Diet & Weight loss

The complete guide to the ketogenic diet

The complete guide to the ketogenic diet

The ketogenic diet is a low carb, high fat diet that offers many health benefits. More than 20 studies show that this type of diet can help you lose weight and improve health . Ketogenic diet may even have benefits against diabetes, cancer, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease .

This article is the guide to a detailed beginner for the ketogenic diet. It contains everything you need to know.

What is a ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic diet (often called keto ) is a very low carb, high fat diet that shares many similarities with the Atkins and low carbohydrate diets.

It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate consumption and replacing it with fat. The reduction of carbohydrates puts your body in a metabolic state called ketosis.

When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also ketones fat in the liver, which can provide energy for the brain .

Ketogenic diet can cause massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. This, as well as increased ketones, has many health benefits .

Different types of ketogenic diets

There are several versions of the ketogenic diet, including:

  • Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): This is a very low carb diet, moderate protein and high fat. It typically contains 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbohydrate .
  • Cyclic Ketogenic Diet (CKD): This diet involves periods of refeeds plus carbohydrates, such as 5 days ketogenic followed by 2 days of high carbohydrate.
  • Targeted Ketogenic (TKD): This diet allows you to add carbohydrates around workouts.
  • High protein ketogenic diet: This is similar to a standard ketogenic diet, but includes more protein. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbohydrate.

However, only standard and high protein ketogenic diets have been widely studied. Cyclic or specific ketogenic diets, more advanced methods, and mainly used by bodybuilders or athletes.

The information in this article primarily applies to standard ketogenic (SKD) power, although many of the same principles also apply to other versions.

Ketogenic can help you lose weight


A ketogenic diet is an effective way to lose weight and lower risk factors for disease .

In fact, research shows that the ketogenic diet is far superior to the recommended low-fat diet .

Plus, the diet is filling so you can lose weight without counting calories or tracking your food .

One study found that people on a ketogenic diet lost 2.2 times more weight than those who have a low-calorie low-fat diet. Triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels are also improved .

Another study found that participants on the ketogenic diet lost 3 times more weight than those on diet  recommended by diabetes in the UK.

There are several reasons why a ketogenic diet is superior to a low-fat diet. One is the increased protein supply, which offers many benefits .

Ketones have increased, reduced blood sugar levels and improved insulin sensitivity may also play a key role.

For more details on the weight loss effects of a ketogenic diet, read this article: A ketogenic diet to lose weight and fight the disease.

Ketogenic for diabetes and prediabetes

Ketogenic for diabetes and prediabetes

Diabetes is characterized by changes in metabolism, hyperglycemia, and impaired insulin function .

The ketogenic diet can help you lose excess fat, which is closely related to type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and metabolic syndrome .

One study found that the ketogenic diet improves insulin sensitivity by an exorbitant 75% .

Another study in patients with type 2 diabetes found that 7 out of 21 participants were able to stop all diabetes medications .

In another study, the ketogenic group lost 24.4 pounds (11.1 kg), compared with 15.2 pounds (6.9 kg) in the upper carbohydrate group.

This is an important benefit when considering the relationship between weight and type 2 diabetes .

In addition, 95.2% of the ketogenic group was also able to stop or reduce diabetes medications, compared with 62% in the upper carbohydrate group. This article has more details on low carb diets and diabetes.

Other health benefits of the ketogenic diet

The ketogenic diet originates as a tool for the treatment of neurological diseases, such as epilepsy.

Studies have now shown that the diet can have benefits for a wide variety of different health conditions:

  • Heart Disease: The ketogenic diet may improve risk factors such as body fat, HDL levels, blood pressure and blood glucose .
  • Cancer: The diet is currently used to treat several types of cancer and slow tumor growth .
  • Alzheimer’s disease: The diet can reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and slow the progression of the disease.
  • Epilepsy: Research has shown that the ketogenic diet can lead to a massive reduction in seizures in children with epilepsy .
  • Parkinson’s Disease: A study found that the diet has improved the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: The ketogenic diet may help reduce insulin levels, which may play a key role in polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • Brain damage: An animal study found that diet can reduce concussions and promote recovery after brain injury .
  • Acne: Decreasing insulin levels and eating less sugar or processed foods can help improve acne .

However, keep in mind that research in many of these areas is far from conclusive.

Foods to avoid

Foods to avoid

In short, any food that is high in carbohydrates should be limited. Here is a list of foods that should be reduced or eliminated on a ketogenic diet:

  • Sweet foods: soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, sweets, etc.
  • Grain or starch: wheat products, rice, pasta, cereals, etc.
  • Fruit: All fruits, with the exception of small portions of fruit such as strawberries.
  • Beans or legumes: peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
  • Root and tuber vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
  • Low fat or food products: These are very often processed and high in carbohydrates.
  • Some condiments or sauces: These often contain sugar and unhealthy fat.
  • bad fat: Limit your consumption of processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
  • Alcohol: Because of its carbohydrate content, many alcoholic drinks can throw you out of ketosis.
  • Sugar-free diet foods: These are often high in sugar alcohols, which can affect ketone levels in some cases.

These foods also tend to be highly processed.

Foods to eat

You must base the majority of your meals around these foods:

  • Meat: Red meat, steak, ham, sausages, bacon, chicken and turkey.
  • Oily fish: such as salmon, trout, tuna and mackerel.
  • Eggs: Look for or grazed whole omega-3 eggs.
  • Butter and cream: Look for grass fed when possible.
  • Cheese: unprocessed cheese (cheddar, goat, cream, blue or mozzarella).
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.
  • Healthy oils: Mainly extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil.
  • Avocados: whole or avocado guacamole freshly prepared.
  • Low carbohydrate vegetables : Most green vegetables, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.
  • Condiments: You can use salt, pepper and various healthy herbs and spices.

It is best to base your diet primarily on whole foods, one ingredient. Here is a list of 44 healthy foods with low carbohydrate.

A ketogenic meal plan sample for 1 week

ketogenic meal plan

To help you get started, here is a sample ketogenic diet meal plan for a week:


  • Breakfast: Bacon, eggs and tomatoes.
  • Lunch: Chicken salad with olive oil and feta cheese.
  • Dinner: Salmon with asparagus cooked in butter.


  • Breakfast: Egg, tomato, basil and goat cheese omelette.
  • Lunch: Almond milk, peanut butter, cocoa powder and stevia milk shake.
  • Dinner: Meatballs, cheddar cheese and vegetables.


  • Breakfast: A ketogenic milk shake (try this or that).
  • Lunch: Shrimp salad with olive oil and avocado.
  • Dinner: pork chops with parmesan cheese, broccoli and salad.


  • Breakfast: Omelette with avocado, salsa, peppers, onions and spices.
  • Lunch: A handful of nuts and celery sticks with guacamole and salsa.
  • Dinner: Chicken stuffed with pesto cheese and cream, as well as vegetables.


  • Breakfast: Sugar free yogurt with peanut butter, cocoa powder and stevia.
  • Lunch: Stuffed beef cooked in coconut oil with vegetables.
  • Dinner: Hamburger less bread with bacon, eggs and cheese.


  • Breakfast: Ham and cheese omelet with vegetables.
  • Lunch: Ham and slices of walnut cheese.
  • Dinner: white fish, eggs and spinach cooked in coconut oil.


  • Breakfast: fried eggs with bacon and mushrooms.
  • Lunch: Burger with salsa, cheese and guacamole.
  • Dinner: Steak and eggs with side salad.

Always try to rotate vegetables and meat over the long term as each type provides different nutrients and health benefits.

Ketogenic Health Snacks

If you are hungry between meals, here are some healthy snacks, approved ketones:

  • Meat or fatty fish.
  • Cheese.
  • A handful of nuts or seeds.
  • Cheese with olives.
  • 1-2 hard boiled eggs
  • 90% dark chocolate.
  • A low carb milk shakes with almond milk, cocoa powder and nut butter.
  • High fat yogurt mixed with nut butter and cocoa powder.
  • Strawberries and cream.
  • Celery with salsa and guacamole.
  • Small portions of meals remaining.

Tips for eating out on a ketogenic diet

It is not very difficult to make most keto friendly meals at the restaurant where to eat out.

Most restaurants offer a kind of meat or fish dish. Order this, and replace the high carbohydrate foods with extra vegetables.

Egg-based meals are also a great option, such as an omelette or eggs and bacon. Another favorite is small bun less burgers.

You can also leave the bread and swap the fries for the vegetables instead. Add additional avocado, cheese, bacon or eggs.

In Mexican restaurants you can enjoy any type of meat with extra cheese, guacamole, salsa and sour cream.

For dessert, ask for a mixed or double cream cheese platter with berries.

Side effects and how to reduce them

Although the ketogenic diet is safe for healthy people, there may be some initial side effects as your body adapts.

This is often called “keto flu” – and is usually over in a few days.

Keto flu includes poor energy and mental function, increased hunger, sleep problems, nausea, digestive disorders and a decrease in physical performance.

To minimize this, you can try a regular low carb diet for the first few weeks. This can teach your body to burn more fat before completely eliminating carbohydrates.

A ketogenic diet can also change the balance of water and minerals in your body, so adding salt to your meals or taking mineral supplements can help. For minerals, try to take 3000-4000 mg of sodium, 1000 mg of potassium and 300 mg of magnesium a day to minimize side effects.

At least in the beginning, it is important to eat until satiety and to avoid restricting too many calories. Usually, a ketogenic diet causes weight loss without intentional caloric restriction.

Supplements for a ketogenic diet

Although no supplement is necessary, some may be useful.

  • MCT Oil: Added to drinks or yoghurt, MCT oil provides energy and helps increase ketone levels.
  • Minerals: added salt and other minerals can be important during startup, due to changes in water and mineral balance.
  • Caffeine: Caffeine can have benefits for energy, fat loss and performance.
  • Exogenous ketones: This supplement may help increase the body’s ketone levels.
  • Creatine: Creatine offers many benefits for health and performance. This can help if you combine a ketogenic diet with exercise.
  • Whey: Use half a spoon of whey protein in shakes or yogurt to increase your daily protein intake.

Frequently asked questions


Here are the answers to some of the most common questions about the ketogenic diet.

1. Can I ever eat carbs again?

Yes. However, it is important to eliminate them initially. After the first 2-3 months, you can eat carbohydrates on special occasions – just return to food immediately afterwards.

2. Am I losing muscle?

There is a risk of losing a little muscle on a diet. However, high protein intake and high levels of ketone can help reduce muscle loss, especially if you lift weights.

3. Can you build muscles on a ketogenic diet?

Yes, but it does not work as well as on a moderate carbohydrate diet. More details: Low-Carb / Ketogenic and Exercise Performance.

4. Do I need replenishment or carbohydrate loading?

No. However, a few days higher in calories can be beneficial from time to time.

5. How much protein can I eat?

The protein should be moderate, as a very high intake can peak insulin levels and lower ketones. About 35% of the total caloric intake is probably the upper limit.

6. What if I am constantly tired, weak or tired?

You can not be in full ketosis or be using fats and ketones effectively. To counter this, reduce your carbohydrate intake and revisit the points above. A supplement like MCT oil or ketones can also help.

7. Does my urine smell fruity? Why is it?

Do not worry. This is simply due to the excretion of by-products created during ketosis.

8. My breath smells. What can I do?

This is a common side effect. Try to drink naturally flavored water or sugar-free chewing gum.

9. I heard ketosis was extremely dangerous. Is it true?

People often confuse with ketoacidosis ketosis. The first is natural, whereas it only occurs in uncontrolled diabetes. Ketoacidosis is dangerous, but ketosis on a ketogenic diet is perfectly normal and healthy.

 10. I have problems with digestion and diarrhea. What can I do?

This common side effect usually occurs after 3-4 weeks. If it persists, try eating more fiber rich vegetables. Magnesium supplements can also help with constipation.

A ketogenic diet is great, but not for everyone

A ketogenic diet can be great for people who are overweight, diabetic or looking to improve their metabolic health.

It may be less suitable for elite athletes or those who wish to add large amounts of muscle or weight.

And, like any diet, it will only work if you are consistent and stick to it in the long run.

That being said, few things are as well proven in nutrition as the powerful health benefits and weight loss of a ketogenic diet.

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