The ketogenic diet (also known as the keto diet) is a low-carb, high-fat diet with numerous health benefits. Many studies have shown that eating this way can help you lose weight and improve your health. For example, diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease may all benefit from ketogenic diets.
Over 50 research studies have demonstrated that it provides numerous benefits for weight loss, health, and performance. As a result, an increasing number of doctors and healthcare professionals are recommending it.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to the keto diet for beginners.
The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that resembles the Atkins and low-carb diets in many ways. However, it entails substantially lowering carbohydrate intake and substituting fat. This decrease in carbs causes your body to enter a metabolic state known as ketosis.
Your body becomes very effective at burning fat for energy when this happens. It also causes fat to be converted to ketones in the liver, which can be used to provide power to the brain. Ketogenic diets can lower blood sugar and insulin levels significantly. This, combined with the increased ketones, offers several health advantages.
What “Keto” Means?
The name “keto” or “ketogenic” diet comes from the fact that it causes your body to manufacture tiny fuel molecules known as “ketones.” When blood sugar (glucose) is in limited supply, your body might utilise this as an alternate fuel source.
Your liver creates ketones from fat when you eat relatively few carbs or calories. These ketones are subsequently used as a source of energy throughout the body, particularly in the brain. The brain is a hungry organ that uses a lot of energy daily, and it can’t run on fat. Only glucose – or ketones – can power it.
Your entire body converts to burning fat as its primary fuel source, burning fat all day on a ketogenic diet. However, when insulin levels plummet to dangerously low levels, fat burning can skyrocket. As a result, it gets simpler to gain access to your fat deposits to burn them.
This is beneficial if you’re trying to lose weight, but there may be other advantages as well, such as reduced appetite and a consistent flow of energy — without the sugar peaks and valleys that high-carb meals are known for. In addition, this may assist you in remaining attentive and concentrated.
The body enters a metabolic condition known as ketosis when it produces ketones. Fasting — not eating anything – is the quickest way to get there, but no one can fast indefinitely. A ketogenic diet, on the other hand, induces ketosis and can be consumed permanently. As a result, it provides many benefits of fasting, such as weight loss, without the need to fast for an extended period.
Why Eat A Keto Diet?
A ketogenic diet has similar benefits to other low-carb, high-fat diets, but it looks more potent than other low-carb diets. Consider keto as a high-fat, low-carb diet that maximizes the benefits. It may, however, increase the chance of negative effects slightly.
Weight loss can be aided by transforming your body into a fat-burning machine. Insulin — the fat-storing hormone – levels drop dramatically, resulting in a considerable boost in fat burning. This tends to make body fat removal much more manageable without causing hunger.
On a keto diet, you’re more likely to have better hunger control. In addition, it’s a typical occurrence for hunger levels to drop drastically, as evidenced by studies. This makes it simple to eat less and lose weight – simply wait till you’re hungry before eating. It also makes intermittent fasting easier, which can help with type 2 diabetes reversal and weight loss and the advantages of keto.
Plus, not having to nibble all the time could save you time and money. Many people only feel the need to eat twice a day (sometimes skipping breakfast), and others only eat once a day (known as OMAD).
It’s also possible that not fighting hunger could help with issues like sugar or food addiction. Finally, satisfaction might be a component of the answer. Food can either become your companion or simply fuel, depending on your preferences.
Control Blood Sugar & Reverse Type 2 Diabetes
A ketogenic diet has been shown in studies to effectively treat type 2 diabetes effectively and potentially lead to the disease’s total reversal. In addition, Keto decreases blood sugar levels, eliminates the need for medications, and lessens the potentially harmful effects of high insulin levels, so it makes perfect sense.
Because a keto diet can reverse type 2 diabetes, it’s likely to help prevent and reverse pre-diabetes as well. Note that in this context, the term “reversal” merely implies that the condition improves, normalizing glucose control while reducing the need for medication. In the best-case scenario, blood glucose levels stabilize without the use of medicines.
Improved Health Markers
Low-carb diets have been shown in numerous trials to improve several critical risk factors for heart disease, including the cholesterol profile, which includes HDL cholesterol and triglycerides. However, the levels of total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol are usually affected only slightly.
It’s also familiar to experience improvements in blood sugar, insulin, and blood pressure. These enhanced markers are linked to a condition known as “metabolic syndrome,” which is an insulin-resistant condition that low-carb diets efficiently address.
Mental & Physical Stamina
Ketogenic diets are used by certain persons who want to improve their mental performance. In addition, when people are in ketosis, they commonly notice a boost in energy.
The brain doesn’t require dietary carbs when you’re on a keto diet. Ketones and a tiny amount of glucose generated by your liver provide energy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So carbohydrates are not required in the diet.
As a result, ketosis ensures a consistent supply of fuel (ketones) to the brain, preventing the issues that come with significant blood sugar swings. In addition, enhanced attention and concentration and the resolution of brain fog and improved mental clarity may occur due to this treatment.
A Stomach That is Less Upset
A keto diet can help you have a calmer stomach, less gas, fewer cramps, and less pain, all of which can help with IBS symptoms. This is the most important advantage for some people, and it usually just takes a day or two to realise.
Physical Endurance is Improved
Ketogenic diets are thought to improve physical endurance by utilising the massive amounts of energy stored in your fat storage.
The body’s supply of stored carbohydrates (glycogen) lasts for a few hours or less after heavy activity. However, your fat stores have enough energy to endure for several weeks. Aside from this impact, another potential benefit of a keto diet is reducing body fat percentage (see weight loss, above). This body fat weight loss could be beneficial in a variety of competitive sports, including endurance sports.
Since the 1920s, the ketogenic diet has been used as a proven and often effective medical therapy for epilepsy. It was initially designed for children, but in recent years, adults have found it beneficial. In addition, some patients with epilepsy may be able to take fewer or no anti-epileptic drugs while still being seizure-free by following a ketogenic diet. As a result, pharmacological side effects may be reduced, and mental function may improve.
Keto diets come in a variety of flavors
The ketogenic diet comes in a variety of forms, including:
The Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD) is a low-carbohydrate, moderate-protein, high-fat diet. It comprises typically 70% fat, 20% protein, and barely 10% carbohydrates.
The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD) entails periods of increased carb refeeding, such as five ketogenic days followed by two high carb days.
The Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD) permits you to eat carbs in between workouts.
The High Protein Ketogenic Diet is comparable to a regular ketogenic diet. However, it contains more protein. Typically, the fat-to-protein-to-carbohydrate ratio is 60% fat to 35% protein to 5% carbohydrates.
Only the regular and high-protein ketogenic diets have been thoroughly researched. However, more advanced ketogenic diets, such as cyclical or targeted ketogenic diets, are extensively adopted by bodybuilders and athletes.
Ketogenic Diets Can Aid in Weight Loss
A ketogenic diet can help you lose weight and reduce your risk of disease. In fact, evidence suggests that the ketogenic diet may be just as successful as a low-fat diet for weight loss. Furthermore, because the diet is so satisfying, you can lose weight without monitoring calories or keeping track of what you eat.
A ketogenic diet with very low carbs was marginally more effective than a low-fat diet for long-term weight loss. The keto diet resulted in an average weight loss of 2 pounds (0.9 kg) more than the low-fat diet group. According to research, people who followed a ketogenic diet for eight weeks lost roughly five times as much total body fat as people who followed a low-fat diet.
Ketogenic Diets Can Help People With Diabetes & Prediabetes
Changes in metabolism, elevated blood sugar, and reduced insulin action are all symptoms of diabetes. In addition, excess fat is connected to type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and metabolic syndrome. And the ketogenic diet can help you lose it. According to one previous study, the ketogenic diet increased insulin sensitivity by 75%. A 90-day ketogenic diet can considerably lower haemoglobin A1C levels, a marker of long-term blood sugar management.
Keto Also Has Other Health Advantages
The ketogenic diet was initially developed to treat neurological illnesses like epilepsy.
Studies have now proven that eating a healthy diet can help with a wide range of health issues:
- Heart disease is a severe condition. Body fat, HDL (good) cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels can all benefit from a ketogenic diet.
- Cancer. Because it may help limit tumour growth, the diet is currently being researched as an additional cancer treatment.
- Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia. The keto diet may assist in alleviating Alzheimer’s disease symptoms and halting the disease’s progression.
- Epilepsy. The ketogenic diet has been found in studies to help children with epilepsy have fewer seizures.
- Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder. Although additional research is needed, one study found that eating a plant-based diet can aid with Parkinson’s disease symptoms.
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a kind of polycystic ovary syndrome. The ketogenic diet can reduce insulin levels, which may be necessary for the polycystic ovarian syndrome.
- Injuries to the brain. According to some studies, eating a healthy diet can help people recover from traumatic brain injuries.
Foods to stay away from
Carbohydrate-rich foods should be avoided.
On a ketogenic diet, the following foods must be restricted or eliminated:
- Sugary foods: soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.
- Grains or starches: wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.
- Fruit: all fruit, except small portions of berries like strawberries
- Beans or legumes: peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
- Root vegetables and tubers: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
- Low fat or diet products: low-fat mayonnaise, salad dressings, and condiments
- Some condiments or sauces: barbecue sauce, honey mustard, teriyaki sauce, ketchup, etc.
- Unhealthy fats: processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
- Alcohol: beer, wine, liquor, mixed drinks
- Sugar-free diet foods: sugar-free candies, syrups, puddings, sweeteners, desserts, etc.
Foods to eat
The majority of your meals should revolve around these foods:
- Meat: red meat, steak, ham, sausage, bacon, chicken, and turkey
- Fatty fish: salmon, trout, tuna, and mackerel
- Eggs: pastured or omega-3 whole eggs
- Butter and cream: grass-fed butter and heavy cream
- Cheese: unprocessed cheeses like cheddar, goat, cream, blue, or mozzarella
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.
- Healthy oils: extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil
- Avocados: Whole avocados or freshly made guacamole
- Low carb veggies: green veggies, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.
- Condiments: salt, pepper, herbs, and spices
Drinks You Can Keep in Your List
On a ketogenic diet, what may you drink? Water is the ideal beverage, however coffee or tea will suffice. Use no sweeteners, especially sugar, if possible. A splash of milk or cream in your coffee or tea is fine, but keep in mind that if you drink numerous cups in a day (and definitely avoid caffe lattes!), the carbs can mount up quickly. It’s also fine to have a glass of wine now and then.
Here’s A Sample Keto Meal Plan for The Newbies to Follow for A Week
A sample ketogenic diet food plan for a week to get you started:
- Breakfast: veggie and egg muffins with tomatoes
- Lunch: chicken salad with olive oil, feta cheese, olives, and a side salad
- Dinner: Salmon with asparagus cooked in butter
- Breakfast: egg, tomato, basil, and spinach omelette
- Lunch: almond milk, peanut butter, spinach, cocoa powder, and stevia milkshake with a side of sliced strawberries
- Dinner: cheese-shell tacos with salsa
- Breakfast: nut milk chia pudding topped with coconut and blackberries
- Lunch: avocado shrimp salad
- Dinner: Pork chops with Parmesan cheese, broccoli, and salad
- Breakfast: omelette with avocado, salsa, peppers, onion, and spices
- Lunch: a handful of nuts and celery sticks with guacamole and salsa
- Dinner: chicken stuffed with pesto and cream cheese, and a side of grilled zucchini
- Breakfast: sugar-free Greek, whole milk yoghurt with peanut butter, cocoa powder, and berries
- Lunch: ground-beef-lettuce-wrap tacos with sliced bell peppers
- Dinner: loaded cauliflower and mixed veggies
- Breakfast: cream cheese pancakes with blueberries and a side of grilled mushrooms
- Lunch: Zucchini and beet “noodle” salad
- Dinner: white fish cooked in coconut oil with kale and toasted pine nuts
- Breakfast: fried eggs with and mushrooms
- Lunch: low carb sesame chicken and broccoli
- Dinner: spaghetti squash Bolognese
Over time, aim to rotate your vegetables and meat, as each type delivers various nutrients and health advantages.
Keto Snacks That Are Good for You
Here are some nutritious, keto-approved snacks to keep you going between meals:
- Fatty meat or fish
- A handful of nuts or seeds
- Keto sushi bites
- One or two hard-boiled or deviled eggs
- Keto-friendly snack bars
- 90% dark chocolate
- Full-fat Greek yoghurt mixed with nut butter and cocoa powder
- Bell peppers and guacamole
- Strawberries and plain cottage cheese
- Celery with salsa and guacamole
- Beef jerky
- Smaller portions of leftover meals
- Fat bombs
Despite getting started on the ketogenic diet can be difficult, you can do a few methods to make it go more smoothly.
- To figure out how your favourite foods can fit into your diet, familiarise yourself with food labels and check the grams of fat, carbohydrates, and fibre.
- It’s also a good idea to plan your meals ahead of time so you can save time during the week.
- Keto-friendly recipes and meal ideas can be found on various websites, food blogs, apps, and cookbooks.
- Alternatively, certain meal delivery services offer keto-friendly selections for a quick and simple way to eat keto meals at home.
- When you’re short on time, consider healthy frozen keto meals.
- When attending social gatherings or visiting family and friends, carrying your own food might help you suppress cravings and stick to your meal plan.
On A Ketogenic Diet, There Are A Few Things to Keep in Mind When Dining Out
Keto-friendly versions of many restaurant dishes are available. Almost every restaurant serves meat or fish-based dishes. Order this and add extra vegetables to any high-carb meal. Egg-based meals, such as an omelette or eggs and bacon, are also excellent choices.
Burgers without buns are another popular option. You could also substitute vegetables for the fries. Extra avocado, cheese, bacon, or eggs can be added. You can order any sort of meat with extra cheese, guacamole, salsa, and sour cream at Mexican restaurants. Request a mixed cheese platter or berries with cream for dessert.
How to Reduce the Risk of Side Effects
Although the ketogenic diet is generally safe for most healthy people, some side effects may occur as your body adjusts. There is some anecdotal evidence of these side effects, which are known as the keto flu. However, according to some people on the eating regimen, it usually only lasts a few days.
Diarrhoea, constipation, and vomiting have all been reported as keto flu symptoms. Other symptoms that are less common include:
- lacking energy and mental function
- increased hunger
- sleep issues
- digestive discomfort
- decreased exercise performance
For the first few weeks, you can try a regular low carb diet to reduce this. However, before you entirely remove carbs, this may train your body to burn more fat.
Because a ketogenic diet might alter your body’s water and mineral balance, adding more salt to your meals or taking mineral supplements may be beneficial. Consult your doctor about your dietary requirements.
It’s vital to eat until you’re satisfied, at least at first, and avoid cutting calories too much. A ketogenic diet usually results in weight loss without calorie restriction.
Ketogenic Diet Risks
Staying on the keto diet for an extended period may have inevitable unfavourable consequences, including the following:
- low protein in the blood
- extra fat in the liver
- kidney stones
- micronutrient deficiencies
Sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors, a type of diabetes treatment, can raise the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis, a hazardous illness that causes blood acidity to rise. Therefore, the keto diet should be avoided by anyone using this medication.
More study is being conducted to determine the keto diet’s long-term safety. Keep your doctor informed about your food plan so that they can help you make the best decisions.
Supplements to Help You Stick to A Ketogenic Diet
Although supplements are not required, they may be beneficial.
- MCT oil. Added to drinks or yoghurt, MCT oil provides energy and helps increase ketone levels. Shop for MCT oil online.
- Minerals. Added salt and other minerals can be important when starting due to water and mineral balance.
- Caffeine. Caffeine can have benefits for energy, fat loss, and performance.
- Exogenous ketones. This supplement may help raise the body’s ketone levels.
- Creatine. Creatine provides numerous benefits for health and performance. This can help if you are combining a ketogenic diet with exercise.
- Whey. Use half a scoop of whey protein in shakes or yoghurt to increase your daily protein intake.
You May Ask
Is it possible for me to eat carbohydrates again?
Yes. However, it’s critical to start by drastically reducing your carb intake. You can consume carbs on rare occasions after the first 2 to 3 months, but you must quickly return to the diet.
Will I lose muscle?
Any diet has the potential to cause muscle loss. Protein intake and high ketone levels, on the other hand, may aid to prevent muscle loss, especially if you lift weights.
Is it possible to gain muscle on a ketogenic diet?
Yes, however, it may not be as effective as a low-carb diet. Read this article for additional information on a low carb or keto diets and workout performance.
What is the maximum amount of protein I can consume?
Protein should be consumed in moderation, as a high intake might boost insulin levels and cause ketones to be depleted. The top limit is probably around 35% of total calorie intake.
What if I’m always tired, weak, or exhausted?
It’s possible that you’re not in full ketosis or that you’re not utilising fats and ketones effectively. Reduce your carb consumption and go over the tips above again to counteract this. A supplement such as MCT oil or ketones may also be beneficial.
I heard ketosis was extremely dangerous. Is this true?
Ketosis is frequently confused with ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is harmful. However, for healthy people, ketosis on a ketogenic diet is usually fine. Before beginning any new diet, consult your doctor.
I get stomach problems and diarrhoea. What options do I have?
This is a common side effect that lasts 3 to 4 weeks. If the problem persists, increase your intake of high-fibre vegetables.
Finally, The Conclusion
A ketogenic diet may be beneficial to those who:
- are overweight
- have diabetes
- are looking to improve their metabolic health
Elite athletes and those looking to gain a lot of muscle or weight may find it less suitable. It could not be a viable option for some people’s lifestyles or tastes. Consult your doctor about your diet and goals to see if a ketogenic diet is good for you.