Ketogenic Diet: What It Is, How It Works & What You Should Know

Ketogenic Diet: What It Is, How It Works & What You Should Know

A keto or ketogenic diet is a low-carb, medium protein, high-fat diet that will help you consume fat more efficiently. It has numerous advantages for weight reduction, health, and performance, as shown in more than 50 studies, hence why so many physicians prescribe this.

Some of the most significant challenges in the keto diet is putting and maintaining the body in ketosis. Ketosis is a normal metabolic state that allows the body to consume fat instead of carbohydrates for energy (when it doesn’t have enough carbohydrates). And to reach ketosis, you’re going to have to say goodbye to certain carbs and hello to fats — and a ton of it.

What Exactly Is Keto Diet?

The keto diet originated as a ketogenic medical diet. Scientifically, the ketogenic diet is utilized to help address neurological disorders, mainly to minimize seizures in children. Studies show the potential benefits of certain neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. From these scientific contexts, the diet is then picked up by mass media and promoted as a weight loss regime.

The keto diet promotes weight loss by burning fat. The ketogenic diet aims to rapidly lose weight and eventually feel fuller with fewer cravings, while at the same time improving your mood, mental focus, and physical performance. The keto diet coined its term from ketones, small fuel molecules, which the body produces in response to the food.

If you eat too little carbohydrates or calories  intake, the liver generates ketones from fat. Such ketones then serve as a source of fuel for the entire body, particularly the brain. The brain is a starving organ that absorbs a lot of energy every day and can’t function on fat directly. It can either function on glucose or ketones.

Once the body produces ketones, it reaches a biochemical process called ketosis. Ketosis is a cycle that happens when the body doesn’t have enough carbohydrate intake to use for energy. Instead, to generate ketones, it consumes fat to create a source of energy.

It is excellent if you’re looking to shed weight while enjoying other benefits such as reduced appetite and increased energy — without the sugar highs and lows that frequently arise while you consume high-carb products. It could help increase your mental clarity and physical performance.

Are There Different Types of Keto Diet?

There is a wide range of specific types of the ketogenic diet, including:
  • The standard ketogenic diet (SKD): This is an extremely low-carb, medium-protein, and high-fat diet. It usually contains 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% of total carbs.
  • The cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD): The CKD diet, otherwise known as carb cycling, includes days where more carbohydrates are consumed, such as five days of ketogenic diet accompanied by two days of high carb diet. The diet focuses on athletes who can use low carb days to replenish the glycogen lost from their muscles during workouts.
  • The targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): TKD is identical to the traditional ketogenic diet, only that carbs are eaten at workout time. It focuses on the idea that the carbohydrate digested before or after physical activity can be absorbed even more effectively, especially when the muscles require energy to increase when we’re active.
  • High-protein ketogenic diet: This diet contains high protein intake than the regular ketogenic diet, with 35% protein, 60% fat, and 5% carbohydrate. Study shows that high-protein ketogenic is beneficial for weight loss in people who need to lose weight.

What Should You Eat on A Keto Diet?

Here are the foods that you can eat on a ketogenic diet and should be added to your grocery list:

Visual keto diet guides

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  • Meat
Unprocessed animal products are keto-friendly and low in carbohydrate, and studies also show that grass-fed and organic beef are a good protein sources. Yet, note that keto is a high-fat diet, not abundant in protein, and you don’t need a lot of meat. Unprocessed meats are low carb, and keto-friendly and organic and grass-fed meat might be even healthier. But remember that keto is a higher-fat diet, not high in protein, so you don’t need vast amounts of meat. Excess protein may be transformed into glucose, which may make it difficult for certain people to get ketosis, particularly while starting up and with high rates of insulin resistance.
  • Fish and seafood
Fish and seafood are all excellent ketogenic food, particularly fatty fish like salmon. If you have issues relating to mercury or other pollutants, try consuming smaller fish such as sardines, herring, and mackerel. Avoid breading, because it contains carbs.
  • Eggs
Eggs are one of the top ketogenic food. You can eat them any way you want, e.g., fried in butter, boiled, scrambled, or as omelets. The healthiest option would be to buy organic or pasteurized eggs.

Natural fat, high-fat sauce

The primary source of calories in a keto diet come from fat. You’re likely to get a lot of it from natural products like beef, poultry, eggs, and other foods. You can use healthy unsaturated fats when cooking, such as butter, olive oil, and coconut oil. In keto diet, fat is your friend. Fats tend to make you feel full and adds taste to food.

  • Vegetables above ground
Select vegetables that grow above the ground, especially green and leafy vegetables. It can include avocado, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and zucchini. Vegetables are a great way of incorporating good fat on keto diet. You can fry it in butter or put a significant amount of olive oil on your salad.
  • Nuts
Nuts can be eaten in moderation. However, it would be best if you took note when it comes to using nuts as snacks, as it’s effortless to eat more than you need to feel satisfied. Cashews contain relatively high carb compared to pecan or macadamia.

What Should You Avoid On A Keto Diet?

When you are following a strict keto diet method, it is important to avoid foods that has a high intake of of carbohydrates since ketogenic is a high calorie restriction diet.

The following are foods that should be restricted:

  • Bread and baked goods: Whole-wheat bread, crackers, white bread, doughnuts, cookies, and rolls.
  • Sweets and sugary foods: Ice cream, sugar, maple syrup, candy, agave syrup and coconut sugar.
  • Sweetened beverages: Sweetened tea, juice with added sugars, soda, and sports drinks.
  • Pasta: Noodles and spaghetti.
  • Grains and grain products: Breakfast cereals, oats, wheat, rice, and tortillas.
  • Starchy vegetables: Butternut squash, pumpkin, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, and peas.
  • Beans and legumes: Chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans and lentils.
  • Fruit: Pineapple, bananas, citrus, and grapes.
  • High-carb sauces: Sugary salad dressings, dipping sauces, and barbecue sauce, dipping sauces.
  • Certain alcoholic beverages: Sugary mixed drinks and beer.

While carbs should be avoided, low-glycemic fruits such as berrier may be enjoyed in limited quantities as long as you retain a keto-friendly macronutrient spectrum.

Make sure to select good and healthy food sources and keep away from  processed foods and unhealthy fats.

The following food sources should be avoided:

  • Unhealthy fats: Shortening, margarine, and vegetable oils such as corn and canola oil.
  • Processed foods:  Packaged foods, fast food, and processed meats such as luncheon meats and hotdogs.
  • Diet foods: Foods that contain preservatives, and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sugar alcohols.

How To Start A Low Carbohydrate Diet Or Keto Diet

The main point to start a keto diet plan or low carbohydrate diet is to restrict carb intake and regulate the consumption of daily calories. Restrict to less than 20g net carbs per day for a keto diet (some people can get away with under 30g net carbs).

For a low carbohydrate diet, aim for under 50g net carbs per day, though some variations limit to somewhere between 50-100g net carbs per day.

Here are some tips for getting started on a keto diet or low carbohydrate diet:

  1. Limit protein intake: A low carbohydrate or keto diet is not a high  protein diet! Low carbohydrate diet usually has a high amount of protein compared to keto diet. High protein diets will stress the kidneys and, in turn, excess protein converts to glucose. Provide a target for your protein intake everyday.
  2. Use fat as a lever:  Low carbohydrate diet or keto diet are high fat diets. Fat is our source satiety and energy. Fats acts as a lever on a low carbohydrate or keto diet. Protein and carbs stay constant, and fat is the one you adjust to gain or lose weight. If your goal is weight loss, eat enough fat to be satisfied.
  3. Drink lots of water: This is important on a keto or low carb diet. Eating low carb reduces glycogen which allows you to burn fat, however, it also means storing less water, which can get you dehydrated easily. Instead of consuming 8 glasses of water daily, try increasing it to 16 glasses of water especially if you’re following a low carb diet or geto diet.
  4. Keep up electrolytes: The major electrolytes in our bodies are potassium, sodium,  and magnesium. A low carb diet and keto diet reduces your water storage, thus flushing out the electrolytes in your body which makes you feel sick (called keto-flu).
  5. Eat only when you are hungry:  In a low carb diet or keto diet, it is not necessary to east a 4-6 meals per day which can affect weight loss. Eat when you’re hungry, but if you aren’t, don’t. Consuming fewer carbs is a natural appetite suppressant.
  6. Focus on whole foods: Although eating natural or whole foods is technically not 100% required to restrict carbohydrates, eating processed foods will not help you get rid of cravings or be good for your body. Check the section below for more on what low carb foods are best.
  7. Exercise. This is not required for a low carb diet, but recommended. You’ll feel better, improve your health, and if your goal is weight loss, it will happen faster!

Are There Health Benefits In Keto Diet?

Keto diet

Photographer: KirstenMarie | Source: Unsplash

The effects of ketogenic diets are close to those of other low-carb and high-fat diets, but they tend to be more effective than traditional low-carb diets.

Think about keto as a super-charged, low-carb diet that maximizes benefits. However, the chance of adverse effects can also raise marginally.

Keto Diet Helps Weight Loss

Transforming the body into a fat-burning tool will be useful in losing weight. Fat burning is dramatically improved, although insulin – the fat-storing hormone – is dropping rapidly.

It tends to make it much simpler for the body to shed weight without malnutrition.

Keto Diet Regulates Appetite

You’re likely to achieve greater control of your appetite on a keto diet. It’s very usual experience that symptoms of hunger are drastically decreased, and experiments show it. It makes it easier to consume less and shed extra weight.

Keto Diet Regulates Blood Sugar

Research suggests that a ketogenic diet is right for managing type 2 diabetes, and often contributing to a complete reversal of the condition. It makes perfect sense because keto decreases blood sugar rates, reduces the need for treatment, and eliminates the harmful effects of increased insulin levels.

Since a keto diet might reverse type 2 diabetes, it is likely to be successful in preventing and correcting pre-diabetes. Notice that the word “reversal” in this case implies that the condition is improving, increasing glucose regulation, and reducing the need for treatment. In the ideal scenario, it may be changed to such a degree that blood pressure falls to normal without treatment. In this case, reversal implies the opposite of a growing illness.
Yet, lifestyle improvements only work when you do them. If a person switches to a lifestyle that he or she has before type 2, diabetes emerged and advanced, and it is likely to continue and develop with time.

Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance can lead to type II diabetes if left unmanaged. An abundant amount of research shows that a low carb, ketogenic diet can help people lower their insulin levels to healthy ranges.

Even if you’re athletic, you can benefit from insulin optimization on keto through eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids.

Improved Health markers

Several studies have found that low-carb diets improve many significant risk factors for heart disease, including the cholesterol profile, which contains high-density lipoprotein (HDL ) cholesterol and triglycerides. High and low-density lipoprotein (LDL ) cholesterol levels are usually influenced.

It’s expected to see improved insulin levelsblood sugar levels, and blood pressure.
Keto Diet Mental Performance

Many people use the ketogenic diet to enhance their mental performance. Ketone are a good source of energy and fuel for the brain. If you lower your carb intake, you can prevent blood sugar spikes. Thus, resulting in better concentration and enhanced mental clarity.

According to studies, an increased intake of fatty acids can enhance our brain’s performance. .

Keto Diet Increased physical endurance

Ketogenic diets can, in theory, increase your physical endurance by improving your access to the vast amounts of energy in your fat stores.

The body’s supply of stored carbohydrates (glycogen) only lasts for a couple of hours of intense exercise or less. But your fat stores carry enough energy to last for weeks potentially.
Beyond this effect, another potential benefit is the reduction in body fat percentage that can be achieved on a keto diet. This reduction in body fat weight is potentially valuable in many competitive sports, including endurance sports.
Keto Diet Aids Epilepsy

The ketogenic diet is an established and often successful epilepsy treatment that has been used since the 1920s. This has historically been used mainly for kids, although adults have also benefited from it in recent years.

Using a ketogenic diet for epilepsy will make it easier for certain patients to take less or none of the anti-epileptic medications and hopefully remaining seizure-free. This can reduce the side effects of drugs and thereby improve mental output.

What Are The Common Side Effects of Keto Diet

Sick Day accessories

Photographer: Kelly Sikkema | Source: Unsplash
If you unexpectedly turn your body’s metabolism from burning carbohydrates (glucose) to fat and ketones, you may have several side effects when your body gets used to its new fuel, especially on days two to five. Symptoms can involve tiredness, headache, cramping, muscle fatigue, and heart palpitations. Such adverse effects are short-term among specific individuals, so there are options to minimize or cure them.
To reduce possible side effects, you can slowly decrease your carbohydrates intake for a few weeks. However, you’re less likely to see changes as quickly. Although short-term results can vary, long-term outcomes will stay the same.
We suggest that you avoid sugar and starches all at once. You’re expected to drop a lot of pounds in a few days. Although most of the initial accelerated weight reduction is water weight (reduced swelling), it’s also a highly inspiring way to continue the keto journey.

Keto flu

Many people who start a ketogenic diet may undergo sure signs of “keto flu.” This is what you will expect, more or less, a few days after you start a keto diet:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Light nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of motivation
  • Difficulty focusing (“brain fog”)
  • Irritability
The common symptoms usually disappear after a week or two, as the body responds to additional fat burning.
The critical cause of keto-influenza is that carbohydrate-rich diets can contribute to water retention (swelling) in the body.
A lot of this excess fluid is lost before you continue a low-carb diet. You may notice increased urination, wherein extra salt is lost. This is usually one of the primary reasons for people who experience Keto Flu.
Bad Breath

Following a strict low-carb diet, certain people feel a distinctive scent in their body, a fruity odor that often reminds others of a nail polish remover.

The scent arises from acetone, a ketone body. It is an indication that your body consumes a lot of fat and also turns a lot of fat into ketones to fuel your brain.
This smell may also turn out to be a body odor, mainly if you work out and sweat a lot. Almost everybody who follows a ketogenic, low-carb diet feels the ketone smell – so for those who do, it’s a temporary phase that mostly goes away within a week or two.

Heart Palpitation

People usually experience an elevated heart rate during the first few weeks of the low carb diet. Having your heart beating a tad bit harder than it often does is a collective experience that most people experience. It is normal, and usually, there’s nothing to worry about.

One of the common reasons is due to a lack of salt content in the body and dehydration. Reducing the amount of fluid in the bloodstream will result in the heart to pumping blood faster or harder to maintain blood pressure.
Leg Cramps

Leg cramps are not unusual when starting a strict low-carb diet. Usually, it’s a minor issue if it happens, but sometimes it can be painful. It may be a side effect of the loss of minerals, specifically magnesium, due to increased urination.

Keto Rash

Keto Rash are is likely an irritation caused by the acetone excreted in your sweat (which is also why you may experience bad breath).

To reduce the irritation, you can try looking into a better absorbing clothing option and also, try showering after an active workout of activity.

If it’s a lasting issue, try adding extra calories to your diet or changing workout plans.

A Sample Keto Diet Meal Plan

It is important to plan meals on the keto diet in order to regulate our carb intake and adhere to the correct macronutrient ratios, meet fiber goals, and prevent hunger.

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


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


  • Breakfast: Egg, basil, tomato, and goat cheese omelet.
  • Lunch: Almond milk, cocoa powder, peanut butter, and stevia milkshake.
  • Dinner: Vegetables, meatballs, and cheddar cheese.


  • Breakfast: Ketogenic Milkshare.
  • Lunch: Shrimp salad with avocado and olive oil.
  • Dinner: Pork chops, broccoli and salad with Parmesan cheese,.


  • Breakfast: Omelet with salsa, onion, peppers, spices, and avocado.
  • Lunch: A handful celery sticks with salsa and guacamole and nuts.
  • Dinner: Chicken stuffed with cream cheese and pesto, along with vegetables.


  • Breakfast: Sugar-free yogurt with stevia, cocoa powder and, peanut butter.
  • Lunch: Beef stir-fry cooked in coconut oil with vegetables.
  • Dinner: Bun-less burger with egg, bacon, and cheese.


  • Breakfast: Vegetables with cheese and ham omelet.
  • Lunch: Nuts with cheese and ham.
  • Dinner: Spinach, white fish, and egg cooked in coconut oil.


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

Ketogenic Diet Is Good but is Not Suitable for Everyone
A ketogenic diet may be ideal for those who are trying to boost their metabolic wellbeing, overweight, or obese. It could be less fitting for professional athletes or for anyone wanting to gain significant quantities of muscle or weight.

And, as in any diet, it can only succeed if you’re disciplined and stick to it in the long term.