A Beginner’s Guide To The Ketogenic Diet: Everything You Need to Know

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The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb diet that helps you reduce your intake of carbs and increase your intake of fat. When your body burns through all available carbohydrates (also known as glycogen), it starts breaking down fat for energy instead(1). As a result, you end up producing ketones compounds that the liver produces from fatty acids when blood sugar levels are low in your bloodstream.

The main aim of the keto diet is to help you remain in this state almost all the time so that you can burn off stored fat and also improve your insulin sensitivity.

Things to Know Before Going Keto

You must be very strict about your carb intake on a keto diet. The recommended daily allowance of carbs is 50 grams per day, which is extremely small. You must drink lots of water on a keto diet, as it helps reduce the risk of constipation and kidney stones. You must eat enough protein on a keto diet, as low-carb diets can reduce your body’s ability to synthesize proteins. However, you must select your proteins carefully as legumes, dairy, grains, and nuts are all prohibited on keto.

You must be prepared to be very hungry on a keto diet, as it is very high in fat and low in protein and carbohydrates. You must be very careful about monitoring your blood levels of glucose, lipids, and electrolytes when you are on a keto diet.

How Does The Ketogenic Diet Work?

The ketogenic diet allows you to burn stored fat by following a low-carb, high-fat eating plan. When you consume fewer carbs, your body enters a metabolic state called ketosis, which happens when all available glycogen has been depleted. At this point, your liver breaks down fat into molecules called ketones and releases them into your bloodstream. When you have high levels of ketones in your blood, it means you’re in a state of ketosis. Your body can replace energy from glucose with energy from ketones, which means you can fuel yourself without carbs. This is the secret to weight loss on the keto diet.

Foods To Eat On A Keto Diet

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Keto Diet Meal Bowl

If you want to lose weight on the keto diet, you’ll need to eat a very high-fat diet. But not all fats are created equal, and some are definitely better than others. Here are the best types of fat to eat on a keto diet:

Fatty fish: Fatty fish like salmon and sardines are some of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation.

Nuts and seeds: Some nuts and seeds, especially walnuts and chia seeds, are good sources of healthy fats.

Coconut: Coconut is rich in fats, but it’s also a good source of fiber. Coconut oil is also regarded as one of the best fats for keto diets.

High-quality oils: Avocado oil, olive oil, and peanut oil are high-quality fats that are also rich in nutrients.

Vegetable fats: MCT oil, ghee, and coconut oil are vegetable fats that are great for keto diets.

Butter: Some people are against butter on keto diets, but it’s actually a source of healthy fats.

Foods To Avoid On A Keto diet

If you’re serious about losing weight on a keto diet, then you’ll have to avoid most grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables. Here’s a list of the worst foods for keto diets:

Grains: Most grains, including oats, corn, barley, and quinoa, are high in carbohydrates.

Legumes: Beans and lentils are high in carbohydrates, so they should be avoided on a keto diet.

Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams are high in carbs and should be avoided on a keto diet.

Fruit: High-sugar fruits, like bananas, apples, and pears, should be avoided on a keto diet.

Dairy: Dairy products like yogurt and cheese are high in carbs, so they should be avoided on a keto diet.

Sugars: Added sugars are a major no-no on a keto diet. You should also avoid sugar-free diet products.

Benefits Of The Keto Diet

Weight loss: The ketogenic diet is best known for its effective weight loss results. When you follow a keto diet, you burn fat instead of carbs.

Improved insulin sensitivity: A ketogenic diet can also improve your insulin sensitivity, which reduces the risk of diabetes.

Improved heart health: Another benefit of a keto diet is that it can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Better mental health: A keto diet can also improve your mental health. Research shows that keto diets can reduce symptoms of depression.

Increased energy levels: The keto diet can also increase your energy levels and improve your productivity at work.

Better overall health: A ketogenic diet can also bring many other benefits, such as better bone health, improved muscle mass, and better digestive health.

Side Effects Of The Ketogenic Diet

Constipation: The high-fat, low-fiber content of the keto diet can cause constipation.

Bad breath: The ketogenic diet can alter the composition of your oral bacteria and cause bad breath.

Kidney stones: The keto diet can lead to an increase in uric acid, which can increase your risk of kidney stones.

Nutrient deficiencies: The keto diet can also deplete your body of certain vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium and vitamin B12.

Lethargy: A low-carb diet can also make you feel lethargic and tired.

Common Mistakes On A Ketogenic Diet

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Skipping meals: Skipping meals on a keto diet is a big mistake, as it can reduce your energy levels and make you feel hungry.

Eating too much protein: Eating too much protein, especially animal proteins, can increase insulin levels and make you feel tired.

Not drinking enough water: Feeling tired and lethargic on a keto diet? Then you should probably drink more water.

Eating too many hidden carbohydrates: Many foods, especially processed foods and packaged goods, contain hidden carbohydrates.

Not eating enough fibre: Fibre is an essential part of a healthy diet, so you should make an effort to eat more fibre on a keto diet.

Not monitoring your blood levels: Monitoring your blood levels can help you adjust your diet and avoid certain health issues.

Sample Keto Meal Plan

  • Breakfast: 4 eggs, 1/2 avocado, 1Tbsp olive oil
  • Lunch: 4 oz baked salmon with 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1/2 bunch asparagus with 2 Tbsp butter
  • Dinner: Rib-eye steak, 2 cups spinach with coconut oil, 2 oz macadamia nuts


The Bottom Line

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet that can help you lose weight and improve your overall health. The best way to follow a keto diet is to focus on eating unprocessed foods and limiting your carb intake to 50 grams per day.