The world of dieting can get extremely confusing and overwhelming—fast. There's so much information about countless diets to try, which makes it difficult to choose what's right for you. Truth is you can read hundreds of reviews and books about all the diets and meal plans out there, but you'll never know if it actually works for you until you try it. Still, if you're on the pulse of what's buzzing in the health world, you've probably heard a thing or two about the keto diet by now.
The keto (short for ketogenic) diet is a high-fat, low-carb regimen that's been proven to effectively burn body fast. Essentially, it involves cutting out carbs and consuming a moderate amount of healthy fats. We talked to the person who knows best, best-selling author of The Keto Diet and creator of The Healthful Pursuit Leanne Vogel, to fill us in on all the foods the keto diet consists of.
"Keto is a low-carb, high-fat eating style where instead of burning carbohydrates as fuel, we eat healthy fats," explains Vogel. "When you eat carbs, our body generates a thing called glucose, and we store that in our muscles and livers. When we eat too many of those carbs, what we often see is that our triglycerides end up going up, and that's why so many people have high triglycerides, because they're just eating too many carbs."
Vogel, who once ate strictly plant-based meals, became intrigued by the keto diet on Instagram. "I checked out some pictures and saw that everyone just ate cheese and sausages," Vogel said laughing. "I tried it out 30 days and lost 12 pounds, 8% body fat, and that hormonal weight gain I had been struggling with melted off of me so quickly. The ketogenic diet is under the umbrella of the low-carb diet. The typical approach to the keto diet is its extremely low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein approach that often does not focus on the nutrient density or the quality of ingredients, but solely if you’re eating enough fat, not a ton of carbs, and moderate protein. Typically, people believe that if you track everything that you eat, you will stay in a state of ketosis, and you will lose weight. But nutrient density should be a focus, as well. When we're in this ketogenic state, we take carbohydrates out of the conversation and we allow our body—because it doesn't have that glucose to constantly rely on—to generate a thing called ketones. Our body can run off of ketones as energy, instead of glucose. And when we use ketones as energy, we don't need to eat all of the time. When we aren't eating, our bodies are actually burning our body fat as energy."
Since creating a lifestyle out of the keto diet, Vogel has had amazing results. "I've been able to get off of my ADHD medication, my anxiety is a lot lower, I've lost weight, my hormones are improving, and after every doctor told me I wouldn't be able to menstruate again, I finally did after years of trying," says Vogel.
Not sure where to start with your meal plan? Scroll on for a sample keto diet plan, recipes for every meal of the day, and then get ready to prep your next grocery store list.
- Start your morning off with a fatty coffee. "I do a thing called a rocket fuel latte, and the rocket fuel latte, which combines cacao butter (fat from chocolate), MCT oil or coconut oil, Hemp Hearts seeds or a nut butter, and a little bit of protein powder in the form of collagen. I blend these ingredients up with decaf coffee. It keeps my mind clear and my stomach full so I don't have to worry about breakfast food," says Vogel, who has some other caffeine-free rocket fuel recipes as well.
- A plate of bacon and eggs is a simple breakfast alternative. "You could also cook up some greens and serve that with your favorite grass-fed beef, or make a nut butter sauce and put that over your greens and have that for breakfast," says Vogel. Vogel's go-to breakfast recipes really run the gamut.
- The perfect lunch: grass-fed ground beef with horseradish on top, toasted kale, and almonds. "I love combining those together—it's delicious," says Vogel. "Add almonds and put a bunch of olive oil on top. My husband, who is also a keto enthusiast, will probably slather avocado mayo on top, which is another option." Want more ideas? Check out 21 other easy, low-carb lunch recipes Vogel recommends.
- "Focus on a lot of greens. Mix low-carb vegetables like celery, cucumber, leek, tomato, onion, spinach, and romaine are all good options with a high-fat meat," suggests Vogel. "We love ground meat because it's inexpensive compared to steak, which is another dinner option. Always add more fats on top, like avocado oil, coconut oil, pumpkin seeds, or walnuts." Fortunately, Vogel has 16 easy keto dinner recipes to choose from.
To dive deeper into the keto diet, you can listen to some of Leanne Vogel's podcasts.
Be sure to speak with your personal physician when considering significant changes to your diet.