The keto diet is a low carb diet, high in fat, and offers many health benefits.
There are more than 20 studies that can show you how this type of diet can help you lose weight and improve your health (1).
This article is a detailed guide for beginners to the ketogenic diet. It contains everything you need to know.
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What is the ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet (often called keto) is a very low carb diet, high in fat, and shares many similarities with Atkins diets and low carbohydrate diets.
This diet involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction of carbohydrates puts your body in a metabolic state called ketosis.
When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at turning fat into energy. It also converts fats into ketones in the liver, which can provide energy to the brain (6, 7).
The different types of ketogenic diets
There are several versions of the ketogenic diet, including:
- The standard ketogenic diet (SKD): This diet is very low in carbohydrates, moderate protein and high in fat. It usually contains 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbohydrates (1).
- Cyclic Ketogenic Diet (CKD): This diet includes higher carbohydrate periods, such as 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 carbohydrate-rich days.
- Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): This diet allows you to add carbohydrates around workouts.
High protein ketogenic diet: It looks like a
standard ketogenic diet, but includes more protein. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbohydrate.
Know that only standard and high protein ketogenic diets have been extensively studied.
Cyclic or targeted ketogenic diets are more advanced methods, mainly used by bodybuilders or athletes.
The information in this article applies primarily to the standard ketogenic diet (SKD).
Ketogenic diets can help you lose weight
A ketogenic diet is an effective way to lose weight and reduce risk factors for illness (8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13).
In fact, research shows that the ketogenic diet is far superior to the low-fat diet recommended by many (2, 14, 15, 16).
In addition, this diet is so satisfying that you can lose weight without counting calories or following the food consumed (16).
One study showed that people on a ketogenic diet lost 2.2 times more weight than those who followed a calorie-restricted diet. Levels of triglyceride and HDL cholesterol also improved (17).
There are several reasons why a ketogenic diet is superior to a low-fat diet. One is increased protein intake, which offers many benefits.
Increasing ketones, lowering blood sugar levels, and improving insulin sensitivity may also play a key role.
Ketogenic diets for diabetes and prediabetes
Diabetes is characterized by changes in metabolism, hyperglycemia, and impaired insulin function (27).
The ketogenic diet can help you lose excess fat, which is closely related to type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and metabolic syndrome (28, 29, 30).
One study showed that the ketogenic diet improved insulin sensitivity by 75% (29).
Another study of patients with type 2 diabetes found that 7 out of 21 participants were able to stop all diabetes medications (28).
In another study, the ketogenic group lost 11.4 kg, compared with 6.9 kg in the higher carbohydrate group. This is an important benefit when considering the relationship between weight and type 2 diabetes (2, 31).
In addition, 95.2% of the ketogenic group was also able to stop or reduce diabetes medications, compared to 62% in the higher carbohydrate group (2).
Other health benefits of the keto diet
A keto diet is actually a tool for treating neurological diseases, such as epilepsy.
Studies have now shown that this diet can have positive effects on certain diseases.
- Heart Disease: The ketogenic diet can improve risk factors such as body fat, HDL levels, blood pressure and blood glucose (32).
- Cancer: This diet is currently used to treat several types of cancer and slow tumor growth (4, 34).
- Alzheimer’s disease: The diet can reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and slow down the progression of the disease (5, 37).
- Epilepsy: Research has shown that the ketogenic diet can lead to massive seizure reduction in children with epilepsy (3).
- Parkinson’s disease: A study found that diet helped to alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (39).
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: The ketogenic diet may help reduce insulin levels, which may play a key role in polycystic ovary syndrome (40).
- Brain Injury: An animal study has shown that this diet can reduce concussions and promote recovery after brain injury (41).
- Acne: Reducing insulin levels and eating less sugar or processed foods can help reduce acne (42).
Keep in mind that research in many of these areas is still far from conclusive.
Foods to avoid during Keto diet
In short, any food rich in carbohydrates should be limited.
Here is a keto diet food list that must be reduced or eliminated in a ketogenic diet:
- Sweet Foods: Soda, juices, smoothies, cakes, ice cream, sweets, etc.
- Grains or starches: Wheat products, rice, pasta, cereals, etc.
- Fruits: All fruits except small portions of berries such as strawberries.
- Beans or legumes: peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
- Root and Tuber Vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.
- Low-fat products: These are highly processed and often high in carbohydrates.
- Some condiments or sauces: They often contain sugar and bad fat.
- Unhealthy fat: Limit your consumption of processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
- Alcohol: Because of its carbohydrate content, many alcoholic drinks can be harmful to you.
- Dietary foods without sugar: These foods also tend to be highly processed.
Foods to eat during Keto diet
You should base the majority of your meals on these keto diet food list :
- Meat: red meat, steak, ham, sausage, bacon, chicken and turkey.
- Fat fish: such as salmon, trout, tuna, and mackerel.
- Eggs: Look for organic eggs.
- Cheese: unprocessed cheese (cheddar, goat, blue or mozzarella).
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.
- Healthy oils: Primarily, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil.
- Low carbohydrate vegetables: Most green vegetables, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.
- Condiments: You can use salt, pepper, and various healthy herbs and spices.
Read also: Steak Frites with Herb Mustard
A keto meal plan for 1 week
To help you get started, here’s an example of a 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 omelet.
Lunch: almond milk, peanut butter, cocoa powder, and a milkshake.
Dinner: meatballs, cheddar cheese, and vegetables.
Breakfast: A milkshake
Lunch: Shrimp salad with olive oil and avocado.
Dinner: Parmesan pork chops, broccoli and salad.
Breakfast: Omelette with avocado, salsa sauce, peppers, onions, and spices.
Lunch: A handful of walnuts and celery sticks with guacamole and salsa sauce.
Dinner: Chicken stuffed with pesto and cheese, accompanied by vegetables.
Breakfast: Sugar-free yogurt with peanut butter, cocoa powder, and stevia.
Lunch: beef sautés cooked in coconut oil with vegetables.
Dinner: a burger with bacon, eggs, and cheese.
Breakfast: ham and cheese omelet with vegetables.
Lunch: slices of ham and cheese with nuts.
Dinner: fish, egg, and spinach cooked in coconut oil.
Breakfast: Fried eggs with bacon and mushrooms.
Lunch: Chicken, cheese and guacamole.
Dinner: Steak and eggs with a salad.
Read also: Chocolate Muffin (vegan & gluten free)
Healthy keto snacks
If you are hungry between meals, here are some healthy ketogenic snacks:
Oily meat or fish.
A handful of nuts or seeds.
1-2 hard-boiled eggs
Dark chocolate 90%.
A low carbohydrate milkshake with almond milk, cocoa powder, and peanut butter.
Whole yogurt mixed with peanut butter and cocoa powder.
Celery with salsa sauce and guacamole.
Small portions of leftover meals.
Tips for eating on a ketogenic diet
It is not very difficult to follow a ketogenic diet.
Most restaurants offer meat or fish dishes. Order this type of food, and replace any high-carb food with extra vegetables.
Egg-based meals are also a great option, such as an omelet or eggs and bacon.
You can taste any type of meat with cheese, guacamole or salsa sauce.
For dessert, ask for a cheese platter with berries.
Side effects of the keto diet and how to minimize them?
Although the keto diet is safe for people in good health, there may be some side effects related to adaptation.
This usually lasts a few days.
Here are the main symptoms:
- A decrease in energy,
- Feeling of hunger that increases,
- Sleep problems,
- Digestive discomfort
- And a decrease in your physical performance.
To minimize this, you can go gradually. You will teach your body to burn more fat before completely eliminating carbohydrates.
A ketogenic diet can also alter your body’s water and mineral balance, so adding salt to your meals or taking mineral supplements can help.
Frequently asked questions about the Keto diet :
Here are answers to some of the most common questions about the ketogenic diet.
Can I eat carbohydrates again?
Yes. However, it is important to eliminate them from the beginning. After the first 2-3 months, you can eat carbohydrates for special occasions.
Will I lose muscle?
There is a risk of losing muscle in any diet. However, high protein intake and high levels of ketones can help minimize muscle loss, especially if you lift weights.
My urine is fruity?
Do not be alarmed. This is simply related to the excretion of by-products created during ketosis.
I have bad breath?
This is a common side effect. Try to drink flavored water or chew a piece of sugar-free chewing gum.
I heard that ketosis was extremely dangerous. Is it true?
People often confuse ketosis with ketoacidosis. The first is natural, while the second occurs only in uncontrolled diabetes.
Ketoacidosis is dangerous, but ketosis with a ketogenic diet is perfectly normal and healthy.
I have problems with digestion and diarrhea. What can I do?
This common side effect usually occurs after 3-4 weeks. If this persists, try eating more fiber-rich vegetables. Magnesium supplements can also help.
A keto diet is not for everyone
A keto diet is advised 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, as with any diet, it will only work if you are consistent and respect it in the long run.
That said, few things are as well proven in nutrition as the benefits of the ketogenic diet.
I hope you enjoyed these tips. If you have other tips to share, feel free to put them in the comments below. Thank you.