A ketogenic or keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that drastically reduces your carbohydrate intake and replaces it with fat.

Originally developed for the patients with epilepsy in the 1920s, the keto diet can put your body into a metabolic state where your body burns fat for energy instead of sugar. [1]

This metabolic state is known as ketosis. [2]

A ketogenic diet has some similarities with the low-carb and Atkins diet. It can lower your blood sugar and insulin level, and turn the fat into ketones, which is responsible for supplying energy for your brain.

A keto diet can offer numerous health benefits. Several studies show it can help you lose weight, fight against diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and improve your overall health.

Continue reading to get an ultimate guideline to start the keto diet, and learn about its types, benefits and side effects.

Types of Keto Diet

With a diet this popular, there are different versions of the ketogenic diet, including: [3]

Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): It’s a low carb diet that gets 75% of total calories from fat, 20% from protein, and 5% from carbohydrates.

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD): This version of keto diet lets you eat high-carbs 1-2 times per week. For example, you can have 5 days of a ketogenic diet and two days of a high-carb diet.

Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): It will let you consume carbohydrate around workouts. It means you will be eating carbohydrates on the days you exercise.

High-Protein Ketogenic Diet (HPKD): This version is quite similar to the standard keto diet, but allows for eating more protein. Instead of 20% protein, you will eat about 35% of protein.

Foods You Can Eat

You need to design your meal plan based on whole, single-ingredient foods. Here is a list of foods that you can eat while in a ketogenic diet:

Keto Diet

Vegetables: low-carb vegetables such as green veggies, onions, tomatoes, peppers, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, etc.

Avocadoes: Whole avocado, freshly made guacamole.

Meat: Chicken, turkey, red meat, ham, sausage, steak, and bacon.

Fish: Fatty fish such as trout, tuna, salmon, and mackerel.

Eggs: Omega-3 whole eggs or pastured eggs.

Butter: Grass-fed if possible.

Cheese: Mozzarella, cheddar, cream, goat, or blue cheese.

Seeds and Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, etc.

Oils: Healthy oils such as extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil.

Condiments: Pepper, salt, and other healthy herbs and spices.

Foods You Need to Avoid

You need to cut off or limit any food that is high in carbohydrates. Here are some foods that should be eliminated or reduced:

Grains and Starches: Rice, cereal, pasta, or any wheat-based products.

Sugary Foods: Candy, ice cream, cakes, fruit juice, soda, smoothies, etc.

Fruits: Any kind of fruits except berries.

Vegetables: Tubers and root vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, etc.

Legumes or Beans: Kidney beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, etc.

Fats: Unhealthy fats such as mayonnaise, processed vegetable oils, etc.

Low-fat Products: Limit your diet product intake as they are highly processed.

Sauces and Ketchup: Avoid them as they are high in sugars.

Alcohol: You need to avoid most of the alcohols due to their high-carb content.

Sugar-free Diet Foods: These foods are highly processed and can affect your ketone levels.

Benefits of Keto Diet

You may experience the following health benefits while you’re on a keto diet:

1. Keto Diet Can Help in Weight Loss.

A ketogenic diet can be a perfect option if you want to lose weight with a lower risk of diseases.

A research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition concludes that a diet high in protein may result in increased weight and fat loss compared to a low-protein diet that is low in saturated fat. [4]

Another research published in 2013 shows that a ketogenic diet can suppress appetite, meaning that the possibility of gaining weight is low. [5]

The best part is, a ketogenic diet lets you lose weight without counting your calorie and food intake. [6]

A clinical trial, a group of participants had to follow a keto diet while others received a diet suggested by Diabetes UK. Those who followed a ketogenic diet lost three times more weight than others. [7]

2. It May Treat Type-2 Diabetes.

A ketogenic diet lets you lose excess fat, which can be beneficial if you have type-2 diabetes.

In a clinical trial published in 2005, some overweight participants with type-2 diabetes followed a low-carb ketogenic diet. [8]

The keto diet improved glycemic control in most diabetic patients that their diabetic medications were discontinued.

Another 2008 shows that 95.2% of patients from the ketogenic group could stop or reduce taking diabetes medications compared to the high-carb group. [9]

Besides, a low-carbohydrate diet can reduce weight, improve blood glucose profiles, hemoglobin, and insulin sensitivity in patients with type-2 diabetes. [10]

If you have type-2 diabetes, you can switch to a keto diet.

3. Keto Diet Can Promote Healthy Heart.

The ketogenic diet can decrease the markers of heart diseases, such as triglycerides and cholesterol. [11]

Despite being so high in fat, this diet doesn’t negatively impact your cholesterol level.

A keto diet can reduce the risk of heart diseases by improving risk factors like HDL cholesterol level, body fat, and blood pressure. [12]

Keto Diet

A research published in the Experimental & Clinical Cardiology shows that a keto diet could reduce the level of LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood glucose while improving the level of HDL cholesterol. [13]

4. It May Protect Against Cancer.

Keto diet may starve the cancer cells as it is a low carbohydrate diet. It’s because unlike our bodies, cancer cells cannot use fat for energy.

In an animal study published in 2008, a no-carbohydrate ketogenic diet significantly reduced tumor growth in mice. [14]

Researchers even suggest the ketogenic diet as an effective treatment for cancer and other diseases. [15]

5. Keto Diet Can Treat Epilepsy.

It’s quite obvious as the diet was designed to treat epilepsy in children.

A 2001 study published in the journal Pediatrics shows that a keto diet could significantly reduce seizures in epileptic children. [16]

Keto Diet

Another research published in the Biomedical Journal found that a medium-chain triglyceride ketogenic diet works better than the classic keto diet for drug-resistant epilepsy. [17]

It used MCT oil, which is more ketogenic compared to the long-chain triglycerides.

6. It May Fight Neurological Disorder.

Keto diet has been used as a natural treatment for some neurological disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, manic depression over the past century.

In a clinical trial, significant improvement was observed in Alzheimer’s patient who followed a ketogenic diet. [18]

A ketogenic diet has therapeutic use for various neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, sleep disorders, etc. [19]

Precautions to Follow On a Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet is safe, but initially, you might face some side effects, which is known as keto flu.

During keto flu, you will suffer from poor energy and mental function, nausea, increased hunger, digestive discomfort, etc.

If you want to minimize this, try a low carb diet for the first few weeks. It will help your body to learn how to burn more fat before you completely stop having a carb.

You need to take some mineral supplements as this diet can change the mineral and water balance of your body.

Do not restrict calories too much at the beginning of the keto diet. It’s because you can lose weight in this diet without even restricting the calorie.

A Seven Days Sample Keto Meal Plan

Here is a sample ketogenic meal plan that will help you to start this diet:

Day 1

Breakfast: Bacon, tomatoes, and eggs.

Lunch: Chicken salad with feta cheese and olive oil.

Snacks: 90% dark chocolate

Dinner: Salmon with asparagus.

Day 2

Breakfast: Egg, basil,  tomato, and cheese omelet.

Lunch: Almond milk, cocoa powder, peanut butter, and stevia milkshake.

Snacks: Strawberries with cream.

Dinner: Meatballs, vegetables, and cheddar cheese.

Day 3

Breakfast: A milkshake (Using ketogenic ingredients)

Lunch: Shrimp salad with avocado and olive oil.

Snacks: Small portions of any leftover meals.

Dinner: Pork chops with broccoli, Parmesan cheese, and salad.

Day 4

Breakfast: Omelet with peppers, avocado, onion, salsa, as well as spices.

Lunch: Some nuts and celery sticks with salsa and guacamole.

Snacks: Cheese with olives.

Dinner: Chicken stuffed with pesto, cream cheese, with a vegetable side dish.

Day 5

Breakfast: Sugar-free yogurt with cocoa powder, peanut butter, and stevia.

Lunch: Beef stir-fry with vegetables cooked in coconut oil.

Snacks: 1 or 2 hard-boiled eggs

Dinner: Bun-less burger with cheese, egg, and bacon.

Day 6

Breakfast: Ham and cheese omelet, along with vegetables.

Lunch: Ham and cheese slices, and nuts.

Snacks: A handful of seeds and nuts.

Dinner: Whitefish, spinach, and egg cooked in coconut oil.

Day 7

Breakfast: Fried eggs with mushrooms and bacon.

Lunch: Burger with guacamole, salsa, and cheese.

Snacks: Full fat yogurt mixed with cocoa powder and nut butter.

Dinner: Steak and eggs, along with a side salad.

Bottom Line

A keto diet is quite healthy and easy to follow, even when you eat out. Just order any meat or fish based dish. Go for vegetables instead of rice or any high-carb food.

You can easily try some salsa, cheese, and sour cream while you’re on this diet.

If you’re an athlete and want to build muscle, the Keto diet is not suitable for you. It’s because there’s a risk you might lose some muscle on this diet.

However, if you’re overweight or suffering from diabetes, a ketogenic diet can be a great choice for you. It will also help improve your metabolic health.

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