Starting a keto diet in Malaysia but not sure how to begin?
Then this guide is for you!
In this guide, we will teach you all you need to know about this low-carb, high-fat way of eating, including:
- The basic of the keto: what it is and what the benefits are
- Foods to eat and what foods you must avoid
- Some personal tips from going keto in Malaysia
Ready? Let’s dive in.
What You’ll Learn
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet that is designed to get your body into a state of ketosis. It is one of the most, if not the strictest form of a low-carb diet.
In order to effectively get into ketosis, you can only eat 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates a day.
What do 20 grams of carbs look like you ask? Well, not a lot to be honest! Here’s what 20 grams of high-carb foods roughly looks like:
That already sounds impossible to achieve in our carb-heavy, sugar-loving country of Malaysia, right?
Well, don’t worry. Read on and discover how you can go low-carb in Malaysia.
The Science Behind the Keto Diet
Before we talk about the how, let’s go through some of the basic science of how the ketogenic diet works exactly. What is ketosis, and why do we even want to get into ketosis in the first place?
To answer that question, we first need to understand that our bodies can use 2 sources of energy to power the cells in our body: glucose and ketones.
Our liver makes glucose through a process called glycogenesis and it mainly comes from carbohydrates and protein sources.
Ketones are also made by the liver via a process called ketogenesis, and it is created by breaking down the fatty acids in our fat cells.
Sounds simple enough right?
But here’s the catch: Our body only makes ketones when the sources of glucose are very, very low – usually in a fasted state. That is because our digestive system releases insulin to break down glucose when we eat carbohydrates, and insulin prevents the production of ketones. In other words, our body prefers to use glucose instead of fats stored in our bodies!
Health Benefits of the Keto Diet
Now, you may be wondering, “If our bodies prefer glucose, why on earth would I want to force it into using ketones?”
A fair question!
The short answer is that there are numerous health benefits to being in a state of ketosis. Let’s run through a few of them.
- Weight loss. Yep, you read that right. During ketosis, your body becomes a 24-hour fat-burning machine. Without glucose to use as an energy source, your body has no choice but to burn fats that are stored in your fat cells. With keto, you can finally say goodbye to all those fats you’ve been dying to get rid of!
- Improved brain function. Believe it or not, a ketogenic diet might just be the brain boost you’ve been looking for! According to a scientific study, rats on a ketogenic diet showed improvement in tasks requiring working memory and spatial navigation. To put it simply, this diet could enhance your brain’s “network function” – the kind of stuff that’s crucial for high-level thinking. So next time you’re scratching your head at a crossword puzzle or trying to outsmart your friends at trivia night, remember that those ketones might just give you the edge.
- Better control of blood sugar levels. Good news for people with type 2 diabetes! A recent study found that the keto diet can improve glycemic control and HbA1c levels, essential markers for blood sugar stability. And get this, these improvements can kick in even before the scale budges. When compared to a low-fat diet, keto was a game-changer, significantly improving metabolic markers in folks with insulin resistance. Talk about a sugar triumph!
Foods to Eat
“Alright, I’m sold. But what can I eat?”
Good news! A keto diet isn’t all about munching on butter sticks (though you could, if you wanted to).
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of keto-friendly foods:
- Fats and Oils: Yes, you can finally eat that chicken skin guilt-free! Make sure to eat more healthy fats (like avocados, nuts, seeds, and oils like olive and coconut oil), instead of highly-processed seed oils like canola and sunflower oils. If you are worried about saturated fats, then just stick with olive oil which is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids.
- Protein: Think meats and seafood. You might have to pass on that sweet and sour pork though, sorry!
- Low-carb vegetables: Broccoli, spinach, and the likes are your new best friends.
- Dairy: Cheese, butter, and cream are in, but watch out for the carbs in milk.
Remember, it’s about balance. Keto is not an all-you-can-eat bacon and butter diet, despite what you might hear. The focus should still be on whole, nutritious foods. The butter is just a bonus!
Foods to Avoid on an LCHF Diet
As you take your first steps into the brave new world of keto, you’re going to have to say a temporary adios to some old friends.
“But I love my nasi lemak!” I hear you wail.
Fear not, my friend! It’s not as grim as you think.
Here’s a quick rundown of foods to steer clear of:
- High-carb foods: Sadly, this includes rice, noodles, pasta, bread, and most fruits (yes, they’re high in sugar!). Your kaya toast breakfast will have to wait!
- Processed Foods: If it’s in a packet and has a long list of ingredients you can’t pronounce, it’s probably not keto-friendly. So, bye-bye potato chips.
- Sugary foods and drinks: Sugary drinks, candies, ice cream… all the fun stuff, I know. But remember, we’re on a mission here!
While it might seem like a daunting task, remember you’re not alone in this journey. And hey, think about all those delicious, fatty foods you get to feast on!
Keto-friendly Alternatives for Malaysia Foods
Low-carb Replacements for Rice and Noodles
Missing the comfort of warm, fluffy rice or the chewy satisfaction of a good noodle dish?
Worry not, there are numerous low-carb alternatives that can easily be incorporated into your keto journey.
- Cauliflower Rice: You’ve probably noticed by now that cauliflower is a keto superstar. Our Cauliflower Rice is an excellent stand-in for your regular rice, saving you from all the hassle of making it yourself!
- Keto Noodles: Who said you can’t have noodles on keto? With our Zero Carb Keto Noodles, you can savour that noodle dish you’ve been dreaming of, guilt-free!
- Shirataki Noodles: They are made from the konjac yam and are nearly carb-free! Just be sure to rinse them thoroughly before cooking, as they can have a unique smell straight out of the package.
Just remember, these are not going to taste exactly like rice or noodles. But they are delicious in their own right and a great way to reduce carbs while still enjoying your favourite dishes.
Sweetening Foods the Keto Way
After a couple of days on keto, you might find yourself missing the sweetness of life. Who can blame you? We’ve all got a sweet tooth deep down.
Here’s where sugar substitutes step in to save the day:
- Erythritol: This is a sugar alcohol that tastes almost exactly like sugar but without the carbs. It can sometimes cause digestive issues if consumed in large amounts, though, so start with small amounts.
- Monk Fruit Sweetener: Another natural sweetener, monk fruit sweetener has a unique flavour and is often mixed with other sweeteners. Check out our Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener Golden.
- Stevia: A natural sweetener made from the leaves of the Stevia plant, it’s super sweet, so you only need a tiny bit.
- Xylitol: This sugar alcohol is a great substitute for baking, but beware! It’s toxic to dogs, so keep it out of reach if you have furry friends.
Remember, just because they’re low-carb doesn’t mean you should go crazy with these sweeteners. Moderation is key in maintaining a balanced and healthy keto diet. So, use these sweeteners sparingly, and savor the natural flavors of your food. Now, let’s move on to the next section!
Adapting Your Sauces for Keto
In the world of Keto, sauces can be a sneaky source of carbs. So, it’s important to make sure your beloved sambal isn’t secretly sabotaging your diet.
- Identifying High-Carb Sauces: Typical culprits include sweet chilli sauce, teriyaki sauce, and most store-bought salad dressings. Essentially, anything sweet or thickened with flour is going to be a no-no.
- Keto-Friendly Sauce Substitutions: Opt for unsweetened, full-fat versions of sauces like mayonnaise and salad dressings. Alternatively, try our Keto-friendly sauces: Sweet Black Soy Sauce, Oyster Sauce, Sweet Chilli Sauce, Teriyaki Sauce, Tomato Ketchup, Gochujang Sriracha Sauce and Thai Spicy Sauce.
- DIY Keto Sauces Recipes: This might be a great time to explore your skills in the kitchen. But if you’re short on time, you can also try our Instant Keto-friendly options like Tom Yum Soup and Thai Green Curry.
So, don’t let the sneaky sugars in sauces catch you off-guard. With a little vigilance, you can keep your meals flavorful and keto-friendly!
You might think that supplements are only for hardcore gym-goers, but on a keto diet, they can play an essential role. Here’s why:
Supplements for Nutritional Gaps: As your body adapts to this new way of eating, it might need a little extra help. Supplements can ensure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals you need.
Recommended Keto Supplements: Commonly recommended are Magnesium, Vitamin D, Omega-3 fatty acids. And let’s not forget MCT oil, which is a big deal in the keto world. Our Unflavoured MCT Oil is perfect to help increase your fat intake, seamlessly fitting into your meals or beverages. Electrolyte supplements can also be beneficial, especially in the initial stages, to help combat the infamous ‘keto flu’.
Precautions for Taking Supplements: Always check with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.
Think of supplements as your dietary safety net, catching any essential nutrients that might slip through the cracks. Now, let’s move on to the fun stuff – snacks!
Sample Keto Meal Plan
Planning meals can be a little daunting, especially when you’re starting out on a new diet. But hey, we’ve got your back. Here’s a one-day sample meal plan tailored for the keto-loving Malaysian:
Breakfast: We start the day the bulletproof way! Whip up a hot cup of Bulletproof Coffee using instant coffee, a dollop of butter, and a spoonful of our 60% C8 MCT Oil. It’s a caffeine-kick intertwined with a satisfying richness that keeps you satiated and energised all morning.
Lunch: Craving Nasi Lemak? Why not try a keto version that is just as delicious? Use our Cauliflower Rice as the base, and whip up a spicy sambal sweetened with erythritol. You can find the full recipe here.
Tea: How about a classic ‘Teh Tarik’ for your afternoon break? Just replace the sugar with our Lakanto Sweetener Classic and switch to a milk substitute like almond or coconut milk. Pair it with a handful of macademia nuts to keep the hunger pangs at bay.
Dinner: How about some sizzling stir-fry for dinner? Toss together your favourite lean protein and vegetables with our Keto Oyster Sauce. For a quick and convenient option, our Tom Yum Keto Noodles Kit serves as a perfect rescue!
So there you have it – a day’s worth of keto meals, the Malaysian way. Remember, a little preparation goes a long way. Planning ahead can help make your keto journey more manageable and enjoyable.
Tips for Eating Out on a Ketogenic Diet
Alright, let’s talk about eating out.
As Malaysians, food outside is so cheap compared to other countries that it’s become our culture to eat outside almost everyday.
But how can we still enjoy a meal out without straying from the keto lifestyle? Here’s how:
Planning Ahead: Go online and check out the menu online before you head out. Look for dishes that fit the keto bill – low in sugar, high in flavour.
Eliminate the Starch: Give the starchy sides like bread, pasta, potatoes, or rice a pass. Don’t worry, restaurants usually won’t mind swapping these for a salad or extra veggies. And hey, if you’re eyeing a sandwich or burger, go bun-less! Try a lettuce wrap instead. It’s like a crunchy hug for your food!
Add Healthy Fat: Feel your meal is a bit lean? Ask for extra butter or olive oil. Melted butter on veggies or meat is a game changer. Some keto ninjas even carry their own tiny bottle of olive oil.
Watch Out for Sauces and Condiments: These can be hidden sources of carbs, especially if they contain sugar, flour, or other starchy thickeners. When in doubt, ask about the ingredients or request for the sauce to be served on the side.
Choose Drinks Carefully: Stick with water, sparkling water, tea, or coffee to for drinks. But if you want to get a little fancy, champagne, dry wine, light beer, or spirits (straight or with club soda) are all good (in moderation).
Rethink Dessert: Skip the traditional desserts and consider a cheese plate or berries with heavy cream. Not in the mood for dessert? A hot cup of coffee or tea can be a satisfying end to your meal.
Get Creative: If the menu seems like a keto minefield, don’t be shy to ask for modifications. Maybe have the sauce from a pasta dish over veggies? Or combine a few appetizers for a unique main dish? Remember, you’re the boss of your diet!
With these handy tips, dining out will be less of a minefield and more of a treasure hunt. Go ahead, paint the town red and enjoy your night out, keto-style!
Myths about the Keto Diet
When you dive into the world of Keto, you’re likely to encounter a sea of myths and misconceptions. Let’s set the record straight on a few of them:
- “You Can Eat Unlimited Fats”: While the Keto diet is high in fats, it doesn’t mean you can consume them without limits. Too many calories, even from fat, can hinder weight loss.
- “Keto is Just a Fancy Term for Starvation”: Absolutely not! The keto diet is about adjusting your macronutrients, not starving yourself. You should feel satisfied, not hungry, on keto.
- “Eating Fat Makes You Fat”: The truth is, dietary fat doesn’t necessarily make you fat. Consuming more calories than your body uses makes you gain weight, whether those calories come from fat, carbs, or protein.
With these myths busted, let’s dive into some things you should be aware of before starting the Keto journey.
Things to be Aware When Going Keto
Before you rush off to clean out your pantry, there are a few things you should know:
- Keto Flu: This is a common occurrence when starting a keto diet. It can include symptoms like fatigue, headaches, and irritability. But don’t worry, it’s only temporary and there are ways to manage it!
- Hydration and Electrolytes: These become even more important on a keto diet. Be sure to drink plenty of water and maintain your electrolyte balance.
- Regular Check-ups: If you have pre-existing health conditions or take medications, it’s important to regularly check in with your doctor while on a keto diet.
Remember, while the Keto diet can offer numerous benefits, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Which brings us to our next question: Is Keto suitable for you? Let’s find out.
Is Keto Suitable for Me?
Like any diet, Keto isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Here’s a quick rundown to help you decide:
- You Might Love Keto If: You’re trying to lose weight, manage diabetes, improve your metabolic health, or if you love the idea of ditching the carbs and embracing fats!
- Considerations and Precautions: If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, have liver disease, or a history of eating disorders, this diet might not be suitable for you. Always check with a healthcare professional before making any drastic changes to your diet.
- Listening to Your Body: If you try the Keto diet and find it’s not working for you, that’s okay! The best diet is one you can stick to and enjoy.
If you’ve decided to give keto a shot, awesome! But remember, it’s a lifestyle change and not a quick fix. Now let’s talk about some additional resources to support your Keto journey.
Looking for more information on the Keto diet? Check out these resources:
- Online Keto Communities: Websites and forums such as /r/keto on Reddit offer great support and advice from fellow keto enthusiasts.
- Keto Recipe Blogs: Websites like “Diet Doctor” or “Ruled.me” provide a plethora of delicious, easy-to-follow keto recipes.
- Books and Documentaries: For a more in-depth look at the science behind keto, try reading “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living“
- Mobile Apps: Apps like “MyFitnessPal” or “Carb Manager” can help track your carb intake and macros, making it easier to stick to your goals.
In conclusion, the ketogenic diet can be a fantastic tool for weight loss and improved health, but it requires dedication and commitment. So get ready, set, and keto on, my friends!