As is the case with any diet we choose to follow, there is a right and a wrong way to do it.
In the case of keto, there are some specifics that will basically determine whether keto will be successful or not. So, if you are considering keto, or are trying to do it but failing to succeed, here is how you can do the right things and avoid the wrongs to ensure you get the results you are after.
Monitor your macros
Keto is not just a low carb diet; rather it is a low carb, high fat diet. This means that it will not be enough to cut carbs out of your diet, rather you will need to work towards a ratio of 70 per cent total fat, 20 per cent protein and less than 10 per cent carbs. This is not easy. Nor can you determine this without the help of a monitoring program such as ‘myfitnesspal’, which is able to calculate macros for you. Often people think that they are eating keto when really they are on a high protein, low carb diet, which does not work the same way.
Be fussy with your fats
Old school approaches to keto encouraged any type of fat to be consumed whether it was ‘healthy’ fat or not. This meant that keto diets were often packed with bacon, cream, coconut oil and fatty meats.
A revised approach includes a focus on good quality fats. This means fats from nuts, seeds, oily fish and olive oil. The key is to keep saturated fat intake controlled, and promote the consumption of the fats not associated with an increase in heart disease risk or increased inflammatory processes in the body.
Stick to set meals
As keto is not always an overly prescriptive program, it can be very easy to over consume calories on a keto plan, which will in turn negate weight loss.
An easy way to avoid this overconsumption is to stick to 2-3 meals each day. Set meal times will ensure your overall calorie intake is controlled. Set meal times will also make it easier to achieve the macro targets of keto as opposed to adding in snacks, which tend to bump up your protein and calorie intake.
Get some fresh foods
As keto generally eliminates most wholegrains, legumes and fruits and vegetables from the diet, the diet can lack fresh, healthy food.
Be mindful of this tendency and make a intensive effort to include some fresh low carb fruits (such as berries) and plenty of low carb vegetables (such as leafy greens or via a homemade vegetable soup) to reap the nutritional benefits that come from eating fresh, unprocessed foods.
Choose processed snacks
With interest in keto on the rise, there is also an influx of low carb keto snacks, balls, bars and shakes that are promoted as keto friendly but can completely blow out your calorie intake if you are not careful.
If you must snack, remember that a snack should contain just 100-200 calories at most and fresh, less processed snacks such as vegetables sticks with avocado, nuts or nut spread with high protein bread will be better options than formulated bars and shakes.
Too many calories
Keto does not mean that you can eat as much cream, butter, bacon and oil as you like. The same diet principles remain that there still needs to be a calorie deficit to achieve weight loss.
So, while you can include more avocado, nuts and seeds in your diet this does not translate into snacking on extra handfuls of nuts or whole avocado should the hunger pangs strike. You will still need to aim for calorie control via set meals to achieve weight loss long term.
Too much protein
The tricky thing to navigate with keto is that protein levels need to be kept relatively low, meaning you cannot replace the bread, rice or pasta on your plate with larger serves of meat, chicken or fish.
To keep your fat intake where it needs to be, and your protein below 20 per cent, you are looking at just 100g of protein at your meals or a palm sized serve as opposed to a slab of steak or chicken breast. Eating too much protein is one of the most common reasons those wanting to do keto fail to achieve ketosis.
Cheat too regularly
In life there will always be times when we indulge in high calorie foods that we know are not the best for us.
The issue with cheats for those on keto is that eating high carb foods such as pizza, pasta, chocolate, cakes and desserts will take you out of ketosis, and it will then take some time to get back in. This is the reason that small cheat treats here are there are the worst thing to do if your goal is to achieve ketosis. Rather, you are better to indulge occasionally with a larger meal or drinks session and then recommit to your keto 100 per cent to get the results you are looking for.
Susie Burrell is a nutritionist. Continue the conversation on Twitter @SusieBDiet.