The ketogenic diet (or keto for short) is a diet low in carbohydrates and fats that has many benefits for the body.

The ketogenic diet

In fact, many studies show that this type of diet can help you lose weight and improve your health.

The ketogenic diet may even be useful in the treatment of diabetes, cancer, epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease.

Here's a comprehensive beginner's guide to the keto diet.

What is a ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that has a lot in common with Atkins and low-carb diets.

Includes a drastic reduction in carbohydrate intake and fat replacement. This reduction in 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 converts fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy to the brain.

A ketogenic diet can cause significant drops in blood sugar and insulin levels. This, together with the increased content of ketones, brings certain health benefits.

Exit: The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. It lowers blood sugar and insulin levels and shifts the body's metabolism from carbohydrates to fats and ketones.

Different types of ketogenic diets

There are several options for a ketogenic diet, including:

  • Standard ketogenic diet. This is a diet very low in carbohydrates, moderate in protein and high in fat. It usually contains 70% fat, 20% protein and only 10% carbohydrates.
  • Cyclic ketogenic dietsa. This diet includes high-carbohydrate re-feeding periods, such as 5 ketogenic days, followed by 2 high-carbohydrate days.
  • Targeted ketogenic diet. This diet allows you to add carbohydrates during your workouts.
  • High protein ketogenic diet. It is similar to the standard ketogenic diet, but includes more protein. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbohydrates.

However, only the standard ketogenic diet and the high-protein ketogenic diet have been extensively studied. Cyclic or targeted ketogenic diets are more modern methods that are mostly used by bodybuilders or athletes.

The information in this article applies primarily to the standard ketogenic diet, although many of the same principles apply to other versions.

Exit: There are several options for a keto diet. The standard version is the most studied and most recommended.

What is ketosis?

Ketosis is a metabolic condition in which your body uses fat as an energy source instead of carbohydrates.

This happens when you significantly reduce your carbohydrate intake by limiting your intake of glucose (sugar), which is the main source of energy for your cells.

Following a ketogenic diet is the most effective way to enter ketosis. Usually, to achieve ketosis, you should limit your carbohydrate intake to about 20-50 grams per day and include fatty foods such as meat, fish, eggs, nuts and healthy oils in your diet.

Reducing protein intake is also important. This is because protein can be converted to glucose when consumed in large quantities, which can slow down your transition to ketosis.

The practice of periodic fasting can also help you get into ketosis faster. There are many different forms of intermittent fasting, but the most common method is to limit food intake to about 8 hours a day and fast for the remaining 16 hours.

To determine if you have entered a state of ketosis, you can use special tests for blood, urine and respiration, which measure the amount of ketones that your body produces.

Some symptoms may also indicate that you are ketotic, including increased thirst, dry mouth, frequent urination, and decreased hunger or appetite.

Exit: Ketosis is a metabolic condition in which your body uses fat as an energy source instead of carbohydrates. Changes in diet and intermittent fasting can help you enter ketosis faster. Some tests and symptoms can also help determine if you have entered ketosis.

Ketogenic diet can help you lose weight

Ketogenic diet is an effective way to lose weight and reduce risk factors for disease.

In fact, research shows that a ketogenic diet can be as effective for weight loss as a low-fat diet.

What's more, the diet is so satisfying that you can lose weight without counting calories or tracking your food intake.

A review of 13 studies found that a very low-carb ketogenic diet was slightly more effective for long-term weight loss than a low-fat diet. People on the keto diet have lost an average of 0, 9 kg more than the low-fat diet.

In addition, it has also led to lower diastolic blood pressure and triglyceride levels.

Another study in 34 adults found that those who followed a ketogenic diet for 8 weeks lost nearly five times more total fat than those who followed a low-fat diet.

Elevated ketones, low blood sugar and increased insulin sensitivity may also play a key role.

Exit: A ketogenic diet can help you lose a little more weight than a low-fat diet. This will make you feel fuller throughout the day.

The ketogenic diet for diabetes and prediabetes

Diabetes mellitus is characterized by metabolic changes, high blood sugar and impaired insulin function.

A ketogenic diet can help you get rid of excess fat, which is closely linked to type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and metabolic syndrome.

An earlier study found that a ketogenic diet improved insulin sensitivity by as much as 75%.

A small study in women with type 2 diabetes also found that after a ketogenic diet for 90 days, hemoglobin A1C was significantly reduced, which is an indicator of long-term blood sugar control.

Another study of 349 people with type 2 diabetes found that those on a ketogenic diet lost an average of 11. 9 kg over a 2-year period. This is an important advantage when considering the relationship between body weight and type 2 diabetes.

Moreover, they also had improved blood sugar control and the use of some blood sugar lowering drugs decreased among participants throughout the study.

Exit: A ketogenic diet can increase insulin sensitivity and cause fat loss, with significant health benefits for people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.

Other benefits of the ketogenic diet

The ketogenic diet actually emerged as a tool for treating neurological diseases such as epilepsy.

Studies show that diet is beneficial for a wide variety of conditions:

  • Heart disease. A ketogenic diet can help improve risk factors such as body fat, HDL (good) cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.
  • Cancer. Diet is currently considered a complementary treatment for cancer because it can help slow tumor growth.
  • Alzheimer's disease. The keto diet can help reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and slow its progression.
  • Epilepsy. Studies show that a ketogenic diet can cause a significant reduction in seizures in children with epilepsy.
  • Parkinson's disease. While more research is needed, one study found that diet helped relieve the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome. A ketogenic diet can help lower insulin levels, which may play a key role in polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • Brain Trauma. Some studies show that diet can improve the outcome of traumatic brain injury.

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

Exit: A ketogenic diet can provide many health benefits, especially for metabolic, neurological, or insulin-related diseases.

Foods to avoid

Limit all foods high in carbohydrates.

Here is a list of foods that should be cut or eliminated in a ketogenic diet:

  • Sweet foods: carbonated drinks, fruit juices, smoothies, pastries, ice cream, candies and more.
  • Cereals or starch: products based on wheat, rice, pasta, cereals, etc.
  • Fruit: All fruits except small portions of fruits like strawberries
  • Beans or legumes: peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
  • Roots and tubers: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
  • Low fat or diet foods: low fat mayonnaise, salad dressings and spices
  • Some spices or sauces: barbecue sauce, honey mustard, teriyaki sauce, ketchup and more.
  • Unhealthy fats: refined vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
  • Alcohol: beer, wine, spirits, mixed drinks
  • Dietary foods without sugar: pastries, syrups, puddings, sweeteners and desserts without sugar, etc.

Exit: Avoid carbohydrate-based foods such as grains, sugar, legumes, rice, potatoes, candy, juices and even most fruits.

What foods should you eat

You should base most of your meals on the following foods:

  • Meat: red meat, ham, sausages, bacon, chicken, turkey
  • Oily fish: mackerel, herring, anchovies, trout, salmon, tuna
  • Eggs: Chicken and quail eggs
  • Butter and cream: organic butter and heavy cream
  • Cheese: Unprocessed healthy cheeses such as cheddar, goat, cream, blue or mozzarella
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and more.
  • Healthy Oils: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut Oil and Avocado Oil
  • Avocado: Whole avocado or freshly made guacamole
  • Low carb vegetables: green vegetables, tomatoes, onions, peppers and more.
  • Spices: salt, pepper, herbs and spices

Your diet is best based on whole foods with one ingredient.

Exit: Base most of your diet on foods such as meat, fish, eggs, butter, nuts, healthy oils, avocados, and many low-carb vegetables.

Sample menu for 1 week

To help you get started, here's a sample one-week ketogenic diet plan:


  • Breakfast: vegetable and egg muffins with tomatoes
  • Lunch: Chicken salad with olive oil, feta cheese, olives and garnish
  • Dinner: salmon with asparagus in butter


  • Breakfast: Omelet of eggs, tomatoes, basil and spinach
  • Lunch: Almond milk, peanut butter, spinach, cocoa powder and milkshake with strawberry bites and stevia
  • Dinner: taco cheese with salsa


  • Breakfast: nut and chia pudding sprinkled with coconut and blackberries
  • Lunch: Avocado Shrimp Salad
  • DinnerPork chops with parmesan, broccoli and salad


  • Breakfast: Omelette with avocado, salsa, black pepper, onion and spices
  • Lunch: a handful of nuts and celery sticks with guacamole and salsa
  • Dinner: chicken stuffed with pesto and cream cheese and grilled zucchini garnish


  • Breakfast: Greek yogurt without sugar, whole yogurt with peanut butter, cocoa powder and fruit
  • Lunch: Tacas with salad and beef with chopped pepper
  • Dinner: Cauliflower made with cheese and ham and vegetable mix


  • Breakfast: cheesecakes (without flour) with blueberries and grilled mushroom garnish
  • Lunch: Zucchini and Beetroot Noodle Salad
  • Dinner: white fish cooked in coconut oil with cabbage and toasted pine nuts


  • Breakfast: scrambled eggs with mushrooms
  • Lunch: Chicken with sesame and broccoli
  • Dinner: Pumpkin Spaghetti with Bolognese
Always try to alternate vegetables and meats over a long period of time, as each type provides different nutrients and health benefits.

Exit: On a ketogenic diet you can eat a wide variety of delicious and nutritious meals. You do not need to eat meat and fat alone. Vegetables are an important part of the diet.

Healthy keto snacks

If you're hungry between meals, here are some healthy snacks approved for the ketogenic diet:

  • fatty meat or fish
  • cheese
  • handful of nuts or seeds
  • keto sushi
  • olives
  • one or two eggs, hard-boiled or stuffed
  • keto-friendly bars
  • 90% dark chocolate
  • full-fat Greek yogurt mixed with nut butter and cocoa powder
  • peppers and guacamole
  • strawberries and cottage cheese
  • celery with salsa and guacamole
  • beef
  • smaller portions of leftover food

Exit: Great snacks for the keto diet are pieces of meat, cheese, olives, boiled eggs, nuts, raw vegetables and dark chocolate.

Side effects and how to minimize them

While the ketogenic diet is usually safe for most healthy people, some initial side effects may occur during your body's adaptation period.

There is some anecdotal evidence for these effects, often called keto flu.

Based on reports from some people on the meal plan, it usually ends within a few days.

The most common symptoms of keto flu are diarrhea, constipation and vomiting.

Other less common symptoms include:

  • low energy and damaged
  • mental function
  • headache
  • increased hunger
  • sleep problems
  • nausea
  • gastrointestinal discomfort
  • reduced 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 you cut out carbs altogether.

A ketogenic diet can also change your body's water and mineral balance, so adding salt to your diet or taking a mineral supplement can help. Talk to your doctor about your nutritional needs.

When starting a keto diet, it is important to eat until you are full and do not limit your calorie intake. Usually a ketogenic diet leads to weight loss without intentional calorie restriction.

Exit: Many of the side effects of starting a ketogenic diet can be limited. Try to eat a low carb diet regularly and take mineral supplements before the keto diet in the first few weeks.

The risks of the keto diet

Continuing a ketogenic diet can have several negative consequences, including the following risks:

  • low blood protein
  • excess liver fat
  • kidney stones
  • micronutrient deficiency

Types of medicines called sodium glucose cotransporter inhibitors type 2 (SGLT2) for type 2 diabetes can increase the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition that increases blood acidity. Anyone taking this medicine should avoid the keto diet.

More research is currently underway to determine the long-term safety of the keto diet. Tell your doctor about your diet plan so he or she can make the right choice.

Exit: The keto diet has some side effects that you should talk to your doctor about if you plan to stay on the diet for a long time.