8 Ketogenic Foods That Can Help You Slim Down
By K. Aleisha Fetters; Photography by Unsplash
You don’t have to do the full diet to get the weight-loss benefits of these noms.
If you’re looking for the most hard core low-carb diet of all the low-carb diets, the ketogenic diet is it.
The trendy ketogenic diet, which reportedly has fans like Lebron James and Kim Kardashian, reduces your daily carb intake to 35 grams or less, depending on the plan you follow. That’s about the amount in one large apple for the whole day.
The theory behind the ketogenic plan is that when your body doesn’t have any carbs to use as energy, your liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketones. Then those ketones are used as a primary energy source by your body (meaning you burn more fat each day), says Dr. Jim White, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios in Virginia. That whole process is called ketosis.
While, in a pinch, ketones can replace carbs as your body’s primary energy source, it often comes at a price. Ketosis can cause side effects like constipation, fatigue, brain fog, and possible nutritional deficiencies, White says.
Obviously, we don’t recommend any unsustainable eating plan that seriously restricts important nutrients like carbs. However, incorporating certain keto-friendly foods that are rich in protein and healthy fats into a well-rounded diet can get you to your pounds-dropping goals faster. That’s because these eats help you build more lean muscle, prevent blood sugar highs and lows, and keep cravings at bay.
“Salmon is rich in polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which you can only get through the food you eat,” White says. “Increasing your intake of polyunsaturated fats can help reduce inflammation and therefore improve your ability to lose weight.” Plus, salmon is brimming with vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that can help slash your inflammation levels even further, he says. Aim to consume one salmon fillet each week.
Almonds and walnuts tend to get all of the healthy glory, but macadamia nuts are a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E, and fibre, all of which can translate to improved blood sugar control, White says. They’re also rich in energy-boosting B vitamins including thiamine, which can help you crush every fat-blasting workout that comes your way.
Remember, though, a handful of nuts contains about 836 kilojoules and a single tablespoon of macadamia nut oil contains 502. So any nuts are best used as a replacement for other high-fat foods, rather than in addition to. Try subbing them in for meats, cheeses, and butter.
“The human body absorbs, digests, and utilises the protein from eggs better than it does with any other source,” White says. That makes eggs a go-to for building muscle and giving your metabolism a bump. Bonus: Protein can delay how long it takes for food to travel from your stomach into your intestines, meaning you stay full long after each meal.
And don’t skip the yolks! Apart from protein, yolks are rich in weight-loss supporting vitamins and antioxidants. And (contrary to what you may have heard) more than half of eggs’ fatty acids are actually unsaturated. Even heart disease patients can consume three whole eggs per day without any negative effects on their cholesterol levels, according to one 2015 American Heart Journal study.
“Coconut oil is a great dietary fat to include in your diet when losing weight,” White says. That’s because the bulk of coconut oil’s saturated fat content comes in the form of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which, might be more weight-loss friendly than the long-chain triglycerides (LCT) found in other vegetable oils. In one McGill University study, dieters who opted for oils rich in MCTs lost more body fat compared to those using LCT-rich olive oil. MCTs may also temporarily increase your metabolic rate, according to European Journal of Nutrition research. Coconut oil also has a high smoke point, so it’s great for sautéing veggies and scrambling eggs at high temps.
“Green tea boasts a high concentration of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a substance with more antioxidant activity than vitamins C and E,” says White. EGCG has also regularly been linked to improved weight-loss success. For optimal benefits, he recommends using it to replace your go-to coffee drink. The simple switch will save you kilojoules while fighting fat-spurring inflammation.
Avocado is technically a fruit, but it’s shockingly low in carbs. The whole fruit only packs 17 grams of carbohydrates along with 13 grams of filling fibre, White says. According to research published in the Nutrition Journal, adding half of a fresh avocado to your lunch can increase satiety levels and reduce cravings over the next three hours in overweight adults.
Peanut butter is a great source of satiating unsaturated fatty acids, protein, and energy-boosting vitamins, like B-6 and iron. Plus, who doesn’t want to eat peanut butter as part of their weight-loss plan? To keep your carb and kilojoule intake on the healthy side, opt for natural versions that do not contain any added sugars or oils, White says. Store it in the fridge and it will stay good for months.
Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition shows that snacking on cheese can help you eat less at your next meal. You can thank its blend of filling fat and protein for that! And, when it comes to getting your cheese fix while on a low-carb diet, aged cheeses like Brie, Parmesan, Gruyere, manchego, and blue are among your best bets. That’s because their ageing process keeps them from retaining fewer carbs, he says. Aged varieties of cheddar and goat cheese will also do the trick.
Looking for more low-carb options? Here are seven cauliflower rice recipes that weigh in at 1050 kilojoules or less.
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