat” day!

But you don’t have to give up carb-like treats and snacks. Fortunately, great brands are producing keto-friendly foods that mimic our beloved carb-heavy foods. Here at PBH Foods, we create numerous delicious keto-friendly treats and keto snacks that look so good you may still feel guilty for eating them! (Don’t worry, you don’t have to!)

If the idea of ditching carbs for breakfast is challenging for you, try one of our keto bagels. While a regular bagel will set you back 60g of carbs, ours have around just 5g per bagel. 

PBH Foods bagel platter

Our bagels come in three delicious flavors, and we’ve got other treats to help satisfy your sweet tooth! Our Keto Fudge Cookie, with just 2g net carbs, is full of chocolate goodness, crisp outside and soft within. Oh, and we’ve got keto-friendly donuts, too. 

A keto diet can make a substantial positive impact on your life and make you healthier and happier. It’s challenging to start, but you’ll know what you can and can’t eat without thought once you get going. And, when you get a craving for something you can’t have, turn to treats like ours to help get you through. Click here to see our full collection.

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