The Ketogenic Diet: A Detailed Beginner’s Guide to Keto

The ketogenic diet or short for keto diet, is a low-carb, high-fat diet with many health benefits offered. In fact, over 20 studies show that the ketogenic diet can help in losing weight and improve the health. Ketogenic diets may even have advantages against diabetes, cancer, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease A detailed beginner’s guide to […]

The ketogenic diet or short for keto diet, is a low-carb, high-fat diet with many health benefits offered.

In fact, over 20 studies show that the ketogenic diet can help in losing weight and improve the health.

Ketogenic diets may even have advantages against diabetes, cancer, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease

A detailed beginner’s guide to the keto diet is mentioned.

Ketogenic Diet – Meaning

The ketogenic diet is a diet with very low-carb, high-fat that has many similarities with the Atkins and low-carb diets.

It involves decreasing carbohydrate intake drastically and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts the body into a metabolic state called ketosis.

The body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy when ketosis happens. Ketosis also turns fat  in the liver into ketones, which can supply energy for the brain.

Ketogenic diets can bring massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels and along with the increased ketones, it has numerous health benefits

 A low-carb, high-fat diet is called a keto diet which lowers blood sugar and insulin levels, and shifts the body’s metabolism away from carbs and towards fat and ketones.

Types of Ketogenic Diets

There are several types of the ketogenic diet, including:

  • Standard ketogenic diet (SKD) is a very low-carb, moderate-protein and high-fat diet. It generally has 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbs.
  • Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) involves intervals of higher-carb refeeds, such as 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high-carb days.
  • Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) is a diet which allows to add carbs during workouts.
  • High-protein ketogenic diet is same as that to a typical ketogenic diet, but it includes more protein. The ratio in between is often 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs.

However, only the typical and ketogenic diets with high proteins have been studied extensively. Cyclical or targeted ketogenic diets are primarily used by bodybuilders or athletes and these are more advanced methods.

The information in this article mostly applies to the typical ketogenic diet (SKD), although many of the same principles also apply to the other types.

There are several types of the keto diet but the standard (SKD) version is the most researched and most suggested.

Ketogenic Diets Can Help in Losing Weight

A ketogenic diet is an productive way to lose weight and reduce risk factors for disease.

In fact, research shows that the ketogenic diet is considered to be far superior to the often suggested low-fat diet

The diet is so filling that weight loss can be  without the need of counting calories or tracking the food intake

A study found out that people who are on a ketogenic diet lost weight  2.2 times more than those on a calorie-restricted low-fat diet. Triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels were also improved

Another study found out that people on the ketogenic diet lost weight almost 3 times more than those on the diet suggested by Diabetes UK

There are various reasons why a ketogenic diet is superior to a low-fat diet, including the increased protein intake, which provides several benefits.

Ketones which are increased, lower levels of blood sugar and insulin sensitivity is improved may also play a key role

 

A ketogenic diet can help in losing much more weight than a low-fat diet which often happens without be hungry.

Diabetes and Pre-diabetes – Ketogenic Diets

Changes in metabolism, high blood sugar and impaired insulin function is characterized in Diabetes

The ketogenic diet can help in losing excess fat, which is linked closely  to type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and metabolic syndrome

A study found that the insulin sensitivity improved in ketogenic diet by a percentage of 75%

People with type 2 diabetes found in another study that 7 of the 21 participants were able to stop consuming all diabetes medications

In one more another study, the ketogenic group lost about 24.4 pounds (11.1 kg), compared to 15.2 pounds (6.9 kg) in the higher-carb group. This is a vital benefit when considering the connection between weight and type 2 diabetes

Additionally, around 95% of the ketogenic group were also able to stop or decrease the diabetes medication, in comparison to 62% in the higher-carb group.

 

The ketogenic diet can help in boosting the insulin sensitivity and cause fat loss, leading to more health benefits for people with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Keto – Other Health Benefits

For treating neurological diseases such as epilepsy the ketogenic diet was actually originated as a tool.

Some studies have now shown that the diet can have advantages for a broad variety of different health conditions:

  • The ketogenic diet’s risk factors in heart diseases can be improved like body fat, HDL cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood sugar.
  • The ketogenic diet is currently being used to treat various types of cancer and slow growth of tumor.
  • The keto diet may help in reducing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and slow its progression.
  • Studies have shown that the ketogenic diet in epileptic children can cause massive reductions in seizures.
  • The ketogenic diet helped improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease which had been found in one study.
  • The ketogenic diet can help in reducing levels of insulin, which may play a important role in polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • After brain injury in one animal study it has been found that the diet can reduce concussions and aid recovery.
  • Acne can also be improved with lower insulin levels and eating less sugar or processed foods may help improve acne.

However, it has to be kept in mind that research into many of these areas is far from conclusive.

Many health benefits, especially with metabolic, neurological or insulin-related diseases may be provided by a ketogenic diet.

Foods to be Avoided

Any food should be that is high in carbs.

Below is a list of foods that need to be reduced or eliminated when on a ketogenic diet:

  • Sugary foods such as Soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.
  • Grains or starches such as Wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.
  • All fruits, except small portions of berries like strawberries.
  • Beans or legumes such as Peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
  • Root vegetables and tubers such as Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
  • Low-fat or diet products which are highly processed and often high in carbs.
  • Some condiments or sauces which often contain sugar and unhealthy fat.
  • Limiting the intake of processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
  • Due to the carb content, many alcoholic beverages can not help in ketosis.
  • Sugar-free diet foods are often high in sugar alcohols, which may have an affect ketone levels in some cases. These foods also tend to be highly processed.

Carb-based foods should be avoided like grains, sugars, legumes, rice, potatoes, candy, juice and even most fruits.

Foods to Eat

The majority of the meals should be based on around these foods:

  • Red meat, steak, ham, sausage, bacon, chicken and turkey.
  • Fatty fish like salmon, trout, tuna and mackerel.
  • Pastured or omega-3 whole eggs should be looked for
  • Butter and cream which should be look for grass-fed when possible.
  • Unprocessed cheese (cheddar, goat, cream, blue or mozzarella).
  • Almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.
  • Healthy oils such as primarily extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil.
  • Whole avocados or freshly made guacamole.
  • Low-carb veggies like mostly green veggies, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.
  • Condiments like use salt, pepper and various healthy herbs and spices.

 

The majority of the diet should be based on foods such as meat, fish, eggs, butter, nuts, healthy oils, avocados and plenty of low-carb veggies.

1 Week Sample Keto Meal Plan

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

Saturday

  • Breakfast: Ham and cheese omelet with vegetables.
  • Lunch: Ham and cheese slices with nuts.
  • Dinner: White fish, egg and spinach cooked in coconut oil.

Sunday

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

 

Monday

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

Tuesday

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

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: A ketogenic milkshake.
  • Lunch: Shrimp salad with olive oil and avocado.
  • Dinner: Pork chops with Parmesan cheese, broccoli and salad.

Thursday

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

Friday

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

The vegetables and meat should be rotated always over the long term, as each type provides different nutrients and health benefits.

 

A wide variety of tasty and nutritious meals can be eaten on a ketogenic diet.

Healthy Keto Snacks

In case of getting hungry in between meals, here are some healthy, keto-approved snacks:

  • Fatty meat or fish
  • Cheese
  • A handful of nuts or seeds
  • Cheese with olives
  • 1–2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 90% dark chocolate
  • A low-carb milkshake with almond milk, cocoa powder and nut butter
  • Full-fat yogurt mixed with nut butter and cocoa powder
  • Strawberries and cream
  • Celery with salsa and guacamole
  • Smaller portions of leftover meals

Keto diet snacks include pieces of meat, cheese, olives, boiled eggs, nuts and dark chocolate.

 Ketogenic Diet – Tips for Eating Out

It is not very difficult to make most restaurant meals keto-friendly when eating outside.

Most restaurants offer some type of meat or fish-based dish. Order this, and change any high-carb food with extra vegetables.

Are also a great option can be egg-based meals, such as an omelet or eggs and bacon.

Another favorite can be bun-less burgers. The fries can be swapped for vegetables instead and adding extra avocado, cheese, bacon or eggs.

At Mexican restaurants, any type of meat with extra cheese, guacamole, salsa and sour cream can be enjoyed

For dessert, a mixed cheese board or berries with cream should be asked for.

When eating from outside, select a meat-, fish- or egg-based dish. Order extra veggies instead of carbs or starches, and have cheese for dessert.

Side Effects and  Minimizing Them

The ketogenic diet is although safe for healthy people, there may be some initial side effects while the body adapts.

This is usually referred to as the keto flu and is usually gets over within a few days.

Poor energy and mental function, increased hunger, sleep issues, nausea, digestive discomfort and decreased exercise performance is included in Keto flu

To reduce this, a regular low-carb diet can be tried for the first few weeks. This may teach the body to burn more fat before carbs are completely eliminated.

The water and mineral balance of the body can also be changed by a ketogenic diet, so adding extra salt to your meals or taking mineral supplements can help.

For minerals, taking 3,000–4,000 mg of sodium, 1,000 mg of potassium and 300 mg of magnesium per day can be tried to minimize side effects.

In the beginning at least, it is vital to eat until full and restricting calories too much should be avoided. A ketogenic diet usually causes weight loss without intentional calorie restriction.

Many of the side effects can be limited in starting a ketogenic diet. Easing into the diet and taking mineral supplements can help.

Ketogenic Diet – Supplements

Although supplements are not required, but some can be useful.

  • Added to drinks or yogurt, MCT oil helps in providing energy and helps increase ketone levels. Several options can be looked on Amazon.
  • Added salt and other minerals can be vital when starting out due to shifts in balance of water and mineral.
  • Caffeine can have advantages for energy, fat loss and performance.
  • Exogenous ketones supplement may help in raising the body’s ketone levels.
  • Numerous benefits for health and performance are provided. This can help if ketogenic diet with exercise is combined.
  • In shakes or yogurt use half a scoop of whey protein to increase daily protein intake. M

Some supplements can be useful on a ketogenic diet which may include exogenous ketones, MCT oil and minerals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the ketogenic diet.

1. Can I ever eat carbs again?

Yes. However, it is vital to significantly decrease the carb intake initially. After the first 2–3 months, carbs can be eaten on special occasions — just return to the diet immediately after.

2. Will I lose muscle?

Losing some muscle on any diet is a risk associated. However, the high protein intake and high ketone levels may help reduce muscle loss, especially if lifting weights.

3. Can I build muscle on a ketogenic diet?

Yes, but it might not work as well as on a diet which is moderate-carb .

4. Do I need to refeed or carb load?

No. However, a few higher-calorie days may be useful every now and then.

5. How much protein can I eat?

Protein intake should be moderate, as a very high intake can skew insulin levels and lower ketones. Around 35% of total intake of calorie is probably the upper limit.

6. What if I am constantly tired, weak or fatigued?

If feeling tired then may be the full ketosis or be utilizing fats and ketones is not efficient. To counter this, lower the carb intake and re-visit the points mentioned above. A supplement like MCT oil or ketones may also be helpful.

7. My urine smells fruity. Why is this?

Don’t be startled. This is simply due to the by-products excretion created during ketosis.

8. My breath smells. What can I do?

Breath smelling is a common side effect. Try to  drink naturally flavored water or chew sugar-free gum.

9. I heard ketosis was extremely dangerous. Is this true?

People are often confused with ketosis and ketoacidosis. The former is natural, while the latter occurs only in uncontrolled diabetes.

Ketoacidosis is menacing, but the ketosis on a ketogenic diet is perfectly normal and healthy.

10. I have digestion issues and diarrhea. What can I do?

Digestion issues and diarrhea  are common side effects and usually passes after 3–4 weeks. If it persists, more high-fiber veggies should be tried. Magnesium supplements can also be helpful with constipation.

A Ketogenic Diet Is Great, but Not for Everybody

A ketogenic diet can be more useful for people who are overweight, diabetic or looking to improve their metabolic health.

It may be less worthy for elite athletes or those wishing to add large amounts of muscle or weight.

And, as with any diet, it will only work if there is consistency and sticking with it in the long term.

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