If you’re reading this guide, chances are that you’re not hearing of the keto diet for the first time. As it turns out, the keto diet has been around since the early 1900s and was initially developed to mimic the regimen of fasting. By this time, it was used as an effective method for reducing seizures in patients with epilepsy .
Fast forward to today, the keto diet has proven effective for treating other medical conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, autism, amongst other conditions (1). Although the keto diet is not for everyone, it is no doubt a ‘miracle’ diet for people who get started with keto to burn fat, treat conditions such as type 2 diabetes, or just improve their metabolism and energy levels.
In this comprehensive beginner’s guide, I’ll be sharing with you everything you need to know about the keto mealdiet. This is a very detailed guide backed up by solid research findings. So, feel free to bookmark this page so that you can easily return here whenever you need to.
What is a Keto Diet?
A keto (or ketogenic) diet is basically a low-carb and high-fat diet. As you can guess, it involves substantially decreasing your carb intake and replacing it with fat. This whole process of reducing your carbs and increasing your fat intake induces your body into state known as ketosis.
One of the special things about the keto diet is that it changes how your body feels, and very importantly, how your body uses energy in ketosis. And ketosis is where all the magic really happens.
In ketosis, your body starts utilizing substances known as ketone bodies, which are developed by your liver during gluconeogenesis, a process that creates glucose in times of fasting and starvation (2).
Side note: if you’re a geek like me and would love to dive deeper into understanding the science behind how the keto diet works, then check out the info box below to read more about that.
The science behind how the keto diet works.
Normally, if your body has glucose on hand, it is going to use that first for energy. But considering that with keto diet, your intake of carbs is trimmed down drastically, it means that the amount of glucose on hand is also low. In order to fix this glucose deficit, your body uses stored glucose in the form of glycogen.
But glycogen runs out too after a while. The next thing your body does is to convert a substance known as oxaloacetate in the liver into glucose.
While this is going on, your body is also breaking down available fat into free fatty acids and sending it to your liver to metabolize another important substance known as acetylcholine.
Acetylcholine is then placed into the Krebs cycle in the liver cells to produce energy. Now, your liver has all of these acetylcholine lying around. So, it decides to break it down into two substances called acetoacetate and beta hydroxybutyrate, which are otherwise known as ketone bodies.
Next, it sends them to the bloodstream where other body cells pick them up, convert the ketone bodies back into acetylcholine into the Krebs cycle and energy is produced.
This is also really good news for your brain cells. Even though your brain loves glucose, it can function effectively on ketone bodies. In fact, research shows that ketone bodies provide more energy per gram for the brain versus glucose.
However, there is a bit of a downside too. Studies shows that glucose and glycogen play a crucial role in providing immediate energy to your body. When you take these molecules out of the equation, intense activities (such as workouts) become a lot harder to perform. Also, the lack of glycogen affects muscle growth.
And since there is a strong, positive connection between glycogen availability and proteins synthesis. Once you take glycogen away, the process slows down.
EXAMPLE OF A ‘NORMAL’ BREAKFAST
20% fat, 30% protein, and 60% carbs
EXAMPLE OF A KETO BREAKFAST
70% fat, 25% protein and 5% carbs
As you can see from the example above, when it comes to macros, there’s a huge difference between a ‘normal’ diet and a keto diet. Cutting down carbs is usually a difficult battle for people looking to get started on keto. And frankly speaking, even people like me still struggle sometimes with maintaining a low-carb diet.
But with the seeming drawbacks of the keto diet, people still strongly advocate for it. And the reason for that can be summarized by a report published in 2004 from the Annals of internal medicine (3). The study showed that a high-fat, low-carb diet (such as the keto diet) had a better participant retention compared to a low-fat diet.
Essentially, what that means is that people find it easier to stick to the keto diet that a conventional diet. This is because with so much more fat and protein dense foods in keto, your satiety (or fullness level) goes up much faster.
For example: a 200 calorie chicken breasts or 200 calories of green vegetables will make you feel fuller than 200 calories of heavy pasta carbs.
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What Should You Eat On a Keto Diet?
One of the most difficult aspects of the keto diet plan for beginners is sticking to a totally new way of eating, especially one that requires you to cut out your carb intake and replace it with a ton of fat.
But if you’re looking for some ideas as regards what to eat and what not to eat, here are some of my best tips for you.
1. Consume Lots of Fat
Including fat into your diet helps in inducing your body into a state of ketosis. As a beginner to keto, it’s important to get used to consuming more fat so that your body gradually becomes used to using ketones (rather than glucose) as its new fuel source.
Some good sources of fat are avocados and avocado oils, nuts and seed butters, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, full-fat Greek yoghurt, whole eggs, butter, beef tallow, lard, heavy cream, MCT oil, cheese, etc.
Having said that, not all sources of fat are good for your health. Some of the sources of fat that you need to limit or even eliminate from your diet include:
I. Artificial trans-fat – as a general rule, your food should contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving (4).
II. Processed meat – examples include deli meat, sausages, salami, hot dogs, cured meat, etc.
III. Fried food
2. Consume Products Rich In Both Protein And Fat
Animal products like meat, eggs, unprocessed cheese, fish, sea food, and pork are great sources of food both rich in both protein and fat. These kinds of food are nutrient dense and will keep you feeling full.
3. Consume Vegetable Low in Carbs
Veggies generally contain less sugar, and thus fewer carbs. They are usually a good source of fiber and have lower calorie count per serving than any other food group. However, not all veggies should be consumed when you’re on keto.
As a general rule, stick to above-ground vegetables and leafy greens such as broccoli, avocados, cauliflower, spinach, kale, tomatoes, zucchini, lettuce, etc. Avoid vegetables such as potatoes as they are high in carbs.
|VEGETABLE TYPE||AMOUNT (CUP)||NET CARBS (GRAMS)|
|Spinach (raw)||0.5 cup||0.1|
|Bok choi (raw)||0.5 cup||0.2|
|Lettuce (romaine)||0.5 cup||0.2|
|Cauliflower (steamed)||0.5 cup||0.9|
|Cabbage (green raw)||0.5 cup||1.1|
|Cauliflower (raw)||0.5 cup||1.4|
|Broccoli (florets)||0.5 cup||2.0|
|Collard greens||0.5 cup||2.0|
|Kale (steamed)||0.5 cup||2.1|
|Green beans (steamed)||0.5 cup||2.9|
By the way, if you’re confused about total carbs vs net carbs, here is a simple explanation. Net carb is the difference between total amount of carbs and the amount of fiber in your food.
That is: Net carbs = Total Carbs – Fiber
4. Consume Keto-friendly Fruits
Most fruits are enough sugar that could shoot up your total carb intake. There are only a few types of fruits that are low in carbs and would very well fit into your keto diet without any problems. These fruits are characteristically high in fiber and contain fewer net carbs (the portion of your carbs which are digestible).
The following are great examples of keto-friendly fruits:
5. Munch on Keto-friendly Nuts and Seeds
Nuts are a great low-carb option if you are looking for healthy, low-carb snacks to munch on while you’re on keto. Here’s a quick warning though – you need to track how many servings of nut you’re consuming since they can easily pile up in carbs. Always consume in moderation.
6. Drink Keto-Friendly Beverages
Everyone gets thirsty at some point. So, what should kind of beverage should you take when you’re on keto? For starters, you need to aware that taking drinks high in sugar content is a bad idea and could kick you out of ketosis. Aside from water, here are some examples of keto-friendly drinks:
- Keto coffee (or bulletproof coffee)
- Water + lemon
- Diet sodas( e.g. Zevia and Virgil’s Zero Sugar)
- Wine (take in moderation)
- Unsweetened tea (if you need to add sweeteners, you can use some stevia or erythritol).
- Keto-friendly smoothies
- Keto iced tea
- Coconut water
- Vegetable juice
What Should You Avoid (Or Limit) on a Keto Diet?
Now let’s list out some of the food and drinks that you should totally cut out (or drastically limit) when you’re on a keto diet.
I. Avoid food & drinks that have high sugar content: Examples include carbonated drinks, ice creams, chocolate cookies, potato chips, candies, fruit juice, regular smoothies or shakes, etc.
II. Cut out most fruits: Fruits like apples, bananas, oranges, etc. are high in carbs and should be eliminated.
III. Stay away from grains: Grains are an absolute no-no when it comes to keto. Do away with regular bread, pasta, wheat, rice, cereal, corn, etc.
IV. Cut out sugar too: Sugar are high in carbs, so you can’t have them while on keto. So, cut out raw sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc. from your meals and drinks.
V. Don’t take tuber foods: Tubers (also known as underground stem) are vegetables which grow underground on the root of a plant. Tubers are usually high in starch and should be avoided at all cost while on keto. Examples of tubers are potatoes, carrots, yam, taro, etc.
VI. Limit your intake of high-protein food: high-protein sources like chicken and turkey should be limited while you’re on keto. As a rule, I’d recommend that only 20% or one-fifth of your meals should be protein. This implies that you shouldn’t consume meat on every meal.
VII. Don’t take Low-fat drinks or drinks: Whether it’s low-fat cheese, low-fat yogurt, or low-fat milk, they are often full of processed ingredients and carbs. Hence, the need to avoid them.
VIII. Limit alcohol consumption: Taking alcohol while you’re on keto could be tricky. First, you need to know that alcohol might not necessarily stop ketosis, but it can slow it down. This is according to celebrity nutritionist Colette Heimowitz.
IX. Cut out Inflammatory fats from your diet: As a general rule, avoid inflammatory fats (highly processed) while you’re on keto. These fats can be found in things like peanut, canola, vegetable oil, cottonseed, soybean, corn, safflower oils, etc.
Overall, I’ll recommend that you keep your carbohydrates under 50 grams a day, and you’ll feel the difference. A stricter ketogenic diet will contain approximately 20 grams of carbs a day.
Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet
Although ketogenic diet is popularly known as a ‘rapid fat loss diet’, it is actually more to this than meets the eye. In fact, weight loss and higher levels of energy are only by-products of the keto diet, a kind of bonus. It has been scientifically proven that the keto diet has many additional medical benefits.
Let’s begin by stating that a high carbohydrate diet, with its many processed ingredients and sugars, has absolutely no health benefits.
These are merely empty calories, and most processed foods ultimately serve only to rob your body of the nutrients it needs to remain healthy. Here is a list of actual benefits for lowering your carbohydrates and eating fats that convert to energy:
I. Control of Blood Sugar
Keeping blood sugar at a low level is critical to manage and prevent diabetes. The keto diet has been proven to be extremely effective in preventing diabetes (5).
Many people suffering from diabetes are also overweight. That makes an easy weight-loss regime a natural. But the keto diet does more. Carbohydrates get converted to sugar, which for diabetics can result in a sugar spike.
A diet low in carbohydrates prevents these spikes and allows more control over blood sugar levels.
II. Mental Focus
The keto diet is based on protein, fats, and low carbohydrates. As we’ve discussed, this forces fat to become the primary source of energy. This is not the normal western diet, which can be quite deficient in nutrients, particularly fatty acids, which are needed for proper brain function.
When people suffer from cognitive diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, the brain isn’t using enough glucose, thus becomes lacking in energy, and the brain has difficulty functioning at a high level (6).
The keto diet provides an additional energy source for the brain. A study by the American Diabetes Association found that Type 1 diabetics improved their brain function after consuming coconut oil.
That same study indicated that people who suffer from Alzheimer’s may experience improved memory capacity on a keto diet. Those with Alzheimer’s have seen improved memory scores that might correlate with the amount of ketones levels present.
What does this study mean to an average person? With the emphasis on fatty acids, such as omega 3 and omega 6 found in seafood, the keto diet is likely to fuel the brain with the additional nutrients to help achieve a healthier mental state.
The brain tissue is made up largely of fatty acids (you’ve heard fish referred to as “brainfood”), and the increased consumption of those fatty acids will logically lead to improved brain health.
Our body does not produce fatty acids on its own; we can only obtain it through our diet. And the keto diet is rich in fatty acids. A diet high in carbohydrates can lead to a “foggy” brain, where you have difficulty in focusing.
Focusing becomes easier with the increased energy provided by the keto diet. In fact, many people who have no need or desire to lose weight use the keto diet to improve and enhance brain functions.
III. Increased Energy
It’s not unusual, and has become almost normal, to feel tired and drained at the end of the day as a result of a poor, carbohydrate-laden diet. Fat is a more efficient source of energy, leaving you feeling more vitalized than you would on a “sugar” rush.
While most of the benefits of a keto diet are well-documented, one benefit catches some people by surprise: better skin and less acne. Acne is fairly common. Ninety percent of teens suffer from it, and many adults do, as well.
While it was always thought that acne was at least exacerbated by poor diet, controlled research is still being conducted. However, many people on the keto diet have reported clearer skin. There may be a logical reason. A series of clinical studies found that high levels of insulin can cause the eruption of acne (7,8,9).
Since a keto diet keeps insulin at a low and healthy level, it may very well affect skin health. In addition, acne thrives on inflammation. The ketogenic diet eases and reduces inflammation, thus enabling the body to decrease acne eruptions.
Fatty acids, which are found in abundance in fish, are a known anti-inflammatory. While research is still being done, it seems likely that a keto diet has beneficial effects for clearer, healthier, more glowing skin (10).
V. Keto and Anti-Aging
Many diseases are a natural result of the aging process. While there have not been studies done on humans, studies on mice have shown brain cell improvement on a keto diet.
Several studies (11, 12) have shown a positive effect of the keto diet on patients with Alzheimer’s disease. What we do know is that a diet filled with good nutrients and antioxidants, low in sugar, high in protein and healthy fats, while low in carbohydrates, enhances our overall health. It protects us from the toxins of a poor diet.
There is also research indicating that using fatty acids for fuel instead of sugar may slow down the aging process, possibly because of the negative effects that sugar has on our overall wellbeing.
In addition, the simple act of eating less and consuming fewer calories is a matter of basic health, as it prevents obesity and its inherent side effects.
So far, studies have been limited. However, considering the powerful positive effects of the ketogenic diet on our health, it is logical to assume this diet will help us grow older in a more natural way while delaying the natural effect of aging (13, 14).
A normal western diet laden with sugars and processed foods are certainly detrimental to warding off the signs of aging.
VI. Keto and Hunger
One of the major reasons diets fail is hunger. People who diet feel hungry and deprived and simply give up. A low carbohydrate diet naturally leaves people feeling full and satisfied (15).
Less hungry means people will actually remain on the diet longer while consuming fewer calories.
VII. Keto and Eyesight
Diabetics are aware that high blood sugar can lead to a higher risk of developing cataracts. Since the keto diet controls sugar levels, it can help retain eyesight and help prevent cataracts. This has been proven in several studies involving diabetic patients (16).
VIII. Keto and Autism
We know the keto diet affects brain functions. In a study (17) on autism, it was found that it also has a positive effect on autism. Thirty autistic children were placed on the keto diet.
All showed improved in autistic behavior, especially those on the milder autistic spectrum. While more studies are needed, the results were extremely positive.
IX. Keto and Epilepsy
As far back as 1924, however, Dr. Russell Wilder of the Mayo Clinic conducted groundbreaking research and created the ketogenic diet to help children suffering from epilepsy.
It was remarkably effective, but doctors lost interest when new anti-seizure medications came on the market. It was easier for them to prescribe medication than to discuss diet.
However, people who used the keto diet to treat seizures continued seeing remarkable success. Today, doctors are returning to using the low carbohydrate, high-fat diet to treat their patients.
The results have been extremely promising. In 1998, the Journal of Pediatrics published a study involving 150 children who experienced seizures despite taking popular antiseizure medications. The children were placed on the ketogenic diet for one year which the researchers assessed their progress.
Eighty-three percent of the subjects were still in the study after 3 months. Over one-third of the children showed a 90 percent decrease in seizures. At the end of the year, slightly more than half of the subjects had remained on the diet, and a quarter of them experienced a 90 percent decrease in seizures.
The numbers indicate that the keto diet has a tremendously positive effect on children who suffer from seizures. The researchers consider it more effective than medication in many cases.
For anyone with children who experience seizures, the inclusion of a keto diet in the child’s treatment should be discussed with his or her physician.
Another research on the effects of the keto diet on childhood epilepsy involved 145 children. The children were divided into two groups, with one group being treated with medication while the other group receiving a ketogenic diet.
Seventy-four percent of the ketogenic diet group were successful in reducing seizures. There have been more studies of childhood epilepsy and the keto diet.
These have sparked new and considerable interest within the medical profession.
X. Keto and Cancer
A cancer-specific keto diet may consist of as much as 90 percent fat. There is a very good reason for that. What doctors do know is that cancer cells feed off carbohydrates and sugar.
This is what helps them grow and multiply in number. As we have seen, the keto diet dramatically reduces our carbohydrate and sugar consumption as our metabolism is altered.
What the keto diet does, in essence, is remove the “food” on which cancer cells feed and starves them. The result is that cancer cells may die, multiply at a slower rate, or decrease.
Another reason why a keto diet is able to slow down the growth of cancer cells is that by reducing calories, cancer cells have less energy to develop and grow in the first place. Insulin also helps cells grow. Since the keto diet lowers insulin level, it slows down the growth of tumorous cells.
When on the keto diet, the body produces ketones. While the body is fueled by ketones, cancerous cells are not. Therefore, a state of ketosis may help reduce the size and growth of cancer cells.
One study monitored the growth of tumors in patients suffering from cancer of the digestive tract. Of those patients who received a high carbohydrate diet, tumors showed a 32.2 percent in growth.
Patients on a keto diet showed a 24.3 percent growth in their tumor. The difference is quite significant.
Another study involved five patients who combined chemotherapy with a keto diet. Three of these patients went into remission. Two patients saw a progression of the disease when they went off the keto diet.
More studies are needed, but these numbers are encouraging. The keto diet may help prevent cancer from occurring in diabetic patients in the first place. People with diabetes have a higher risk level to develop cancer due to elevated blood sugar levels.
Since the ketogenic diet is extremely effective at decreasing the levels of blood sugar, it may prevent the initial onset of cancer.
From what research has discovered so far, ketogenic diet may:
1. Stop the growth of cancer cells.
2. Help replace cancerous cells with healthy cells.
3. Change the body’s metabolism and enable the body to “starve” cancer cells by depriving them of needed nutrition.
4. By lowering the body’s insulin level, the ketogenic body may prevent the onset of cancer cells.
On a ketogenic diet specifically for cancer, your fats should be 75 to 90 percent, protein 15-20 percent, and less than 5 percent carbohydrates.
XI. Keto and Blood Pressure
One-third of American adults suffer from high blood pressure. It is a serious health problem that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Obviously, the higher the blood pressure, the greater the risk. Aging and obesity greatly increase the chances of developing high blood pressure.
It is a known fact that people suffering from high blood pressure frequently carry excess belly fat and can become at risk for type 2 diabetes. To get at the root of all these problems may require a change in lifestyle.
The symptoms of high blood pressure can be caused by an overload of carbs in the diet, more than the body is able to handle.
As we’ve discussed, carbohydrates are converted into sugars, which raise the body’s blood sugar level, forcing the body to create additional insulin. Insulin stores fat, and an excess of insulin can lead to obesity.
All of this can have a negative effect on your blood pressure. Consuming fewer carbohydrates decreases both the level of insulin and the blood pressure level. This simple dietary change can make a huge difference in your blood pressure.
In an interesting study released in the Archives of Internal Medicine, 146 overweight people took part in a weight-loss experiment. The people were divided into two groups.
One group was put on a ketogenic diet containing a maximum of 20 grams of carbohydrates, while the other group was given the weight-loss drug orlistat, in addition to being counseled to follow a low-fat regimen.
Both groups showed similar weight loss. What surprised the researchers was that half of the keto group showed a decrease in blood pressure, while only 21 percent of the low-fat diet group had any decrease in blood pressure.
While weight loss itself would bring about a lowering of blood pressure, the study suggests that a decrease in carbohydrate intake can help lower blood pressure even more.
It was found that potassium specifically had a huge effect on lower hypertension. Doctors recommend at least 4,700 mg of potassium each day for anyone wishing to lower his or her blood pressure.
Getting started on the keto diet
Now, you’re decided to become a part of the keto family, here are my best 15 practical tips to help you get started and making the most of your keto journey.
I. Clear Your Pantry
We’re sure you have plenty of willpower, but there is no need to confront a kitchen filled with tempting sugars and carbohydrates.
Make a clean sweep and pack the offending items in a box. Then donate the loot to a needy neighbor or a soup kitchen. They will appreciate your gesture, and you are on your way to a keto lifestyle.
If you have family, try to get them involved. If they refuse to refrain from eating carbs and sugar, at least insist they do so away from home. It’s a fair request.
II. Weigh Yourself
The keto diet does not require you to live by the tyranny of the scale. As a matter of fact, as you build up healthy muscles, you might notice a slight initial gain. That’s great, so don’t worry.
You should, however, have an idea of what your starting point is. If you opted for the keto diet solely to lose weight, you’ll be able to track your progress.
But don’t become a slave to the scale. The occasional weigh-in, perhaps once a week, is enough.
III. What About Your Favorite Meals?
Perhaps the very thought of giving up your favorite foods has prevented you from getting started on the keto way of life. Relax.
The truth is, for every dish that you love and can’t live without (yes, that includes cheesecake and mashed potatoes!), you can easily find a low-carb substitute that is just as tasty.
First, let’s consider items at your market labeled “low carbohydrate.” Labels are frustratingly deceiving, and you’d have to be a nutritional expert to understand them.
All-too-frequently, off-the-shelf low carb products have simply substituted sugar for carbs, so don’t fall for that bit of deceit. You need to learn to read labels with the diligence that you’d read your wealthy uncle’s will, but your best bet is to stay away from these products and simply find healthier substitutes.
The same goes for anything labeled “low fat,” which inevitably means added sugars.
Craving a taco? Use a lettuce wrap instead of a taco shell. Do you want rice or mashed potatoes? Grate or rice a cauliflower, and you won’t be able to tell the difference. Can’t give up your favorite pasta dish?
Turn a zucchini into “zoodles” by slicing it or using a spiral cutter and enjoy your pasta. You absolutely have to have your favorite dessert? On the keto diet, you can. Just bake with almond flour and use unsweetened applesauce and/or avocado to create some sweet smoothness.
Learn about coconut oil, which can be used as a butter substitute in sautéing, frying, and baking. Coconut oil has incredible health benefits, especially for Type-2 diabetics.
On the keto diet, you’ll be able to enjoy all your favorite meals, only better.
IV. Always Stay Hydrated
The keto diet tends to lower your insulin level, so your kidneys may be excreting more liquid than usual. Be sure to drink plenty of water.
V. Condiments Can Be the Enemy
Don’t assume condiments don’t count on a diet. On the keto diet, they most certainly do. Ketchup is filled with sugar. Not all salad dressings are equal. Read the label, and never opt for the “fat-free” version.
They have merely substituted sugar for fat. Ordering salads when eating out is one of your best options but beware of the dressing that the restaurant serves. Either ask about the ingredients, or better, bring your own salad dressing.
Don’t hesitate to do that, even in a posh eatery where the maître d’hôtel might become spastic at the sight of you pulling salad dressing out of your bag.
VI. Keep Track of Your Ketone Level
It’s especially important to remain aware of how your body is responding to the keto diet at the start of the diet. You can do so by doing a simple urine test. You can also purchase a blood ketone meter. It is recommended to perform the test early in the morning.
VII. Plan Your Meals
Eliminating carbohydrates can be difficult at first simply because they are the star of most western diets. Adjust to a keto diet by planning every meal you eat. This includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
Do not leave it up to chance because it might be more challenging to stick to your keto diet if you do this.
VIII. Make It Fun
Most people think of diets and sigh. Try to make your keto diet fun so that you can stick to it longer. Getting a keto recipe book or doing it with your friends can be a great way to make the diet more fun and engaging.
The more fun you make it, the more rewarding the diet feels. Not to mention, it will be easier to stick to it if you make it fun. If you like cooking, definitely try to find keto versions of your favorite meals.
That’s a great way to keep it fun and fresh. If you don’t like cooking, then maybe it is time to start.
IX. Try Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a great way to kickstart ketosis. Even after you have reached ketosis, try to incorporate intermittent fasting into your daily life anyway.
Intermittent fasting paired with keto is a great way to see weight loss results fast. At the same time, they are also healthy to use together.
X. Listen to Your Body
Many people who support a keto diet don’t tell you this: you need to listen to your body. Not everyone needs the same amount of carbohydrates.
Some people will need more than others. Your goal should never be to eliminate all carbohydrates.
Listen to your body first and foremost. The goal of any diet should be to make you healthier, not sicker. If your body does not feel right, you need to adjust the diet to live the healthiest and happiest version of yourself possible.
XI. Remember that Friends and Family May Not Understand Your Journey
Those nearest and dearest to you may not always understand what you are doing. When eating as a group, they may put subtle pressure on you to “just try a bite,” or “one slice of cake won’t kill you.” Or worse, “but I cooked it especially for you!
It will take resolve to stick to your diet. It may help to fill up on keto-friendly snacks before you sit down and eat. Enjoy some nuts, an avocado, or just a leg of chicken before you eat, and you will be less tempted.
XII. Managing social occasions.
Celebratory occasions, especially if you’re the guest of honor, can be a huge hurdle. When the gang at the office or your parents enter a room with a cake yelling “Surprise!” on your birthday, it’s hard to refuse.
So, try being a bit sneaky, instead. By all means gush over the offering. You are expected to do that. You can even help cut slices.
Then, discover a sudden and irresistible urge for coffee, which you verbalize loudly and clearly.
Gently remove yourself from the center of activity to get coffee for yourself and anyone else. By the time anyone notices, hopefully they’ve missed the fact that you haven’t eaten anything.
Traveling while on the keto diet can be a challenge, so be prepared. Pack a personal blender with some avocados and bananas for a few quick and healthful smoothies. Pack some anchovies or tuna for protein.
XIV. Eating Out
Eating out isn’t as difficult as you may think. Even fast-food places have salads, these days. In any restaurant, stick to meat and vegetables and forego the potatoes and noodles.
You can even navigate the tricky maze in a Chinese restaurant. While abstaining from rice, you can enjoy the following: clear soups, steamed fish with vegetables, egg foo young, stir-fried dishes, Mu Shu without the wrappers are just a few suggestions.
Ask your server if your meal can be prepared without cornstarch which is frequently used as a thickener.
Even if you end up in a fast food place that doesn’t have salad, simply toss the buns from your burger, and just eat the meat. You can do the same at a friend’s house or at a BBQ.
The keto diet will build muscle mass and give you added energy. Don’t forget to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. It can be as simple as walking more, taking the stairs, or joining a gym.
How Long Should You Stay on a Ketogenic Diet?
The amount of time spent on the diet can vary and should be discussed with your doctor. Many people who use the ketogenic diet for weight loss remain on the diet for several weeks, until they have achieved a goal, then they turn to a paleo diet or other maintenance eating.
You do not want to lose weight only to return to your old eating habits. If you are on the ketogenic diet for medical or therapeutic reasons, check with your doctor to ascertain if you should remain on the diet for a longer period of time.
How to kickstart Ketosis
Ketosis is your body’s process of using fat for fuel instead of sugar. The keto diet forces your body to go into ketosis for a longer period of time.
Although going into ketosis may be tiresome and annoying at first, it will help you lose weight quickly, and the mild flu-like symptoms should not last more than a couple of days.
Obviously, you have to cut out your carbohydrates to get into ketosis. One way you can do this is by switching to the keto diet immediately. This means limiting your carbohydrate intake to between 20 to 50 grams a day.
If you want to get into ketosis faster, you can always try a short term fast. Many people mildly go into ketosis between dinner and breakfast. This is due to how you aren’t eating during those hours you are asleep.
You can make the most of this fact by trying intermittent fasting with your keto diet. Intermittent fasting is when you eat for 8 hours a day and fast for the other 16 hours. This is a great way to kickstart your ketoses in a way that is safe and effective.
Extreme fasting is unhealthy for your body. You need calories and food to sustain life. Intermittent fasting, however, is safe because you eat every day. Although fasting for 16 hours may be annoying at first, most bodies adjust within a couple of days.
Many intermittent fasters choose to eat between 12:00 PM and 8:00 PM, though the exact timing doesn’t matter.
Types of Ketogenic Diets
As earlier mentioned, the keto diet is one with high fat and protein intake and low carbohydrate intake. There are different versions of the ketogenic diet you can choose from. Select which version you want based on your needs and body type.
Here are the four types of ketogenic diets:
1. Standard Keto Diet (SKD): The standard ketogenic diet is low carb with moderate protein and high fat intake. Your macros should be about 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs.
2. Cyclical Keto Diet (CKD): The cyclical ketogenic diet is when you alternate between low carb intake and high carb intake days. Most people prefer having five ketogenic days, followed by two high carb intake days.
3. Targeted Keto Diet (TKD): The targeted ketogenic diet permits you to add carbs around workouts.
4. High Protein Keto Diet: The high protein keto diet is like the standard ketogenic diet, but you eat more protein. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs.
If you are unsure which diet to choose, you should probably select the standard keto diet. Only the standard keto diet and high protein diet have been studied extensively. Bodybuilders and athletes often use the clinical keto diet and the targeted keto diet.
Calculating your Macros
First, what are macros?
“Macro” (short for macronutrient) are the three categories of nutrients you eat the most and provide you with most of your energy: protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
So, when you’re counting your macros, you’re counting the grams of proteins, carbs or fat that you’re consuming.
Starting on a ketogenic diet? Use the keto calculator below to figure out how much you should eat.
NOTE: If you want more in-depth insight into how to calculate your macros, then click here to see the complete version of the keto calculator.
Side Effects of a Keto Diet
Although the keto diet is mostly beneficial for your health and wellbeing, it does come with some side effects as well. Make sure that you recognize these side effects so that you don’t harm yourself in the process of losing weight.
Most people who switch to a keto diet experience something that many people call the keto flu. Although it is not a recognized medical condition, switching to a keto diet can cause flu-like symptoms for the first week or so that you are on the diet.
Vomit, gastrointestinal distress, fatigue, and lethargy are all signs of the keto flu, though they usually pass within a couple of days.
The reason for the keto flu is the adjustment period between switching from sugar fuel to fat fuel. Your body gets tired and worn down in the process, but it quickly adjusts to the change. Sleeping well, drinking water, and drinking matcha green tea are great ways to bust these symptoms.
People on the keto diet also experience diarrhea. This is often due to the gallbladder, the organ associated with fat breakdown, feeling overworked (18).
Diarrhea can also be due to a lack of fiber, a common problem for those on the keto diet. Eat fiber-rich vegetables or supplements to help lessen this effect.
One of the more severe side effects of the keto diet is ketoacidosis. Though ketoacidosis is unlikely for people without a prior health concern, those with type 1 or type 2 diabetes should only use the keto diet while being monitored by a doctor due to this side effect.
Ketoacidosis is when the body stores too many ketones and the blood becomes too acidic. This can cause liver, kidney, and brain damage. Dry mouth, frequent urination, nausea, bad breath, and breathing difficulties are signs of ketoacidosis.
Here is a list of all the adverse side effects that have been reported due to a keto diet:
- Keto flu
- Nausea and vomiting
- Endurance issues
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Kidney stones
- Hepatic steatosis (fatty liver)
- Hypoproteinemia (low levels of protein in the blood)
Although the list of side effects may be long, most healthy people do not experience any symptoms other than the keto flu. If you are sure to get ample vitamins and minerals, you should be all set.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Keto Diet
I. How do I plan my meals on keto?
Meal planning for the keto diet could be stressful at first. But if you look at your meal plan as a way to strategize your diet, you are more likely to stick to it.
If you need a detailed explanation on how to create a meal plan that you can stick to and get the most out of, then check out my in-depth guide on How to Create a Keto Meal Plan.
II. Do I need to practice Intermittent Fasting on keto?
Yes, if your goal is to lose weight on keto.
But let me explain why.
The science behind the ketogenic diet is that the body burns fat when deprived of other sources of fuel. Intermittent fasting is a deliberate deprivation of food and takes the concept a step further.
Here, we’re not talking long-term fasting.
Intermittent fasting while on a keto diet meant having two meals a day or fasting for one day a week. The fasting time gives the body a chance to rest and rid itself of toxins. It provides an extra boost to the weight-loss benefits of keto and is a great way to jump-start the diet.
In conclusion, if your goal is to lose weight, then the keto diet combined with intermittent fasting will help you reach your goal faster and easier.
III. Can I workout while I’m on a ketogenic diet?
There are studies like this and that that suggest that building muscles while on keto may not initially work as well as you might expect. However, over time, your workout performance should get better. For more information, I’ll recommend that you check out this article.
IV. Is Ketosis dangerous?
No, that’s not correct. You might be confusing Ketosis with ketoacidosis. As mentioned earlier in this article, Ketoacidosis could be a life-threatening problem that mainly occurs in patients with type 1 diabetes. For more information on ketoacidosis, read this article.
If your question wasn’t covered here, check out my Ultimate List of Keto FAQs HERE. There, I provided detailed answers to over 50 frequently asked questions on keto.
The keto diet is an extremely low carb diet that replaces carbohydrates with fat and protein. It is a great way to see results fast to lose weight and become a healthier version of yourself.
By creating a meal plan and following keto recipes, you can expect to lose weight in a short period of time.
With that being said, you will not see results overnight. It will take a couple of weeks to really see a noticeable difference. Don’t get discouraged in the meantime.
Instead, keep focused on your results and don’t give up. If you stick to a keto diet strictly, you are going to see results eventually.
Additionally, make sure that you listen to your body. It may be helpful to consult your doctor first. The point of the keto diet is to help you become the healthiest version of yourself.
Don’t do anything that pushes your body to its extreme. Instead, practice healthy eating habits and mentalities by using the keto diet.
By doing this, you can transform both your mind and body to become the healthiest version of yourself possible.
If you’re still not sure where to start or you want to learn a little bit more about me and the website, I’d highly recommend reading through my “Start Here” page.
PS: If you enjoyed this guide, then you may definitely want to take a look at my FREE beginner’s keto training guide called the Bullet Proof Keto Diet. It’s chock-full of very practical advice and wisdom for needed for you to succeed on your keto journey.