What is the keto diet?

September 01 2019

Atkins, the zone diet, the 5:2 diet, you’ve heard of them all —  but what about the keto diet?

Keto is a buzzword you may have heard banded about by nutritionists and fitness experts, but what exactly is a keto diet?

A ketogenic, or keto, diet is one that eliminates as many carbohydrates as possible and replaces them with healthy fats. 

The science behind the diet is that your body produces small fuel molecules called ketones when it’s low on glucose, which your body can then use as a fuel source. And the reason the keto diet is so popular is thanks to its fat-burning qualities, as your liver creates ketones from your own body fat.

Remember that the key to a healthy lifestyle is the proper balance between diet and exercise. Starting a new diet, especially one that makes drastic changes to your current lifestyle, will naturally have side effects. 

If the keto diet is something that you would like to try out, we have all the information you need to get started.

The benefits of keto

The most noticeable benefit of keto, and the reason why it skyrocketed in popularity, is weight loss. Training your body to use ketones instead of glucose allows it to burn body fat much quicker than other diets. 

As well as weight-loss, you may also notice a reduced appetite when doing the keto diet. This helps promote weight loss further, as you’ll snack less and only need to eat when you’re hungry. 

You’ll even improve your balance of good and bad cholesterol. Consuming fat increases your levels of high-density lipoprotein (good cholesterol), which lowers your blood pressure and the risk of heart disease. 

What can I eat?

The most important thing to remember on the keto diet is to reduce down your carb intake. You don’t have to cut them out entirely, but you should stick to a maximum of just 50 grams of carbohydrates a day instead.

Starchy foods like bread and pasta are definitely a no-no, but also be mindful to avoid sugary foods like chocolate, sweets and fizzy drinks.

The main food groups of a keto diet should include:

Meat - Unprocessed meats are low in carbs and keto-friendly. Just remember not to go overboard, as keto is a high-fat diet, not a high-protein diet. Overdoing it will result in your body converting excess protein to glucose. Make sure you also avoid processed meat like sausages as they often contain added carbs.

Fish and Seafood - All seafood is green-lit on the keto diet, as it’s full of healthy fats. However, don’t buy breaded fish as it’s just adding unnecessary carbs to your meals.

Eggs - Boil them, fry them, scramble them, whip up an omelette, however you like your eggs, you can enjoy as many as you want.

Vegetables - As with any balanced diet, you need to make sure you’re eating plenty of veggies. They’re not only vital to maintaining your health, but are also a great way of replacing carbs in your meals (think courgetti spaghetti). However, make sure you’re choosing leafy and green vegetables, as root vegetables can be too starchy. 

Drinks - Avoiding sugary and carb heavy drinks is key here (that means beer too!). Cutting out alcohol altogether will give you the best results, but if it’s a special occasion, opt for dry wines or low-sugar spirits. Otherwise, stick to water or tea and coffee with just a drop of milk.  

Keto diet recipes

Keto chicken garam masala:

Ingredients

Quantity

Chicken breast

25 oz

Butter or ghee

3 tbsp

Salt

A pinch

Red bell pepper, finely diced

1

Coconut cream or heavy whipping cream

1 ¼ cup

Fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 tbsp

 

Garam masala ingredients

Quantity

Ground Cumin

1 tsp

Ground coriander seed

1-2 tsp

Ground cardamom (green)

1 tsp

Ground turmeric

1 tsp

Ground ginger

1 tsp

Paprika powder

1 tsp

Chilli powder

1 tsp

Ground nutmeg

A pinch


Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  • Mix the spices for Garam masala.
  • Cut the chicken breasts lengthwise. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and fry the chicken in butter until golden brown.
  • Add half the garam masala mix to the pan and stir thoroughly.
  • Season with salt, and place the chicken, including the juices, in a baking dish.
  • Finely chop the bell pepper and add that to a small bowl along with the coconut cream and remaining garam masala mix.
  • Pour over the chicken. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.
  • Garnish with parsley and serve.

 

Keto baked salmon with lemon and butter

Ingredients

Quantity

Olive oil

1 tbsp

Salmon

2 lbs

Sea salt

1 tsp

Ground black pepper

A pinch

Butter

7 oz.

Lemon

1


Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  • Grease a large baking dish with olive oil. Place the salmon, with the skin-side down, in the prepared baking dish. Generously season with salt and pepper.
  • Slice the lemon thinly and place on top of the salmon. Cover with half of the butter in thin slices.
  • Bake on the middle rack for about 20–30 minutes, or until the salmon is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
  • Heat the rest of the butter in a small saucepan until it starts to bubble. Remove from heat and let cool a little. Gently add some lemon juice.
  • Serve the fish with the lemon butter and a side dish of your choice. See below for suggestions.

 

Keto duck legs with herb butter

Ingredients

Quantity

Sea salt

1 tbsp

Dries sage or dried rosemary

1 tbsp

Dries parsley

2 tbsp

Allspice berries

10

White peppercorns

5

Bay leaf

1

White onion

1

Garlic cloves

2

Duck legs

4

Butter or ghee or duck fat

2 ½ lbs

Rutabaga

1 ½ lbs 

 

Balsamic sauce ingredients

Quantity

Balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp

Dijon mustard

1 tbsp

Tomato paste

1 tbsp

Heavy whipping cream or sour cream

1 tbsp


Method:

  • In a mortar, crush the spices together with the sea salt. Wipe the duck with kitchen paper and pat dry, then rub the spice mixture over the duck. Let sit for a while at room temperature.
  • Fry the duck legs in plenty of butter or ghee for a few minutes. You can even skip this step if you want but it adds an extra nice flavour and colour.
  • Put the duck and the gravy in the slow cooker. Add finely chopped onion and garlic, then pour over the butter, ghee or duck fat so the meat is completely covered. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.
  • Strain the cooking juices, set aside the onion, and pour into a glass jar. Cool quickly so the fat solidifies and the broth separates. Remove the fat with a spoon and save the broth for the sauce. Keep the fat in a jar, so you can use it for cooking later.
  • Peel and slice the rutabaga into half-inch (1 cm) pieces. Brush with oil, salt and pepper. Bake in the oven (365°F/185°C) for 20 minutes or until they get soft.
  • Bring the broth to a simmer, stir in vinegar, mustard and tomato paste. Add sour cream or heavy cream. Salt and pepper to taste, add some more vinegar if needed.

Vegetarian keto diet recipes

Fresh bell pepper and basil pizza

Pizza base ingredients

Quantity

Mozzarella cheese

6 oz.

Almond flour

½ cup

Psyllium husk powder

2 tbsp

Cream cheese

2 tbsp

Vegetarian Italian-style hard cheese

2 tbsp

Egg

1

Italian seasoning

1 tsp

Salt

½ tsp

Pepper

½ tsp



Toppings

Quantity

Grated cheddar cheese

4 oz.

Vine tomato

1

Marinara sauce

¼ cup

Bell pepper

1

Fresh chopped basil

2-3 tbsp


Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C
  • Measure out your flour and dry spices and add them into a mixing bowl
  • Add the mozzarella into a separate bowl and microwave for 40-50 seconds (the cheese should be completely melted and pliable with your hands) then add the cream cheese on top
  • Add the egg to the dry ingredients mixing bowl and gently mix them together
  • Pour the melted cheese into the mixing bowl and combine everything together (don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty!)
  • Split the dough into two equal portions and roll into two thin pizza bases
  • Fold up the edges and add any dough scraps to form a crust
  • Cook the dough for 10 minutes until they brown slightly
  • Spread the marinara sauce across both pizzas and add sliced tomato 
  • Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese on top
  • Dice the pepper and sprinkle on top
  • Cook for another 8-10 minutes
  • Remove from the oven, top with basil and serve

 

Vegetarian three cheese quiche stuffed peppers

Ingredients

Quantity

Bell peppers

2

Eggs

4

Ricotta cheese

½ cup

Shredded mozzarella

½ cup

Vegetarian Italian-style hard cheese

½ cup

Garlic powder

1 tsp

Dried parsley

¼ tsp

Baby spinach leaves

¼ cup

Grated parmesan

2 tbsp (garnish)


Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 190°C
  • Slice both peppers in half and de-seed them
  • Blend the three cheeses, eggs, garlic powder and parsley in a food processor
  • Pour the mixture into each pepper, filling them just below the rim. Add a few spinach leaves on top and mix with a fork
  • Cover with foil and bake for 35-45 minutes or until the egg is set
  • Sprinkle vegetarian Italian-style hard cheese on top and grill for 3-5 minutes to brown the top

 

Vegetarian red coconut curry

Ingredients

Quantity

Broccoli

1 cup

Spinach

1 large handful

Coconut oil

4 tbsp

Medium onion

¼ 

Crushed garlic

1 tsp

Crushed ginger

1 tsp

Vegetarian Fish sauce

2 tsp

Soy sauce

2 tsp

Red curry paste

1 tbsp

Coconut cream or coconut milk

½ cup


Method:

  • Add 2 tbsp of coconut oil to a pan and bring to a medium-high heat
  • Chop the onion and crush the garlic. Add them to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until the onions sweat, then add the garlic
  • Turn the heat to medium-low and add the broccoli to the pan. Stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes
  • Add the red curry paste and stir thoroughly to mix the spices, then add the spinach on top
  • When the spinach begins to welt, add the coconut cream and mix again
  • Once stirred, add the other 2 tbsp of coconut oil, vegetarian fish sauce, soy sauce and crushed ginger. Simmer for 5-10 minutes

Vegan keto diet recipes

Crispy peanut tofu and cauliflower rice stir fry

Stir fry ingredients

Quantity

Extra firm tofu

12 oz.

Toasted sesame oil

1 tbsp

Small cauliflower head

1

Garlic

2 cloves

 

Sauce ingredients

Quantity

Toasted sesame oil

1 tbsp

Soy sauce

¼ cup

Brown sugar

¼ cup

Chilli garlic sauce

½ tsp

Peanut butter or almond butter

2 ½ tbsp


Method:

  • Drain the tofu for 1.5 hours before preparing your meal
  • Remove any excess moisture with a paper towel and preheat the oven to 200°C
  • Cube the tofu and place on a parchment-lined baking tray
  • Cook for 25 minutes in the oven
  • Prepare the sauce by adding all the sauce ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisking thoroughly 
  • Once cool, add the tofu to the sauce mixture and marinate it for 15 minutes
  • Create your cauliflower rice by grating the cauliflower or using a food processor 
  • Heat a large pan and add any additional veggies in sesame oil if you want to
  • Add the tofu and a small amount of the sauce to the pan. Stir frequently while cooking to brown the tofu
  • Heat a separate pan and add a drizzle of sesame oil along with the cauliflower rice and garlic. Cook for about 5-8 minutes, then stir in some extra sauce 
  • Serve the cauliflower rice with the tofu and optional veggies on top, along with any remaining sauce

 

Vegan Thai soup

Ingredients

Quantity

Red onion

½ thinly sliced

Red bell pepper

½ thinly sliced

Mushrooms

3 sliced

Garlic

2 cloves, finely chopped

Ginger

½ inch piece, peeled and finely chopped

Thai chilli

½ finely chopped

Vegetal broth 

500ml

Coconut milk

400ml

Coconut, cane or brown sugar

1 tbsp

Tofu

275g cubed

Soy sauce

1 tbsp

Lime

½ juiced

Coriander

A handful, chopped


Method:

  • Place the broth, coconut milk, sugar and all the vegetables in a large pot
  • Bring to the boil and cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes
  • Add the tofu and cook for a further 5 minutes
  • Remove from the heat, add the soy sauce, lime juice and coriander 
  • Stir well and serve

So, if you feel like a keto diet is something you’d like to try and want to see how it could benefit your health, just remember to check in with your doctor before making dramatic changes to your diet.

For more information and tips on dieting, head over to our nutrition blog.