The keto diet has become increasingly popular in the fitness and health community. Its popularity arises from the fact that it is linked to so many health benefits, including weight loss. In layman’s terms, this diet entails tricking your body to use its stored fat as the primary energy source instead of carbs. Currently, there are increased health risks such as obesity arising from the sedentary lifestyles. It is no surprise that this diet is becoming a dietary option.
Despite all this, the keto diet has not come into the spotlight without controversies. Most people are skeptical about the health aspects of this diet for the body and heart functions. As such, you might have seen numerous questions about this diet. Most of the popular ones include: How healthy is the keto diet? Can you be on a keto diet long term? Can this diet plan actually lead to weight loss?
In this article we will focus on finding answers to these and many other questions about the keto diet. We will discuss the science behind it, as well as its advantages, health risks, and meal plans. Strap in for more insight to help you with your 28-day keto diet plan.
What Is The Keto Diet?
The keto diet is an example of a very low-carb diet. According to Mayo Clinic, a low-carb diet limits carbohydrates consumption and emphasizes foods rich in healthy fat and protein (7). Given this, the keto diet is a low-carb diet plan with low carb ratios but higher ratios of protein and fat.
WebMD states that you receive most of your calories from this diet by consuming more proteins and fat (11). The idea is to lower your carb intake so that your body runs out of fuel. As a result of this, it breaks down fat for energy. The resulting process is known as ketosis.
Typically, ketosis can help you shed some pounds. It may also help manage certain medical conditions. However, at no point should you start this diet plan without talking to your doctor. So, if you are considering starting the 28-day keto diet plan for weight loss or any other benefit, first seek medical advice.
Doctors need to first verify if it is safe for you to start such a meal plan. This is especially the case if you have an existing medical condition such as diabetes.
The Science Behind The Keto Diet
In a keto diet, 99% of your energy comes from fat while the remaining 1% comes from carbs (3). The diet typically tricks your body into burning fat. What happens is that the body’s glucose levels tend to decrease due to the low carbohydrate intake.
When this happens, your body starts acting as if it is starving. In reality though, it is not. What occurs next is that it is forced to start burning body fat for energy instead of the carbs. The process produces chemicals known as ketone bodies (3). The body then burns them as an alternative energy source.
Analyzing The Basics Of The Keto Diet
Before you jump head first into this diet, you need first to understand what it involves. Like any other diet, the keto diet both allows and forbids the consumption of various foods. Let us discuss these basics before you start the 28-day keto diet plan. They are as follows:
The Recommended Foods
Some keto-friendly foods that you ought to add to your grocery list include:
- Vegetables. Medical News Today acknowledges focusing on non-starchy vegetables that provide you with adequate fiber, vitamins, and minerals (9). Such vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, mushrooms, asparagus, cucumber, cabbage, green beans, peppers, onions, and tomatoes.
- Protein foods. In a keto diet, you can acquire your proteins from various sources. Some of these include fish, tofu, red meat, chicken, tempeh, eggs, pork, unsweetened dairy products, Seitan, shellfish, and turkey.
- Healthful fats. Most healthful unsaturated fat sources of the keto diet include olive, avocadoes, sesame, and hemp seed oil. Other sources include nuts and nut butter, avocado, seeds, and fatty fish like salmon and sardines.
- Keto-friendly drinks. The best and most available keto-friendly drink is water. You are required to stay hydrated while on this diet. To flavor your water, you can add either some citrus slices of mint leaves. Other keto-friendly beverages include bone broth, unsweetened almond and soy milk, herbal teas, and some zero-sugar sodas.
- Pantry products. For your pantry, you can stock up on dried herbs and spices, garlic and onion powder, and fish and soy sauce. You can also add tamari, coconut cream, almond flour, cocoa powder, liquid or coconut aminos.
Foods To Avoid
Since the keto diet is a low-carb diet plan, you will have to avoid multiple carbohydrate sources. It does not matter if they are refined or whole-grain. The keto diet forbids all refined, unrefined and whole-grain carbohydrates, as well as sugars (6).
This means you will have to avoid starchy vegetables and grains like corn, bread, cereals, pasta, rice, cookies and other baked goods. You will also have to keep away from fruits and their juices.
Is The Keto Diet Safe?
Looking at the science behind this diet, our common sense will tell us that this diet plan is safe. That science will certainly recommend this diet for quick fat loss. Regardless, merely because it is backed up by science does not mean it is safe to implement without professional advice.
Experts state that the keto diet is safe to implement as a lifestyle change as long as it’s for a short duration. Preferably, these experts recommend following this diet plan for less than 2 or 3 weeks. If you surpass this limit, let it only extend between 6 and 12 months (5).
In such a case, close medical supervision is paramount. You also need professional guidance while transitioning from a standard diet to a keto diet and vice-versa. Likewise, the keto diet is also safe if it is followed by people with a doctor’s go-ahead.
People with several health conditions should not follow the keto diet. These include people with conditions such as (2):
- Thyroid conditions
- Pancreatic disease
- Liver conditions
- Gallbladder removal or disease
- A history of eating disorders
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Why Start A 28 Day Keto Diet Plan?
Numerous benefits attract individuals towards the keto diet. There is not yet enough long-term research in humans to support the anecdotally-described health benefits of the keto diet. Below are some of the reported advantages of being on a keto diet:
It Supports Weight Loss
According to Medical News Today, this diet can promote weight loss in several ways. It can boost your metabolic rate, increase your satiety, and fill you up for longer time periods(12). For these reasons, experts believe that this diet can help you shed extra pounds.
It May Reduce The Risk Of Several Cancers
The keto diet is believed by some to also help with preventing or treating certain types of cancers. However, experts acknowledge the need for more research on the effectiveness of the keto diet in cancer treatment and prevention.
It May Improve Heart Health
Healthy fats in foods such as avocado in the keto diet can improve your heart health by reducing your cholesterol levels (8). High cholesterol levels are the elements that increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases.
It May Work For Type 2 Diabetes
Experts believe this diet can work for type 2 diabetes as it helps in maintaining low but healthy glucose levels (1). Due to the low carb intake, there are fewer blood sugar spikes. These reduce the need for insulin. It is essential for anyone with diabetes to only attempt a keto diet under medical supervision as dangerous blood glucose shifts can occur and medications may need to be adjusted.
The Health Risks Of Starting The 28 Day Plan For Keto Diet
In most cases, the keto diet tends to be a drastic change for multiple people. Consequently, these individuals tend to acquire various side effects. The most common health risks and side effects of this diet include:
- The Keto Flu. According to Medical News Today, the keto flu is prevalent in most people who just started the keto diet. It is characterized by symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, insomnia, dizziness, constipation, headaches, and endurance issues (2). Fortunately, the keto flu is short-term and should disappear in a few days or weeks.
- Various Health Conditions. Long term, this diet may increase your risk of several conditions due to the high protein and fat content. These include conditions such as kidney stones, fatty liver disease, and hypoproteinemia (2). Hypoproteinemia refers to lower than normal protein levels in your body. Some studies also suggest increased risk of heart disease and diabetes in those who follow low carb diets long-term, especially when they focused on animal sources of protein and fat.
Free Sample Of A 28 Day Keto Diet Plan For Beginners
There are numerous keto meal plan ideas online. For the better part, it can be challenging for beginners to follow various meal plans, especially if they lack embedded recipes. We suggest the following sample if you are looking for a 28-day keto diet with recipes (9):
Breakfast: Mug Frittata
- Two large eggs, half a cup of spinach, two tablespoons of Cheddar cheese, one teaspoon of chopped chives, and a quarter cup of raw white mushrooms.
- Coat your microwave with butter or spray it with a cooking spray.
- Take a bowl and whisk together the eggs, pepper, and salt.
- Add the other ingredients and whisk to mix.
- Pour the mixture on the prepared microwave for thirty seconds.
- Check the eggs and microwave for an extra 30 seconds if they are not set. Let them cook for another extra 30 seconds or until they are firm.
Lunch: Keto Salmon Patties
- One pound of canned salmon, two whole eggs, two tablespoons of chives, half a cup of almond flour, one teaspoon of dill weed, one teaspoon of parsley, half a teaspoon of table salt, half a teaspoon of black pepper, and two tablespoons of coconut oil.
- Take a large bowl and mix your canned salmon, almond flour, dill, eggs, chives, salt, parsley, and pepper.
- Form ten small salmon patties from the mix. Flatten them such that each is about half an inch thick. Place them on the tray.
- Heat the coconut oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. After the oil melts, add the patties and cook for three minutes. When they turn golden brown or when they cook, flip to cook the other side.
Dinner: Grilled Chicken with Peanut Sauce
- Half a cup of smooth peanut butter, two tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, one tablespoon of ginger root, one tablespoon of lime juice, one tablespoon of fish sauce, six whole chicken thighs, two tablespoons of granular erythritol sweetener, one tablespoon of olive oil, half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, one teaspoon of ground coriander, and six cups of shredded green cabbage.
- Take a medium-sized bowl and whisk the peanut butter, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger, lime juice, and fish sauce.
- Add two tablespoons of water and the granular erythritol and continue to whisk.
- Rub the chicken using olive oil and season it with cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, and ground coriander.
- Preheat your grill to medium heat and grease the grates with oil. Place the chicken on the grill with the skin-side facing down. Let it cook for about six minutes.
- Turn the chicken and cook for another six or eight minutes.
- Meanwhile, toss the shredded cabbage with peanut sauce until it is well coated.
- Serve your chicken alongside the bed of shredded cabbage with peanut sauce.
Here are other keto-friendly meal plan ideas you can consider for your 28-day keto diet plan. If not, you can still use them as a guide to create your meal plan. They include (4):
- Two eggs fried in butter with some blackberries and avocado
- Grilled salmon with a salad of tomato and mixed veggies
- Chicken breast with cauliflower mash and some green beans
- Kale chips or some cheese or bell pepper slices
- Yoghurt with some keto-friendly granola
- Grass-fed beef burger (minus the bun) with tomato, guacamole, and some kale salad
- Stir-fried chicken, mushrooms, broccoli, and peppers with some homemade satay sauce
- Sugar-free turkey jerky or an egg and vegetable muffin
- Scrambled eggs with green onions, jalapenos, and tomatoes sprinkled with some sunflower seeds
- A tuna salad with avocado, tomatoes, and some macadamia nuts
- Pork chops with any non-starchy vegetable of choice (for example broccoli, turnips, asparagus, or cauliflower)
- A handful of nuts or berries or some celery sticks with almond butter dip
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- Omelet with broccoli, peppers, and mushrooms
- An egg and avocado salad with onions and spices and served in some lettuce cups
- Cajun-spiced chicken breast with a Brussels sprout salad and cauliflower rice
- Nuts or olives
If you are considering taking up a vegetarian 28-day keto diet challenge, then remember to follow the recommended foods. According to Medical News Today, some of the foods you can use to craft a vegetarian keto diet plan include (4):
- Dairy Products. Some of the dairy products you can consume include full-fat yoghurt, cream, butter, and full-fat cheese. Keep away from any milk, nonfat yoghurt, ice cream, and sweetened yoghurt.
- Vegetables. You can eat vegetables such as cauliflower, tomatoes, mushrooms, celery, onions, asparagus, broccoli, and any other non-starchy vegetable (10). Avoid any butter squash, pumpkin, corn, sweet potatoes, or any other starchy vegetable.
- Fruits. For fruits, avoid grapes, pineapple, bananas, citrus, and dried fruits.
The keto diet refers to a meal with low carbs but high fat and protein content. If you are thinking of starting a 28-day keto diet challenge, make sure you are familiar with its basics. Its meals are primarily from non-starchy vegetables, animal proteins and animal fat. Remember to talk to your doctor before you start making any keto meal plan. Again, try to listen closely to them when making such meal plans in order to avoid any nutritional deficiencies.
If you want to do even more for your body, why don’t you supplement a healthy diet with some exercise? Check out this 20-min Full Body Workout at Home.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Does the ketogenic diet work for type 2 diabetes? (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Keto diet side effects: What to expect (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Keto diet works best in small doses, mouse study finds (2020, sciencedaily.com)
- Keto diet: 1-week meal plan and tips (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Ketogenic Diet (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Ketogenic Diet (Keto Diet) (2019, medicinenent.com)
- Low-carb diet: Can it help you lose weight? (2020,mayoclinic.org)
- What foods should you eat on a ketogenic diet? (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What to include on a keto grocery list (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What to know about the vegetarian diet (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What’s a Ketogenic Diet? (2019, webmd.com)
- Why is the keto diet good for you? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)