What is a Keto Diet?

Leisa Cournane18 Nov 2021

One diet that is growing in popularity is the keto diet. On a keto diet, you substantially limit the number of carbohydrates you eat. When done properly, many people find that it leads to more energy and weight loss. But what is a keto diet specifically and how does it lead to these outcomes? 

Importance of Macronutrients

In order to understand how the keto diet works, it’s important to know about macronutrients. There are three main types of nutrients that the body can digest known as macronutrients.

  • Proteins are molecules that are comprised of chains of amino acids, organic compounds made of hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon. Each gram of protein contains 4 calories. 
  • Fats are made of a three-molecule structure known as a triglyceride. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature while unsaturated fats are liquid. Each gram of fat contains 9 calories. 
  • Carbohydrates are organic compounds made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen that store and provide energy for cells. They are either sugars, starches, or fibres. Each gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories. 

  • In a keto diet, carbohydrates and limited to below 10% of your total daily calories with the aim of putting your body into Ketosis - meaning that fat rather than glucose is the main fuel source your body is metabolising.

    How does a keto diet work? 

    A keto diet is a diet high in fats (these should be healthy minimally processed fats) and very low in carbohydrates. A typical diet tends to consist of about 50-60% of calories coming from carbohydrates. With a keto diet, only 5-10% of calories come from carbs and the remainder is replaced with fats. 

    Keto is short for ketogenic and includes any diet that puts the body in a state of ketosis. Normally, the body breaks down carbohydrates to produce energy. But when there aren’t enough carbohydrates, the body converts fats into ketones and burns those for energy instead. For many people, this provides more energy and also prompts weight loss.

    Keto Diet Benefits

    Ketogenic diets can provide many benefits. After sustaining the diet for awhile, some people report benefits such as: 

    • Weight Loss
    • Reducing blood sugar level
    • Improving acne symptoms
    • Reduction in seizures for people with epilepsy
    • Improved heart and brain health 
    • Increased metabolism

    Food to eat on a Keto Diet

    A ketogenic diet is very high in fat while very low in carbohydrates with a moderate amount of protein. Because of this, you can eat any foods that have no carbs or a minimal amount in a serving. Some foods that may be seen as unhealthy on other diets are acceptable as part of a keto diet. Common foods include: 

    • Cheese
    • Butter
    • Unsweetened Yoghurt
    • Eggs
    • Nuts and Seeds
    • Unprocessed Oils
    • Fatty fish
    • Meat

    Vegetables on a Keto diet

    It is still important to keep your veggie and fibre intake up so as well as having healthy fats and quality protein you should also eat liberally above ground vegetables. Aim for 6 cups per day - these are lower in complex carbs than the root veggies. 

    Long term Keto

    For some people long term strict keto diets may have a negative effect and this is where the keto diet variations come in - it can be useful to work with a nutritionist or health coach that is trained in low carb nutrition. Both Leisa and Sonya at ComplEat Wellness can help you with this.

    Keto Diet Variations

    Officially, a keto diet is any diet that puts the body in a state of ketosis. This means that there isn’t a single keto diet; instead, there are many variations of keto diet. For some people, a variation helps them stay on the diet and keep their body in ketosis. 

    Some varieties include Targeted Ketogenic Diet, which allows for carbs around workouts, High Protein ketogenic which lowers the fat amount while raising protein, and Cyclical Ketogenic Diet where several days of keto eating is followed by 1 or 2 high carb days, often done on a weekly cycle. For individuals, ketosis is reached at different carbohydrate thresholds. To maintain ketosis, most experts recommend a 10% carbs maximum, but you can also try a lower amount if that works better for you. 

    Keto at ComplEat Wellness

    At ComplEat Wellness, we have many items ideal for a keto diet. Some of these are raw ingredients such as nuts and seeds. Others are more traditional foods engineered to meet keto standards such as the Nothing Naughty sauce range, Keto Knaebrod keto cracker, White chocolate, and much more. We have many keto/low carb recipes that are also gluten free and dairy free that can help you get started. Shop online now or stop by our store to see other keto-friendly options we have available. 

    Our wholefood takeaway deli caters for most dietary requirements including keto.