Which Keto Diet Plan is the Best? 10 Options to Choose From
A standard keto diet focuses on eliminating sugars and carbohydrates, eliminating many otherwise nutritious foods to reduce carbs. Nevertheless, there are various low-carb, high-fat diet types to suit your needs and help you achieve your health goals.
Whether you are a new nursing mom, an athlete, or live a more relaxed lifestyle, we will discuss how adopting a low-carb, high-fat diet in different ways can prove beneficial and make it a more achievable and successful experience––especially for those seeking to follow a ketogenic diet long-term.
The best keto diet is the one you'll follow because it's the right fit for your needs and preferences. With that in mind, here are some options to consider when committing to a low-carb, high-fat diet to determine which version of the ketogenic diet is right for you.
Types of Keto Diets
All ketogenic diets emphasize minimizing carb and sugar intake. However, as we mentioned, there are several variants of the keto diet, and each may be better suited to one person or another, as we will describe below:
1 - Standard Keto Diet: The ketogenic diet (SKD) is characterized by a very low carb, moderate protein, and high fat diet. In this approach, approximately 75 percent of daily calories come from fat, 20 percent from protein, and only about 5 percent from carbohydrates.
The majority of people who try the ketogenic diet are often introduced to the diet using this framework. A standard keto diet is on the stricter side, with drastically limited carbohydrate macros, capping daily net carb intake to 20-30 grams or less per day.
The noted parameters of a low-carb, high-fat diet help you curb your sugar and carb cravings, harness your insatiable appetite, stabilize your glucose and insulin levels, and facilitate effortless weight loss.
You can try the standard keto diet to familiarize yourself with the low-carb lifestyle. It is possible to add more carbs or protein, or cycle through said macros limits to make living low-carb more realistic long-term, but it is better to start with a standard approach as a means to learn what is or isn't working for you and make adjustments to suit your needs as you go.
The keto diet can also be very beneficial for people with a body mass index over 40, the marker of obesity, and insulin resistance without diabetes. SKD is a short-term method to reset your metabolism, but you do not have to use it all the time to see results. However, many people who succeed with the plan adopt it as a permanent way of life.
SKD can be a saving grace for those struggling to release stubborn excess weight, but some people find cutting out certain carbs and sugars a bit too restrictive to follow long-term, and they instead use it as a method to reset the appetite after an unintended binge or to jumpstart weight loss after a setback or stall.
Although adjustments, commitment and planning are advised to maximize your low-carb experience. Also consider implementing these additional tips:
Limit your carbohydrate intake to gradually ease your body toward running on fat and ketones for fuel, rather than glucose (sugar and carbs).
Make coconut oil a part of your diet. In addition to providing extremely bioavailable fuel, medium-chain triglycerides are another excellent form of fat to keep you feeling full and free of pesky sugar cravings.
Boost your physical activity. Burning calories will aid in depleting your glucose stores and initiating ketosis to help your body burn excess fat, in a thermogenic ketotic state, with ease before long.
Eat more healthy fats. Fewer carbs and moderate amounts of protein can lack sustenance without including ample amounts of healthy fats to provide fuel and satiety to prevent naughty noshing and self-sabotaging carb-cravings.
Transitioning toward a fat-fueled diet from a plan consisting of lots of simple sugars and fast-acting carbs can require a considerable adjustment to the metabolism. Reduce intake slowly and begin including nutrient dense foods and increased healthy fats until you find your optimal sugar-free sweet spot.
Make sure you consume enough protein. As we switch toward running on fat and ketones for energy, our bodies rely on protein to build and repair muscle tissue. Therefore, eating enough protein is necessary for a ketogenic diet to prevent unwanted tissue loss.
Achieving and maintaining metabolic ketosis provides the brain and body with a potent arsenal of benefits that make maintaining the nutritional state advantageous. Monitor ketones and adjust your diet accordingly to maintain a fat-fueled, thermogenic state.
2 - Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD): In this diet, refeeding with higher carb foods alternates on different days of the week—for example, five ketogenic days followed by two days of high carbs.
This alternative version of the low-carb, high-fat lifestyle has all the benefits of ketosis while offering a more forgiving approach to anyone who finds the standard keto diet too restrictive.
A cyclical approach to the low-carb, high-fat diet should include consuming between 20 and 50 grams of carbs per day. Choose foods rich in healthy fats, such as avocados, almond butter, MCT oil, or eggs, as well as premium protein sources like 80/20 grass-fed beef or fresh-caught Alaskan salmon.
Furthermore, a cyclical keto diet is an excellent option for athletes and other active people who wish to lose weight or improve physical performance. If you plan on carb cycling, make sure to choose the healthiest higher-carb food rather than binge on fries and other low-quality fast foods; your fantastic figure and pristine arteries will thank you.
Furthermore, a cyclical diet can be a powerful psychological tool for managing any urge to overeat or binge, with the knowledge that you can enjoy higher carb favorites without feeling deprived from time to time.
Plus, following a cyclical keto diet or utilizing the practice of carb-ups can help as follows:
Specific days of high-carb eating can improve leptin function, your body's weight-regulating hormone.
Increasing carbs right before a strenuous workout will give you an added boost of energy that will help you beat your personal records and maximize your heavy weightlifting sets.
Cycling can also make social interaction and spontaneous outings around food easier since you'll have days where you can relax and eat more starchy fare than you're used to eating on a standard or therapeutic keto diet. So you can go with the flow without having to analyze the menu options ahead.
3 - Therapeutic Diet: The ketogenic diet emerged in the 1920s as an answer to the challenges posed by the damaging effects of epilepsy in medically-resistant children and is the most restrictive form of keto.
While fruits provide vital nutrients and are often an integral part of a healthy diet, limiting fruits to cut sugar intake drastically is usually recommended in a medical setting.
It is crucial to consume functional foods, which provide benefits beyond essential nutrition––an approach similar to the food as medicine assertion credited to Hippocrates, the man generally regarded as the father of modern medicine.
Your medical team will tailor your meal plan to fit the health concerns you're trying to overcome, but using these guidelines will help you follow any highly structured low-carb, high-fat therapeutic ketogenic diet:
Focus on eating antioxidant-rich, anti-carcinogenic foods shown to kill cancer cells; ingredients associated with parts of the world with lower cancer rates (i.e., think Blue Zones).
Avoid foods that trigger inflammation, such as trans fats, as they can worsen the symptoms of most conditions you want to treat.
Load up on immune-boosting, low-carb foods like dark leafy greens, ginger and turmeric to further prevent oxidative stress and free-radical damage which can lead to disorders and disease.
Your keto diet will be most effective if it includes a variety of colorful, fiber-rich, anti-inflammatory foods. Consuming a broad range of low-glycemic vegetables, and limited amounts of carefully selected fruit, will help you fuel your body and brain with the nutrition they need for best wellness and recovery.
4 - High-Protein Keto Diet: Including enough protein in the diet is key for repairing and building muscles, as well as aiding in feelings of fullness and satiety. Following a high-protein diet is suggested for bodybuilders, athletes, and individuals living very active lives.
Consider a macronutrient budget consisting of 30% calories from protein, 65% from fat, and 5% from low-glycemic, slower digesting carbohydrates.
There is concern that an increase in protein consumption while on a ketogenic diet could cause some of the amino acids consumed to convert to glucose via gluconeogenesis, preventing the body from entering a deep state of ketosis.
However, athletes and those burning down their glycogen stores regularly with vigorous exercise are far less likely to have increased protein-related glucose spikes or elevated levels of insulin production.
Diversify protein sources, adding animal and plant-based varieties, based on your preferences, and include nutrient-rich options like omega-3-rich mackerel or salmon, almonds or nut butters, or complete-protein options like hemp or chia seeds to round out your well-crafted meal plan.
Diets with high protein content and low carbohydrate macros may be beneficial in reducing your risk of heart disease, helping you lose weight, maintain muscle mass, and support bone health while aiding in glucose and insulin regulation.
Furthermore, a growing body of research suggests that protein consumption can help people lose more belly fat, which is especially helpful in reducing visceral fat and its adverse health outcomes.
Enjoy high-quality protein sources, preferably fatty ones, to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to repair and rebuild as you make physical gains while on a low-carb diet.
As a bonus, adding lean, premium proteins like chicken, steaks, or probiotic-rich, sugar-free yogurt to your meal plan can encourage continued weight loss even without exercising.
5 - Keto 2.0: A keto diet consisting primarily of proteins and fats can be an excellent short-term solution for rapid weight loss. However, the main complaint of those following a keto diet is the prospect of living without their favorite high-carb food for life.
The Low Carb, High Fat (Keto 2.0) diet emphasizes nutrient-rich whole foods and plant-based foods while allowing the intake of some moderately-glycemic foods, like the occasional sweet potato, which can boost variety and morale.
Keto 2.0 offers a diet that strongly emphasizes Mediterranean dietary sensibilities. Followers are encouraged to consume fatty fish, dark, cruciferous vegetables, low-glycemic fruits, and it suggests enjoying red meat as an accent rather than a primary staple.
Moreover, Keto 2.0 addresses several heart-health professionals' concerns regarding the keto diet. This updated version of a century-old plan encourages us to fill our plates with plant-based, unsaturated fats and to use saturated fat more strategically and modestly.
A low-carb, high-fat diet has a framework and a mindset, and you can mix these elements to create the curated keto plan that is right for you. A clean keto diet is a style chosen by some, and a high-protein approach is preferred by others, while others favor packaged food over freshly prepared meals, which is the dirty keto style.
Here are some of the most common approaches to the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet:
6 - Clean Keto: A clean keto diet can incorporate any of the variations of keto shared above. However, clean keto focuses on sourcing the most minimally-processed and high-quality foods possible. Think of large, colorful salads topped with avocado and fatty dressing and fewer trips through the drive-thru seeking high-fat fare for convenience.
Moreover, a clean keto diet encourages eating whole, organic foods packed with dietary fiber and nutrients that reduce oxidative stress.
7 - Lazy Keto: Lazy may have a negative connotation, but it suits this diet style. A lazy keto diet allows a limited amount of keto processed foods, and lazy keto followers are less strict about tracking macros––they may only monitor their net carbs and caloric intake.
Despite packaged and processed foods, one can still find short-term success with this diet in looking to lose weight. However, to ensure long-term health, you should adjust your plan during seasons to incorporate increased nutritional intake to prevent deficiencies.
8 - Dirty Keto: As the antithesis to a clean keto plan, a dirty keto approach emphasizes macronutrients over micronutrients; virtually all foods are permissible as long as they contain few carbs.
A dieter following dirty keto is more likely to opt for a double bacon cheeseburger than a filet of seared salmon with a side of asparagus: both options are low-carb, but their nutrition profiles are very different.
A dirty keto diet consists of less wholesome, more processed, or factory-farmed keto-friendly foods, which meet the macronutrient requirements but may lead to long-term deficiencies.
9 - Carb-ups: A carb-up technique is most beneficial to those well-versed in the keto lifestyle and metabolically flexible, as it may trigger cravings in some people, especially those new to the fat-fueled lifestyle.
Eat mindfully during this period and help digestion by lowering your fat macros a bit to avoid overloading the body with too many fats and sugars at once, which could prove problematic––especially after any significant period of restricting carbs or sugars.
Use carb-ups as a cyclical keto dietary strategy, or plan higher-carb meals around high-intensity exercise to minimize their metabolic impact, while boosting power and performance for heavy-lifting activities, by enjoying slightly higher-carb meals strategically.
10 - Intermittent Fasting: Lowering carb and sugar intake triggers many marvelous brain and body transformations that support looking and feeling our best.
Adding the ancient and prolific component of fasting—or eating within time-restricted windows unleashes a compounding effect, enhancing the effects resulting from metabolic ketosis.
As sacrament and dietary discipline, fasting has long been practiced in diverse cultures as a spiritual and dietary norm. Furthermore, fasting is an established and powerful metabolic tool revered the world over.
As a bonus, turning your plate down throughout the week signals the body to perform valuable regenerative processes like autophagy, as well as, typically resulting in:
Improve hormonal balance
Improved sleep quality
Increase energy levels
A thermogenic, fat-burning boost to aid in rapid fat loss by effectively burning more calories
Whether you choose to follow the popular 16:8 approach to fasting, eat within an eight-hour window, or spread your efforts over several days to maximize the benefits of autophagy, controlling your eating window is an excellent way to maximize the benefits of a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet.
Whether you choose a standard and clean keto approach, opt to try Keto 2.0 to keep a close eye on plant-based nutritional intake and gut-healthy fiber reflective of a more Mediterranean approach of cutting carbs that’s optimal for heart, metabolic, and cholesterol health—reducing sugars and relying on slow-digesting carbs are an ideal way to eat with holistic health in mind.
Your tastes may dictate that you go lazy or dirty on certain days of the week to suit your nutritional and lifestyle needs. And that’s perfectly OK, too; a keto diet need not be an all-or-nothing proposition.
There’s a unique way to do keto to accommodate a broad range of preferences and needs. So consider the noted variations above, mix and match styles and approaches and discover your tailored keto cocktail for achieving ketosis and optimal well-being.
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