Low-carb diets for weight loss are all the rage, and you want in! But the ketogenic diet can produce different results based on which method you approach it. We at Konscious Keto have done the research for you to consider, before getting started on a high protein, targeted, cyclical, or standard type of keto.
Also, there are some vital tips you may want to implement to maximize your results on keto. Read on for the inside details to help you to jumpstart your weight loss and begin your new and improved, healthy relationship with food.
Recalculate Your Macros
The established calories-in-calories-out model is valid in the context of losing weight on the ketogenic diet, however it only accounts for part of the story of how and why our bodies do or don't expend energy to the point of releasing excess body fat.
Certain hormones—especially insulin, cortisol, thyroid, leptin, and ghrelin—directly impact our metabolic health and can act as a friend or foe in our efforts to lose weight.
Baring an issue related to hormonal imbalance, your decided caloric daily intake and macronutrient composition in your meal plan has about the most significant impact on weight-loss goals.
If the goal is to gain lean muscle mass, you want to increase caloric intake and even consider increasing fat or protein macros a bit. Conversely, it is essential to create a caloric deficit when seeking to release body fat.
Use free app calculators, like that provided by MyFitnessPal, to determine the caloric target and macronutrient composition needed to facilitate your desired results.
Jot down the food, drinks, and supplements you consume, along with your exercise level, to determine which actions are forwarding your set goal.
Documenting your journey can prove helpful during times when you may experience a plateau as you'll have a record of which methods worked before to help duplicate your success again.
Eat More Green Leafy Veggies
Yes, we do advise carb restriction on a ketogenic diet, but leafy greens are always welcome in abundance.
Greens like spinach, kale, and chard are low-glycemic options and packed with potent polyphenols and antioxidants—all of which are neuroprotective and support the body's development and function on a cellular level.
There are several ideal leafy greens, and other green veggies, grown above ground, to consume on a ketogenic diet. The following are some of our favorites and how they benefit our overall health and weight-loss effort.
All carb grams noted for each vegetable are the net carbs per 100 grams or a 3½ ounce serving:
#1. Spinach (1g)
Whether creamed, mixed into eggs to make a frittata, or the bedrock of a low-carb salad, spinach is one of the most keto-friendly leafy greens around.
In addition to adding a lovely compliment to any meal, spinach is rich in folate, calcium, niacin, vitamin C, and potassium—all of which are excellent to support optimal health on keto.
Also, another incentive to add spinach to cooked dishes is it helps us absorb higher levels of vitamin A and E, fiber, protein, thiamin, zinc, calcium and iron.
#2. Kale (3g)
Among the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, adding kale to your diet has nothing but upside.
This fibrous and vitamin-packed green also provides a serving of protein and together these elements help us feel fuller faster and for longer, which aids in curbing caloric intake without even trying.
Kale is an excellent source of vitamins A, K, C, and E; B6, manganese, calcium, copper, and potassium. Also, kale promotes glucose regulation which assists in weight loss as it prevents insulin surges which inform the body to store rather than release fat.
Furthermore, in addition to being beneficial for healthy brain development due to its folate and B vitamin content, the alpha-linolenic acid, and omega-3 fatty acid, present add to the appetite suppressive benefit, further maximizing the inherent hunger-regulating nature of the ketogenic diet.
#3. Cauliflower (3g)
This craving-crushing, cruciferous vegetable is probably the most versatile keto-friendly vegetable on the list—perfect for creating low-carb remixes of traditionally carb-heavy favorites like faux mash, pizza crust, cauliflower rice, or mac & cheese and more!
Packed with fiber and vitamins C, K, B6 and folate, this chameleon among veggies allows us to create keto-friendly dishes that are so comparable—at times better—than their higher-carb counterparts that people sometimes prefer the keto version, at least when they follow our easy-to-follow recipes!
Also, the protein in cauliflower aids in satiety, so consuming it in meals often causes us to eat less without trying—although we'll likely feel fuller for longer.
#4. Brussels Sprouts (5g)
You may require some experiential reprogramming to give this petite cabbage a try, but Brussels sprouts have come a long way from the soggy, barely green, bulbs found on school lunchroom plates nationwide.
Instead of boiling these beautiful and texture-rich buds, sear them in some salted, grass-fed butter until crispy or douse them in a decadent, creamy keto sauce for a delicious, knockout side or main dish that’s sure to please.
In addition to being a fantastic food ingredient in keto-friendly dishes, cauliflower is also anti-inflammatory, helps to regulate blood pressure, and protects bones as well as our nervous system...not too shabby.
#5. Asparagus (2g)
Well known and relied upon by many in the fitness and bodybuilding communities for its diuretic effect that contributes to rapid weight loss, asparagus is a wonderful low-glycemic vegetable to add to your meal plan.
Similar to a number of other vegetables that made the keto cut, asparagus is rich in folate, fiber, vitamin E, A, C, K and chromium, a trace mineral that improves the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream to cells—vital to glucose regulation and the prevention of insulin resistance.
This vegetable is an excellent choice on keto because its fiber content helps us feel fuller for longer, helps to release excess water weight that can present as unwanted bloating, and is a perfect low-carb dietary vehicle for super-rich sauces like a béarnaise or hollandaise.
#6. Broccoli (4g)
These lean and green stalks are another versatile veggie on the preferred list of keto produce. Whether loaded up with cheese and bacon for a delicious and savory breakfast bake or sautéed in grass-fed, salted, butter—broccoli is a staple vegetable on the ketogenic diet and a great addition to hot and cold dishes alike.
In addition to the bounty of vitamins provided by broccoli, including vitamins K and C—which helps with collagen production to support the development and function of body tissue and bone, and also helps heal wounds and cuts—broccoli is another fibrous veggie that aids in satiety to promote fat loss.
Furthermore, its dense consistency of vitamin C makes it an excellent antioxidant which protects the body from the oxidative damage caused by free radicals in the body.
#7. Zucchini (3g)
Another shapeshifter in the keto community, this versatile vegetable is an excellent addition to a ketogenic meal plan. Whether spiralized like spaghetti, made into fries or diced to create a savory hash, zucchini comes in handy for many low-carb uses.
You probably know zucchini contains fiber, but in addition to that, it provides us with vitamin C, B6, and manganese, along with other minerals.
Furthermore, zucchini is an intensely hydrating vegetable, and we always want to be mindful to replenish the water, vitamins, and electrolytes lost when we reduce carbs and usher the body toward a state of nutritional ketosis.
#8. Green Beans (4g)
Although likely not known for these two benefits, green beans are an excellent plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein.
Furthermore, green beans are not just a familiar sidekick of turkey and cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving: it's quite nutrient-dense and packed with potassium, chromium, choline, niacin, iron, B1 and B6, as well as manganese—a nutritional treasure trove.
Enjoy these tasty stalks seared in bacon fat renderings or topped with a cream sauce for a fatty and nutritious punch to keep energy levels high throughout the day.
#9. Avocado (2g)
Yes, we know an avocado is a fruit, but it is such an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and fat, that we would be remiss to exclude it from the list.
With more bioavailable amounts of potassium than an equal serving of a glucose-spiking banana, avocado is an essential component on keto and often stands in as a delectable, creamy side or main dish.
Try half of an avocado, sprinkled with coarse sea salt, paired with some omega-3-rich salmon, for a brain-boosting meal option. Trust us; you'll want to chuck at least one avocado into your cart during every food shopping trip to keep your nutrition and fat macros in range.
In addition to its addictively smooth texture, avocados are inherently nutrient-dense and contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, so you really can't go wrong with adding avocado to your diet.
Hey, aside from the health benefits, it's an excuse to host a Taco Tuesday and load up on the keto-friendly toppings in the name of good health.
The base ingredient for gut-healing sauerkraut and a clever wrapper for keto-friendly dumplings, cabbage—sibling to Brussels sprouts—is a useful and flavor neutral food ideal for anyone on a ketogenic diet because of its high fiber content and minimal glycemic impact.
Plus, its precious, gut-healing, leaves are full to the brim with potassium, phosphorus, thiamine, calcium, and iron, among other essential vitamins and minerals.
Drink More Water & Salts
If your introduction to the ketogenic diet brought with it fatigue, joint pain, and mood challenges, you might have been visited upon by the dreaded keto flu. These symptoms may arise as we remove sugar and carbs to ease into metabolic ketosis.
Two ways to prevent the keto flu, is to stay hydrated and replenish the body with quality sea salt to replace the vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes lost once we deplete glycogen sources and convert the body from a sugar-burner to a fat-burner.
The amount of salt or water needed will vary from person-to-person, but you can use a simple online calculator to get an idea of your approximate water intake requirements each day.
Ultimately, use the way you feel, vibrant and energized vs. exhausted and drained, as a gauge of whether you’re well hydrated. A bit of trial and error will inform you of the amount of salt and water needed to keep you in an optimal state, every day.
Add More Fats
We know, we may be the first in your experience to advise you in this manner, but our prescription for fat loss is to eat more fat! Now, types and quality of fat matter and are essential to optimize health so choose wisely.
If you’re looking for a more detailed breakdown on keto-friendly fats to incorporate into your program, and some of the best oil-based fats to consume of a ketogenic diet, read our recent post on the best keto-friendly oils here.
Center your keto plan around anti-inflammatory fats like extra virgin olive oil, avocado and avocado oil, MCT oil, grass-fed butter or fatty fish and meat.
Focus on quality and eat until satisfied; your body will suppress hunger signals and recalibrate your hunger levels over time so that you consume only the energy you need and nothing more, without even trying.
Go for a Gentle Walk
Get your blood flowing and pump some fresh, invigorating, air into your lungs. Stretch and take time to set your vision and intention for the day with a gentle morning stroll or go window shop and reacquaint yourself with your neighborhood during an afternoon walk.
Walking is an excellent way to expend energy, use stored fat in the body, especially if done in a fasted state, and won't trigger a stress-response that may occur when exposing the body to extended periods of high-intensity activity.
Besides, walking is a low-level, steady-state, exercise that provides a valuable boost to our lymphatic system—responsible for moving blood through the body 24/7, similar to the relationship with the heart and its crucial role in running blood through the circulatory system.
Eat Enough Calories
Again, similar to our advice to eat more healthy fat, this next suggestion may sound counterintuitive at first, but we think you're ready for yet another gift of the ketogenic lifestyle: make sure you're eating enough!
Now, there's no need to transition your eating habits to the opposing polar end of the spectrum and overdo it by eating in excess, nor will you have the desire to once fat-adapted.
This point speaks more to a need for a mindset shift on keto, a renewed and healthy relationship with food, one that you may be experiencing for the first time or after quite some time.
Eating nutrient-dense fats and other foods create such a deep level of satiety in those following the lifestyle that they report naturally eating less.
Again, ketosis naturally promotes a curbing of our hunger signals, and as you continue on with this eating style, you will likely find yourself eating fewer, albeit fattier, meals throughout the day.
A transition to the ketogenic lifestyle is as much about doing the work to renew your mind and relationship with food as it is engaging in the day-to-day rituals associated with maintaining the diet.
Get comfortable with this new health paradigm that encourages the consumption of healthy fats, low-glycemic fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fatty meat or fish, and remove the pressure usually associated with calorie-counting weight-loss protocols.
Just commit to the process, and the results will follow, often quickly.
Although many experience accelerated fat loss, along with other health benefits, on a ketogenic diet, other benefits may manifest over time.
Also, it's important to be patient as you transition to the ketogenic lifestyle and give your body time to become fat-adapted, no pressure; this is a lifestyle, not a fad.
Take precautionary steps to avoid common mistakes made by those starting keto and avoid the keto flu by remaining hydrated and using mineralized sea salt in your meals.
Check out our detailed post that shares the most vital tips to help you start keto without a hitch, here.
Summary of Low Carb Diet Tips
Achieving success on a ketogenic diet is directly tied to planning and empowering yourself with the necessary information needed to begin in a balanced and healthy way.
The ketogenic diet is a plan replete with delicious and nutritious foods; you'll want to make conscious choices regarding the types and quality of foods you eat to keep inflammation and oxidative stress at bay while cranking your body's fat-burning engine into full gear.
Take some time before you begin to peruse keto-friendly grocery lists and cookbooks to see what appeals to your tastes.
Also, consider implementing food prep to give yourself a substantial headstart for the week.
Lastly, curate a pumping playlist and carve out time for a stroll several times a week to boost serotonin—the small changes all add up to significant victories on keto.
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- Southon, S., & Faulks, R. (2002). Health benefits of increased fruit and vegetable consumption. Fruit and Vegetable Processing. doi:10.1201/9781439823187.pt1
- Stylianou, C., Galli-Tsinopoulou, A., Farmakiotis, D., Rousso, I., Karamouzis, M., Koliakos, G., & Nousia-Arvanitakis, S. (2007). Ghrelin and leptin levels in obese adolescents. Relationship with body fat and insulin resistance. Hormones, 6(4), 295-303. doi:10.14310/horm.2002.1111025